QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-09 > 1094162294
Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2004 17:58:14 EDT
The second French post to occupy the site of Fort Niagara was established
under less peaceful circumstances. Good relations between the French and the
Iroquois ended a few years after the destruction of Fort Conti. By 1687 the
Governor of new France, Jacques-Rene de Brisay, Marquis de Denonville, was prepared
to strike a blow against the old enemies of New France. Denonville gathered
troops and Indian allies in Canada and marched against the Iroquois of Western
Governor Denonville spent the summer of 1687 engaged in an impressive, if
futile, campaign against Seneca villages in the Genessee Valley near the site of
modern Rochester, New York. Houses and crops were destroyed , but few warriors
were captured or killed. To complete his attempt to pacify the Iroquois,
Denonville moved his army to the mouth of the Niagara River. There he established
a fort. Within a few weeks a stockade enclosing eight buildings had been
erected and christened Fort Denonville. Then, leaving one hundred men under Captain
Pierre de Troyes to hold the post for the winter, the Governor and his army
returned to Montreal.
Fort Denonville, the first truly military outpost on the Niagara River, was
sturdily constructed. Its palisades, however, provided little protection
against the most sinister enemies: isolation, cold, starvation and disease. Cut off
from supplies and reinforcements and surrounded by hostile Senecas, the
garrison sickened and died. By April only twelve soldiers remained alive.
Those few men were saved by a relief force which arrived in the Niagara River
on Good Friday, 1688. The horrified reinforcements did what they could for
the emaciated survivors. Their chaplain, Jesuit Father Pierre Millet, erected a
tall wooden cross in the center of Denonville’s fort and offered a mass of
thanksgiving for their survival.
Fort Denonville was regarrisoned, but the lesson had been learned. The post
was too far from the center of New France to be maintained in the face of
Iroquois hostility. In September the troops pulled down the stockade and left the
buildings to the elements. It would be thirty-eight years before French
soldiers again occupied the site.