Soldiers of the Atlantic Seaboard

Acadia And Newfoundland

Struggle Against New England

Plan of Fort Saint-Jean, 1700

Caption: Plan of Fort Saint-Jean, 1700

The first contingent of troops from the Ministry of the Navy sent to Acadia set sail from La Rochelle on July 10, 1685, on board the Saint-François-Xavier and the Honoré. It was a small corps of 24 soldiers, one drummer, two lance-corporals, two corporals and a sergeant, led by a lieutenant.

This force was gradually increased, while suffering numerous attacks from the colonies in New England. In May 1688, one year before the declaration of the War of the League of Augsburg, Sir Edmund Andros, who was governor at the time, seized and pillaged Pentagoët, sending the captured garrison to Boston. The French then made Port-Royal their leading stronghold, but it too was attacked in May 1690 by more than 700 men under the command of Sir William Phips. Governor de Menneval, having only 39 soldiers at his disposal, surrendered with the honours of war. However, Phips broke his word, sacked Port-Royal, and sent the prisoners to Boston instead of back to France.

The French responded with a series of small raids on settlements in Massachusetts (in today's Maine), accompanied by their Amerindian allies, the Abenakis, who were led by the Baron de Saint-Castin. This military man had led a very interesting life. Having arrived in 1670 as an ensign, he took an interest in Amerindian languages and customs, married the daughter of the grand chief of the Abenakis around 1680 and himself became an Abenaki war chief. In May 1690, Saint-Castin, followed by his faithful Amerindian warriors, joined Commandant Portneuf's expedition against Casco, one of the three sites besieged by the French in reprisal for the massacre of Lachine. In May 1692, the French and Abenakis together repulsed an English attack on Fort Naxouat (today Fredericton, New Brunswick).