« PreviousContinue »
by Bradstreet, and Du Quesne was abandoned upon the approach of Forbes through Pennsylvania.
When the expedition under Forbes first set out, the English determined, besides sending military forces into the northwest to repel French insolence, to send emissaries for the purpose of winning over the Indians to the English cause. The first of these sent was Christian Frederick Post, a man who had lived seventeen years among the Indians, and who had married one of the natives. He was quite successful. Many tribes were induced to take a neutral stand, and others were persuaded to take sides with the English. However, the success of the British in 1758, in driving the French and their allies from Du Quesne, and in making a favorable impression on the natives, opened the way for the great
, struggle of 1759, which terminated with the fall of all Canada, and the complete reduction of French power in America.
Without attempting to give here an account of the three well planned expeditions against Canada in 1759, it will suffice to say that, with the fall of Wolfe, the French were defeated, and the British gained the supremacy in the whole of the northern part of North America. Negotiations for peace followed immediately after the surrender of Canada. They were not successful, and "* the family compact” was entered into between France and Spain, in which both parties were bound to share and balance all losses, in the war which it was declared was to be waged to oppose the growing power of England. The continuance of the war only contributed to the successes of England, and accordingly negotiations were reopened, and on the third of November, 1762, preliminaries were agreed to and signed, and afterward ratified at Paris, in February, 1763. To secure the restoration of Havana, Spain was obliged to cede to Great Britain East and West Florida. To compensate Spain, under the terms of the family compact, France ceded, by a secret article, all Louisiana west of the Mississippi, to Spain.
The war had now ceased, and the French had been completely reduced. Canada, with all its dependencies, was in the hands of the victorious English, but it still remained for the English to take possession of the western outposts where the French still obstinately remained, and where they were supported by power
ful Indian tribes, hostile to the British, and still friendly to the overpowered Frenchmen. This was by no means an easy task. It was obviously a dangerous undertaking “ to extend the authority of England over the uncivilized regions of the west, to allay the hostility and conciliate the friendship of its barbarous inhabi. tants, and thus to secure what they had so hardly earned — the blessings of peace to the exhausted colonies, and the fruits of its great conquest to the English crown. The great importance of the work was overlooked by those to whom its execution was intrusted. On the 12th of September, 1760, Major Robert Rog. ers received orders from Gen. Amherst, to ascend the lakes, and take possession of the French fort in the northwest. Rogers was well fitted for the task. On the borders of New Hampshire, with Putnam and Stark, he had earned a great reputation as a partisan officer; and Rogers' rangers, armed with rifle, tomahawk and knife, had rendered much service, and won a great name. Later, that reputation was tarnished by greater crimes. Tried for an attempt to betray Mackinaw to the Spaniards, he abandoned the country, and entered the service of the Dey of Algiers. At the war of independence, he entered the American service, was detected as a spy, passed over to the British, and was banished by an act of his native state. Such was the man who was sent to plant the British flag in the great valley. Immediately upon receiving his orders, he set out to ascend the St. Lawrence with two hundred men in fifteen boats. On the 7th of November they landed at the mouth of Cuyahoga creek. Here they were met by a a party of Indians, who were deputed to them to say that Pontiac, the great chief of the Ottawas, was near, and to demand that they should advance no further till they should receive his permission. During the day the great chief appeared, and imperiously demanded why the army was there without his consent. Rogers replied that Canada had been conquered, and that he was on his way to occupy the French posts, and to restore peace to the Indians. Pontiac only replied that he would stand in his path till morning. On the next day he delivered a formal reply to the English officer, that he consented to live at peace with the English as long as they treated him with due deference. The calumet was smoked, and an alliance made. Pontiac accompanied his new friends to Detroit. On the way a land of Indians, sent out by the governor of Detroit, were waiting to destroy them. The influence of Pontiac was interposed, and the hostile Indians were induced to ally themselves with the English. A messenger was dispatched to Beletre, the governor, to demand the surrender of Detroit. He refused, avowed his intention to defend the post, and sought to arouse the Indians. It was in vain. Rogers arrived below the village. Captain Campbell was dispatched with an order from Vaudreuil, commanding the surrender, and Beletre was compelled to obey. On the 29th of November, 1760, the colors of France were taken down, and the royal standard of England planted within the fort ; and the garrison and inhabi. tants, amidst the shouts of the Indians, who looked on the strange scene with mingled awe of the English power, and astonishment at their forbearance. The lateness of the season prevented further operations, but early in the next year, Mackinaw, Green Bay, Ste Marie, St. Josephs, and Ouiatenon were surrendered, and nothing remained to the French but the settlements of the Illinois."* For a time after the occupancy of these western outposts by the British, the Indians either remained neutral or were confessed friends to the British interests, but through the inso. lence of the English, and the misrepresentations of the French, they were soon, as we shall see, in arms against them.
A Review of the Western Outposts in 1759 — Condition of the Indian Tribes
Sketch of Pontiac — History of the Pontiac War – Sketch of the Fall of the Nine Western Outposts.
LET U's pause in the current of events to glance at the western outposts, or the northwest, in 1760, when the British took possession of the territory. “One vast, continuous forest," says Francis
Compiled from Parkman's Conspiracy of Pontiac, and from Peck's and Perkins' compilations.
Parkman, "shadowed the fertile soil, covering the land as the grass covers the garden lawn, sweeping over hill and hollow, in endless undulation, burying mountains in verdure, and mantling brooks and rivers from the light of day. Green intervals dotted with browsing deer, and broad plains blackened with buffalo, broke the sameness of the woodland scenery. Unnumbered rivers seamed the forest with their devious windings. Vast lakes washed its boundaries, where the Indian voyager, in his birch canoe, could descry no land beyond the world of waters.
Yet this prolific wilderness, teeming with wasto fertility, was but a hunting ground and a battle field to a few fierce hordes of savages. Here and there, in some rich meadow opened to the sun, the Indian squaws turned the black mold with their rude implements of bone or iron, and sowed their scanty stores of maize and beans. IIuman labor drew no other tribute from that inexhaustable soil." The population, consisting almost entirely of Indians, was so thin and scattered that sometimes one might travel for whole weeks without meeting a human form. Kentucky was but a "skirmishing ground for the hostile tribes of the north and south ;" while in many parts of the lake region hundreds of square miles were inhabited only by wild beasts. At the close of the French war, the Indian population of the whole northwest did not exceed thirty thousand. Out of this number there were not more than ten thousand fighting men. Yet this army, when detached and scattered after the Indian customs of warfare, was all that the English could master. The condition of the savages had changed, although, perhaps, it was but little improved. Onondaga, the capital of the Iroquois, where their council fires had been kindled from time out of mind, was no longer a place of great importance. The ancient council house of bark was still to be seen, but its deserted appearance bespoke the fall of the Six Nations. Their other villages presented a similar spectacle. Everywhere civilization had worked evil for the savages. It was true that the use of firearms aided them in the chase, but all the advantage of the arts could not atone for the evils of rum. “High up the Susque
' hanna were seated the Northcokes, Conoys, and Mohicans, with a portion of the Delawares. Detached bands of the western Iroquois dwelt upon the headwaters of the Allegheny, mingled with
their neighbors, the Delawares, who had several villages upon this stream. The great body of the latter nation, however, lived upon the Beaver creeks and the Muskingum in numerous scattered towns and hamlets." In each village might have been seen one large building of better style than the rest. This was devoted to festivals, dances, and public meetings.
Along the Scioto were the lodges of the Shawanoes. To the westward, along the banks of the Wabash and the Maumee dwelt the Miamis. The Illinois were scattered and degraded. Having early met the French traders, they became addicted to the habit of drinking, and soon sank from their native purity into a wretched degeneracy. There was no tribe in the whole lake region which adapted itself to the customs of civilization with better results than the Wyandot family. At this time their villages along the Detroit, and in the vicinity of Sandusky, presented a clean and tidy appearance. They were husbandmea of considerable industry, and their name ranked high in war and policy. The English settlements were scattered along the eastern seaboard on a narrow strip of land bordered on the west by a dense forest. At this time Albany, N. Y., was by far the largest frontier town. It was from this place that traders or soldiers bound for the lake region, or the wilds of the great west, set out on their bazardous journey. These hardy adventurers would embark in a canoe, ascend the Mohawk, pass the old dutch town of Schenectady, Fort Hunter and Fort Herkimer, finally reaching Fort Stanwis, at the head of the river navigation. They would then pass overland to Wood, creek, carrying their canoes. Here they would embark, and by following its winding course, arrive at the Royal Blockhouse. At this point they entered the waters of the Oneida. Crossing its western extremity, and passing under the wooden ramparts of Fort Brewerton, they would descend the river Oswego, to the town of the same name, on the banks of lake Ontario. Here the vast navigation of the lakes would be open before them.
The principal trail from the middle colonies to the Indian country was from Philadelphia westward, mounting the Alleghenies, and descending to the valley of the Ohio. As soon as peace had been established, after the war between the colonies, adventurous fur traders hastened over the mountains, hoping to become rich