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and having made a generous payment, dismissed her. She went to the outer door, but there stopped, and for some time loitered about as if her errand was still unperformed. A servant asked her what she wanted, but she made no answer.—The Major himself observed her, and ordered her to be called in, when, after some hesitation, she replied to his enquiries, that as he had always treated her kindly, she did not like to take away the elk-skin, which he valued so highly ;-she could never bring it back. The Commandant's curiosity was of course excited, and he pressed the examination, until the woman at length disclosed every thing which had come to her knowledge.
Her information was not received with implicit credulity, but the Major thought it prudent to employ the night in taking active measures for defence. His arms and ammunition were examined and arranged ; and the traders and their dependants, as well as the garrison, were directed to be ready for instant service. A guard kept watch on the ramparts during the night, it being apprehended that the Indians might anticipate the preparations now known to have been made for the next day. Nothing, however, was heard after dark, except the sound of singing and dancing, in the Indian camp, which they always indulge in upon the eve of any great enterprise. The particulars of the council of the next day, we shall furnish on the authority of a writer already cited.
In the morning, Pontiac and his warriors sang their war-song, danced their war-dance, and repaired to the fort. They were admitted without hesitation, and were conducted to the council house, where Major Gladwyn and his officers were prepared to receive them. They perceived at the gate, and as they passed through the streets, an unusual activity and movement among the troops. The garrison was under arms, the guards were doubled, and the officers were armed with swords and pistols. Pontiac enquired of the British commander, what was the cause of this unusual appearance. He was answered, that it was proper to keep the young men to their duty, lest they should become idle and ignorant. The business of the council then commenced, and Pontiac proceeded to address Major Gladwyn. His speech was bold and menacing, and his manner and gesticulations vehement, and they became still more so, as he approached the critical moment. When he was upon the point of presenting the belt to Major Gladwin, and all was breathless expectation, the drums at the door of the council house, suddenly rolled the charge, the guards levelled their pieces, and the British officers drew their swords from their scabbards. Pontiac was a brave man, constitutionally and habitually. He had fought in many a battle, and often led his warriors to victory. But this unexpected and decisive proof, that his treachery was discovered and prevented, entirely disconcerted him. Tradition says he trembled. At all events, he delivered his belt in the usual manner, and thus failed to give his party the concerted signal of attack. Major Gladwyn immediately approached the chief, and drawing aside his blanket, discovered the shortened rifle, and then, after stating his knowledge of the plan, and reproaching him for his treachery, ordered him from the fort. The Indians immediately retired, and as soon as they had passed the gate, they gave the yell, and fired upon the garrison. They then proceeded to the commons, where was lying an aged English woman with her two sons. These they murdered, and afterwards repaired to Hog Island, where a discharged serjeant resided with his family, who were all but one immediately massacred. Thus was the war commenced.*
As to leading facts, this account is without doubt correct. Perhaps it is in all the minutiæ. We have however seen a somewhat different version, which, as the affair is one of great interest, we shall here annex without comment. It was originally furnished in a letter from a gentleman residing in Detroit
* Discourse of Goy. Cass.
at the time of the attack, addressed to a friend in New-York, and dated July 9, 1763. It may be seen in the most respectable papers of that period, and is believed to be unquestionably authentic. As to many circumstances the writer's statement agrees with that just given, although the conference (perhaps another one) is said to have taken place on the 7th of the month. The sequel is thus:
At the close of the interview, the Indians returned disconcerted, and encamped on the farther side of the river. Pontiac was reproached by some of the young warriors for not having given the signal (the appearance of the garrison having surprised him.) He told them, that he did not suppose they were willing to lose any of their men, as they must have done in that case; if they were, he would still give them an opportunity, whether the garrison should be under arms or not. All were satisfied with this proposition—"in consequence of which,"--proceeds our informant,~“Pondiac, with some others of the chiefs, came the next day, being Sunday, to smoak the Pipe of Peace with the Major, who despised them so much in consequence of their treachery, that he would not go nigh them; but told Captain Campbell* if he had a mind he might speak with them. The Captain went, and smoaked with them, when Pondiac told him he would come the next day and hold a conference with the Major, and to wipe away all cause of suspicion he would bring all his old and young men, to take him by the hand in a friendly manner.'
This certainly looks much like a genuine Indian artifice. The writer then says, that “after repeating several pieces of such stuff, he withdrew with his gang to his camp.” The next morning, (Monday, the 9th,) as many as sixty-four canoes were discovered, all of them full of Indians, crossing the river above the fort. A few of them came to the gates and demanded per
* The immediate predecessor of Gladwyn in the command of the post.
mission for the whole company to be admitted, fora council. The Commandant refused this request, but expressed his willingness that some forty or fifty should come in, that being quite as many as was usual in such cases The messengers returned to their comrades, who were lying and standing all around the fort, at the distance of two hundred yards. A consultation now took place, and then, we are told, " they all got up and fled off yelping like so many Devils.—They instantly fell upon Mrs. Turnbell, (an English woman to whom Major Gladwyn had given a small Plantation, about a Mile from the Fort,) and murdered and scalped her and her two sons; from thence they went to Hogs Island, about a league up the River from the Fort, and there murdered James Fisher and his wife, also four Soldiers who were with them, and carried off his Children and Servant Maid prisoners; the same evening, being the 9th, had an account, by a Frenchman, of the defeat of Sir Robert Davers and Capt. Robertson.” The sequel of the war, and of the history of Pontiac, will form the subject of our next chapter.
Siege of Detroit maintained by Pontiac— The Commandant meditates a retreat— The French propose a conference with Pontiac, which takes place-The latter demands the surrender of the fort, which the Commandant refuses-Vigorous renewal of hostilitiesAdvantages gained by the Indian army-Arrival of succor to thě English-Battle of Bloody BridgePontiac at length raises the siege,–Causes of itThe Indians make peace-His subsequent career until his death-Anecdotes illustrating his influence, energy, magnanimity, integrity and genius–His authority as chieftain--His talents as an orator-His tradition.
We have now to furnish the details of one of the most singular transactions which has ever distinguished the multifarious warfare of the red men with the whites—the protracted siege of a fortified civilized garrison by an army of savages.
We shall still avail ourselves of the diary contained in the letters already cited, and of other information from the
“ The 10th, in the Morning, (Tuesday) they attacked the Fort very resolutely. There continued a very hot Fire on both Sides until the Evening, when they ceased firing, having had several killed and wounded. They posted themselves behind the Garden-Fences and Houses in the Suburbs, and some Barns and Outhouses that were on the Side of the Fort next the Woods, to which we immediately set Fire by red-hot Spikes &c. from the Cannon.” In this manner, and by occasional sorties, the enemy was dislodged and driven back, until they could only annoy the fort by approaching the summit of the low ridge which overlooked the pickets, and there, at intervals, they continued their fire.