Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Abenaki War, Third (Dummer’s War) (1722–1727)

Abenaki War, Third (Dummer’s War) (1722–1727)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Abenaki Indians vs. English settlers

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Maine frontier, New Hampshire White Mountain region, and Vermont Green Mountain region

DECLARATION: Declaration of Massachusetts Governor Samuel Shute, 1722

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: The Abenakis’ object was to counter increasing English incursion into their lands. The English declaration of war was based on the accusation that the Abenakis were “Robbers, Traitors and Enemies to his Majesty King George.”

OUTCOME: Although the English settlers continued to occupy many frontier lands, Dummer’s Treaty guaranteed Abenaki rights to exclusive ownership of certain lands, to maintain a priest of their religion (Catholicism), and to hunt and fish on lands occupied by the English.



TREATIES: Dummer’s Treaty, 1727 The Third Abenaki War is also known as Dummer’s War, Grey Lock’s War, Father Rasles’s War, and Lovewell’s War. Officially, warfare between the English and the Abenakis had been ended by the Treaty of Portsmouth, which followed the Treaty of Utrecht, ending QUEEN ANNE’SWAR in 1713. In fact, neither the Portsmouth nor Utrecht treaties addressed the fundamental issues of the occupation of land that had triggered an enduring conflict between the Abenakis and the English (see ABENAKI WAR, FIRST). As the English colonial population continued to grow, the land issues only became more pressing and provocative. Additional treaties were concluded between colonists and Abenakis in 1717 and 1719, but the Indians continued to suffer abuse at the hands of unscrupulous and rapacious English traders and the incursion of settlers onto their lands. Especially galling was the erection of well-garrisoned English forts along the Abenaki frontier. In the face of an increasing number of violent confrontations between Abenakis and English settlers, Governor Samuel Shute (1662–1742) of Massachusetts (Maine being then a part of that colony) formally declared war on the Indians in 1722, calling them “Robbers, Traitors and Enemies to his Majesty King George.”

Earlier major conflicts with the Abenakis had been closely connected with international wars: KING WILLIAM’S WAR, Queen Anne’s War, and KING PHILIP’S WAR. The Third Abenaki War, however, was a local conflict, with troops of Massachusetts and New Hampshire pitted against the Abenakis. The New York colony and the powerful Iroquois Confederacy remained neutral observers of the action.Most of the fighting was typical of white-Indian combat,a vicious but small-scale guerrilla routine of raid and counterraid. The English, however, also had a strategic objective in targeting the French Jesuit missionary Sebastian Rasles (1652–1724), who the English blamed for having incited the Abenakis to continual warfare. Militia captain Jeremiah Moulton assassinated Rasles in 1724,then destroyed his missionary village at Norridgewock. The killing of Rasles did demoralize the Abenakis, who were also discouraged by the defeat of their allies, the Pigwackets, the following spring. Militia captain John Lovewell (d. 1725) defeated Pigwacket warriors in the White Mountains then burned the major Indian town at Penobscot. Following the death of Rasles and the defeat of the Pigwackets, many Abenakis fled to Canada seeking refuge among the French missionaries there.

In the meantime, to the west, in the Green Mountains of present-day Vermont, the English were not prevailing. The war chief Grey Lock (fl. 1723–28) led his band of Missisquoi Abenakis from the Champlain Valley in a series of destructive raids along the Massachusetts frontier. To counter these attacks, the English built Fort Dummer near present-day Brattleboro, Vermont. This proved ineffective at neutralizing Grey Lock, who continued to harass the Vermont frontier even after the eastern Abenakis signed Dummer’s Treaty of 1727, which officially ended the Third Abenaki War. This treaty granted the Abenakis the right to some lands they already had, the right to maintain a priest of their religion (Catholicism), and the right to hunt and fish even on English-occupied lands in the northern frontier region. The treaty has been the legal basis for a number of 20th-century court cases involving the rights of Maine Indians.


Further reading: Alan Axelrod, Chronicle of the Indian Wars: From Colonial Times to Wounded Knee (New York:Macmillan General Reference, 1993); Colin G. Calloway,The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600–1800 (Norman:University of Oklahoma Press, 1990); Alan Gallay, ed., Colonial; Wars of North America 1512–1763 (New York: Garland, 1996); Mrs. Johnson, Narrative of the Captivity ofMrs. Johnson (New York: Garland, 1990).

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