Father Rale's War (1722–1725), also known as Lovewell's War, Governor Dummer's War, Greylock's War, the Three Years War, the 4th Anglo-Abenaki War or the Wabanaki-New England War of 1722–1725, was a series of battles between New England and the Wabanaki Confederacy (specifically the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, and Abenaki), who were allied with New France. The eastern theatre of the war was fought primarily along the border between New England and Acadia in present-day Maine as well as in Nova Scotia; the western theatre was fought in northern Massachusetts and Vermont at the border between Canada (New France) and New England. (During this time Massachusetts included present-day Maine and Vermont.) The root cause of the conflict on the Maine frontier was over the border between Acadia and New England, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine. After the British Conquest of Acadia in 1710, mainland Nova Scotia came under British control, but both present-day New Brunswick and virtually all of present-day Maine remained contested territory between New England and New France. To secure New France's claim to the region, it established Catholic missions (churches) among the four largest native villages in the region: one on the Kennebec River (Norridgewock); one further north on the Penobscot River (Penobscot), one on the St. John River (Medoctec). and one at Shubenacadie (Saint Anne's Mission). (Similarly, during Father Le Loutre's War, New France established three forts along the border of present-day New Brunswick to protect it from a British attack from Nova Scotia.) Complicating matters further, on the Nova Scotia frontier, the treaty that ended Queen Anne's War had been signed in Europe and had not involved any member of the Wabanaki Confederacy. While the Abenaki signed the Treaty of Portsmouth (1713), none had been consulted about British ownership of Nova Scotia, and the Mi'kmaq protested through raids on New England fishermen and settlements.
The war began on two fronts as a result of the expansion of New England settlements along the coast of Maine, and at Canso, Nova Scotia. The New Englanders were led primarily by Lt. Governor of Massachusetts William Dummer, Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia John Doucett and Captain John Lovewell. The Wabanaki Confederacy and other native tribes were led primarily by Father Sébastien Rale, Chief Gray Lock and Chief Paugus. As a result of the war, Maine fell to the New Englanders with the defeat of Father Rale at Norridgewock and the subsequent retreat of the native population from the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers to St. Francis and Becancour, Quebec. In present-day New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the treaty that ended the war marked a significant shift in European relations with the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet. For the first time a European power formally acknowledged that its dominion over Nova Scotia would have to be negotiated with the region's indigenous inhabitants.
When the War of the Spanish Succession ended with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the colonial borders of northeastern North America were reshaped, but the treaty did not properly account for Native American claims to the same area. French Acadia was ceded to Great Britain (which established the province of Nova Scotia), although its borders were disputed. The area disputed by the European powers consisted of land between the Kennebec River (the eastern portion of the modern U.S. state of Maine) and the Isthmus of Chignecto (all of the modern Canadian province of New Brunswick). This land was occupied by a number of Algonquian-speaking Indian tribes loosely allied in what is now known as the Wabanaki Confederacy, which also claimed sovereignty over most of this territory.
Joseph Dudley, governor of Massachusetts (which then included Maine) and New Hampshire, organized a major peace conference at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In negotiations there and at Casco Bay, the Wabanakis present orally objected to British assertions that the French had ceded their territory (present-day eastern Maine and New Brunswick) to Britain, and agreed to a confirmation of boundaries at the Kennebec River and the establishment of government-run trading posts in their territory. The Treaty of Portsmouth, ratified on July 13, 1713, by eight representatives of some of the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy, however, included language asserting British sovereignty over their territory. Over the next year other Abenaki tribal leaders also signed the treaty, but no Mi'kmaq ever signed it or any other treaty until 1726.
Encroachment of settlements and fortificationsEdit
Following the peace, New England settlements expanded eastward of the Kennebec River, and there was a movement of significant numbers of New England fishermen into Nova Scotia waters. The establishment of a permanent British fishing settlement at Canso was a particular sore spot with the local Mi'kmaq, and they protested through raids on British fishermen and settlements. In response to Wabanaki hostilities toward the expansion, the governor of Nova Scotia, Richard Philipps, built a fort at Canso in 1720, and Massachusetts governors Joseph Dudley and Samuel Shute built forts on traditional Abenaki territory around the mouth of the Kennebec River: Fort George at Brunswick (1715), St. George's Fort at Thomaston (1720), and Fort Richmond (1721) at Richmond. The French supported the Wabanaki in their land claims by building a church in the Abenaki village of Norridgewock (present-day Madison, Maine) on the Kennebec River, by maintaining a mission at Penobscot on the Penobscot River, and by building a church in the Maliseet village of Meductic on the St. John River. In a meeting at Arrowsic, Maine, in 1717 Governor Shute and representatives of some of the Wabanakis attempted to reach some agreement concerning encroachment on Wabanaki lands and the establishment of provincially-operated trading posts. The Kennebec sachem Wiwurna objected not only to the establishment of settlements on their lands, but also the construction of forts, and claimed sovereign control of their lands. Shute, who often rudely interrupted Wiwurna, bluntly reasserted British claims to the territory. The Wabanakis were willing to accede to existing illegal settlements if a proper boundary was delineated beyond which settlement would not be allowed; Shute responded, "We desire only what is our own, and that we will have." This ambiguous response, and the treaty that was ultimately agreed, did not satisfy the Wabanakis.
Over the next several years settlers continued to encroach on Wabanaki lands east of the Kennebec River; the Wabanakis responded by raiding livestock. Canso, Nova Scotia, a recently established fishing settlement disputed by all three parties but fortified by Nova Scotia and primarily occupied by Massachusetts fishermen, was attacked by Mi'kmaq and French forces in 1720, further raising tensions. Shute protested the presence of the French Jesuit priest Sebastian Rale, who lived among the Kennebec at Norridgewock in central Maine, demanding that he be removed. The Wabanaki responded in July 1721 with a refusal, and a demand that hostages (given in surety during earlier negotiations) be released in exchange for a delivery of furs made in restitution for their raiding. Massachusetts made no official response.
The Wabanakis then went to extraordinary lengths to produce a written document reasserting their sovereign claims to disputed areas, delineating the areas they claimed, and threatening violence if their territory was violated. Shute dismissed the letter as "insolent and menacing", and sent militia forces to Arrowsic. He also asserted, based on Rale's influence, that the Wabanaki claims were part of a French intrigue to further French claims to the disputed areas.
Following up on his belief that the French were behind Wabanaki claims, Governor Shute sent a military expedition to capture Father Rale in January 1722. Under the command of Colonel Thomas Westbrook of Thomaston, the New England militia were unsuccessful in capturing Father Rale, but they plundered the church and Rale's cabin. While most of the tribe was away hunting, Westbrook's 300 soldiers surrounded Norridgewock to capture Rale, but he was forewarned and escaped into the forest. Found among the priest's possessions, however, was his strongbox. In it was discovered a hidden compartment containing letters implicating Rale as an agent of the French government, promising Indians enough ammunition to drive the English from their settlements.
Shute reiterated British claims of sovereignty over the disputed areas in letters to the Lords of Trade and to Governor General Philippe de Rigaud Vaudreuil of New France. Vaudreuil in response pointed out that although France claimed sovereignty over the area, the Wabanakis maintained ownership, and suggested that Shute misunderstood the way in which ideas of European and Native American ownership interacted.
In response to the raid on Norridgewock, the Abenakis on June 13 raided Fort George. The fort was under the command of Captain John Gyles. The Abenakis burned the homes of the village and took 60 prisoners, most of whom were later released.
On 15 July 1722, Father Lauverjat from Penobscot led 500-600 natives from Penobscot and Medunic (Maliseet) laid siege to Fort St. George for twelve days. They burned a saw-mill, a large sloop, and sundry houses, and killed many of their cattle. Five New Englanders were killed and seven were taken prisoner, while the New Englanders killed twenty Maliseet and Penobscot warriors. After the raid, Westbrook was given command of the fort. Following this raid, Brunswick was raided again and burned before the warriors returned to Norridgewock.
In response to the New England attack on Father Rale at Norridgewock in March 1722, 165 Mi'kmaq and Maliseet troops gathered at Minas (Grand Pre, Nova Scotia) to lay siege to Annapolis Royal. Under potential siege, in May 1722, Lieutenant Governor John Doucett took 22 Mi'kmaq hostage to prevent the provincial capital from being attacked. In July 1722 the Abenaki and Mi'kmaq blockaded Annapolis Royal with the intent of starving the capital. The natives captured 18 fishing vessels and prisoners in raids from Cape Sable Island to Canso. They also seized prisoners and vessels working in the Bay of Fundy. On July 25, 1722, Governor Shute formally declared war on the Wabanakis, Lieutenant Governor William Dummer would end up conducting the Massachusetts involvement in the war, since Shute somewhat abruptly sailed for England at the end of 1722 to deal with ongoing disputes he had with the Massachusetts colonial assembly.
Eastern theatre (Maine and New Hampshire)Edit
On September 10, 1722, in conjunction with Father Rale at Norridgewock, 400 or 500 St. Francis (Odanak, Quebec) and Mi'kmaq Indians fell upon Arrowsic, Maine. Captain Penhallow discharged musketry from a small guard, wounding three of the Indians and killing another. This defense gave the inhabitants of the village time to retreat into the fort. In full possession of the undefended village, the Indians killed fifty head of cattle and set fire to twenty-six houses outside the fort. The Indians then assaulted the fort, killing one New Englander, but otherwise making little impression.
That night Col. Walton and Capt. Harman arrived with thirty men, to which were joined about forty men from the fort under Captains Penhallow and Temple. The combined force of seventy men attacked the natives but were overwhelmed by their numbers. The New Englanders then retreated back into the fort. Viewing further attacks on the fort as useless, the Indians eventually retired up the river.
During their return to Norridgewock the natives attacked Fort Richmond. Fort Richmond was attacked in a three-hour siege. Houses were burned and cattle slain, but the fort held. Brunswick and other settlements near the mouth of the Kennebec were destroyed.
On March 9, 1723, Colonel Thomas Westbrook led 230 men to the Penobscot River and traveled approximately 32 miles (51 km) upstream to the Penobscot Village. They found a large Penobscot fort—70 yards (64 m) by 50 yards (46 m), with 14-foot (4.3 m) walls surrounding 23 wigwams. There was also a large chapel (60 by 30 feet). The village was vacant of people, and the soldiers burned it to the ground.
Throughout 1723 Father Rale and the Wabanaki Confederacy of Acadia orchestrated a total of fourteen raids on the English settlements along the border of New England, primarily in present-day Maine. The campaign started in April and lasted until December. Through the various raids, thirty people were killed or taken captive. The Native campaign was so successful along the Maine frontier that Dummer ordered its evacuation to the blockhouses in the spring of 1724.
During the spring of 1724, Father Rale and the Wabanaki Confederacy orchestrated ten raids on the Maine frontier which killed, wounded or imprisoned over 30 New Englanders. On March 23, the fort at Cape Porpoise was attacked and a sergeant was killed. On April 17 a farmer was killed at Black Point, while his two sons were imprisoned at Norridgewock. In Kennebunk harbor, a sloop was taken, and the whole crew was put to death. About the same time, three men were killed at a saw-mill on the same river. At Berwick in May, a father was killed, one of his children was imprisoned, and the other escaped being scalped but was seriously wounded. Another man also survived a scalping attempt although his body was badly mangled. One other person was killed.
In the spring of 1724 the command of St. George's Fort at Thomaston was given to Capt. Josiah Winslow. On 30 April 1724, Winslow and Sergeant Harvey and 17 men in two whale boats left George's Fort and went downriver several miles to Green Island. The following day, the two whale boats became separated and approximately 200-300 Abenaki descended on Harvey's boat, killing Harvey and all of his men except three native guides who escaped to the Georges fort. Captain Winslow was then surrounded by 30 to 40 canoes, several with four or six men apiece aboard, which came off from both sides of the river and attacked him with great fury. With the Indians closing on him with their canoes, Winslow fired upon them when they were almost aboard him. After hours of fighting, Winslow and his men were killed, except for three friendly Indians who escaped back to the fort (one was named Wm. Jeffries of Harwich). The native Tarrantines were reported to have lost over 25 warriors. On May 27 at Purpooduck (present-day South Portland, Maine), the natives killed one man and wounded another. On the same day, a man was killed at Saco.
On July 17 at Spurwick, one New Englander was killed and one native.
During this campaign, assisted by the Mi'kmaq from Cape Sable Island, the natives also engaged in a naval campaign. In just a few weeks they had captured 22 vessels, killing 22 New Englanders and taking more prisoner. They also made an unsuccessful siege of St. George's Fort.
The Native campaign was so successful along the Maine frontier that Dummer ordered its evacuation to the blockhouses in the spring of 1724.
Battle of NorridgewockEdit
In the second half of 1724, the New Englanders launched an aggressive campaign up the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. Never before had the New Englanders been so successful in penetrating Abenaki lands.
On August 22, 1724, Captains Jeremiah Moulton and Johnson Harmon led 200 rangers to Norridgewock, to kill Father Rale and destroy the settlement. There were 160 Abenaki, many of whom chose to flee rather than fight. At least 31 chose to fight, which allowed the others to escape. Most of the defenders were killed. Rale was killed in the opening moments of the battle, a leading chief was killed, and the rangers massacred nearly two dozen women and children. The English had casualties of two militiamen and one Mohawk. Harmon destroyed the Abenaki farms, and those who had escaped were forced to abandon their village and moved northward to the Abenaki village of St. Francis and Becancour, Quebec.
The success of the 1724 Norridgewock raid prompted wider interest among New Englanders for scalping expeditions. In pursuit of scalping bounties, Captain John Lovewell made three expeditions against the natives. On the first expedition in December of 1724, Lovewell and his militia company (often called "snowshoe men") of 30 men left Dunstable, New Hampshire, trekking to the north of Lake Winnipesaukee ("Winnipiscogee Lake") into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On December 10, 1724, Captain Lovewell along with a company of rangers killed two Abenakis. On December 19, 40 miles (64 km) north of Winnipesaukee, the troop came upon a wigwam, where they killed and scalped an Abenaki man and took an Abenaki boy captive in response to the abduction of two men from Dunstable and the ambush and killing of eight others by Abenaki warriors. The company was paid 200 pounds for the scalp (150 pounds plus 50 pounds over and above).
In February 1725, Lovewell made a second expedition to the Lake Winnipesaukee area. On February 20 his force came across a recently inhabited wigwam and followed tracks for some five miles. On the banks of a pond at the head of the Salmon Falls River in the present town of Wakefield, New Hampshire they came upon more wigwams with smoke rising from them. Some time after 2:00 AM Lovewell gave the order to fire. A short time later ten Indians lay dead. The Indians were said to have had numerous extra blankets, snowshoes, moccasins, a few furs and new French muskets, which would seem to indicate that they were on their way to attack frontier settlements. Preventing such an attack was probably the true success of this expedition. Early in March Lovewell's troops arrived in Boston. They paraded their Indian scalps through the streets, Lovewell himself wearing a wig made of Indian scalps. The bounty paid was 1000 pounds (100 per scalp).
Battle of PequawketEdit
Lovewell's third expedition consisted of 46 men and left from Dunstable on April 16, 1725. They built a fort at Ossipee and left 10 men, including the doctor and John Goffe, to garrison the fort while the rest left to raid the Pequawket tribe at present-day Fryeburg, Maine. On May 9, as the militiamen were being led in prayer by chaplain Jonathan Frye, a lone Abenaki warrior was spotted. Lovewell and his men closed in on the warrior, leaving their packs behind in a clearing. Shortly after they left their packs were discovered by a Pequawket war party led by Chief Paugus, who, anticipating their eventual return, set up an ambush.
Lovewell and his men, when they caught up with the lone warrior, exchanged gunfire, although it is not clear who fired first. Lovewell and one of his men were wounded in the encounter, and the Indian was killed by Ensign Seth Wyman, Lovewell's second in command, and scalped by Chaplain Frye. When Lovewell's force returned to its packs, the ambush was sprung. Lovewell and eight of his men were killed, and two wounded when the Pequawkets opened fire. The survivors managed to retreat to a strong position, and fended off repeated attacks until the Pequawkets withdrew around sunset. Only 20 of the militiamen survived the battle; three died on the return journey. The Pequawket losses included Chief Paugus.
Western theatre (Vermont and northern Massachusetts)Edit
On August 13, 1723, Gray Lock first entered the war by raiding Northfield, Massachusetts, and four warriors killed two citizens near Northfield. The next day they attacked Joseph Stevens and his four sons in Rutland. Stevens escaped, two boys were killed, and the other two sons were captured. On October 9, 1723, Gray Lock struck two small forts near Northfield, inflicting casualties and carrying off one captive. In response, Governor Dummer ordered the construction of Fort Dummer where Brattleboro, Vermont is now. The fort became a major base of operations for scouting and punitive expeditions into Abenaki country. Fort Dummer was present-day Vermont's first permanent European settlement, made under the command of Lieutenant Timothy Dwight. On June 18, 1724, Grey Lock attacked a group of men working in a meadow near Hatfield, Massachusetts. Grey Lock retired from the area and killed men at Deerfield, Northfield, and Westfield over the summer. In response to the raids, Dummer ordered more soldiers for Northfield, Brookfield, Deerfield and Sunderland.
In September 1725, a scouting party of six men was sent out from Fort Dummer. Grey Lock and 14 others ambushed them just west of the Connecticut River, killing two and wounding and capturing three others. One man escaped, while two Indians were killed.
Nova Scotia theatreEdit
In response to the blockade of capital Annapolis Royal, New England[Clarification needed] launched a campaign to end the blockade at the end of July 1722, and retrieved over 86 New England prisoners taken by the natives. One of these operations resulted in the Battle at Winnepang (Jeddore Harbour), in which 35 natives and five New Englanders were killed. Only five native bodies were recovered from the battle, and the New Englanders decapitated the corpses and set the severed heads on pikes surrounding Canso's new fort.
During the war a church was erected at the Catholic mission in the Mi'kmaq village of Shubenacadie (Saint Anne's Mission). In 1723, the village of Canso was raided again by the Mi'kmaq, who killed five fishermen. In this same year, the New Englanders built a twelve-gun blockhouse to guard the village and fishery.
The worst moment of the war for Annapolis Royal came on 4 July 1724 when a group of sixty Mi'kmaq and Maliseets raided the capital. They killed and scalped a sergeant and a private, wounded four more soldiers, and terrorized the village. They also burned houses and took prisoners. The British responded by executing one of the Mi'kmaq hostages on the same spot the sergeant was killed. They also burned three Acadian houses in retaliation. As a result of the raid, three blockhouses were built to protect the town. The Acadian church was moved closer to the fort so that it could be more easily monitored.
In 1725, sixty Abenakis and Mi'kmaq launched another attack on Canso, destroying two houses and killing six people.
Following the raid on Norridgewock, Penobscot tribal chiefs in December 1724 communicated to Lieutenant Governor Dummer their willingness to open peace talks. They were opposed in this by French authorities, who continued to encourage the conflict. Following negotiations in March 1725, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Dummer announced a cessation of hostilities on 31 July. The terms of this preliminary agreement, negotiated by Dummer and chiefs Loron and Wenemouet, at first applied only to the Penobscots. They were allowed to retain Jesuit priests, but Governor Dummer refused to budge on disagreements surrounding land titles, and the agreement repeated disputed language claiming British sovereignty over the Wabanakis. When the written agreement was translated by French Jesuit Etienne Lauverjat into Abenaki, Loron immediately repudiated it, specifically rejecting claims of British sovereignty over him.
Despite his disagreement, Loron pursued peace, sending wampum belts to other tribal leaders, although his envoys were unsuccessful in reaching Gray Lock, who continued his raiding expeditions. At a larger peace conference at Falmouth in late 1726 the Penobscot's reiterated Loron's objections, but were ultimately convinced (probably through deliberate mistranslation by translators at the conference) to sign the agreement anyway. Peace treaties involving a large number of tribal chiefs were signed in Maine on 15 December 1725 and on 15 June 1726 in Nova Scotia. At a major gathering at Falmouth in the summer of 1727 the peace was reconfirmed by all except Gray Lock, who other tribal envoys claimed they were not able to locate. Gray Lock's activity came to an apparent end in 1727, after which time he disappears from English records.
As a result of the war, the native population on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers declined (with early chroniclers and historians often mistakenly claiming the entire population withdrew), and western Maine came more strongly under British control. The questionable terms of Dummer's Treaty would be restated at every major new treaty conference for the next thirty years, but there would be no major conflict in the area until King George's War in the 1740s.
In present-day New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Dummer's Treaty marked a significant shift in British relations with the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet. For the first time a European power formally acknowledged that its dominion over Nova Scotia would have to be negotiated with the region's indigenous inhabitants. The Mi'kmaq and Maliseet of Nova Scotia refused to declare themselves British subjects. The war was as much a native victory in Nova Scotia as it was a New England victory in Maine, but the New Englanders were forced to acknowledge that the natives had a right to possess their land.
Although the French lost their footholds in Maine, present-day New Brunswick would remain under French control for a number of years. The peace in Nova Scotia would last for eighteen years. At the end of Father Le Loutre's War, with the defeat of Le Loutre at Fort Beausejour, the British took control of present-day New Brunswick.
The war was the only one fought by the Wabanakis against the British on their own terms and for their own reasons, rather than in support of French imperial interests.
The final major battle of the war—the Battle of Pequawket, or "Lovewell's Fight"—was celebrated in song and story. In the 19th century Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "The Battle of Lovells Pond" and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote "Roger Malvin's Burial" about the battle, and Henry David Thoreau mentioned it in his A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers). The town of Lovell, Maine, is named after John Lovewell. Paugus Bay, the town of Paugus Mill (now part of Albany, New Hampshire) and Mount Paugus in New Hampshire were named after Chief Paugus. The site of the Kennebec village of Norridgewock, now located at Old Point in Madison, Maine, was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1993.