book report: A Great and Noble Scheme (3) by Faragher

In a previous book report on Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick, I noted his partial admiration for Benjamin Church's tactics against the Narragansetts in King Philip's War, coercion instead of slaughter. J. M. Farager's book on the French Acadians who were victims of English ethnic cleansing, A Great and Noble Scheme, offers another view of Church's tactics as he engaged the Acadians and the Míkmaq.
Bourgeois invited the major into his home to meet his parents and take refreshment. But as Church sat drinking, his lieutenants were outside supervising the slaughter of livestock, the plunder of homes, the burning of houses and barns. After a short time Church joined them and personally ordered the torching of the chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours. The men "carried off and pillaged all the moveables belonging to several settlers," Commandant Joseph Robineau de Villebon reported, "burning the houses of those that had fled into the woods, and killing all their cattle that they could catch, although a treaty of Neutrality had been signed between the poor people and the Governors of Boston."

Where were the Míkmaq? Church demanded. According to the major's account, Bourgeois "shaked his head and said he durst not tell, for if he did they would take and opportunity and kill him and his." Frustrated in his hunt for scalps, Church made it clear that he held the inhabitants themselves accountable for Míkmaw attacks...If the raids on New England continued, Church vowed, he would return to "kill, scalp, and carry away every French person." p. 100-101
It seems Benjamin Church learned more from Moseley who preferred a scorched earth policy with the Naragansetts. Perhaps Church also bore prejudice against the Catholicism of the Acadians as well. He also knew an easy target to bully when he saw one. February 1704, a party composed of Abenaki fighters and Canadien militia hit the western Massachusetts community of Deerfield, destroying much of the town and killing or capturing more than half of its 291 residents. It was the most destructive raid in memory, and New Englanders were shocked and outraged. Governor Joseph Dudley of Massachusetts declared a day of fasting and his council raised the bounty on native scalps to an astounding £100. That drew the attention of Benjamin Church, who volunteered "to put an end to those barbarities" by returning to l'Acadie and punishing the inhabitants. Massachusetts authorities knew full well that the Acadians had nothing to do with the attack on Deerfield. But it was not possible to strike at Canada, and Acadia was a vulnerable target. Dudley quickly authorized an expedition of destruction and terror. "Use all possible methods for the burning and destroying of the enemies houses and breaking the dams of their corn grounds," he instructed Church, "and make what other spoil you can upon them, and bring away the prisoners." It was hoped that Acadian prisoners might be exchanged for those taken at Deerfield. p.109
Church fulfilled the order in spades contradicting any sort of myth as a noble warrior he might have cultivated during King Philip's War.


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