Ohio History Journal






For a century and a half (1600-1750) France and England

had been rivals for the possession of the fairest part of the

North American continent. Each nation had acquired a fixed

tenancy but the extent of those re-

spective  holdings  was  unequal.

France by her discoveries and occu-

pancies had preempted Canada, the

region of the Great Lakes, and the

Ohio and Mississippi valleys; Eng-

land, through her colonies, the New

England Coast from near the Gulf

of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mex-

ico, and inland to the Alleghany

and Appalachian Mountains. Eng-

land claimed, through the charters

of her colonies, the territory west to

the Mississippi, and even beyond

"from sea to sea." The valley of

the Ohio was the garden portion of

this contested claim. The time had

come for a final test of the supreme power of each claimant. The

expedition of Coloron de Bienville, on the part of the French,

through the Ohio country, and of Christopher Gist through the

same territory on the part of the English, precipitated the conclu-

sion as to the respective rights of the parties. Each proposed to

secure at once this fair land by military occupation. The clash of

arms was preluded by attempted arbitration. Legardeur St. Pierre

as envoy of the French authority; Tanacharison, the Half King

of the Iroquois tribes, on the part of the Indians; and George

Washington as representative of Governor Dinwiddie of Vir-

ginia, on the part of the British, held tripartite conferences at


Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.              411

Logstown, Le Boeuf and Venango. These peculiar international

parleyings were held in the winter of 1753-54. The French

claimed the Ohio and Mississippi valleys by priority of discovery

and settlement; the English by right of the western continuation

of their Atlantic coast charters and grants; the Indian, by right

of original occupation and uninterrupted tenancy. Naught but

the gage of war could decide this dispute. The defeat of Brad-

dock was the opening battle. In the early spring of 1754, Cap-

tain Trent, under the instructions of Governor Dinwiddie, with

a company of Virginia colonists, hastened across the mountains

to the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers,

known as the forks of the Ohio. That point was regarded as

the commanding site for the Ohio Valley. It intercepted the

waterway of the Frenchmen from their Canadian capital to the

Ohio country. The soldiers of Captain Trent, some forty in num-

ber, began to erect a fort at the above named site while awaiting

the arrival of Washington with reinforcements, when, on the

17th of April, 1754, Captain Contracoeur, with a thousand French

and Indians, and eighteen cannon, proceeded down the Alle-

ghany river in sixty bateaux and three hundred canoes, took

possession of the unfinished fort, completed it, and named it

Fort Duquesne in honor of the Captain-General of Canada. The

soldiers of Captain Trent were permitted to retreat to the quar-

ters of Washington at Wills creek.

Early in 1755, fleets from England and France, respec-

tively arrived with munitions of war and strong bodies of troops

to inaugurate the long and bloody war that was to ensue. Gen-

eral Edward Braddock, an experienced British warrior, was

placed in command of the British forces and organized an ex-

pedition for the capture of Fort Duquesne. With some two

thousand men* Braddock made a forced march towards his

destination, when, on the 8th day of July, on the banks of the

Monongahela, at a point not far distant from the new French

Fort (Duquesne) he was met by the combined French soldiers

and Indian braves under the French Captain De Beaujeu. For

more than two hours the battle raged fearfully.  Braddock's

chief subordinate officer was George Washington. It was the

*The authorities vary from 1,200 to 2,300.

412 Ohio Arch

412       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

first great military action of his wonderful career. In Braddock's

command also were Thomas Gage, who twenty years later at

the outbreak of the Revolution, was Governor of Massachusetts

Colony and general-in-chief of the British forces in America;

and Horatio Gates, who in the Revolution espoused the side of

the Americans and received the sword of Burgoyne at Saratoga.

There were many others in Braddock's ranks who subsequently

distinguished themselves in the War for Independence. The mot-

ley army of the enemy consisted of two hundred and fifty French

and Canadian troops, and hundreds of savages whom the French

had mustered from   far and near. They were the Ojibwas,

Ottawas, Hurons, Caughnawagas, Abenakis and Delawares. The

Ottawas were led, most authorities agree, by the then great

hero of the Indian race, Pontiac. The brave De Beaujeu fell at

the commencement of the fight, but the victory was to his

army of French and Indians.    Braddock, unused to Indian

warfare, insisted upon marching his handsomely uniformed,

thoroughly equipped and skillfully trained soldiers into the face

of the enemy in close columns, as he had done in his European

victories. The fierceness of the attack and hideous war-whoops

of the Indians, which the British regulars had never before heard,

frightened and confused them, and they fell into a panic. Brad-

dock himself was killed, and of eighty-six English officers sixty-

three were slain or wounded, and half of his private soldiers

were cut down. Washington rode through the tumult calm

and undaunted. Two horses were killed under him, and four

bullets pierced his clothes.* The slaughter was terrific, and the

survivors fled tumultuously from the scene of carnage and

hastened back across the Monongahela. It was a terrible and

tragical commencement of the French and Indian war. In the

lengthy contest that was to ensue the Indian of the Ohio and

Mississippi valley cast his lot with the Frenchmen. This was

a natural and logical selection. The French colonists of Canada

had from the beginning cultivated a peculiar intimacy of re-


* It was in this battle that an Indian subsequently reported he had

deliberately fired at Washington more than a dozen times but was unable

to hit him.

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.               413

lationship with the Indian tribes. The possession of Canada

and the establishment of the French posts along the southern

shores of the Great Lakes and on the inland rivers brought the

Frenchmen into close touch with the forest life of the native

savage. The Frenchmen, moreover, were tradesmen going and

coming as adventure or commerce dictated, and with the Gallic

facility of manner and pliability of temperament they readily

made friends with the red men of the forest. They gave them

presents, flattered and amused them. Their missionaries, too,

brought religion, aid and sympathy to the superstitious natives.

The French adventurers, moreover, of easy habits, often made

love to the dusky maidens of the tribes, sometimes married them

and in an apt and adroit manner adapted themselves to the

wild life of the tribesmen. With the British it was far other-

wise.  The Anglo-Saxon displayed "no such phenomena of

mingling races."  Cold, sturdy, indomitable, the Briton came

for a serious purpose and he came to stay. He settled to culti-

vate the land for agriculture and for the establishment of per-

manent homes. The Indian, by contract and intuition, there-

fore rightly decided that he had more to fear from the emi-

grants from England than from the volatile and more compla-

cent invaders from France. The defeat of Braddock and the

ignominious flight of his soldiers strengthened the idea of the

Indian that the Frenchman was the more agile and courageous

and in the end would be conqueror.

It is not the province of this article to follow the varying

fortunes of the French and Indian war. It was prosecuted for

five succeeding years with the full energy of both nations. The

earlier years were unpropitious to the British, but in the year

1758 the tide began to turn and the culmination was reached

in that memorable encounter on the Plains of Abraham before

Quebec. It was September 13, 1759, that the invincible Wolfe

led his British forces against the French under the intrepid

Montcalm. Both leaders fell in that contest and the "rock-built

citadel of Canada passed forever from the hands of its ancient

masters." The Hurons of Lorette, the Abenakis, and other tribes

domiciled in Canada, ranged themselves on the side of France

414 Ohio Arch

414       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


throughout the war. The numerous tribes of the remote west

had also, with few exceptions, been the active allies of the

French. The conquest of Canada left the Indians of the Ohio

and Mississippi Valleys subject to British domination. The

Red men were repulsed but not conquered. They were scattered

over a vast territory, their total number between the Mississippi

on the west, the Ocean on the east, between the Ohio on the

south and the Great Lakes on the north, was probably not in

excess of two hundred thousand and their fighting warriors not

more than ten thousand.* Fort Duquesne was in November,

1758, captured from the French by the British forces under

Gen. John Forbes. The military posts of the French in the

east, on the waters of Lake Erie and the Alleghany, viz., Presqu'

Isle, Le Boeuf and Venango, passed into the hands of the

British soon after the taking of Fort Dequesne. Most of the

western forts were transferred to the English, during the autumn

of 1760; but the extreme western settlements on the Illinois,

viz., Forts Ouatanon, Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Chartres and Ca-

hokia remained several years longer under French control. In

the fall of 1760 Major Robert Rogers was directed by the

then British commander, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, to traverse the

great lakes with a detachment of provincial troops and, in the

name of England, take possession of Detroit, Michillimackinac

and the other western forts included in the surrender of the

French. Major Rogers with two hundred rangers left Mon-

treal, ascended the St. Lawrence, crossed lakes Ontario and

Erie and reached the mouth of the Cuyahoga+ on the 7th of

November. No body of troops under the British flag had ever

before penetrated so far west on the lakes. Rogers and his

men encamped in the neighboring forest. Shortly after their

arrival a party of Indian chiefs and warriors appeared at the

* Estimate of William Johnson in 1763; Iroquois 1,950; Delawares

600; Shawnees 300; Wyandots 450; Miamis and Kickapoos 800; Ottawas,

Ojibwas and other wandering tribes of the Northwest "defy all efforts at

enumeration." The British population in the colonies was then about

1,000,000; the French something like 100,000.

+Rogers called this river Chocage. Roger's camp was on the present

site of the City of Cleveland.

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                 415


camp and declared they were envoys from Pontiac, "ruler of

all that country," and demanded in his name, that the British

soldiers "should advance no further" until they had conferred

with the great chief, who was rapidly approaching. That same

day Pontiac himself appeared; and "it is here," says Parkman,

"for the first time, that this remarkable man stands forth dis-

tinctly on the page of history." The place and date of birth

of Pontiac are both matters of dispute. There seems to be no

doubt that he was the son of an Ottawa chief; his mother is

variously stated to have been an Ojibwa, a Miami, and a Sac.

Preponderance of evidence, as the lawyers say, seems to favor

the Ojibwas. Authorities also vary as to the date of his nativity

from  1712 to 1720.*  Historical writers usually content them-

selves with the vague statement that he was born "on the

Ottawa river" without designating which Ottawa river, for

many were so called; indeed, the Ottawas were in the habit of

calling every stream upon which they sojourned any length

of time, Ottawa, after their own tribe. The Miami Chief Rich-

ardville is on record as often asserting that Pontiac was born

by the Maumee at the mouth of the Auglaize.+ In any event

Pontiac, like his great successor, the incomparable Shawanee

chief, Tecumseh, was a native of Ohio.

The Ottawas, Ojibwas and the Pottawattamies had formed

a sort of alliance of which Pontiac was the virtual head. He was

of a despotic and commanding temperament, and he wielded prac-

tical authority among all the tribes of the Illinois country, and

was known to all the Indian nations of America. Pontiac, con-

scious of his power and position, haughtily asked Major Rogers,

"What his business was in that country," and how he dared enter

it without Pontiac's permission. Rogers informed the chief that

* Parkman says he was about fifty years old when he met Major

Rogers, which was in 1760.

+ Chief Richardville also asserted that Pontiac was born of an Ot-

tawa father and a Miami mother. The probability of this tradition

is followed by Knapp in his History of the Maumee Valley and

accepted by Dr. C. E. Slocum of Defiance, a very careful and reliable

authority. Dodge in Redmen of the Ohio Valley says some claimed

Pontiac was a Catawba prisoner, adopted into the Ottawa tribe.

416 Ohio Arch

416      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                  417


the war was over, the French defeated, the country surrendered

to the British, and he was on his way to receive the posts from

the French occupiers. Pontiac was wily and diplomatic. He re-

ceived the news stolidly, reserved his answer till next morning,

when his reply was that as he desired to live in peace with the

British, he would let them remain in his country as long as "they

treated him   with due respect and deference."     Both parties

smoked the calumet and protested friendship. Rogers proceeded

on his errand. On November 29, 1760, the French garrison at

Detroit transferred that historic and most important western

station to British possession.*

The stormy season prevented Rogers from advancing farther.

Michillimackinac and the three remoter posts of St. Marie, La

Baye (Green Bay) and St. Joseph remained in the hands of the

French until the next year.   The interior posts of the Illinois

country were also retained by the French, but the British con-

quest of America was completed. The victory of England and

the transfer of the French strongholds to British commanders was

a terrible and portentous blow to the Indian. He could not fail

to foresee therein dire results to his race. His prophetic vision

read the handwriting on the wall! Expressions and signs of dis-

content and apprehension began to be audible among the Indian

tribes; "from the Potomac to Lake Superior, and from the Alle-

ghanies to the Mississippi, in every wigwam and hamlet of the for-

est, a deep-rooted hatred of the English increased with rapid

growth." When the French occupied the military posts of the

lakes and the rivers they freely supplied the neighboring Indians

* Detroit was first settled by Cadillac, July 24, 1701 with fifty sol-

diers and fifty artisans and traders. So it had been the chief western

stronghold of the French for 150 years. Detroit at this time (1760) con-

tained about two thousand inhabitants. The center of the settlement was

a fortified town, known as the Fort, to distinguish it from the dwellings

scattered along the river banks. The Fort stood on the we tern bank of

the river and contained about a hundred small wood houses with bark

or thatch straw roofs. These primitive dwellings were packed closely to-

gether and surrounded and protected by a palisade about twenty-five

feet high; at each corner was a wooden bastion and a blockhouse was

erected over each gateway. The only public buildings in the enclosure

were a council house, the barracks and a rude little church.

418 Ohio Arch

418       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


with weapons, clothing, provisions and fire water. The sudden

cessation of these bounties was a grievous and significant calamity.

The English fur trader and incomer was rude and coarse and

domineering as compared with the agreeable and docile French-

man. Worse and more alarming than all was the intrusion into

the forest solitude and hunting ground of the Indian by the Eng-

lish settler, who regarded the redman as having no rights he was

bound to respect. While the rivalry between the two white na-

tions was in progress, the redman was courted by each as holding

in large degree the balance of power. But the war over, the as-

cendant Briton no longer regarded the Indians as necessary allies

and they were in large measure treated with indifference and in-

justice. The hostility of the Indian against the British was of

course, assiduously promoted by the French who saw in it trouble

for the British, possibly a regaining of their lost ground. The

warlike and revengeful spirit of the Indian began to give itself

vent. The smouldering fires were bound to burst forth. During

the years 1761 and 1762, plots were hatched in various tribes,

to stealthily approach and by attack or treacherous entrance, de-

stroy the posts of Detroit, Fort Pitt and others. These plots

were severally discovered in time to forestall their attempt. In-

dian indignation reached its height when in 1763 it was announced

to the tribes that the King of France had ceded all their (Indian)

country to the King of England, without consulting them in the

matter. At once a plot was contrived, "such as was never be-

fore or since conceived or executed by North American Indians."

It was determined and planned to make an assault upon all the

British posts on the same day; "then, having destroyed the gar-

risons to turn upon the defenseless frontier and ravage and lay

waste the white settlements." It was fondly believed by thou-

sands of braves that then the British might be exterminated or

at least driven to the sea board and confined to their coast settle-

ments. It was the great Chief Pontiac, who if he did not origin-

ally instigate, fostered, directed and personally commanded this

secretly arranged universal movement. His master mind compre-

hended the importance and necessity of combined and harmonious

effort. He proposed to unite all the tribes into one confederacy

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                 419

for offensive operations. At the close of 1762 he dispatched em-

bassadors to the different nations; to the tribes of the north on

the lakes; to the north-

west, the headwaters of

the  Mississippi and

south to its mouth; to

the east and the south-

east. The Indians thus

enlisted and banded to-

gether against the Brit-

ish comprised, "with few

unimportant exceptions,

the whole Algonquin

stock." Especially were

the Ohio tribes solicited

and secured; the Shaw-

anees, the Miamis, the

Wyandots and the Dela-

wares.   The   Senecas

were the only members

of the Iroquois confed-

eracy that joined the

league. The onslaught

was to be made in the

month of May, 1763.

The tribes to rise simul-

taneously at the various

points and each tribe de-

stroy the British garri-

son in its neighborhood.

It was a vast scheme,

worthy the brain and courage of the greatest general and

shrewdest statesman. The plan was divulged by individual

Indians to officers at two or three of the posts, but was either

disbelieved or its importance ignored.  While this gigantic

and almost chimerical plot was being developed by Pontiac

and his associate chiefs, the Treaty of Peace between France

6 Vol. XII-4.

420 Ohio Arch

420       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


and England was signed at Paris, February 10, 1763.      By

this compact France yielded to England all her territory

north of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence and east of

the Mississippi. The Spanish possessions on the Gulf of Mexico

were ceded to England, the territory west of the Mississippi going

to Spain, France was left no foothold in North America. While

the powers of England, France and Spain were in the French

capital arranging this result as Parkman remarks, "countless In-

dian warriors in the American forests were singing the war song

and whetting their scalping knives." The chief center of Indian

activity and the main point of attack was the Post of Detroit,

the western headquarters of the British government. Pontiac was

personally to strike the first blow. The rendezvous of his painted

and armed warriors was to be the banks of the little river Ecorces

which empties into the Detroit river a few miles below the fort,

now the city of Detroit. It was the 27th of April when the assem-

bled warriors listened to the final war speech of the great chief.

Pontiac was an orator of a high order, fierce and impassioned in

style. He presented at length the injustice of the British as com-

pared with that of the French; he set forth the danger to his race

from the threatened supremacy of the British power; he predicted

the awakening of "their great father the King of France," during

whose sleep the English had robbed the Indian of his American

possessions. In passionate appeals he aroused the vengeance and

superstition of his people and warned them that the white man's

civilization was poisoning and annihilating the red race. In his

dramatic way he related to the superstitious Indians a dream

wherein the Great Spirit sent his message that they were to cast

aside the weapons, the utensils of civilization and the "deadly rum"

of the white men, and, with aid from the Great Spirit, drive the

dogs in red from every post in their (Indian) country. He re-

vealed his plans of destruction of the whites and the details of the

plot to secure Detroit. He and a few of his chosen chiefs were to

visit the fort, under pretense of a peaceful visit, gain admittance,

seek audience with Major Henry Gladwyn, the commandant and

his officers, and then at an agreed signal the chiefs were to draw

their weapons, previously concealed beneath their blankets, raise

the war whoop, rush upon the officers and strike them down. The

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                421


Indian forces waiting meanwhile at the gate were then to assail

the surprised and half-armed soldiers. Thus through this perfidi-

ous murder Detroit would fall an easy prey to the savages and

Pontiac's conspiracy have a successful inauguration.  His plan

was approved. Just below Detroit, on the same side of the river,

was a Pottawattamie village; across the river some three miles

up the current was an Ottawa village; on the same eastern side

about a mile below Detroit was the Wyandot village. Along each

side of the river for two or three miles were houses of the French

settlers. "The King and lord of all this country," as Major

Rogers called Pontiac, had located one of his homes, where

he spent the early summer, on a little island (Isle a Peche)

at the opening of Lake St. Clair. Here he had a small oven-

shaped cabin of bark and rushes.   Here he dwelt with his

squaws and children, and here doubtless he might often have

been seen, lounging, Indian style, half naked, on a rush mat

or bearskin.

The number of warriors under the command of Pontiac is

variously estimated from six hundred to two thousand. The gar-

rison consisted of one hundred and twenty soldiers, eight officers,

and about forty others capable of bearing arms. Two armed

schooners, "The Beaver" and "The Gladwyn," were anchored in

the river near the Fort. Pontiac's plot was revealed to Gladwyn

the night before its proposed execution by an Ojibwa girl from

the Pottawattamie village.* Gladwyn thus warned was forearmed.

Pontiac and his six chiefs were admitted to the council chamber.

Pontiac began the harangue of peace and friendly palaver and

was about to give the preconcerted signal when Gladwyn

raised his hand and the sound of clashing arms and drum

beating was heard without. Pontiac feared he was foiled and

announcing he would "call again," next time with his squaws

and children, he and his party withdrew. The next morning

Pontiac, in hopes of regaining Gladwyn's confidence, repaired

* There are many versions of the divulging of the plot; one that

it was by an old squaw; another that a young squaw of doubtful char-

acter told it to one of the subordinate officers; still another that it was

by an Ottawa warrior. Parkman seems to favor the Ojibwa girl, called

Catherine and said to be the mistress of Gladwy... It is certain, how-

ever, that Gladwyn was warned.

422 Ohio Arch

422       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


to the Fort with but three of his chiefs and bearing in his hand

the pipe of peace. Offering it to Gladwyn he again protested

his friendship for the British whom he declared "we love as

our brothers."  A  few days later the Indians thronged the

open field behind the Fort gate. It was closed and barred. Pon-

tiac advancing demanded admittance. Gladwyn replied that he

might enter, but only alone. The great chief, baffled and en-

raged, then "threw off the mask he had so long worn" and

boldly declared his intention to make war. A day or two later

the four tribes, Ottawas, Ojibwas, Pottawattamies and Wy-

andots clamored about the fort and the attack was begun by

volleys of bullets fired at the palisade walls. Thus opened the

famous siege of Detroit, which lasted six months, from May 1

to November 1 (1763), one of the longest and most bitterly

contested sieges in the history of western Indian warfare. The

incomparable treachery of Pontiac in endeavoring to secure the

Fort by dissemblance of friendship was further evidenced by

his pretense at a truce. Pontiac declaring his earnest desire

for "firm and lasting peace," requested Gladwyn to send to the

camp of the chief, Captain Campbell, Gladwyn's second in com-

mand, a veteran officer and most upright and manly in character.

Campbell went, was made prisoner and subsequently foully and

hideously murdered. Pontiac neglected no expedient known to

Indian perfidy, cruelty or deviltry. He surpassed his race in

all the detestable elements of their nature. His conduct from

first to last was only calculated to create distrust, contempt and

loathing.  His warriors murdered the British settlers in the

vicinity of the fort, burned their huts, robbed the Canadians

and committed every variety of depredation. The story of that

siege cannot be told in detail here.

Pontiac realizing the seriousness of the situation and the

obstinate courage of the British garrison, prepared for a lengthy

campaign. He ordered the Ottawa village moved across the

river to the Detroit side, where it was located about a mile

and a half northeast of the Fort at the mouth of Parent's

creek, afterwards known as Bloody Run.

The garrison bravely and patiently withstood all assaults

and bided the time of rescue. By midnight sallies and other

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                423


expedients they removed all exterior buildings, fences, trees and

other obstacles that lay within the range of their guns or that

might afford protection to sneaking and stealthy Indians who

would crawl snake-like close to the palisade and fire at the sen-

tinels and loopholes, or shoot their arrows tipped with burning

tow upon the roofs of the structures within the Fort. For-

tunately the supply of water was inexhaustible; the provisions

were wisely husbanded; friendly Canadians across the river

under cover of night brought supplies.  These Canadian far-

mers were also subject to tribute to the Indians, who seized their

supplies by theft or open violence. They appealed to Pontiac

and about the only creditable act recorded of that perfidious

chief was his agreement to make restitution to the robbed set-

tlers. Pontiac gave them in payment for their purloined property

424 Ohio Arch

424      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

promissory notes drawn on birch bark and signed with the figure

of an otter--the totem to which he belonged--all of which

promises to pay, it is said, were redeemed.

Day after day passed with varying incidents of attack and

repulse. The keen-eyed watchfulness of the Indians never for

an instant abated; their vigils were tireless and ceaseless; woe

to the soldier who ventured without the Fort or even lifted

his head above the palisade. Pontiac's patience was strengthened

with the delusive idea that the French were only temporarily

defeated and would rally to his assistance. He even dispatched

messengers across the interior to the French commandant Neyon

at Fort Chartres on the Mississippi, requesting that French troops

be sent without delay to his aid. Meanwhile Gladwyn had sent

one of his schooners to Ft. Niagara

to hasten promised reinforcements

from  the British.  Lieutenant Cuy-

ler had already (May 13) left Niag-

ara with a convoy of seven boats,

ninety-six men and quantities of sup-

plies and ammunition. This little fleet

coasted along the northern shore of

Lake Erie until near the mouth of the

Detroit river. The force attempted to

land, when a band of Wyandot Indi-

ans suddenly burst from the woods,

seized five of the boats and killed or

captured sixty of the soldiers. Cuyler

with the remaining men (36), many of whom were wounded,

escaped in the other boats and crossed to Ft. Sandusky, which

they found had been taken and burned by the Wyandots; the

garrison had been slaughtered and Ensign Paully sent prisoner

to Pontiac's camp. Cuyler with his escaping companions slowly

wended his way back where he reported the result of his ex-

pedition to the commanding officer, Major Wilkins. At the same

time the Wyandots, with the captured boats and prisoners, pro-

ceeded up the Detroit to Pontiac's quarters, arriving in full sight

of the Fort's garrison, when Gladwyn of course learned of the

destruction of the Cuyler flotilla. The disappointment to the

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.               425


inmates of the Fort was almost unbearable. Gladwyn's schooner,

however, reached Ft. Niagara and returned about July 1, laden

with food, ammunition and reinforcements and the most welcome

news of the Treaty of Paris. Pontiac, undismayed, continued

his efforts. His forces now numbered, it is recorded, about eight

hundred and twenty warriors; two hundred and fifty Ottawas,

his own tribe and under his immediate command; one hundred

and fifty Pottawattamies, under Ninivay; fifty Wyandots under

Takee; two hundred Ojibwas under Wasson, and one hundred

and seventy of the same tribe under Sekahos.*

The two schooners were a serious menace to the movements

of the Indians, and many desperate attempts were made to burn

them by midnight attacks, and the floating of fire rafts down upon

them; but all to no avail. Pontiac had the stubborn persistency of

a later American general who said he would fight it out on that

line if it took all summer. He exerted himself with fresh zeal to

gain possession of the fort. He demanded the surrender of Glad-

wyn, saying a still greater force of Indians was on the march to

swell the army of besiegers. Gladwyn was equally tenacious and

unyielding, he proposed to "hold the fort" till the enemy were

worn out or re-enforcements arrived. Pontiac sought to arouse

the active aid of the neighboring Canadians, but the treaty of

Paris had made them British subjects, and they dared not war on

their conquerors. History scarcely furnishes a like instance of so

large an Indian force struggling so long in an attack on a fortified


The Wyandots and Pottawattamies, however, never as en-

thusiastic in this war as the other tribes, late in July decided to

withdraw from the besieging confederacy and make peace with

the British. They did so and exchanged prisoners with Gladwyn.

The Ottawas and Ojibwas, however, still held on, watching the

fort and keeping up a desultory fusilade. The end was drawing

nigh. On July 29 Captain James Dalzell arrived from Niagara

with artillery supplies and two hundred and eighty men in twenty-

two barges. Their approach to the fort was bravely contested

*Parkman observes that as the warriors brought their squaws and

children with them, the whole number of Indians congregated about De-

troit, at this time, must have been more than three thousand.

426 Ohio Arch

426       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


by the combined Indian forces, even the Wyandots and Potta-

wattamies breaking their treaty and treacherously joining in the

assault. Dalzell's troops entered the fort and he proposed an im-

mediate sortie. Dalzell was bravery personified, and he had

fought with Israel Putnam. On the morning after his arrival

(July 31) at two o'clock, he led a force of two hundred and fifty

men out of the fort. They silently in the darkness marched along

the river towards the Ottawa village just across the Parent's creek.

The Indians were prepared and had ambuscaded both sides of the

road. They were, Indian fashion, secreted behind trees and fences

and Canadian houses. Their presence was not discovered till the

van of Dalzell's column reached the bridge over the creek, when

a terrible fire was opened upon the soldiers from all sides. It was

still dark, the Indians could not be seen. A panic ensued. The

troops in disorder retreated amid an awful slaughter. Dalzell

himself was killed and Major Robert Rogers assumed command,

and the fleeing soldiers were only spared from total destruction

by two of the British boats coming to the rescue. About sixty

men were killed or wounded. It was known as the Battle of

Bloody Bridge. Upon the retreating into the fort of Major Rog-

ers' survivors the siege was renewed. Pontiac was greatly en-

couraged over this victory and his Indians showed renewed zeal.

The schooner "Gladwyn" was sent to Niagara for help. On its

return it was attacked and its crew and supplies practically de-

stroyed. Another relief expedition under Major Wilkins in Sep-

tember was overwhelmed in a lake storm and seventy soldiers

drowned. But even Indian persistency began to tire. The reali-

zation that the French were beaten and time only would bring

victory to the British led all the tribes, except the Ottawas, to

sue for peace. This was October 12. Pontiac could only hold his

own tribe in line. The Ottawas sustained their hostility until

October 30, when a French messenger arrived from Neyon who

reported to Pontiac that he must expect no help from the French,

as they were now completely and permanently at peace with the

British.* Pontiac was advised to quit the war at once. His cause


* True to his Indian nature Pontiac determined to assume a mask

of peace and bide his time. Gladwyn wrote as follows to Lord Jeffrey

Amherst: "This moment I received a message from Pontiac telling me

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                427


was doomed. The great chief who had so valiantly and unremit-

tently fought for six months sullenly raised the siege and retired

into the country of the Maumee where he vainly endeavored to

arouse the Miamis and neighboring tribes to another war upon

the invading British.

Though the memorable siege of Detroit, personally conducted

by Pontiac, ended in failure to the great chief, his conspiracy else-

where met with unparalleled success. The British posts, planned

to be simultaneously attacked and destroyed by the savages were

some dozen in number, including besides Detroit, St. Joseph, Mich-

illimackinac Ouiatenon, Sandusky, Miami, Presque Isle, Niagara,

Le Boeuf, Venango, Fort Pitt and one or two others of lesser

importance. Of all the posts from Niagara and Pitt westward,

Detroit alone was able to survive the conspiracy. For the rest

"there was but one unvaried tale of calamity and ruin." It was

a continued series of disasters to the white men. The victories

of the savages marked a course of blood from the Alleghanies

to the Mississippi. We have already made note of the destruction

of Fort Sandusky. On May 16 (1763) the Wyandots sur-

rounded the fort and under pretense of a friendly visit, sev-

eral of them well known to Ensign Paully, the commander, were

admitted. While smoking the pipe of peace the treacherous and

trusted Indians suddenly arose, seized Paully and held him

prisoner while their tribesmen killed the sentry, entered the Fort,

and in cold blood murdered and scalped the little band of soldiers.

The traders in the Post were likewise killed and their stores

plundered. The stockade was fired and burned to the ground.

Paully was taken to Detroit where he was "adopted" as the hus-

band of an old widowed squaw, from whose affectionate toils he

finally escaped to his friends in the Detroit Fort.

St. Joseph was located at the mouth of the river St. Jo-

seph, near the southern end of Lake Michigan.*       Ensign

Schlosser was in command with a mere handful of soldiers,

that he should send to all the nations concerned in the war to bury the

hatchet; and he hopes your excellency will forget what has passed"-


* This post of St. Joseph was the site of a Roman Catholic Mis-

sion founded about the year 1700. Here was one of the most prominent

French military posts.

428 Ohio Arch

428       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


fourteen in number. On the morning of May 25, the com-

mander was informed that a large "party" of Pottawattamies

had arrived from Detroit "to visit their relations" and the chief

(Washashe) and three or four of his followers wished to hold a

"friendly talk" with the commander. Disarmed of suspicion, the

commander Ensign admitted the callers; the result is the oft re-

peated history. The entering Indians rushed to the gate, toma-

hawked the sentinel, let in their associates who instantly pounced

upon the garrison, killed eleven of the soldiers, plundered the fort

and later carried Schlosser and his three surviving companions,

captives to Detroit.

Fort Michillimackinac was the most important point on the

upper lakes, commanding as it did the straits of Mackinac, the

passage from Lake Huron into Lake Michigan. Great numbers

of the Chippewas, in the last of May, began to assemble in the

vicinity of the Fort, but with every indication of friendliness.

June 4, was the King's (George) birthday. It must be cele-

brated with pastimes. The discipline of the garrison, some thirty-

five in number, was relaxed. Many squaws were admitted as

visitors into the fort, while their "braves" engaged in their

favorite game of ball just outside the garrison entrance.  It

was a spirited contest between the Ojibwas and Sacs. Captain

George Etherington, commander of the Fort and his Lieuten-

ant, Leslie, stood without the palisades to watch the sport. Sud-

denly the ball was thrown near the open gate and behind the

two officers. The Indians pretending to rush for the ball in-

stantly encircled and seized Etherington and Leslie, and crowded

their way into the Fort where the squaws supplied them with

tomahawks and hatchets, which they had carried in, hidden under

their blankets. Quick as a flash, the instruments of death were

gleaming in the sunlight and Lieutenant Jamet and fifteen sol-

diers and a trader were struck down never to rise. The rest of

the garrison were made prisoners and five of them afterwards

tomahawked. All of the peaceful traders were plundered and

carried off. The prisoners were conveyed to Montreal. The

French population of the Post was undisturbed. Captain Ether-

ington succeeded in sending timely warning to the little garrison

at La Bay (Green Bay); Lieutenant Gorrell the commandant

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.               429


and his men were brought as prisoners to the Michillimackinac

fort and thence sent with Etherington and Leslie to the Canadian

capital. The little post of Ste. Marie (Sault) had been partially

destroyed and abandoned. The garrison inmates had withdrawn

to Michillimackinac and shared its fate.

The garrison at Ouiatenon* suituated on the Wabash-

(Indian Ouabache) -near the present location of Lafayette

(Indiana) then in the very heart of the western forest,

as planned, was to have been massacred on June 1. Through

the information given by the French at the post, the soldiers

were apprised of their intended fate and through the intervention

of the same French friends, the Indians were dissuaded from

executing their sanguinary purpose.  Lieutenant Jenkins and

several of his men were made prisoners by stratagem, the re-

mainder of the garrison readily surrendered.

On the present site of Fort Wayne (Indiana) was Fort Mi-

ami+ at the confluence of the rivers St. Joseph and St. Mary,

which unite to form the Maumee. The Fort at this time was in

charge of Ensign Holmes. On May 27, the commander was de-

coyed from the fort by the story of an Indian girl, that a squaw

lay dangerously ill in a wigwam near the stockade, and needed

medical assistance, The humane Holmes forgetting his caution on

an errand of mercy, walked without the gate and was instantly

shot dead. The soldiers in the palisades, seeing the corpse of their

leader and hearing the yells and whoopings of the exultant

Indians, offered no resistance, admitted the redmen and gladly

surrendered on promise of having their lives spared.

Fort Presqu' Isle stood on the southern shore of Lake Erie

at the site of the present town of Erie. The block house, an

unusually strong and commodious one, was in command of En-

sign Christie with a courageous and skillful garrison of twenty-

seven men. Christie learning of the attack on the other posts

"braced up" for his "visit from the hell hounds" as he appropri-

ately called the enemy. He had not long to wait. On June 15,


* Also spelled Ouachtanon and Ouatanon.

+ There were several forts called Miami in those early days. This

one was built in 1749-50 by the French commandant Raimond. - See page

181 supra.

430 Ohio Arch

430       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


about two hundred of them put in an appearance from Detroit.

They sprang into the ditch around the fort and with reckless

audacity approached to the very walls and threw fire-balls of

pitch upon the roof and sides of the fortress.. Again and again

the wooden retreat was on fire, but amid showers of bullets and

arrows the flames were extinguished by the fearless soldiers.

The savages rolled logs before the fort and erected strong breast

works from behind which they could discharge their shots and

throw their fire balls. For nearly three days a terrific contest

ensued. The savages finally undermined the palisades to the

house of Christie, which was at once set on fire nearly stifling

the garrison with the smoke and heat for Christie's quarters were

close to the block house.  Longer resistance was vain, "the

soldiers pale and haggard, like men who had passed through a

fiery furnace, now issued from their scorched and bullet pierced

stronghold." The surrendering soldiers were taken to Pontiac's

quarters on the Detroit river.

Three days after the attack on Presqu' Isle, Fort Le Boeuf,

twelve miles south on Le Boeuf creek, one of the head sources

of the Alleghany river, was surrounded and burned. Ensign Price

and a garrison of thirteen men miraculously escaped the flames

and the encircling savages and endeavored to reach Fort Pitt.

About half of them succeeded, the remainder died of hunger

and privation by the way.*

Fort Venango, still farther south, on the Alleghany river,

was captured by a band of Senecas, who gained entrance by re-

sorting to the oft employed treachery of pretending friendliness.

The entire garrison was butchered, Lieutenant Gordon the com-

mander slowly tortured to death and the fort burned to the

ground. Not a soul escaped to tell the horrible tale.

Fort Ligonier, another small post commanded by Lieutenant

Archibald Blane, forty miles southeast of Fort Pitt was attacked

but successfully held out till relieved by Bouquet's Expedition.

Thus within a period of about a month from the time the first

blow was struck at Detroit, Pontiac was in full possession of nine

out of the twelve posts so recently belonging to and, it was

thought, securely occupied by the British. The fearful threat of

*Bryant's (Scribner's) History of the United States.

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                431


the great Ottawa conspirator that he would exterminate the whites

west of the Alleghanies, was well nigh fulfilled. Over two hun-

dred traders with their servants fell victims to his remorseless

march of slaughter and rapine and goods estimated at over half

a million dollars became the spoils of the confederated tribes.*

The result of Pontiac's widespread and successful uprising

struck untold terror to the settlers along the western frontier of

Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The savages roused to the

highest pitch of fury and weltering in the blood of their victims

were burning the cabins and crops of the defenseless whites and

massacring the men, women and children. Many hundreds of

the forest dwellers with their families flocked to the stockades

and protected posts. Particularly in the Pennsylvania country

did dread and consternation prevail. The frontiersmen west of the

Alleghanies fled east over the mountains to Carlisle, Lancaster and

numbers even continued their flight to Philadelphia. Pontiac

was making good his threat that he would drive the pale face

back to the sea.

But Forts Niagara and Pitt were still in the possession

of the "red coats" as the British soldiers were often called

by the forest "redskins."   Following the total destruction

of Le Boeuf and Venango, the Senecas made an attack on Fort

Niagara, an extensive work on the east side of Niagara River

near its mouth as it empties into Lake Ontario. This fort guarded

the access to the whole interior country by way of Canada and

the St. Lawrence. The fort was strongly built and fortified and

was far from the center of the country of the warpath Indians,

for with the exception of the Senecas, the Iroquois tribes inhab-

iting eastern Canada and New York did not participate in Pon-

tiac's conspiracy. The attack on Fort Niagara therefore was

half hearted and after a feeble effort the beseigers despaired of

success or assistance and abandoned the blockade, which only

lasted a few days.

Fort Pitt was the British military headquarters of the west-

ern frontier. It was the Gibralter of defense, protecting the

eastern colonies from invasion by the western Indians.  The

consummation of Pontiac's gigantic scheme depended upon

* De Hass - Indian Wars.

432 Ohio Arch

432       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

the capture of Fort Pitt.  It was a strong fortification at

the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers.

Its northern ramparts were faced with brick on the side

looking down the Ohio. Fort Pitt stood "far aloof in the forest

and one might journey eastward full two hundred miles before

the English settlements began to thicken." The garrison con-

sisted of three hundred and thirty soldiers, traders and back-

woodsmen, besides about one hundred women and a greater

number of children. Captain Simeon Ecuyer, a brave Swiss

officer, was in command. Every preparation was made for the

expected attack. All houses and

cabins outside the palisade were

levelled to the ground. A rude fire

engine was constructed to extinguish

any flames that might be kindled by

the burning arrows of the Indians.

In the latter part of May the hostile

savages began to approach the vicin-

ity of the Fort. On June 22, they

opened fire "upon every side at

once." The garrison replied by a

discharge of howitzers, the shells of

which bursting in the midst of the

Indians, greatly amazed and discon-

certed them.   The Indians then

boldly demanded a surrender of the

fort, saying vast numbers of braves were on the way to destroy

it. Ecuyer displayed equal bravado and replied that several thou-

sand British soldiers were on the way to punish the tribes for their

uprising. The Fort was now in a state of siege. For about a

month, "nothing occurred except a series of petty and futile

attacks," in which the Indians, mostly Ottawas, Ojibwas and Dela-

wares, did small damage. On July 26, under a flag of truce,

the besiegers again demanded surrender. It was refused and

Ecuyer told the savages that if they again showed themselves

near the Fort he would throw "bombshells" amongst them and

"blow them to atoms." The assault was continued with renewed


Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.               433


Meanwhile Sir Jeffrey Amherst, the commander-in-chief of

the British forces, awakening to the gravity of the situation,

ordered Colonel Bouquet, a brave and able officer in his Majesty's

service, to take command of certain specified forces and proceed

as rapidly as possible to the relief of Fort Pitt, and then make

aggressive warfare on the western tribes. Bouquet leaving his

headquarters at Philadelphia, reached Carlisle late in June, where

he heard for the first time of the calamities at Presqu' Isle, Le

Boeuf and Venango. He left Carlisle with a force of five hun-

dred men, some of them the pick of the British regulars, but many

of them aged veterans enfeebled by disease and long severe expo-

sure. Bouquet had seen considerable service in Indian war-

fare. He was not likely to be caught napping. He marched

slowly along the Cumberland Valley and crept cautiously over

the mountains, passing Forts Loudon and Bedford, the latter sur-

rounded with Indians, to Fort Ligonier which as noted above,

had been blockaded for weeks by the savages who, as at Bedford,

fled at Bouquet's approach. On August 5th, the little army, foot

sore and tired and half famished, reached a small stream within

twenty-five miles of Fort Pitt, known as Bushy Run. Here in

the afternoon they were suddenly and fiercely fired upon by a

superior number of Indians. A terrific contest ensued, only ended

by the darkness of night. The encounter was resumed next day;

the odds were against the British who were surrounded and were

being cut down in great numbers by the Indians who skulked

behind trees and logs and in the grass and declivities. Bouquet

resorted to a ruse which was signally successful. He formed

his men in a wide semi-circle, and from the center advanced a

company toward the enemy, the advancing company then made a

feint of retreat, the deceived Indians followed close after and fell

into the ambuscade. The outwitted savages were completely

routed and fled in hopeless confusion. Bouquet had won one of

the greatest victories in western Indian warfare. His loss was

about one hundred and fifty men, nearly a third of his army. The

loss of the Indians was not so great. As rapidly as possible

Bouquet pushed on to Fort Pitt which he entered without moles-

tation on August 25. The extent and the end of Pontiac's con-

434 Ohio Arch

434       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


spiracy had at last been reached. The Pennsylvania Assembly

and King George, even, formally thanked Bouquet.

Forts Detroit and Pitt, as has been seen, proved impregnable,

neither the evil cunning nor the persistent bravery of the savage

could dislodge the occupants of those important posts.  The

siege of Detroit had been abandoned by the combined forces of

Pontiac but the country round about continued to be infested with

the hostile Indians, who kept up a sort of petty bushwacking

campaign that compelled the soldiers and traders of the fort,

for safety, to remain "in doors" during the winter of 1763-4.

Bouquet on gaining Fort Pitt, desired to pursue the marauding

and murderous savages to their forest retreats and drive them

hence, but he was unable to accomplish anything until the fol-

lowing year.

In the spring of 1764, Sir Jeffrey Amherst resigned his

office and General Thomas Gage succeeded him as Commander-

in-Chief of the British forces in America, with headquarters in

Boston.* Shortly after assuming office General Gage determined

to send two armies from different points into the heart of the

Indian country. The first, under Bouquet, was to advance from

Fort Pitt into the midst of the Delaware and Shawanee settle-

ments of the Ohio Valley and the other under Bradstreet was to

pass from Fort Niagara up the lakes and force the tribes of De-

troit and the region round about to unconditioned submission.*

Colonel John Bradstreet left Fort Niagara in July 1764 with

the formidable force of over a thousand soldiers. In canoes and

bateaux this imposing army of British regulars coasted along

the shore of Lake Erie, stopping at various points to meet and

treat with the Indians, who realizing their inability to cope with

so powerful an antagonist, made terms of peace, or went through

the pretense of so doing. At Sandusky (Fort), particularly,

Bradstreet accepted the false promises of the Wyandots, Ottawas,

Miamies, Delawares and Shawanees. On August 26, he arrived at

Detroit, to the great joy and relief of the garrison which now,

for more than a year, had been "cut off from all communication

with their race" and had been virtually prisoners confined within

the walls of their stockade. Bradstreet forwarded small detach-

* Amherst's Headquarters had been at New York.

* Parkman.

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.               435


ments to restore or retake, as the case might be, the farther west-

ern British posts, which had fallen into the hands of Pontiac's

wily and exultant warriors.

In October (1764) Bouquet, with an army of fifteen hun-

dred troops, defiled out of Fort Pitt and taking the Indian trail

westward, boldly entered the wilderness, "which no army had

ever before sought to penetrate." We cannot now follow the

fortunes of this romantic and decisive campaign. It was a novel

sight, this regiment of regulars, picking its way through the

woods and over the streams to the center of the Ohio country.

Striking the Tuscarawas river he followed down its banks, halt-

ing at short intervals to confer with delegations of Indians until

October 25, when he encamped on the Muskingum near the

forks of that river formed by the confluence of the Tuscarawas

and Walhonding rivers.* Here with much display of the pomp

and circumstances of war on the part of Bouquet to impress

and overawe the savages, he held conferences with the chiefs

of the various tribes. They agreed to lay down their arms and

live for the future in friendship with the white invaders. All

prisoners heretofore taken and then held by the Indians were

to be surrendered to Bouquet. Over two hundred of these, cap-

tives, including women and children were delivered up, and with

these Bouquet with his successful soldiery, retraced his course

to Fort Pitt, arriving there on the 28th of November. It was

one of the most memorable expeditions in the pre-state history

of Ohio.

The sudden and surprising victories of Pontiac were being

rapidly undone. The great Ottawa chief saw his partially accom-

plished scheme withering into ignominious failure. Sullen, dis-

appointed, consumed with humiliation and revenge, he withdrew

from active prominence to his forest wigwam. He sought the

banks of the Maumee, scene of his birth and the location of the

villages of many tribes who were his sympathetic adherents. He

did not participate in any of the councils held by Bradstreet and

the chiefs. "His vengeance was unslaked and his purpose un-

shaken." But his glory was growing dim and his power was

withering into dust. From the scenes of his promising but short

* Bouquet's last encampment was near the present site of Coshocton.

7 Vol. XII- 4.

436 Ohio Arch

436        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


lived triumphs, he retired into the country of the Illinois and the

Mississippi. He tried to arouse the aid of the French. He

gathered a band of four hundred warriors on the Maumee and

with these faithful followers revisited the western tribes in

hopes of creating another confederation.* Not even would the

southern tribes respond to his appeals. All was lost. His allies

were falling off, his followers, discouraged, were deserting him.

Again and again he went back to his chosen haunts and former

faithful followers on the Maumee. But his day had passed.

In the spring of 1766 Pontiac met Sir William Johnson ** at

Oswego. In his peace speech at that time he said: "I speak in the

name of all the nations westward, of whom I am the master. It

is the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet here to-day;

and before him I now take you by the hand. I call him to witness

that I speak from my heart; for since I took Colonel Croghan+

by the hand last year, I have never let go my hold, for I see that

the Great Spirit will have us friends.

"Moreover, when our great father of France was in this

country, I held him fast by the hand. Now that he is gone, I take

you, my English Father, by the hand, in the name of all the

nations, and promise to keep this covenant as long as I shall live."

But he did not speak from the heart, on the contrary only

from the head. Leaving the Oswego conference "his canoe

laden with the gifts of his enemy" Pontiac steered homeward for

the Maumee; and in that vicinity he spent the following winter.


* Pontiac sought the aid of the Kickapoos, Piankishaws, Sacs, Foxes,

Dahcotahs, Missouris and other tribes on the Mississippi and its head


** Sir William Johnson was at this time Superintendent of Indian

affairs in the North (of the colonies) by appointment from the King.

Johnson was a great favorite with the Indians and exerted great power

over them, especially among the Six Nations. He married a sister of

Brant, the Mohawk chief; he was moreover adopted into the Mohawk

tribe and made a Sachem.

+ George Croghan was a deputy Indian agent under Sir William John-

son. In 1765, at the instance of Johnson, Croghan proceeded from Fort

Pitt down the Ohio to the mouth of the Wabash, up which he journeyed

and thence across the country to Detroit, treating with the Indians as he

passed. On this journey Croghan met Pontiac who made promises of

peace and friendship. Croghan died in 1782. He is not the George

Croghan who figured in the siege of Fort Stephenson (1813.)

Pontiac's Conspiracy

Pontiac's Conspiracy.                437


From now on for some two years the great Ottawa chief disap-

peared as if lost in the forest depths.

In April 1769 he is found at Fort St. Louis on the west side

of the Mississippi where he gave himself mainly to the temporary

oblivion of "firewater," the dread destroyer of his race. He

was wont to cross the "father of waters" to the fort on the British

side at Cahokia where he would revel with the friendly Creoles.

In one of these visits, in the early morning, after drinking deeply

he strode with uncertain step into the adjacent forest. He was

arrayed in the uniform of a French officer, which apparel had

been given him many years before by the Marquis of Mont-

calm.  His footsteps were stealthily dogged by a Kaskaskia

Indian, who in the silence and seclusion of the forest, at an

opportune moment, buried the blade of a tomahawk in the

brain of the Ottawa conqueror, the champion of his race. The

murderer had been bribed to the heinous act by a British trader

named Williamson who thought to thus rid his country (Eng-

land) of a dangerous foe. The unholy price of the assassination

was a barrel of liquor.* It was supposed the Illinois, Kaskaskia,

Peoria and Cahokia Indians were more or less guilty as accom-

plices in the horrible deed. That an Illinois Indian was guilty

of the act was sufficient. The Sacs and Foxes and other western

tribes friendly to Pontiac and his cause, were aroused to furious

revenge. They went upon the warpath against the Illinois In-

dians. A relentless war ensued, and says Parkman, "over the

grave of Pontiac more blood was poured out in atonement, than

flowed from the veins of the slaughtered heroes on the corpse of


The body of the murdered chief was borne across the river

and buried near Fort St. Louis. No monument ever marked

the resting place of the great hero and defender of his people.

Pontiac came "to open the purple testament of bleeding war"

and he gave his


"Large kingdom for a little grave,

A little little grave, an obscure grave."


* There are various accounts of the death of Pontiac. The one

related by Parkman is here followed.