On this day in 1691, Colonel Pieter Schuyler was leading his men in the Second Battle of La Prarie near Montreal in New France.
Schuyler’s invasion of New France marched through Saratoga on 26 June 1691. During the summer of 1691 a force of 120 militia men and 146 Mohawk and Mohican allies led by Major Pieter Schuyler invaded the French settlements along the Richelieu River south of Montreal.
The best description of the action comes from W. J. Eccles, “CLÉMENT DU VUAULT DE VALRENNES, PHILIPPE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 16, 2015, http://ift.tt/2aOHB4N
“In August 1691, a force composed of 146 Mohawks and Mahicans, and 120 Albany militiamen, led by Major Peter SCHUYLER, invaded the settlements south of Montreal. When the governor of the district, Hector deCALLIÈRE, received word of their approach he massed 700–800 colonial regular troops and militiamen around the fort at La Prairie de la Magdelaine.
Shortly before dawn on 11 August during a rain storm, the invading force took the French by surprise, inflicted heavy casualties, and then retreated swiftly towards the Richelieu River. Fearing that the enemy might attack the fort at Chambly, Callière had earlier sent 160 men, colonial regulars, militia, and Indian allies, commanded by Valrennes, to block the road. Hearing the heavy firing at La Prairie, Valrennes obeyed the cardinal rule of 17th century warfare and marched his force to the sound of the guns. Halfway between the two forts he met the retiring enemy, flushed with their earlier success. Swiftly and coolly he marshalled his men in three ranks behind two fallen tree trunks. Five or six of his men were wounded during this manoeuvre but Valrennes made the ranks hold their fire until the enemy were within pistol range.
The Albany forces charged and were met by measured volleys at close quarters. Their losses were heavy but the rest came on through the pall of powder smoke. For over an hour there was bloody hand-to-hand fighting; muskets were wielded as clubs, tomahawks, knives, and bare hands were used, and the air was filled with shrill war cries and the screams of mortally wounded men. It was the most savage engagement of the war. The Albany forces, with their great superiority of numbers, over two to one, finally fought their way through and fled. Valrennes’ men were too exhausted to pursue them.
Afterwards, both sides greatly exaggerated the losses they had inflicted. Major Peter Schuyler stated that the Albany losses had been 37 dead and 31 wounded. The French admitted to losing 45 killed and 60 wounded, most of them in the first attack at La Prairie. All the French accounts agreed on one thing, that Valrennes had saved the day. The Albany militia made no further attempts to invade Canadian territory. From that day on the Iroquois had to bear the brunt of the fighting alone.”
Schuyler was among Saratoga patentees in 1685. Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. The Schuyler family help defined this community. The village of Schuylerville in the Town of Saratoga is named after the Schuyler family. It is the determination of our forefathers, including Governor Schuyler in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world political development. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is helpful in the understanding of the condition of being human.