England Supplants France in North America 1760

February 21, 2011

James Smith, our young captive friend, went with his adoptive father Tecaughretanego and son Nungany to Detroit for trade in April of 1759. They stayed there until early summer then left for Caughnewaga near Montreal. While they were there he heard of a French ship that had British prisoners on it to be shipped overseas and held for exchange.

He stole away from Caughnewaga and placed himself aboard that ship. However, his plan didn’t go exactly as he had hoped. General Wolfe had the St. Lawrence River blockaded and the ship could not leave Montreal. So Smith and the prisoners were transferred to prison where he was held for four months. Sometime in November of that year they were all sent to Crown Point and exchanged. He finally arrived home early in the year 1760.

Wolfe and Montcalm faced off in one of the final gasps of the war in that famous battle on the Plains of Abraham and the fall of Quebec. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763 transferring all French holdings in North America to England. Both generals were killed at Quebec and General Jeffery Amherst was appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the British forces in America.

Amherst epitomised the height of British 18th century arrogance. The French had a policy of present giving to the First Nations which cemented friendships and alliances. Because of this policy the First Nations allowed them to build forts as trading posts on First Nations’ territories. It also gave the French safe passage to and from these posts. Amherst saw this policy as bribery. He wrote “Service must be rewarded; it has ever been a maxim with me. But to purchase the good behavior either of Indians or any others, is what I do not understand”

Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs George Crogan wrote to Amherst that the First Nations in those parts were uneasy with the cessation of what France considered their holdings to Great Britain. They felt the French had no right to give away their land. The British had taken over all the French forts and were increasing their arms. The First Nations couldn’t understand why since the French had been defeated and the war was over. Who were they arming against. All this had led to confusion on their part, so much so that it prevented them from bringing their prisoners as they had promised.

Amherst’s feeling toward the First Nations were well documented. He replied to Crogan that he was sorry that “the Indians should entertain such idle notions regarding the cessions made by the French Crown” and if they didn’t give up their prisoners as first promised he would be forced to use “harsh measures” to make them comply.

Amherst also wrote to Colonel Bouquet, “The Post of Fort Pitt, or any of the others commanded by officers can certainly never be in danger from such a wretched enemy as the Indians are…I am fully convinced the only true method of treating those savages is to keep them in proper subjection and punish without exception the transgressors…I wish there was there was not an Indian settlement within a thousand miles of our country; for they are only fit to live with the inhabitants of the woods, being more nearly allied to the brute than the human creation.”

The British traders were also far harder to deal with than the French had been. They no longer extended credit to the First Nations until after the fall hunt. Lack of credit could mean starvation. Amherst responded to First Nations complaints by extinguishing the policy of present giving. This included arms and ammunition which he said they had in abundance. This was untrue and only added to the threat of starvation.

The new policies of the British Department of Indian Affairs enacted by General Amherst only made the situation all the more fertile for hostilities. There was an Ottawa war chief from Detroit about to burst upon the scene and he brought with him the clouds of war. His name was Pontiac. Unfortunately Amherst failed to see the threat.

NEXT WEEK:  The Beaver War 1763

Fort Duquesne – An Encore 1758 Part 2

February 5, 2011

By May 1758 word has spread throughout the territories that the British under General Forbes was preparing to march on Fort Duquesne with an army of 7,000 men. This included 1,200 Highlanders, a detachment of Royal Americans with the balance made up of militia from Pennsylvania, Virgina, Maryland and North Carolina.

The Three Fires Confederacy which included Ojibwa, Ottawa and Potawatomi warriors gathered at Detroit in July. The Wyandotte joined them and they all marched off to the defence of Fort Duquesne. The memory of Braddock’s defeat fresh in their minds and the vast amount of plunder gotten drove the warriors on. Their design was a repeat of 1756.

The first decision was which route to take. Washington, being a loyal Virginian, favoured the road that Braddock had cut which led from Virgina. Forbes favoured a new road that would have to be cut through the Pennsylvanian wilderness. It would be a more direct route and only have to cross one range of the Alleghenies. There would be time enough to accomplish the road as Forbes planned to take his time advancing on the French fort. He knew the warriors there would tire of waiting for him and would have to abandon the field to return to their territories for their winter hunt. Thinking Washington’s argument was more politically driven than sound military strategy Forbes won out. By July the advance guard under Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Bouquet was camped near Raystown the site of present day Bedford, Pennsylvania.

Governor Vaudreuil sent supplies to Fort Duquesne with reinforcements to follow. Unfortunately, the supplies were at Fort Frontenac awaiting the reinforcements when Bradstreet arrived and captured them. The reinforcements were on their way from Montreal when they got word of the fall of Fort Frontenac, so with no supplies they returned to Montreal. There would be no help for the under garrisoned Fort Duquesne except for the warriors who arrived that summer.

 Meanwhile, Forbes had received word of the discontent of the Ohio First Nations. He enlisted the help of Christian John Post a Moravian missionary who knew the Delaware well, had lived among them and had married one of them. Most importantly he was well trusted by them. He arrived at the Delaware town of Kushkushkee north-west of Fort Duquesne where he met with chiefs King Beaver, Shingas and Delaware George. His message from the Governor of Pennsylvania was well received there so they took him to another town nearby.

Post got a different kind of reception there. The young warriors were in a nasty mood. Some wanted to kill him on the spot but others wanted to hear what he had to say. His message pleased them but they insisted he go with them to Fort Duquesne to deliver the message to the chiefs and warriors there. He resisted the dangerous proposal but the Delaware would accept nothing less.

When they arrived at the fort the French insisted he be turned over to them. The Delaware refused insisting that they all hear the words of the Governor of Pennsylvania. So all the First Nations and the French officers gathered outside the fort to hear what Post had to say. He informed the chiefs that General Forbes was on his way with a large army to drive the French from Ohio and that they should remain neutral in the conflict. The governor also invited them to renew the chain of friendship and peace with the British at a conference to be held at Easton, Pennsylvania. This displeased the French very much but there was nothing they could do but watch the Delaware leave with Post under their protection.

The whole Delaware nation met in council and decided that they would take hold of the peace-chain again if the invitation did not just come from Pennsylvania but from all the British provinces. This was done and the conference was held at Easton in October. The Iroquois Five Nations attended it with William Johnson along with the Delaware, Mohegans and a few other nations. The British were represented by delegates from most of their provinces. The result was that the invitation should be sent by wampum belts to all their allied nations to the west. The Moravian Post was given the task of delivering the belts. The French/First Nation alliance was beginning to disintegrate.

Post was at one of the Delaware towns meeting in council with the chiefs when a French officer from Fort Duquesne arrived. He had a belt to present them inviting them to come to the fort and help drive back Forbes. The belt was rejected with disdain. Chief Captain Peter took the French wampum string and threw it on the floor. He then took a stick and flung it across the room and the other chiefs kicked it around from one to the other. Captain Peter said that they had given their all for the French cause and had gotten nothing in return so they were determined not to help them fight the British again. He was referring to Montcalm’s betrayal the previous year.

The French officer was the escorted to a Grand Council that had been called. Post delivered messages of peace from the council at Easton. They were accepted with great pleasure by everyone except the French officer. He was ridiculed by the chiefs and warriors. One called Isaac Still pointed at him and said, “There he sits! The French always deceived us!” They all began to shout whoops of agreement. The officer could take no more. He left the council to return to Fort Duquesne to give his report. The overtures of peace were accepted all over Ohio as far as the Wabash River. The Delaware, Shawnee, Mingo and Miami were no longer allies with the French but were at peace with the British.

NEXT WEEK:  Fort Duquesne – An Encore 1758 Part 3