Tax season is upon us. I do tax returns hence the late post. It probably will be this way through April. Also the Winter Olympics are on distracting my attention. Oh well, what’s a blogger to do?
We left de troit and New France in a quandary. The Ottawa had withdrawn to Michillimakinac and the Miami to the St. Joseph and Wabash Rivers. The Delaware Loup had also withdrawn from the new French post. This not what Cadillac had envisioned.
The disturbances at de troit made things even more dicey for Governor Vaudreuil. The Ottawa had let it be known that they neither wanted war with the French nor did they fear it. There were eight or ten nations spread around the lakes that were their allies and they were indignant at the Wyandotte and Miami for what they had done. Vaudreuil feared the British would supply the upper nations from their posts on Hudson Bay. And a war with the Three Fires Confederacy and their allies would do irreparable harm to the fur trade.
There was also the fact that two of their own had been killed, one being the Recollect Priest Constantine. This had to be dealt with in the sternest of terms, blood for blood. However, it looked like an impossible task to get the Ottawa to turn over any of their own for French execution.
The governor also had people at Michillimakinac whose safety he was ultimately responsible for. They tried to withdraw back to Montreal but were prevented from doing so by the Ottawa. Vaudreuil did not know if they were being held hostage or did they meet an even worse fate.
On the other hand things were not going well for the Ottawa either. When they withdrew from de troit it was late August and their corn at de troit had been ravaged. It was far too late for a new planting at Michillimakinac. They had no food to get them through the winter other than what their kinsmen could share with them. 1706-07 was going to be a long, hard winter.
They did make it through although they ended up eating grass, tree bark and boiled moccasins. They decided to go to Montreal and sue for peace. They sent a delegation of four chiefs of each of three of their nations, the Ottawa Kiskakoua, Sinago and La Fourche. Jean Le Blanc spoke for them all.
He laid the blame for all the trouble at the feet of Le Pesant. He said that he understood that their way of making reparation for a death with goods was not enough. He understood that the death of the two Frenchmen must be paid the French way, with blood. So they offered up two former prisoners that they had adopted into their nation to the governor to do with what he wished.
Vaudreuil refused. He wanted the head of Le Pesant and this is what he told Le Blanc. The Ottawa refused to give up one of their most prominent chiefs saying that he was a ‘great bear’ with much influence among all the nations of the lakes. They could not promise that they could pay the reparation that the governor demanded. So the council in Montreal ended in failure.
The governor-general was stymied. He had no idea how to defuse the situation so he did what all good politicians do when they find themselves in a situation such as this. He passed the buck. He had been informed that Cadillac had sent word to Le Blanc to come to de troit so he referred the matter to him with orders to find a way to make peace with all the nations.
Cadillac took charge. He was no Bourmont, the unfortunate young ensign assigned to look after the post when all the trouble started. He demanded in the sternest possible voice that they bring him Le Pesant and if he refused to come then they should kill him on the spot. If they didn’t do what he asked then it would be war meaning the death of their young men and hardship for their wives and children. He also demanded their answer a little before sundown.
The Ottawa caved in. They decided to capitulate to Cadillac’s demands and hand over Le Pesant or slay him themselves if he refused. The Wyandotte and Miami did not believe the Ottawa would do what they said they would do but agreed to accept anything that Cadillac did in regard to the matter and would abide by the peace.
The Ottawa returned with Le Pesant and handed him over to Cadillac to do with as he pleased. However, they did beg the commandant to spare him. After humiliating and incarcerating him Le Pesant escaped over the stockade walls and fled into the woods. Knowing that his countrymen had abandoned him and his influence was depleted Cadillac made the wise choice of not pursuing him. This would make for better relations with all the upper nations and the Wyandotte and Miami had already agreed to abide with any decision he made.
The peace was restored and the nations began to return to de troit. But there was still trouble ahead for both Cadillac and de troit.
NEXT WEEK: Now it’s the Fox’s turn!