Thursday, June 11, 2009


The recall of Jeremiah Swain and his men from Maine in the autumn of 1689 possibly
was related to a change in strategy on the part of the Massachusetts colony with the
decision to carry the war to the French in Canada. An naval expedition was planned
with Sir William Phips in command.

Phips is an interesting man. Born in Maine, he'd been a shephard as a boy until he
got a job as a shipyard carpenter's apprentice. He then moved to Boston where he
appears to have gotten an education and married well, which allowed him to build a
shipyard back in Maine. When Indians burned him out, Phips took an amazing gamble:
he decided to salvage a sunken Spanish treasure ship in the Bahamas! He went to
England, found some investors among the nobility, and after one failure, succeeded
in salvaging some of the treasure and was knighted by the King. Remember, this was
1687 and he didn't have the technology and equipment used by modern day treasure

Phips returned to Massachusetts in 1689. I haven't as yet found out whether the
expedition against French Canada was already in the works or whether it was
proposed by Phips himself, but either way, he was appointed its Commander. He set
sail for Canada in April 1690.

Among Phip's officers was my 9x great-grandfather Stephen Greenleaf Sr. who was 61
years old and from a family of citizen-soldiers. His father Edmund Greenleaf had served
in the militia against the Indians as far back as 1637, and his son, Stephen Greenleaf Jr.
was an officer in the fighting on land in Maine even as the Phips fleet sailed north.

Phips attacked and captured the town of Port Royal in Arcadia (now Annapolis Royal,
Nova Scotia) on 11May,1690 and then returned to Boston, where he was put in charge
of an attack on the city of Quebec. The fleet left Boston in 9August,1690 which was
close to the onset of the rougher autumn weather. Ironically, it was not storms but
becalmed winds that slowed the fleet, and Phips and his ships didn't arrive at Quebec
until October. Despite his fleet and a force of over 2,000 men, Phips was unable to
overcome the city and after 6 days gave up and started the return journey to Boston.

Now this is where I have some confusion over Stephen Greenleaf Sr. I've found many
sources online that say he was part of a "disastrous Phips expedition against Port Royal"
in October 1690 during which he drowned off Cape Breton in December 1690. As I've
already noted, Phips had captured Port Royal back in May; it was the attack on Quebec in October that had failed. Also, various sources state that some of Phips' ships stopped for
repairs during the return voyage to Boston. By that time the storm season would have set
in and the trip would have taken much longer.

So I believe that when Stephen Greenleaf and 9 others drowned of Cape Breton on 1Dec,
1690, it was as part of the Quebec expedition,

Meanwhile, Stephen Greenleaf, Jr. was fighting in battles on land in Maine, We'll
discuss those next.

No comments: