Society of Colonial Wars

in the State of Ohio

Ohio Society of Colonial Wars
:: Colonial Wars


   ||    The Beaver Wars   ||    Iroquois, supported by England and Holland vs. European and native allies supported by France and for a short time England aka French and Iroquois wars

When the French began attempts to actively colonize the St. Lawerence Valley region, it had already been the site of generations of blood feud and war. The Iroquois Nation on one side, and all other native peoples on the other. Accordingly, soon after the French landed in 1601, led by Samuel de Champlain, the Algonquin, Huron, and other tribes quickly recruited them into an alliance against the Iroquois. For eight years there was little more than a resolve against trading weapons to the enemy, but in 1609 Champlain led an attack with his allies against the Mohawk, a tribe of the Iriquois, where he singlehandedly killed three Iroquois chiefs with an harquebus firearm. The more advanced weaponry of the French allowed them some degree of success in defeating raiding parties of the Iroquois.

Culminating with the founding of Fort Nassau in 1614, the Dutch, jealous of the profitable fur trade run by the French, established trading posts along the borders of the Iroquois territory, giving the Iroquois access to European goods and most importantly firearms. This gave the Iroquois a huge incentive to control the beaver trade, and in 1628 the Mohawk defeated the Mohican to establish a monopoly on trade with the Dutch, allowing the Iroquois to become fully armed with European weaponry by the 1630s.

Increasingly dependent on trade with the Dutch, the Iroquois used their new weapons with great effect against their traditional enemies, who were allied with the French, who had banned the sale of firearms to natives, as well as directly against the French colonists.

Soon though, beaver became very scarce in Iroquois lands, and European goods were moving with the beaver trade, further north into modern southern Ontario. This was a recipe for disaster for the Iroquois and their Dutch trading partners, so to survive, and encouraged by the Dutch, they began an aggressive campaign to expand their territory in 1638.

With great success they spread, and after a number of failed attempts to make peace with the French during the 1640s, they began actively attacking the colonists of New France in the early 1650s, who viewed them as pawns of the Dutch and English, traditional enemies of the French Catholics. They took many prisoners, and the women and children especially were brought back to their homeland and adopted into the Iroquois nations.

By the early 1660s the Iroquois were raiding Montreal and Quebec, prompting a change by the French crown in the governance of Canada, allowing weapons to be sold to their native allies, and an attempt at a counterattack, which inflicted heavy losses on both sides.

The tide began to turn against the Iroquois in the mid 1660s when regular troops from France, the Carignan-Salieres Regiment, arrived in Canada, and the Dutch lost the New Netherland colony to the English. After two invasions of the Iroquois homeland in present day New York, and their European support cut off, the Iroquois asked for peace, and France agreed.

But the spread of the Iroquois now began to turn west, to Ohio and Illinois, where the Iroquois were able to run off most of the local tribes displacing tribes such as the Lakota, who would become famous nomads on the great plains. Only encountering serious resistance from the Anishinaabe Confederacy, including tribes such as the Miami of Ohio. At this time, the early 1670s, the French were just starting to explore and settle Ohio and Illinois, spreading from the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The Iroquois destroyed their trading posts in the area to ensure their continued control of the European fur trade.

The Iroquois advance south began to worry the English, and the Maryland colony temporarily allied with the Susquehannock to block the advance for a time, but in 1674, the English changed their policy and negotiated peace with the Iroquois, breaking and abandoning their treaty with the Susquehannock. Then in 1675 sent the militias of Virginia and Maryland to capture and execute the chiefs of the Susquehannock, who they had grown to fear as too powerful, allowing the Iroquois to conquer the rest of the tribes territory. The English who had begun to move into the former Dutch territory formed close ties with the Iroquois to use them as a buffer against French colonial expansion, reestablishing the flow of European weapons and ammunition to the Iroquois

At the same time, the New French governor tried to revive his fur trade operations, bringing him into direct conflict with the Iroquois who wanted to hold their monopoly on that traffic. This started another ten years of war between the two powers.

Soon after the resumption of conflict, the French colonists started arming their native allies, evening the odds between the native enemies. The scales were further swung by the arrival in 1683 of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine a force of French navy regulars who adopted the guerilla tactics of the Iroquois to great effect. The Iroqouis faced a number of setbacks during the late 1680s including such events as the destruction of the largest village of the Seneca and the destruction of an estimated 1.2 million bushels of the Iroquois corn

This led to the Iroquois accepting a meeting under the flag of truce in 1687. They sent 50 of their chiefs to meet with Governor Denonville at Fort Frontenac, where he captured them and sent them to Marseilles to be used as galley slaves.

After an Iroquois raid in 1689 destroyed a sizable Miami settlement in Illinois Country, Miami and its allies set up an ambush using new firearms they had purchased from their new allies the French. This ambush was successful in destroying most of the Iroquois army, and it broke the Iroquois control over the region and marked the furthest extent of their territory west.

Predictably the attack under flag of truce resulted in a noted upswing in hostilities from the Iroquois, who destroyed forts, farmsteads and families; forcing the French regular companies to be dissolved and dispersed to protect villages across the colonies. The damage the Iroquois dealt, combined with the English threat that would cause King Williams war, was severe enough that the Governor was replaced by Louis de Buade de Frontenac, who wanted to mollify the Iroquois and understood the danger of the imprisonment of the chieftains, and brought the 13 survivors of the galleys with him when he came to New France in 1689

The Beaver wars now blended into Kings Williams war, and were resolved in the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701.

1701 Great Peace of Montreal

By 1698 the Iroquois began to see the English as a greater threat than the French due to the English colonization of Pennsylvania. This new perspective, coupled with the French lethargy for a war that had lasted almost 100 years, led to a decision to put arms to rest. The English tried frantically to stop the signing of the treaty but to no avail. This gave the Iroquois, who now realized they held the balance of power between the two European Nations, a great deal of influence for the next few decades

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