Battle of Norridgewock
|Battle of Norridgewock|
|Part of Father Rale's War|
Battle of Norridgewock: Death of Sebastian Rale
|Commanders and leaders|
|Father Sebastien Rale †, Chief Mog †, Chief Bomoseen †, Chief Wissememet †, Chief Job †, Chief Carabesett †||Johnson Harmon and Jeremiah Moulton|
|Casualties and losses|
|27 dead; 14 wounded||3 dead|
The Battle of Norridgewock occurred during Father Rale's War. Captain Johnson Harmon and Jeremiah Moulton led the New England troops and Father Sebastian Rale and Chief Mog led the Abenaki at Norridgewock, Maine. The battle was part of the expansion of New England settlers over the border of Acadia, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine. As a result of the battle, 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.
The Treaty of Utrecht (1713), which ended Queen Anne's War, had facilitated the expansion of New England settlement. The treaty, however, had been signed in Europe and had not involved any member of the Wabanaki natives. Since they had not been consulted, they protested this incursion into their lands by conducting raids on British fishermen and settlements. For the first and only time, Wabanaki would fight New Englanders and the British on their own terms and for their own reasons and not principally to defend French imperial interests. In response to Wabanaki hostilities toward the expansion, the Governor of Nova Scotia Richard Phillips built a fort in traditional Mi'kmaq territory at Canso in 1720, and Massachusetts Governor Samuel Shute built forts on traditional Abenaki territory at the mouth of the Kennebec River. The French claimed the same territory on the Kennebec River by building a church in the Abenaki villages of Norridgewock on the Kennebec River and a church in the Maliseet village of Medoctec on the Saint John River. These fortifications and missions escalated the conflict. By 1720, Massachusetts had placed a bounty on Rale.
In the winter of 1722, New England Rangers made their first raid of Norridgewock to try and capture Rale. While Rale escaped, the Rangers destroyed the church and mission house. As revenge for the first raid on Norridgewock, the Mi'kmaq laid siege to the Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia John Doucett in May 1722 at Annapolis Royal. In present-day Maine, the tribe and its auxiliaries on June 13, 1722 burned Brunswick at the mouth of the Kennebec, taking hostages to exchange for those held in Boston. Consequently, on July 25 Shute declared war on the eastern Indians. But on January 1, 1723, Shute abruptly departed for London. He had grown disgusted with the intransigent Assembly (which controlled funding) as it squabbled with the Governor's Council over which body should conduct the war. Lieutenant-governor William Dummer assumed management of the government. Further Abenaki incursions persuaded the Assembly to act in what would be called Father Rale's War.
In August 1724, a force of 208 soldiers (which would split into 2 units under the commands of captains Johnson Harmon and Jeremiah Moulton left Fort Richmond (now Richmond) in 17 whaleboats up the Kennebec. At Taconic Falls (now Winslow), 40 men were left to guard the boats as the troops continued on foot. On the 21st the Rangers killed Chief Bomoseen, fatally wounded his daughter and took his wife captive.
On August 22, 1724, Captains Jeremiah Moulton and Johnson Harmon led 200 rangers to the main Abenaki village on the Kennebec River, Norridgewock, Maine, to kill Father Sébastien Rale and destroy the settlement. On the 23rd, there were 160 Abenaki, many who were killed as they tried to escape. The Rangers fired about canoes filled with families. Harmon noted that at least 50 bodies went down stream before the rangers could retrieve them for their scalps. At least 31 chose to fight, which allowed the others to escape. Most of the defenders were killed. Lieut. Richard Jaques killed Rale in the opening moments of the battle, Chief Mog 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 Francois (Odanak, Quebec). Many of the Indians were routed, leaving 26 warriors dead and 14 wounded. Harmon's son-in-law, Lieutenant Richard Jaques, scalped Fr. Rale. Chief Wissememet was also killed.
Rale's body was mutilated, and his scalp redeemed in Boston with those of the other dead. The Boston authorities gave a reward for the scalps, and Harmon was promoted. Thereafter, the French and Indians claimed that the missionary died "a martyr" at the foot of a large cross set in the central square, drawing the soldiers' attention to himself to save his parishioners. The English militia claimed that he was "a bloody incendiary" shot in a cabin while reloading his flintlock. A Mohawk named Christian, who accompanied the troops, slipped back after they had departed and set the village and church ablaze.
The 150 Abenaki survivors returned to bury the fallen before abandoning Norridgewock for St. Francis and Becancour, Quebec. Rale was interred beneath the altar at which he had ministered his converts. In 1833, Bishop Fenwick dedicated an 11 foot tall obelisk monument, erected by subscription, over his grave at what is today St. Sebastian's Cemetery at Old Point in Madison.
- The scalp hunters: Abenaki ambush at Lovewell Pond, 1725. By Alfred E. Kayworth, Raymond G. Potvin
- William Durkee Williamson. The history of the state of Maine: from its first discovery, A.D ..., Volume 2. 1832.
- John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire. University of Oklahoma Press. 2008
- John Grenier. The first way of war: American war making on the frontier, 1607-1814. 2003. 47-52.
- William Wicken. Mi'kmaq Treaties on Trial. University of Toronto Press. 2002.
- John Mack Faragher. A Great and Noble Scheme. New York; W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.
- William Wicken. "Mi'kmaq Decisions: Antoine Tecouenemac, the Conquest, and the Treaty of Utrecht". In John Reid et al. (eds). The Conquest of Acadia, 1710: Imperial, Colonial and Aboriginal Constructions. University of Toronto Press. 2004.
- John Fiske, New England and New France, 1902, Houghton, Mifflin & Company, Boston, Massachusetts
- Francis Parkman, A Half-Century of Conflict, 1907, Brown, Little & Company, Boston, Massachusetts
- Herbert Milton Sylvester, Indian Wars of New England, Volume III, 1910, W. B. Clarke, Boston, Massachusetts
- Fannie Hardy Eckstorm. Attack on Norridgewock 1724. The New England Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Sep., 1934), pp. 541–578;
- William Williamson. The history of the state of Maine. Vol. 2. 1832. p. 27; Griffiths, E. From Migrant to Acadian. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2005. p.61; Campbell, Gary. The Road to Canada: The Grand Communications Route from Saint John to Quebec. Goose Lane Editions and The New Brunswick Heritage Military Project. 2005.p. 21.
- ?while Maine had become safe for New England to establish settlements, not until the treaty of 1752 did Massachusetts officially lay claim to the entire Penobscot watershed, and in 1759 the Pownall Expedition, led by Governor Thomas Pownall, established Fort Pownall on Cape Jellison in what is now Stockton Springs.
- William Wicken. "Mi'kmaq Decisions: Antoine Tecouenemac, the Conquest, and the Treaty of Utrecht". in John Reid et al (eds). The Conquest of Acadia, 1710: Imperial, Colonial and Aboriginal Constructions. University of Toronto Press. 2004. pp. 96
- William Wicken, p. 96
- John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire. University of Oklahoma Press. 2008. p. 51, p. 54)
- Grenier, 2003. p. 47
- Grenier. 2003.p. 49.
- John Grenier. First Way of War. 2003. p. 47
- Johnson Harmon was known for his bloodthirsty attitude towards the Indians. In 1715, male members of the Harmon family massacred Native Americans at a pow-wow in York, Maine. The local minister, Samuel Moody, stated that God would punish the Harmons so that there would be no more males to carry on the name. Three of the four officers in command of the little troop had been captives in earlier wars. They were Captains Harmon and Moulton and Lieutenant Bean or Bane. (See New England Captives carried to Canada by Emma Lewis Coleman. p. 4)
- William Williamson, p. 129. Note that Following the peace of Utrecht in April 1713, Mog, Bomoseen, Moxus, Taxous, and other chiefs concluded a peace with New England at Portsmouth, N.H., on 11–13 July.
- Grenier. 2003. p. 49
- William Wicken, 2002, p. 80
- John Grenier, 2008. p. 84
- William Wicken, 2002, p. 81
- The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800: War, Migration, and the Survival... p. 123 –
- Biography of Sebastien Rale (or Rasle), Canada Library & Archives
- Biography of Sebastian Rale (or Rasle), Catholic Encyclopedia
- Norridgewock Indian Village & Monument
- Father Rasles, the Indians and the English
- Battle of Norridgewock - Video