The French government recalled Governor Frontenac in the spring of 1682. After his departure, the Seneca (a member of the Iroquois Confederacy) attacked the Illinois nation, an important French ally and trading partner. Colonel Thomas Dongan, the Governor of New York, supplied the Iroquois with vast quantities of arms and ammunition. He also encouraged the Iroquois to renew their war with the French. The Mohawk forces attacked the French posts on the Richelieu River, placing the settlements along the St. Lawrence in peril once again.

When Frontenac's successor, Governor Joseph Antoine de la Barre, arrived in Quebec, he faced a major crisis. Nonetheless, one of Governor de la Barre's first acts had little to do with the defence of Canada. He seized the store of furs at Fort Frontenac and gave them to one of his associates, who made a handsome profit when he sold them in Montreal. The new governor, therefore, did not inspire much confidence among the Canadians.

In the summer of 1684, Governor de la Barre finally organized an expedition against the Iroquois. He assembled a force of Troupes de la Marine, militia, and Native allies to invade Seneca territory south of Lake Ontario. There, he met with Iroquois emissaries, while his force camped in the midst of restless and hostile Seneca warriors. Governor de la Barre negotiated a truce. In return for safe conduct back to Montreal, he abandoned French trading posts along Lake Ontario, including Fort Frontenac.

When news of de la Barre's expedition reached Paris, Minister of Marine Jean Colbert immediately ordered his recall and dispatched a new governor to Canada, Jacques-René de Brisay, Marquis de Denonville. The arrival of the new governor in 1685 energized New France. Denonville immediately organized rigorous training for the militia. He raised a force of 300 couriers-de-bois to serve as the advance guard for his troops. He ordered the Chevalier de Troyes and the Le Moyne brothers to lead a small band of volunteers overland to attack the English trading posts on James Bay. Denonville also sent troops to reoccupy Fort Frontenac and construct Fort Niagara at the western end of Lake Ontario.

By 1686, Governor Denonville assembled his force of 800 Troupes de la Marine, 700 Canadian militia, 300 courier-de-bois, and 300 Native allies. He led the force to Fort Frontenac, where he met with 40 Onondaga envoys under a flag of truce. Denonville seized the Onondaga representatives and shipped them to France to serve as galley slaves. He then launched an offensive into Seneca territory and ravaged Iroquois settlements.

The Iroquois, furious at the treatment of their envoys, responded with unrelenting attacks along the length of the St. Lawrence. The uneasy peace that had lasted 20 years had come to an end.

 

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