Queen Anne’s War was the third in a series of five early North American wars involving the colonial powers of England, France and Spain and their Indian allies. Once again, war in Europe spilled into the colonies. This time it was the War of Spanish Succession which was fought during the reign of Queen Anne of Britain to prevent the union of the French and Spanish thrones following the death of King Charles II of Spain.
In North America the Indians and the colonists were continually engaged in low level, but very lethal, conflict. The European settlers gradually pushed into each other’s territory, and they all encroached on Indian lands. The resultant clashes could be very brutal and bloody. The European powers and their colonists were competing for full control of the North American continent. The Indians just wanted all the whites out. These groups were more than willing to raise the conflict level to full-scale war.
The British colonies were the most populous and stretched from Massachusetts Bay Province in the north to Carolina in the south. Most of the population was concentrated along the coast although a few settlers had reached the east slope of the Appalachian Mountains. Some in Carolina had established trade relations with Indian tribes in the interior.
The French occupied Acadia (Nova Scotia) and Canada and had pushed to the mouth of the Mississippi River. They established a settlement near present day Biloxi, Mississippi. From there they established trade with western Indian tribes, which interfered with British traders from Carolina. Newfoundland and Hudson Bay had both French and British settlements resulting in uneasy relationships.
The third European power in North America was Spain. They occupied La Florida where they established a network of missions to convert the Indians to Catholicism and to focus their labor. (A euphemism for enslaving the Indians.) There were conflicting territorial claims between Carolina and Florida south of the Savannah River which was complicated by religion. The Protestant British and the Catholic Spanish loathed each other.
The Indians were resisting the loss of their ancestral lands, but they realized that in the end they could not defeat the Europeans. Many tribes allied themselves with the Europeans that they thought would give them the best deal. However, in the end, they always lost more land and more warriors.
In addition, all the Indian tribes had suffered from the endemic infectious diseases the Europeans carried, such as smallpox and VD. The Indians had no immunity to these diseases and had experienced extremely high mortality rates.
The British were organized into militia companies, but there was little in the way of a regular military presence. The French also had militia companies but had a 500-1,200-man professional defense force that was spread throughout New France. Florida was defended by only a few hundred regular Spanish troops.
The Colonists and the Indians were armed with smooth-bore muskets. The Indians also carried tomahawks and some bows. Colonial backwoodsmen also carried tomahawks, which was a very lethal and effective weapon in close quarters. The few fortifications were mostly wooden palisades, but most settlements had only individual fortified wooden houses. The only stone fortifications were St. Augustine, Boston, Quebec City, St. John’s, and Port Royal.
Queen Anne’s War was fought on four fronts:
- In the South–Spanish Florida, British Carolina, and French Louisiana (Parts of present-day Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.)
- New England (Connecticut Colony, Rhode Island Colony, Providence Plantations, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, and New Hampshire Colony.), French Acadia (Nova Scotia), and Canada.
As early as the turn of the eighteenth century, prominent English and French colonists believed that control of the Mississippi River was key to future development and commerce. Both sides developed plans to achieve control and prevent the other’s access. After King William’s War, French Canandian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville developed “Project sur la Caroline ” a plan to ally with the Indian tribes in the Mississippi watershed to force the English off the continent or at least to the coastal areas.
In pursuit of “Project sur la Caroline,” d’Iberville established Fort Maurepas near the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1699. He began to use this base and Fort Louis de la Mobile (established 1702) to make alliances with the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Natchez People, and other tribes.
The English in Carolina were also actively establishing trading networks across the southwestern part of the continent to the Mississippi River. They had little fear of the Spanish in Florida but recognized the threat posed by the French. Carolina governors Joseph Blake and James Moore planned expansion to the south and west to counter French and Spanish interests.
In January 1702, d’iberville asked the Spanish to organize Indian warriors to attack the English. In response, the Spanish organized a force commanded by Francisco Romo de Uriza which moved out in August to attack English trading centers. The English had warning, however, and prepared a defense at the head of the Flint River. They routed the Spanish and killed or captured 500 Indians.
After hearing of the hostilities, Carolina Governor Moore led a force of 500 soldiers, militia, and 300 Indians against Spanish Florida. They captured and burned the town of St. Augustine but were unable to take the fort. They withdrew when a Spanish fleet from Havana arrived.
The Apalachee and Timucua tribes in Florida were virtually wiped out in an expedition by Governor Moore. This raid became known as the Apalachee Massacre of 1704. Many of the survivors relocated to reservations in the Savannah River area.
In 1706, Carolina repulsed an attack on Charles Town by a combined Spanish and French amphibious force. The attack had originated in Havana.
The Muscogee (Creek), Yamasee, and Chickasaw were armed and led by English colonists. They dominated the French and Spanish Indian allies. English raids for the rest of the war were mainly conducted by Indians with a small number of whites and included major attacks on Pensacola in 1707 and Mobile in 1709.
New England, Acadia, and Canada
The French claimed the Acadia border was the Kennebec River in southern Maine and they and the Wabanaki Confederacy frustrated New England expansion into Acadia. In 1703, a few French Canadians and 500 Indians under the command of Michel Lenauf de la Valliere de Beaubassin attacked New England settlements along the coast. They killed or captured more than 300 settlers.
New Englanders were unable to defend against French raids, and many of the raids were to secure captives to be held for ransom. Families and communities struggled to raise ransoms. Children were usually adopted by Indian families and were assimilated into the tribes losing their identities. Many adults were sold into slavery.
In February 1704, fifty French Canadians and 250 Indians attacked Deerfield in Massachusetts Colony. They destroyed the settlement killing many and taking more than 100 captives. In August French and Indians raided Marlborough (now Westborough) taking many captives.
Despite their inability to defend their settlements, the New England colonists were able to retaliate. An Expedition commanded by famous Indian fighter Benjamin Church raided Grand Pre, Chignecto and other French settlements. Casualties were not reported.
French Priest Father Sebastien was believed to have incited the Norridgewock tribe against New England, so Massachusetts Governor Dudley put a price on his head. In the winter of 1705, the colony dispatched 275 militia under the command of Colonel Winthrop Hilton to Norridgewock to capture Sebastien and sack the village. The priest was warned about the raid and escaped but the English burned the village.
French and Wabanaki continued raiding northern Massachusetts Colony until the end of the war. The English were never able to mount a good defense against them.
In May 1707, Governor Dudley organized an expedition commanded by John March to take Port Royal. This 1,600-man force was unable to take the fort, and a follow-up attempt in August also failed. In October 1710, a force of 3,600 British and colonial troops led by Francis Nicholson captured Port Royal. This ended French control of the peninsular portion of Acadia. Resistance and raids along the Maine frontier by the French and Wabanaki continued until the end of the war. The remainder of Acadia (now eastern Maine and New Brunswick) remained disputed territory.
The French in the heartland of Canada opposed attacking New York because they did not want to arouse the Iroquois. They were more fearful of the Iroquois than the British. New York merchants were opposed to attacking New France because it would interrupt the highly profitable Indian fur trade. Much of this trade came through New France. Despite being pushed to fight, the Iroquois tried to remain neutral throughout the war.
Francis Nicholson and Samuel Vetch obtained assistance from the Queen for an assault against New France in 1709. The plan was for an overland assault on Montreal via Lake Champlain and a naval assault on Quebec. The plan was aborted when the promised naval support did not show up. The Iroquois were to support this attack but managed to delay until it was obvious the plan would fail. The organizers accompanied by Indian chiefs managed to obtain royal support for the successful capture of Port Royal and for another attack on Quebec in 1711.
The 1711 plan again called for land- and sea-based attacks but the execution was a disaster. Fifteen ships of the line and transports carrying 5,000 ground troops were under the command of Admiral Hovenden Walker. They arrived at Boston in June which doubled the city’s population. They sailed for Quebec in late July. Sailing in fog, an undisclosed number of ships foundered on the rocky shores near the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River. Seven hundred troops were lost, and Walker withdrew. Nicholson had reached Lake George when he was informed of the naval disaster. He also turned back.
The Iroquois had provided several hundred warriors for the Montreal expedition. However, they had also warned the French of the expedition, effectively playing both sides of the conflict.
The Coast of Newfoundland was characterized by scattered French and English settlements, and seasonal European fishing stations. Principal towns were fortified–the French at Plaisance on the west side of the Avalon Peninsula and the British at St. John’s on Conception Bay. Most British settlements had been destroyed during King William’s War and the island again became a battleground.
In August 1702, a British fleet commanded by Commodore John Leake attacked vulnerable French settlements on the coast. The French retaliated during the winter when Governor Daniel d’Auger de Subercase led a French and Mi’kmaq force that destroyed several English settlements. They also unsuccessfully besieged Fort William at St. John’s.
The French and their allies continued harassment during the summer causing considerable damage. In 1706 the English sent a fleet that destroyed French fishing outposts on the northern coast. A French, Canadian and Mi’kmaq force in December 1708 captured St. John’s and destroyed the fortifications, however, they could not hold it and the British reoccupied it in 1709.
In addition to the naval activity noted in the previous sections, French privateers based in Acadia and Placentia roamed American waters and dealt a severe blow to New England fishing and shipping industries. The privateers took 102 British prize ships into Placentia, second only to Martinique in the Caribbean. The British had not yet become master of the seas. Brittania did not rule the waves and the French were kicking their rear ends in the Americas.
Peace came in 1712 when Britain and France declared an armistice. Queen Anne’s War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Britain won Acadia (Nova Scotia), sovereignty over Newfoundland, the Hudson Bay region, and the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts. France recognized British dominance over the Iroquois. They also agreed that commerce with Indians farther inland would be open to all. France retained the islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, including Cape Breton Island, and retained fishing rights in the area.
Once again, the treaty did not address Indian interests and concerns. The Abenaki had grown tired of war despite French prodding, and they made peace with New England. Governor Dudley of New Hampshire arranged a peace conference in Portsmouth. Negotiations took place there and at Casco Bay.
The Abenaki objected to the French ceding eastern Maine and New Brunswick to the British. They did agree to the boundary being the Kennebec River, and to government-run trading posts in their territory. Unbelievably the agreement gave the British sovereignty over Abenaki territory. This “Treaty of Portsmouth” was signed by eight Abenaki tribes on 13 July with others signing later. The Mi’kmaq never signed any treaty until 1726.
Results of Queen Anne’s War
Taken in its totality Queen Anne’s War accomplished little. The British gained some territory, but the inhabitants of that territory resisted for years. The French agreed to open the Mississippi River watershed to trade by all nations. The Indians lost ground and population again and were pushed farther west.
Although New England was the scene of much fighting, they suffered less economic damage than other areas because Boston became an important shipbuilding and trade center. In addition, the area experienced a financial windfall because of the Crown’s military spending in the area.
The economic costs of the war in the south were high, but there were insignificant territorial changes. The Indian population of Florida was decimated, and the network of Catholic missions was destroyed. The Spanish hold on Florida was permanently weakened.
British colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia saw little military action during the war but suffered economically. Shipping of their products (mainly tobacco) to Europe was less secure and more expensive and they had several bad harvests.
Just as in previous colonial wars, too many borders and other problems were left unresolved, and nobody was really satisfied with the outcome. The colonists generally ignored treaty agreements they didn’t like. The Indian tribes had again suffered significant casualties on behalf of their colonial allies with no rewards, and they had lost more of their territory to the colonists.
Continued instability in Europe, the encroachment of the colonists into each other’s and into Indian territory, and Indian unrest led to a resumption of low-level conflict. Another major war was inevitable.