Page images
PDF
EPUB

100
Pontiac killed by a Kaskaskia Indian.

1765. Bouquet, meanwhile, collected troops at Fort Pitt, and in the autumn marched across from Big Beaver to the upper Muskingum, and thence to the point where the White Woman's river comes into the main stream. There, upon the 9th of November, he concluded a peace with the Delawares and Shawanese, and received from them two hundred and six prisoners, eighty-one men and one hundred and twenty-five women and children. He also received, from the Shawanese, hostages for the delivery of some captives, who could not be brought to the Muskingum at that time. These hostages escaped, but the savages were of good faith, and upon the 9th of May, 1765, the remaining whites were given up to George Croghan, the deputy of Sir William Johnson, at Fort Pitt.* Many anecdotes are related in the account of the delivery of the captives to Bouquet, going to show that strong attachments had been formed between them and their captors; and West's pencil has illustrated the scene of their delivery. But we have little faith in the representations of either writer or painter. Í

Pontiac, the leading spirit in the past struggle, finding his attempts to save his country and his race at that time hopeless, left his tribe and went into the West, and for some years after was living among the Illinois, and in St. Louis, attempting, but in vain, to bring about a new union and new war. He was in the end killed by a Kaskaskia Indian. So far as we can form a judgment of this chieftain, he was, in point of talent, nobleness of spirit, honor, and devotion, the superior of any red man of whom we have an account. His plan of extermination was most masterly; his execution of it equal to its conception. But for the treachery of one of his followers, he would have taken Detroit early in May. His whole force might then have been directed in one mass, first upon Niagara, and then upon Pitt, and in all probability both posts would have fallen. Even disappointed as he was at Detroit, had the Six Nations, with their dependent allies, 1765. Sir William Johnson succeeds in a Treaty of Peace. 101 the Delawares and Shawanese, been true to him, the British might have been long kept beyond the mountains; but the Iroquois,close upon the colonies, old allies of England, very greatly under the influence of Sir William Johnson and disposed, as they ever proved themselves, to claim and sell, but not to defend the West, — were for peace after the King's proclamation. Indeed, the Mohawks and leading tribes were from the first with the British; so that, after the success of Bradstreet and Bouquet, there was no difficulty in concluding a treaty with all the Western Indians; and late in April, 1765, Sir William Johnson, at the German Flats, held a conference with the various nations, and settled a definite peace.* At this meeting two propositions were made; the one to fix some boundary line, west of which the Europeans should not go; and the savages named, as this line, the Ohio or Alleghany and Susquehannah; but no definite agreement was made, Johnson not being empowered to act.

* See however, American Archives, fourth series, i. 1015, where the good faith of the Shawanese is disputed.

+ " An Historical Account of the Expedition against the Ohio Indians in the year 1704, under the command of Henry Bouquet, Esquire, &c. Published from Authentic Documents, by a Lover of his Country. London, 1766. This volume was first printed in Philadelphir.

# Thatcher’s Indian Biography, vol. ii. Our knowledge of Pontiac and his war is very limited. We hope something more may come to light yet. Nicollet in his Report, (p 81,) gives some particulars from one who knew Pontiac. His death was revenged by the Northern nations, who nearly exterminated the Illinois.

The other proposal was, that the Indians should grant to the traders, who had suffered in 1763, a tract of land in compensation for the injuries then done them, and to this the red men agreed.t

With the returning deputies of the Shawanese and Delawares, George Croghan, Sir William Johnson's sub-commissioner, went to the west for the purpose of visiting the more distant tribes, and securing, so far as it could be done, the alliance of the French who were scattered through the western valleys, and who were stirring up the savages to warfare, as it was believed. The Journal of his voyage may be found in the Appendix to Butler's History of Kentucky” (second edition,) together with the estimate of the number of Indians in the west; a very curious table, though, of course vague and inaccurate. From his Journal we present some passages illustrative of the state of the western French settlements, and the feelings of the western Indians at that time. On the 15th of May, Croghan left Pittsburgh: on the 6th of June reached the mouth of the Wabash, and on the 8th was taken prisoner by a party of Indians from the upper Wabash. Upon the 15th he reached Vincennes, or St. Vincent, or Post Vincent.

On my arrival there, I found a village of about eighty or ninety French families settled on the east side of this river, being one of the

* Plain Facts, p. 60. + lbid.-Butler's History of Kentucky, second edition, p. 479, et seq.

102

St. Vincent in 1765.

1765.

finest situations that can be found. The country is level and clear, and the soil very rich, producing wheat and tobacco. I think the latter preferable to that of Maryland or Virginia. The French inhabitants hereabouts, are an idle, lazy people, a parcel of renegadoes from Canada, and are much worse than the Indians. They took a secret pleasure at our misfortunes, and the moment we arrived, they came to the Indians, exchanging trifles for their valuable plunder. As the savages took from me a considerable quantity of gold and silver in specie, the French traders extorted ten half joliannes from them for one pound of vermilion. Here is likewise an Indian village of the Pyankeshaws, who were much displeased with the party that took me, telling them that “our and your chiefs are gone to make peace, and you have begun a war, for which our women and children will have reason to cry." From this post the Indians permitted me to write to the commander, at Fort Chartres,* but would not suffer me to write to any body else, (this I apprehend was a precaution of the French, lest their villany should be perceived too soon, although the Indians had given me perinission to write to Sir William Johnson and Fort Pilt on our march, before we arrived at this place. But immediately after our arrival they had a private council with the French, in which the Indians urged, (as they afterwards informed me, that as the French had engaged them in so bad an affair, which was likely to bring a war on their nation, they now expected a proof of their promise and assistance. They delivered the French a scalp and part of the plunder, and wanted to deliver some presents to the Pyankeshaws, but they refused to accept of any, and declared they would not be concerned in the affair. This last information I got from the Pyankeshaws, as I had been well acquainted with them several years before this time.

Post Vincent is a place of great consequence for trade, being a fine hunting country all along the Ouabache, and too far for the Indians, which reside hereabouts, to go either to the Minois, or elsewhere, to fetch their necessaries.

June 23d. Early in the morning we set out through a fine meadow, then some clear woods ; in the afternoon came into a very large bottom on the Ouabache, within six miles of Ouicatanon; here I met several chiefs of the Kicapoos and Musquattimes, who spoke to their young men who had taken us, and reprimanded them severely for what they had done to me, after which they returned with us to their village, and delivered us all to their chiefs.

The distance from Post Vincent to Ouieatanon is two hundred and ten miles. This place is situated on the Ouabache. About fourteen French families are living in the fort, which stands on the norih side of

Illinois, near Kaskaskia.

1765. The French exciting the Indians against the English. 103 the river. The Kicapoos and Musquattimes whose warriors had taken us, live nigh the fort, on the same side of the river, where they have two villages; and the Ouicatanons have a village on the south side of the river. At our arrival at this post, several of the Wawcottonans, (or Ouicatonans) with whom I had been formerly acquainted, came to visit me, and seemed greatly concerned at what had happened. They went immediately to the Kicapoos and Musquattimes, and charged them to take the greatest care of us, till their chiefs should arrive from the Illinois, where they were gone to meet me some time ago, and who were entirely ignorant of this affair, and said the French had spirited up this party to go and strike us.

The French have a great influence over these Indians, and never fail in telling them many lies to the prejudice of his majesty's interest, by making the English nation odious and hateful to them. I had the greatest difficulties in removing these prejudices. As these Indians are a weak, foolish, and credulous people, they are easily imposed on by a designing people, who have led them hitherto as they pleased. The French told them that as the southern Indians had for two years past made war on them, it must have been at the instigation of the English, who are a bad people. However I have been fortunate enough to remove their prejudice, and in a great measure, their suspicions against the English. The country hereabouts is exceedingly pleasant, being open and clear for many miles; the soil very rich and well watered ; all plants have a quick vegetation, and the climate very temperate through the winter. This post has always been a very considerable trading place. The great plenty of furs taken in this country, induced the French to establish this post, which was the first on the Ouabache, and by a very advantageous trade they have been richly recompensed for their labor.

August 1st. The Twightwee village is situated on both sides of a river, called St. Joseph. This river, where it falls into the Miame* river, about a quarter of a mile from this place, is one hundred yards wide, on the east side of which stands a stockade fort, somewhat ruinous.

The Indian village consists of about forty or fifty cabins, besides nine or ten French houses, a runaway colony from Detroit, during the late Indian war; they were concerned in it, and being afraid of punishment, came to this post, where ever since they have spirited up the Indians against the English. All the French residing here are a lazy, indolent people, fond of breeding mischief, and spiriting up the Indians against the English, and should by no means be suffered to remain here. The country is pleasant, the soil rich and well watered. After several con

* Miami of the Lake, or Maumee.

104

French and Indian Settlements.

1765.

conferences with these Indians, and their delivering me up all the English prisoners they had, —

On the 6th of August we set out for Detroit, down the Miames river in a canoe.

August 17th. In the morning we arrived at the fort,* which is a large stockade, inclosing about eighty houses, it stands close on the north side of the river, on a high bank, commands a very pleasant prospect for nine miles above, and nine miles below the fort; the country is thick settled with French, their plantations are generally laid out about three or four acres in breadth on the river, and eighty acres in depth ; the soil is good, producing plenty of grain. All the people here are generally poor wretches, and consist of three or four hundred French families, a lazy, idle people, depending chiefly on the savages for their subsistence; though the land, with little labor, produces plenty of grain, they scarcely raise as much as will supply their wants, in imitation of the Indians, whose manners and customs they have entirely adopted, and cannot subsist without them. The nien, women, and children speak the Indian tongue perfectly well. In the last Indian war the most part of the French were concerned in it, (although the whole settlement had taken the oath of allegiance to his Britanic Majesty) they have, therefore, great reason to be thankful to the English clemency in not bringing them to deserved punishment. Before the late Indian war there resided three nations of Indians at this place : the Putawatimes, whose village was on the west side of the river, about one mile below the fort; the Ottawas, on the east side, about three miles above the fort; and the Wyandotts, whose village lies on the east side, about two miles below the fort. The former two nations have removed to a considerable distance, and the latter still remain where they were, and are remarkable for their good sense and hospitality. They have a particular attachment to the Roman Catholic religion, the French, by their priests, hav. ing taken uncommon pains to instruct them.t

So stood matters in the West during this year, 1765. All beyond the Alleghanies, with the exception of a few forts, was a wilderness until the Wabash was reached, where dwelt a few French, with some fellow countrymen, not far from them upon the Illinois and Kaskaskia. The Indians, a few years since undisputed owners of the prairies and broad vales, now held them by sufferance, having been twice conquered by the arms of England. They, of course, felt both hatred and fear; and, while they despaired of holding their lands, and looked forward to unknown

* Detroit. + Butler's History of Kentucky, from p. 465, to 470.

« PreviousContinue »