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A Half Century of Conflict - Volume I by Parkman

Killed twenty three Outagamies


with the commandant at its head, sat the council of three which ruled over the little settlement.[324] Here too was a garrison to enforce the decrees of the council, keep order among the settlers, and give them a protection which they greatly needed, since they were within striking distance of the formidable Chickasaws, the effects of whose hostility appear year after year on the parish register of deaths at Kaskaskia. Worse things were in store; for the gallant young Pierre d'Artaguette, who was appointed to the command in 1734, and who marched against the Chickasaws with a band of Frenchmen and Indians, was defeated, captured, and burned alive, astonishing his torturers by the fortitude with which he met his fate. The settlement had other foes not less dangerous. These were the Outagamies, or Foxes, between whom and the tribes of the Illinois there was a deadly feud. We have seen how, in 1712, a band of Outagamies, with their allies, the Mascoutins, appeared at Detroit and excited an alarm, which, after a savage conflict, was ended with their ruin. In 1714 the Outagamies made a furious attack upon the Illinois, and killed or carried off seventy-seven of them.[325] A few years later they made another murderous onslaught in the same quarter. They were the scourge of the West, and no white man could travel between Canada and Louisiana except at the risk of his life.

In vain the French parleyed with them; threats and blandishments were useless

alike. Their chiefs would promise, sometimes in good faith, to keep the peace and no more offend their father Onontio; but nearly all the tribes of the Lake country were their hereditary enemies, and some bloody revenge for ancient wrongs would excite their young warriors to a fury which the elders could not restrain. Thus, in 1722 the Saginaws, a fierce Algonquin band on the eastern borders of Michigan, killed twenty-three Outagamies; the tribesmen of the slain returned the blow, other tribes joined the fray, and the wilderness was again on fire.[326]

The Canadian authorities were sorely perplexed, for this fierce inter-tribal war threatened their whole system of western trade. Meanwhile the English and Dutch of New York were sending wampum belts to the Indians of the upper lakes, inviting them to bring their furs to Albany; and Ramesay, governor of Montreal, complains that they were all disposed to do so. "Twelve of the upper tribes," says Lord Cornbury, "have come down this year to trade at Albany;" but he adds that as the Indians have had no presents for above six years, he is afraid "we shall lose them before next summer."[327] The governor of Canada himself is said to have been in collusion with the English traders for his own profit.[328] The Jesuits denied the charge, and Father Marest wrote to the governor, after the disaster to Walker's fleet on its way to attack Quebec, "The protection you have given to the missions has drawn on you and the colony the miraculous protection of God."[329]

Whether his accusers did him wrong or not, Vaudreuil felt the necessity of keeping the peace among the western Indians and suppressing the Outagamie incendiaries. In fact, nothing would satisfy him but their destruction. "They are the common enemies of all the western tribes," he writes. "They have lately murdered three Frenchmen and five Hurons at Detroit. The Hurons ask for our help against them, and we must give it, or all the tribes will despise us."[330]

He put his chief trust in Louvigny, formerly commandant at Michilimackinac. That officer proposed to muster the friendly tribes and march on the Outagamies just as their corn was ripening, fight them if they stood their ground, or if not, destroy their crops, burn their wigwams, and encamp on the spot till winter; then send out parties to harass them as they roamed the woods seeking a meagre subsistence by hunting. In this way he hoped to cripple, if not destroy them.[331]

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