THE FRENCH INVADE
French Invaded Its Shores, Indians Whooped War CriesIn the spring of 1687 at his headquarters in Montreal, the Marquis Denonville and his staff poured over maps, even as Dwight Eiesenhower and his staff did in 1944. The Marquis jabbed a forefinger at a place on the map. "there," he said, "is O-nyui-da-on-da-gwat, the bay of the Senecas, the gateway to their empire. There shall we invade." Other Frenchmen had explored that beach, La Salle the explorer, and Galinee, Dallion, Chaumont and other brave priests who carried the Cross to the filthy wilderness villages of the Senecas. The rulers of New France had heard of the empire of furs, of the short water route to the Western trading posts that the Indians guarded so jealously. Denonville sought to crush the Seneca power for all time and extend France's "sphere of influence." So he mapped the grand strategy of D-Day in 1687. From Montreal an armada of 1,500 Frenchmen and 500 Indian allies was set out in 200 bateaux and canoes. Another band of 1,000 Indians under Tonti was to leave from the Western lakes. On a certain hour of a certain day, the two forces were to join at Irondequiot Bay, establish a beachhead, then push into the interior and lay waste the Indian country. In 1687 there was no radio, no way by which the two converging armies could communicate with each other. Yet on a July afternoon, one fleet swept by Nine Mile Point just as the other flotilla neared the mouth of the Genesee River. The two armies met at Irondequoit Bay at precisely the appointed hour. It was a masterpiece of timing, worthy of an Eisenhower. The expedition landed without opposition, although Seneca scouts watched from the woods and spread the alarm. Denonville encamped at the bay, built a palisaded fort, then marched into the Genesee Country - and into bloody ambush near Victor. The French won the day and went on to devastate the Seneca villages and crops. The Marquis returned to Irondequoit Bay flushed with victory, and sailed west to build a fort at Niagra. The next year the bay was alive with Indian war canoes. The Senecas had rebuilt their villages, planted new crops and mobilized a mighty army, fired with revenge. They repaid the Marquis' visit with interest, burned and ravaged the French settlements in Canada. Denonville's invasion proved an inglorious failure.