Thursday, January 16, 2014

Friar Roubaud and the William Henry Massacre 1757

A French officer informed me that a Huron at that very time in the camp, had in his possession an infant of six months whose death was certain if I did not immediately hasten to its rescue. ...The result was, that the infant should be given to me, if I would deliver to him in return the scalp of an enemy. ..."Well, there is the infant, carry it away, it belongs to you."...I arrived at the for, and at the sound of its feeble cries all the women ran towards me.  Each one flattered herself with the hope of recovering the object of her maternal tenderness.  They eagerly examined it, but neither the eyes nor the heart of any one recognized in it her child. ...I was absorbed in my reflections when I saw an English officer pass who happened to be well acquainted with the French language.  I addressed him therefore in a firm tone: "Sir, I have just ransomed this young infant from slavery, but it will not escape death, unless you direct some one of these women to take the place of its mother, and nurse it, until I shall be able to provide for it otherwise."...With that he spoke to the English women.  One of them offered to render it this service, if I would be willing to answer for her life and that of her husband, to charge myself with their support, and to see that they were conveyed to Boston from Montreal. I immediately accepted the proposition...

I was about quitting the fort, when the father of the infant was found, wounded by the bursting of a bomb, and utterly unable to succor himself.  He could not therefore put acquiesce with pleasure in the arrangements I had made for the security of his child, and I departed, accompanied by my English...  I cannot undertake to portray to you faithfully the new occurrence which here crowned my enterprise, for it is one of those events which a person flatters himself in vain with the hope of presenting true to nature.  We had scarcely reached the entrance of the camp, when a shrill and animated cry suddenly struck my ears.  Was it a cry of grief? or was it of joy?  It was all this, and much more, for it was that of the mother, who from a distance had recognized her child, so keen are the eyes of maternal love.  She ran with a precipitation which showed that this was indeed her child.  She snatched it from the arms of the English woman with an eagerness which seemed as if she feared that some one might a second time deprive her of it.  It is easy to imagine to what transports of joy she abandoned herself, particularly when she was assured of the life and the freedom of her husband, to whom she though that he had bid a final adieu."--pp. 183-185, Early Jesuit Missions in North America (read here:


  1. Moving story of motherly love! I've never heard of Friar Roubaud before! Was he a diarist? What's his background story?

    1. Thank you for your comment! This was posted in part because of your suggestions of future blog entries.

      Friar Roubaud was a missionary to the Abenaki Indians based in Saint-Francis. He and his Indians accompanied Montcalm's siege of Fort William-Henry. After the conquest, he decided to work for the British. A good source of his life is the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:

      In Christ,