The Battle of Norridgewock was fought as a part of the Dummer’s War during the 18th century. At the time, the British colonists were fighting with the Wabanaki Confederacy who had the support of the French. The battle was a part of this conflict.
The Battle of Norridgewock took place on August 23, 1724. It was fought near the present-day Norridgewock in Maine.
The battle was fought between the Abenaki people and the colonist militiamen from British colonies. The colonists numbered between 150 and 200 while the exact numbers of the Abenaki are unknown. The Abenaki were mostly unarmed villagers and civilians while the colonists were fully armed and had planned the raid in advance.
During the Dummer’s War, Sebastian Rale was an important figure. Rale was a Jesuit missionary who sought to convert Native Americans to Catholicism. At the same time, he supported French colonial goals and encouraged the Indians to attack British colonists.
Rale ran the Catholic mission at the village of Norridgewock. The colonists decided to attack the village and target Rale. Another motivation for the colonists was the need for expansion towards the lower Kennebec region. The British colonists wanted to seize the land but needed to confront the Indian presence in the region first.
The Abenaki was among the tribes who fought against British colonists during Dummer’s War. One of the main villages of the Abenaki was near present-day Norridgewock, located along the Kennebec River. The British colonists coveted this region as it was immediately close to the New England colonies.
They also wanted to capture or kill Father Rale whom they blamed for the French support among the Native Americans. With these motivations, a sizable body of soldiers was formed in August, 1724. This body of troops was then sent to attack Norridgewock and eliminate the Abenaki presence in the region.
Nearly 200 colonial soldiers attacked the village of Norridgewock on August 22. The Abenaki were taken completely by surprise – most of the villagers were unarmed women and children. Despite this, the colonial soldiers launched a full-scale attack.
In the ensuing massacre, nearly 80 Abenaki were killed. These were mostly civilians, including unarmed women and children. Some of the Abenaki warriors made a stand and decided to fight back which gave others the chance to escape. In all, only about 150 Abenaki individuals could survive the attack.
Father Sebastian Rale was spotted early on in the battle, shot and killed. Many of the other villagers were killed as well. The English soldiers suffered little – only about 3 were killed during the fighting.
Once the battle was over, a Mohawk warrior who had been fighting on the side of the English set the whole settlement to fire. This effectively ended the Abenaki presence in the region. It also opened the way for the New England colonists to start settling in the region.