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The “Company of New France,” which had purchased Sir W. Alexander's rights to territory in Nova Scotia through Stephen, Lord of La Tour, in 1630, conveyed the territory on the banks of the river St. John to this nobleman in 1635. Rossellon, commander of a [128] French fort in Acadia, sent a French manof-war to Penobscot and took possession of the Plymouth trading-house there, with all its goods. A vessel was sent from Plymouth to recover the property. The French fortified the place, and were so strongly intrenched that the expedition was abandoned. The Plymouth people never afterwards recovered their interest at Penobscot.

The first permanent English occupation of the region of the Penobscot—to which the French laid claim—was acquired in 1759, when Governor Pownall, of Massachusetts, with the consent of the legislature, caused a fort to be built on the western bank of the Penobscot (afterwards Fort Knox), near the village of Prospect, which was named Fort Pownall. An armed force from Massachusetts took possession of the region, built the fort, cut off the communications of the Eastern Indians (the only ones then hostile to the English), and so ended the contest for the Penobscot region by arms.

In 1799 a British force of several hundred men from Nova Scotia entered eastern Maine and established themselves in a fortified place on the Penobscot River. Massachusetts sent a force to dislodge the intruders. The expedition consisted of nineteen armed vessels (three of them Continental), under Captain Saltonstall, of Connecticut, and 1,500 militia, commanded by General Lovell. These were borne on the fleet of Saltonstall, and landed (July 26) near the obnoxious post, with a loss of 100 men. Finding the works too strong for his troops, Lovell sent to General Gates, at Boston, to forward a detachment of Continentals. Hearing of this expedition, Sir George Collins, who had been made chief naval commander on the American station, sailed for the Penobscot with five heavy war-ships. The Massachusetts troops re-embarked, Aug. 13, when Sir George approached, and, in the smaller vessels, fled up the river. When they found they could not escape, they ran five frigates and ten smaller vessels ashore and blew them up. The others were captured by the British. The soldiers and seamen escaped to the shore, and suffered much for want of provisions while traversing an uninhabited country for 100 miles.

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