Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV
Francis Parkman

Part 3 out of 7

many hundreds of Algonquin savages were presently gathered: a perilous
crew, who changed their minds every day, and whose dancing, singing,
and yelping might turn at any moment into war-whoops against each
other or against their hosts, the French. The Hurons showed more
stability; and La Durantaye was reasonably sure that some of them
would follow him to the war, though it was clear that others were bent
on allying themselves with the Senecas and the English. As for the
Pottawatamies, Sacs, Ojibwas, Ottawas, and other Algonquin hordes, no
man could foresee what they would do. [Footnote: The name of Ottawas,
here used specifically, was often employed by the French as a generic
term for the Algonquin tribes of the Great Lakes.] Suddenly a canoe
arrived with news that a party of English traders was approaching. It
will be remembered that two bands of Dutch and English, under
Rooseboom and McGregory, had prepared to set out together for
Michillimackinac, armed with commissions from Dongan. They had rashly
changed their plan, and parted company. Rooseboom took the lead, and
McGregory followed some time after. Their hope was that, on reaching
Michillimackinac, the Indians of the place, attracted by their cheap
goods and their abundant supplies of rum, would declare for them and
drive off the French; and this would probably have happened, but for
the prompt action of La Durantaye. The canoes of Rooseboom, bearing
twenty-nine whites and five Mohawks and Mohicans, were not far
distant, when, amid a prodigious hubbub, the French commander embarked
to meet him with a hundred and twenty _coureurs de bois._ [Footnote:
Attestation of N. Harmentse and others of Rooseboom's party. N. Y.
Col. Docs., III. 436. La Potherie says, three hundred.] Behind them
followed a swarm of Indian canoes, whose occupants scarcely knew which
side to take, but for the most part inclined to the English. Rooseboom
and his men, however, naturally thought that they came to support the
French; and, when La Durantaye bore down upon them with threats of
instant death if they made the least resistance, they surrendered at
once. The captors carried them in triumph to Michillimackinac, and
gave their goods to the delighted Indians.

"It is certain," wrote Denonville; "that, if the English had not been
stopped and pillaged, the Hurons and Ottawas would have revolted and
cut the throats of all our Frenchmen." [Footnote: _Denonville au
Ministre_, 25 _Août_, 1687.] As it was, La Durantaye's exploit
produced a revulsion of feeling, and many of the Indians consented to
follow him. He lost no time in leading them down the lake to join Du
Lhut at Detroit; and, when Tonty arrived, they all paddled for
Niagara. On the way, they met McGregory with a party about equal to
that of Rooseboom. He had with him a considerable number of Ottawa and
Huron prisoners whom the Iroquois had captured, and whom he meant to
return to their countrymen as a means of concluding the long projected
triple alliance between the English, the Iroquois, and the tribes of
the lakes. This bold scheme was now completely crushed. All the
English were captured and carried to Niagara, whence they and their
luckless precursors were sent prisoners to Quebec.

La Durantaye and his companions, with a hundred and eighty _coureurs
de bois_ and four hundred Indians, waited impatiently at Niagara for
orders from the governor. A canoe despatched in haste from Fort
Frontenac soon appeared; and they were directed to repair at once to
the rendezvous at Irondequoit Bay, on the borders of the Seneca
country. [Footnote: The above is drawn from papers in _N. Y. Col.
Docs_., III. 436, IX. 324, 336, 346, 405; Saint-Vallier, _État
Présent_, 92; Denonville, _Journal_; Belmont, _Histoire du Canada_; La
Potherie, II. chap. xvi; La Hontan. I. 96. Colden's account is
confused and incorrect.]

Denonville was already on his way thither. On the fourth of July, he
had embarked at Fort Frontenac with four hundred bateaux and canoes,
crossed the foot of Lake Ontario, and moved westward along the
southern shore. The weather was rough, and six days passed before he
descried the low headlands of Irondequoit Bay. Far off on the
glimmering water, he saw a multitude of canoes advancing to meet him.
It was the flotilla of La Durantaye. Good management and good luck had
so disposed it that the allied bands, concentring from points more
than a thousand miles distant, reached the rendezvous on the same day.
This was not all. The Ottawas of Michillimackinac, who refused to
follow La Durantaye, had changed their minds the next morning,
embarked in a body, paddled up the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, crossed
to Toronto, and joined the allies at Niagara. White and red,
Denonville now had nearly three thousand men under his command.
[Footnote: _Recueil de ce qui s'est passé en Canada depuis 1682_;
_Captain Duplessis's Plan for the Defence of Canada_, in _N. Y. Col.
Docs_., IX. 447.] All were gathered on the low point of land that
separates Irondequoit Bay from Lake Ontario. "Never," says an
eye-witness, "had Canada seen such a sight; and never, perhaps, will
she see such a sight again. Here was the camp of the regulars from
France, with the general's head-quarters; the camp of the four
battalions of Canadian militia, commanded by the _noblesse_ of the
country; the camp of the Christian Indians; and, farther on, a swarm
of savages of every nation. Their features were different, and so were
their manners, their weapons, their decorations, and their dances.
They sang and whooped and harangued in every accent and tongue. Most
of them wore nothing but horns on their heads, and the tails of beasts
behind their backs. Their faces were painted red or green, with black
or white spots; their ears and noses were hung with ornaments of iron;
and their naked bodies were daubed with figures of various sorts of
animals." [Footnote: The first part of the extract is from Belmont;
the second, from Saint-Vallier.]

These were the allies from the upper lakes. The enemy, meanwhile, had
taken alarm. Just after the army arrived, three Seneca scouts called
from the edge of the woods, and demanded what they meant to do. "To
fight you, you blockheads," answered a Mohawk Christian attached to
the French. A volley of bullets was fired at the scouts; but they
escaped, and carried the news to their villages. [Footnote:
_Information received from several Indians_, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_.,
III. 444.] Many of the best warriors were absent. Those that remained,
four hundred or four hundred and fifty by their own accounts, and
eight hundred by that of the French, mustered in haste; and, though
many of them were mere boys, they sent off the women and children, hid
their most valued possessions, burned their chief town, and prepared
to meet the invaders.

On the twelfth, at three o'clock in the afternoon, Denonville began
his march, leaving four hundred men in a hastily built fort to guard
the bateaux and canoes. Troops, officers, and Indians, all carried
their provisions at their backs. Some of the Christian Mohawks guided
them; but guides were scarcely needed, for a broad Indian trail led
from the bay to the great Seneca town, twenty-two miles southward.
They marched three leagues through the open forests of oak, and
encamped for the night. In the morning, the heat was intense. The men
gasped in the dead and sultry air of the woods, or grew faint in the
pitiless sun, as they waded waist-deep through the rank grass of the
narrow intervales. They passed safely through two dangerous defiles,
and, about two in the afternoon, began to enter a third. Dense forests
covered the hills on either hand. La Durantaye with Tonty and his
cousin Du Lhut led the advance, nor could all Canada have supplied
three men better for the work. Each led his band of _coureurs de
bois_, white Indians, without discipline, and scarcely capable of it,
but brave and accustomed to the woods. On their left were the Iroquois
converts from the missions of Saut St. Louis and the Mountain of
Montreal, fighting under the influence of their ghostly prompters
against their own countrymen. On the right were the pagan Indians from
the west. The woods were full of these painted spectres, grotesquely
horrible in horns and tail; and among them flitted the black robe of
Father Engelran, the Jesuit of Michillimackinac. Nicolas Perrot and
two other bush-ranging Frenchmen were assigned to command them, but in
fact they obeyed no man. These formed the vanguard, eight or nine
hundred in all, under an excellent officer, Callières, governor of
Montreal. Behind came the main body under Denonville, each of the four
battalions of regulars alternating with a battalion of Canadians. Some
of the regulars wore light armor, while the Canadians were in plain
attire of coarse cloth or buckskin. Denonville, oppressed by the heat,
marched in his shirt. "It is a rough life," wrote the marquis, "to
tramp afoot through the woods, carrying one's own provisions in a
haversack, devoured by mosquitoes, and faring no better than a mere
soldier." [Footnote: _Denonville au Ministre_, 8 _Juin_, 1687.] With
him was the Chevalier de Vaudreuil, who had just arrived from France
in command of the eight hundred men left to guard the colony, and who,
eager to take part in the campaign, had pushed forward alone to join
the army. Here, too, were the Canadian seigniors at the head of their
vassals, Berthier, La Valterie, Granville, Longueuil, and many more. A
guard of rangers and Indians brought up the rear.

Scouts thrown out in front ran back with the report that they had
reached the Seneca clearings, and had seen no more dangerous enemy
than three or four women in the cornfields. This was a device of the
Senecas to cheat the French into the belief that the inhabitants were
still in the town. It had the desired effect. The vanguard pushed
rapidly forward, hoping to surprise the place, and ignorant that,
behind the ridge of thick forests on their right, among a tangled
growth of beech-trees in the gorge of a brook, three hundred ambushed
warriors lay biding their time.

Hurrying forward through the forest, they left the main body behind,
and soon reached the end of the defile. The woods were still dense on
their left and front; but on their right lay a great marsh, covered
with alder thickets and rank grass. Suddenly the air was filled with
yells, and a rapid though distant fire was opened from the thickets
and the forest. Scores of painted savages, stark naked, some armed
with swords and some with hatchets, leaped screeching from their
ambuscade, and rushed against the van. Almost at the same moment a
burst of whoops and firing sounded in the defile behind. It was the
ambushed three hundred supporting the onset of their countrymen in
front; but they had made a fatal mistake. Deceived by the numbers of
the vanguard, they supposed it to be the whole army, never suspecting
that Denonville was close behind with sixteen hundred men. It was a
surprise on both sides. So dense was the forest that the advancing
battalions could see neither the enemy nor each other. Appalled by the
din of whoops and firing, redoubled by the echoes of the narrow
valley, the whole army was seized with something like a panic. Some of
the officers, it is said, threw themselves on the ground in their
fright. There were a few moments of intense bewilderment. The various
corps became broken and confused, and moved hither and thither without
knowing why. Denonville behaved with great courage. He ran, sword in
hand, to where the uproar was greatest, ordered the drums to beat the
charge, turned back the militia of Berthier who were trying to escape,
and commanded them and all others whom he met to fire on whatever
looked like an enemy. He was bravely seconded by Callières, La
Valterie, and several other officers. The Christian Iroquois fought
well from the first, leaping from tree to tree, and exchanging shots
and defiance with their heathen countrymen; till the Senecas, seeing
themselves confronted by numbers that seemed endless, abandoned the
field, after heavy loss, carrying with them many of their dead and all
of their wounded. [Footnote: For authorities, see note at the end of
the chapter. The account of Charlevoix is contradicted at several
points by the contemporary writers.] Denonville made no attempt to
pursue. He had learned the dangers of this blind warfare of the woods;
and he feared that the Senecas would waylay him again in the labyrinth
of bushes that lay between him and the town. "Our troops," he says,
"were all so overcome by the extreme heat and the long march that we
were forced to remain where we were till morning. We had the pain of
witnessing the usual cruelties of the Indians, who cut the dead bodies
into quarters, like butchers' meat, to put into their kettles, and
opened most of them while still warm to drink the blood. Our rascally
Ottawas particularly distinguished themselves by these barbarities, as
well as by cowardice; for they made off in the fight. We had five or
six men killed on the spot, and about twenty wounded, among whom was
Father Engelran, who was badly hurt by a gun-shot. Some prisoners who
escaped from the Senecas tell us that they lost forty men killed
outright, twenty-five of whom we saw butchered. One of the escaped
prisoners saw the rest buried, and he saw also more than sixty very
dangerously wounded." [Footnote: _Denonville au Ministre_, 25 _Août_,
1687. In his journal, written afterwards, he says that the Senecas
left twenty-seven dead on the field, and carried off twenty more,
besides upwards of sixty mortally wounded.]

In the morning, the troops advanced in order of battle through a marsh
covered with alders and tall grass, whence they had no sooner emerged
than, says Abbé Belmont, "we began to see the famous Babylon of the
Senecas, where so many crimes have been committed, so much blood
spilled, and so many men burned. It was a village or town of bark, on
the top of a hill. They had burned it a week before. We found nothing
in it but the graveyard and the graves, full of snakes and other
creatures; a great mask, with teeth and eyes of brass, and a bearskin
drawn over it, with which they performed their conjurations."
[Footnote: Belmont. A few words are added from Saint-Vallier.] The
fire had also spared a number of huge receptacles of bark, still
filled with the last season's corn; while the fields around were
covered with the growing crop, ripening in the July sun. There were
hogs, too, in great number; for the Iroquois did not share the
antipathy with which Indians are apt to regard that unsavory animal,
and from which certain philosophers have argued their descent from the

The soldiers killed the hogs, burned the old corn, and hacked down the
new with their swords. Next they advanced to an abandoned Seneca fort
on a hill half a league distant, and burned it, with all that it
contained. Ten days were passed in the work of havoc. Three
neighboring villages were levelled, and all their fields laid waste.
The amount of corn destroyed was prodigious. Denonville reckons it at
the absurdly exaggerated amount of twelve hundred thousand bushels.

The Senecas, laden with such of their possessions as they could carry
off, had fled to their confederates in the east; and Denonville did
not venture to pursue them. His men, feasting without stint on green
corn and fresh pork, were sickening rapidly, and his Indian allies
were deserting him. "It is a miserable business," he wrote, "to
command savages, who, as soon as they have knocked an enemy in the
head, ask for nothing but to go home and carry with them the scalp,
which they take off like a skull-cap. You cannot believe what trouble
I had to keep them till the corn was cut."

On the twenty-fourth, he withdrew, with all his army, to the fortified
post at Irondequoit Bay, whence he proceeded to Niagara, in order to
accomplish his favorite purpose of building a fort there. The troops
were set at work, and a stockade was planted on the point of land at
the eastern angle between the River Niagara and Lake Ontario, the site
of the ruined fort built by La Salle nine years before. [Footnote:
_Procès-verbal de la Prise de Possession de Niagara_, 31 _Juillet_,
1687. There are curious errors of date in this document regarding the
proceedings of La Salle.] Here he left a hundred men, under the
Chevalier de Troyes, and, embarking with the rest of the army,
descended to Montreal.

The campaign was but half a success. Joined to the capture of the
English traders on the lakes, it had, indeed, prevented the defection
of the western Indians, and in some slight measure restored their
respect for the French, of whom, nevertheless, one of them was heard
to say that they were good for nothing but to make war on hogs and
corn. As for the Senecas, they were more enraged than hurt. They could
rebuild their bark villages in a few weeks; and, though they had lost
their harvest, their confederates would not let them starve.
[Footnote: The statement of some later writers, that many of the
Senecas died during the following winter in consequence of the loss of
their corn, is extremely doubtful. Captain Duplessis, in his _Plan for
the Defence of Canada_, 1690, declares that not one of them perished
of hunger.] A converted Iroquois had told the governor before his
departure that, if he overset a wasps' nest, he must crush the wasps,
or they would sting him. Denonville left the wasps alive.

* * * * *

this matter are the journal of Denonville, of which there is a
translation in the _Colonial Documents of New York_, IX.; the letters
of Denonville to the Minister; the _État Présent de l'Église de la
Colonie Française_, by Bishop Saint-Vallier; the _Recueil de ce qui
s'est passé en Canada au Sujet de la Guerre, tant des Anglais que des
Iroquois, depuis l'année 1682_; and the excellent account by Abbé
Belmont in his chronicle called _Histoire du Canada_. To these may be
added La Hontan, Tonty, Nicolas Perrot, La Potherie, and the Senecas
examined before the authorities of Albany, whose statements are
printed in the _Colonial Documents_, III. These are the original
sources. Charlevoix drew his account from a portion of them. It is
inexact, and needs the correction of his learned annotator, Mr. Shea.
Colden, Smith, and other English writers follow La Hontan.

The researches of Mr. O. H. Marshall, of Buffalo, have left no
reasonable doubt as to the scene of the battle, and the site of the
neighboring town. The Seneca ambuscade was on the marsh and the hills
immediately north and west of the present village of Victor; and their
chief town, called Gannagaro by Denonville, was on the top of
Boughton's Hill, about a mile and a quarter distant. Immense
quantities of Indian remains were formerly found here, and many are
found to this day. Charred corn has been turned up in abundance by the
plough, showing that the place was destroyed by fire. The remains of
the fort burned by the French are still plainly visible on a hill a
mile and a quarter from the ancient town. A plan of it will be found
in Squier's _Aboriginal Monuments of New York_. The site of the three
other Seneca towns destroyed by Denonville, and called Totiakton,
Gannondata, and Gannongarae, can also be identified. See Marshall, in
_Collections N. Y. Hist. Soc., 2d Series_, II. Indian traditions of
historical events are usually almost worthless; but the old Seneca
chief Dyunehogawah, or "John Blacksmith," who was living a few years
ago at the Tonawanda reservation, recounted to Mr. Marshall with
remarkable accuracy the story of the battle as handed down from his
ancestors who lived at Gannagaro, close to the scene of action.
Gannagaro was the Canagorah of Wentworth Greenalgh's Journal. The old
Seneca, on being shown a map of the locality, placed his finger on the
spot where the fight took place, and which Avas long known to the
Senecas by the name of Dyagodiyu, or "The Place of a Battle." It
answers in the most perfect manner to the French contemporary

[1] The authorities for the above are Denonville, Champigny, Abbé
Belmont, Bishop Saint-Vallier, and the author of _Recueil de ce qui
s'est passé en Canada au Sujet de la Guerre, etc., depuis l'année_

Belmont, who accompanied the expedition, speaks of the affair with
indignation, which was shared by many French officers. The bishop, on
the other hand, mentions the success of the stratagem as a reward
accorded by Heaven to the piety of Denonville. _État Présent de
l'Église_, 91, 92 (reprint, 1856).

Denonville's account, which is sufficiently explicit, is contained in
the long journal of the expedition which he sent to the court, and in
several letters to the minister. Both Belmont and the author of the
_Recueil_ speak of the prisoners as having been "pris par l'appât d'un

Mr. Shea, usually so exact, has been led into some error by
confounding the different acts of this affair. By Denonville's
official journal, it appears that, on the 19th June, Perré, by his
order, captured several Indians on the St. Lawrence; that, on the 25th
June, the governor, then at Rapide Plat on his way up the river,
received a letter from Champigny, informing him that he had seized all
the Iroquois near Fort Frontenac; and that, on the 3d July, Perré,
whom Denonville had sent several days before to attack Ganneious,
arrived with his prisoners.

[2] I have ventured to give this story on the sole authority of
Charlevoix, for the contemporary writers are silent concerning it. Mr.
Shea thinks that it involves a contradiction of date; but this is
entirely due to confounding the capture of prisoners by Perré at
Ganneious on July 3d with the capture by Champigny at Fort Frontenac
about June 20th. Lamberville reached Denonville's camp, one day's
journey from the fort, on the evening of the 29th. (_Journal of
Denonville_.) This would give four and a half days for news of the
treachery to reach Onondaga, and four and a half days for the Jesuit
to rejoin his countrymen.

Charlevoix, with his usual carelessness, says that the Jesuit Milet
had also been used to lure the Iroquois into the snare, and that he
was soon after captured by the Oneidas, and delivered by an Indian
matron. Milet's captivity did not take place till 1689-90.





When Dongan heard that the French had invaded the Senecas, seized
English traders on the lakes, and built a fort at Niagara, his wrath
was kindled anew. He sent to the Iroquois, and summoned them to meet
him at Albany; told the assembled chiefs that the late calamity had
fallen upon them because they had held councils with the French
without asking his leave; forbade them to do so again, and informed
them that, as subjects of King James, they must make no treaty, except
by the consent of his representative, the governor of New York. He
declared that the Ottawas and other remote tribes were also British
subjects; that the Iroquois should unite with them, to expel the
French from the west; and that all alike should bring down their
beaver skins to the English at Albany. Moreover, he enjoined them to
receive no more French Jesuits into their towns, and to call home
their countrymen whom these fathers had converted and enticed to
Canada. "Obey my commands," added the governor, "for that is the only
way to eat well and sleep well, without fear or disturbance." The
Iroquois, who wanted his help, seemed to assent to all he said. "We
will fight the French," exclaimed their orator, "as long as we have a
man left." [Footnote: _Dongan's Propositions to the Five Nations;
Answer of the Five Nations, N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 438, 441.]

At the same time, Dongan wrote to Denonville demanding the immediate
surrender of the Dutch and English captured on the lakes. Denonville
angrily replied that he would keep the prisoners, since Dongan had
broken the treaty of neutrality by "giving aid and comfort to the
savages." The English governor, in return, upbraided his correspondent
for invading British territory. "I will endevour to protect his
Majesty's subjects here from your unjust invasions, till I hear from
the King, my Master, who is the greatest and most glorious Monarch
that ever set on a Throne, and would do as much to propagate the
Christian faith as any prince that lives. He did not send me here to
suffer you to give laws to his subjects. I hope, notwithstanding all
your trained souldiers and greate Officers come from Europe, that our
masters at home will suffer us to do ourselves justice on you for the
injuries and spoyle you have committed on us; and I assure you, Sir,
if my Master gives leave, I will be as soon at Quebeck as you shall be
att Albany. What you alleage concerning my assisting the Sinnakees
(_Senecas_) with arms and ammunition to warr against you was never
given by mee untill the sixt of August last, when understanding of
your unjust proceedings in invading the King my Master's territorys in
a hostill manner, I then gave them powder, lead, and armes, and united
the five nations together to defend that part of our King's dominions
from your jnjurious invasion. And as for offering them men, in that
you doe me wrong, our men being all buisy then at their harvest, and I
leave itt to your judgment whether there was any occasion when only
foure hundred of them engaged with your whole army. I advise you to
send home all the Christian and Indian prisoners the King of England's
subjects you unjustly do deteine. This is what I have thought fitt to
answer to your reflecting and provoking letter." [Footnote: _Dongan to
Denonville, 9 Sept._, 1687, in _N. Y. Col. Docs.,_ III. 472.]

As for the French claims to the Iroquois country and the upper lakes,
he turned them to ridicule. They were founded, in part, on the
missions established there by the Jesuits. "The King of China,"
observes Dongan, "never goes anywhere without two Jessuits with him. I
wonder you make not the like pretence to that Kingdome." He speaks
with equal irony of the claim based on discovery: "Pardon me if I say
itt is a mistake, except you will affirme that a few loose fellowes
rambling amongst Indians to keep themselves from starving gives the
French a right to the Countrey." And of the claim based on
geographical divisions: "Your reason is that some rivers or rivoletts
of this country run out into the great river of Canada. O just God!
what new, farr-fetched, and unheard-of pretence is this for a title
to a country. The French King may have as good a pretence to all those
Countrys that drink clarett and Brandy." _Dongan's Fourth Paper to the
French Agents, N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 528. In spite of his sarcasms,
it is clear that the claim of prior discovery and occupation was on
the side of the French.

The dispute now assumed a new phase. James II. at length consented to
own the Iroquois as his subjects, ordering Dongan to protect them, and
repel the French by force of arms, should they attack them again.
[Footnote: _Warrant, authorizing Governor Dongan to protect the Five
Nations_, 10 _Nov_., 1687, _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 503.] At the same
time, conferences were opened at London between the French ambassador
and the English commissioners appointed to settle the questions at
issue. Both disputants claimed the Iroquois as subjects, and the
contest wore an aspect more serious than before.

The royal declaration was a great relief to Dongan. Thus far he had
acted at his own risk; now he was sustained by the orders of his king.
He instantly assumed a warlike attitude; and, in the next spring,
wrote to the Earl of Sunderland that he had been at Albany all winter,
with four hundred infantry, fifty horsemen, and eight hundred Indians.
This was not without cause, for a report had come from Canada that the
French were about to march on Albany to destroy it. "And now, my
Lord," continues Dongan, "we must build forts in ye countrey upon ye
great Lakes, as ye French doe, otherwise we lose ye Countrey, ye Bever
trade, and our Indians." [Footnote: _Dongan to Sunderland, Feb.,_
1688, _N.Y. Col. Docs.,_ III. 510.] Denonville, meanwhile, had begun
to yield, and promised to send back McGregory and the men captured
with him. [Footnote: _Denonville à Dongan_, 2 _Oct._, 1687. McGregory
soon arrived, and Dongan sent him back to Canada as an emissary with a
civil message to Denonville. _Dongan to Denonville,_ 10 _Nov._, 1687.]
Dongan, not satisfied, insisted on payment for all the captured
merchandise, and on the immediate demolition of Fort Niagara. He added
another demand, which must have been singularly galling to his rival.
It was to the effect that the Iroquois prisoners seized at Fort
Frontenac, and sent to the galleys in France, should be surrendered as
British subjects to the English ambassador at Paris or the secretary
of state in London. [Footnote: _Dongan to Denonville,_ 31 _Oct._,
1687; _Dongan's First Demand of the French Agents, N. Y. Col. Docs.,_
III. 515, 520.]

Denonville was sorely perplexed. He was hard pressed, and eager for
peace with the Iroquois at any price; but Dongan was using every means
to prevent their treating of peace with the French governor until he
had complied with all the English demands. In this extremity,
Denonville sent Father Vaillant to Albany, in the hope of bringing his
intractable rival to conditions less humiliating. The Jesuit played
his part with ability, and proved more than a match for his adversary
in dialectics; but Dongan held fast to all his demands. Vaillant tried
to temporize, and asked for a truce, with a view to a final settlement
by reference to the two kings. [Footnote: The papers of this
discussion will be found in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III.] Dongan referred
the question to a meeting of Iroquois chiefs, who declared in reply
that they would make neither peace nor truce till Fort Niagara was
demolished and all the prisoners restored. Dongan, well pleased,
commended their spirit, and assured them that King James, "who is the
greatest man the sunn shines uppon, and never told a ly in his life,
has given you his Royall word to protect you." [Footnote: _Dongan's
Reply to the Five Nations, Ibid_., III. 535.] Vaillant returned from
his bootless errand; and a stormy correspondence followed between the
two governors. Dongan renewed his demands, then protested his wish for
peace, extolled King James for his pious zeal, and declared that he
was sending over missionaries of his own to convert the Iroquois.
[Footnote: _Dongan to Denonville_, 17 _Feb_., 1688, _Ibid_., III.
519.] What Denonville wanted was not their conversion by Englishmen,
but their conversion by Frenchmen, and the presence in their towns of
those most useful political agents, the Jesuits. [Footnote: "II y a
une nécessité indispensable pour les intérais de la Religion et de la
Colonie de restablir les missionaires Jesuites dans tous les villages
Iroquois: si vous ne trouvés moyen de faire retourner ces Pères dans
leurs anciennes missions, vous devés en attendre beaucoup de malheur
pour cette Colonie; car je dois vous dire que jusqu'icy c'est leur
habilité qui a soutenu les affaires du pays par leur sçavoir-faire à
gouverner les esprits de ces barbares, qui ne sont Sauvages que de
nom." _Denonville, Mémoire adressé au Ministre_, 9 _Nov_., 1688.] He
replied angrily, charging Dongan with preventing the conversion of the
Iroquois by driving off the French missionaries, and accusing him,
farther, of instigating the tribes of New York to attack Canada.
[Footnote: _Denonville à Dongan_, 24 _Avril_, 1688; _Ibid._, 12 _Mai_,
1688. Whether the charge is true is questionable. Dongan had just
written that, if the Iroquois did harm to the French, he was ordered
to offer satisfaction, and had already done so.] Suddenly there was a
change in the temper of his letters. He wrote to his rival in terms of
studied civility; declared that he wished he could meet him, and
consult with him on the best means of advancing the cause of true
religion; begged that he would not refuse him his friendship; and
thanked him in warm terms for befriending some French prisoners whom
he had saved from the Iroquois, and treated with great kindness.
[Footnote: _Denonville à Dongan,_ 18 _Juin_, 1688; _Ibid._, 5
_Juillet_, 1688; _Ibid._, 20 _Aug._, 1088. "Je n'ai donc qu'à vous
asseurer que toute la Colonie a une très-parfaite reconnoissance des
bons offices que ces pauvres malheureux ont reçu de vous et de vos

This change was due to despatches from Versailles, in which Denonville
was informed that the matters in dispute would soon be amicably
settled by the commissioners; that he was to keep on good terms with
the English commanders, and, what pleased him still more, that the
king of England was about to recall Dongan. [Footnote: _Mémoire pour
servir d'Instruction au Sr. Marquis de Denonville_, 8 _Mars_, 1688;
_Le Roy à Denonville, même date_; _Seignelay à Denonville, même date._
Louis XIV. had demanded Dongan's recall. How far this had influenced
the action of James II. it is difficult to say.] In fact, James II.
had resolved on remodelling his American colonies. New York, New
Jersey, and New England had been formed into one government under Sir
Edmund Andros; and Dongan was summoned home, where a regiment was
given him, with the rank of major-general of artillery. Denonville
says that, in his efforts to extend English trade to the Great Lakes
and the Mississippi, his late rival had been influenced by motives of
personal gain. Be this as it may, he was a bold and vigorous defender
of the claims of the British crown.

Sir Edmund Andros now reigned over New York; and, by the terms of his
commission, his rule stretched westward to the Pacific. The usual
official courtesies passed between him and Denonville; but Andros
renewed all the demands of his predecessor, claimed the Iroquois as
subjects, and forbade the French to attack them. [Footnote: _Andros to
Denonville_, 21 _Aug._, 1688; _Ibid._, 29 _Sept._, 1688.] The new
governor was worse than the old. Denonville wrote to the minister: "I
send you copies of his letters, by which you will see that the spirit
of Dongan has entered into the heart of his successor, who may be less
passionate and less interested, but who is, to say the least, quite as
much opposed to us, and perhaps more dangerous by his suppleness and
smoothness than the other was by his violence. What he has just done
among the Iroquois, whom he pretends to be under his government, and
whom he prevents from coming to meet me, is a certain proof that
neither he nor the other English governors, nor their people, will
refrain from doing this colony all the harm they can." [Footnote:
_Mémoire de l'Estat Présent des Affaires de ce Pays depuis le 10me
Aoust, 1688, jusq'au dernier Octobre de la mesme année_. He declares
that the English are always "itching for the western trade," that
their favorite plan is to establish a post on the Ohio, and that they
have made the attempt three times already.]

While these things were passing, the state of Canada was deplorable,
and the position of its governor as mortifying as it was painful. He
thought with good reason that the maintenance of the new fort at
Niagara was of great importance to the colony, and he had repeatedly
refused the demands of Dongan and the Iroquois for its demolition. But
a power greater than sachems and governors presently intervened. The
provisions left at Niagara, though abundant, were atrociously bad.
Scurvy and other malignant diseases soon broke out among the soldiers.
The Senecas prowled about the place, and no man dared venture out for
hunting, fishing, or firewood. [Footnote: Denonville, _Mémoire du_ 10
_Aoust_, 1688.] The fort was first a prison, then a hospital, then a
charnel-house, till before spring the garrison of a hundred men was
reduced to ten or twelve. In this condition, they were found towards
the end of April by a large war-party of friendly Miamis, who entered
the place and held it till a French detachment at length arrived for
its relief. [Footnote: _Recueil de ce qui s'est passé en Canada depuis
l'année_ 1682. The writer was an officer of the detachment, and
describes what he saw. Compare La Potherie, II. 210; and La Hontan, I.
131 (1709).] The garrison of Fort Frontenac had suffered from the same
causes, though not to the same degree. Denonville feared that he
should be forced to abandon them both. The way was so long and so
dangerous, and the governor had grown of late so cautious, that he
dreaded the risk of maintaining such remote communications. On second
thought, he resolved to keep Frontenac and sacrifice Niagara. He
promised Dongan that he would demolish it, and he kept his word.
[Footnote: _Denonville à Dongan_, 20 _Aoust_, 1688; _Procès-verbal of
the Condition of Fort Niagara_, 1688; _N. Y. Col. Docs._, IX. 380. The
palisades were torn down by Denonville's order on the 15th of
September. The rude dwellings and storehouses which they enclosed,
together with a large wooden cross, were left standing. The commandant
De Troyes had died, and, Captain Desbergères had been sent to succeed

He was forced to another and a deeper humiliation. At the imperious
demand of Dongan and the Iroquois, he begged the king to send back the
prisoners entrapped at Fort Frontenac, and he wrote to the minister:
"Be pleased, Monseigneur, to remember that I had the honor to tell you
that, in order to attain the peace necessary to the country, I was
obliged to promise that I would beg you to send back to us the
prisoners I sent you last year. I know you gave orders that they
should be well treated, but I am informed that, though they were well
enough treated at first, your orders were not afterwards executed with
the same fidelity. If ill treatment has caused them all to die,--for
they are people who easily fall into dejection, and who die of
it,--and if none of them come back, I do not know at all whether we
can persuade these barbarians not to attack us again." [Footnote:
Denonville, _Mémoire de_ 10 _Aoust_, 1688.]

What had brought the marquis to this pass? Famine, destitution,
disease, and the Iroquois were making Canada their prey. The fur trade
had been stopped for two years; and the people, bereft of their only
means of subsistence, could contribute nothing to their own defence.
Above Three Rivers, the whole population was imprisoned in stockade
forts hastily built in every seigniory. [Footnote: In the Dépot des
Cartes de la Marine, there is a contemporary manuscript map, on which
all these forts are laid down.] Here they were safe, provided that
they never ventured out; but their fields were left untilled, and the
governor was already compelled to feed many of them at the expense of
the king. The Iroquois roamed among the deserted settlements or
prowled like lynxes about the forts, waylaying convoys and killing or
capturing stragglers. Their war-parties were usually small; but their
movements were so mysterious and their attacks so sudden, that they
spread a universal panic through the upper half of the colony. They
were the wasps which Denonville had failed to kill. "We should
succumb," wrote the distressed governor, "if our cause were not the
cause of God. Your Majesty's zeal for religion, and the great things
you have done for the destruction of heresy, encourage me to hope that
you will be the bulwark of the Faith in the new world as you are in
the old. I cannot give you a truer idea of the war we have to wage
with the Iroquois than by comparing them to a great number of wolves
or other ferocious beasts, issuing out of a vast forest to ravage the
neighboring settlements. The people gather to hunt them down; but
nobody can find their lair, for they are always in motion. An abler
man than I would be greatly at a loss to manage the affairs of this
country. It is for the interest of the colony to have peace at any
cost whatever. For the glory of the king and the good of religion, we
should be glad to have it an advantageous one; and so it would have
been, but for the malice of the English and the protection they have
given our enemies." [Footnote: _Denonville au Roy_, 1688; _Ibid._,
_Mémoire du_ 10 _Aoust_, 1688; _Ibid._, _Mémoire du_ 9 _Nov._, 1688.]

And yet he had, one would think, a reasonable force at his disposal.
His thirty-two companies of regulars were reduced by this time to
about fourteen hundred men, but he had also three or four hundred
Indian converts, besides the militia of the colony, of whom he had
stationed a large body under Vaudreuil at the head of the Island of
Montreal. All told, they were several times more numerous than the
agile warriors who held the colony in terror. He asked for eight
hundred more regulars. The king sent him three hundred. Affairs grew
worse, and he grew desperate. Rightly judging that the best means of
defence was to take the offensive, he conceived the plan of a double
attack on the Iroquois, one army to assail the Onondagas and Cayugas,
another the Mohawks and Oneidas. [Footnote: _Plan for the Termination
of the Iroquois War_, _N. Y. Col. Docs._, IX. 375.] Since to reach the
Mohawks as he proposed, by the way of Lake Champlain, he must pass
through territory indisputably British, the attempt would be a
flagrant violation of the treaty of neutrality. Nevertheless, he
implored the king to send him four thousand soldiers to accomplish it.
[Footnote: Denonville, _Mémoire du_ 8 _Août_, 1688.] His fast friend,
the bishop, warmly seconded his appeal. "The glory of God is
involved," wrote the head of the church, "for the Iroquois are the
only tribe who oppose the progress of the gospel. The glory of the
king is involved, for they are the only tribe who refuse to recognize
his grandeur and his might. They hold the French in the deepest
contempt; and, unless they are completely humbled within two years,
his Majesty will have no colony left in Canada." [Footnote:
Saint-Vallier, _Mémoire sur les Affaires du Canada pour Monseigneur le
Marquis de Seignelay_.] And the prelate proceeds to tell the minister
how, in his opinion, the war ought to be conducted. The appeal was
vain. "His Majesty agrees with you," wrote Seignelay, "that three or
four thousand men would be the best means of making peace, but he
cannot spare them now. If the enemy breaks out again, raise the
inhabitants, and fight as well as you can till his Majesty is prepared
to send you troops." [Footnote: _Mémoire du Ministre adressé à
Denonville_, 1 _Mai_, 1680.]

A hope had dawned on the governor. He had been more active of late in
negotiating than in fighting, and his diplomacy had prospered more
than his arms. It may be remembered that some of the Iroquois
entrapped at Fort Frontenac had been given to their Christian
relatives in the mission villages. Here they had since remained.
Denonville thought that he might use them as messengers to their
heathen countrymen, and he sent one or more of them to Onondaga with
gifts and overtures of peace. That shrewd old politician, Big Mouth,
was still strong in influence at the Iroquois capital, and his name
was great to the farthest bounds of the confederacy. He knew by
personal experience the advantages of a neutral position between the
rival European powers, from both of whom he received gifts and
attentions; and he saw that what was good for him was good for the
confederacy, since, if it gave itself to neither party, both would
court its alliance. In his opinion, it had now leaned long enough
towards the English; and a change of attitude had become expedient.
Therefore, as Denonville promised the return of the prisoners, and was
plainly ready to make other concessions, Big Mouth, setting at naught
the prohibitions of Andros, consented to a conference with the French.
He set out at his leisure for Montreal, with six Onondaga, Cayuga, and
Oneida chiefs; and, as no diplomatist ever understood better the
advantage of negotiating at the head of an imposing force, a body of
Iroquois warriors, to the number, it is said, of twelve hundred, set
out before him, and silently took path to Canada.

The ambassadors paddled across the lake and presented themselves
before the commandant of Fort Frontenac, who received them with
distinction, and ordered Lieutenant Perelle to escort them to
Montreal. Scarcely had the officer conducted his august charge five
leagues on their way, when, to his amazement, he found himself in the
midst of six hundred Iroquois warriors, who amused themselves for a
time with his terror, and then accompanied him as far as Lake St.
Francis, where he found another body of savages nearly equal in
number. Here the warriors halted, and the ambassadors with their
escort gravely pursued their way to meet Denonville at Montreal.
[Footnote: _Relation des Évenements de la Guerre_, 30 _Oct_., 1688.]

Big Mouth spoke haughtily, like a man who knew his power. He told the
governor that he and his people were subjects neither of the French
nor of the English; that they wished to be friends of both; that they
held their country of the Great Spirit; and that they had never been
conquered in war. He declared that the Iroquois knew the weakness of
the French, and could easily exterminate them; that they had formed a
plan of burning all the houses and barns of Canada, killing the
cattle, setting fire to the ripe grain, and then, when the people were
starving, attacking the forts; but that he, Big Mouth, had prevented
its execution. He concluded by saying that he was allowed but four
days to bring back the governor's reply; and that, if he were kept
waiting longer, he would not answer for what might happen. [Footnote:
_Declaration of the Iroquois in presence of M. de Denonville, N. Y.
Col. Docs._, IX. 384; _Relation des Evénements de la Guerre_, 30
_Oct_., 1688; Belmont, _Histoire du Canada_.] Though it appeared by
some expressions in his speech that he was ready to make peace only
with the French, leaving the Iroquois free to attack the Indian allies
of the colony, and though, while the ambassadors were at Montreal,
their warriors on the river above actually killed several of the
Indian converts, Denonville felt himself compelled to pretend
ignorance of the outrage. [Footnote: _Callières à Seignelay, Jan._,
1689.] A declaration of neutrality was drawn up, and Big Mouth affixed
to it the figures of sundry birds and beasts as the signatures of
himself and his fellow-chiefs. [Footnote: See the signatures in _N. Y.
Col. Docs._, IX. 385, 386.] He promised, too, that within a certain
time deputies from the whole confederacy should come to Montreal and
conclude a general peace.

The time arrived, and they did not appear. It became known, however,
that a number of chiefs were coming from Onondaga to explain the
delay, and to promise that the deputies should soon follow. The chiefs
in fact were on their way. They reached La Famine, the scene of La
Barre's meeting with Big Mouth; but here an unexpected incident
arrested them, and completely changed the aspect of affairs. Among the
Hurons of Michillimackinac there was a chief of high renown named
Kondiaronk, or the Rat. He was in the prime of life, a redoubted
warrior, and a sage counsellor. The French seem to have admired him
greatly. "He is a gallant man," says La Hontan, "if ever there was
one;" while Charlevoix declares that he was the ablest Indian the
French ever knew in America, and that he had nothing of the savage but
the name and the dress. In spite of the father's eulogy, the moral
condition of the Rat savored strongly of the wigwam. He had given
Denonville great trouble by his constant intrigues with the Iroquois,
with whom he had once made a plot for the massacre of his neighbors,
the Ottawas, under cover of a pretended treaty. [Footnote: Nicolas
Perrot, 143.] The French had spared no pains to gain him; and he had
at length been induced to declare for them, under a pledge from the
governor that the war should never cease till the Iroquois were
destroyed. During the summer, he raised a party of forty warriors, and
came down the lakes in quest of Iroquois scalps. [Footnote:
_Denonville à Seignelay_, 9 _Nov._, 1688. La Hontan saw the party set
out, and says that there were about a hundred of them.] On the way, he
stopped at Fort Frontenac to hear the news, when, to his amazement,
the commandant told him that deputies from Onondaga were coming in a
few days to conclude peace, and that he had better go home at once.

"It is well," replied the Rat.

He knew that for the Hurons it was not well. He and his tribe stood
fully committed to the war, and for them peace between the French and
the Iroquois would be a signal of destruction, since Denonville could
not or would not protect his allies. The Rat paddled off with his
warriors. He had secretly learned the route of the expected deputies;
and he shaped his course, not, as he had pretended, for
Michillimackinac, but for La Famine, where he knew that they would
land. Having reached his destination, he watched and waited four or
five days, till canoes at length appeared, approaching from the
direction of Onondaga. On this, the Rat and his friends hid themselves
in the bushes.

The new comers were the messengers sent as precursors of the embassy.
At their head was a famous personage named Decanisora, or
Tegannisorens, with whom were three other chiefs, and, it seems, a
number of warriors. They had scarcely landed when the ambushed Hurons
gave them a volley of bullets, killed one of the chiefs, wounded all
the rest, and then, rushing upon them, seized the whole party except a
warrior who escaped with a broken arm. Having secured his prisoners,
the Rat told them that he had acted on the suggestion of Denonville,
who had informed him that an Iroquois war-party was to pass that way.
The astonished captives protested that they were envoys of peace. The
Rat put on a look of amazement, then of horror and fury, and presently
burst into invectives against Denonville for having made him the
instrument of such atrocious perfidy. "Go, my brothers," he exclaimed,
"go home to your people. Though there is war between us, I give you
your liberty. Onontio has made me do so black a deed that I shall
never be happy again till your five tribes take a just vengeance upon
him." After giving them guns, powder, and ball, he sent them on their
way, well pleased with him and filled with rage against the governor.

In accordance with Indian usage, he, however, kept one of them to be
adopted, as he declared, in place of one of his followers whom he had
lost in the skirmish; then, recrossing the lake, he went alone to Fort
Frontenac, and, as he left the gate to rejoin his party, he said
coolly, "I have killed the peace: we shall see how the governor will
get out of this business." [Footnote: "Il dit, J'ai tué la paix."
Belmont, _Histoire du Canada_. "Le Rat passa ensuite seul à Catarakouy
(_Fort Frontenac_) sans vouloir dire le tour qu'il avoit fait, dit
seulement estant hors de la porte, en s'en allant, Nous verrons comme
le gouverneur se tirera d'affaire." Denonville.] Then, without loss of
time, he repaired to Michillimackinac, and gave his Iroquois prisoner
to the officer in command. No news of the intended peace had yet
reached that distant outpost; and, though the unfortunate Iroquois
told the story of his mission and his capture, the Rat declared that
it was a crazy invention inspired by the fear of death, and the
prisoner was immediately shot by a file of soldiers. The Rat now sent
for an old Iroquois who had long been a prisoner at the Huron village,
telling him with a mournful air that he was free to return to his
people, and recount the cruelty of the French, who, had put their
countryman to death. The liberated Iroquois faithfully acquitted
himself of his mission. [1]

One incident seemed for a moment likely to rob the intriguer of the
fruits of his ingenuity. The Iroquois who had escaped in the skirmish
contrived to reach Fort Frontenac some time after the last visit of
the Rat. He told what had happened; and, after being treated with the
utmost attention, he was sent to Onondaga, charged with explanations
and regrets. The Iroquois dignitaries seemed satisfied, and Denonville
wrote to the minister that there was still good hope of peace. He
little knew his enemy. They could dissemble and wait; but they neither
believed the governor nor forgave him. His supposed treachery at La
Famine, and his real treachery at Fort Frontenac, filled them with a
patient but unextinguishable rage. They sent him word that they were
ready to renew the negotiation; then they sent again, to say that
Andros forbade them. Without doubt they used his prohibition as a
pretext. Months passed, and Denonville remained in suspense. He did
not trust his Indian allies, nor did they trust him. Like the Rat and
his Hurons, they dreaded the conclusion of peace, and wished the war
to continue, that the French might bear the brunt of it, and stand
between them and the wrath of the Iroquois. [Footnote: _Denonville au
Ministre_, 9 _Nov_., 1688.]

In the direction of the Iroquois, there was a long and ominous
silence. It was broken at last by the crash of a thunderbolt. On the
night between the fourth and fifth of August, a violent hail-storm
burst over Lake St. Louis, an expansion of the St. Lawrence a little
above Montreal. Concealed by the tempest and the darkness, fifteen
hundred warriors landed at La Chine, and silently posted themselves
about the houses of the sleeping settlers, then screeched the
war-whoop, and began the most frightful massacre in Canadian history.
The houses were burned, and men, women, and children indiscriminately
butchered. In the neighborhood were three stockade forts, called Rémy,
Roland, and La Présentation; and they all had garrisons. There was
also an encampment of two hundred regulars about three miles distant,
under an officer named Subercase, then absent at Montreal on a visit
to Denonville, who had lately arrived with his wife and family. At
four o'clock in the morning, the troops in this encampment heard a
cannon-shot from one of the forts. They were at once ordered under
arms. Soon after, they saw a man running towards them, just escaped
from the butchery. He told his story, and passed on with the news to
Montreal, six miles distant. Then several fugitives appeared, chased
by a band of Iroquois, who gave over the pursuit at sight of the
soldiers, but pillaged several houses before their eyes. The day was
well advanced before Subercase arrived. He ordered the troops to
march. About a hundred armed inhabitants had joined them, and they
moved together towards La Chine. Here they found the houses still
burning, and the bodies of their inmates strewn among them or hanging
from the stakes where they had been tortured. They learned from a
French surgeon, escaped from the enemy, that the Iroquois were all
encamped a mile and a half farther on, behind a tract of forest.
Subercase, whose force had been strengthened by troops from the forts,
resolved to attack them; and, had he been allowed to do so, he would
probably have punished them severely, for most of them were helplessly
drunk with brandy taken from the houses of the traders. Sword in hand,
at the head of his men, the daring officer entered the forest; but, at
that moment, a voice from the rear commanded a halt. It was that of
the Chevalier de Vaudreuil, just come from Montreal, with positive
orders from Denonville to run no risks and stand solely on the
defensive. Subercase was furious. High words passed between him and
Vaudreuil, but he was forced to obey.

The troops were led back to Fort Roland, where about five hundred
regulars and militia were now collected under command of Vaudreuil. On
the next day, eighty men from Fort Rémy attempted to join them; but
the Iroquois had slept off the effect of their orgies, and were again
on the alert. The unfortunate detachment was set upon by a host of
savages, and cut to pieces in full sight of Fort Roland. All were
killed or captured, except Le Moyne de Longueuil, and a few others,
who escaped within the gate of Fort Rémy. [Footnote: _Recueil de ce
qui s'est passé en Canada depuis l'année_ 1682; _Observations on the
State of Affairs in Canada_, 1689, _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX. 431;
Belmont, _Histoire du Canada_; _Frontenac au Ministre_, 15 _Nov_.,
1689. This detachment was commanded by Lieutenant de la Rabeyre, and
consisted of fifty French and thirty Indian converts.]

Montreal was wild with terror. It had been fortified with palisades
since the war began; but, though there were troops in the town under
the governor himself, the people were in mortal dread. No attack was
made either on the town or on any of the forts, and such of the
inhabitants as could reach them were safe; while the Iroquois held
undisputed possession of the open country, burned all the houses and
barns over an extent of nine miles, and roamed in small parties,
pillaging and scalping, over more than twenty miles. There is no
mention of their having encountered opposition; nor do they seem to
have met with any loss but that of some warriors killed in the attack
on the detachment from Fort Rémy, and that of three drunken stragglers
who were caught and thrown into a cellar in Fort La Présentation. When
they came to their senses, they defied their captors, and fought with
such ferocity that it was necessary to shoot them. Charlevoix says
that the invaders remained in the neighborhood of Montreal till the
middle of October, or more than two months; but this seems incredible,
since troops and militia enough to drive them all into the St.
Lawrence might easily have been collected in less than a week. It is
certain, however, that their stay was strangely long. Troops and
inhabitants seem to have been paralyzed with fear.

At length, most of them took to their canoes, and recrossed Lake St.
Louis in a body, giving ninety yells to show that they had ninety
prisoners in their clutches. This was not all; for the whole number
carried off was more than a hundred and twenty, besides about two
hundred who had the good fortune to be killed on the spot. As the
Iroquois passed the forts, they shouted, "Onontio, you deceived us,
and now we have deceived you." Towards evening, they encamped on the
farther side of the lake, and began to torture and devour their
prisoners. On that miserable night, stupefied and speechless groups
stood gazing from the strand of La Chine at the lights that gleamed
along the distant shore of Châteaugay, where their friends, wives,
parents, or children agonized in the fires of the Iroquois, and scenes
were enacted of indescribable and nameless horror. The greater part of
the prisoners were, however, reserved to be distributed among the
towns of the confederacy, and there tortured for the diversion of the
inhabitants. While some of the invaders went home to celebrate their
triumph, others roamed in small parties through all the upper parts of
the colony, spreading universal terror. [2]

Canada lay bewildered and benumbed under the shock of this calamity;
but the cup of her misery was not full. There was revolution in
England. James II., the friend and ally of France, had been driven
from his kingdom, and William of Orange had seized his vacant throne.
Soon there came news of war between the two crowns. The Iroquois alone
had brought the colony to the brink of ruin; and now they would be
supported by the neighboring British colonies, rich, strong, and
populous, compared to impoverished and depleted Canada.

A letter of recall for Denonville was already on its way. [Footnote:
_Le Roy à Denonville_, 31 _Mai_, 1689.] His successor arrived in
October, and the marquis sailed for France. He was a good soldier in a
regular war, and a subordinate command; and he had some of the
qualities of a good governor, while lacking others quite as essential.
He had more activity than vigor, more personal bravery than firmness,
and more clearness of perception than executive power. He filled his
despatches with excellent recommendations, but was not the man to
carry them into effect. He was sensitive, fastidious, critical, and
conventional, and plumed himself on his honor, which was not always
able to bear a strain; though as regards illegal trade, the besetting
sin of Canadian governors, his hands were undoubtedly clean. [3] It is
said that he had an instinctive antipathy for Indians, such as some
persons have for certain animals; and the _coureurs de bois_, and
other lawless classes of the Canadian population, appeared to please
him no better. Their license and insubordination distressed him, and
he constantly complained of them to the king. For the Church and its
hierarchy his devotion was unbounded; and his government was a season
of unwonted sunshine for the ecclesiastics, like the balmy days of the
Indian summer amid the gusts of November. They exhausted themselves in
eulogies of his piety; and, in proof of its depth and solidity, Mother
Juchereau tells us that he did not regard station and rank as very
useful aids to salvation. While other governors complained of too many
priests, Denonville begged for more. All was harmony between him and
Bishop Saint-Vallier; and the prelate was constantly his friend, even
to the point of justifying his worst act, the treacherous seizure of
the Iroquois neutrals. [Footnote: Saint-Vallier, _État Présent_, 91,
92 (Quebec, 1856).] When he left Canada, the only mourner besides the
churchmen was his colleague, the intendant Champigny; for the two
chiefs of the colony, joined in a common union with the Jesuits, lived
together in unexampled concord. On his arrival at court, the good
offices of his clerical allies gained for him the highly honorable
post of governor of the royal children, the young Dukes of Burgundy,
Anjou, and Berri.

[1] La Hontan, I. 180 (1709). Most of the details of the story are
drawn from this writer, whose statement I have compared with that of
Denonville, in his letter dated Nov. 9, 1688; of Callières, Jan.,
1689; of the _Abstract of Letters from Canada_, in _N.Y. Col. Docs_.,
IX. 393; and of the writer of _Relation des Évenements de la Guerre_,
8 _Oct._, 1688. Belmont notices the affair with his usual conciseness.
La Hontan's account is sustained by the others in most, though not in
all of its essential points. He calls the Huron chief _Adario, ou le
Rat_. He is elsewhere mentioned as Kondiarouk, Kondiaront, Souoias,
and Souaiti. La Hontan says that the scene of the treachery was one of
the rapids of the St. Lawrence, but more authentic accounts place it
at La Famine.

[2] The best account of the descent of the Iroquois at La Chine is
that of the _Recueil de ce qui s'est passé en Canada_, 1682-1712. The
writer was an officer under Subercase, and was on the spot. Belmont,
superior of the mission of Montreal, also gives a trustworthy account
in his _Histoire du Canada_. Compare La Hontan, I. 193 (1709), and La
Potherie, II. 229. Farther particulars are given in the letters of
Callières, 8 Nov.; Champigny, 16 Nov.; and Frontenac, 15 Nov.
Frontenac, after visiting the scene of the catastrophe a few weeks
after it occurred, writes: "Ils (_les Iroquois_) avoient bruslé plus
de trois lieues de pays, saccagé toutes les maisons jusqu'aux portes
de la ville, enlevé plus de six vingt personnes, tant hommes, femmes,
qu'enfants, après avoir massacré plus de deux cents dont ils avoient
cassé la teste aux uns, bruslé, rosty, et mangé les autres, ouvert le
ventre des femmes grosses pour en arracher les enfants, et fait des
cruautez inouïes et sans exemple." The details given by Belmont, and
by the author of _Histoire de l'Eau de Vie en Canada_, are no less
revolting. The last-mentioned writer thinks that the massacre was a
judgment of God upon the sale of brandy at La Chine.

Some Canadian writers have charged the English with instigating the
massacre. I find nothing in contemporary documents to support the
accusation. Denonville wrote to the minister, after the Rat's
treachery came to light, that Andros had forbidden the Iroquois to
attack the colony. Immediately after the attack at La Chine, the
Iroquois sachems, in a conference with the agents of New England,
declared that "we did not make war on the French at the persuasion of
our brethren at Albany; for we did not so much as acquaint them of our
intention till fourteen days after our army had begun their march."
_Report of Conference_ in Colden, 103.

[3] "I shall only add one article, on which possibly you will find it
strange that I have said nothing; namely, whether the governor carries
on any trade. I shall answer, no; but my Lady the Governess (_Madame
la Gouvernante_), who is disposed not to neglect any opportunity for
making a profit, had a room, not to say a shop, full of goods, till
the close of last winter, in the château of Quebec, and found means
afterwards to make a lottery to get rid of the rubbish that remained,
which produced her more than her good merchandise." _Relation of the
State of Affairs in Canada_, 1688, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX. 388.
This paper was written at Quebec.


1689, 1690.


The sun of Louis XIV had reached its zenith. From a morning of
unexampled brilliancy it had mounted to the glare of a cloudless noon;
but the hour of its decline was near. The mortal enemy of France was
on the throne of England, turning against her from that new point of
vantage all the energies of his unconquerable genius. An invalid built
the Bourbon monarchy, and another invalid battered and defaced the
imposing structure: two potent and daring spirits in two frail bodies,
Richelieu and William of Orange.

Versailles gave no sign of waning glories. On three evenings of the
week, it was the pleasure of the king that the whole court should
assemble in the vast suite of apartments now known as the Halls of
Abundance, of Venus, of Diana, of Mars, of Mercury, and of Apollo. The
magnificence of their decorations, pictures of the great Italian
masters, sculptures, frescoes, mosaics, tapestries, vases and statues
of silver and gold; the vista of light and splendor that opened
through the wide portals; the courtly throngs, feasting, dancing,
gaming, promenading, conversing, formed a scene which no palace of
Europe could rival or approach. Here were all the great historic names
of France, princes, warriors, statesmen, and all that was highest in
rank and place; the flower, in short, of that brilliant society, so
dazzling, captivating, and illusory. In former years, the king was
usually present, affable and gracious, mingling with his courtiers and
sharing their amusements; but he had grown graver of late, and was
more often in his cabinet, laboring with his ministers on the task of
administration, which his extravagance and ambition made every day
more burdensome. [Footnote: Saint-Simon speaks of these assemblies.
The halls in question were finished in 1682; and a minute account of
them, and of the particular use to which each was destined, was
printed in the _Mercure Français_ of that year. See also Soulié,
_Notice du Musée impérial de Versailles_, where copious extracts from
the _Mercure_ are given. The _grands appartements_ are now entirely
changed in appearance, and turned into an historic picture gallery.]

There was one corner of the world where his emblem, the sun, would not
shine on him. He had done his best for Canada, and had got nothing for
his pains but news of mishaps and troubles. He was growing tired of
the colony which he had nursed with paternal fondness, and he was more
than half angry with it because it did not prosper. Denonville's
letters had grown worse and worse; and, though he had not heard as yet
of the last great calamity, he was sated with ill tidings already.

Count Frontenac stood before him. Since his recall, he had lived at
court, needy and no longer in favor; but he had influential friends,
and an intriguing wife, always ready to serve him. The king knew his
merits as well as his faults; and, in the desperate state of his
Canadian affairs, he had been led to the resolution of restoring him
to the command from which, for excellent reasons, he had removed him
seven years before. He now told him that, in his belief, the charges
brought against him were without foundation. [Footnote: _Journal de
Dangeau_, II. 390. Frontenac, since his recall, had not been wholly
without marks of royal favor. In 1685, the king gave him a
"gratification" of 3,500 francs. _Ibid_., I. 205.] "I send you back to
Canada," he is reported to have said, "where I am sure that you will
serve me as well as you did before; and I ask nothing more of you."
[Footnote: Goyer, _Oraison Funèbre du Comte de Frontenac_.] The post
was not a tempting one to a man in his seventieth year. Alone and
unsupported,--for the king, with Europe rising against him, would give
him no more troops,--he was to restore the prostrate colony to hope
and courage, and fight two enemies with a force that had proved no
match for one of them alone. The audacious count trusted himself, and
undertook the task; received the royal instructions, and took his last
leave of the master whom even he after a fashion honored and admired.

He repaired to Rochelle, where two ships of the royal navy were
waiting his arrival, embarked in one of them, and sailed for the New
World. An heroic remedy had been prepared for the sickness of Canada,
and Frontenac was to be the surgeon. The cure, however, was not of his
contriving. Denonville had sent Callières, his second in command, to
represent the state of the colony to the court, and beg for help.
Callières saw that there was little hope of more troops or any
considerable supply of money; and he laid before the king a plan,
which had at least the recommendations of boldness and cheapness. This
was to conquer New York with the forces already in Canada, aided only
by two ships of war. The blow, he argued, should be struck at once,
and the English taken by surprise. A thousand regulars and six hundred
Canadian militia should pass Lake Champlain and Lake George in canoes
and bateaux, cross to the Hudson and capture Albany, where they would
seize all the river craft and descend the Hudson to the town of New
York, which, as Callières stated, had then about two hundred houses
and four hundred fighting men. The two ships were to cruise at the
mouth of the harbor, and wait the arrival of the troops, which was to
be made known to them by concerted signals, whereupon they were to
enter and aid in the attack. The whole expedition, he thought, might
be accomplished in a month; so that by the end of October the king
would be master of all the country. The advantages were manifold. The
Iroquois, deprived of English arms and ammunition, would be at the
mercy of the French; the question of English rivalry in the west would
be settled for ever; the king would acquire a means of access to his
colony incomparably better than the St. Lawrence, and one that
remained open all the year; and, finally, New England would be
isolated, and prepared for a possible conquest in the future.

The king accepted the plan with modifications, which complicated and
did not improve it. Extreme precautions were taken to insure secrecy;
but the vast distances, the difficult navigation, and the accidents of
weather appear to have been forgotten in this amended scheme of
operation. There was, moreover, a long delay in fitting the two ships
for sea. The wind was ahead, and they were fifty-two days in reaching
Chedabucto, at the eastern end of Nova Scotia. Thence Frontenac and
Callières had orders to proceed in a merchant ship to Quebec, which
might require a month more; and, on arriving, they were to prepare for
the expedition, while at the same time Frontenac was to send back a
letter to the naval commander at Chedabucto, revealing the plan to
him, and ordering him to sail to New York to co-operate in it. It was
the twelfth of September when Chedabucto was reached, and the
enterprise was ruined by the delay. Frontenac's first step in his new
government was a failure, though one for which he was in no way
answerable. [1]

It will be well to observe what were the intentions of the king
towards the colony which he proposed to conquer. They were as follows:
If any Catholics were found in New York, they might be left
undisturbed, provided that they took an oath of allegiance to the
king. Officers, and other persons who had the means of paying ransoms,
were to be thrown into prison. All lands in the colony, except those
of Catholics swearing allegiance, were to be taken from their owners,
and granted under a feudal tenure to the French officers and soldiers.
All property, public or private, was to be seized, a portion of it
given to the grantees of the land, and the rest sold on account of the
king. Mechanics and other workmen might, at the discretion of the
commanding officer, be kept as prisoners to work at fortifications and
do other labor. The rest of the English and Dutch inhabitants, men,
women, and children, were to be carried out of the colony and
dispersed in New England, Pennsylvania, or other places, in such a
manner that they could not combine in any attempt to recover their
property and their country. And, that the conquest might be perfectly
secure, the nearest settlements of New England were to be destroyed,
and those more remote laid under contribution. [2]

In the next century, some of the people of Acadia were torn from their
homes by order of a British commander. The act was harsh and violent,
and the innocent were involved with the guilty; but many of the
sufferers had provoked their fate, and deserved it.

Louis XIV. commanded that eighteen thousand unoffending persons should
be stripped of all that they possessed, and cast out to the mercy of
the wilderness. The atrocity of the plan is matched by its folly. The
king gave explicit orders, but he gave neither ships nor men enough to
accomplish them; and the Dutch farmers, goaded to desperation, would
have cut his sixteen hundred soldiers to pieces. It was the scheme of
a man blinded by a long course of success. Though perverted by
flattery and hardened by unbridled power, he was not cruel by nature;
and here, as in the burning of the Palatinate and the persecution of
the Huguenots, he would have stood aghast, if his dull imagination
could have pictured to him the miseries he was preparing to inflict.
[Footnote: On the details of the projected attack of New York, _Le Roy
à Denonville_, 7 _Juin_, 1689; _Le Ministre à Denonville, même date_;
_Le Ministre à Frontenac, même date_; _Ordre du Roy à Vaudreuil, même
date_; _Le Roy au Sieur de la Caffinière, même date_; _Champigny au
Ministre_, 16 _Nov._, 1689.]

With little hope left that the grand enterprise against New York could
succeed, Frontenac made sail for Quebec, and, stopping by the way at
Isle Percée, learned from Récollet missionaries the irruption of the
Iroquois at Montreal. He hastened on; but the wind was still against
him, and the autumn woods were turning brown before he reached his
destination. It was evening when he landed, amid fireworks,
illuminations, and the firing of cannon. All Quebec came to meet him
by torchlight; the members of the council offered their respects, and
the Jesuits made him an harangue of welcome. [Footnote: La Hontan, I.
199.] It was but a welcome of words. They and the councillors had done
their best to have him recalled, and hoped that they were rid of him
for ever; but now he was among them again, rasped by the memory of
real or fancied wrongs. The count, however, had no time for
quarrelling. The king had told him to bury old animosities and forget
the past, and for the present he was too busy to break the royal
injunction. [Footnote: _Instruction pour le Sieur Comte de Frontenac_,
7 _Juin_, 1689.] He caused boats to be made ready, and in spite of
incessant rains pushed up the river to Montreal. Here he found
Denonville and his frightened wife. Every thing was in confusion. The
Iroquois were gone, leaving dejection and terror behind them.
Frontenac reviewed the troops. There were seven or eight hundred of
them in the town, the rest being in garrison at the various forts.
Then he repaired to what was once La Chine, and surveyed the miserable
waste of ashes and desolation that spread for miles around.

To his extreme disgust, he learned that Denonville had sent a Canadian
officer by secret paths to Fort Frontenac, with orders to Valrenne,
the commandant, to blow it up, and return with his garrison to
Montreal. Frontenac had built the fort, had given it his own name, and
had cherished it with a paternal fondness, reinforced by strong hopes
of making money out of it. For its sake he had become the butt of
scandal and opprobrium; but not the less had he always stood its
strenuous and passionate champion. An Iroquois envoy had lately with
great insolence demanded its destruction of Denonville; and this
alone, in the eyes of Frontenac, was ample reason for maintaining it
at any cost. [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre_, 15 _Nov._, 1689.] He
still had hope that it might be saved, and with all the energy of
youth he proceeded to collect canoes, men, provisions, and arms;
battled against dejection, insubordination, and fear, and in a few
days despatched a convoy of three hundred men to relieve the place,
and stop the execution of Denonville's orders. His orders had been but
too promptly obeyed. The convoy was scarcely gone an hour, when, to
Frontenac's unutterable wrath, Valrenne appeared with his garrison. He
reported that he had set fire to every thing in the fort that would
burn, sunk the three vessels belonging to it, thrown the cannon into
the lake, mined the walls and bastions, and left matches burning in
the powder magazine; and, further, that when he and his men were five
leagues on their way to Montreal a dull and distant explosion told
them that the mines had sprung. It proved afterwards that the
destruction was not complete; and the Iroquois took possession of the
abandoned fort, with a large quantity of stores and munitions left by
the garrison in their too hasty retreat. [Footnote: _Frontenac au
Ministre_, 15 _Nov._, 1689; _Recueil de ce qui s'est passé en Canada
depuis l'année_ 1682.]

There was one ray of light through the clouds. The unwonted news of a
victory came to Montreal. It was small, but decisive, and might be an
earnest of greater things to come. Before Frontenac's arrival,
Denonville had sent a reconnoitring party up the Ottawa. They had gone
no farther than the Lake of Two Mountains, when they met twenty-two
Iroquois in two large canoes, who immediately bore down upon them,
yelling furiously. The French party consisted of twenty-eight
_coureurs de bois_ under Du Lhut and Mantet, excellent partisan
chiefs, who manoeuvred so well that the rising sun blazed full in the
eyes of the advancing enemy, and spoiled their aim. The French
received their fire, which wounded one man; then, closing with them
while their guns were empty, gave them a volley, which killed and
wounded eighteen of their number. One swam ashore. The remaining three
were captured, and given to the Indian allies to be burned. [Footnote:
_Frontenac au Ministre_, 15 _Nov._, 1689; _Champigny au Ministre_, 16
_Nov._, 1689. Compare Belmont, whose account is a little different;
also _N.Y. Col. Docs._, IX. 435.]

This gleam of sunshine passed, and all grew black again. On a snowy
November day, a troop of Iroquois fell on the settlement of La
Chesnaye, burned the houses, and vanished with a troop of prisoners,
leaving twenty mangled corpses on the snow. [Footnote: Belmont,
_Histoire du Canada_; _Frontenac à--_, 17 _Nov._, 1689; _Champigny au
Ministre_, 16 _Nov._, 1689. This letter is not the one just cited.
Champigny wrote twice on the same day.] "The terror," wrote the
bishop, "is indescribable." The appearance of a few savages would put
a whole neighborhood to flight. [Footnote: _N. Y. Col. Docs._, IX.
435.] So desperate, wrote Frontenac, were the needs of the colony, and
so great the contempt with which the Iroquois regarded it, that it
almost needed a miracle either to carry on war or make peace. What he
most earnestly wished was to keep the Iroquois quiet, and so leave his
hands free to deal with the English. This was not easy, to such a
pitch of audacity had late events raised them. Neither his temper nor
his convictions would allow him to beg peace of them, like his
predecessor; but he had inordinate trust in the influence of his name,
and he now took a course which he hoped might answer his purpose
without increasing their insolence. The perfidious folly of Denonville
in seizing their countrymen at Fort Frontenac had been a prime cause
of their hostility; and, at the request of the late governor, the
surviving captives, thirteen in all, had been taken from the galleys,
gorgeously clad in French attire, and sent back to Canada in the ship
which carried Frontenac. Among them was a famous Cayuga war-chief
called Ourehaoué, whose loss had infuriated the Iroquois. [Footnote:
Ourehaoué was not one of the neutrals entrapped at Fort Frontenac, but
was seized about the same time by the troops on their way up the St.
Lawrence.] Frontenac gained his good-will on the voyage; and, when
they reached Quebec, he lodged him in the château, and treated him
with such kindness that the chief became his devoted admirer and
friend. As his influence was great among his people, Frontenac hoped
that he might use him with success to bring about an accommodation. He
placed three of the captives at the disposal of the Cayuga, who
forthwith sent them to Onondaga with a message which the governor had
dictated, and which was to the following effect: "The great Onontio,
whom you all know, has come back again. He does not blame you for what
you have done; for he looks upon you as foolish children, and blames
only the English, who are the cause of your folly, and have made you
forget your obedience to a father who has always loved and never
deceived you. He will permit me, Ourehaoué, to return to you as soon
as you will come to ask for me, not as you have spoken of late, but
like children speaking to a father." [Footnote: _Frontenac au
Ministre_, 30 _Avril_, 1690.] Frontenac hoped that they would send an
embassy to reclaim their chief, and thus give him an opportunity to
use his personal influence over them. With the three released
captives, he sent an Iroquois convert named Cut Nose with a wampum
belt to announce his return.

When the deputation arrived at Onondaga and made known their errand,
the Iroquois magnates, with their usual deliberation, deferred
answering till a general council of the confederacy should have time
to assemble; and, meanwhile, they sent messengers to ask the mayor of
Albany, and others of their Dutch and English friends, to come to the
meeting. They did not comply, merely sending the government
interpreter, with a few Mohawk Indians, to represent their interests.
On the other hand, the Jesuit Milet, who had been captured a few
months before, adopted, and made an Oneida chief, used every effort to
second the designs of Frontenac. The authorities of Albany tried in
vain to induce the Iroquois to place him in their hands. They
understood their interests too well, and held fast to the Jesuit.
[Footnote: Milet was taken in 1689, not, as has been supposed, in
1690. _Lettre du Père Milet_, 1691, printed by Shea.]

The grand council took place at Onondaga on the twenty-second of
January. Eighty chiefs and sachems, seated gravely on mats around the
council fire, smoked their pipes in silence for a while; till at
length an Onondaga orator rose, and announced that Frontenac, the old
Onontio, had returned with Ourehaoué and twelve more of their captive
friends, that he meant to rekindle the council fire at Fort Frontenac,
and that he invited them to meet him there. [Footnote: Frontenac
declares that he sent no such message, and intimates that Cut Nose had
been tampered with by persons over-anxious to conciliate the
Iroquois, and who had even gone so far as to send them messages on
their own account. These persons were Lamberville, François Hertel,
and one of the Le Moynes. Frontenac was very angry at this
interference, to which he ascribes the most mischievous consequences.
Cut Nose, or Nez Coupé, is called Adarahta by Colden, and Gagniegaton,
or Red Bird, by some French writers.]

"Ho, ho, ho," returned the eighty senators, from the bottom of their
throats. It was the unfailing Iroquois response to a speech. Then Cut
Nose, the governor's messenger, addressed the council: "I advise you
to meet Onontio as he desires. Do so, if you wish to live." He
presented a wampum belt to confirm his words, and the conclave again
returned the same guttural ejaculation.

"Ourehaoué sends you this," continued Cut Nose, presenting another
belt of wampum: "by it he advises you to listen to Onontio, if you
wish to live."

When the messenger from Canada had ceased, the messenger from Albany,
a Mohawk Indian, rose and repeated word for word a speech confided to
him by the mayor of that town, urging the Iroquois to close their ears
against the invitations of Onontio.

Next rose one Cannehoot, a sachem of the Senecas, charged with matters
of grave import; for they involved no less than the revival of that
scheme, so perilous to the French, of the union of the tribes of the
Great Lakes in a triple alliance with the Iroquois and the English.
These lake tribes, disgusted with the French, who, under Denonville,
had left them to the mercy of the Iroquois, had been impelled, both by
their fears and their interests to make new advances to the
confederacy, and had first addressed themselves to the Senecas, whom
they had most cause to dread. They had given up some of the Iroquois
prisoners in their hands, and promised soon to give up the rest. A
treaty had been made; and it was this event which the Seneca sachem
now announced to the council. Having told the story to his assembled
colleagues, he exhibited and explained the wampum belts and other
tokens brought by the envoys from the lakes, who represented nine
distinct tribes or bands from the region of Michillimackinac. By these
tokens, the nine tribes declared that they came to learn wisdom of the
Iroquois and the English; to wash off the war-paint, throw down the
tomahawk, smoke the pipe of peace, and unite with them as one body.
"Onontio is drunk," such was the interpretation of the fourth wampum
belt; "but we, the tribes of Michillimackinac, wash our hands of all
his actions. Neither we nor you must defile ourselves by listening to
him." When the Seneca sachem had ended, and when the ejaculations that
echoed his words had ceased, the belts were hung up before all the
assembly, then taken down again, and distributed among the sachems of
the five Iroquois tribes, excepting one, which was given to the
messengers from Albany. Thus was concluded the triple alliance, which
to Canada meant no less than ruin.

"Brethren," said an Onondaga sachem, "we must hold fast to our brother
Quider (_Peter Schuyler, mayor of Albany_) and look on Onontio as our
enemy, for he is a cheat."

Then they invited the interpreter from Albany to address the council,
which he did, advising them not to listen to the envoys from Canada.
When he had ended, they spent some time in consultation among
themselves, and at length agreed on the following message, addressed
to Corlaer, or New York, and to Kinshon, the Fish, by which they meant
New England, the authorities of which had sent them the image of a
fish as a token of alliance: [Footnote: The wooden image of a codfish
still hangs in the State House at Boston, the emblem of a colony which
lived chiefly by the fisheries.]--

"Brethren, our council fire burns at Albany. We will not go to meet
Onontio at Fort Frontenac. We will hold fast to the old chain of peace
with Corlaer, and we will fight with Onontio. Brethren, we are glad to
hear from you that you are preparing to make war on Canada, but tell
us no lies.

"Brother Kinshon, we hear that you mean to send soldiers against the
Indians to the eastward; but we advise you, now that we are all united
against the French, to fall upon them at once. Strike at the root:
when the trunk is cut down, all the branches fall with it.

"Courage, Corlaer! courage, Kinshon! Go to Quebec in the spring; take
it, and you will have your feet on the necks of the French and all
their friends."

Then they consulted together again, and agreed on the following answer
to Ourehaoue and Frontenac:--

"Ourehaoué, the whole council is glad to hear that you have come back.

"Onontio, you have told us that you have come back again, and brought
with you thirteen of our people who were carried prisoners to France.
We are glad of it. You wish to speak with us at Cataraqui (_Fort
Frontenac_). Don't you know that your council fire there is put out?
It is quenched in blood. You must first send home the prisoners. When
our brother Ourehaoué is returned to us, then we will talk with you of
peace. You must send him and the others home this very winter. We now
let you know that we have made peace with the tribes of
Michillimackinac. You are not to think, because we return you an
answer, that we have laid down the tomahawk. Our warriors will
continue the war till you send our countrymen back to us." [3]

The messengers from Canada returned with this reply. Unsatisfactory as
it was, such a quantity of wampum was sent with it as showed plainly
the importance attached by the Iroquois to the matters in question.
Encouraged by a recent success against the English, and still
possessed with an overweening confidence in his own influence over the
confederates, Frontenac resolved that Ourehaoué should send them
another message. The chief, whose devotion to the count never wavered,
accordingly despatched four envoys, with a load of wampum belts,
expressing his astonishment that his countrymen had not seen fit to
send a deputation of chiefs to receive him from the hands of Onontio,
and calling upon them to do so without delay, lest he should think
that they had forgotten him. Along with the messengers, Frontenac
ventured to send the Chevalier d'Aux, a half-pay officer, with orders
to observe the disposition of the Iroquois, and impress them in
private talk with a sense of the count's power, of his good-will to
them, and of the wisdom of coming to terms with him, lest, like an
angry father, he should be forced at last to use the rod. The
chevalier's reception was a warm one. They burned two of his
attendants, forced him to run the gauntlet, and, after a vigorous
thrashing, sent him prisoner to Albany. The last failure was worse
than the first. The count's name was great among the Iroquois, but he
had trusted its power too far. [Footnote: _Message of Ourehaoué_, in
_N. Y. Col. Docs._, III. 735; _Instructions to Chevalier d'Eau, Ibid.,
_733; _Chevalier d'Aux au Ministre_, 15 _Mai_, 1693. The chevalier's
name is also written _d'O_, He himself wrote it as in the text.]

The worst of news had come from Michillimackinac. La Durantaye, the
commander of the post, and Carheil, the Jesuit, had sent a messenger
to Montreal in the depth of winter to say that the tribes around them
were on the point of revolt. Carheil wrote that they threatened openly
to throw themselves into the arms of the Iroquois and the English;
that they declared that the protection of Onontio was an illusion and
a snare; that they once mistook the French for warriors, but saw now
that they were no match for the Iroquois, whom they had tamely allowed
to butcher them at Montreal, without even daring to defend themselves;
that when the French invaded the Senecas they did nothing but cut down
corn and break canoes, and since that time they had done nothing but
beg peace for themselves, forgetful of their allies, whom they
expected to bear the brunt of the war, and then left to their fate;
that they had surrendered through cowardice the prisoners they had
caught by treachery, and this, too, at a time when the Iroquois were
burning French captives in all their towns; and, finally, that, as the
French would not or could not make peace for them, they would make
peace for themselves. "These," pursued Carheil, "are the reasons they
give us to prove the necessity of their late embassy to the Senecas;
and by this one can see that our Indians are a great deal more
clear-sighted than they are thought to be, and that it is hard to
conceal from their penetration any thing that can help or harm their
interests. What is certain is that, if the Iroquois are not stopped,
they will not fail to come and make themselves masters here."
[Footnote: _Carheil à Frontenac_, 1690. Frontenac did not receive this
letter till September, and acted on the information previously sent
him. Charlevoix's version of the letter does not conform with the

Charlevoix thinks that Frontenac was not displeased at this bitter
arraignment of his predecessor's administration. At the same time, his
position was very embarrassing. He had no men to spare; but such was
the necessity of saving Michillimackinac, and breaking off the treaty
with the Senecas, that when spring opened he sent Captain Louvigny
with a hundred and forty-three Canadians and six Indians to reinforce
the post and replace its commander, La Durantaye. Two other officers
with an additional force were ordered to accompany him through the
most dangerous part of the journey. With them went Nicolas Perrot,
bearing a message from the count to his rebellious children of
Michillimackinac. The following was the pith of this characteristic

"I am astonished to learn that you have forgotten the protection that
I always gave you. Do you think that I am no longer alive; or that I
have a mind to stand idle, like those who have been here in my place?
Or do you think that, if eight or ten hairs have been torn from my
children's heads when I was absent, I cannot put ten handfuls of hair
in the place of every one that was pulled out? You know that before I
protected you the ravenous Iroquois dog was biting everybody. I tamed
him and tied him up; but, when he no longer saw me, he behaved worse
than ever. If he persists, he shall feel my power. The English have
tried to win him by flatteries, but I will kill all who encourage him.
The English have deceived and devoured their children, but I am a good
father who loves you. I loved the Iroquois once, because they obeyed
me. When I knew that they had been treacherously captured and carried
to France, I set them free; and, when I restore them to their country,
it will not be through fear, but through pity, for I hate treachery. I
am strong enough to kill the English, destroy the Iroquois, and whip
you, if you fail in your duty to me. The Iroquois have killed and
captured you in time of peace. Do to them as they have done to you, do
to the English as they would like to do to you, but hold fast to your
true father, who will never abandon you. Will you let the English
brandy that has killed you in your wigwams lure you into the kettles
of the Iroquois? Is not mine better, which has never killed you, but
always made you strong?" [Footnote: _Parole (de M. de Frontenac) qui
doit être dite à l'Outaouais pour le dissuader de l'Alliance qu'il
vent faire avec l'Iroquois et l'Anglois_. The message is long. Only
the principal points are given above.]

Charged with this haughty missive, Perrot set out for Michillimackinac
along with Louvigny and his men. On their way up the Ottawa, they met
a large band of Iroquois hunters, whom they routed with heavy loss.
Nothing could have been more auspicious for Perrot's errand. When
towards midsummer they reached their destination, they ranged their
canoes in a triumphal procession, placed in the foremost an Iroquois
captured in the fight, forced him to dance and sing, hung out the
_fleur-de-lis_, shouted _Vive le Roi_, whooped, yelled, and fired
their guns. As they neared the village of the Ottawas, all the naked
population ran down to the shore, leaping, yelping, and firing, in
return. Louvigny and his men passed on, and landed at the neighboring
village of the French settlers, who, drawn up in battle array on the
shore, added more yells and firing to the general uproar; though, amid
this joyous fusillade of harmless gunpowder, they all kept their
bullets ready for instant use, for they distrusted the savage
multitude. The story of the late victory, however, confirmed as it was
by an imposing display of scalps, produced an effect which averted the
danger of an immediate outbreak.

The fate of the Iroquois prisoner now became the point at issue. The
French hoped that the Indians in their excitement could be induced to
put him to death, and thus break their late treaty with his
countrymen. Besides the Ottawas, there was at Michillimackinac a
village of Hurons under their crafty chief, the Rat. They had
pretended to stand fast for the French, who nevertheless believed them
to be at the bottom of all the mischief. They now begged for the
prisoner, promising to burn him. On the faith of this pledge, he was
given to them; but they broke their word, and kept him alive, in order
to curry favor with the Iroquois. The Ottawas, intensely jealous of
the preference shown to the Hurons, declared in their anger that the
prisoner ought to be killed and eaten. This was precisely what the
interests of the French demanded; but the Hurons still persisted in
protecting him. Their Jesuit missionary now interposed, and told them
that, unless they "put the Iroquois into the kettle," the French would
take him from them. After much discussion, this argument prevailed.
They planted a stake, tied him to it, and began to torture him; but,
as he did not show the usual fortitude of his country men, they
declared him unworthy to die the death of a warrior, and accordingly
shot him. [4]

Here was a point gained for the French, but the danger was not passed.
The Ottawas could disavow the killing of the Iroquois; and, in fact,
though there was a great division of opinion among them, they were
preparing at this very time to send a secret embassy to the Seneca
country to ratify the fatal treaty. The French commanders called a
council of all the tribes. It met at the house of the Jesuits.
Presents in abundance were distributed. The message of Frontenac was
reinforced by persuasion and threats; and the assembly was told that
the five tribes of the Iroquois were like five nests of muskrats in a
marsh, which the French would drain dry, and then burn with all its
inhabitants. Perrot took the disaffected chiefs aside, and with his
usual bold adroitness diverted them for the moment from their purpose.
The projected embassy was stopped, but any day might revive it. There
was no safety for the French, and the ground of Michillimackinac was
hollow under their feet. Every thing depended on the success of their
arms. A few victories would confirm their wavering allies; but the
breath of another defeat would blow the fickle crew over to the enemy
like a drift of dry leaves.

[1] _Projet du Chevalier de Callières de former une Expédition pour
aller attaquer Orange, Manatte, etc.; Résumé du Ministre sur la
Proposition de M. de Callières; Autre Mémoire de M. de Callières sur
son Projet d'attaquer la Nouvelle York; Mémoire des Armes, Munitions,
et Ustensiles nécessaires pour l'Entreprise proposée par M. de
Callières; Observations du Ministre sur le Projet et le Mémoire
ci-dessus; Observations du Ministre sur le Projet d'Attaque de la
Nouvelle York; Autre Mémoire de M. de Callières au Sujet de
l'Entreprise proposée; Autre Mémoire de M. de Callières sur le même

[2] _Mémoire pour servir d'Instruction à Monsieur le Comte de
Frontenac sur l'Entreprise de la Nouvelle York_, 7 _Juin_,
1689. "Si parmy les habitans de la Nouvelle York il se trouve des
Catholiques de la fidelité desquels il croye se pouvoir asseurer, il
pourra les laisser dans leurs habitations après leur avoir fait
prester serment de fidelité à sa Majesté.... Il pourra aussi garder,
s'il le juge à propos, des artisans et autres gens de service
nécessaires pour la culture des terres ou pour travailler aux
fortifications en qualité de prisonniers.... II faut retenir en prison
les officiers et les principaux habitans desquels on pourra retirer
des rançons. A l'esgard de tous les autres estrangers (_ceux qui ne
sont pas Français_) hommes, femmes, et enfans, sa Majesté trouve à
propos qu'ils soient mis hors de la Colonie et envoyez à la Nouvelle
Angleterre, à la Pennsylvanie, ou en d'autres endroits qu'il jugera à
propos, par mer ou par terre, ensemble ou séparement, le tout suivant
qu'il trouvera plus seur pour les dissiper et empescher qu'en se
réunissant ils ne puissent donner occasion à des entreprises de la
part des ennemis contre cette Colonie. Il envoyera en France les
Francais fugitifs qu'il y pourra trouver, et particulièrement ceux de
la Religion Prétendue-Réformée (_Huguenots_)." A translation of
the entire document will be found in _N. Y. Col. Docs._, IX. 422.

[3] The account of this council is given, with condensation and the
omission of parts not essential, from Colden (105-112, ed. 1747). It
will serve as an example of the Iroquois method of conducting
political business, the habitual regularity and decorum of which has
drawn from several contemporary French writers the remark that in such
matters the five tribes were savages only in name. The reply to
Frontenac is also given by Monseignat (_N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX.
465), and, after him, by La Potherie. Compare Le Clercq,
_Établissement de la Foy_, II. 403. Ourehaoué is the Tawerahet of

[4] "Le Père Missionnaire des Hurons, prévoyant que cette affaire
auroit peut-être une suite qui pourrait être préjudiciable aux soins
qu'il prenoit de leur instruction, demanda qu'il lui fut permis
d'aller à leur village pour les obliger de trouver quelque moyen qui
fut capable d'appaiser le ressentiment des François. Il leur dit que
ceux ci vouloient absolument que l'on mit _l'Iroquois à la
chaudière_, et que si on ne le faisoit, on devoit venir le leur
enlever." La Potherie, II. 237 (1722). By the "result prejudicial to
his cares for their instruction" he seems to mean their possible
transfer from French to English influences. The expression _mettre à
la chaudière_, though derived from cannibal practices, is often
used figuratively for torturing and killing. The missionary in
question was either Carheil or another Jesuit, who must have acted
with his sanction.





While striving to reclaim his allies, Frontenac had not forgotten his
enemies. It was of the last necessity to revive the dashed spirits of
the Canadians and the troops; and action, prompt and bold, was the
only means of doing so. He resolved, therefore, to take the offensive,
not against the Iroquois, who seemed invulnerable as ghosts, but
against the English; and by striking a few sharp and rapid blows to
teach both friends and foes that Onontio was still alive. The effect
of his return had already begun to appear, and the energy and fire of
the undaunted veteran had shot new life into the dejected population.
He formed three war-parties of picked men, one at Montreal, one at
Three Rivers, and one at Quebec; the first to strike at Albany, the
second at the border settlements of New Hampshire, and the third at
those of Maine. That of Montreal was ready first. It consisted of two
hundred and ten men, of whom ninety-six were Indian converts, chiefly
from the two mission villages of Saut St. Louis and the Mountain of
Montreal. They were Christian Iroquois whom the priests had persuaded
to leave their homes and settle in Canada, to the great indignation of
their heathen countrymen, and the great annoyance of the English
colonists, to whom they were a constant menace. When Denonville
attacked the Senecas, they had joined him; but of late they had shown
reluctance to fight their heathen kinsmen, with whom the French even
suspected them of collusion. Against the English, however, they
willingly took up the hatchet. The French of the party were for the
most part _coureurs de bois_. As the sea is the sailor's element, so
the forest was theirs. Their merits were hardihood and skill in
woodcraft; their chief faults were insubordination and lawlessness.
They had shared the general demoralization that followed the inroad of
the Iroquois, and under Denonville had proved mutinous and
unmanageable. In the best times, it was a hard task to command them,
and one that needed, not bravery alone, but tact, address, and
experience. Under a chief of such a stamp, they were admirable
bushfighters, and such were those now chosen to lead them. D'Aillebout
de Mantet and Le Moyne de Sainte-Hélène, the brave son of Charles Le
Moyne, had the chief command, supported by the brothers Le Moyne
d'Iberville and Le Moyne de Bienville, with Repentigny de Montesson,
Le Ber du Chesne, and others of the sturdy Canadian _noblesse_, nerved
by adventure and trained in Indian warfare. [Footnote: _Relation de
Monseignat_, 1689-90. There is a translation of this valuable paper in
_N. Y. Col. Docs._, IX. 462. The party, according to three of their
number, consisted at first of 160 French and 140 Christian Indians,
but was reduced by sickness and desertion to 250 in all. _Examination
of three French prisoners taken by the Maquas (Mohawks), and brought
to Skinnectady, who were examined by Peter Schuyler, Mayor of Albany,
Domine Godevridus Dellius, and some of the Gentlemen that went from
Albany a purpose._]

It was the depth of winter when they began their march, striding on
snow-shoes over the vast white field of the frozen St. Lawrence, each
with the hood of his blanket coat drawn over his head, a gun in his
mittened hand, a knife, a hatchet, a tobacco pouch, and a bullet pouch
at his belt, a pack on his shoulders, and his inseparable pipe hung at
his neck in a leather case. They dragged their blankets and provisions
over the snow on Indian sledges. Crossing the forest to Chambly, they
advanced four or five days up the frozen Richelieu and the frozen Lake
Champlain, and then stopped to hold a council. Frontenac had left the
precise point of attack at the discretion of the leaders, and thus far
the men had been ignorant of their destination. The Indians demanded
to know it. Mantet and Sainte-Hélène replied that they were going to
Albany. The Indians demurred. "How long is it," asked one of them,
"since the French grew so bold?" The commanders answered that, to
regain the honor of which their late misfortunes had robbed them, the
French would take Albany or die in the attempt. The Indians listened
sullenly; the decision was postponed, and the party moved forward
again. When after eight days they reached the Hudson, and found the
place where two paths diverged, the one for Albany and the other for
Schenectady, they all without farther words took the latter. Indeed,
to attempt Albany would have been an act of desperation. The march was
horrible. There was a partial thaw, and they waded knee-deep through
the half melted snow, and the mingled ice, mud, and water of the
gloomy swamps. So painful and so slow was their progress, that it was
nine days more before they reached a point two leagues from
Schenectady. The weather had changed again, and a cold, gusty
snow-storm pelted them. It was one of those days when the trees stand
white as spectres in the sheltered hollows of the forest, and bare and
gray on the wind-swept ridges. The men were half dead with cold,
fatigue, and hunger. It was four in the afternoon of the eighth of
February. The scouts found an Indian hut, and in it were four Iroquois
squaws, whom they captured. There was a fire in the wigwam; and the
shivering Canadians crowded about it, stamping their chilled feet and
warming their benumbed hands over the blaze. The Christian chief of
the Saut St. Louis, known as Le Grand Agnié, or the Great Mohawk, by
the French, and by the Dutch called Kryn, harangued his followers, and
exhorted them to wash out their wrongs in blood. Then they all
advanced again, and about dark reached the river Mohawk, a little
above the village. A Canadian named Gignières, who had gone with nine
Indians to reconnoitre, now returned to say that he had been within
sight of Schenectady, and had seen nobody. Their purpose had been to
postpone the attack till two o'clock in the morning; but the situation
was intolerable, and the limit of human endurance was reached. They
could not make fires, and they must move on or perish. Guided by the
frightened squaws, they crossed the Mohawk on the ice, toiling through
the drifts amid the whirling snow that swept down the valley of the
darkened stream, till about eleven o'clock they descried through the
storm the snow-beplastered palisades of the devoted village. Such was
their plight that some of them afterwards declared that they would all
have surrendered if an enemy had appeared to summon them. [Footnote:
Colden, 114 (ed. 1747).]

Schenectady was the farthest outpost of the colony of New York.
Westward lay the Mohawk forests; and Orange, or Albany, was fifteen
miles or more towards the south-east. The village was oblong in form,
and enclosed by a palisade which had two gates, one towards Albany and
the other towards the Mohawks. There was a blockhouse near the eastern
gate, occupied by eight or nine Connecticut militia men under
Lieutenant Talmage. There were also about thirty friendly Mohawks in
the place, on a visit. The inhabitants, who were all Dutch, were in a
state of discord and confusion. The revolution in England had produced
a revolution in New York. The demagogue Jacob Leisler had got
possession of Fort William, and was endeavoring to master the whole
colony. Albany was in the hands of the anti-Leisler or conservative
party, represented by a convention of which Peter Schuyler was the
chief. The Dutch of Schenectady for the most part favored Leisler,
whose emissaries had been busily at work among them; but their chief
magistrate, John Sander Glen, a man of courage and worth, stood fast
for the Albany convention, and in consequence the villagers had
threatened to kill him. Talmage and his Connecticut militia were under
orders from Albany; and therefore, like Glen, they were under the
popular ban. In vain the magistrate and the officer entreated the
people to stand on their guard. They turned the advice to ridicule,
laughed at the idea of danger, left both their gates wide open, and
placed there, it is said, two snow images as mock sentinels. A French
account declares that the village contained eighty houses, which is
certainly an exaggeration. There had been some festivity during the
evening, but it was now over; and the primitive villagers, fathers,
mothers, children, and infants, lay buried in unconscious sleep. They
were simple peasants and rude woodsmen, but with human affections and
capable of human woe.

The French and Indians stood before the open gate, with its blind and
dumb warder, the mock sentinel of snow. Iberville went with a
detachment to find the Albany gate, and bar it against the escape of
fugitives; but he missed it in the gloom, and hastened back. The
assailants were now formed into two bands, Sainte-Hélène leading the
one and Mantet the other. They passed through the gate together in
dead silence: one turned to the right and the other to the left, and
they filed around the village between the palisades and the houses
till the two leaders met at the farther end. Thus the place was
completely surrounded. The signal was then given: they all screeched
the war-whoop together, burst in the doors with hatchets, and fell to
their work. Roused by the infernal din, the villagers leaped from
their beds. For some it was but a momentary nightmare of fright and
horror, ended by the blow of the tomahawk. Others were less fortunate.
Neither women nor children were spared. "No pen can write, and no
tongue express," wrote Schuyler, "the cruelties that were committed."
[Footnote: "The women bigg with Childe rip'd up, and the Children
alive throwne into the flames, and their heads dashed to pieces
against the Doors and windows." _Schuyler to the Council of
Connecticut_, 15 _Feb_., 1690. Similar statements are made by Leisler.
See _Doc. Hist. N. Y._, I. 307, 310.] There was little resistance,
except at the block-house, where Talmage and his men made a stubborn
fight; but the doors were at length forced open, the defenders killed
or taken, and the building set on fire. Adam Vrooman, one of the
villagers, saw his wife shot and his child brained against the
door-post; but he fought so desperately that the assailants promised
him his life. Orders had been given to spare Peter Tassemaker, the
domine or minister, from whom it was thought that valuable information
might be obtained; but he was hacked to pieces, and his house burned.
Some, more agile or more fortunate than the rest, escaped at the
eastern gate, and fled through the storm to seek shelter at Albany or
at houses along the way. Sixty persons were killed outright, of whom
thirty-eight were men and boys, ten were women, and twelve were
children. [Footnote: _List of ye. People kild and destroyed by ye.
French of Canida and there Indians at Skinnechtady_, in _Doc. Hist. N.
Y._, I. 304.] The number captured appears to have been between eighty
and ninety. The thirty Mohawks in the town were treated with studied
kindness by the victors, who declared that they had no quarrel with
them, but only with the Dutch and English.

The massacre and pillage continued two hours; then the prisoners were
secured, sentinels posted, and the men told to rest and refresh
themselves. In the morning, a small party crossed the river to the
house of Glen, which stood on a rising ground half a mile distant. It
was loopholed and palisaded; and Glen had mustered his servants and
tenants, closed his gates, and prepared to defend himself. The French
told him to fear nothing, for they had orders not to hurt a chicken of
his; whereupon, after requiring them to lay down their arms, he
allowed them to enter. They urged him to go with them to the village,
and he complied; they on their part leaving one of their number as a
hostage in the hands of his followers. Iberville appeared at the gate
with the Great Mohawk, and, drawing his commission from the breast of
his coat, told Glen that he was specially charged to pay a debt which
the French owed him. On several occasions, he had saved the lives of
French prisoners in the hands of the Mohawks; and he, with his family,
and, above all, his wife, had shown them the greatest kindness. He was
now led before the crowd of wretched prisoners, and told that not only
were his own life and property safe, but that all his kindred should
be spared. Glen stretched his privilege to the utmost, till the French
Indians, disgusted at his multiplied demands for clemency, observed
that everybody seemed to be his relation.

Some of the houses had already been burned. Fire was now set to the
rest, excepting one, in which a French officer lay wounded, another
belonging to Glen, and three or four more which he begged the victors
to spare. At noon Schenectady was in ashes. Then the French and
Indians withdrew, laden with booty. Thirty or forty captured horses
dragged their sledges; and a troop of twenty-seven men and boys were
driven prisoners into the forest. About sixty old men, women, and
children were left behind, without farther injury, in order, it is
said, to conciliate the Mohawks in the place, who had joined with Glen
in begging that they might be spared. Of the victors, only two had
been killed. [1]

At the outset of the attack, Simon Schermerhorn threw himself on a
horse, and galloped through the eastern gate. The French shot at and
wounded him; but he escaped, reached Albany at daybreak, and gave the
alarm. The soldiers and inhabitants were called to arms, cannon were
fired to rouse the country, and a party of horsemen, followed by some
friendly Mohawks, set out for Schenectady. The Mohawks had promised to
carry the news to their three towns on the river above; but, when they
reached the ruined village, they were so frightened at the scene of
havoc that they would not go farther. Two days passed before the alarm
reached the Mohawk towns. Then troops of warriors came down on
snow-shoes, equipped with tomahawk and gun, to chase the retiring
French. Fifty young men from Albany joined them; and they followed the
trail of the enemy, who, with the help of their horses, made such
speed over the ice of Lake Champlain that it seemed impossible to
overtake them. They thought the pursuit abandoned; and, having killed
and eaten most of their horses, and being spent with fatigue, they
moved more slowly as they neared home, when a band of Mohawks, who had
followed stanchly on their track, fell upon a party of stragglers, and
killed or captured fifteen or more, almost within sight of Montreal.

Three of these prisoners, examined by Schuyler, declared that
Frontenac was preparing for a grand attack on Albany in the spring. In
the political confusion of the time, the place was not in fighting
condition; and Schuyler appealed for help to the authorities of
Massachusetts. "Dear neighbours and friends, we must acquaint you that
nevir poor People in the world was in a worse Condition than we are at
Present, no Governour nor Command, no money to forward any expedition,
and scarce Men enough to maintain the Citty. We have here plainly laid
the case before you, and doubt not but you will so much take it to
heart, and make all Readinesse in the Spring to invade Canida by
water." [Footnote: _Schuyler, Wessell, and Van Rensselaer to the
Governor and Council of Massachusetts,_ 15 _Feb.,_ 1690, in _Andros
Tracts,_ III. 114.] The Mohawks were of the same mind. Their elders
came down to Albany to condole with their Dutch and English friends on
the late disaster. "We are come," said their orator, "with tears in
our eyes, to lament the murders committed at Schenectady by the
perfidious French. Onontio comes to our country to speak of peace, but
war is at his heart. He has broken into our house at both ends, once
among the Senecas and once here; but we hope to be revenged. Brethren,
our covenant with you is a silver chain that cannot rust or break. We
are of the race of the bear; and the bear does not yield, so long as
there is a drop of blood in his body. Let us all be bears. We will go
together with an army to ruin the country of the French. Therefore,
send in all haste to New England. Let them be ready with ships and
great guns to attack by water, while we attack by land." [Footnote:
_Propositions made by the Sachems of ye. Maquase (Mohawk) Castles to
ye. Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality of ye. Citty of Albany, ye. 25
day of february_, 1690, in _Doc. Hist. N. Y._, II. 164-169.] Schuyler
did not trust his red allies, who, however, seem on this occasion to
have meant what they said. He lost no time in sending commissioners to
urge the several governments of New England to a combined attack on
the French.

New England needed no prompting to take up arms; for she presently
learned to her cost that, though feeble and prostrate, Canada could
sting. The war-party which attacked Schenectady was, as we have seen,
but one of three which Frontenac had sent against the English borders.
The second, aimed at New Hampshire, left Three Rivers on the
twenty-eighth of January, commanded by François Hertel. It consisted
of twenty-four Frenchmen, twenty Abenakis of the Sokoki band, and five
Algonquins. After three months of excessive hardship in the vast and
rugged wilderness that intervened, they approached the little
settlement of Salmon Falls on the stream which separates New Hampshire
from Maine; and here for a moment we leave them, to observe the state
of this unhappy frontier.

It was twelve years and more since the great Indian outbreak, called
King Philip's War, had carried havoc through all the borders of New
England. After months of stubborn fighting, the fire was quenched in
Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut; but in New Hampshire and
Maine it continued to burn fiercely till the treaty of Casco, in 1678.
The principal Indians of this region were the tribes known
collectively as the Abenakis. The French had established relations
with them through the missionaries; and now, seizing the opportunity,
they persuaded many of these distressed and exasperated savages to
leave the neighborhood of the English, migrate to Canada, and settle
first at Sillery near Quebec and then at the falls of the Chaudière.
Here the two Jesuits, Jacques and Vincent Bigot, prime agents in their
removal, took them in charge; and the missions of St. Francis became
villages of Abenaki Christians, like the village of Iroquois
Christians at Saut St. Louis. In both cases, the emigrants were
sheltered under the wing of Canada; and they and their tomahawks were
always at her service. The two Bigots spared no pains to induce more
of the Abenakis to join these mission colonies. They were in good
measure successful, though the great body of the tribe still clung to
their ancient homes on the Saco, the Kennebec, and the Penobscot.
[Footnote: The Abenaki migration to Canada began as early as the
autumn of 1675 (_Relation,_ 1676-77). On the mission of St. Francis on
the Chaudière, see Bigot, _Relation,_ 1684; _Ibid.,_ 1685. It was
afterwards removed to the river St. Francis.]

There were ten years of critical and dubious peace along the English
border, and then the war broke out again. The occasion of this new
uprising is not very clear, and it is hardly worth while to look for
it. Between the harsh and reckless borderer on the one side, and the
fierce savage on the other, a single spark might at any moment set the
frontier in a blaze. The English, however, believed firmly that their
French rivals had a hand in the new outbreak; and, in fact, the
Abenakis told some of their English captives that Saint-Castin, a
French adventurer on the Penobscot, gave every Indian who would go to
the war a pound of gunpowder, two pounds of lead, and a supply of
tobacco. [Footnote: Hutchinson, _Hist. Mass.,_ I. 326. Compare _N. Y.
Col. Docs.,_ IV. 282, 476.] The trading house of Saint-Castin, which
stood on ground claimed by England, had lately been plundered by Sir
Edmund Andros, and some of the English had foretold that an Indian war
would be the consequence; but none of them seem at this time to have
suspected that the governor of Canada and his Jesuit friends had any


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