CHAPTER 5: The Compagnies Franches de la Marine of Canada
Map of the main campaigns in New France and New England
(Click image to enlarge)
The arrival of the Navy troops, in response to La Barre's appeal for assistance, prompted an immediate change in tactics. It was a small army that set out for Fort Frontenac in 1684 on an expedition against the Senecas, one of the five Iroquois nations. However, La Barre was not as bold as previous governors, and agreed to a treaty without first engaging in battle, a step which did not impress the Iroquois at all.
As a result, the next governor general, the Marquis de Denonville, was forced to undertake a second expedition against the same Iroquois in 1687. He set out at the head of an army of 800 soldiers, 1,100 militiamen, and 400 Amerindian allies. In a desperate attempt to save their villages, the Senecas joined battle. Though startled at first by the surprise attack and the terrible whoops of the natives, the French rallied and the Compagnies franches de la Marine charged, scattering the enemy. In their flight, the Amerindians abandoned muskets and blankets. Once again, their villages and crops were burned. Detachments of the Compagnies franches pushed as far as Michilimackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Superior, thereby preventing the Iroquois and English from seizing control of the fur trade in the West.