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Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Richelieu River
By James P. Millard

PART I- New France and New England:
Discovery and Exploration
Time Span 1609-1645

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Discovery and Exploration

June 18
"Champlain left Quebec on board a pinnace accompanied by a small party of followers, and ascended the St. Lawrence as far as the mouth of the Richelieu, passed up that stream to the foot of the rapids near Chambly. During the winter he had learned from some Indians who had visited his encampment, that they intended an inroad into the country of their enemy in the course of the approaching summer and he had determined to accompany them, and by that means, not only explore a river and large lake through which the war party would pass, but by his powerful assistance strengthen the friendship which then existed between French and neighboring Indians. At Chambly a war party of sixty Algonquians and Hurons joined him, and commenced preparations for the incursion.--Palmer's History"**

July 2 "I set out accordingly from the fall of the Iroquois River [the rapids at Chambly] on the 2d of July. All the Savages set to carrying their canoes, arms, and baggage overland, some half a league, in order to pass by the violence and strength of the fall, which was speedily accomplished.

They then put them all in the water again, two men in each with the baggage; and they caused one of the men in each canoe to go by land some three leagues, the extent of the fall, which is not, however, so violent here as at the mouth, except in some places, where rocks obstruct the river, which is not broader than three hundred or four hundred paces. After we had passed the fall, which was attended with difficulty, all the savages, who had gone by land over a good path and level country, although there are a great many trees, re-embarked in their canoes. My men went also by land; but I went in a canoe. The savages made a review of all their followers, finding that there were twenty-four canoes, with sixty men. After the review was completed, we continued our course to an island, three leagues long, filled with the finest pines I had ever seen. Here they went hunting, and captured some wild animals. Proceeding about three leagues farther on, we made a halt, in order to rest the coming night..." --Champlain, Voyages1

July 3
"We set out the next day, continuing our course in the river as far as the entrance to the lake. There are many pretty islands here, low, and containing very fine woods and meadows, with abundance of fowl and such animals of the chase as stags, fallow-deer, fawns, roe-bucks, bears, and others, which go from the main land to these islands. We captured a large number of these animals. There are also many beavers, not only in this river, but also in numerous other little ones that flow into it. These regions, although they are pleasant, are not inhabited by any savages, on account of their wars; but they withdraw as far as possible from rivers into the interior, in order not to be suddenly surprised." --Champlain, Voyages

Samuel de Champlain "discovers" a large lake to the south of the River of the Iroquois. 

July 4
" The next day we entered the lake, which is of great extent, say eighty or a hundred leagues long, where I saw four fine islands, ten, twelve, and fifteen leagues long [Isle la Motte, North and South Hero (Grand Isle), and Valcour], which were formerly inhabited by the savages, like the River of the Iroquois; but they have been abandoned since the wars of the savages with one another prevail. There are also many rivers falling into the lake, bordered by many fine trees of the same kinds as those we have in France, with many vines finer than any I have seen in any other place; also many chestnut-trees on the border of this lake, which I had not seen before [Chestnuts were plentiful in the area before they were wiped out by a blight]." --Champlain, Voyages

July 14
"Continuing our course over this lake on the western side, I noticed, while observing the country, some very high mountains on the eastern side, on top of which there was snow. I made inquiry of the savages whether these localities were inhabited, when they told me that the Iroquois dwelt there, and that there were beautiful valleys in these places, with plains productive in grain, such as I had eaten in this country, together with many kinds of fruit without limit. They said also that the lake extended near mountains, some twenty-five leagues distant from us, as I judge. I saw, on the south, other mountains, no less high than the first, but without any snow. The savages told me that these mountains were thickly settled, and that it was there we were to find their enemies; but that it was necessary to pass a fall [the falls of Carillon on the LaChute River] in order to go there (which I afterward saw), when we should enter another lake, nine or ten leagues long [Present day Lake George]" --Champlain, Voyages

July 29
"When it was evening, we embarked in our canoes to continue our course; and, as we advanced very quietly and without making any noise, we met on the 29th of the month the Iroquois, about ten o'clock at evening, at the extremity of a cape which extends into the lake on the western bank [Either the Crown Point or Ticonderoga peninsula]. They had come to fight." --Champlain, Voyages

July 30

"...when day came, my companions and myself continued under cover, for fear that the enemy would see us. We arranged our arms in the best manner possible, being, however, separated, each in one of the canoes of the savage Montagnais. After arming ourselves with light armor, we each took an arquebuse, and went on shore. I saw the enemy go out of their barricade, nearly two hundred in number, stout and rugged in appearance. They came at a slow pace towards us, with a dignity and assurance which greatly amused me, having three chiefs at their head. Our men also advanced in the same order, telling me that those who had three large plumes were the chiefs, and that they had only these three, and that they could be distinguished by these plumes, which were much larger than those of their companions, and that I should do what I could to kill them. I promised to do all in my power, and said that I was very sorry they could not understand me, so that I might give order and shape to their mode of attacking their enemies, and then we should, without doubt, defeat them all; but that this could not now be obviated, and that I should be very glad to show them my courage and good-will when we should engage in the fight.

As soon as we had landed, they began to run for some two hundred paces towards their enemies, who stood firmly, not having as yet noticed my companions, who went into the woods with some savages. Our men began to call me with loud cries; and, in order to give me a passage-way, they opened in two parts, and put me at their head, where I marched some twenty paces in advance of the rest, until I was within about thirty paces of the enemy, who at once noticed me, and, halting, gazed at me, as I did also at them. When I saw them making a move to fire at us, I rested my musket against my cheek, and aimed directly at one of the three chiefs. With the same shot, two fell to the ground; and one of their men was so wounded that he died some time after. I had loaded my musket with four balls. When our side saw this shot so favorable for them, they began to raise such loud cries that one could not have heard it thunder. Meanwhile, the arrows flew on both sides. The Iroquois were greatly astonished that two men had been so quickly killed, although they were equipped with armor woven from cotton thread, and with wood which was proof against their arrows. This caused great alarm among them. As I was loading again, one of my companions fired shot from the woods, which astonished them anew to such a degree that, seeing their chiefs dead, they lost courage and took to flight, abandoning their camp and fort, and fleeing into the woods, whither I pursued them, killing still more of them. Our savages also killed several of them, and took ten or twelve prisoners. The remainder escaped with the wounded. Fifteen or sixteen were wounded on our side with arrow-shots; but they were soon healed.

After gaining the victory, our men amused themselves by taking a greater quantity of Indian corn and some meal from their enemies, also their armor, which they had left behind that they might run better. After feasting sumptuously, dancing and singing, we returned three hours after, with the prisoners. The spot where this took place is in latitude 43º and some minutes, and the lake was called Lake Champlain..." --Champlain, Voyages 6


Compagnie des Cent Associes (The Company of One Hundred Associates) is formed to develop and exploit the riches of New France. Comprised of the landed gentry of France and with Cardinal Richelieu himself at its head; the Company has virtually complete control of the fur trade, settlement and colonization.


December 25
The first white man to see the lake- Samuel de Champlain, died in Quebec.


French erect Fort Richelieu at the mouth of that river.


Fr. Isaac Jogues, a French  Jesuit Missionary and two companions are captured by an Iroquois war party near the mouth of the Richelieu. During an agonizing journey south to the native villages, a stop is made at a small island near present-day Westport, NY. Here, at what is today referred to as "Jogues Island" the captives are forced to submit to a brutal form of sport called the "salvo", also known as "running the gauntlet". 



Samuel de Champlain. 1567-1635. "Voyages of Samuel de Champlain" Edited by Edmund F. Slafter, (Boston: Prince Society 1878) 210-211: Early Canadiana Online:
Ibid. 215
Ibid. 215
Ibid. 217, 218
Ibid. 219
Ibid. 220-223
Samuel de Champlain, Jogues Island images: Warwick Stevens Carpenter. The Summer Paradise in History. Albany: General Passenger Department, The Delaware and Hudson Company. 1914. Courtesy of John and Barbara Gallagher.

The TIMELINE continues HERE:

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