Ah, the weather is so fine,…just like summer! I do so want it to continue. But, alas I heard rumblings about a chance of wet flurries next week. Oh well, back to reality and back to our story.
We left the Fox and Mascoutin chiefs being escorted back to their fort after their First Nation adversaries rejected their peace plan. When they were returned safely the firing recommenced. For four days they fired upon each other without a word being spoken.
The Fox shot flaming arrows at the French fort hoping it would catch fire and burn down. Sometimes these flaming missiles flew three or four hundred at a time. It was a good plan because the buildings inside Fort Ponchartrain had thatched roofs. Some of them did catch fire and the French panicked but Dubuisson reassured them. They replaced the thatch with bear and deer skins, filled large pirogues with water and fashioned large poles with mops on the ends to extinguish any skins that might start to smolder. This sufficed in handling the matter.
Now Dubuisson had another problem. He heard rumours that some of his First Nation allies want to quit the fight and leave. Others heard the same rumours and again the Frenchmen began to panic. They told Dubuisson they thought they should retire to Michilimackinac as quickly as possible. He rejected that idea immediately and called the plan cowardly. Then he called a council with the war chiefs.
When they were all gathered he started an harangue to encourage them to remain and fight to the end. But in the middle of his discourse the chiefs interrupted him. They told him they never would quit the fight and that some liar had started these bad rumours. They got so riled up that they all sang the war song, did the war dance then with a loud war cry rushed out of the fort to attack the Fox.
Every day a few Sauk who were with the Fox would abandon them and come over to the French side. They brought intelligence with them on the condition of the enemy. By this point in the war they reported that the Fox were in very poor condition. They said that over 80 women and children had died from lack of food and water. They were unable to intern them along with the warriors being killed daily because of being continually fired upon. This in turn caused disease to break out in their fort. They were indeed in bad shape, so bad that they had no other choice but to try again to sue for peace.
They demanded permission to speak to their adversaries and permission was granted. The Fox’s two greatest chiefs, Pemoussa the war chief and Allamina the civil chief came along with Kuit and Onabimaniton the two greatest Mascoutin chiefs. Pemoussa was dressed in his finest carrying wampum belts and painted green. He was supported by seven female captives who were also painted adorned with their finest beadwork also carrying wampum belts. Pemoussa led the procession.
The other three chiefs each carried a chickikoue, a small drum used to enlist spiritual assistance. They proceeded in the French fort in single file the three chiefs beating their chickikouies and all singing the song of it. When they had entered the fort they ceased the song and Pemoussa spoke.
Pemoussa conceded defeat and offered the seven women captives as payment for his life. He said he was not afraid to die but conceded for the lives of their women and children. He offered six wampum belts to tie the Fox and Mascoutin to the French and their allies in friendship and asked for a good word with which he could return to his village. Dubuisson again acquiesced to the war chiefs to give the Fox an answer.
The chiefs and their warriors were so enraged at the Fox they refused to give them any answer but instead asked to speak with Dubuisson in private. They wanted to kill the four head chiefs on the spot so the Fox would be leaderless and surrender without condition. Dubuisson dismissed this idea out of hand. Besides, if he agreed to such a dishonorable plan the Governor General would not forgive him. The chiefs agreed and the Fox delegation was returned to their fort safely but without a treaty.
The firing recommenced once again and on the nineteenth day of the seige the Fox and Mascoutin decamped about midnight and their escape was not discovered until the next morning. The Ottawa, Wyandotte and the rest of their allies went off in hot pursuit. De Vincennes and a few Frenchmen went with them.
The Fox and their Mascoutin allies knew they would be pursued so they stopped at what today is Grosse Pointe, Michigan on Lake St. Clair and made an entrenchment there. They built very good ramparts which enabled them to kill 20 of the pursuers. Another siege ensured that lasted four days.
Dubuisson had sent word to the Ojibway on the St. Clair River and the Mississauga on Lake St. Clair to come to their aid when the war first broke out. They couldn’t because all their young men were gone on their winter hunt. But now they had returned and they began to show up at the rate of 100 canoes a day for the four days. Then they stormed the Fox entrenchment and slaughtered all but 100. Then they returned to Fort Ponchartrain with their 100 captives which they killed about five a day until they were all dead.
The Fox and Mascoutin who were invited to de troit were totally annihilated.They lost 1,000 men, women and children in the war. The Ottawa, Wyandotte and their allies, including 25 Iroquois from Fond du Lac, suffered 60 men killed and wounded and the French had one killed and several wounded. This tragedy at de troit would commence a period of about 25 years known in history as the Fox Wars.
NEXT WEEK: The Fox Wars