1703 – French raids on the Northeast Coast

From Project WSS
Jump to navigationJump to search

Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1703 – French raids on the Northeast Coast

The campaign lasted from August to October 1703


England and France both contested the limit of their territory in Acadia. For the French, the Kennebec River marked the border while English claimed that their territory in this region included the land between the Piscataqua and St. Croix Rivers (all part of present-day Maine).

In December 1702, the French Governor-General Louis-Hector de Callière authorised his Abenaki allies to raid English settlements

On 26 May 1703, Callière died and was replaced by Philippe de Rigaud Vaudreuil as governor-general. He appointed Alexandre Leneuf de La Vallière de Beaubassin as commander of a small detachment in Acadia with instructions to raid English settlements. Beaubassin's forces consisted of some 500 men including French soldiers and warriors of the Wabanaki Confederacy (Mi'kmaqs, Kennebecs and Abenakis).

On 22 June, Joseph Dudley, a native of Massachusetts, arrived at Boston with a commission appointing him governor of Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

On 1 July, Governor Dudley, with delegates from his provinces, held a conference at Casco with 250 Abenaki warriors of the Norridgewock, Kennebec, Penobscot, Pequawket, Pennacook and Androscoggin bands. A treaty of peace was concluded with many mutual promises and much ceremony.


In August 1703, Beaubassin organised his forces in six columns and advanced against the English settlements on the coast of present-day Maine.

On 21 August, Beaubassin's columns launched simultaneous attacks against (listed from North to South) Casco (present-day Portland), Purpooduck and Spurwink (now part of Cape Elizabeth), Scarborough, Saco, Cape Porpoise and Wells.

  • a party of Wabanakis led by Moxus, Wanongonet and Escumbuit appeared in front of Casco, the largest fort of the region defended by 36 men under Major John March, and asked to meet the commander; March came out escorted by 3 men but they were immediately ambushed and tow of them killed; Sergeant Hook managed to rescue March and to return to the fort
  • in Purpooduck, the Wabanakis killed 25 inhabitants and took 8 prisoners
  • in Spurwink, the Wabanakis killed or captured 22 inhabitants
  • at the Fort of Scarborough, the Wabanakis undertook the siege of the fort
  • in Saco, the Wabanakis killed 11 inhabitants and took 24 prisoners. They also forced the garrison of Fort Winter Harbor to capitulate
  • in Cape Porpoise, the Wabanakis easily overwhelmed a small community of fishermen
  • in Wells, Beaubassin's forces killed or captured 39 inhabitants

Beaubassin's forces then vainly besieged Fort Scarborough which was defended by only 8 people.

Meanwhile, Wabanaki parties ravaged the peninsula for a week. A reinforcement arrived aboard 200 canoes to resume the plundering and destruction of Casco while the garrison was surrounded in the fort. Beaubassin's forces captured a sloop and 2 shallops.

On 30 August, a relief party under Captain Cyprian Southack aboard the Province Galley arrived at Casco. The besieging party immediately retreated.

Nevertheless, Indians continued their raids around Casco, boarding a store-ship.

On 7 October, the governor of Massachusets Bay, Joseph Dudley, sent 360 men under Major March to attack the Wabanaki village of Pigwacket (present-day Fryeburg, Maine). They drove the Wabanakis back to Pigwacket, killing 6 men and taking 6 prisoners.

Meanwhile, Chief Sampson led a party of Wabanaki warriors against York and Berwick. In York, they killed 7 inhabitants and took 2 prisoners. In Berwick, they killed 1 inhabitants, wounded 1 and took 3 prisoners. They then attacked the fort defended by Captain Brown but were repulsed, losing 9 men killed and 9 wounded. In retaliation, the warriors burned one of their captives alive on a stake.

On 17 October, 200 Wabanaki warriors advanced northward from Casco and attacked the settlement of Black Point near Falmouth, killing or capturing 19 inhabitants in the fields and attacking the small fort defended by 8 men under Lieutenant Wyatt and forcing the garrison to evacuate the fort which was burned.

The English offered large rewards for prisoners (£20 for every Indian under 10 years of age and £40 for older prisoners) and for scalps (£40 each).


In those affairs, the English lost 155 men killed or prisoners.

The region of New England now forming the State of Maine had nearly received its death-blow during this campaign.


Earle, J. H.: History of the Indian Wars of New England, vol. 1, Boston, 1882, p. 273

Kingsford, William:: The History of Canada, vol. 3, London, 1889, p. 76

Murdoch, Beamish: 'A History of Nova-Scotia, Or Acadie, vol. 1, Halifax, 1865, p. 265

Wikipedia – Northeast Coast Campaign (1703)