Monday, September 14, 2009

Early Warfare: King William and Queen Anne's Wars

In the 1680s and 1690s the latest in a long string of European wars broke out. The War of the Grand Alliance, also known as King Williams War (1688-1697), pitted France against England, the Netherlands, and Austria and quickly and naturally spilled over to a bitter conflict of raids and counter-raids which mostly took place between New France and frontier settlements of eastern New York and western Massachusetts. Each employed their Indian allies to fight on their behalf and to guide their small armies to their respective enemies. In 1689 the Count Louis de Baude Frontenac, who had been governor of Canada during 1672-82, arrived in New France with orders from Louis XIV to attack the Iroquois and their allies in eastern New York and New England. The French launched a number of raids attacking the large outposts and surrounding settlers at Schenectady, Salmon Falls, New Hampshire, Fort Loyal (now Portland, Maine) and the villages of the Oneidas, Onondagas, and Mohawks. In 1690, Poesten Kill landholder Sweer Theunissen van Velson and his wife Maritie Myndertse (Jan Wemp’s widow) were killed in the attack on Schenectady, as was Jan Wemp’s son Myndert.

European conflict in the northern frontier of New York was renewed with the War of the Spanish Succession (Queen Anne’s War, 1701-1713) that pitted England, the Netherlands, Austria, and this time also the Holy Roman Empire, against the French. Once again the paths leading to the upper Hudson (notably along the Hoosic) saw raiding parties moving back and forth between New France, New York, and New England. One notable raid that was widely reported at this time was the February 1704 attack on Deerfield in nearby western Massachusetts. Another was the attack on the Kittle family of Schaghticoke in 1711.

Photo: Len Tantillo's Depiction of Schenectady in about 1690.

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