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

Fort Duquesne – An Encore 1758 Part 1

February 2, 2011

After the fall of Fort William Henry Montcalm did not advance on Fort Edward. His forces had been severely reduced by the abandonment of his First Nation allies and the Canadians who had returned to their provincial farms. He would have had to use too many of  his regulars just to drag his heavy artillery down the fourteen mile portage. In short, he no longer had the resources.  After burning the conquered fort and levelling the ground it stood on he retreated to winter at Fort Carillon or, as the English called it, Ticonderoga.

In 1758 the British went on the offensive. After a failed attempt the previous year to take Fort Louisburg the British fleet arrived with Generals Wolfe Amherst, Lawrence and 12,000 men. The fleet of thirty-nine ships doubled the number of fighting men.

The French stronghold was garrisoned with 3,000 regulars plus a few hundred armed citizens. First Nation support waned after Fort William Henry. The warriors that filled the Acadian forests stayed home. All that could be raised was a small band of Micmac. In the harbour there were five ships, seven frigates and another 3,000 men. The fort held out for nearly two months until it fell July 27, 1758.

In the meantime General Abercrombie with an army of 15,000 arrived at Lake George intent on taking Ticonderoga. Abercrombie was a general only because of his connections. As a military strategist he was un-inventive and single-minded. However, he plodded forward toward Ticonderoga and Montcalm.

The French fort was under garrisoned and under supplied. Vaudreuil was slow to fulfill Montcalm’s requests. He had not quite 3,500 regulars, no Canadians, no warriors and only ten days worth of supplies. But he did have his extraordinary military prowess.

After a series of military blunders by the British over two days Abercrombie lost 2,000 men trying to breach Montcalm’s improvised barricades in front of the fort. Montcalm on the other hand lost only a little more than 300.

The next night the French general sent out a sortie to reconnoiter and they attacked the main British force in the dark of night. Not knowing the strength of the French attack they panicked. As they fled through the bogs the soft mud pulled the shoes right off their feet. It was a spectacular victory for Montcalm and a bitter defeat for Abercrombie.

Colonel Bradstreet who was with Abercrombie begged him for 2,000 of the 13,000 troops he had left to move north and take Fort Frontenac. It was on the north shore of Lake Ontario a French stronghold that kept the great lake under French control. Abercrombie, anxious for some semblance of a victory granted him his request. 

But again Vaudreuil was lax. He had let the garrison fall to below 100 men. The fort’s commandant received word of Bradstreet’s advancement so he sent word to the governor to send reinforcements as quickly as possible. Vaudreuil sent one man to survey the situation and report back. Not only did he just send one man it was a one-armed man!

The woods of Eastern-Ontario was filled with Mississauga villages but they stood idly by and watched events unfold. Normally their warriors were quick to come to the aid of their French “father” Onontio but after Montcalm’s betrayal at Fort William Henry they were strangely disinterested.

Bradstreet arrived to take the fort without a shot. The commandant was waiting for him with a white flag. This unbelievable victory not only gave the British command of the lake but effectively cut the French colony in two.

The previous year the British colony’s frontier was racked with raiding parties by the Ohio First Nations. Delaware, Shawnee, Ottawa and Wyandotte warriors attacked settlers along the frontier with impunity. They burned farmsteads while killing or capturing pioneers. All that year they looted and ravished the countryside from Pennsylvania to Virginia. The provincials were terror-stricken.

 William Pit, the new British Secretary of State, could see the source of all the First Nation malice, Fort Duquesne, should be put out of commission. In the spring of 1758 plans were being drawn up to do just that!

NEXT WEEK:  Fort Duquesne – An Encore 1758 Part 2

Fort William Henry 1757 Part 4

January 23, 2011

General Montcalm had advised Colonel Munro to dispose of the fort’s supply of rum to keep it away from the warriors. But some of his men couldn’t see all that good liquor going to waste. So they only broke open most of the barrels spilling the highly prized plunder on the ground.

The warriors were in a foul mood. The English were being allowed to walk away carrying their belongings including unloaded firearms. There would be no scalps nor prisoners which the French were only to happy to turn into cash and trade goods. There would be no loot to keep for themselves. Was this was their reward for fighting for their French allies? The First Nations felt betrayed!

The British prisoners were held in an entrenched camp just outside the fort. They were preparing for the march to Fort Edward the next day. Those who had kept back a good portion of the store’s rum barrels decided to sample their wares. All this was a very bad idea but the worst was yet to come.

Some of them thought if they shared some of the rum with the warriors it would put them on their good side, just in case there was trouble ahead. Over the course of the night some of the warriors helped themselves to the liquor and they weren’t shy about it. By dawn’s first light they were in a state of inebriation and highly agitated over Montcalm’s betrayal. The ones who didn’t participate in the intoxicating spirits were just as angry and tumultuous as the ones who did. The old chiefs such as Pennahouel lost control of their young men.

The British spent an uneasy night listening to the pounding of war drums and shouting of war cries coming from the darkness that surrounded them. They became extremely nervous and at dawn gathered together anxious to move out. 

Not all were ready to march. Seventeen soldiers were recuperating in the surgeon’s tents too wounded to travel. The French surgeon had left them in the protection of a French guard with La Corne and other Canadian officers within sight of the tents.

For the warriors this battle was not over. They began the day by attacking the medical tents. They dragged the wounded out of their beds and killed and scalped them on the spot. The French guards looked the other way while the Canadians look on with seemingly disinterest.

The escort of 300 French regulars finally arrived and Munro complained that the terms of capitulation had been broken. They were advised to give the warriors their baggage in order to try to appease them. This turned out to be bad advice as it only served to agitate their antagonizers all the more. The warriors demanded rum and some of the British regulars in fear for their lives gave them some from their canteens. Another bad mistake!

The long procession of 2,200 prisoners finally got underway. Down the narrow road they trudged in an even narrower column stretched out too far for any kind of safety. The French escort lead the way followed by British red coats, then the women and children. The colonial militia brought up the rear.

The English being harassed all the while by individual warriors who, one at a time would grab some prized item be it a hat or canteen or unloaded musket from an unresisting soldier. If there was resistance the unfortunate one would be tomahawked on the spot and relieved of his scalp as well. The French escort did nothing to curb the harassment.

Suddenly the loud screech of an Abenaki war cry signalled an attack. The “Praying Indians” from the mission of Panaouski led the escalation in violence. They rushed upon the New Hampshire militia at the rear of the column. The militia suffered 80 killed or captured. The rear of the column pressed in on those in front. Panicked by the escalation general confusion presided and the rest of the First Nation warriors joined in attacking the long procession from all sides. The British prisoners of war were stripped to their breeches and relieved of all their possessions. Some were killed, some were taken prisoner and some were left dazed in the middle of the road. Many others escaped into the woods to make their own way to the safety of Fort Edward. 

Montcalm was advised of the turmoil and he and Levis and other French officers rushed to the scene. They did try to restore order by inserting themselves in the melee calling for peace. Although brave it did little to quell the frenzied warriors.

When things did settle down the survivors were escorted back to the entrenched camp and put under extra guard until the next day. They were then marched under a stronger guard to Fort Edward where cannon fire could be heard at intervals as a signal to stragglers coming in from the previous day. Meanwhile Montcalm tried to retrieve the 200 prisoners being held in First Nations camps but it was to no avail.

The same day the survivors were marched to Fort Edward the First Nations broke camp and with prisoners in tow headed to Montreal. They were still highly agitated, upset at Montcalm’s betrayal. They were determined to receive their remuneration if not from the battle then from the governor.

Governor Vaudreuil rebuked them when they arrived for breaking the terms of surrender but this was just for show. Bougainville, who was in Montreal when the First Nations arrived, thought the British prisoners should be taken from them and they should be sent home in disgrace. But Vaudreuil thought better being confronted by more than 1,000 angry warriors. Intendent Bigot wrote in report that the warriors should be sent home satisfied at all costs.

To this end the First Nations received a ransom of two kegs of brandy for each prisoner, guns, canoes and other payment for services. They left Montreal for their homelands so distrustful of their French allies that most would not fight in their service again.

During the battle of Fort William Henry Montcalm’s officers did try to alleviate the attacks of the warriors after the capitulation, but not the regulars and certainly not the Canadians. Afterall, they understood the time-tested arrangement for payment for First Nations support and they knew Montcalm had foolishly broken it. The French may have won the battle but it was at Fort Henry they lost the war. The First Nations held the balance of power at this time and it was here that he lost them as trusted allies.

NEXT WEEK:  Fort Duquesne – An Encore 1758

Fort William Henry 1757 Part 1

December 5, 2010

It’s been two weeks since my last post. Sorry but I’ll probably be late again. December is a busy month with Christmas coming up fast and the other day we had a minor disaster here. The hose on the dishwasher broke and flooded the kitchen, down the hallway, two closets and part of the master bedroom. Everything is carpet but the kitchen. Oh well, it gives me incentive to redo the flooring anyway, something I was wanting to do for a while now.

When we last left our story Braddock was defeated, Dieskau was on his way from France with six battalions of French regulars and the Marquis de Vaudreuil the new governor. As soon as Vaudreuil replaced Duquesne as the governor-general he made a plan to attack Fort Oswego. This was a British trading post on the south shore of Lake Ontario in the midst of Iroquois territory.

However, he had to postpone that plan because Colonel William Johnson had been assigned by the British to attack Crown Point on Lake Champlain. Johnson had already started making preparations at the foot of Lac du S. Sacrament for his advance on Crown Point. He had widened the 15 mile portage from the Fort Lyman on the Hudson River to the lake. When he arrived he renamed it Lake George and immediately busied himself constructing a camp from which to launch his attack. Fort Lyman would later become Fort Edward and Johnson’s campsite is where the war’s most famous Fort would be built, Fort William Henry.

Johnson didn’t really concern himself with French movements to his north. Dieskau arrived at Crown Point in the fall to reinforce the French presence there with 3,573 men made up of French soldiers, Canadians and First Nations. Dieskau made the first move. His force moved down Lake Champlain to the headwaters of Wood Creek where a short portage brought them out at the midway point of the new road Johnson had just cut. He had a choice to make. He could either move south and take out Fort Lyman or north and take out Johnson’s campsite. First Nation warriors never like to attack a position that was fortified with heavy artillery so he chose to move north.

Dieskau didn’t realise that Johnson had moved three cannons to the lake and fortified his campsite with a breastwork made of logs. Dieskau attacked but was surprised by cannon fire. They were repelled time and time again. The two adversaries fought more or less to a draw but the Baron was wounded twice and taken prisoner by the Provincials. The French withdrew leaderless.

1755 had not been a good year for the British so although Lake George had not been a military victory the capture and imprisonment of Baron Dieskau gave the skirmish the air of one. Great celebrations were held in New York and Colonel Johnson was received as a great war hero. The British lavished the colonel with rewards including making him a baronet, 5,000 pounds stirling and installing him as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Some good news at last for the English.

The following year Dieskau was replaced with a new general, the Marquis de Montcalm. He and Vaudreuil did not get along. However, they did agree on one thing. Fort Oswego should be the first campaign of 1756. Montcalm had brought two more crack regiments with him from France and he was anxious use them.

Fort Oswego was built at the mouth of the Chouagen River later to be renamed the Oswego River. It was fortified by a stockade and had two out buildings defended by earthen ramparts. It was really just a trading post so was no bastion of defence. Just as the attack started the post’s commandant Colonel Mercer was cut in half by a cannon ball. The British forces defending Oswego quickly became disheartened and surrendered. Casualties were light. The British reported 50 killed and the French even less. However, 1,600 prisoners of war were taken and the plunder was exceeding for the “Praying Indians” that were with Montcalm. The news of the French victory spread through First Nation territories like wildfire.

Montcalm, Vaudreuil and the Intendant Bigot received chief after chief representing some forty First Nations. All wanted to see the great French war chief who had the reputation of being so tall his head bumped the clouds. In actuality Montcalm was a relatively short man. This caused one great war chief to state that a man’s eminence is determined by his deeds not his physical stature.

Meanwhile the British had rebuilt Fort Lyman and renamed it Fort Edward. They also build Fort William Henry at the foot of Lake George. This was where British activity was the greatest. This was where the British presented the most danger. Montcalm prepared to move into the Lake Champlain area and meet the British head on.

NEXT WEEK:  Fort William Henry 1757 – Part 2

The Fox Return to Their Old Ways

May 6, 2010

Greetings to all! So nice to get back to my posts and I’m glad they’re appreciated.

After the 1716 peace agreement with the French the Fox followed through by sending three of their chiefs to Montreal. They were about to send more when smallpox broke out in the city. Two of the three chiefs died including their great war chief Pemousa. Needless to say they were not happy about this turn of events so they held back the other hostages.

Meanwhile war raged on between the Illinois and the Mascoutins along with their allies the Kickapoo. But the Fox who were traditional allies with the Mascoutins and the Kickapoo kept out of it. That is until Minchilay, a nephew of Ouashala, who was a major Fox chief, undertook an ill-fated attack on the Illinois. He was captured and most cruelly burned to death.

Minchilay’s death so angered his uncle that he set off in a rage to avenge his nephew’s death. His brother, Navangounik was with him as they led a large war party of young warriors. They put the Illinois village responsible for Minchilay’s death under siege. The village began to run out of food and water so they asked for a parlay.

The young men wanted nothing to do with a parlay for peace but only wanted to burn the village leaving none alive. But Ouashala and Navangounik were more level-headed and insisted on listening to the Illinois chiefs. Three of them came out of their village with three prisoners of their wars with the Fox allies offering them for their lives. The young men were still intent on destroying the village but their two chiefs prevailed and a peace was reached.

The two Fox chiefs along with the son of another chief named Elecavas went to a council held at Monsieur de Montigny’s house. Elecavas was too sick to travel so he sent his son to speak for him. There was also a French missionary in attendance. They went there to explain their actions against the Illinois.

The two chiefs who took action against the Illinois village explained themselves by saying that although it was wrong of Minchilay to attack a nation that they were not at war with it was also wrong of them to so cruelly burn him to death. This was an act that needed to be avenged. But they pulled back from totally destroying that village and followed de Louvigny’s example toward them in 1716 by letting they live. They also promised to return to the terms of the peace and keep them if the French would forgive them and not call all their allies to make war on them.

Elecavas brought his father’s words which were less conciliatory than Ouashala’s. He said he wanted de Montigny to say to the Governor Vaudreuil that it had been two years since they had seen any trade goods and it appeared that the Governor still harbored the desire to totally destroy the Fox nation. They still waited for French goods but when they absolutely need to they would trade with the English. If Vaudreuil still wanted to annihilate them they could find them still at their fort and they would all die together.

De Montigny ignored Elecavas’ words but answered Ouashala. He generally agreed with him and reiterated that if the Fox returned to the path of peace he would not bring down all of their First Nation allies upon them. The last thing the French wanted was another war with the Fox and their allies. They were continually trying to settle disputes among the far nations so they could increase their profits from the fur industry.

The Fox tried their best to keep the peace even after being attacked by the Saulteux Chippewa from Michigan’s upper peninsula. Four times they were attacked and four times they gave no response. But after being assaulted by the Ottawa from Saginaw they went on the offence. This escalated to a full-blown war with the Saulteux. This only hindered the French’s plans to cultivate trade with the Sioux because to get to their country they had to go through Fox country and the Fox, who were friends with the Sioux, were now killing any Frenchmen they came across. Vaudreuil called upon Sieur de Lignery, commandant at Michilimackinac, to effect a peace between them.

De Lignery arrived at Green Bay in 1724 and managed to quell all the warring nations except the Fox and the Illinois and their allies.  Apparently the Illinois did not live up to the last peace agreement in 1716 because they still had not returned their prisoners.

To make maters worse the English stepped up their intrigues with all the nations of the upper lakes. Over the next three years they secretly sent collars, which were peace offerings, to them all encouraging the enemies of the French become their allies and trading partners. At the same time they encouraged the allies of the French to destroy all the French posts among them and to slaughter all the Frenchmen in their territories. The French’s response was to plan a war of extermination on the Fox!

NEXT WEEK:  The Fox Wars Escalate

Louvigny’s Expedition

April 21, 2010

After two years of trying to get his war off the ground the French’s First Nation allies got tired of waiting. A party of Iroquois from Sault Ste. Louis along with the Wyandotte and Potawatomi from de troit met with the northern nations at Chicago. They determined to go to le Rocher, a village in Illinois country, to see the sons of de Ramezay and de Longueuil. Their plan was to get them to raise a French force to join them on a march against the Fox’s allies.

When they arrived in Illinois territory they found both Frenchmen very sick at Kaskaskia. However, they ordered a Frenchmen named Bizaillon who was on the Illinois River to raise as many Illinois warriors as he could to join the expedition. After raising some Illinois he and a Frenchman named Pachot joined the campaign. 

They found 70 wigwams belonging to the Mascoutin and Kickapoo who were hunting along a river. They attacked so their enemy dug in on a steep rock and after a long seige their fortress gave way. The Iroquois and allies killed more than 100 and took 47 prisoners not counting women and children. In order to make tracking them difficult they moved down the river a distance of 75 miles but after 11 days they were overtaken by 400 warriors who were the elite of the Fox Nation.

The Fox attacked at dawn. The Iroquois, Wyandotte, Potawatomi and Illinois had only 80 warriors left in their party and 50 of them defended the redoubt where the wounded and prisoners were being kept. The battle raged until 3 o’clock in the afternoon when the Fox finally retreated after losing many warriors. The Iroquois etc. pursued them for several hours killing even more.

When they returned to Illinois country they took a count reporting 26 killed and 18 wounded. This expedition took place in November 1715 and the two stunning defeats served both to bolster the spirits of the French First Nation allies and demoralize the spirits of the Fox and their allies. Both the Mascoutin and Kickapoo nations surrendered themselves to the governor Vaudreuil swearing that if the Fox refused to capitulate as well they would turn on their former ally.

The following spring de Louvigny left Montreal with 225 Frenchmen and another 200 from de troit and Michilimackinac joined him. Another 400 First Nation allies also joined the campaign. They had all the munitions needed for the war including 2 pieces of cannon and a grenade mortar. They found 500 Fox warriors and 3,000 women congregated on their river in a fortress with three palisades.

The attack began in earnest but the bullets from their firearms were of no effect. However, they kept the heavy artillery firing constantly night and day. This constant barrage quickly damaged the palisades and the Fox feared they would be breached by the third night. They also had expected another 300 warriors to arrive as reinforcements but they didn’t materialize. Things looked bad for the Fox so they called out for a parlay to talk peace.

The French and allies ignored the Fox’s first overture and kept on firing. They also covertly placed two bombs underneath the gates of the fort and were ready to blow the gates off when the Fox called out again. This time Louvigny submitted the call to surrender to his First Nation allies. The First Nations imposed such stringent conditions that they thought the Fox would never agree to them. They were of the mind to utterly destroy the Fox Nation.

First, They had to agree to make peace with all the First Nations around them. Second, they had to bring their allies, the Mascoutin and Kickapoo on board, even if it be by force. Third, they must return all prisoners they held to their respective nations. Fourth, They must go to war in distant lands to get prisoners to replace all those killed by them during the war. Fifth, they must cover the costs of the war by goods procured through the hunt. Sixth, They must give up six chiefs or children of chiefs to be taken to Vaudreuil as and held as guarantees for the articles of the treaty. Much to everyone’s surprise the Fox agreed to these conditions!

Sieur de Louvigny’s campaign against the Fox was a great success but this would not be the last of their belligerence nor the end of the Fox Wars.

NEXT WEEK:  The Fox Return To their Old Ways.

The Fox Wars

April 11, 2010

Greetings All! Well I’m back from my hiatus. Check out the new pics on the side. I gave a presentation on Aamjiwnaang’s history and culture at a Native American Celebration Day at the St. Clair County Community College, Port Huron, MI last week. So, I let everything slide beforehand to prepare. But now back to the early 1700’s in the Great Lakes.

In the last post we left about 1000 Fox and Mascoutin men, women and children being massacred at Grosse Point, MI on Lake St. Clair. Back in their main villages the Fox, Mascoutin and their Kickapoo allies heard about the disaster at de troit. This made them extremely agitated so they began sending out war parties everywhere to exact revenge. They sent them to Green Bay and de troit attacking all who were not allied with them. This made the routes of travel totally unsafe.

In the spring of 1713 they killed a Frenchman named l’Epine at Green Bay. They then attacked de troit killing three Frenchmen and five Wyandotte people. So the Wyandotte along with the Miami sent a delegation to Quebec to ask the French to join them in an expedition against the Fox and their allies in order to seek satisfaction.

Governor Vaudreuil agreed that the Fox had become so unruly that if the French did nothing they would be looked upon with contempt by all the far nations. But, he didn’t want the expense of any expedition to be charge to the King’s treasury so he hatched a plan to pay for it by using the colony’s commerce.

There was in the upper country about a hundred coureurs de bois who were French fur traders that had gone rogue. They had been ordered to cease their trading activities but they refused the direct order from the King. Many were even dealing with the English for trade goods. They were now considered outlaws. But, Vaudreuil reasoned, if the King were to pardon them he could issue them new licences, supply them with trading goods if they would promise to congregate at Michilimackinac and join in the war against the Fox. The profits from the trade goods could in turn pay for the expedition.

In 1714 Claude de Ramsey became acting governor while de Vaudreuil was in France. For two years the French did nothing but in the spring of 1715 they sent presents to the Miami and Illinois in order to arrange a peace between the two. They were both very large nations and both were common enemies of the Fox.

Meanwhile de Vaudreuil returned, asking Sieur de Louvigny, a military man with some import with the First Nations, to go to Michilimackinac. He was to take with him twenty men, munitions for the garrison and trade goods. He also had orders to accomplish three things.

First he was to ascertain if a general peace was even a possibility. Depending on the attitude of the far nations toward the Fox and their allies he would know if there was anything acceptable to them to “cover their dead” and if the Fox were to agree to the terms. Second, he was to encourage the Sioux to break the peace they had arranged with the Fox and not to give them safe haven once the expedition commenced. Third, he was to offer the King’s amnesty to the coureurs de bois if they all came to Michilimackinac and agreed to participate. However, de Louvigny got sick and could not go until the following spring.

Finally he arrived at Michilimackinac and ascertained that a general peace was not possible. However, when he arrived he found the situation rife with problems. The Sauk were fighting with the Puants and Sauteurs. The coureurs de bois were a lawless group trading with everyone including the Fox. This upset all the far nations allied against the Fox. He also discovered that they were getting their trade goods from unscrupulous merchants in Montreal. To top things off the goods and munitions to supply the expedition didn’t arrive until late August, too late to do anything that year!

NEXT WEEK:  Louvigny’s Expedition