A Military History
Of The United States Of America
King William's War
(The War Of The League Of Augsburg;
The War Of The Grand Alliance)
17 May 1689 - 30 October 1697
In the years preceding 1689, King Louis XIV of France launched a nunber of invasions of the Netherlands and the Palatinate states of Germany. His ruthless attacks on his neighbors and the atrocities he committed while annexing territories caused Louis to lose many of his old allies, including Sweden and the League of the German Princes.
In 1686, King William of Orange (Netherlands) formed an alliance of amity with various of the other European nations to make a stand against Louis' aggressions. The 1686 Treaty of Augsburg joined together the Netherlands, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, Sweden, and the German Princes. Later, the League of Augsburg would be joined by Bavaria, the Italian Princes and England. The League was variously known as the Grand Alliance.
The Glorious Revolution in England, a bloodless coup in which William of Orange and his wife, Queen Mary (Stuart) ascended to the English throne, resulted in the exile of King James II. With troops and money supplied by Louis XIV, James initially took refuge in Ireland, where the Irish Parliament, on 03 April, 1689, recognized him as their sovereign. Word came to William and Mary that Louis planned to send James additional financial and military resources in order to effect a retrieval of the his throne. On 17 May, 1689 England declared war on France.
The War of the Grand Alliance would last eight years. Despite many demoralizing defeats by the French, (such as at Namur, Steenkerke and Neerwinden), the forces of the Grand Alliance held out and were victorious in the end. It was brought to a conclusion on 30 October, 1697 with the signing of the Treaty of Ryswick.
As would be the case with most of the wars waged between European states, the War of the Grand Alliance spilled over into the New World. Because of the fact that William of Orange held the throne of England, the conflict became known in the colonies as King William's War.
In October 1689, Count Frontenac had returned to Canada with military supplies and the intention to invade the New England colonies. Through the fall and winter of 1689/90 the French enlisted the aid of the Indians in Canada. The French had attempted to gain the aid of the Iroquois, but the Iroquois had enterred into a trading alliance and were not to be easily swayed to the French side. Frontenac, therefore enlisted the aid of smaller Indian tribes in Canada and the Maine frontier, which included the Abenaki (variously, Abnaki). The combined French and Indian force set out to take the settlement at Albany, but the winter trek was too arduous. They decided to attack the town of Schenectady instead (see Leisler's Rebellion) along with raids on towns throughout the frontiers of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts-Bay. Sixty Euro-American settlers were killed at Schenectady, thirty-four were killed at Salmon Falls, New Hampshire and one hundred were killed at Fort Loyal, Maine.
On 01 May, 1690 delegates from the colonial assemblies of Connecticut, Massachusetts-Bay and Plymouth Plantation joined those of New York in a convention at Albany to plan an invasion of Canada. Fitz-John Randolph led an army enlisted from the various colonies toward Montreal, but was forced to abort the mission due to lack of supplies and reinforcements.
An army composed primarily of militia from the Massachusetts-Bay colony was raised and placed under the command of Sir William Phips (governor of the Massachusetts-Bay colony). Port Royal in Acadia was taken on 11 May, 1690 in the first major action of the war. Phips then turned his attention toward Quebec City. On 07 October, 1690 the Massachusetts army began a siege of the French fortress-city, but were unsuccessful in defeating it.
On 20 May, 1690 the French and their Indian allies destroyed the town of Casco, Maine.
In 1691, Benjamin Church led a force of three hundred men through the woods of Maine, striking Abenaki villages until they sued for peace.
In 1692 the French and Indians attacked the village of York, Maine. There they killed forty-eight English settlers and took seventy as captives.
A landmark alliance was achieved on 15 August, 1694 when a peace treaty was signed between representatives from the colonies of Connecticut, Massachusetts-Bay, New Jersey and New York and the Iroquois League at Albany. Any idea the French might have had of wresting the Iroquois' assistance from the English was finished.
On 15 August, 1696 a French force under Le Moyne d'Iberville attacked and captured the fort at Pemaquid, Maine.
The French and Indians scored another victory on 15 March, 1697 when they attacked the village of Haverhill in the Massachusetts-Bay colony.
The War of the Grand Alliance, or the War of the League of Augsburg, was concluded in the European theatre on 30 October, 1697. The North American theatre, the King William's War, would not be concluded until 07 January, 1699. On that date a peace treaty was signed between the Abenaki and the colony of Massachusetts-Bay at Casco Bay, Maine.