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Raid on Oyster River
Part of King William's War
Raid on Oyster River
DateJuly 18, 1694
LocationOyster River (present-day Durham, New Hampshire)
Result New France and Abenaki victory
Massachusetts Bay Colony New France and Wabanaki Confederacy (Abenaki, Maliseet)
Commanders and leaders
Francis Drew, Thomas Pickford Claude-Sébastien de Villieu; Louis-Pierre Thury
unknown 250 Abenaki Indians
Casualties and losses
104 inhabitants were killed and 27 taken captive unknown

The Raid on Oyster River (also known as the Oyster River Massacre) happened during King William's War, on July 18, 1694 at present-day Durham, New Hampshire.

Historical Context

In 1693 the English at Boston had entered into peace and trade negotiations with the Abenaki tribes in eastern Massachusetts. The French at Quebec under Governor Frontenac wished to disrupt the negotiations and sent Claude-Sébastien de Villieu in the fall of 1693 into present-day Maine, with orders to "place himself at the head of the Acadian Indians and lead them against the English."[1] Villieu spent the winter at Fort Nashwaak. The Indian bands of the region were in general disagreement whether to attack the English or not, but after discussions by Villieu and the support of Father Louis-Pierre Thury and Father Vincent Bigot (at Pentagouet) they went on the offensive.


The English settlement of Oyster River was attacked by Villieu with about 250 Abenaki Indians, composed of two main groups from Penobscot and the Norridgewock under command of their sagamore, Bomazeen (or Bomoseen). A number of Maliseet from Medoctec took part in the attack, but Fr. Simon-Gérard had dissuaded most of his followers from participating. The Indian force was divided into two groups to attack the settlement, which was laid out on both sides of the Oyster River. Villieu led the Pentagoet and the Meductic/Nashwaaks. The attack commenced at daybreak with the small forts quickly falling to the attackers. In all, 104 inhabitants were killed and 27 taken captive,[2] with half the dwellings, including the garrisons, pillaged and burned to the ground. Crops were destroyed and livestock killed, causing famine and destitution for survivors.


After the successful Raid on Oyster River, Claude-Sébastien de Villieu joined Acadian Governor de Villebon as the commander of capital of Acadia Fort Nashwaak.



  1. Webster, John Clarence. Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century. Saint John, NB, The New Brunswick Museum, 1979. p. 57.
  2. Webster, John Clarence. Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century. Saint John, NB, The New Brunswick Museum, 1979. p. 65

Primary Texts

  • Rev. John Pike, Journal of the Rev. John Pike, of Dover, N.H., ed. Rev. A.H. Quint (Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son, 1876)
  • Jan K. Herman, "Massacre at Oyster River," New Hampshire Profiles, October 1976, 50.
  • Francis Parkman, Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV, vol. 2 of France and England in North America (1877; reprint, New York: The Library of America, 1983)
  • Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, ed. John Farmer (Dover, N.H.: S.C. Stevens and Ela & Wadleigh, 1831)
  • Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay (originally published 17641828; reprint, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936), 2:55.
  • Cotton Mather, Decennium Luctuosum (Boston, 1699); reprinted in Magnalia Christi Americana (London, 1702), 86.
  • Everett S. Stackpole, History of New Hampshire (New York: The American Historical Society, 1926), 1:182.
  • Samuel Adams Drake, The Border Wars of New England Commonly called King William's and Queen Anne's Wars (Williamstown, Mass: Corner House, 1973), 96.
  • Jan K. Herman, "Massacre on the Northern New England Frontier, 1689-1694" (master's thesis, University of New Hampshire, 1966), 43.
  • Kenneth M. Morrison, The Embattled Northeast (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 128.
  • John Clarence Webster. Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century. Saint John, NB, The New Brunswick Museum, 1979.

External links

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