Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Madeleine de Vercheres

Engraving by C. W. Jefferys, found at Canadian Military History Gateway

"That thy beloved may be saved: save with thy right hand, and hear me"--Psalm 60:12

"I went up onto the bastion where the sentry was...I then transfomed myself, putting the soldier's hat on my head, and with some small guestures tried to make it seem that there were many people, although there was only this soldier."--Madeleine de Vercheres

Marie-Madeleine de Vercheres was born in Canada in 1678 and died in 1747. When she was twelve (1689), the Nine Years' War broke out in Europe. France and the Irish fought the League of Augsburg (Austria, Holland, Savoy, and England). The conflict spread to the colonies, where the English-allied Iroquois attacked the family settlement, Fort Vercheres. Madeleine's mother with four or five men repelled them. Young Madeleine would use the lesson in two years.

In 1692, Monsieur and Madame de Vercheres travelled to Montreal, leaving Madeleine at the settlement, with only one soldier. The Indians struck, and captured twenty settlers working outside the walls. Madeleine herself was outside the wall and her neckerchief was seized by an Indian. She loosed it and outran the Indians into the fort, where she quickly shut the gates.

There was a cannon, and Madeleine fired it to warn all the other settlements of an Indian attack. Madeleine donned the soldier's hat and gestured, to deceive the Indians into thinking that the stockade was well guarded.
The Indians were disappointed at not being able to catch the settlement unawares, and retreated. Canadian troops and their Indian allies arrived at the fort in six days, relieving fifteen-year-old Madeleine.

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