It’s Hard To Fight the French and Indians During Haying TIme

Fighting the French and Indians on the vast Maine frontier was never easy for the colonial English, nor was it easy for the patriots fighting the English during the American Revolution. There just never seemed to be enough soldiers.

Lt. Gov. William Dummer

Lt. Gov. William Dummer

The ones they did have had other responsibilities — like haying in August, for example.

Gen Peleg Wadsworth, who commanded Continental troops in Maine during the Revolution, experienced a chronic shortage of manpower. Fifty years earlier, Lt. Gov. William Dummer had the same problem during the war known as Dummer’s War or  Father Rale’s War, after Father Sébastien Rale. Rale led an alliance of Wabanaki Indians who sided with New France. The conflict — a series of battles between 1722 and 1725 — was over the border between Acadia and New England. It was one of the French and Indian wars fought intermittently in North America from 1689 to 1763.

By the summer of 1725, Dummer was trying to make peace with the French and Indians. He was having some success. But there were some real challenges, as this letter from Capt. Samuel Jordan makes clear:

Beddeford August ye 23d /1725

Honrd Sr After my duty to your Honour These may inform your Honour that I Recd yor Honours order Dated ye Eleventh of August Instant wherein yor Honour orders me to Suply Mr Tarbox with a Suficient Guard not Exceeding Twelve men to get in his hay these may inform yor Honour that Colonll Westbrook hath ordered Elevn of my men to go the march and I have but Two and Twenty men with me So that if I take a Suficient Guard to guard Mr Tarbox I shall Leave the Garisons wholly naked and now it is our only Season to get our hay and we are all of us in necessity to get our hay as well as Mr Tarbox and our Garisons are Such a Distance one from the other and not above two men in a Garison that Since Colonll Westbrook hath ordered Elevn of my men to go the March I cannot Suply Mr Tarbox with a Suficient guard without I Leave the raisins wholly naked which is all from your Honours most Dutyfull and Obedient Servant

Samll Jordan

With thanks to Documentary History of the State of Maine by James Phinney Baxter. 

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