War of the Grand Alliance in Canada

The first assault on Quebec took place on October 16-19, 1690, during the War of the Grand Alliance. This conflict began in May of 1689 after William III, the king of England joined the League of Augsburg to form the Grand Alliance against France.

In the North America, however, the conflict began three months later when about more than thousand Iroquois attacked the settlement of Lachine, on the island of Montréal. The French retaliated with assaults on the Iroquois village of Onondaga and on English frontier settlements.

The most famous attack took place at Schenectady, in 1690, where about 70 people, children and women among them, were killed. On May 19, 1690, the first significant large-scale battle of the North-American campaign took place. Seven English warships, carrying about 800 men from Massachusetts Bay colony, attacked the town of Port-Royal (present-day Annapolis Royal), the capital of the French colony of Acadia.

The English were led by Major General Sir William Phips. The garrison was taken by surprise. The fortifications of the fort were in a state of disrepair, its cannons were unmounted, but even ready these cannons wouldn’t help, as the garrison was composed of only 70 men.

The commander preferred to surrender the settlement without a fight. The New Englanders plundered the town before returning with hostages to their base in Boston, leaving a puppet government behind. After Acadia’s capital, the English set their sights on New France. An overland expedition involving New Yorkers was sent to seize Montreal, but this expedition amounted to nothing. Thus a much serious attempt was launched against Quebec.

Command of the English troops would fall upon Sir Phips, ex treasure hunter, who recovered sunken valuables in the waters of the Caribbean before the war and who has just proved his ability during the assault of Port-Royal.

The English had 2,300 soldiers, mostly militia. The expedition was financed through paper bonds set against the expected plunder to be gained at the capital of New France.

In New England, everyone was quite sure, Quebec would fall before the winter 1690.

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