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On the 18th of June, a large number of Indians surrounded the former, the only available defence of which was a block-house. Fire arrows were showered upon it, and by midnight, the upper story was wrapt in flames. The assailants gathered in front and eagerly watched for the inmates to rush out of the burning building, that they might shoot them. In the meantime, however, they hewed an opening through the rear wall, and passing out unperceived, left the savages exulting in the thought that they were perishing in the flames. But from Venango, destroyed about the same time, not a single person escaped or was left alive to tell of their fate. Not long afterward it was learned from Indians who witnessed its destruction, that a party of warriors entered it under the pretext of friendship, and closing the gates behind them, butchered all the garrison except the principal officer, whom they tortured over a slow fire several successive nights till life was extinct. Forts Pitt and Niagara were also attacked, but like that of Detroit, their garrisons proved too strong for the savage assail. ants who sought their destruction.
But the destruction of life and property in the forts was only a fraction of the losses. The storm of savage vengeance fell with appalling fury on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and for hundreds of miles north and south they became a continuous theatre of rapine, slaughters, and burnings, without a parallel in all past and succeeding years. Bands of infuriated savages skulking in the forests, suddenly bounded forth from their lurking places and surrounded the unprotected homes of settlers. The startled inmates where scarcely aware of danger before they became the victims of the most ferocious butcheries. Mothers were compelled to stand by and witness the brains of their helpless innocents dashed out against the walls of their dwellings; daughters were carried away into captivity to become the wives of their savage captors, while fathers and sons were bound to trees and roasted over slow-burning fires to protract and intensify their sufferings. Whole settlements in the valley retreats of the Alleghanies, where a prolific soil and industry were rapidly multiplying the necessaries of life, were entirely depopulated. Fields ripening for harvest were laid waste; herds of domestic animals, like their owners, were killed; dwellings were burnt to the ground, and where plenty and happiness had once lived together in peace, there was now only desolation and death. Thousands of fugitives tied to the interior towns and made known the fearful tragedies they had witnessed, and such had been the deep dissimulation of the savages, the story of their butcheries preceded even the faintest suspicions of danger.
SIEGE OF DETROIT_PONTIAC RALLIES THE WESTERN
TRIBES-HIS SUBMISSION AND DEATH.
Detroit was still the head of savage machinations and the home of the arch conspirator who, with the complacency of a Nero, looked round on the constantly widening circle of ruin and death. The garrison of which he had the immediate custody was confined, as if in a vice, to the narrow confines of the fort. The attempt of Cyler to reinforce it, terminated in the defeat and death of some 60 of his men, Most of the unfortunates taken alive were carried to the camp of Pontiac, where some were pierced with arrows, some had their hands and feet cut off, while others were fastened to trees and children employed to roast them alive. For several days after death had ended their sufferings, their bodies were seen floating down the river by the fort, still ghastly with the brutal atrocities which had caused their death. No expedient was left untried which might injure the besieged. Huge fire rafts were set afloat down the river to burn two sinall schooners opposite the fort. On one occasion a faint light was descried on the river above, which grew larger and brighter as it deseended the stream. Presently it loomed up in a violent conflagration and, fortunately passing between the vessels and the fort, revealed with the light of day the tracery of cordage and spars on one side, and the long line of palisades on the other. The distant outlines of the forest and a dark multitude of savages were plainly visible on the opposite side of the stream, the latter watching the effects of their artitice as the crackling, glimmering mass floated down with the current of the waters, in which its tires were finally quenched. Though all the arts of savage warfare were employed to prevent the reinforce. ment of the fort, it was at length accomplished, and an assault made on the camp of Pontiac. In this fierce conflict, which rose to the dignity of a pitched battle, the English were defeated with a heavy loss, and compelled to retire to the fort for safety.
Attracted by this success, large numbers of warriors flocked to the standard of Pontiac, and the spirit of his men, previously begin. ning to flag, was revived and the siege prosecuted with unexam. pled vigor till the last of September. The Indian is naturally fickle and impulsive, and perhaps the history of his race does not furnish another instance of such protracted effort and constancy as this. Their remarkable perseverance inust, no doubt, be attrib. uted to their intense hatred of the English, the hope of assistance from France, and the controlling influence of Pontiac. Their ammunition, however, was now exhausted, and as intelligence had been received that Major Wilkins, with a large force. was on his way to
Detroit, many of them were inclined to sue for peace. They feared the immediate consequences of an attack, and proposed by lulling the English into security, to retire unmolested to their winter hunt. ing ground and renew offensive operations in the spring. A chief of the Chippewas, therefore, visited the fort and informed Gladwyn that the Pottawatomies, Wyandots and his own people were sorry for what they had done, and desired thereafter to live in peace. The English officer well knew the emptiness of their pretentions, but granted their request that he might have an opportunity of replenishing the fort with provisions. The Ottawas, animated by the unconquerable spirit of Pontiac, continued a disultory warfare till the first of October, when an unexpected blow was dealt the imper. ious chief, and he, too, retired from the contest.
General Amherst, now aware that the occupation of the forts in Illinois by French garrisons greatly served to protract and intensify the war, would fain have removed them, but still found it impossible to break through the cordon of savage tribes which girt it about. Pontiac had derived thence not only moral support, but large supplies of guns and ammunition, and the only remedy of the British general was to write to M. Neyon de Villiers, instructing him to make known to the Indians their altered relations under the treaty by which the country had been transferred to England. This officer, with evident reluctance and bad grace, was now com. pelled to make known what he had long concealed, and accordingly wrote to Pontiac that “he could not expectany assistance from the French; that they and the English were now at peace and regarded each other as brothers, and that the Indians should abandon their hostilities, which could lead to no good result.” The chieftain, enraged and mortified at having his long cherished hope of assist ance dashed to the ground, with a number of his countrymen immediately departed for the country of the Maumee, intending to stir up its inhabitants and renew the contest the ensuing spring. With his withdrawal, Detroit lost its significance in the war, and its leader was to return no more except as an interceder for peace.
The winter of 1763–4 passed away without the occurrence of any event of special interest. The ensuing summer two expeditions were fitted out by the English; one intended to operate against the savages residing on the great lakes, and the other for the reduction of those living in the valley of the Ohio. Bouquet hav. ing charge of the latter, advanced from Fort Pitt, and encounter. ing the warlike Shawnees and Delawares on the banks of the Muskingum, soon reduced them to an unconditional peace. Among the demands made by this efficient officer, was the surrender of all their prisoners. Large numbers were brought in from Ilinois and the region eastward, some of whom had been captured as far back as the French and English war, and had now almost forgotten their homes and friends of childhood.t Says Sir William Johnson : In an especial manner the French promote the interests of Pontiac, whose influence has now become so considerable, as General Gage observes in a letter to me, that it extends even to the mouth of the Mississippi, and bas been the principal cause of our not gaining possession of Illinois, which the French, as well as the Indians, are interested in preventing.
of the scenes attending the reunion of broken familles and long sundered friends, a few incidents have been preserved and are worthy of relation A young Virginian, who had been robbed of his wife and child, enlisted in the army of Bouquet for the purpose of recovering them. After suffering the most intense anxiety, he at length discovered her in a group of prisoners, bearing in her arms a child born in captivity ; but
Bradstreet, who commanded the other force, wrested from the savages the military hosts, which cunning and treachery had placed in their power. As a part of his plan, while at Detroit, he sent Captain Morris, and a number of friendly Canadians and Indians, to induce the savages of Illinois to make peace with the English. Having effected arrangements for this purpose, they ascended the Maumee in a canoe, and soon fell in with a party of some 200 Indians who treated Morris with great violence. They had come directly from the camp of Pontiac, and soon led him into the presence of the great chief, who with a scrowling brow denounced the English as liars. He then displayed a letter written by some Frenchman, though purporting to be from the King of France, which Morris declares contained the greatest calumnies that ingenious malice could devise for prejudicing the minds of the Indians against the English. The party, after being stripped of everything except their clothing, arms, and canoe, were suffered to depart. Resuming the ascent of the river, in seven days they reached Fort Miami and effected a landing. This post not having been garrisoned since its capture the preceding year, the Canadians had built their houses within its palisades, and a few Indians made it a temporary abode. A Miami village was directly opposite on the other side of the stream, while the meadows immediately around it were dotted with lodges of the Kickapoos, who had recently arrived. After getting ashore they proceeded through the ineadows toward the fort, but before reaching it they were suddenly surrounded by a mob of infuriated savages, bent on putting them to death. Fortunately the chief's interposed, and before any serious violence was offered the sudden outburst of savage passion was checked. Threatened and insulted, however, Morris was conducted to the fort and there ordered to remain, while the Canadians were forbidden to shelter him in their houses. He had not long been in this situation before two warriors entered, and with uplifted tomahawks seized and conducted him to the river. Supposing it was their intention to drown him, he was agreeably disappointed when they drew him into the water and led him safe to the opposite shore. Here he was stripped, and with his hands bound behind him, led to the Miami village, where instantly a vast concourse of savages collected about him, the majority of whom were in favor of putting him to death. A tumultuous debate on the subject soon followed, during which two of his Canadian followers made their appearance to induce the chiefs to spare his life. The nephew of Pontiac, who possessed the bold spirit of his uncle, was also present and pointed out to the rabble the impro
the pleasure of the meeting was alloyed by the absence of another child, which had been taken from the mother and carried she know not wither. Anxious days and weeks passed away, but no tidings of its fate were received. At length the mother, almost frenzied with despair, discovered it in the arms of an Indian and seized it with irrepressible transports of joy.
Young women, now the wives of warriors and the mothers of a mongrel offspring, were reluctantly brought into the presence of their white relatives ; and children whose long residence among their captors had obliterated the remembrance of former associations, struggled lustily to escape. With the returning army they were carried to the East, where they were visited by hundreds whose relatives had been abducted by the Indians. Among the fortunate seekers was a mother, who discovered in the swarthy features of one of the rescued captives the altered lineaments of her daughter, The latter had almost forgotten her native tongue ; and making no response to the words of maternal endearment, the parent wept that the child she had so often sung to sleep on her knee had now forgotten her in old age. "The humanity of Bouquet suggested an expedient : 'Sing the songs you used to sing to her when a child.' The old lady obeyed, and a sudden
start, a look of
bewilderment, and a passionate flood of teurs restored the long lost daughter to the mother's arms."-PARKMAN.]
priety of putting him to death, when so many of their kindred were in the hands of the English at Detroit. He was accordingly released, but soon afterward again seized by a maddened chief and bound to a post. Young Pontiac, now more determined than ever, rode up and severing the cords with his hatchet, exclaimed: "I give this man his life. If any of you want English meat go to Detroit, or the lakes, and you will have plenty of it. What business havé you with the Englishman, who has come to speak with us?"*
The current of feeling now began to change in favor of sparing his lite, and after having violently thrust him out of the village, they sutfered him to return to the fort. Here the Canadians would have treated him with kindness, but were unable to do so without exposing themselves to the fierce resentments of the savages. Despite the inauspicious commencement of the journey, Morris was still desirous of completing it, but was notified by the Kickapoos if he attempted to pass them they would certainly put him to death. He was also informed that a delegation of Shawnee warriors was on its way to the post for the same purpose. The same party, with a number of Delawares, had visited the Miamis a short time before the arrival of the embassy, to urge upon them the necessity of renewing hostilities, and much of the bad treatment to which he had been subjected was due to the feeling which they had engendered. From the fort they proceeded westward, spread ing the contagion of their hostile feelings among the tribes of Illinois, and other Indians, between the Ohio and Mississippi, declaring that they would fight the English as long as the sun furnished light for the continuance of the conflict. Thus it becamo evident that the Shawnees and Delawares had two sets of embassadors, and while one was sent to sue for peace with Bouquet, the other was urging the neighboring tribes to renew the atrocities of war. Under these circumstances the further prosecution of the journey was impracticable, and at the earnest solicitation of his Indian and Canadian attendants, Morris decided to return. Supposing that Bradstreet was still at Detroit, he made his way thither, but found that he had gone to Sandusky. Being too much exhausted to follow him, he sent a letter detailing his hardships among the Indians, and the unfavorable issue of the expedition.
Hardly had Morris escaped from the dark forests of the Maumee before Pontiac was again in motion. Preceding bis advance, a wave of tumultuous excitement swept westward to the Mississippi. M. Neyou, commandant of Fort Chartres, in the meantime had retired, and St. Ange d'Bellrive had taken upon himself the arduous duties of the vacated situation. Mobs of Illinois, and embassies from the Delawares, Shawnees, and Miamis, daily importuned him for arms and ammunition, to be used against the English. The flag of France, which they had been taught to revere, still clung to the staff on the summit of the fort, and Illinois was now the only sanctuary which remained for them to defend. While thus actuated by feelings of patriotism there were other causes which gave intensity to their zeal. The whole region bordering the Mississippi was filled with French traders, who regarded the English as dangerous rivals and were ready to resort to any expedient which might be instrumental in their expulsion "Parkman