Image Credit – New England Historical Society
In the late 1600s, tensions rose between the Abenaki people and the English settlers of Maine. As so often was the case, the tensions which might have arisen over local grievances took on a more Atlantic nature due to war in Europe.
Situation in Europe
In Europe, at the time, William of Orange had taken the English throne in the Glorious Revolution in 1689 and had joined the League of Augsburg (the Grand Alliance) to halt French King Louis XIV’s aggression in the low countries (The Netherlands and Belgian coastal lowlands) and German palatinates. In New England, the Wabanaki Confederacy Indians, goaded on by French Jesuits, fought the English colonists for dominance as part of “King William’s War.” The wars in the English colonial northeast were less like wars than raids and counter raids between settlements.
Abenaki Attack York
The most disastrous of the Wabanaki Confederacy attacks was on Candlemas in early February, 1692(New Style / Gregorian date). At the break of day on 25 January 1692 (Old Style – Julian date), Chief Madockawando of the Eastern Abenaki (also called Penobscot), led his warriors on a raid of the village of York, Maine. The Indians, probably with the verbal backing of the Jesuit priest, Father Louis-Pierre Thury, killed almost 50 villagers and took more than that hostage, including many children of slain parents. Madockawando’s forces also torched the farms around York on their way out to deprive the Maine settlers of food supplies. Like much of the warfare on the American frontiers, the result was to make tireless Indian haters and fighters of the captive children who were later returned to the European settlements. Those who remembered the atrocities in York most acutely were to figure prominently in future conflicts.
The English would settle with the largest of the tribes in the Northeast, the Iroquois, in 1694, which effectively put an end to French hopes for rallying the tribes of the New England against the English. However, it did not stop the French and Abenaki from trying for five more years, two more than the war in Europe. The Abenaki finally came to peace with the settlers in 1699 at Casco Bay, Maine.
Abenaki Attack York Motorcycle Ride
Start at the John Paul Jones Memorial in Kittery Maine and follow the coast through York and on to Kennebunkport and Biddeford Pool.