9 February

French Raid Schenectady

When Frontenac returned to Canada in 1689, he had instructions to attack the British wherever possible, and even to capture New York in the hope of restoring French prestige and hence, respect from the Indians.

One of the first campaigns he organized was against Albany. The force of 160 French and 140 supposedly Christian Indians was led by Nicolas de Manthet. His second-in-command was Ste. Hélène Le Moyne, a member of what must be the most famous fighting family in Canadian history. His brother Pierre was also with the force.

The Indians could not believe that the French had become bold enough to attack Albany, but stayed with the force under terrible conditions, travelling for days in slush and bitter cold. By the time the force reached the Hudson River, it had been reduced to 250. Manthet and Ste. Hélène decided that they were not strong enough to attack Albany, but believed they would have a better chance against Schenectady, sixteen miles northwest.

Albany had been warned of the French plans and had notified Schenectady although there was great jealousy between the two communities. Nevertheless, Schenectady was entirely unprepared for the early-morning attack on February 9, 1690. There had been a party the evening before and even the soldiers were asleep. Two gates were wide open and sentries made of snow were posted on either side, facing Albany in derision! What force of Frenchmen would ever be able to make its way to Schenectady in such weather!

The slaughter was awful. Even women and children were hurled into the flames of their blazing homes, or dashed to pieces against the doors and window frames. Yet, modern historians ask, was it any more cruel than the effect of an atom bomb today? Sixty old men, women and little children were allowed to remain in Schenectady or escape. Manthet and Ste. Hélène went back to Montreal with ninety prisoners, including a number of young boys. Fifty horses, the most valuable booty, were used to draw sleighs loaded with captured supplies.


9 February

-1686    The Intendant made a second issue of card money; it was recalled in October.

-1846    The United States Congress ended joint occupancy of Oregon.

-1853    Work began on a railway between Peterborough and Cobourg, Ontario.

-1879    The North Shore Railway was completed between Montreal and Quebec.

-1843    The first public library in Ontario opened at Guelph.

-1931    The Earl of Bessborough was made Governor-General of Canada.