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CHAPTER 5: The Compagnies Franches de la Marine of Canada

The American Colonies Attack New France (1 page)


The damage caused by the Canadian raids in the winter and spring of 1690 persuaded the colonists in New England to finish off New France once and for all. It was decided in May to invade by land and sea. An army of 1,000 militiamen from the provinces of New York and Connecticut, joined by numerous Iroquois warriors, assembled at Lake Champlain during the summer. However, sickness, quarrels and desertion so decimated their ranks that what remained of the army eventually decided to withdraw. Only a small contingent of militiamen and Iroquois, under the command of Peter Schuyler, pushed ahead to Laprairie, south of Montreal. But they were repulsed by Canadian militiamen and troops.

In the meantime, Massachusetts, which was the leader among the British colonies at the time, was organizing its own attack. This populous, prosperous province possessed a large militia, organized along the same lines as the English militia. Sir William Phips was chosen to lead a naval expedition against Port-Royal in Acadia. An infantry regiment of seven companies, including 446 officers and soldiers, was raised under the command of Major Edmund Willy. It sailed on board Phips' eight ships, and captured Port-Royal without any difficulty. Having left Boston in mid-April, all had returned by the end of May.

Encouraged by this success, the New Englanders decided to attack Quebec. With splendid self-assurance, they raised a fleet and an army on credit, with the debt to be repaid from the booty taken from the enemy. This time Sir William Phips commanded a fleet of 34 ships, with seven battalions of Massachusetts militiamen on board, each 300 to 400 men strong. In all, the expedition consisted of 2,300 men, in addition to an artillery detachment, six field cannons, and about 60 Amerindians to serve as scouts.