The First Soldiers of New France

The Battle Of Long Sault

Dollard's Expedition Surprised

The battle of Long-Sault, in May 1660

Caption: The battle of Long-Sault, in May 1660

In the spring of 1660, Dollard and his men left Montreal, heading northwest up the Ottawa River. They apparently wanted to protect a convoy of furs from the Ottawa Valley, which was arriving from the northwest. When the party arrived at an abandoned fort at Long-Sault that had been built by the Algonquins the previous autumn, they were joined by a war party of 40 Hurons and four Algonquins. Totally unexpectedly, another war party then appeared, this time not allied but enemy and much stronger. It consisted of about 200 Iroquois warriors, who were as surprised to stumble across the French as the French were to run into them. Normally at that season the Iroquois were scattered, as they hunted along the Ottawa River, and Dollard surely intended to entrap small groups of them. Exceptionally, however, they had come together in May of that year to join another party of about 400 warriors on the islands lying in the mouth of the Richelieu River, today called the Sorel Islands.

The Iroquois (Onondagas) attacked immediately, but were repulsed. Some of them canoed to the Richelieu to seek reinforcements from the Mohawks and Oneidas. They soon arrived, together with some "Iroquoized" Hurons, who succeeded in persuading about 30 of their brethren in Dollard's camp to join them instead. Then the Iroquois, with the Huron defectors, approached the little fort. The remaining defenders fired a salvo, killing a few attackers. An all-out assault followed, but it too was repulsed. Seeing this, the Iroquois reverted to the methods they used to lay seige to Amerindian villages and attempted to knock down the palisade. In order to push them back the French threw, as makeshift grenades, two pistol barrels filled with powder and then an entire powder keg. The result was catastrophic. The keg hit something, fell back inside the fort and exploded, mowing down much of the small garrison. The Iroquois had only to enter the fort. Inside, only five Frenchmen and four Hurons were still alive.