Conquest of the Old Northwest - James Baldwin

The Great Conspiracy

I. The Napoleon of the Wilderness

The long war between the English and the French came to an end on the 8th of September, 1760. On that day the Marquis de Vaudreuil surrendered Montreal to the English, and with it the whole of Canada and the Great Lakes and the country adjoining them. England had gained much more than her rulers had expected. France had lost everything.

The English made all haste to get control of their new possessions. Within a week after the fall of Montreal, Major Robert Rogers, a famous border ranger, was sent with two hundred men to receive the surrender of the French posts on the lakes. The party traveled in whale-boats, skirting the southern shore of Lake Erie. From Presque Isle to Detroit they saw not a single human habitation; all that region was still the great hunting ground of the Indians, as savagely wild as when La Salle had first visited it more than ninety years before.

The weather was damp and chilly, and the boatmen made but slow programs through drizzling rain and misleading fogs. One day they stopped to rest at the mouth of an unknown river supposed to be not far from the site of the present city of Cleveland. Major Rogers had scarcely stepped on shore when he was met by some Indian chiefs who wished to speak with him.

"We are come from Pontiac, the king and lord of this country," said they. "He himself is near at hand and desires that you wait for him; for he would like to see you with his own eyes."

Pontiac and Rogers


In a short time Pontiac made his appearance. He was a man about fifty years of age; his face was dark and his expression dignified. He was dressed as a savage—that is, with the exception of a broad girdle about his loins, he was not dressed at all. He greeted the English leader very haughtily, and demanded what business the soldiers had in that country, and why they had dared enter it without his leave.

Rogers answered that they had not come with any unfriendliness toward the Indians, but to remove the French, who had always been the cause of trouble between the English and their red brothers.

"I stand in your path," said Pontiac. "I stand in your path, and you need go no farther until I give you leave." He then handed the major a string of wampum in token of friendship, and took his leave for the day, saying, "If there is anything in the country that you need, my warriors shall get it for you."

The next morning the chief came again to the encampment, and smoked the calumet with Rogers. He seemed to be in a very friendly humor, and said that he would permit the Englishmen to go forward to Detroit, and take possession of the fort. He also sent runners in advance to several Indian bands along the lake shore, to give notice that it was by his permission that Major Rogers and his men had entered the country. "He attended me constantly until I arrived at Detroit," says Rogers, "and was the means of preserving the detachment from the fury of the Indians who had assembled at the mouth of the strait to cut us off."

Pontiac was the head chief of the Ottawas, most of whom were then living in the southern peninsula of Michigan. Through the whole of the late war he had been the friend and strong ally of the French. It is said that he was present when Washington surrendered at Fort Necessity, and that he afterward took an active part in the defeat of General Braddock. Just why he seemed so ready to transfer his friendship to the English we shall never learn. But we know that he was shrewd and had ambitious projects of his own. Perhaps he already had dreams of making himself the leader of a great Indian confederacy. What could be more natural than that he should wish to be on the side of the victors in the war that was just ended?

Major Rogers, with his two hundred followers, reached Detroit on the 29th of November, and on the afternoon of the same day the fleur de lis of France was hauled down from the flagstaff on the fort, and the cross of St. George was hoisted in its place. The French soldiers and the Canadian militia laid down their arms, while seven hundred savages, lately the allies of France, danced and yelled as though they themselves were the victors celebrating their triumph over the defeated foe.

Detroit was at that time the most important of all the lake ports. It was a kind of garden spot in the midst of the savage wilderness. The fort was a large inclosure of some thirty acres, surrounded by strong palisades twenty-five feet high. In this inclosure were about eighty buildings, including the soldiers' barracks and a large council house. Above and below, on both banks of the river, were the farms and gardens of the French settlers, while back of these stretched the wild forest, with its giant trees and trackless mazes of underbrush. On the left-hand shore, at some distance below the fort, was a straggling village of Pottawattomies, whose ancestors had once lived in the Green Bay region. On the opposite shore were the bark lodges and corn patches of the Wyandots, descendants of the ancient Hurons.

Above the French settlement, but on the shore opposite the fort, was the chief village of the Ottawas; and a little beyond, on the Isle de la Peche, was the oven-shaped cabin of Pontiac, "the king and lord of all this country."

Just below Pontiac's island, and shielding it from the view of the soldiers in the fort, was the larger Isle au Cochon (now called Belle Isle), covered for the most part with thick under-woods and forest trees.

As soon as the fort was well in the hands of its new masters, Major Rogers returned to the East, leaving the post in charge of Captain Campbell, who was soon afterward succeeded by Major Gladwyn. A small party of English soldiers was sent out to secure and hold the French fort at the forks of the Maumee, where now stands the city of Fort Wayne; and another detachment went northward to receive the surrender of Mackinac and of the Sault Sainte Marie.

To the Indians, who had all their lives enjoyed the friendship of the French, this coming of the English was by no means a pleasant event. It was like exchanging kind neighbors for untrustworthy strangers. "When the French came among us," said a Chippewa chief, "they came and kissed us—they called us children, and we found them fathers; we lived like children in the same lodge." It was not so with the English. They came as masters, looking upon the savages as beings of a lower order who had no rights of their own. To the haughty Pontiac this was galling and not to be borne. He saw that he could expect nothing from a people who felt no sympathy with his race, and whose only object was to gain wealth and power for themselves. "The conduct of the French," he declared, "never gave rise to suspicion; but the conduct of the English never gives rest to it."

For a time he brooded over the matter, sitting moodily in his wigwam or wandering alone in the woods. Then he decided to unite all the Indian tribes in one grand uprising against the English. He began by making speeches. He visited the different villages throughout the Northwest, and by his strong power of persuasion stirred up in every warrior's breast fierce hatred for the English and savage desire for revenge. He reminded the tribes of their former happiness with their brothers, the French, and told them of the wrongs which they would suffer from the English. He declared that their father, the king of France, was only waiting for them to try to help themselves, when he would hasten his soldiers forward to aid them. He dwelt upon the number and prowess of the tribes that would join him, and spoke of the ease with which they could crush the English, and of the joy with which they would welcome the return of the French.

"The Great Spirit has bidden me tell you," he said to his followers, "that you must not drink the Englishman's rum, and that you must cast away the blankets you have bought from him, and whatever else he has given you to make you weak and cowardly." And then he told them of a vision which a Delaware chief had had. "The Great Spirit said to him: 'Why do you suffer these dogs in red coats to enter your country and take the lands I have given to you? Drive them from it. Wipe them from the face of the earth; and then when you are in trouble, I will help you.'"

Nor did Pontiac end with merely arousing his hearers against the English. He urged them to return to their primitive habits of barbarism. "My children," he said, "you have forgotten the customs of your forefathers. Why do you not clothe yourselves in skins, as they did, and use the bows and arrows and stone-pointed lances which they used? You have bought guns, knives, kettles, and blankets from the white men; and, what is worse, you have drunk the poison fire water which turns you into fools. Fling all these things away! Live as your wise forefathers lived in the days that are gone!"

The pleadings, commands, and fiery eloquence of Pontiac moved the Indians as they had never been moved before. All the tribes from the Great Lakes southward to the Tennessee, and from the Iroquois country westward to the Mississippi, joined themselves in one great league for the destruction of the English.

Of this league Pontiac was the absolute master and director. He knew where every English post was situated, and had learned all about its strength. He therefore assigned to each chief his particular place and the work which he was expected to do. The destruction of the posts on the St. Joseph and the Wabash was assigned to the western Indians, that of the forts south of Lake Erie to various bands of Iroquois, that of Mackinac and the Sault to the Chippewas and Wyandots, that of Detroit to himself and his immediate followers. Never did any commander display more skill or more determined energy than did Pontiac in organizing this great movement for the union of all the tribes against the encroachments of a stronger race. * He has been called, and not without reason, the Napoleon of the wilderness.

II. The Massacre at Mackinac

The order was given that upon the same day—a day in May—every English post west of Niagara should be attacked and destroyed. It was to be a work of extermination, and not an Englishman was to be spared. The traders in the Indian villages were the first to suffer. Of these there were more than a hundred and twenty among the different tribes, and only two or three escaped with their lives. Most of the forts were captured as Pontiac had planned. In some, the garrisons were taken wholly by surprise and all were massacred. At Presque Isle on Lake Erie the fort was bravely defended for two days. The Indians having at last undermined it and laid a train ready for blowing it up, the garrison was obliged to surrender; some of the prisoners were killed at once, and others were carried captive to the Indian towns in the Northwest.

Fort Pitt, at the forks of the Ohio, was besieged for nearly three months. At length a detachment of British soldiers commanded by Colonel Bouquet was ordered to its succor. After hard fighting and the loss of a hundred men, Bouquet gallantly forced his way to the fort, gave relief to the beleaguered garrison, and scattered the besieging savages.

In the Northwest, dreadful scenes were being enacted. Next to Detroit, Mackinac was then the most important of all the posts on the lakes. The old trading post and fort at Point St. Ignace had been abandoned several years before, and a new fort, known as Fort Mackinac, had been built on the south side of the strait. Why this change had been made it is impossible to say, but the new Mackinac, like the old, was long the favorite place of resort for voyageurs and woods rangers, and the point whence the traders shipped their furs to the eastern markets.

The stockade, which stood near the shore, inclosed nearly two acres; and within it were about thirty houses, including the soldiers' barracks, some storerooms, and the dwellings of a few Canadian families. There were bastions at the corners of the stockade, and on each of two of these a small brass cannon was mounted. The British garrison consisted of thirty-five men commanded by Captain Etherington. There were also in the fort some traders, and among them Alexander Henry, the first English merchant to venture into that remote and unfriendly region.

The Chippewas, whose principal village was then on the island of Mackinac, had always hated the English. Although their tribe had dwelt for several generations in the immediate neighborhood of the French posts, they were still as savage as their ancestors whom Jean Nicolet had discovered catching fish from the rapids of the Sainte Marie. Their neighbors, the Ottawas, had taken more readily to civilized ways; for they lived in log houses, cultivated little patches of ground, and ardently professed the Catholic faith. All had been warmly attached to the French, and all viewed the coming of the English with marked disapproval.

These bands had chiefs of their own and did not acknowledge the authority of Pontiac. But when his runners came to them bearing his war belt of black and purple wampum, they very readily promised to join in the great conspiracy. The savage Chippewas were wrought up to a high pitch of excitement, and they determined to destroy the hated English in their own way and without the help of the Ottawas.

The month of May had passed, and already the work of destruction had begun. The garrison at Mackinac were living in careless ease and security, for they had heard no news from the south, and they were in ignorance of the great uprising. Their savage neighbors, however, knew what was going on, and were only biding their time to strike the decisive blow. Some friendly Canadians had warned Captain Etherington that the Indians were plotting trouble; and one had brought him word that they were getting ready to destroy all the forts on the lakes. But the foolish, conceited captain told them that he had no fear of Indians, and advised them to go about their own business. He even threatened to punish the next person who should whisper any such stories in his hearing.

A chief whose name was Wawatam, and who was the sworn friend of Henry, the English trader, came into the fort one day and with signs of the deepest distress asked Henry if the English had heard any bad news. He then besought the trader to leave the fort with him and go to the Sault Sainte Marie; "For there are strange Indians in this neighborhood," said he, "and it is not safe for you here." When Henry treated his warning with lightness and refused to leave the fort, the chief went sadly away, the tears rolling down his dusky cheeks.

The 4th of June was a holiday at Mackinac, for it was the birthday of the English king. Early in the morning the Chippewas paddled over from their island and invited the officers and soldiers to come out and see a game of "baggatiway," or Indian ball, that was to be played between their own warriors and a party of visiting Sacs. They said that a great wager had been made, to be paid to the victorious party, and they promised Captain Etherington that he should see rare sport.

The day was warm and sultry. The soldiers were relieved from duty. The gates of the stockade were thrown wide open, and officers and men stood carelessly around watching the progress of the game. Indians and whites mingled freely in the crowds that were lounging in the shade of the tall palisades. The Chippewa squaws were wrapped in huge blankets as though it were a midwinter day; but the English were too deeply interested in the game to take notice of this. Had any person lifted one of these blankets he might have seen a frightful array of knives and tomahawks, all ready to be handed to those who were to take part in the bloody work of the day.

The game of baggatiway, called "lacrosse "by the French, was played with a ball and bats. At either end of the ground a tall post was planted as a goal; and the object of each party was to drive the ball to the post opposite its own. In such a game there was necessarily much noise and violence. On either side were hundreds of lithe savages, each carrying a bat of a peculiar form, and running and struggling to gain possession of the ball. All were naked or nearly so, their long black hair streaming in the wind, and their copper-colored bodies glistening in the sun. It often happened, of course, that the ball could not be driven directly toward the desired goal, and then it was knocked sideways or anywhere that would put it in a good position; and the whole crowd of yelling, struggling savages ran after it.

Indian village


Captain Etherington was with his officers outside of the fort, watching the game. He was in fine spirits, and to please the Chippewas had made a heavy wager in their favor. Several warriors were lounging carelessly about the gate, seeming to be deeply interested in the game. The soldiers were scattered here and there, and all were unarmed.

Suddenly, as if by accident, the ball was thrown within the stockade. With loud shouts both Chippewas and Sacs rushed through the gate as though in pursuit of it; but no sooner were they within the fort than the shouts were changed to dreadful war whoops. Henry, the fur trader, who was in his own room writing, was startled at the sound. He rushed to his window and looked out. All within the stockade and without was in the wildest confusion. He saw the savages snatch their weapons from the waiting squaws and begin the work of slaughter. Without the power to help any one, he beheld his dearest friends cut down and scalped and their bodies mangled in the most horrible manner. Not one Englishman escaped. The captain, a few of his officers, and some traders were taken as prisoners, but all the rest were soon slain. The French and Canadians were unharmed, and several stood looking upon the massacre with much the same interest as that with which they had watched the game of ball.

Henry hastened to conceal himself in the garret of a half-breed Canadian, the same Charles Langlade who had led the Chippewas at the time of Braddock's defeat. He thus escaped the first wild rage of the savages, but on the following day he was discovered and dragged from his hiding place. The Indians crowded around him, brandishing their knives and threatening to kill him. Their fury had cooled, however, and they were not so bloodthirsty as they had been before the massacre. A Chippewa chief named Wenniway, who had taken a sudden and strange liking for Henry, declared that he would adopt him in place of a brother who had been killed in battle; and for a time the life of the trader was safe.

A few days, after this the Chippewas took their prisoners to one of their small villages which stood on the shore not far from the head of Thunder Bay. Here was the home of their great chief Minavavana. The captive soldiers were tied together, two and two, and led into the council house, where, with long ropes round their necks, they were exhibited like wild beasts, and subjected to the taunts and abuse of their captors.

Henry and the other traders were also taken into the council house, but were spared this harsh treatment. The chiefs came in and sat down to enjoy the sight, and among them was Minavavana himself. Suddenly there was a movement by the door, and Henry was rejoiced to see his old friend Wawatam pushing his way through the crowd. Wawatam said not a word, but sat down and smoked with Minavavana and the chief who had taken Henry under his protection. After a time he arose and went out, but soon returned, followed by his squaw. The woman carried costly presents in each hand, and these she laid at the feet of the chiefs. Wawatam then made a speech.

"Friends and kinsmen," he said, "you all know what I feel. You have friends and brothers and children whom you love as yourselves; and how would you feel if, like me, you beheld your dearest friend, your brother, in the condition of a slave a slave exposed every moment to insult, and threatened with death? This case, as you all know, is mine. You see before you my friend and brother among slaves himself a slave!

"You all well know that, long before the war began, I adopted him as my brother. From that moment he became one of my family, so that no change of circumstances could break the cord which bound us together. He is my brother; and because I am your relation, he is therefore your relation too. How then can he be your slave?"

He then said that, to avoid all disputes, he had brought to the chiefs the presents that were before him presents of sufficient value to buy off every claim that any man had on his brother.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Minavavana then arose and spoke. He spoke of the bond of brotherhood between Wawatam and the English trader, accepted the present that had been brought, and ordered the prisoner to be released. Wawatam took Henry by the hand and led him to his own lodge. He gave him food and drink, spread furs for him to lie upon, and treated him with every kindness.

But it was several months before the trader was able to return to his own people. He was carried first to the island of Mackinac, where most of the Chippewa band had retired in fear of the vengeance of the English. Toward the end of summer all crossed over to the north end of Lake Huron, where they stopped awhile to fish. Then they scattered to their winter hunting grounds, each Indian with his family following the path that pleased him best. All winter long, Henry, in the garb of a wild Indian, trudged through the snows by the side of his brother Wawatam, hunting the moose and the elk. In the spring he contrived to make his way to the English settlements.

The destruction of the fort at Mackinac led to many important changes. When peace came the English decided not to rebuild the fort on the mainland. They took possession of the cliff-bound island of Mackinac, near the middle of the strait, fortified it, and there established a new and more secure post.

III. The Siege of Detroit

Detroit being the strongest and most important of all the posts, Pontiac had decided to make it his own prey. Its capture would require great skill and caution, and he was unwilling to intrust so hazardous an undertaking to any of his chiefs. Had no one betrayed his plot, he would probably have been successful, and his great conspiracy might have had a different ending.

In the village of the Pottawattomies there was a beautiful girl of the Chippewa nation named Catherine. She was a great favorite at the fort, and had become attached to Major Gladwyn, the commandant. On the day before that which Pontiac had set for the massacre, she carried to the fort a pair of elk-skin moccasins which she had made and ornamented for her white friend and patron. She seemed to be in great trouble about something, and tears were in her eyes as she put the present in the major's hands and hurried from the room. But she lingered long within the stockade as though anxious to say something and yet afraid to speak. At length Gladwyn himself noticed her unusual conduct, and asked her what it was that was weighing on her mind. She at first refused to answer, but after much urging was persuaded to tell all that she knew of Pontiac's designs.

Attack on Detroit thwarted


She had learned everything. She told Gladwyn that early on the following day Pontiac would come to the fort and ask to hold a council with the English officers. With him would be sixty of his trustiest braves, each with a gun hidden under his blanket. On the outside of the stockade all the Indian warriors would be ready at a signal to rush into the fort. Pontiac would make a speech in the council, and at a certain moment would offer a peace belt of wampum, holding it upside down. At this signal his braves would utter the war whoop, and fire upon the officers; the Indians at the gate would rush into the fort, and massacre the garrison; every Englishman would be killed, but the French settlers would be spared.

That same afternoon William Tucker, a soldier at the fort, came to Gladwyn with a similar story. Tucker had been captured by the Indians when he was a child, had been adopted by them, and had lived many years in the family of an Ottawa brave. He told Gladwyn that his Indian sister had warned him to leave the fort, saying that Pontiac intended, on the morrow, to seize it by strategy and destroy all its inmates.

Gladwyn, thus doubly warned, began at once to guard against surprise. There were at that time a hundred and thirty soldiers and officers in the fort, besides several traders with their families and employees. Two small English vessels, the Gladwyn and the Beaver, were anchored in the river, but too far away to be of any service. At sunset the great gates of the fort were closed. The guards were doubled; the arms were examined; the ammunition was arranged; and every man in the fort was ordered to be ready for service at a moment's call. But as yet no one but Major Gladwyn and his officers knew the character of the threatened danger.

The day had been rainy and the night was dark. The warriors of the Hurons and the Pottawattomies had left their own villages early in the evening, and gathered at the council ground of their great chief, in the Ottawa town opposite the Isle au Cochon.. In the middle of the night the English officers, anxiously watching from the palisades, heard, far away, the booming sound of the Indian drum and the wild, discordant notes of the war song, mingled with hoots of defiance and yells of victory. All doubt was now at an end. They knew that the savages were dancing the war dance around their council fire, and making ready for the bloody work of the morrow. Every person in the fort was aroused and on the alert, and the hours until morning were full of anxiety and suspense.

The day dawned upon a quiet and peaceful scene. The fog that was resting upon the river soon faded away, and then the sentinels saw a fleet of canoes crossing the river a mile or two above the fort. They moved slowly, as if heavily laden, and yet only two or three Indians could be seen in each. Every boat, in fact, was full of warriors, lying flat in the bottom so as to escape the notice of the English.

Pontiac and his men landed at a point where they could not be seen from the fort, and soon many of the warriors found their way to the open common on the north side of the stockade. Then the women and children from the villages began to arrive, as though it were a general holiday, and they had come to see the games. Yet all seemed restless and anxious, and it was very plain that they were not in a peaceful mood.

At about ten o'clock Pontiac and sixty of his braves came down the river road, marching solemnly in Indian file to the eastern gate of the stockade. Their faces were besmeared with paint, and their heads adorned in the most fantastic style. All were wrapped in long colored blankets, which they drew closely about their shoulders. As they reached the gate it was opened to receive them. With stately tread the great chief led his followers into the inclosure and down St. Anne Street to the council house. But to his surprise and dismay he found himself marching between ranks of soldiers fully armed; and at every turn of the street he saw groups of traders and sturdy backwoodsmen, with long knives in their belts and rifles in their hands. Men also stood at the guns on the bastions, waiting only the word of command.

At the council house, Major Gladwyn and his officers were waiting to receive their savage visitors.

"Why do I see so many of my father's young men standing in the streets with their guns?" asked Pontiac.

Gladwyn answered that it was customary to exercise the soldiers every morning. "Come any day at this hour, and you shall see them with their guns."

After some delay the chiefs seated themselves. As was the custom, they smoked together for some time in silence; but any one could see that they were ill at ease. At length Pontiac arose and made a speech. He spoke of the number and prowess of his braves and of their deeds in war—and his eyes flashed and his voice rose in tones of exultation as he called to memory the savage victories in which they had borne a part. Then he spoke of the English and of their great power and of their recent triumphs—and with bowed head and supplicating voice he acknowledged their superior wisdom and pleaded for their friendship. His whole speech was a wonderful display of natural oratory. At one time he raised the belt of wampum as if to give the signal for his followers to begin the attack; but at that moment, at a slight signal from Major Gladwyn, a drum was beaten, there was a rattling of arms at the door, and the rapid tramp of soldiers was heard in the street. The chief paused, he stammered, and then presented the belt in the usual manner, and sat down.



Major Gladwyn then spoke. He told the chiefs that they should have the friendship of the English as long as they deserved it; but he declared that in case of any perfidy on their part they should be most fearfully punished. He then dismissed the council.

"I will come again in a few days," said Pontiac. "I will then bring my women and children; for I want them all to shake hands with their English father."

The chiefs then marched away as they had come. The gate, which had been closed during the council, was opened to allow them to pass out. Pontiac walked sullenly to the river, got into his canoe, and paddled back to the Ottawa village on the opposite shore.

On the following morning Pontiac again visited the fort. With him were three of his most trusted warriors, and in his hand he bore the pipe of peace. "My fathers," said he to the officers, "evil birds are flying in the air. They have whispered false tales in your ears. They have told you that we are not your friends. Believe them not. We love the English as brothers, and, to show that this is true, we have come to smoke the pipe of peace with you."

After smoking with the officers, the wily chief bade them good-by and went out to confer with the Wyandots and the Pottawattomies, and with them lay new plans for the destruction of the fort.

At about noon on the next day, the 9th of May, a great throng of savages appeared on the common behind the fort. "Why are the gates closed against us?" cried Pontiac. "My young men wish to go in and enjoy the fragrance of the calumet with their English fathers."

Gladwyn answered that the chief himself might come in if he wished, but that he would have none of his rabble inside of the stockade. Pontiac turned and strode back to his warriors. All pretense of friendship was at an end. Brandishing his tomahawk, he called out for vengeance, and his voice was answered by the yells of hundreds of enraged savages. The bloody work began at once. One party rushed madly toward a little house on the farther side of the common, where an old Englishwoman lived with her two sons. These they massacred. Others pushed off in canoes to the Isle au Cochon and murdered a discharged sergeant who had a garden there. The rage of Pontiac was so great that no man dared speak to him, and yet he took no part in these wild deeds. That very day he ordered the village of the Ottawas to be removed to the western shore, so that his warriors in going back and forth would not be delayed by the river. The wigwams were hastily taken down, and before the next morning all were ferried over and again erected on the green banks of the little stream then known as Parent's Creek, but since called Bloody Run. Another wild war dance was danced. Ottawas, Wyandots, Pottawattomies, and Chippewas, all rallied around the chief, and with fierce yells cried out for vengeance upon the hated English.

A resolute attack was then made upon the fort. From behind houses, fences, and trees the savages kept up a brisk fire all day long; but they were afraid of the small cannon in the blockhouses at the corners of the stockade, and did not dare to come near enough to do any damage.

Then a regular siege began. Savage bands from the west and south came, one after another, to the aid of Pontiac; and a host of bloodthirsty warriors surrounded the stockade day and night. The besieged were obliged to be on the watch every moment. For weeks neither officers nor men took off their clothes to sleep; their arms were always at hand; and every person was ready for duty at a moment's call.

The savages tried every means of annoyance. Floating fire rafts were sent down the river in order to destroy the two schooners that were anchored under the guns of the fort. Sharpshooters lurked in hiding places to pick off the sentinels who might carelessly show themselves above the defenses. Parties of warriors were sent out in every direction to cut off all help that might be sent to the beleaguered garrison.

In June a vessel containing supplies and a re-enforcement of fifty men was captured by the Indians. Soon afterward another vessel carrying provisions and ammunition reached the mouth of the Detroit River. There the men landed to pass the night; but while they slept a band of savages fell upon them and killed or captured almost the entire company.

In July a re-enforcement of two hundred and fifty soldiers under Captain Dalzell reached the fort in safety. On the next day a sortie was made against the Indian encampment near Parent's Brook. It was an unfortunate affair. The English fell into an ambush and were driven back with great loss. Not long after this, however, the Indians began to show signs of weakening. Their food was becoming exhausted, and they were suffering from hunger. They had expected to destroy the fort at a single blow, but as months went by and they were still kept outside of the stockade they lost their enthusiasm and their patience. As the time for the autumn hunt came on, they began to fall away; and with the beginning of winter only the Ottawas remained faithful to their chief.

Pontiac, although seeing that his cause was becoming hopeless, continued to annoy the garrison all winter and far into the next summer. At length Sir William Johnson, the British agent in western New York, succeeded in making a treaty of peace with the Senecas, then the most powerful of the Iroquois nations. This opened up the way along the southern shore of Lake Erie and made it possible to send relief to Detroit. A force of nearly three thousand soldiers was placed under the command of Colonel Bradstreet, who was instructed to give the Indians of the Northwest a thorough chastisement and compel them to sue for peace.

Most of the tribes, however, had already grown tired of the war, and were willing to make peace without compulsion. Bradstreet and his little army arrived at Detroit in August, and were received with great joy by the beleaguered garrison who for fifteen months had lived in the midst of alarms, cut off from all communication with the world. Pontiac himself had retired secretly into the forest, and it was an easy matter to arrange peace with his former followers. A great council was held and the savages readily agreed to bury the hatchet and become good subjects of the king of England. Bradstreet then sent detachments to take possession of Mackinac and the Sault Sainte Marie. The terrible war which Pontiac had inaugurated was at an end.