Major Rogers Takes Possession Of Detroit -- The Remoter Posts Also Fall Under British Sovereignty -- Indians Are Hostile -- Denunciation Of The Chippewa Chief -- Pontiac's Conspiracy -- Fall Of Fort Sandusky -- St. Joseph's Post Taken -- Massacre At Michilimackinac -- Garrison At Green Bay Escapes -- Presque Isle Surrenders -- Investment Of Detroit -- Massacre At Devil's Hole -- Policy Of Pacification -- Possession Of The Lakes Regained -- Henry's Narrative -- Bradstreet's Disastrous Return Voyage -- England Discourages Emigration -- Copper Mining And Fur Trading -- Rival Fur Companies -- Early Vessels On Lake Superior -- Ships On The Lower Lakes -- Ship Building Prospects -- The Lakes During The Revolutionary War -- Spanish Flag On Lake Michigan Waters -- The Treaty Of Peace -- Arranging The Boundary Line -- The Line Finally Adopted -- The Treaty Of Paris -- Great Britain Retains Possession -- Jay's Treaty -- Posts Surrendered.
A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast, And fills the white and rustling sail,
And bends the gallant mast, And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While like the eagle free Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lea.
MONTREAL having fallen and Canada having become an English dependency, Major Robert Rogers, in 1760, was assigned the task of taking possession of the few western outposts which dotted here and there the Great Lakes. Rogers was a native of New Hampshire, tall and strong in person and rough in feature. He left Montreal September 13, with 200 rangers in 15 whale boats, reached Lake Ontario, skirted its northern shores, amid rough and boisterous weather, and, crossing its western extremity, arrived at Fort Niagara October 1. Crossing the portage, the detachment remained a few days, while Rogers with a few attendants conveyed dispatches to Fort Pitt. Rejoining his command at Fort Presque Isle, about October 31, they proceeded along the southern margin of Lake Erie. The lake was rough and the wind chill. Reaching the mouth of a stream, called by Rogers the river Chogage, November 7, Pontiac and a party of Indian chiefs and warriors arrived and demanded his business in that country. It was farther than a body of troops under the English flag had ever before penetrated into the western country.
After a parley lasting several days, Pontiac permitted the troops to proceed. They started again November 12, and a few days later reached the western end of Lake Erie. Four hundred hostile warriors, friendly to the French, lay in ambush at the mouth of the Detroit river, but the powerful influence of Pontiac enabled Rogers and his band to proceed. Slowly the whale boats of the rangers moved up between the low green banks of the Detroit river until the settlement came in sight. On the right were the wigwams of the Wyandots, and on the left the lodges of the Pottawatomies, while a little farther up the stream could be seen, above the weather-beaten palisades of the fort, the flag of France. Landing on the opposite side of the river, November 29, 1760, the rangers encamped in a meadow, while two officers were dispatched to the garrison, to demand its surrender. The colors were lowered, and the cross of St. George unfurled in its place.
Rogers proceeded westward with a small party to relieve the French garrison of Michilimackinac. The storms and gathering ice of Lake Huron drove him back to Detroit. The next season, in 1761, a detachment of the 6oth regiment took possession of Michilimackinac, and the three remoter posts of St. Marie, Green Bay and St. Joseph, and the whole chain of the Great Lakes thereby fell under the sovereignty of Great Britain. A few feeble forts widely scattered, manned in all by 500 or 600 men, held the vast dominion of inland waters, destined within a century to become the highway of a marvelous traffic.
The Indians are Hostile. -- But though the lakes had fallen, the Indians were un-appeased. Their friendship and their aid in battle had been given the French. Henry, an adventurous and daring English trader, had pushed on to Michilimackinac before the English garrison arrived, and found himself in deadly peril. He thus describes his situation in the midst of enemies:
"The hostility of the Indians was exclusively against the English. Between them and my Canadian attendants there appeared the most cordial goodwill. This circumstance suggested one means of escape, of which, by the advice of my friend, Campion, I resolved to attempt availing myself; and which was, that of putting on the dress usually worn by such Canadians as pursue the trade into which I had entered, and assimilating myself, as much as I was able, to their appearance and manners. To this end, I laid aside my English clothes, and covered myself only with a cloth, passed about the middle; a shirt, hanging loose; a molton, or blanket cloak; and a large, red, milled worsted cap. The next thing was to smear my face and hands with dirt and grease; and, this done, I took the place of one of my men, and, when Indians approached, used the paddle, with as much skill as I possessed. I had the satisfaction to find that my disguise enabled me to pass several canoes without attracting the smallest notice.
"On the island, as I had previously been taught to expect, there was a village of Chippewas, said to contain a hundred warriors. Here I was fearful of discovery, and consequent ill-treatment; but after inquiring the news, and, particularly, whether or not any Englishman was coming to Michilimackinac, they suffered us to pass uninjured. One man, indeed, looked at me, laughed and pointed me out to another. This was enough to give me some uneasiness; but, whatever was the singularity he perceived in me, both he and his friend retired, without suspecting me to be an Englishman."
The thoroughness with which the French had imbued the minds of the Indians against the English, in the latter's attempt to gain possession of the upper lakes, is farther shown by the speech of the Chippewa chief Minavavana, to the trader Henry, who had thus daringly visited Michilimackinac in advance of the English garrison:
"Englishman, we are informed that our father, the king of France, is old and infirm; and that being fatigued, with making war upon your nation, he is fallen asleep. During his sleep you have taken advantage of him, and possessed yourselves of Canada. But, his nap is almost at an end. I think I hear him already stirring, and inquiring for his children, the Indians; and, when he does awake, what must become of you? He will destroy you utterly.
"Englishman, although you have conquered the French, you have not yet conquered us! We are not your slaves. These lakes, these woods, and mountains, were left us by our ancestors. They are our inheritance; and we will part with them to none. Your nation supposes that we, like the white people, cannot live without bread -- and pork -- and beef! But, you ought to know that He, the Great Spirit and Master of Life, has provided food for us, in these spacious lakes, and on these woody mountains.
"Englishman, our father, the king of France, employed our young men to make war upon your nation. In this warfare many of them have been killed; and it is our custom to retaliate, until such time as the spirits of the slain are satisfied. But, the spirits of the slain are to be satisfied in either of two ways; the first is by the spilling of the blood of the nation by which they fell; the other, by covering the bodies of the dead, and thus allaying the resentment of their relations. This is done by making presents.
"Englishman, your king has never sent us any presents, nor entered into any treaty with us, wherefore he and we are still at war; and, until he does these things, we must consider that we have no other father, nor friend among the white men, than the king of France; but, for you, we have taken into consideration, that you have ventured your life among us, in the expectation that we should not molest you. You do not come armed, with an intention to make war; you come in peace, to trade with us, and supply us with necessaries, of which we are much in want. We shall regard you, therefore, as a brother; and you may sleep tranquilly, without fear of the Chippewas. As a token of our friendship, we present you with this pipe to smoke."
And though Canada had fallen, a treaty of peace had not yet been signed, and the English possession of the Great Lakes was not secure. Beyond, on the Mississippi, were French settlements engaged in the fur trade. The Indians, accustomed to French manners, resented the brusque English ways and listened to the tales of the French that the English were plotting Indian extermination. Pontiac's conspiracy followed, and all the forts on the Great Lakes held by the English were doomed to destruction and their occupants to massacre and torture, except Detroit, which withstood a vigorous and protracted siege.
Fall of Fort Sandusky. -- Fort Sandusky fell May 16, 1763, seven treacherous Indian visitors seizing Ensign Paully, the commanding officer, while his garrison was massacred. Paully was taken prisoner to Detroit, expecting to be burned alive, but an old squaw, whose husband had recently died, wanted Paully for a substitute, and her whim was humored, Paully accepting the bride in preference to the stake.
St. Joseph's Post Is Taken. -- The post at St. Joseph's, which stood at the mouth of St. Joseph's river, near the head of Lake Michigan, fell by similar treachery May 25, 1763. Ensign Schlosser was in command with fourteen men. On the morning of the fatal day, a large party of Pottawatomies had arrived from Detroit for the ostensible purpose of visiting relatives. Insolent savages crowded the fort, and when Schlosser called to his sergeant to get the men under arms, the Indians seized the sentinel and within two minutes, declared the officer, eleven men were killed and the three survivors, he among them, bound hand and foot. They were taken to Detroit and exchanged for Indian prisoners.
Massacre at Michilimackinac. -- Still more horrible was the massacre at Michilimackinac. The fort stood on the south shore of the straits, close upon the margin of the lake. A cluster of French-Canadian houses, roofed with bark and protected by picketed fences, stood beyond. High palisades surrounded the fort, and within were barracks and other buildings. Captain Etherington, the commandant, had been several times warned that the Indians were plotting treachery, but he paid no heed. On June 2, or, according to the trader, Henry, June 4, a large band of Ojibways, encamped in the vicinity, invited the officers and soldiers to come out and see a grand game of ball, to be played between that nation and several bands of Sacs. Discipline was relaxed; the gates were wide open, and the soldiers were lounging carelessly about. Captain Etherington and Lieutenant Leslie stood near the door. Hundreds of half naked, athletic savages were leaping and running on the plain without, now massing and struggling for the ball, and again widely scattering. Suddenly the ball rose high in the air and fell near the pickets of the fort. Forward swarmed the yelling savages; a moment later they were at the gates. Snatching hatchets, which squaws had concealed beneath blankets, they raised the war whoop. The trader, Henry, had not gone to the fort, but was writing letters in one of the Canadian houses. He heard the war cry, and thus describes the scene: "Going instantly to my window, I saw a crowd of Indians within the fort, furiously cutting down and scalping every Englishman they found. In particular, I witnessed the fate of Lieutenant Jamette. I had, in the room in which I was, a fowling piece loaded with swan shot. This I immediately seized and held it for a few minutes, waiting to hear the drums beat to arms. In this dreadful interval I saw several of my countrymen fall, and more than one struggling between the knees of an Indian, who, holding him in this manner, scalped him while yet alive."
Mr. Henry then recounts his own marvelous escape, his concealment in the garret of an adjoining house by an Indian servant, his surrender to the Indians by the Canadian Langlade. With about twenty other captives they were taken to the Isles du Castor. Here seven of the captives were slain. Henry was rescued by an Indian friend, Wawatam, who had adopted him. At the outset Captain Etherington and Lieutenant Leslie had been seized and made captives, together with a number of other soldiers. The Ottawas, who had not been invited by the Ojibways to participate in the massacre, demanded the prisoners as their share of the spoils, and the captors reluctantly surrendered them. The prisoners fared well, indeed, by the exchange. They were treated kindly, though not allowed their liberty. Captain Etherington, in a letter a few days after the massacre to the commandant of the post at Detroit, asking for aid, said: "They killed Lieutenant Jamette and fifteen rank and file, and a trader, named Tracy. They wounded two and took the rest of the garrison prisoners, five of whom they afterward killed. They made prisoners of all the English traders, and robbed them of every thing they had; but they offered no violence to the persons or property of any of the Frenchmen." Next to Detroit, Michilimackinac was the most important post on the upper lakes.
The posts of Green Bay and Sault Ste. Marie escaped the fate of Michilimackinac. The fort at the Sault had been partially destroyed by fire the previous winter, and the garrison temporarily abandoned and removed to Michilimackinac, but here many of the soldiers perished.
Garrison at Green Bay Escapes. -- At Green Bay were seventeen men, a portion of the 6oth regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Gorell. In the neighborhood were many powerful Indian tribes, including the Menomonies, the Winnebagoes, and the Sacs and Foxes; west of the Mississippi were the powerful Dakotas. Lieutenant Gorell won their friendship. June 15, 1763, an Ottawa Indian brought him a letter from Captain Etherington, dated Michilimackinac, June 11, in which he said: "This place was taken by surprise on the second instant by the Chippewas, at which time Lieutenant Jamette and twenty more were killed, and all the rest taken prisoners. But our good friends, the Ottawas, have taken Lieutenant Leslie and me and eleven men out of their hands, and have promised to reinstate us again." He asked Lieutenant Gorell to join him with his force. Lieutenant Gorell called a council of the Menomonies and related the news, saying he would march to the relief of Captain Etherington, and leave the fort at Green Bay in their good keeping. There was a slight stir of hostility, but a Dakota chief, who had just arrived, spoke in strong condemnation of their old enemies, the Ojibways, and this auspicious friendliness to the garrison won. Gorell's party, accompanied by ninety warriors in canoes, embarked in several bateaux and crossed Lake Michigan in safety, arriving at the village of L'Arbre Croche June 30. Captain Etherington and his men were detained as prisoners by the friendly Ottawas, who were reluctant to set them at liberty. After several councils, the English, escorted by a fleet of Indian canoes, reached the portage of the Ottawa river, and reached Ottawa August 13.
Presqu'Isle Surrenders. -- Presqu'Isle surrendered June 16. Ensign Christie was in command with twenty-one men. He had learned of Lieutenant Cuyler's defeat near the Detroit river from the returning survivors, six of whom remained with him. He expected and prepared for attack. Two hundred Indians from the vicinity of Detroit approached, June 15, and after a two-days' fight, during which the fort was a number of times set afire from blazing arrows, and extinguished with difficulty, the garrison surrendered on promise that their lives would be spared. They were carried prisoners to Detroit, where Christie soon after made his escape and gained the fort in safety.
Meanwhile the fort at Detroit was invested by an increasing force of savages, under the implacable and ambitious Pontiac. The garrison consisted of 120 soldiers, under command of Major Gladwin, and about forty fur traders were at the post. The fort was nearly square, fronting on the river and surrounded by a palisade 25 feet high. At each corner was a wooden bastion, and a block house was erected over each gateway. Within were about one hundred small houses. Two small armed schooners, the Beaver and the Gladwyn, lay anchored in the stream. Major Gladwyn received information, May 6, that Pontiac was plotting treachery. The Indians were permitted to enter the fort, but the garrison was ordered under arms and the savages withdrew without using the short-barreled rifles concealed under their blankets. Three days later Pontiac was refused admission to the fort. His followers murdered several Englishmen living outside. Next day the fort was for six hours ineffectually attacked. The siege had commenced. The two vessels in the river gave material assistance in the work of defense. A supply of needed provisions and ammunition was on its way up the lakes for the use of Detroit and the other western posts. To hasten the expected convoy and to carry dispatches to Niagara, the schooner Gladwyn set sail for Niagara, and as she lay becalmed at the entrance of Lake Erie next day, a multitude of Indian canoes darted out from the shore to surround her. Fortunately a breeze sprang up at that moment, the schooner's sails filled and she moved onward.
Lieutenant Cuyler left Fort Niagara May 13, and embarked from Fort Schlosser, just above the Falls, in about twenty boats with ninety-six men and a plentiful supply of provision and ammunition. Coasting along the northern shore of Lake Erie, he landed June 28, at Point Pelee, drew the boats up on the beach and prepared to encamp. They received a blaze of musketry from the woods, and the Indians rushed upon them. In a panic the men broke and ran for the boats. Cuyler in his report said: "Being abandoned by my men, I was forced to retreat in the best manner I could. I was left with six men on the beach, endeavoring to get off a boat, which not being able to effect, was obliged to run up to my neck in the lake, to get to a boat that had pushed off without my knowledge. When I was in the boat I saw five boats manned, and the Indians having manned two boats pursued and brought back three of the five, keeping a continued fire from off the shore, and from the two boats that followed us for about a mile on the lake; the wind springing up fair, I and the remaining boat hoisted sail and escaped." They rowed all night, and landed in the morning on a small island. Between thirty and forty men, some wounded, were crowded in the two boats. Making for Sandusky they were astonished to find the fort burned, and slowly rowed along the south shore of the lake to Niagara.
When the gaunt garrison at Detroit, on the morning of May 30, saw the long line of boats rounding the wooded projection on the farther side of the river, then called Montreal Point, while from the stern of the foremost boat flew the red flag of England, three loud cheers rang out, and a cannon pealed its note of welcome. But joy turned to anguish, when from the boats grimacing savages emitted yells of defiance. In each were two or more captives. In the foremost boat it chances were four captives and only three Indians. When opposite the fort one bold soldier seized an Indian and threw him overboard, but was dragged down to death with him. The two remaining Indians leaped out, and the three prisoners seized the oars and pulled for the fort. Bullets flew about them, and the pursuing Indian canoes gained steadily. Suddenly a cannon ball from the anchored Beaver beat into foam the water close by, and the chase was checked. The prisoners reached the Beaver in safety. Their companions suffered a terrible fate of torture and death. The schooner Gladwyn had passed the Cuyler convoy on her way down, and continued on to Niagara. There she remained until Cuyler with the remnant of his party returned. With the survivors and a few other soldiers that could be spared, the Gladwyn set sail again for Detroit. She was making her way up the Detroit river late on the afternoon of June 23, with a gentle breeze between the main shore and the long extended margin of Fighting island. About sixty men were on board, but only ten or twelve in sight upon the deck. Just before reaching the narrowest part of the channel, the wind died away and the anchor was dropped. During the night moving objects appeared on dark the surface of the water. They quietly approached to within a few rods, when to the tap of a hammer upon the mast, cannon and musketry blazed forth. Several canoes were sunk, fourteen Indians killed and many wounded. The Indians quickly withdrew, and began firing from concealed breastwork of logs on Turkey island. The Gladwyn weighed anchor and dropped beyond reach. Several days later she made the ascent and, though the Indians fired constantly from the shore, sustained no loss. As she passed the Wyandot village, she sent a shower of grape among the yelping inhabitants, killing several. The schooner brought a much-needed supply of men, provision and ammunition, and also brought the important news that peace had been declared between England and France. The two armed schooners, anchored opposite the fort, annoyed and terrorized the besiegers. Gladwyn and several of his officers embarked aboard the Gladwyn one day, while a fresh breeze was blowing from the northwest. The Indians on the shore stood in amazement watching her as she tacked from shore to shore making way against wind and current. Making a long reach from the opposite shore, she came on directly toward the camp of Pontiac, her sails swelling, her masts leaning over till the black muzzles of her guns almost touched the river. Suddenly a shout of command was heard on board, she rose upright, and her sails flapped and fluttered as if tearing loose from their fastenings. Steadily she came round, broadside to the shore, then leaning once more to the wind bore away on the other tack. Soon was heard the hoarse rattling of her cable, as the anchor dragged it out, and her vast white wings were furling.
As they looked unsuspectingly on, a puff of smoke came from her side. The balls flew through their camp and tore among the forest trees beyond. The startled warriors bounded away, the squaws snatched up their children and fled. Several similar attacks were made, and the Indians, by means of burning rafts, sought several times, but vainly, to destroy the dreaded boat. On the morning of July 29, Captain Dalzell arrived from Niagara with twenty-two barges, bringing two hundred and eighty men, several small cannon and a fresh supply of provision and ammunition. They had passed up the river on a foggy night, but when between the Wyandot and Potta-watomie villages, the savages, who had recently made a treaty of peace, fired upon the convoy, killing and wounding fifteen of the men. The besieging forces of Pontiac were again increased and now numbered over 1,000. The schooner Gladwyn was again dispatched to Niagara. On her return her crew consisted of Horst, her master, Mate Jacobs and ten men. Six Iroquois Indians, supposed to be friendly, were also aboard. They asked to be set ashore, on the night of September 3, as the schooner was entering the Detroit river, a request that was foolishly granted. The vessel was compelled to anchor about nine miles below the fort, as the wind was failing. As darkness set in, vigilant watchfulness began, but 350 Indians in canoes silently glided down the current and were close upon the vessel before they were seen. Only one cannon shot could be fired before they were beneath her bows and clambering up her sides. The crew gave them a volley of musketry, but still the savages swarmed over the sides. Flinging down their guns, the men seized spears and hatchets, and in a very short time killed more than twice their own number. But the_master and one sailor were killed and four seriously disabled. The assailants were leaping over the bulwarks when Jacobs, the mate, called out to blow up the schooner. Some Wyandots, who had gained the deck, caught the meaning of the order and gave the alarm to their companions. Every Indian leaped overboard to escape the threatened explosion, and dared not renew the attack. On the following morning the Gladwyn sailed for the fort and reached it in safety. Six of the gallant twelve had escaped unhurt.
Massacre at Devil's Hole. -- Later in the year, while Detroit was still invested, the savages perpetrated another terrible outrage on the Niagara river. It occurred September 14, 1763, at Devil's Hole, three miles below Niagara Falls.
A convoy of soldiers was returning to Fort Niagara from Fort Schlosser, situated above the Falls, to which post the previous day they had conveyed provisions An ambuscade of Seneca Indians destroyed the entire party and the twenty-four soldiers guarding them, except three, who almost miraculously escaped. A rescuing party of two companies was also cut to pieces.
To Relieve Detroit. -- Soon after Major Wilkins left Fort Niagara with 600 regulars for the relief of Detroit. While forcing their boats through the swift current above the Falls, they were thrown into confusion by an Indian attack and retired to Fort Schlosser. Again setting out, they reached Lake Erie in safety. But as they approached their destination a fierce storm arose at night and drove ashore or wrecked a large number of their frail bateaux. About seventy men perished and all the ammunition and stores were lost. The shattered flotilla was forced back to Niagara.
Policy of Pacification. -- In the spring of 1764 Sir William Johnson attempted the new policy of pacifying the savage hordes on the borders of the lakes, as well as the inland frontier, and for that purpose held at Fort Niagara a conference with many tribes. To render the scene more impressive, Col. Bradstreet had arrived from Albany with a body of troops to aid in regaining possession of the frontier. The boats and bateaux, crowded with men, crossed Lake Ontario from Oswego. A storm threw the flotilla into confusion, and it was several days before the troops landed at Fort Niagara. The meeting was only partly successful, but one of the conditions imposed by the treaty that was made, was the cession by the Indians to the British Crown of a strip of land, four miles in width, on each side of the Niagara river from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.
Bradstreet and his army left Fort Schlosser August 8, 1764, and with their boats and bateaux coasted along the southern shore of lake Erie. When near Presque Isle, on the 12th, a storm drove them ashore. After making futile treaties with the Delawares, Shawnees and other Ohio tribes, Bradstreet reached Detroit August 26, and was royally received by Gladwyn and his beleaguered troops. At Detroit he punished a few Canadians who had given aid to the Indians. Treaties of peace were signed with the chiefs of the neighboring tribes, except Pontiac, who had fled to the West to stir up additional strife against the English.
From Detroit Bradstreet dispatched Captain Howard with a strong detachment to take possession of Michilimackinac, which had been abandoned since the massacre the previous year. Howard accomplished this mission without opposition, and also sent bodies of troops to reoccupy the deserted posts at Green Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. The flag of England thus again floated over all the great lakes, after having been lowered by a savage outburst that held sway for little more than a year.
Henry's Narrative. -- Henry, the English trader, was a member of Bradstreet's expedition. He gives an interesting account of the voyage, as follows: "At Fort Niagara, I found General Bradstreet, with a force of three thousand men, preparing to embark for Detroit, with a view to raise the siege which it had sustained against Pontiac for twelve months together. The English in this time had lost many men; and Pontiac had been frequently on the point of carrying the place, though gallantly defended by Major Gladwyn, its commandant.
"General Bradstreet, having learned my history, informed me that it was his design on arriving at Detroit, to detach a body of troops to Michilimackinac, and politely assured me of his services in recovering my property there. With these temptations before me I was easily induced to follow the general to Detroit.
"But I was not to go as a mere looker on. On the contrary, I was invested with the honor of a command in a corps, of the exploits, however, of which I can give no very flattering account. Besides the sixteen Saulteurs, or Chippewas of the Sault de Sainte-Marie, with whom I had come to Fort Niagara, there were already at that place eighty Matchedash Indians, the same whose lodges we passed at the carrying-places of Lake aux Claies. These ninety-six men, being formed into what was called the Indian Battalion, were furnished with necessaries; and I was appointed to be their leader -- me, whose best hope it had been very lately, to live through their forbearance.
"On the 10th of July, the army marched for Fort Schlosser, a stockaded post above the Great Falls; and I ordered my Indians to march also. Only ten of the whole number were ready at the call; but the rest promised to follow the next morning. With my skeleton battalion, therefore, I proceeded to the fort, and there waited the whole of the next day, impatiently expecting the remainder. I waited in vain, and the day following returned to Fort Niagara, when I found they had all deserted, going back to their homes, equipments and all, by the way of Toronto. I thought their conduct, though dishonest, not very extraordinary, since the Indians employed in the siege of Detroit, against whom we were leading them, were at peace with their nation, and their own friends and kinsmen.
"For the transport of the army, on Lake Erie, barges had been expressly built, capable of carrying a hundred men each, with their provisions. One of these was allowed to me and my Indians. On the 14th we embarked at Fort Schlosser, and in the evening encamped at Fort Erie. Here the Indians, growing drunk, amused themselves with disorderly firing of their muskets, in the camp. On this, General Bradstreet ordered all the rum in the Indian quarters to be seized and thrown away. The Indians in consequence threatened to desert; and the general, judging it proper to assume a high tone, immediately assembled the chiefs (for among the fourteen Indians there were more chiefs than one) and told them, that he had no farther occasion for their services, and that such of them as should follow his camp would be considered as soldiers, and subjected to military discipline accordingly. After hearing the general's speech, the majority set out for Fort Niagara, the same evening, and thence returned to their own country, by the way of Toronto; and thus was my poor battalion still further diminished!
"On our fifth day from Fort Schlosser, we reached Presque Isle, where we dragged our barges over the neck of land, but not without straining their timbers; and with more loss of time, as I believe, than if we had rowed around. On the twentieth day, we were off the mouth of the river, which falls into Sandusky Bay, where a council of war was held, on the question, whether it were more advisable to attack and destroy the Indian villages, on the Miami, or to proceed for Detroit direct. Early the next morning, it having been determined that, considering the villages were populous as well as hostile, it was necessary to destroy them, we entered the Miami; but were promptly met by a deputation, offering peace. The offer was accepted; but it was till after two days, during which we had begun to be doubtful of the enemy's intention, that the chiefs arrived. When they came, a sort of armistice was agreed upon; and they promised to meet the general at Detroit, within fifteen days. At that place, terms of peace were to be settled, in a general council. On the 8th of August we landed at Detroit.
"The Indians of the Miami were punctual, and a general peace was concluded. Pontiac, who could do nothing against the force which was now opposed him, and who saw himself abandoned by his followers, unwilling to trust his fortunes with the English, fled to the Illinois.
"On the day following that of the treaty of peace, Captain Howard was detached, with two companies and three hundred Canadian volunteers, for Fort Michilimackinac, and I embarked at the same time. From Detroit to the mouth of Lake Huron is called a distance of eighty miles. From the fort to Lake Sainte Claire, which is only seven miles, the lands are cultivated on both sides of the strait, and appeared to be laid out in very comfortable farms. In the strait, on the right hand, is a village of Hurons, and at the mouth of Lake Sainte Claire, a village of Ottawas. We met not a single Indian on our voyage, the report of the arrival of the English army having driven every one from the shores of the lake. On our arrival at Michilimackinac, the Ottawas of L'Arbre Croche were sent for to the fort. They obeyed the summons, bringing with them some Chippewa chiefs, and peace was concluded with both.
"The exclusive trade of Lake Superior was given to myself, by the commandant of Fort Michilimackinac; and to prosecute it, I purchased goods, which I found at this post, at twelve months credit. My stock was the freight of four canoes, and I took it at the price of ten thousand pounds weight of good and merchantable beaver. It is in beaver that accounts are kept at Fort Michilimackinac; but in defect of this article, other furs and skins are accepted in payments, being first reduced unto their value in beaver. Beaver was at this time at the price of two shillings and sixpence per pound, Michilimackinac currency; other skins at six shillings each; marten, at one shilling and sixpence, and others in proportion.
"To carry the goods to my wintering ground in Lake Superior, I engaged twelve men, at two hundred and fifty livres, of the same currency, each; that is, one hundred pounds weight of beaver. For provisions, I purchased fifty bushels of maize, at ten pounds of beaver per bushel. At this place, specie was so wholly out of the question that in going to a cantine you took a marten's skin to pay your reckoning."
Bradstreet's Disastrous Return Voyage. -- Bradstreet's return journey from Detroit was marked by incompetency and petulance, because the treaties he had made with the faithless Ohio savages had been broken by the Indians and rejected by the United States Government. Soon after leaving Sandusky early in October he encamped on an open exposed beach, on the south shore of Lake Erie, though there was close by a large stream "wherein a thousand boats could lie with safety." A tempest arose, which lasted three days; half the boats were dashed to pieces, and six pieces of cannon ammunition, provisions, arms and baggage were lost or abandoned. A detachment of the troops, and some Indians, about 150 in all, were ordered to make their way by land to Niagara, and many perished along the pathless borders of the lake, suffering from cold, fatigue and hunger, from wading swamps, swimming rivers and creeks, and forcing their way through rough and tangled thickets. The main body reached Niagara November 4. But on Lake Ontario, when near Oswego, a second storm arose and one of the schooners, crowded with troops, sank. Most of the men, however, reached the shore in safety.
In an article in Lippincott's Magazine, Constance Fenimore Woolson fixes the scene of the wreck of the relief army in the fall of 1764, and of the disaster which befell General Bradstreet's fleet of bateaux, both at Rocky river, near Cleveland. From time to time after heavy storms portions of old bateaux have been thrown up on the Rocky river beach. In 1842, during a severe gale, the sandbar shifted its position at the mouth of the river, and quantities of gun flints, brass musket guards, musket barrels and bayonets were washed ashore. Along this beach many relics have been found; silver teaspoons, of antique design, heavily moulded and engraved with various initials, doubtless once the property of British officers, and an ancient and elaborately finished sword. The provincials who accompanied Bradstreet were from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and were commanded by Major Israel Putnam, afterward major-general of the United States army.
But the acquisition of Canada and the Great Lakes by Great Britain did not result in any measures for the settlement of the lake region, or in any increase of commerce. On the contrary, the policy adopted discouraged emigration. By royal proclamation issued in 1763 it was decreed that "no governor or commander-in-chief of our other colonies or plantations in America do presume, for the present, and until our further pleasure be known, to grant warrants of survey or pass patents for any lands beyond the heads or sources of any of the rivers which fall into the Atlantic Ocean from the West or Northwest." A desire to conciliate the Indians, it has been said, was one of the motives for this prohibition. General Washington took that view. Writing in 1767 to Colonel Crawford he said: "I can never look upon that proclamation in any other light (but this I say between ourselves) than a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians. "Whatever the cause, it was exceedingly unpopular among the American colonies. Several land companies were organized to people the Western country, but failed to receive the royal assent. Hinsdale says: "The facts show conclusively that in the years following the French war the Western policy of the British was not steady or consistent, but fitful and capricious; prompted by a solicitude for the Indians that was partially feigned, and partly by a growing jealousy of the shore colonies. The policy of restriction culminated in 1774 in the Quebec Act." This Act, among other provisions, extended the Province of Quebec on the north to Hudson Bay, and on the west and southwest to the Ohio and Mississippi. One aim was to propitiate the French population of Canada, the other to permanently sever the West from the Shore colonies. As defined by the proclamation of 1763 the Province of Quebec had been confined to territory east of Lake Nipissing and the St. Lawrence; but by the Act of 1774 it was extended to the Great Lakes region and Ohio Valley. To the American colonies the Quebec Act was extremely odious.
Two industries engaged attention on the upper lakes during the English dominion -- copper mining and fur trading. Capt. Jonathan Carver, in his "Three Years Travel Through the Interior Parts of North America," from 1766 to 1769, writes a glowing account of the copper mines in the Lake Superior region.
The first attempt at extensive copper mining in the Lake Superior region, which occurred a little later, is described by Henry. It was instituted to mine gold, the yellow sand on the island of Michipicoten having been mistaken for the precious metal, but later the mining operations were turned to copper. Henry says: "In 1770, Mr. Baxter, who had sailed for England, returned, bringing with him papers, by which, with Mr. Bostwick and himself, I was constituted a joint-agent and partner in and for a company of adventurers for working the mines of Lake Superior. We passed the winter together at Sault Sainte-Marie, and built a barge fit for the navigation of the lake, at the same time laying the keel of a sloop of forty tons. Early in May, 1771, the lake becoming navigable, we departed from Point aux Pins, our shipyard, at which there is a safe harbor, and of which the distance from the Sault is three leagues. We sailed for the island of the yellow sands, promising ourselves to make our fortunes, in defiance of its serpents.
"Hence we coasted westward; but found nothing until we reached the Ontonagan, where besides the detached masses of copper, formerly mentioned, we saw much of the same metal bedded in stone. Proposing to ourselves to make a trial on the hill till we were better able to go to work on the solid rock, we built a house and sent to Sault de Sainte-Marie for provisions. At the spot pitched upon for the commencement of our preparations, a green-coloured water, which tinged iron of a copper colour, issued from the hill; and this the miners called a leader. In digging they found frequent masses of copper, some of which were of three pounds weight. Having arranged everything for the accommodation of the miners during the winter, we returned to the Sault.
"Early in the spring of 1772 we sent a boat-load of provisions; but it came back on the twentieth day of June, bringing with it, to our surprise, the whole establishment of miners. They reported that in the course of the winter they had penetrated forty feet into the hill; but that on the arrival of the thaw, the clay on which, on account of its stiffness, they had relied, and neglected to secure it by supporters, had fallen in; that to re-commence their search would be attended with much labor and cost; that from the detached masses of metal, which to the last had daily presented themselves, they supposed there might be ultimately reached some body of the same, but could form no conjecture of its distance, except that it was probably so far off as not to be pursued without sinking an air-shaft; and, lastly, that this work would require the hands of more men than could be fed in the actual situation of the country.
"Here our operations in this quarter ended. The metal was probably within our reach; but, if we had found it, the expense of carrying it to Montreal must have exceeded its marketable value. It was never for the exportation of copper that our expedition was formed; but always with a view to the silver which it was hoped the ores, whether of copper or lead, might in sufficient quantity contain. The copper ores of Lake Superior can never be profitably sought for but for local consumption. The country must be cultivated and peopled, before they can deserve notice. The neighboring lands are good. I distributed seed-maize among the Indians here, which they planted accordingly. They did the same the following year, and in both instances had good crops. Whether or not they continued the practice, I cannot say. There might be much danger of their losing the seed; for their way was, to eat the maize green and save only a small quantity for sowing.
"In the following month of August, we launched our sloop, and carried the miners to the vein of ore on the north side of the lake. Little was done during the winter, but, by dint of labor, performed between the commencement of the spring of 1773, and the ensuing month of September, they penetrated thirty feet into the solid rock. The rock was blasted with great difficulty, and the vein, which, at the beginning, was of the breadth of four feet, had in the progress contracted into four inches. Under these circumstances we desisted, and carried the miners back to the Sault. What copper-ore we had collected we sent to England; but, the next season, we were informed that the partners there declined entering into farther expenses. In the interim, we had carried the miners along the north shore, as far as the river Pic, making, however, no discovery of importance. This year, therefore, 1774, Mr. Baxter disposed of the sloop, and other effects of the company and paid its debts.
"The partners in England were His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, Mr. Secretary Townshend, Sir Samuel Tutchet, Baronet; Mr. Baxter, counsel of the Empress of Russia; and Mr. Cruickshank; in America, Sir William John, Baronet; Mr. Bostwick, Mr. Baxter and myself. A charter had been petitioned for, and obtained; but, owing to our ill success, it was never taken from the seal office."
The failure of this enterprise is ascribed by the best authorities not to any mismanagement, but to the extreme difficulties of forwarding supplies, especially provisions, to the miners. But that the project was born out of due time would at all events have been soon demonstrated by what Carver calls "the distracted situation of affairs" -- meaning the outbreak of the Revolutionary war. No doubt the sloop fell into the hands of fur traders.
When the military possession of the Northwest passed from France to Great Britain in 1760, the Hudson Bay Company, which had been chartered by Parliament as early as 1670, acquired an almost exclusive monopoly of the fur trade. Its success excited the envy of other capitalists, and in 1783 the Northwest Fur Company was organized at Quebec, and established its posts at various points on the upper lakes and throughout the interior. The new company, contrary to the custom of the older one, employed voyageurs for its extended trade, and soon diminished the profits of the Hudson Bay Company. Other organizations were formed, among them an association of British merchants called the Mackinaw Company, which became a successful rival to the older companies.
An interesting account of the fur trade under the English regime was written in 1801 by Alexander Mackenzie, who in 1789 and in 1793 made voyages from Montreal through the continent of North America "to the frozen and Pacific oceans." The fur trade from the earliest settlement of Canada, he says, was considered of the first importance to that colony. But the coureurs de Bois, or early fur peddlers, by their degenerate life so brought Christianity into disrepute that on the complaint of the missionaries trading with the Indians without a license was forbidden. These licenses, at first bestowed upon officers, gradually extended to others, and the proposed reformation of conduct was only temporary.
The English fur trade began properly from Michilimackinac in 1766, and soon extended far up into the northwest, into territory into which the French had already penetrated. The rivalry was bitter, and the dissensions destroyed mercantile success for a number of years. In 1783-84 the merchants of Canada formed the Northwest Company, divided into sixteen shares, afterwards greatly increased. In 1788 its business amounted to $200,000; in 1799, $600,000. The produce during the latter year consisted of the following fur and peltries; 106,000 beaver skins; 2,100 bear skins; 1,500 fox skins; 4,000 kitt fox skins; 4,600 otter skins; 17,000 musquash skins; 32,000 marten skins; 1,800 mink skins; 6,000 lynx skins; 600 wolverine skins; 1650 fisher skins; 100 raccoon skins; 3,800 wolfskins; 700 elk skins; 750 deer skins; 1,200 deer skins, dressed; 500 buffalo robes and a quantity of castoreum.
The company employed fifty clerks, seventy-one interpreters and clerks, 1,120 canoe men and thirty-five guides. The canoe men were of two descriptions, foremen and steersmen, and middlemen. The first two were allowed annually 1,200 and the latter 400 livres each. The first class of people were hired at Montreal five months before they set out, and received their equipments and one-third of their wages in advance. The journey was commenced with eight or ten men in each canoe, and their baggage; and 65 packages of goods, 600 weight of biscuit, 200 weight of pork, three bushels of peas, for the men's provisions, two oil cloths to cover the goods, a sail, etc., an axe, a towing line, a kettle and a sponge to bail out the water, with a quantity of gum, bark and watope to repair the vessel. "An European," says Mr. Mackenzie," on seeing one of these slender vessels thus laden, heaped up and sunk with her gunwale within six inches of the water, would think his fate inevitable in such a boat, when he reflected on the nature of her voyage; but the Canadians are so expert that few accidents happen."
The route from Montreal was usually by way of Lake Nipissing, but the Northwest Company in 1799 had two vessels upon Lakes Erie and Huron, and one on Lake Superior of from 50 to 70 tons burden. The fleets of canoes which thus reached the St. Mary's river were placed in charge of half the crews, and the others were sent to Michilimackinac for additional canoes. The usual voyage from the Sault was up the north shores of Lake Superior to Grand Portage, whence the traders continued far up into the interior of what is now British North America.
Narrating the gossip at the North West House, Sault Ste. Marie, December 28, 1822, Schoolcraft relates the following: "Conversation turned, as might have been expected, upon the topic of the fur trade, and the enterprising men who established, or led to the establishment of the Northwest Company. Todd, Mackenzie and M'Gillvray were respectively described. Todd was a merchant of Montreal, an Irishman by birth, who possessed enterprise, courage, address and general information. He paved the way for the establishment of the company, and was one of the first partners, but died untimely. He possessed great powers of memory. His cousin, Don Andrew Todd, had the monopoly of the fur trade of Louisiana; M'Gillvray possessed equal capacity for the trade with Todd, united in enjoying gentlemanly manners. He introduced that feature in the company which makes every clerk, at a certain time, a partner. This first enabled them to successfully combat the Hudson Bay Company. His passions, however, carried him too far, and he was sometimes unjust. Sir Alexander Mackenzie was at variance with M'Gillvray, and they never spoke in each other's praise. Mackenzie commanded great respect from all classes, and possessed a dignity of manners and firmness of purpose, which fitted him for great undertakings. He established the X. Y. Company in opposition to the Northwest."
When the Northwest Fur Company was organized in 1783, one of their first endeavors was to secure a decked vessel on the chief lake. With this view, in 1784, they petitioned the military governor of Canada for permission to build a vessel at Detroit, to be sent early in the spring to the Sault for the purpose of getting her up the falls and to be employed on Lake Superior. Their petition was promptly granted and a schooner named the Beaver was constructed. Her dimensions were: Keel, thirty-four feet, beam thirteen, and hold four feet; cost ?1,843, 13 s., 2 d. She arrived at the foot of the Soo in May, 1785. For some unexplained reason, however, it proved impossible to bring her then over the portage.
It is supposed that the Beaver was either taken over another season or that some similar craft was constructed on Lake Superior. The headquarters of the Northwest Company were established about thirty miles west of Port Arthur. The spot was called Grand Portage because by a land-carriage of nine miles from that point goods reached navigable water on Pigeon river. Through this stream, and others interlocking, they could be transported in canoes to many posts, intercepting Indian trade, which had before gone to Hudson Bay.
Harmon, a Vermont boy, who had enlisted in the fur company's service, and had made his way to the Sault in thirty-three days from Montreal in May, 1800, describes the company's vessel. At Pine Point he inspected the Lake Superior craft, and was informed by the captain that she would carry as many as ninety-five tons, and that she made four or five trips to Grand Portage every season. A sawmill at the Sault was preparing lumber for her to transport, and a canal had been cut on the Canadian side so that loaded canoes might need no portage for conveying their freight to the vessel. In 1798 the Northwest Company had had a British garrison for a decade at Grand Portage; they had in their pay 1,205 employes; and as no crops were raised at their posts they were forced to carry food as well as other supplies over the lake. The Speedwell was afloat here in 1789, and flying the flag of their most formidable competitor, the Hudson Bay Company.
The rivalry of the competing fur corporations was fierce. It could not have been long after the Hudson Bay men hoisted their banner on the Speedwell before a rival vessel had been constructed for the Northwesters.
Fur trading was also conducted during the English period on the other lakes. During the latter part of the eighteenth century the fur trade was actively carried on on the Cuyahoga, one of the traders engaged therein being Joseph Du Shattar, who was for many years in the employ of the Northwestern Fur Company. After his marriage with Mary Pornay, of Detroit, he had a post of his own on the Cuyahoga river, nine miles above its mouth.
In 1786 a Pittsburg firm named Duncan & Wilson, made a contract with Caldwell & Elliott, of Detroit, to deliver at their agency, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga river, a quantity of flour and dried meats, which was carried on the backs of ninety pack horses over that distance, the expedition being in charge of thirty men. This train forded the river Cuyahoga at Tinker's creek, and passed down the west side by a small log cabin which, according to Col. James Hillman, of Youngstown, had then lately been abandoned by a trader named Maginnis. Upon reaching the mouth of the Cuyahoga river they were met by an Englishman named Howder, who came forward to meet them and receive the goods. No one else was then anywhere to be found in this vicinity. A cabin was erected at a spring which emerged from the roots of a tree standing on the east side of the river by an Indian trail, near the present foot of Superior street, Cleveland. At that time some of the freight for Detroit went forward by land, and some by the vessel Mackinaw.
During the interval between 1774 and the Revolutionary war a few vessels appeared on the Great Lakes. The fur trade expanded and the English dominion, and the little fleet of sailing vessels was used mainly in the fur trade, in carrying stores to the military posts, and as ships of war.
After the conquest of Canada, all the French vessels, that had not been sunk, were surrendered to the English. Two were destroyed in the small bay on the west side of Carlton's island in the St. Lawrence river, where their remains were visible until recently. While no regular sailing vessels were put on Lake Erie by the French, after the loss of the Griffin, yet many of their bateaux, particularly those built between 1750 and 1760, were of large size, capable of transporting troops, and they are sometimes spoken of as vessels in history.
The two small vessels, Beaver and Glad-wyn, which proved so valuable to the besieged garrison at Detroit in 1763, are supposed to have been built by the English the year previous. It is related that through the refusal of her captain to take ballast aboard, the Gladwyn was caught in a squall on Lake Erie, and the entire crew lost.
Carver relates that in June, 1768, he left Michilimackinac in the Gladwyn, a schooner of about 80 tons burden, and returned over Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair, where he left the ship and proceeded by boat to Detroit.
The sloop Beaver was lost at Cat Fish creek, fourteen miles up Lake Erie. This vessel, in company with the Gladwyn, which was built in 1763, at the military post of Fort Erie, left Detroit August 13, 1763, to procure troops and supplies for the fort, then besieged by Pontiac, arriving at Fort Erie on the 22d of the same month. The Beaver was wrecked August 28, with the loss of all her guns and also all of her cargo, except 185 barrels of provisions which were taken by the Gladwyn to Detroit, where she arrived September 3 with a cargo of 160 barrels of pork, and 47 barrels of flour, which had come to Fort Erie from New York by way of Oswego and Niagara, being carried round the Falls by Stedman.
In 1764 three new boats appeared on the lakes -- the Victory, the Boston and the Royal Charlotte. This year the Gladwyn made one trip to Mackinac, and the other three each made four trips between Fort Erie and Detroit, delivering at Fort Erie 1,464 bales of furs. In 1767 the Brunswick made her appearance on the lakes, and in 1769 the Enterprise was built at Detroit, by Phyn & Ellice, of Schenectady, and Sterling & Portens, of Detroit. In May, 1770, the Charity, of 70 tons, was launched at Niagara, and was for some years employed on Lake Ontario in conveying stores to Edward Pollard, sutler at Niagara, and flour for the use of the garrison at that point. In 1772 this vessel did not earn enough to pay her crew. In 1771, an addition was made to the vessels afloat by the appearance of the Chippewa and Lady Charlotte, and the Beaver (2nd), the latter being a new vessel belonging to Commodore Grant. In May of that year she was lost near Sandusky with her cargo, valued at $3,000, and her entire crew of seventeen men. The sloop Betsey was built a little earlier than this year, for it is said of her that in 1772 she had been on the lakes three seasons. There was one other vessel afloat at this time, named the Muska-nungee.
In 1778 the British brig-of-war General Gage arrived at Detroit, after a four-days' passage from Buffalo. At that time, on account of the Revolutionary war, it is said that only government vessels were allowed on the lakes.
From 1771 to 1779 nine vessels were built at Detroit by the English government. They were as follows: Schooner Hope, 81 tons, built in 1771; sloop Angelica, 66 tons, built in 1771; brig Gage, 154 tons, built in 1772; schooner Dunmore, 106 tons, built in 1772; sloop Felicity, 55 tons, built in 1774; schooner Faith, 61 tons, built in 1774; sloop Adventure, 34 tons, built in 1776; sloop Wyandotte, 47 tons, built in 1779. During the Revolutionary war the Gage carried 14 guns, and the Faith, 10 guns.
During the Revolutionary war the English government built several vessels on Lake Ontario, one of the largest of which appears to have been the Ontario, built to carry 22 guns. This vessel was lost in a fearful gale on the lake about the year 1780, while proceeding from Niagara to Oswego with a detachment of the 8th King's Own Regiment, commanded by Colonel Burton, the commander and all his men, no less than 172 persons in all, being lost in the storm. In 1788 a survey of all the lakes and harbors from Kingston to Mackinac was made by the deputy surveyor-general, J. Collins, under instructions from Lord Dorchester, Mr. Collins in his report expressing his views as to the kind of vessels that should be built for service on the lakes. These views would hardly be accepted in full at the present day. He thought that for Lake Ontario, vessels should be from 80 to 100 tons burden, and on Lake Erie and Lake Huron they should be of about 15 tons if they were intended to communicate between these two lakes. But at the same time he thought they should be built upon the proper principles for burden as well as sailing.
In 1793 Captain Bouchette had entire command of the naval forces on Lake Ontario, and it was his son, Joseph, that made the first survey of the harbor of Toronto in 1793. It was in May of this year that Lieut.-Governor Simcoe, accompanied by several military gentlemen, set out from Newark in boats for Toronto. In the evening of May 3, His Majesty's vessels, the Caldwell and Buffalo, sailed from Newark for the same destination. Returning, the lieutenant-governor and his party reached Navy Hall, at Newark, on May 13.
There was then on the lake a vessel named the Onondaga, an armed schooner belonging to the British, also the Lady Dorchester and the Mohawk. It was upon the Mohawk that the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, was conveyed from Kingston to Niagara, the Mohawk being in command of Captain Bouchette. The Duke's party started in this journey up Lake Ontario from Ogdensburg, then called Os-wegatchen, and stopped at Kingston and Toronto, on their way to Navy Hall, at Newark, then the residence of his Excellency Sir John Graves Simcoe.
It was in this year that the merchantman, named the York, constructed at York in 1792, first appeared on Lake Ontario, and there was also a vessel named the Miss-isaga, which aided in carrying the Queen's Rangers from Queenston to York in the latter part of July, 1793. In 1795 there was a quick-sailing vessel on Lake Ontario named the Sophia, which in May of that year accomplished the trip from Kingston to Niagara in eighteen hours.
During the Revolutionary War the Great Lakes remained in the possession of Great Britain. The importance of Detroit was appreciated by the American statesmen, and several expeditions to attempt its capture were proposed. Washington wished its capitulation. In January, 1779, when an expedition under General Mclntosh was under consideration, he inquired of Colonel Broadhead the best time to make the attack, and suggested the winter, inasmuch as the British could not then use their naval force on Lake Erie. No attempt, however, was made. Governor Hamilton, in command at Detroit, made several expeditions against Colonial interests, and in one of them, against George Rogers Clark at Vin-cennes, was captured with his whole command. Hamilton was sent to Virginia, a prisoner of war.
One event of interest during the Revolutionary war was the capture of the English fort at St. Joseph. While the American colonies were struggling for their independence Spain made an attack in the rear, from the lower Mississippi Valley, which it then controlled. A military expedition was sent from St. Louis across the States of Illinois and Indiana to St. Joseph, Mich., a small post then held by British soldiers. The post quickly capitulated, and the flag of Castile waved unquestioned for a few days in the wilds of Michigan. By that act the prairies of Illinois became Spanish possessions, and the command of Lake Michigan fell from British hands to the mercies of the Dons.
This interesting event occurred early in the year 1781. It had by that time become apparent to the powers of Europe that the American colonies would achieve their independence, and the very important question arose what territory should be transferred to the new nation born on the wild western continent. France was still smarting under the loss of Canada, and of the Great Lakes eighteen years earlier. Spain was yet an aggressive explorer, and both nations indulged hopes of territorial gain when the terms of the American treaty would be arranged.
It was, doubtless, with this aim in view that the little Spanish post at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers received instructions from the King of Spain to acquire some color of title to the fertile lands and the great inland waters lying west of the Alleghany Mountains. These instructions must have been urgent, for they were carried out in the dead of winter and in the face of great difficulties.
The expedition, which left St. Louis January 2, 1781, consisted of sixty-five militia and sixty Indians. Of the militia thirty were Spaniards and thirty-five were probably French traders, whose sympathies and interests were then with Spain rather than with England. The Indians, according to Spanish authorities, were of the nations "Otaguis, Sotu and Putuami." In the last named may be easily recognized the Pottawatomies, whose children it was, perhaps, who massacred the American soldiers and settlers at Fort Dearborn thirty-one years later.
Don Eugenio Purre had charge of the expedition. Don Carlos Tayon was second in command, and with them was Don Luis Chevalier, "a man well versed in the language of the Indians." This Chevalier was, doubtless, the Louis Chevelier, a French trader who narrowly escaped death when the savages, during Pontiac's war in 1763, captured the English post at St. Joseph and massacred eleven of its fourteen occupants. He was versed not only in the language of the Indians, but in their weaknesses, and was a master of diplomacy in negotiations with the unlettered tribes. His services were especially valuable, for the incursion to the lake country was to be made through the hunting grounds of Indians friendly to the English. Their neutrality must be purchased, for upon that neutrality hinged the success of the expedition. An inkling of the lavish hand with which this nonintervention was to be purchased is presented in the Spanish official account of the journey. Each of the militiamen was "obliged to carry provisions for his own subsistence, and various merchandises which were necessary to content, in case of need, the barbarous nations through whom they were obliged to cross. The commander, by seasonable negotiations and precautions, prevented a considerable body of Indians, who were at the devotion of the English, from opposing this expedition," Not only was there a liberal distribution of gifts among the Indians, but a share of the goods to the captured at the fort was promised in the event of success. "Two great chiefs, Elu-turno and Naquigen," were also members of the expedition.
"The distance from St. Louis to St. Joseph was 220 leagues." The weather was severe and the party suffered "the greatest inconvenience from cold and hunger." It is a matter of some surprise that authorities do not agree upon the site of St. Joseph. La Salle, in 1679, had established a post at the mouth of St. Joseph river, and this location for Fort St. Joseph is given by Parkman, by Dillon's history of Indiana, 1843 edition, and by other historians. Charlevoix, who visited the post in 1721, places it about thirty miles up the river, near the present city of Niles, Mich. English and French maps also give the interior location. But whichever site was correct, it commanded lake Michigan for the puny craft that then sailed its stormy waters.
The fort fell without resistance. There were only a few English soldiers present. They were perhaps surprised, through the golden sealing of savage lips, until it was too late to receive re-enforcements from Detroit. True to their promises -- for there was a return journey to be made -- the spoils of the fort were divided among the Indians who accompanied the expedition, and those through whose lands the Spaniards had marched. Commandant Purre unfurled the Spanish flag above the fort. It was the first and last time the gold and crimson banner waved in the region of the Great Lakes. And the time was brief, too. Fearing an attack from Detroit, Don Purre, after a few days' rest, destroyed all stores that had not been taken by his Indian allies, and began the return trip. It is conjectured that he took the same route by which he had advanced, crossing the portage from the St. Joseph to the Kankakee perhaps at or near South Bend, Ind., and retreating in a southwesterly course across the State of Illinois. He took with him the British flag which he had captured at St. Joseph, and presented it with fitting ceremonies to Don Francisco Cruvat, Spanish governor at St. Louis.
Franklin and his confreres representing the American colonies at the peace deliberations then progressing at Paris proved equal to the situation. Spain and France were actively seeking to pen up the American colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, and to that end sought the co-operation of Great Britain. But the latter country judged that her claim upon the western domain between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi river would be better ceded to the colonies than left to the machinations of her European rivals, and quietly negotiated the basis for a treaty with the United States by which center lines through the Great Lakes and through the Mississippi river were made the respective northern and western boundaries of the new nation. And thus the shadow of Spain was by shrewd diplomacy removed from the prairies of Illinois and from the mastery of Lake Michigan.
One of the most important questions to be settled at the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States, negotiated at Paris in 1782, was the boundary lines of the liberated colonies on the north and west. The importance, so far as it relates to the Great Lakes, was almost infinitely less appreciated then than it would be now. Questions like the fisheries at Newfoundland received greater consideration.
Various lines of boundary had been proposed. Congress, in 1779, in its instructions to John Adams, then on a mission to England to negotiate a treaty of peace, insisted upon a line passing from the St. Lawrence to the mouth of Lake Nipissing, and thence in a straight line to the source of the Mississippi. This would have given the United States the whole of Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and a portion of the southern shores of Lake Superior. Adams' mission was unsuccessful, but when in 1782 negotiations were opened, the same boundary was proposed by Franklin, Adams and Jay, the American commissioners.
Mr. Oswald, who represented Great Britain, was disposed at first to concede this boundary; but complications arose. The settlement of the boundaries became a European question. France and Spain at their own election became parties to the proceedings. Spain during the Revolutionary war had extended her Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi river possessions, by capturing several British outposts on its upper waters. She laid claim to the whole Mississippi river system. France aided her, and was desirous, for reasons best known to herself, to confine the western boundary of the United States to the Alleghany Mountains. Perhaps she had hopes of regaining from England the province of Canada, lost less than twenty years before. France had lent her valuable aid to the struggling colonies, not because she loved them, but because she hated England. By the treaty, negotiated in 1778 between France and the colonies, it was stipulated that neither should make peace with Great Britain except with the consent of the other. France was, therefore, in a position to closely follow, and in a measure influence the negotiations pending between the United States and Great Britain.
Franklin suggested that Great Britain cede to the United States the whole of Canada. The proposition was at first not received with disfavor by Mr. Oswald, and he communicated it to the British ministers; but this proposition was not strenuously urged. Count de Aranda, the Spanish embassador at the French court, had been empowered to arrange a treaty with the United States; but his boundary lines, excluding the United States from territory west of Erie, Penn., and south of the chain of lakes, prevented for years a treaty of peace with that country. France supported Spain in its claims, and when negotiations were broken off with Spain turned attention to the English treaty, and sought to similarly influence Great Britain to limit the territory of the colonies.
When other questions had been settled, the American commissioners made to England two alternative propositions, respecting the northwest country. One fixed the boundary at the forty-fifth parallel of latitude from the St. Lawrence westward, giving to the United States all of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and the southern portions of Lakes Huron and Michigan, and to Great Britain all of Lake Superior and the upper portions of Lakes Huron and Michigan.
The other proposition was to make the boundary the middle of the chain of lakes, "through Lake Superior northward of the isles Royal and Philipeaux to the Long Lake." Either of these two lines was more favorable to Great Britain than that originally proposed via Lake Nipissing, and the alternative was offered as a recompense for conceding the Mississippi as the western boundaries of the colonies. Thus all British claims to the western country would be extinguished. Fortunately, perhaps, for both countries, the British ministers chose the line through the lakes. It gave Canada a water frontage on the four lakes, and perhaps Great Britain may have dreamed of regaining possession of the United States, and considered the western country more likely to be hers if left in possession of the colonies than if practically surrendered to Spain. But so certain was this western and northern boundary to receive strong opposition from France, and perchance delay the signing of the treaties, that the provisions were incorporated into a secret article, and were not communicated to France until after the treaties had been signed. "The game for despoiling the young Republic of one-half her territorial heritage was effectually blocked," says Mr. Hinsdale in the "Old Northwest." "Vergennes (the French commissioner) bitterly reproached Franklin for the course that he and his associates had followed, and Franklin replied, making such defense as he could, admitting no more than that a point of bienseance had been neglected. The American Congress and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs at first were also disposed to blame the commissioners; but so anxious was the country for peace, and so much more favorable were the terms obtained than had been expected that murmurs of dissatisfaction soon gave place to acclaims of gratification and delight. The preamble of the treaty contained the saving clause that it should not go into effect until France and England came to an understanding, a fact the astute Franklin did not fail to press upon the attention of the irate Vergennes. However, that condition was soon fulfilled and general peace assured."
The Treaty of Paris was signed September 3, 1783. That portion of the secret article, defining the boundaries between the United States and Canada, which related to the Great Lakes, was as follows: By a line due west on the forty-fifth degree of north latitude "until it strikes the Iroquois or Cat-araquy (the St. Lawrence) river; thence along the middle of said river into Lake Ontario, through the middle of said lake until it strikes the communication by water between that lake and Lake Erie; thence along the middle of said communication into Lake Erie; through the middle of said lake until it arrives at the water communication between that lake and Lake Huron; thence along the middle of said water communication into Lake Huron; thence through the middle of said lake to the water communication between that lake and Lake Superior; thence through Lake Superior northward of the Isles Royal and Philipeaux to the Long Lake; thence through the middle of said Long Lake and the water communication between it and the Lake of the Woods to the said Lake of the Woods."
By this treaty Great Britain acknowledged the United States to be free, sovereign and independent states, and the Crown relinquished for himself, his heirs and successors "all claims to the government, propriety and territorial right of the same and every part thereof."
In July, 1783, Washington sent Baron Steuben to Canada with a commission to receive from the British commander, General Haldimand, possession of Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Mackinaw and other minor fortified posts. Haldimand replied that he had received no instructions to surrender these posts, and that he could not even discuss the question with his visitor.
"The refusal of England to surrender so much of the northwest as remained in her hands at the close of the war," says Hinsdale in "The Old Northwest," "is a very striking proof of the reluctance with which she consented to the northwestern boundaries." When Baron Steuben went to Canada to receive this surrender, "there was no reason for retaining the posts consistent with national good faith; afterward the British government alleged as a reason the non-fulfillment by this country of certain stipulations of the treaty of peace. For thirteen years the northwestern posts were sharp thorns in the sides of the United States. No doubt England had some reason to complain of the United States for the imperfect fulfillment of the treaty of 1783; but her retention of the posts, so calamitous in results to the growing western settlements, was largely due to the lingering hope that the young republic would prove a failure, and to a determination to share in the expected spoil. The fact is, neither England nor Spain regarded the Treaty of Paris as finally settling the destiny of the country west of the Mountains."
Other American Writers take the Opposite View. -- "It is not to be understood," said George T. Clark, of Oswego, " that Great Britain wilfully continued her possession of the posts. In November, 1792, Jefferson, then Secretary of State, formally opened the subject of the violation of the seventh article of the treaty by the retention of the posts, with Hammond, the English envoy to this country. The explanation came quickly that the King, his master, had suspended that article because of the failure of Congress to prevent the hindrance of British creditors in collecting their debts, and because estates confiscated from the Tories had not been restored. The charge was true. Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina had everyone enacted statutes blocking the machinery of the law against English creditors. To the other charge of failure to restore the confiscated Tory estates, Jefferson replied that the only engagement had been to recommend a restoration of the estates, not to restore them. The claim was made at the time that English handlers of the profitable fur trade influenced the British ministry to delay a settlement whilst they were enjoying what was naturally the business of Americans. It was also charged that the well-known feebleness of the infant nation to enforce reprisals contented England with the situation in which things were. Still another cause assigned was the purpose of the British to compel the alliance of the Indians through the threat implied in the possession of the frontier posts."
The relations between the United States and Great Britain were strained during the years following 1783. The British government retained armed possession of territory south of the boundary line on the shores of the lakes until 1796, maintaining forts and garrisons at Oswego, Lewiston, Schlosser, Fort Miami on the Maumee river ten miles south of Toledo, and at Detroit. The use of the Great Lakes was thus entirely prohibited to the United States and its people. To make an approach to the Niagara river as disagreeable and unsafe as possible, Indians, who were then under the influence of the British government, were instructed that if they found any strange men traveling over the country to treat them as deserters from the British army, to arrest them and bring them into the fort, unless they could show the commander's pass, a large wax impression on a card, which was distributed among the Indians.
The Republicans in Congress April 21, 1794, moved to suspend all commercial intercourse with Great Britain until the frontier posts were given up. Washington resisted the popular clamor, and thus wrote to the Senate: "As peace ought to be preserved with unremitted zeal before the last recourse, which has so often been the scourge of nations, and cannot fail to check the advancing prosperity of the United States, is contemplated, I have thought proper to nominate, and I do hereby nominate John Jay as envoy extraordinary of the United States to his Britannic majesty." Jay knew the unpopularity of his mission, but accepted the personal sacrifice for the good of the country. He sailed May 12, 1794. Affairs were rapidly approaching war, but the celebrated Jay's Treaty, signed at London November 19, 1794, averted a catastrophe. By its terms the United States undertook to compensate British creditors. British troops were to withdraw from all territories in the United States on June 1, 1796.
When this treaty reached Congress for ratification a bitter and protracted discussion followed. Maritime affairs on the high seas and other coast matters formed the chief subjects for animated debate, but the Great Lakes were not entirely neglected. The treaty was finally ratified by a very close vote.
Posts Surrendered. -- Two years later, in 1796, the stipulations of the treaty were fully acted upon, and on the 4th of July, 1796, the British troops were withdrawn from Fort Niagara, Lewiston and Schlosser, and it was just a week later that Capt. Moses Porter, with sixty-five men from Fort Miami, took possession of Detroit. Fort Mackinaw was surrendered a little later.
On the surrender of Fort Mackinac to the Americans, the British repaired to the island of St. Joseph, some twenty miles above Detour in the St. Mary's river. The fort which they here constructed was garrisoned, at the commencing of the war, by a small body of regulars under the command of Captain Roberts.
The islands in the Niagara river were claimed and held by Great Britain until the making and signing of the Treaty of Ghent in December, 1814, by which it was provided that a survey of the whole boundary line from the eastern end thereof to the northwestern corner of the Lake of the Woods should be made, and as it was determined that through the Niagara river the boundary should follow the deepest channel,
The line from St. Lawrence to the foot of St. Mary's river was established in 1823 by joint commission under the Treaty of Ghent; the line from the foot of the St. Mary's to the northwesternmost point of the Lake of the Woods, by the Webster-Ash-burton Treaty in 1842.
Return to Home Port
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.