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CHAPTER II

PONTIAC, THE GREAT OTTAWA

CHARACTER OF THE INDIAN LEADER-HIS AMBITIOUS PLAN-THE ATTACK
ON DETROIT THE CONSPIRACY THWARTED—WHEN DEATH HOVERED

-THE RED MEN DEPART-MAJOR GLADWIN'S POSITION—DEATH OF
MAJOR CAMPBELL-INDIANS CAPTURE RELIEF EXPEDITION—MASSACRE
AT “BLOODY RUN''-PONTIAC RAISES THE SIEGE–BYRD AND CLARK
EXPEDITION-POSTS PASS INTO AMERICAN HANDS.

Although the French surrendered the territory held by them until 1760, when the British occupation began, and their chief military leaders had returned to France, the English were not permitted to possess the land for long before a dangerous and secret foe sought their destruction. They had taken no pains to cultivate the friendship of the French families who remained in the settlements, nor to exercise tact and prudence towards them, consequently there was little attachment for the new government; meanwhile the hostility of the Indians had deepened. Whereas they had always been on quasi friendly terms with the French, who by their suave manners and hospitable treatment had won their good will, they cordially hated the English, and hoped for their speedy overthrow.

CHARACTER OF THE INDIAN LEADER

Pontiac, ambitious, crafty, powerful, aimed to accomplish a federation of all the western tribes, and to precipitate a war of extermination upon all the English posts west of the Alleghany mountains. He was well qualified to originate and carry forward such a plan; he was an effective, magnetic speaker, a bold, able and cunning warrior; having won first place among all the Indians of his day; added to which qualifications was the greater one of a sagacious and far seeing general who could not only originate, but manage the most complicated plans.

HIS AMBITIOUS PLAN

Pontiac's present plan, as has been stated, was for an attack upon all the English posts west of the Alleghanies, at about the same time. The Indians were to massacre the soldiers of the garrisons, and thus, at a single stroke, they hoped to rid themselves of the presence of a people whom they hated and regarded as intruders upon their own domains throughout the western valleys. The plan of operations included a line of posts scattered from Niagara to Chicago, twelve forts in all, three of which were in Michigan, viz.: Detroit, Michillimackinac and St. Joseph. Pontiac's ambassadors were sent to instruct the various tribes of Indians and succeeded in enlisting all of the Algonquins, most of the Wyandottes, and some of the southern tribes in this undertaking.

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THE ATTACK ON DETROIT

The proposed attack on Detroit was to be led by Pontiac in person, and he it was who planned the enterprise which, but for the bravery of the young woman, who through her love for Gladwin, probably, or for some other motive, revealed the plot which she had overheard discussed in her father's house, would have been successful in the capture of Detroit at that time, and the awful massacre which would inevitably have followed. The crafty chief sought an interview with Major Gladwin, commandant of the post, on the 7th of May, which was granted, and Pontiac, accompanied by sixty chiefs armed with rifles which had been shortened to the length of three feet for concealment under their blankets.

They were admitted, when followed one of the most dramatic scenes ever witnessed in military annals, and which is faithfully portrayed in that interesting historical romance, "The Heroine of the Strait," by Mary Catherine Crowley from which we take the liberty to make extracts.

THE CONSPIRACY THWARTED

On the prairie outside the stockade many Indians began to gather, young braves who made a feint of playing at lacrosse, squaws and children apparently spectators of the game. Within the fort, the garrison was under arms. Stirling (a young Scotch merchant of high standing) and the English fur traders had closed their storehouses and armed their men; all awaited with calm courage the result of the approaching interview. At ten o'clock in the morning, Pontiac and his followers reached the gate that faced the Côte du Nord-est. It stood open, and as he passed in his immobile countenance betrayed no surprise at sight of the soldiers who lined both sides of the narrow street, their weapons gleaming in the sunshine. The roll of the tambour, like the growl of a mastiff, warned him to beware; but haughtily raising his head he led his warriors toward the council house, while from the homes of the French, the frightened women and children watched them as they passed by.

The door of the British headquarters was also ajar and entering they found Major Gladwin and his officers. Each of the white men wore a pair of pistols in his belt, and a sword at his side. The principal chiefs seated themselves upon the skins that had been spread for them, the others ranged around the walls and crowded the hallway; the place swarmed with them.

WHEN DEATH HOVERED

For a time the silence was unbroken. Then the Great Ottawa, turning to the commandant, asked with affected mildness: “How is it that so many of my father's young men stand in the street with their guns ? Does my father expect the soldiers of the French ?”

Gladwin spoke a few words to the interpreter, La Butte, and the latter repeated them in the Indian tongue: “The commandant has ordered the young men under arms, to keep them ever prompt and ready in the military drill," he said significantly. “Thus, if a war comes they will be ready to fight well.'

The sixty assembled chiefs remained grim and dumb, their eyes turning from Pontiac to Gladwin and furtively watching the guards in the room. Their severe training which taught them to endure even torture with stolidity stood them now in good stead; not an eye quailed, not by the least motion did they betray the deadly purpose of their

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coming. They were ready to slay or be slain. The manner whereby their chief should present the peace belt would decide the life or death of six hundred human beings at least.

After a time Pontiac rose and addressed Gladwin. “My father, said he, “we are come in friendship for the English. You are great chiefs. You have driven the French warriors from Le Detroit, because you are mighty in battle. The Ottawas and all the tribes of the country of the strait, wish to show you their good will and to smoke with you the pipe of peace. In token of this friendship, I, Pontiac, the chief of many tribes, offer you this belt of wampum.

As the great chief began to unfasten the white belt from his girdle, the guards in the hall clicked the locks of their muskets, the officers half drew their swords from their scabbards, the officer at the door signaled to the long row of armed soldiers stationed in front of the entrance; the drums rolled the assembly, and the soldiers made a noisy clatter of

Death hovered in the air, Pontiac felt its nearness. His hand did not tremble, the belt was unfastened; he retained it an instant in hesitation. All present seemed to stop breathing. Then he handed it to Gladwin in the usual fashion, and death passed them by.

It was now Gladwin's turn to speak. Having received the belt, he, with cold scorn poured upon Pontiac and his followers words of bitter reproach. “False redmen, you have sought to deceive me with lies and to slay me by treachery” he cried. “But I know your baseness. You are armed, every warrior among you, like this brave at my side." He rose from his chair of state, stepped to the nearest Indian and snatching open the folds of his blanket revealed the shortened gun concealed beneath.

“My father does us wrong, he does not believe; then we will go,'' plied Pontiac, getting upon his feet.

“When you asked to hold a council with me I agreed that you should be free to go forth again. I will abide by that promise, little as you deserve such clemency," proceeded the commandant. 'Howbeit, murderous dogs, you had best make your way out of the fort lest my young men, being made acquainted with your evil design, may fall upon you and cut you to pieces, as you richly deserve. Go!''

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THE RED MEN DEPART

Pontiac's eyes gleamed with anger, but with royal dignity he gathered his blanket about his broad shoulders and walked slowly from the council room and out between the double file of soldiers, followed by his warriors.

Silent and sullen they filed once more through the town. The gates of the palisade which had been closed during the conference were again thrown open and the defeated savages were permitted to depart, congratulating themselves, no doubt, as they reached the open prairie.

MAJOR GLADWIN'S POSITION

When they were finally all gone, there was great rejoicing in the fort. It was the general belief that since Major Gladwin had unmasked the scheme of the Indians and yet shown them mercy, he had thus disposed of the whole matter, and they would in future be more favorably disposed towards the English. Sterling did not, however, share this feeling, and in the afternoon he called at headquarters to offer himself for whatever service might be required of him. Having stated his errand to the commandant, he added bluntly: “In faith, Major Gladwin, I

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regret that you suffered those perfidious Indians to escape. trapped wolf meets with no quarter from the hunter, and a savage caught in his treachery has no claim to forbearance."

“Mr. Sterling," replied the major, drawing himself up to his full height, “it is not incumbent upon me to explain my position to any one at the Strait. Nevertheless I will say, that had I arrested the chiefs when they were gathered at a public council, the act would have been ill interpreted by both the French and the savages. I trust, however, that the threatened war cloud will soon blow over.

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 living an aged English woman with her two sons. These they murdered and then repaired to Isle aux Cochon (Hog Island), where a discharged sergeant resided with his family, who were all but one, immediately massacred. Thus was the war commenced.

There were several buildings surrounding the fort, and but a short distance from it. Behind these and the picket fences the Indians stationed themselves and commenced a violent fire upon the British. This was returned; but such was the situation of both parties that little injury was done. The firing, however, was continued for some days, the Indians anticipating much more serious effects from these attacks than were actually experienced by their enemies. The British commander was ignorant of the system of tactics which teaches the Indians to consider the sacrifice of human life as dishonorable, and the weakness of his defences led him to fear an assault. Believing his position in such an event would be untenable, preparations were made for an immediate embarkation on board the vessels and a retreat to Niagara. The positive assurances, however, of the principal French inhabitants that so hazardous a measure would never be adopted by the Indians reassured him, and in the course of a few days all the wooden buildings, without the fort, which could afford security to the besiegers were burned, either by hot shot or by sorties which were made by the garrison. The Indians could then only annoy the fort by approaching the summit of the low ridge which overlooked the pickets where they continued their fire from time to time.

Major Campbell who had been superseded by Major Gladwin still remained in the fort. IIe had held the command since the surrender of the country and was well known to the Indians. He seemed to have exercised his authority moderately, and wisely and was esteemed both by them and the Canadians. Pontiac conceived the design of getting this officer into his possession and holding him as a pledge for the surrender of the fort. For this purpose he requested some of the French inhabitants, who were the means of communication between the British and the Indians, to inform Major Campbell he wished an interview with him at his camp that they might terminate the present difficulties and smoke the pipe of peace together. He promised solemnly that Major Campbell should be permitted to go and come in perfect safety. Messrs. Godfroy and Chapoton, who had visited him upon this occasion, were deceived by his professions and promises, and advised Major Campbell to meet him. Such was the anxiety of all to bring to a conclusion this irksome warfare that this officer, accompanied by Lieut. McDougall, repaired to Pontiac's camp in the hope of making a satisfactory arrangement with him. They were at first well received; but without entering into the details of the story it is sufficient to observe that they were ultimately detained and held as hostages. Pontiac offered Major Campbell's life for the surrender of the fort, apparently not aware that one violation of

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good faith must destroy all confidence between contending parties, and that in this case any sudden impulse might lead to the massacre of the garrison as easily as it had led to the detention of Major Campbell.

DEATH OF MAJOR CAMPBELL

The melancholy fate of this self-devoted officer adds another to the many proofs which our intercourse with the Indians has furnished of the little confidence to be placed in their promises made in the excitement of war. Major Campbell and Lieut. McDougall were detained at the house of Mr. Meloche at Bloody Bridge. They were allowed occasionally to walk out, but the Indians were so numerous around that escape was difficult and hazardous. Lieut. McDougall, however, proposed to his fellow-prisoner to make an attempt, but as his vision was very imperfect he declined, that he might not impede the flight of his friend. McDougal reached the fort in safety. During one of the sorties made by the British an Ottawa chief of some distinction from Michillimackinac was killed. His nephew, who was present, determined upon revenge, hastened instantly to Bloody Bridge, where he found Major Campbell walking in the road. He approached and struck him dead with his tomahawk. He then fled to Saginaw, apprehensive of the vengeance of Pontiac; and it is but justice to the memory of that chief to say that he was indignant at this atrocious act and used every exertion to apprehend the murderer, who would no doubt have paid with his life for his cowardly murderous act.

INDIANS CAPTURE RELIEF EXPEDITION

On the 21st of May the small vessel was despatched to Niagara to hasten the arrival of the reinforcement, and the provisions and ammunition which were expected for the place; and on the 30th, the sentinel on duty announced that a fleet of boats was coming round the point at the Huron church. The whole garrison flocked to the bastions, eagerly anticipating the arrival of their friends. But they were greeted with no sounds of joy. The death cry of the Indians, that harbinger of misery, alone broke upon the ear. The fate of the detachment was at once known. The Indians had ascertained their approach and had stationed a party of warriors at Point Pelee. Twenty-three bateaux, laden with all the stores necessary for the defence of the town and the subsistence of the garrison, and manned by a detachment of troops, landed at this place in the evening, ignorant of danger and unsuspicious of attack. The enemy watched all night and about the dawn of day rushed upon them. An officer and thirty men threw themselves into a boat and crossed the lake to Sandusky bay. All the others were killed or taken. The line of barges ascended the river on the opposite shore, escorted by the Indians upon the bank 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 bateaux arrived opposite to the town, four British soldiers determined to effect their liberation or to 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 upon 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 of them were drowned. The others escaped to the shore and the boat reached the vessel, with another soldier wounded. Lest the other prisoners might escape, they were immediately landed and marched up

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