Mount Saint Elias

Above: First sited in 1741 by Europeans, Mount Saint Elias, 2008. Courtesy National Park Service. Right: Fort Necessity, French and Indian War.

Fort Necessity

Pre-Revolution Timeline - The 1700s

1740-1759



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  • Timeline

  • 1745 Detail

    November 28, 1745 - French raid Saratoga, New York, and follow that up with the August 19-20, 1746 attack on Fort Massachusetts in two of the New France raids deep into the Massachusetts Bay Colony during King George's War.

    Schuylersville, Site of Saratoga Raid

    King George's War in the colonies had been raging since the attack on Canso by the French in 1744. It had been battled for supremacy at the important towns of Fort Louisbourg and Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia. Of course, what concerned most citizens of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the battles closer to home, whether in today's Massachusetts or today's New York.

    For Saratoga, a crossroads of Indian paths in upstate New York, and known as Sa-ragh-to-ga by the Mohawks, was not going to be spared. It had been an area of tension for over one hundred years. The Mohicans had been pushed out of the territory by the Mohawks in the 1630's. For the Mohawks, it became a staging ground to attack French settlements in Canada. By 1666, the French had had enough; the Governor of New France sent seven hundred soldiers, French Indian allies, and volunteers to raid Mohawk towns near today's Amsterdam.

    It had been settled by British Europeans in 1684 with a land grant, known as the Saratoga Patent, to seven people, including the Schuyler family, who built their farm on the Fish Kill (Stream). It was one of the few outpost settlements between the contested lands of New France and the British. The tract of land was twenty-two miles long and six miles wide on both sides of the Hudson River. The estate and subsequent fort and village were on the site of today's Schuylerville, New York, about thirty miles north of Albany, and it became prosperous through agriculture and mills. The area grew. Colonel John Schuyler, knowing they were in hostile territory, built Fort Saratoga not far from his home in 1739. The British sent troops there, forming a garrison in 1744. The fort, however, was not well made or prepared for an attack.

    So what happened there? Six hundred members of a raiding party left Crown Point with the attention of attacking New England or Albany. They were led by Lieutenant Paul Marin de la Malgue, who had been ordered, in October 1745, by Governor Beauharnois to command a detachment and attack the New England frontier. The Indian allies were the ones who suggested the target, thinking that the original thought of Connecticut would be too difficult, and that there were thirty-one houses and two forts closer by that they could take from the King of England.

    The group of French Canadians, four hundred in number, and Indians, the Abnaki and Caughnawaga, two hundred and twenty strong, arrived at Schuyler's mill the evening before, requesting his surrender. Philip Johannes Schuyler fired his musket back, but was killed by the return fire from a Frenchman he knew, Charles-René Legardeur de Beauvais. The attack not only focused on the Schuyler estate, but on the other prosperous farms and businesses of the area.

    Apparently near dawn on the next day, November 28, 1745, Fort Saratoga was destroyed by the citizens of the town who succeeded in escaping. In the destruction of the Schuyler Estate, the French captured one hundred and nine free and enslaved people. In one good outcome, some of the slaves, sixty in number, ended up in Montreal as free. In a bad outcome, the oldest son in the family was killed; a total of about one dozen killed in the attack overall. It is not known whether this was the same person who fired the musket. The only building left was an old sawmill apart from the main village. The attack was over by 8:00 a.m.

    The British were determined to have some defense in that part of New York, and built Fort Clinton on the same site as the destroyed Fort Saratoga. Three other battles occurred in the area from February 1747 through June 1747. During the last battle, the French and their allies played dead outside the fort, but when the British went out to check, were ambushed by more forces in the woods. The French occupied the fort, then destroyed it when they left. No other fort would be built there, and by 1749, there was no house left standing on the formerly prosperous property, thus by the end of King George's War, old Saratoga, Schuylerville, was sparsely populated again.

    So what did the Schuyler family do after the war was over? They rebuilt, became prosperous again, then were attacked and destroyed again by the retreating British after the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 during the American Revolution. The home was eventually restored, and is now part of Saratoga National Historical Park.



    Attack on Fort Massachusetts


    On August 19-20, 1746, the New France alliance of soldiers and allies attacked Fort Massachusetts. The English fort was located in today's North Adams along the Hoosac River and had been built at the request of Governor William Shirley to provide defense as well as prevent Dutch expansion in the area. Its siting, however, was on a cliff that allowed the enemy to gain high ground positions. Its construction was wooden stockades with a guard tower on the corners and a central blockhouse under the supervision of Captain Ephraim Williams.

    Eight hundred French and Indian soldiers surrounded the fort. They were led by General de Vaudreuil. The fort and community were ill-prepared to make any attempt at stopping that large a force. There were only twenty-one soldiers guarding the fort, Captain Williams was away, and many of the soldiers were ill, but they managed to hold the French and their allies off for thirty-six hours.

    Twenty-nine English men, women, and children were captured from the fort, which was burned to the ground, then forced to march to their imprisonment in Quebec, Canada. They were not treated poorly, but when they were exchanged as prisoners of war in 1748, only ten men and four children remained.

    The fort was rebuilt the next year by Captain Williams with larger guns in the watchtowers. It was attacked on occasion during the remaining days of King George's War, but there was no full-scale incursion. The fort later fell into disrepair, but was refortified for the 1754 final French and Indian War.

    By 1895, funds were being raised to reconstruct the fort as a memorial site. It was rebuilt as a tourist attraction in the 1933, but was demolished in 1970. A plaque by the Daughters of the American Revolution is all that remains, plus the replica fort chimney and fireplace in an empty shopping center.


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    Image above: Village of Schuylerville, site of the 1745 Battle of Saratoga, 1889, Lucien R. Burleigh, Burleigh Lithography. Courtesy Library of Congress via Wikipedia Commons. Image Below: Postcard of a replica of Fort Massachusetts as a tourist attraction, 1933/1970, no known author. Courtesy North Adams Historical Society. Info Source: villageofvictory.com; geneology.com; "Colonial Saratoga, War and Peace on the Borderlands of America, 2018, David L. Preston, Professor of History, the Citadel, the Organization of American Historians, and the National Park Service; "The 1746 Attack on Fort Massachusetts," 2014, Moira Jones, Dusty Griffin, williamstownhistoricalmuseum.org; "Fort Massachusetts," Michael Demartinis, historicnorthadams.com; Wikipedia Commons.


    Fort Massachusetts





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