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THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WARS
CAUSE OF FRENCH AND INDIAN WARS-KING WILLIAM'S
WAR-QUEEN ANNE'S WAR
Cause of the French and Indian Wars.-During a period of nearly three-quarters of a century, France and England had frequent recourse to arms to settle their disputes, which were, for the most part, in regard to territorial possessions.
In America, the English occupied a strip of land on the Atlantic coast, reaching from Acadia to Florida, and extending west to the Appalachian Mountains. The French held Canada, and had made some settlements there. They also claimed, by right of exploration, the Champlain, the Lake George, and the Mississippi valleys. Both the French and English laid claim to the Ohio Valley, the former by virtue of exploration, and the latter through a treaty made with the Iroquois Indians.
Whenever the peace was broken between the mother countries in Europe, their colonies in America became involved in the contest. The struggle between France and England is usually spoken of in this country as four distinct wars, as there were long intervals of peace between the periods of active warfare. The four separate wars were : King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War, and the French and Indian War.
Indian Allies.—Both the French and English cultivated the most friendly terms with the Indians in their respective localities; and both, in order to hold them within their power, were compelled to promise them aid in making war against their enemies. Among other things, these nations furnished the Indians with firearms and taught them their use, thus making them a more serious menace to the early white settlers than they would have been with only their simple weapons of bow and arrow.
The Algonquins allied themselves with the French, and the Iroquois with the English ; but both races often proved unsatisfactory aids to their white masters, being ofttimes unreliable and unmanageable. During the intervals when the French and English were under treaty of peace, a kind of guerrilla warfare was often carried on in this country, when both the French and English, with their savage allies, went forth in small parties to harass the enemy, many times for the sole purpose of satisfying the savages in their great thirst for vengeance. A cessation of hostilities was entirely beyond the comprehension of the Indian, in whose vocabulary there is no such word as peace. The annihilation of the enemy was his one idea of effecting a settlement.
The Wilderness during this Period. It is not my purpose to relate events of this struggle other than those that took place within the region of the State, except as it may be necessary to keep the connection.
Being situated, as it were, at nearly an equal distance between the French and English settlements, the Wilderness was exposed to the depredations of both, and so did not invite settlement. During both the Colonial and the French and Indian wars, it was, however, a very important thoroughfare, and was repeatedly traversed by hostile parties. It was oftentimes the scene of bloody battles between the white settlers and hostile Indians, and at all times a favorite lurking-place for the latter.
Modes of Travel.—Commonly both the Indian and the white man followed the waterways. When there was open water, the rivers and many of their larger tributaries were navigable almost to their sources for the light birch-bark canoes, which could be carried easily around falls and over watersheds upon the shoulders of the men. When the portages were long, and sometimes for other reasons, it was more convenient to place the canoes in hiding and go on without them. In this case the party quickly fashioned new ones, before proceeding, when they again reached navigable streams. Thus canoes would be stationed along the way for their use on their return. When night overtook the traveler he often turned his canoe up on end for shelter. Such was the manner of travel in summer ; and these same streams, when paved with ice in winter, were easy paths for the snow-shoe and toboggan.
Routes of Travel.-The favorite route, taken by the French to reach the English settlements, was by the way of the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain to the Winooski; then, following up that stream and one of its branches, the traveler came to a portage, and, crossing it, reached one of the northern branches of the White River ; it was then open way down this and the White River to the Connecticut, and thence to Massachusetts. This route
was so often traveled by the French that it came to have the name of the French road, and the Winooski as the French river.
The Indians oftener crossed from Lake Champlain to the Connecticut River by way of the Otter Creek and Black (sometimes West) River, and this was known as the Indian road. Another route often taken by the Canadian Indians was by the way of the St. Francis River, Lake Memphremagog, Passumpsic and Connecticut rivers.
Schenectady Destroyed; a French Custom.--King William's War broke out in 1689 and lasted eight years. Among the important expeditions of the French against the English was one against Schenectady, a town fourteen miles from Albany and on the Mohawk River.
Frontenac, who was then the French governor of Canada, had been instructed to attempt the conquest of the English colonies in America. At his order, a force of 200 Frenchmen and fifty Indians set out from Montreal in the winter of 1690 ; and, proceeding through deep snows by the way of Lake Champlain and Lake George, they arrived at the little village of Schenectady about midnight. Learning through their spies that the place was in no condition for defense, they separated into small companies and in that manner entered the village so quietly that the inhabitants were not aware of danger until there was an enemy before nearly every house. A cruel massacre followed ; and in an incredibly short space of time the whole village was in flames. Sixty persons were killed, twenty-seven taken prisoners, and a few, escaping, fled half naked through the deep snows to Albany.
It has been said that the French had two strong allies, the Algonquins and winter. True it is that it was their