Siege of Fort Nashwaak (1696)
The Siege of Fort Nashwaak occurred during King William's War when New England forces from Boston attacked the capital of Acadia, Fort Nashwaak, at present-day Fredericton, New Brunswick. The siege was in retaliation for the French and Indian Siege of Pemaquid (1696) at present day Bristol, Maine. In the English Province of Massachusetts Bay. Colonel John Hathorne and Major Benjamin Church were the leaders of the New England force of 400 men. The siege lasted two days, between October 18–20, 1696, and formed part of a larger expedition by Church against a number of other Acadian communities.
During King William's War - the first of the four French and Indian Wars - French and Natives were victorious in the Siege of Pemaquid (1696) (present day Bristol, Maine) earlier that year. In the Siege of Pemaquid, the French and natives had destroyed Fort William Henry, which the English colonial militia leader Benjamin Church himself assisted in erecting. In response to the defeat, the following month Benjamin Church led a devastating raid on Chignecto and then laid siege to the capital of Acadia, Fort Nashwaak in 1696.
Fort Nashwaak was a four-sided log palisade erected by Governor Villebon in 1691-92, who had decided to relocate the capital from Fort Jemseg as he felt a setting further up river would be safer from attack. Called by Villebon Fort St. Joseph, it was located on the north bank of the Nashwaak River at its junction with the Saint John River. The site offered the additional strategic benefits to Villebon of being situated near the Maliseet capital of Meductic and of being on a traditional portage route.
St. John River
First informed on Oct. 1 by Sr. Chevalier that an English brig had entered the harbour at Saint John, Villebon sent Sr. Neuvillette, on Oct. 5, with seven men to reconnoiter the lower confines of the river and to carry supplies to Sr. Chevalier. On Oct. 9 Neuvillette sent word back to Fort Nashwaak that six English vessels had entered the harbour at Saint John and landed two hundred English and Indian troops after successfully attacking Sr. Chevalier. On Oct. 12 Neuvillette falls back to Fort Nashwaak and on the way picks up seven or eight French soldiers rescued by the Indians at Fort Nerepis (later known as Fort Boishebert) which was then under attack by the English forces. The English continue their cautious approach and on Oct 16 are spotted by Sr. Neuvillette a short distance below Jemseg.
Governor Villebon having been alerted, had prepared his defences. Several days earlier, on October 11, Governor Villebon, made a request to Father Simon-Gérard de La Place to gather Maliseet militia from Meductic to defend the fort from an attack. On October 16, Father Simon and Acadian Sieur de Clignancourt led 36 Maliseet militia members to Nashwaak to defend Fort Nashawaak. In further preparation to defend his position, Villebon clears his field of fire by dismantling a house, hides surplus powder in hidden caches, and assigns his men to their positions.
On October 18 the English troops arrived opposite the fort, landed three cannons (two being used with some effect with the third unable to function effectively as it had been positioned too close, taking heavy musket fire from Villebon's forces) and assembled earthworks on the south bank of the Nashwaak River. Baptiste was there to defend the capital, having arrived at the Fort on Oct 17 with ten Saint John River Acadian settlers. Baptiste joined the Maliseet from Meductic for the duration of the siege. There was a fierce exchange of cannon fire for two days, with the advantage going to the better sited French guns. In addition to the opposing cannonades, Sr. Clignancourt and Sr. Baptiste with the Mi'kmaq allies confronted a force of English allied Indians advancing along the Nashwaak River.
On the second day of the siege at about noon M. de Falaise arrived from Quebec and immediately placed his arms against the English. The French were able to knock out one English cannon and slow the English fire of the last cannon due to continuous fire from the fort. The New Englanders were defeated (having suffered 8 killed and 17 wounded) and evacuated their position, retreating down the river. The French harassed the English retreat, keeping up musket fire and making them believe the Indians were following them. The French lost one killed and two wounded including Mathieu d'Amours.
In response to Church's failed siege, Acadian Rene d'Amour of Aukpacque and Father Simon-Gérard accompanied an expedition of the Maliseet militia, which, although one of the largest gatherings of natives ever assembled in Acadia, did not, after all, accomplish very much.
By withdrawing from the Siege of Fort Nashwaak, the British gave up two small boats. Baptiste used them to head to Grand Pre. While in Grand Pre he armed the vessels and recruited Acadian crew members to make a descent on the coast of New England. In March 1697 Baptiste had captured eight English fishing vessels within three leagues of Casco Bay. Bapiste was injured three times in the raid, however, he was able to capture the vessels and took many prisoners. Two New England privateer ships arrived at the scene but Baptiste was able to beat them back and safely return to Grand Pre with his prizes.
Church threatened the Acadians at Chignecto before leaving that he would return if more New Englanders suffered. He did return to raid Chignecto again during Queen Anne's War in a campaign against Acadia that also included the Raid on Grand Pre. Two years later the capital of Acadia moved briefly to Saint John and then returned to Port Royal, Nova Scotia.
- Beamish Murdoch A history of Nova-Scotia, or Acadie, Volume 1, pp. 228–231 See Beamish
- Faragher, John Mack, A Great and Noble Scheme New York; W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. pp. 110–112 ISBN 0-393-05135-8
- N.E.S. Griffiths. 2005. Migrant to Acadian, McGill-Queen’s University Press. pp. 206–208
- W.O. Raymond. The old Meductic Fort and the Indian chapel of Saint Jean Baptiste: paper read before the New Brunswick Historical Society (1897)
- John Gyles. Memoirs of odd adventures, strange deliverances, &c. in the captivity of ... 1735. pp. 37–38
- Villebon letter, Oct. 22, 1696, Webster, p. 89-94 Villebon Letters
- Benjamin Church, Thomas Church, Samuel Gardner Drake. The history of King Philip's war ; also of expeditions against the French and Indians in its Eastern parts of New England, in the years 1689, 1692, 1696 AND 1704. With some account of the divine providence towards Col. Benjamin Church. (See Benjamin Church - Online Book)
- The History of the Great Indian War Church's Book pp. 228–233
- MacBeath, George (1979) . "Damours de Clignancour, Rene". In Hayne, David. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. II (1701–1740) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
- villebon, p. 103
- Drake, The Border Wars of New England, p. 85
- John Reid. "1686-1720: Imperial Intrusions" in The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History. Phillip Buckner and John Reid (eds). 1998. Toronto University Press. p. 83
- Webster, John Clarence. Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century. Saint John, NB, The New Brunswick Museum, 1979. P. 11
- Webster, John Clarence. Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century. Saint John, NB, The New Brunswick Museum, 1979
- Raymond, p. 11, 26
- near where the Fort Nashwaak Motel now stands
- For details on the Siege see Beamish Murdoch, pp. 228-231 See Beamish
- Webster, John Clarence. Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century. Saint John, NB, The New Brunswick Museum, 1979.
- (Roger Marsters. 2004.p.34)
- MacBeath, George (1979) . "Damours de Freneuse, Mathieu". In Brown, George Williams. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. I (1000–1700) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
- Raymond, p. 26
- (Roger Marsters. 2004.p.35)
- (Roger Marsters. 2004.p.35)