eouireurs de bois were the tribes around Michillimackinac kept from joining their ancient enemies in the war against New France.
Frontenac Attacks the English Colonies.—Frontenac, though in his seventieth year, took up his task with characteristic energy. Three war parties were promptly sent against the English colonies. One marched from Montreal against Schenectady on the Mohawk, another from Three Rivers against the New Hampshire settlements, and the third from Quebec against the villages of Maine. Each of these was commanded by men Canadian-born and skilled in forest warfare. Averse to farming, and receiving as yet no income from their forest seigneuries, the Canadian noblesse were fur traders. Many of them had been led to adopt the wild free life of the coureurs de bois, in many cases drawing the young men of the settlements into the same path. These were now their followers in the raids against the English settlements.
These raids were a complete success. Schenectady was taken utterly by surprise. In the excitement of the onslaught many of the inhabitants were cruelly butchered ; the village was given to the flames; and with a long train of captives the victors returned to Montreal.
The second party attacked the hamlet of Salmon Falls, on the borders between Maine and New Hampshire, and left it a smoking and bloody desolation. They then joined the third body, which had marched overland from Quebec to the head waters of the Kennebec. The Abenakis of these regions had broken out the year before against the English settlements. Now, with Baron de St. Castin at their head, they, too, joined the war party. The combined bands, some five hundred in all, swooped down on Fort Loyal (now Portland), on Casco Bay, and after a stout resistance the stockaded fort was taken.
The Iroquois Driven Back.—Encouraged by these successes Frontenac, during the summer of 1690, vigorously attacked the Iroquois. He protected the upper settlements with troops, and broke the fur blockade which the Mohawks had established by their continual presence on the upper Ottawa. News of the French successes reached the tribes of the west and confirmed them in their allegiance to France. It was a day of rejoicing when a fur flotilla—the first for many summers—came down from the upper lakes to the old rendezvous at Montreal.