« AnteriorContinuar »
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 com. menced. *
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 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 seventh 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 Campbellt 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 with. drew 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 permission for the whole company to be admitted, " for a 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
Discourse of Governor Cags. + The immediate predecessor of Gladwyn in the command of the post.
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 Hog 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-ADVANTAGES GAINED BY THE INDIAN ARMY-ARRIVAL OF SUCCOR TO THE ENGLISH-BATTLE OF BLOODY BRIDGE- PONTIAC AT LENGTI RAISES THE SIEGE-THE INDIANS MAKE PEACE-HIS AUTHORITY AS CHIEFTAIN-HIS TALENTS AS AN ORATOR-HIS TRADITIONARY FAME.
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 civilised 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 same source.
· 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 out-houses that were on the side of the fori 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 oi the low ridge which overlooked the pickets, and there at intervals they continued their fire.
Little damage was done in this way, nor did the Indians at any time undertake a close assault. The commandant, however, ignorant of their style of warfare, apprehended that movement, and he believed that in this case—their numbers being now, according to some estimates, six or seven hundred, and according to others about twice as many-the situation of the garrison would be hopeless. Besides, he had but three weeks' provision in the fort, "at a pound of bread and two ounces of pork a man per day.” Under these circumstances be immediately commenced preparations for an embarkation on board the two vessels which still lay in the stream, with the intention of retreating to Niagara.
He was dissuaded from this course by the French residents, who positively assured him that the enemy would never think of taking the fort by storm. A truce or treaty was then suggested. Some of the French, (who were the chief medium of communication between the belligerant parties,) mentioned the circumstance to Pontiac, and the latter, it is said, soon after sent in five messengers to the fort, proposing that two of the officers should go out and confer with him at his camp. He also requested that Major Campbell might be one of them. That gentleman accordingly went, with the permission, though not by the command, of Major Gladwyn, in the afternoon of Wednesday, the 11th. Campbell took Lieutenant McDougall with him, and both were attended by five or six of the French.
Whether the latter had meditated a treachery or not, does not appear. The French residents generally, at all events, cannot be fairly charged with improper conduct between the contending parties during the siege. They were naturally enough suspected and accused, but we have seen nothing proved against them. The two officers were, however, detained by the Indians; and Pontiac, who is generally supposed to have conceived this scheme for obtaining an advantage over the garrison, now sent in terms of capitulation. These were to the effect, that the troops should immediately surrender, “lay down their arms, as their fathers, the French, had been obliged to do leave the cannon, magazines, and merchants' goods, and the two vessels and be escorted in batteaux by Indians to Niagara.” The major promptly made answer, that “his commanding officer had not sent him there to deliver up the fort to Indians or any body else, and he would therefore defend it so long as a single man could stand at his side.”
Hostilities now recommenced, and were so vigorously sustained on the part of Pontiac, that for some months (says the diary) “the whole garrison, officers, soldiers, merchants and servants, were upon the ramparts every night, not one having slept in a house, except the sick and wounded in the hospital.”.
Three weeks after the commencement of the siege, on the 30th of May, the English sentinel on duty announced that a fleet of boats, supposed to contain a supply of provisions and a reinforcement of troops from Niagara, was coming round “the point,” at a place called the Huron Church. The garrison flocked to the bastions, and for a moment, at least, hope shone upon every countenance. But presently the death-cry of the Indians was heard, and the fate of the detachment was at once known. Their approach having been ascertained, Pontiac had stationed a body of warriors at Point Pelee. Twenty small batteaux, manned by a considerable number of troops, and laden with stores, landed there in the evening. The Indians watched their move. ments, and fell upon them about day-light. One officer, with thirty men, escaped across the lake, but the others were either killed or captured, and the line of barges ascended the river near the opposite shore, escorted by Indians on the banks, and guarded by detachments in each boat, in full view of the garrison and of the whole French settlement.
The prisoners were compelled to navigate the boats. As the first batteaux arrived opposite to the town, four British soldiers determined to effect their liberation or perish in the attempt. They suddenly changed the course of the boat, and by loud cries made known their intention to the crew of the vessel. The Indians in the other boats and the escort on the bank fired upon the fugitives, but they were soon driven from their positions by a cannonade from the armed schooner. The guard on board this boat leaped overboard, and one of them dragged a soldier with him into the water, where both were drowned. The others escaped to the shore, and the boat reached the vessel with but one soldier wounded. Lest the other prisoners might escape, they were immediately landed and marched up the shore to the lower point of Hog Island, where they crossed the river, and were immediately put to death with all the horrible accompaniments of savage cruelty.
During the month of June, an attempt to relieve the garrison proved more successful. A vessel which had been sent to Niagara arrived at the mouth of the river, with about fifty troops on board and a supply of stores. The Indians generally left the siege, and repaired to Fighting Island for the purpose of intercepting her. They annoyed the English very much in their canoes, till the latter reached the point of the island, where, on account of the wind failing, they were compelled to anchor.
The captain had concealed his men in the hold, so that the Indians were not aware of the strength of the crew. Soon after dark, they embarked in their canoes and proceeded to board the vessel. The men were silently ordered up, and took their stations at the guns. The Indians were suffered to approach close to the vessel, when the captain, by the stroke of a hammer upon the mast, which had been
а previously concerted, gave the signal for action. An immediate dis. charge took place, and the Indians precipitately fled, with many killed and wounded. The next morning the vessel dropped down to the mouth of the river, where she remained six days waiting for a wind. On the thirteenth she succeeded in ascending the river, and reached the fort in safety.
Pontiac felt the necessity of destroying these vessels, and he there. fore constructed rasts for that purpose. The barns of some of the inhabitants were demolished, and the materials employed in this work. Pitch and other combustibles were added, and the whole so formed as to burn with rapidity and intensity. They were of considerable length, and were towed to a proper position above the vessels, when fire was applied, and they were left to the stream, in the expectation that they would be carried into contact with the vessels, and immediately set fire to them. Twice the attempt was made without success. The British were aware of the design, and took their measures accord. ingly. Boats were constructed and anchored with chains above the yessels, and every precaution was used to ward off the blow. The blazing rafts passed harmlessly by, and other incidents soon occurred to engage the attention of the Indians. *
* Discourse of Governor Cass.
A week subsequent to this date, we find various letters from De. troit published in Atlantic papers, of which the following passages are extracts. They will furnish the reader with an idea of the true situation of the garrison at this time, much better than could be derived from any description of our own.
“ Detroit, July 6, 1763. “We have been besieged here two months by six hundred Indians. We have been upon the watch night and day, from the commanding officer to the lowest soldier, from the 8th of May, and have not had our clothes off nor slept all night since it began, and shall continue so till we have a reinforcement up. We then hope soon to give a good account of the savages. Their camp lies about a mile and a half from the fort, and that's the nearest they choose to come now. For the first two or three days we were attacked by three or four hundred of them, but we gave the
so warm a reception that they don't care for coming to see us, though they now and then get behind a house or garden, and fire at us about three or four hundred yards' distance. The day before yesterday we killed a chief and three others, and wounded some more; yesterday went up with our sloop and battered their cabins in such a manner that they are glad to keep farther off.”
The next letter is under date of the 9th.
“ You have long ago heard of our pleasant situation, but the storm is blown over.
Was it not very agreeable to hear every day of their cutting, carving, boiling and eating our companions? To see every day dead bodies floating down the river, manyled and disfigured? But Britons, you know, never shrink; we always appeared gay to spite the rascals. They boiled and eat Sir Robert Davers; and we are informed by Mr. Pauly, who escaped the other day from one of the stations surprised at the breaking out of the war, and commanded by himself, that he had seen an Indian have the skin of Captain Robertson's arm for a tobacco-pouch!
“ Three days ago, a party of us went to demolish a breast-work they had made. We finished our work and were returning home, but the fort espying a party of Indians coming up as if they intended to fight, we were ordered back, made our dispositions, and advanced briskly. Our front was fired upon warmly, and returned the fire for about five minutes. In the mean time Captain Hopkins, with about twenty men, filed off to the left, and about twenty French volunteers filed off to the right, and got between them and their fires. The villains immediately fled, and we returned, as was prudent; for a sentry whom I had placed informed me he saw a body of them coming down from the woods, and our party being but about eighty, was not able to cope with their united bands. In short, we beat them handsomely, and yet did not much hurt to them, for they ran extremely well. We only killed their leader and wounded three others. One of them fired at me at the distance of fifteen or twenty paces, but I suppose my terrible visage made him tremble. I think I shot him.”