Things had truly gotten out-of-hand at the upper posts. This was especially true of Michilimackinac. So the governor had the voyageurs called in and ordered to trade only from that post. This had the effect of increasing the manpower to over 100 which seemed to be an adequate defence for the fort. But to keep them there over the winter he had to provide them with food and supplies. To this end he ordered 10 cargo canoes loaded with 30,000 lbs of goods to make the trip from Montreal to Michilimackinac.
The governor also commissioned a Lieutenant St. Pierre to take charge of 12 well armed canoes and settle the peace in the upper country. He was to operate out of Michilimackinac travelling to the post at the Green Bay with presents in order to sound out the First Nations there. They had seemed favourable to the French but if they were not then he was to do all in his power to win them over.
When St. Pierre arrived at Michilimackinac a council was called. He advised the chiefs at this council the object of his mission which was to restore the peace which they had so unworthily broken. He also demanded that they bring the murderers of the Frenchmen to him for his disposal. If they did not deliver these murderers to him that he would go and look for them himself!
The next day several chiefs who were at the council came to him and said they would turn the men responsible over to him but asked that he spare their lives. He said he could not say what their fate would be as this was up to the governor alone to determine.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa contingent who had gone to Montreal in the spring was led by a chief named Pindalouan. They were now anxious to return home because of the lateness of the season. The governor informed them of the sad state of affairs at Michilimackinac and they were genuinely surprised. This made them even more anxious explaining they would put things in order when they arrived home.
Monsieur de Vercheres and the 30 cargo canoes arrived at Michilimackinac in October and they had with them a prisoner they had captured along the way. Vercheres reported that they came across five canoes they thought had been the ones that attacked the French and pursued them. They beached their canoes and fled into the woods but the Frenchmen caught one. He had on him some French goods and a scalp so they asked him where he had gotten them. He replied that he was given them as a present by some warriors at Green Bay. He consistently claimed he was not guilty of attacking the French. Two Ottawa canoes arrived from Montreal and claimed this prisoner saying that he was of the family of Koquois, a chief very loyal to the French and a friend of de Vercheres. So de Vercheres released him to the Ottawa stressing the great favour he was doing them.
By October the nations around Michilimackinac had become very quiet. The two Saulteax warriors who had joined in on the attack on the French earlier returned their portion of the booty to prove their innocence. They still claimed that upon seeing their people firing on a canoe they had joined in to help not knowing the circumstances. The commandant accepted this explanation.
Back at Detroit the commandant de Longueuil was extremely anxious. Nicholas had been in communication with the Saulteaux and Ottawa and they were about to attack the fort. If that happened then Mikinak, an Ottawa chief from Saginaw, would also declare against them. The Potawatomi were waiting as well to join in the fray. The only people to remain faithful to the French were those under the Ottawa chief Quinousaki. Almost all the cattle had been lost and if help didn’t soon arrive they would not be able to get the harvest in and they would perish.
But help was on the way. Sieur Dubuisson arrived at Niagara with the convoy from Montreal. While there some of men of the guard got drunk and ill-treated the Grand Chief of the Seneca. He left for Seneca country very dissatisfied and the commandant, Monsieur Duplessis, had to send Sieur Chabert to his town at the Little Rapid with presents to appease him. The convoy spent little time at Niagara chosing instead to press on to Detroit.
The Ottawa and Potawatomi were supposed to attack the French village on Bois Blanc Island just south of Detroit. If they took this village they would effectively be able to block help from arriving. However, 100 men mostly traders from Illinois and other posts to the west arrived and prevented them from doing so. Dubuisson arrived at Detroit unheeded to find de Longueuil engaged in bringing in the harvest. So all the nations around that post also began to settle down. Peace was being restored to the upper country.
NEXT WEEK: A Rising Star Among the Ojibwa!