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PROJECT OF THE CHEVALIER DE CALLIERES,
GOVERNOR OF MONTREAL AND COMMANDING BY COMMISSION THE TROOPS AND MILITIA OF CAHAVAy REGARDING THE PRESENT STATE OF AFFAIRS OF THAT COUNTRY. JANUARY, 1689.
[ Paris Doc. IV. ]
To Monseigneur, the Marquis of Seignelay.
As the recent Revolution in England will change the face of American affairs it becomes necessary to adopt entirely new measures to secure Canada against the great dangers with which it is threatened.
Chevalier Andros, now Governor General of New England and New York, having already declared in his letters to M. de Denonville that he took all the Iroquois under his protection as subjects of the Crown of England and having prevented them returning to M. de Denonville to make peace with us, there is no longer reason to hope for its conclusion through the English nor for the alienation of the Iroquois from the close union which exists with those in consequence of the great advantages they derive from thence, the like to which we cannot offer for divers reasons.
Chevalier Andros is a prosestant as well as the whole English Colony so that there is no reason to hope that he will remain faithful to the King of England [James II.] and we must expect that he will not only urge the Iroquois to continue the war against us but that he will even add Englishmen to them to lead them and seize the posts of Niagara, Michilimakinak and others proper to render him Master of all the Indians our allies, according to the project they have long since formed, and which they began to execute when we declared war against the Iroquois and when wTe captured 70 Euglishmen who were going to take possession of Michilimakinak, one of the most important posts of Canada; our entrepot for the Fur Trade and the residence of the Superior of the Eev: Jesuit Fathers, Missionaries among our Savages, and which belongs incontestably to us.
It is to be expected, then, that they are about to endeavor to invest all Canada and raise all the Savages against us, in order to deprive us wholly of every sort of Trade and draw it all to themselves by means of the cheap bargains of merchandize they can give them, nearly a half less than our Frenchmen can afford theirs, for reasons which will be, elsewhere, explained, and thus become masters of all the peltries; a trade which sustains Canada and constitutes one of the chief benefits that France derives from that Colony.
No sooner will the English have ruined our Trade with the Savages than uniting with them they will be in a position to fall on us, burn and sack our settlements, scattered along the River St. Lawrence to Quebec, without our being able to prevent them, having no fortress capable of arresting them.
Things being thus disposed, the only means to avoid this misfortune is to anticipate it by the expedition which will be hereafter explained and which I offer to execute forthwith, if it please His Majesty to confide its direction to me on account of the particular knowledge I have acquired of the affairs of that country during five years that I had the honor to serve His Majesty and to command his troops and military there, after twenty years service in the army.
The plan is, to go straight to Orange (Albany) the most advanced town of New-York, one hundred leagues from Montreal, which I would undertake to carry, and to proceed thence to seize Manathe, the capital of that Colony situated on the seaside; on condition of being furnished with supplies necessary for the success of the expedition.
I demand for that only the troops at present maintained by His Majesty in Canada if it be pleasing to him to fill them up by a reinforcement of soldiers which they require in consequence of sickness that has produced the deaths of many among them.
These troops number 35 companies which at 50 men each ought to give 1750. Yet at the review made when I left, there were found only about 1300, so that 450 soldiers are still required to complete them; thus it would be necessary that His Majesty should please to order the levy of at least 400 men, and to have them enlisted as quick as possible in order that they may be embarked in the first vessels.
The use I propose to make of these 1700 men is to take " the pick" (Pelite) of them to the number of 1400 and to adjoin to them the elite of the Militia to the number of 600, so as to carry these 2000 men necessary on this expedition; leaving the 300 remaining soldiers to guard the principal outposts at the head of our Colony in order to prevent the Iroquois seizing and burning them whilst we should be in the field.
I propose embarking these 2000 men, with the supplies necessary for their subsistence in a sufficient number of canoes and flat Batteaux which we already employed in the two last Campaigns against the Iroquois.
My design is, to lead them by the Richelieu River into Lake Champlain as far as a Carrying Place which is within three leagues of the Albany River that runs to Orange.1 I shall conceal this expedition, which must be kept very secret, by saying that the King has commanded me to proceed at the head of His troops and Militia to the Iroquois Country to dictate Peace to them on the conditions it has pleased His Majesty to grant them without the interference of the English, inasmuch as the Iroquois are his true subjects; without letting any one know our intention of attacking the English until we have arrived at the point whence I shall send to tell the Iroquois, by some of their Nation, that I am not come to wage war against them but only to reduce the English, who have caused our division, and to re-establish the good friendship that formerly existed between us; therefore they had better avoid coming to their aid if they wish not to be treated with the greatest rigor, the said English being unable to protect them from the force I lead against them, and that I shall turn against the said Iroquois, if they dare assist them.
As the Batteaux cannot proceed further than the Carrying Place, my intention is to erect there a small log fort (un petit fort de pieux terrasses) which I shall have built in three days, and to leave 200 men in it to guard the Batteaux; thence march direct to Orange, embarking our supplies on the River in canoes which we shall bring and which can be convoyed by land, we marching with the troops along the river as an escort.
I calculate to seize in passing some English Villages and Settlements where I shall find provisions and other conveniences for attacking the town of Orange.
That town is about as large as Montreal, surrounded by picquets at one end of which is an Earthen Fort defended by palisades and consisting of four small bastions. There is a garrison of 150 men of three companies in the fort and some pieces of Cannon. Said town of Orange may contain about 150 houses and 300 inhabitants capable of bearing arms, the majority of whom are Dutch and some French Refugees with some English.
After having invested the Town and summoned it to surrender with promise not to pillage if it capitulate, I propose in case of resistance to cut or burn the palisades, in order to afford an opening,
1 This "Carrying Place" or portage is now traversed by that section of the Champlain Canal extending from Fort Ann to Sandy Hill.