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Fort Pentagouet

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Title: Fort Pentagouet  
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Subject: New Holland (Acadia), Jurriaen Aernoutsz, History of Maine, Claude de Saint-Étienne de la Tour, Maine
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Fort Pentagouet

Fort de Pentagouët en 1670

Fort Pentagouet (Fort Pentagoet, Fort Castine, Fort Penobscot, Fort St. Pierre) was a French fort established in present-day Castine, Maine, which was the capital of Acadia (1670–1674). [1] It is the oldest permanent settlement in New England.

Its commanding position at the mouth of the Penobscot River estuary, a lucrative source of furs and timber, as well as a major transportation route into the interior, made the peninsula of particular interest to European powers in the 17th-century. Majabagaduce (as the Indian name would be corrupted) changed hands numerous times with shifting imperial politics. At one time or another, it was occupied by the French, Dutch and England's Plymouth Colony.[2]

La Tour

The Castine peninsula appears on a 1612 chart submitted to King Henry IV of France by Samuel de Champlain, who called it the Pentagoët Peninsula. As part of Henry's program to defend Acadia, Castine was founded in the winter of 1613, when Claude de Saint-Etienne de la Tour established a small trading post to conduct business with the Tarrantine Indians (now called the Penobscots).[3]

After the trading post was established at Castine, a raid by English captain Samuel Argall at Mount Desert Island in 1613 signaled the start of a long-running dispute over the boundary between French Acadia to the north and the English colonies to the south. There is evidence that de La Tour immediately challenged the English action by re-establishing his trading post in the wake of Argall's raid.[4] Captain John Smith charted the area in 1614 and referred to French traders in the vicinity. In 1625, Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour erected a fort named Fort Pentagouet.[5]

English colonists from the Plymouth Colony seized it in 1629, and made it an administrative outpost of their colony. Colonial Governor William Bradford personally traveled there to claim it.[6]


From 1635 to 1654, [11]

Major General Robert Sedgwick led 100 New England volunteers and 200 of Oliver Cromwell's soldiers on an expedition against Acadia in 1654. Before taking its capital Port Royal, Sedgwick captured and plundered the French settlement at Pentagouet.[12] The English occupied Acadia for the next 16 years and Fort Pentagouet saw very little use.[13]

Capital of Acadia

From 1670, when Acadia was returned to the French, Fort Pentagouet became the Capital of Acadia under two Governors Hector d'Andigné de Grandfontaine (1670-73) and Jacques de Chambly (1673-74), both formerly of the Carignan-Salières Regiment.[14] (St. Castin had already set up his near-by trading post three years earlier in 1667).

Marker commemorating the Dutch conquest of Acadia (1674), which they renamed New Holland. This is the spot where Jurriaen Aernoutsz buried a bottle at the capital of Acadia, Fort Pentagouet, Castine, Maine

During the Franco-Dutch War (1674), Pentagouet and other Acadian ports were captured by the Dutch captain Jurriaen Aernoutsz who arrived from New Amsterdam, renaming Acadia, New Holland. The Dutch turned the fort's cannon on its own walls and destroyed most of it after the second siege. Castin himself retook it in 1676 and renamed the town Bagaduce, a shortened version of Majabagaduce.

The Habitation of Saint- Castine

From 1667, after the Treaty of Breda, until 1700, Saint-Castine, former ensign at Fort Pentagoet, re-established French authority nearby at a small trading post that formed a nucleus of a new French and Indian habitation.[15] French authorities dispatched the Baron Jean-Vincent de St. Castin to take command of Pentagouet. The baron married an Abenaki woman, the daughter of the sachem Modockawando. She adopted the French name Mathilde and bore him 10 children.[16] The baron became a widower and then married another Abenaki woman named Marie Pidiwammiskwa who bore him two additional children.[16] Castine soon became a force in colonial trade and diplomacy.

After 1677, Castin returned to his trading post within a village of 160 Etchemin Indians - two European buildings within a settlement of thirty-two wigwams.[17]

King William's War

Sign at site of death of John Gyles' brother, Dyce Head Lighthouse Rd., Castine, Maine[18]

During King William's War, Castin's settlement was plundered by English Governor Sir Edmund Andros in 1688. In response, Castin led an Abenaki war party to raid the English settlement at Pemaquid (present-day Bristol, Maine) in August 1689.[19] During the Siege of Pemaquid (1689), one of the captives the Maliseet took back to their main village Meductic, on the Saint John River was John Gyles, who created one of the few Captivity narratives to come out of Nova Scotia/ Acadia. John Gyles' brother James was also captured by the Penobscot and eventually taken back to Fort Penobscot where he was tortured and burned alive at the stake.[20]

In 1692 the village was again seized by the English, when Major Benjamin Church destroyed the fort and looted the settlement. With the return of Baron Castin and his sons to France, the settlement became sparsely occupied.

Queen Anne's War

During Queen Anne's War, in response to the French Raid on Deerfield in February 1704, New England Colonel Benjamin Church raided Castin's settlement (then known as Penobscot) before moving on to raid other Acadian villages at present-day St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Grand Pré, Pisiguit (present-day Windsor, Nova Scotia), and Chignecto. St. Castin's daughter was taken in the raid.[21]

See also



  1. ^ See Brenda Dunn. Port Royal/ Annapolis Royal. 2004. Nimbus Publishing; Buckner and Ried (Eds). The Atlantic Region to Confederation. University of Toronto Press. 1994. p. 71; John Faragher. Great and Nobel Scheme. 2005. p. 68
  2. ^ Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Castine, Boston: Russell 
  3. ^ Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. pp. 87–90. 
  4. ^ Griffiths, E. From Migrant to Acadian. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2005. p. 31
  5. ^
  6. ^ Faulkner and Faulkner, p. 219
  7. ^ Faulkner and Faulkner, p. 219
  8. ^ M. A. MacDonald. Fortune and La Tour, p. 63
  9. ^ Brenda Dunn. Port Royal/ Annapolis Royal. p. 19
  10. ^ Faulkner and Faulkner, p. 219
  11. ^ Griffith, Emily. From Migrant to Acadian. McGill-Queen's. 2005. p. 63.
  12. ^ Brenda Dunn. A History of Port Royal, Annapolis Royal: 1605-1800. Nimbus Publishing, 2004. p. 23
  13. ^ Faulkner and Faulkner, p. 228; Brenda Dunn. A History of Port Royal, Annapolis Royal: 1605-1800. Nimbus Publishing, 2004. p. 24
  14. ^ Faulkner and Faulkner, p. 219, 228
  15. ^ Faulkner and Faulkner, p. 219
  16. ^ a b White,Dictionnaire Acadiennes
  17. ^ Faulkner and Faulkner, p. 232
  18. ^ In Castine, Maine, a plaque on Dyce Head Lighthouse Rd. says: UPON THESE HEIGHTS, in 1692, James Giles [brother of John Gyles], a boy, and an Englishman, taken at Casco [initially taken in the Siege of Pemaquid (1689)], held in slavery by Madockawando for attempting to escape, were tortured by fire, compelled to eat their noses and ears and then burned to death at the stake" (See John Gyles' captivity narrative, p. 10-11)..
  19. ^ Drake, The Border wars of New England, pp. 10-42
  20. ^ Raymond, p. 23; In Castine, Maine, a plaque on Dyce Head Lighthouse Rd. says: UPON THESE HEIGHTS, in 1692, James Giles [brother of John Gyles], a boy, and an Englishman, taken at Casco in the Battle of Falmouth (1690), held in slavery by Madockawando for attempting to escape, were tortured by fire, compelled to eat their noses and ears and then burned to death at the stake.
  21. ^ Benjamin Church, Thomas Church, Samuel Gardner Drake. The history of King Philip's war ; also of expeditions against the French and Indians in its Eastern parts of New England, in the years 1689, 1692, 1696 AND 1704. With some account of the divine providence towards Col. Benjamin Church.p. 261


  • Faulkner, Alaric, and Gretchen F. Faulkner. 1994. Fort Pentagoet and Castin's Habitation: French Ventures in Acadian Maine, Chapter 10 in Norumbega: Maine in the Age of Exploration and Settlement, Emerson W. Baker, Edwin A. Churchill, Kristine L. Jones, et al. editors, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, pp. 217-240.
  • Fort Pentagouet. Collections of the Maine Historical Society, Vol. 4, 1893. p. 113

External links

  • Alaric Faulkner. Maintenance and Fabrication at Fort Pentagoet 1635-1654: Products of an Acadian Armorer’s Workshop
  • Images of Fort Pentagoet
  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 369
  • North American Forts - Fort Pentagoet
  • George Augustus Wheeler. Fort Pentagoet and the French occupation of Castine. Maine Historical Society, 1893, p. 113
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