Meductic Indian Village / Fort Meductic


72079_Large

Meductic Indian Village / Fort Meductic (also known as Medoctec, Madawamkeetook) was the Maliseet capital until and mid-eighteenth century and was located near the confluence of the Eel River and Saint John River, in New Brunswick, four miles upriver from present-day Meductic, New Brunswick.The fortified village of Meductic was the principal settlement of the Maliseet First Nation from before the 17th century until the middle of the 18th, and an important fur trading centre. (The other two significant native villages in the region were Norridgewock (present-day Madison, Maine) on the Kennebec River and Penobscot (present-day Indian Island, Maine) on the Penobscot River. Only during King George’s War, after the French established Saint Anne (present-day Fredericton, New Brunswick), did village Aukpaque, present-day Springhill, New Brunswick, become of equal importance to Meductic)

The village contained Fort Meductic, which was built before the arrival of the French to defend against Mohawk attacks. It is reported to have been the first Fort in Acadia. During the lead up to Father Rale’s War, to secure the French influence on the village, Priest Jean-Baptiste Loyard built the chapel Saint Jean Baptiste (1717). (The bell was given by King Louis XV.)  The French claimed the same territory on the Kennebec River by building a church in the Abenaki villages of Norridgewock.

It is a National Historic Site of Canada. A Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque and cairn marking the site is located nearby on Fort Meductic Road. Official recognition refers to the polygon around the archaeological remains.

King William’s War

Siege of Pemaquid (1689)

The Maliseet from Meductic participated in the Siege of Pemaquid (1689). The Siege was a successful attack by a large band of Abenaki Indians from Fort Penobacot and Meductic on the English fort at Pemaquid, then the easternmost outpost of colonial Massachusetts (present-day Bristol, Maine). Possibly organized by the French-Abenaki leader Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie de Saint-Castin, the Indian force surrounded the fort, captured or killed most of the settlers outside it, and compelled its small garrison to surrender. On August 4, they burned the fort and the nearby settlement of Jamestown down. One of the captives the Maliseet took back to their main village Meductic on the Saint John River was John Gyles. (John Gyles brother James was also captured by the Penobscot and taken back to Fort Penobscot (present-day Castine, Maine) where he was tortured and burned alive at the stake.)

Battle of Fort Loyal (1690)

During King William’s War, The Battle of Fort Loyal (May 20, 1690) involved Mi’kmaq and Maliseet from Fort Meductic in New Brunswick capturing and destroying an English settlement on the Falmouth neck (site of present-day Portland, Maine), then part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The earliest garrison at Falmouth was Fort Loyal (1678) in what was then the center of town, the foot of India Street. In May 1690, four hundred to five hundred French and Indian troops under the command of Hertel Portneuf and St. Castin attacked the settlement. Grossly outnumbered, the settlers held out for four days before surrendering. Eventually two hundred were murdered and left in a large heap a few paces from what is now the popular Benkay sushi restaurant. When a fresh Indian war broke out in 1716, authorities decided to demolish the fort and evacuate the city rather than risk another catastrophe.

James Alexander was taken captive along with 100 other prisoners. Alexander was taken back to the Maliseet headquarters on the Saint John River at Meductic, New Brunswick. “James Alexander, a Jersey man,” was, with John Gyles, tortured at an Indian village on the St. John river. In the spring of 1691, two families of Mi’kmaq, who had lost friends by some English fishermen, came these many miles to avenge themselves on the captives. They were reported to have yelled and danced around their victims; tossed and threw them; held them by the hair and beat them – sometimes with an axe – and did this all day, compelling them also to dance and sing, until at night they were thrown out exhausted. Alexander, after a second torture, ran to the woods, but hunger drove him back to his tormentors. His fate is unknown.

In 1693-94 there swept over eastern Maine and New Brunswick a disease that proved very fatal to the Natives. Many of the warriors, including the chief of the Maliseet, died.

After the defeat in the Battle of Port Royal (1690), Governor Joseph de Villebon who moved the capital of Acadia to Fort Nashwaak on the St. John River for defensive purposes, and to better coordinate military attacks on New England with the natives at Meductic Indian Village / Fort Meductic.

Raid on Oyster River

The Raid on Oyster River (also known as the Oyster River Massacre) happened during King William’s War, on July 18, 1694. In 1693 the English at Boston had entered into peace and trade negotiations with the Abenaki tribes in eastern Massachusetts. The French at Quebec under Governor Frontenac wished to disrupt the negotiations and sent Claude-Sébastien de Villieu in the fall of 1693 into present-day Maine, with orders to “place himself at the head of the Acadian Indians and lead them against the English.” Villieu spent the winter at Fort Nashwaak. The Indian bands of the region were in general disagreement whether to attack the English or not, but after discussions by Villieu and cajoling by the Indians’ priest Fr. Thury (and with support from Fr. Bigot), they went on the offensive.

The English settlement of Oyster River (present-day Durham, New Hampshire) was attacked by Villieu with about 250 Abenaki Indians, composed of two main groups from Penobscot and the Norridgewock under command of their sagamore, Bomazeen (or Bomoseen). A number of Maliseet from Medoctec took part in the attack, but Fr. Simon-Gérard had dissuaded most of his followers from participating. The Indian force was divided into two groups to attack the settlement, which was laid out on both sides of the Oyster River. Villieu led the Pentagoet and the Meductic/Nashwaaks. The attack commenced at daybreak with the small forts quickly falling to the attackers. In all, 104 inhabitants were killed and 27 taken captive, with half the dwellings, including the garrisons, pillaged and burned to the ground. Crops were destroyed and livestock killed, causing famine and destitution for survivors.

Siege of Fort Nashwaak (1696)

The Maliseet from Meductic were also involved in protecting the Acadian capital Fort Nashwaak (present-day Fredericton, New Brunswick) from a New England attack. In the Siege of Fort Nashwaak (1696), Colonel Benjamin Church was the leader of the New England force of 400 men. The siege lasted two days, between October 18–20, 1696, and formed part of a larger expedition by Church against a number of other Acadian communities. Aware of the pending attack, on the October 11, Governor Villebon made a request to Father Simon-Gérard De La Place  to gather Maliseet militia from Meductic to defend the fort from an attack. On October 16, Father Simon-Gérard and Acadian Sieur de Clignancourt of Aukpacque led 36 Maliseet militia members to Nashwaak to defend Fort Nashawaak. On October 18 Church and his troops arrived opposite the fort, landed three cannons and assembled earthworks on the south bank of the Nashwaak River. Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste was there to defend the capital. Baptiste joined the Maliseet from Meductic for the duration of the siege. There was a fierce exchange of gun fire for two days, with the advantage going to the better sited French guns. The New Englanders were defeated, having suffered eight killed and seventeen wounded. The French lost one killed and two wounded.

In response to Church’s failed siege, Acadian Rene d’Amour of Aukpacque and Father Simon-Gérard accompanied an expedition of the Maliseet militia (who joined Louis de Buade de Frontenac’s expedition), which, although one of the largest gatherings of natives ever assembled in Acadia, did not, after all, accomplish very much.

Father Rale’s War

Father Rale’s War the first and only time, Wabanaki would fight New Englanders and the British on their own terms and for their own reasons and not principally to defend French imperial interests. In response to Wabanaki hostilities toward territorial expansion, the governor of Nova Scotia, Richard Phillips, built a fort in traditional Mi’kmaq territory at Canso in 1720, and Massachusetts Governor Samuel Shute built forts on traditional Abenaki territory around the mouth of the Kennebec River: Fort George at Brunswick (1715); St. George’s Fort at Thomaston (1720); and Fort Richmond (1721) at Richmond. The French claimed the same territory on the Kennebec River by building churches in the Abenaki villages of Norridgewock and Medoctec (on the St. John River, four miles upriver from present-day Meductic, New Brunswick).

Dummer’s treaty, made in Boston in 1726, afforded a momentary peace to the tribes of Acadia. Three chiefs and about twenty-six warriors from Medoctec went to Annpolis Royal, in May 1728, to ratify this treaty.

King Georges War

During King Georges War, the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq sought revenge for the Ranger John Gorham’s killing of Mi’kmaq families during the Siege of Annapolis Royal (1744). During the Siege of Annapolis Royal the following year, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet took prisoner William Pote and some of Gorham’s (Mohawk) Rangers. Among other places, Pote was taken to the Maliseet village Aukpaque on the Saint John River. While at the village, Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia arrived and, on July 6, 1745, tortured him and a Mohawk ranger from Gorham’s company named Jacob, as retribution for the killing of their family members by Ranger John Gorham. On July 10, Pote witnessed another act of revenge when the Mi’kmaq tortured a Mohawk ranger from Gorham’s company at Meductic.

In 1749, before the outbreak of Father Le Loutre’s War, a deputation Maliseet, including the chief of Medoctec, went to Halifax and renewed the treaty.

French and Indian War

By the end of the 17th century, Meductic had a Jesuit mission and was incorporated into a French seigneury. The mission changed the landscape of Meductic, and by 1760 the Maliseet, who left to settle in other communities, abandoned the village.

After the close of the war, Meductic continued to decline until in the year 1767 Father Charles Fransois Baillie enters into his register: “The last Indian at Medoctec having died, I cause the bell and other articles to be transported to Ekpahaugh [Aukpaque].” (The bell eventually made it to the church of St. Ann at Kingsclear, but was damaged by lightning in 1904. The bell was melted down into smaller bells. One is at St. Ann at Kingsclear and another at Acadian Museum, University of Moncton.) By the time the Loyalists arrived in 1783, the chapel and fort were still standing.

American Revolution

St. John River expedition

During the St. John River expedition, American Patriot Col John Allan’s untiring efforts to gain the friendship and support of the Indians, during the four weeks he had been at Aukpaque was somewhat successful. There was a significant exodus of Maliseet from the region to join the American forces at Machias. On Sunday, July 13, 1777, a party of between 400 and 500 men, women, and children, embarked in 128 canoes from the Old Fort Meduetic (8 miles below Woodstock) for Machias. The party arrived at a very opportune moment for the Americans, and afforded material assistance in the defence of that post during the attack made by Sir George Collier on the 13th to 15 August. The British did only minimal damage to the place, and the services of the Indians on the occasion earned for them the thanks of the council of Massachusetts.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s