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Program 10: The Frontier Wars

Frontier Wars 1675 - 1759 : Abenaki War

Abenaki War (Dummer's or Lovewell's War) 1721-1725

At the end of Queen Anne’s War in 1713, it was clear that tribal people had suffered severely during the years of conflict. Also, for the time being, France and England were no longer officially at war, so Anglo fears of new fighting had diminished. Settlers began returning to their previously deserted homes like North Yarmouth and Arrowsic (present-day Georgetown), some of which had been abandoned since 1690.

At the same time, the community of Brunswick was established to serve as a buffer between the Natives and English settlers and proprietors. Some Brunswick settlers held ancient deeds and began moving inland and to the east. They also established forts in Richmond on the Kennebec River and on the lower St. Georges River (present-day Thomaston) and promoted, with limited success, new settlements along the mid-coast of Maine.

The Native Americans were alarmed by the settlers’ expansions into their territory. With the support of Jesuit Father Sebastian Rasle, tribal people of the Kennebec region complained angrily and threatened retaliation if the English did not leave.

Rasle’s influence was seen as dangerous and, in November 1721, an English expedition was sent to Norridgewock (on the Upper Kennebec River) to capture Rasle. Although the expedition failed, it did succeed in deeply antagonizing the Native people.

In July 1722, the Native warriors wiped out the new settlement in Brunswick and made what was to be the first of many attacks on the St. George Fort in an effort to drive the English back. That fall, they struck Arrowsic and Fort St. George but had limited impact. The next February, English forces traveled to Indian villages on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers. They didn’t find any Natives, but did burn the Penobscot site to the ground.

The next two summers saw fairly extensive guerrilla-style Native warfare throughout the region. While actual destruction was relatively light, the constant threat of violence took a heavy psychological toll. Still, few English communities were deserted as defensive systems steadily improved.

 For Maine’s Indians, two events dramatically undermined their situation. In August 1724, an English expeditionary force caught the Native village at Norridgwock by surprise and decimated the community. Between 50 and 100 Indians and their Jesuit supporter, Father Rasle, were killed. The next April, after two relatively successful bounty expeditions into the Maine frontier, Capt. John Lovewell and his compatriots meet a Native force at Fryeburg Pond. A brutal day-long battle ensued, in which Lovewell was killed and his force decimated; however, the Indians, too, suffered significantly and by nightfall both groups were content to leave the scene. While the events at Norridgewock and Fryeburg didn’t end the Native presence in the region, together they seemed to have dampened desires for further actions. Despite admonitions from French officials Maine’s Indians, along with the English, had seen enough fighting and on December15, 1725 a treaty of peace was signed.


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