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Battle of Norridgewock,
Norridgewock, Maine
August 23, 1724

Last updated: 8 months ago

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In August 1724, a force of 208 soldiers (which split into 2 units under the commands of captains Johnson Harmon and Jeremiah Moulton left Fort Richmond (now Richmond) in 17 whaleboats to go up the Kennebec.  At Taconic Falls (now Winslow), 40 men were left to guard the boats as the troops continued on foot. On August 21, the Rangers killed Chief Bomoseen, fatally wounded his daughter, and took his wife captive.

On August 22, 1724, Captains Jeremiah Moulton and Johnson Harmon led 200 rangers to the main Abenaki village on the Kennebec River, Norridgewock, Maine, to kill Father Sébastien Râle and destroy the settlement. On the 23rd, there were 160 Abenaki, many who were killed as they tried to escape. The Rangers fired around the canoes filled with families. Harmon noted that at least 50 bodies went downstream before the rangers could retrieve them for their scalps.At least 31 Abenaki chose to fight, which allowed the others to escape. Most of the defenders were killed. Lieut. Richard Jaques killed Rale in the opening moments of the battle, Chief Mog was killed, and the rangers massacred nearly two dozen women and children. The English had casualties of two militiamen and one Nauset. Harmon destroyed the Abenaki farms, and those who had escaped were forced to abandon their village and moved northward to the Abenaki village of St Francois (Odanak, Quebec). Many of the Indians were routed, leaving 26 warriors dead and 14 wounded. Harmon's son-in-law Lieutenant Richard Jaques scalped Fr. Rale. Chief Wissememet was also killed.

The soldiers mutilated Rale's body; his scalp was later redeemed in Boston with those of the other dead. The Boston authorities gave a reward for the scalps, and Harmon was promoted. Thereafter, the French and Indians claimed that the missionary died "a martyr" at the foot of a large cross set in the central square, drawing the soldiers' attention to himself to save his parishioners. The English militia claimed that he was "a bloody incendiary" shot in a cabin while reloading his flintlock. A Mohawk named Christian, who accompanied the troops, slipped back after they had departed and set the village and church ablaze.

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