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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 16, No. 4
December, 1938
THE CHICKASAW THREAT TO FRENCH CONTROL OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE 1740's1

By
NORMAN W. CALDWELL

Page 465

The first approach of the French to the Mississippi Valley was from the north, and it was not until after 1717 when the settlements in the Illinois country were placed under Law's monopoly and consequently under the Louisiana regime that the Mississippi River assumed its place as the natural highway into the interior of the continent.2 Each year there was sent up from New Orleans the government's convoy consisting of several large batteaux, each manned by a score or more men, a number of smaller boats called pirogues, carrying eight or nine men, and various craft belonging to private traders sent along with the convoy for protection. However, in times of quiet private convoys might make the journey alone. This yearly fleet carried up to the interior posts supplies for the soldiers, presents for the savages, and goods for the post and Indian trade. Soldiers accompanied the boats to guard against hostile Indian attacks; while negro slaves pulled the heavy boats against the current or cordelled them with ropes over the shoals and sand bars. Leaving New Orleans in August the party made its way slowly against the current, plagued by clouds of mosquitoes and attacks of dysentery. Sometimes a delay in the arrival of the King's supply ships might necessitate postponing the departure of the convoy as was the case in 1743 when the boats did not leave New Orleans until January of the following year. If all went well the Illinois settlements would be reached within





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three months. The descent from the Illinois was usually begun in April, only a fortnight being required for the journey.3

Of all the difficulties encountered in communicating with the interior, the greatest was found in the danger from attacks by hostile savages who lurked along the shores of the great river ever ready to despoil the white men of their scalps and valuable goods. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss relations between the French and the various Indian tribes in this period with special emphasis on the Chickasaw and their threat to the Mississippi trade route. Using material from the Archives Nationales as well as from a recently discovered letter book containing numerous letters and despatches of Governor Vaudreuil and his officers and post commandants,4 we for the first time have material for an adequate understanding of this period so important to French hegemony in the Mississippi valley.

The chief southern tribes were the Creeks, the Catawba, the Cherokee, the Chickasaw, and the Choctaw.5 The most numerous of these were the Cherokee who were said to have had as many as 6000 warriors at this time. They were located in the region about the headwaters of the Tennessee River, and ranged as far east as the Carolinas and also down the Tennessee toward the Ohio. Although closely bound to the English, they were not of such fero-







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cious and warlike spirit as the Chickasaw and others. Next came the Chickasaw who lived in the Yazoo country. Though once very powerful, they had lately been greatly reduced in numbers through wars with the French and their Indian allies, especially the Choctaw. In 1746, it was estimated that they had only 600 warriors left. Along the gulf region and ranging into the Alabama uplands were the Choctaw tribes,—able to muster 4000 warriors and "tres affectionee" to the French. Chiefly to the east of the Choctaw were located several tribes, among whom were the Alabama, the Abeka, and the Talapoucha, estimated to have altogether about 2000 fighting men; loosely attached to the French and allies of the Choctaw, they nevertheless were susceptible to English intrigue as we shall notice further on. At the mouth of the Arkansas River on the west bank of the Mississippi lived the Arkansas Indians, small in number, but much devoted to the French.6

Of all these tribes, the Chickasaw gave the French most trouble. Hereditary enemies of the Choctaw, they necessarily became the enemies of the allies of that nation, and being located near the upper Yazoo and the lower Tennessee, their raiding parties formed a spear point which threatened to sever the French line of communication with the Illinois. As early as 1721 La Harpe had recognized their threat to the safety of the water route and had recommended strengthening Arkansas Post for protecting it. In 1731 the Chickasaw had given asylum to the remnant of the Natchez, who were seeking a place of refuge from the attempts of the French to exterminate them. Again, in 1736 they had disastrously defeated the French when the latter had attempted to conquer them. The defeat and death of the young Dartaguette in that year, and the subsequent defeat and discomfiture of Bienville7 himself left the French smarting for revenge. The Louisiana Governor had much at stake, his reputation having suffered by such a defeat, due, as many claimed, to his slowness of movement, and his con-





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sequent failure to contact the Illinois officer at the time agreed upon. So, Bienville, anxious to remove such a stain from his long record of service, planned to make a new campaign as soon as possible. In the meantime the Chickasaw were being harassed from the north and from the south by the French Indian allies.

Early in 1738, Bienville found the Choctaw and their allies growing weary of the war, and it was rumored that they had begun to negotiate with the Chickasaw for a cessation of hostilities. To checkmate this movement the Governor planned to renew the struggle in the following year by collecting an overwhelming force of French and Indians which would finally crush the Chickasaw power. Assured of troops from France for this undertaking, he also got the Canadian Governor to gather a large force of both French and savages.8 The rendezvous agreed upon was at Fort L'Assomption on the Mississippi and the time fixed as the autumn of 1739.9

By June, 1739, the Canadians were ready; the expedition under the command of Baron Longueuil left in that month for Lake Erie. Second in command was the Sieur de Celoron, commandant at Michilimakinac, who had brought down to Montreal a large force of Ottawa and Nepissing.10 The entire Canadian force numbered 442 men. In passing by the south shore of Lake Ontario, however, about seventy of the Abenaki and some of the Iroquois, influenced by brandy procured at Oswego, deserted.11 Additional









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Indians to replace these were probably enlisted as the expedition made its way down the Ohio river. Leaving Lake Erie early in August, the expedition made its way over the portage to the headwaters of the Allegheny and thence down to the Ohio over the same route to be followed by Celoron's Ohio expedition a decade later. Thus set forth the Canadian party for revenge on the Chickasaw, the Cadet de Richarville who had been with Dartaguette on the disastrous campaign of 1736 accompanying the expedition with a special taste for that revenge.12

Bienville, after a very late start, left New Orleans in the middle of September with over a hundred French and Swiss soldiers and about eighty negroes.13 Misfortune dogged him from the start. By the time he had reached the settlement at La Pointe Coupee, a score or more of the men were sick, and the number increased as they advanced. Including delays at Natchez and at the Arkansas Post where several days were spent trading while heavy rains fell, it was November 13 when they reached the rendezvous. Longueuil and his force had arrived some time before. There, too, was La Buissoniere, the Illinois commandant, with his force of thirty-eight soldiers, forty-eight habitants, and two hundred savages. Bienville estimated the number of savages with Longueuil and others not counting this group from the Illinois at 550. The Governor found these savages impatient with the long delay, and he promised them that they should proceed against the enemy within three weeks. There had also been sent from the Illinois about one hundred and fifty head of cattle and fifty horses, while more horses were gathered from the settlements below. Flour and bacon were also sent from the Illinois.

From the beginning Bienville showed indecision and lack of ability to plan a campaign. The force having been collected, the supplies were not all at hand, and the horses upon which the trans-





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port depended were either not yet arrived or else were starving for want of forage. Then, too, no plan of advance had been formed beforehand, and a force had to be sent out to lay out routes of transport into the Yazoo valley, which was flooded by the prevailing heavy rains. The weather continued to grow worse as the season advanced, and the sick list also increased. Worse than this, the men grew restless with inaction. When a drunk Canadian killed a Pottawatomi chief, serious trouble was narrowly averted. The lack of transport was ever the cause of the daily procrastination on the part of the leader. To carry food and military supplies for over a thousand French and negroes, not counting the Indian allies, was no easy task. Then, too, there was the artillery which Bienville had brought along to make a special impression on the Chickasaw.

At this juncture, Bienville seems to have concluded that negotiations would be a better way to end the war than making a campaign. By a party sent out in January under Ce'loron, he offered the enemy terms, seeking at the same time some knowledge of the terrain. The terms were briefly those which had been discussed at Mobile five years before,—that the Chickasaw were to agree to surrender or kill all the Natchez among them, and accept an alliance with the French. The Chickasaw naturally did not accept the French offer.

Late in January, Bienville made a half-hearted attempt to move forward in the midst of snow and rain. On the third day of the advance, a council was held, and it was decided to retreat, since the lack of transport did not allow the main force to move farther. The increasing desertion of the Indian allies made this decision the more imperative. However, Celoron and St. Pierre14 with some one hundred and fifty Canadians and as many savages went ahead into the Chickasaw country to attempt to make some stroke that would bring the enemy to terms. Leaving early in February, they pushed far into the Yazoo lands, and although there were one or two sharp skirmishes with the enemy, he could not be drawn into any important engagement. After conferences with some of the



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Chickasaw chiefs, Celoron also withdrew and followed the route of his deserting Indian allies back to his base.

Bienville in the meantime had sent back to New Orleans over a hundred officers and men, and most of the remaining negroes. Early in March, Ce'loron returned with a few prisoners and some Natchez whom the Chickasaw had delivered him. He had the promise of the enemy to make further deliveries and to treat in detail with the governor. From then until the first of April, Bienville negotiated with a few other Chickasaw chiefs who came to him at different times, seemingly having satisfied himself that these represented the will of their nation. They delivered a few of the Natchez and made promises of delivering the others. The army now broke up; the Canadians returned by the Illinois route, and Bienville and the remainder of his force dropped down the river to New Orleans, reaching that place on April 9.15

In the light of controversies that later arose, we would be glad to know more of Bienville's conferences with the Chickasaw before he left Ft. L'Assomption. Four Englishmen who came with the Chickasaw supposedly to recover some horses they claimed the French Indian allies had taken or stolen, seem to have come as observers of the negotiations. Having been seized by Bienville, they were eventually sent to France.16 Bienville as he withdrew burned both Ft. L'Assomption and Ft. St. Francis, acts which seem rather inexplicable unless he felt very certain that the peace he had made was to be a lasting one.17

The campaign over, the blame for its failure had to be fixed. Bienville was prone to blame the poor military showing to the conduct of the Canadian Indians, expressly that of the Iroquois, whom he accused of being full of pride and drunkenness. In answer to this, Hocquart made a very convincing statement when







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he said: "C'est beaucoup de les avoir contenus pendant cinq mois sans rien faire."18 M. Salmon sought to throw the blame on Ce'loron for entering into peace negotiations just as he was joined by a large force of Choctaw eager for action. He further blamed the Canadians for having sent the cattle and horses which had come from the Illinois some twenty-five leagues below the place of rendezvous, where they suffered for lack of forage, and from which place they had to be removed with considerable loss in December weather.19 Another Louisiana officer blamed the lateness of the campaign to the tardy arrival of the troops from France, the ships having reached New Orleans in the summer, which, added to the fatigues of the journey, had put a large number of the men out of condition to undertake a campaign immediately. Supplies which should have been sent up to the rendezvous ahead of the troops were also delayed unnecessarily.20 De Noailles, who commanded the forces sent from France, blamed Bienville for his lack of information on the terrain over which the campaign was waged. He also claimed that he had begged the governor to postpone the movement until spring on account of the floods prevailing in the Yazoo country.21

The matter finally simmered down to a controversy between the officials of Canada and Louisiana, each trying to blame the other for the fiasco, and each holding different views of the durability of the peace made with the Chickasaw. Neither side hesitated to recommend their officers who had taken part in the campaign for their "distinguished service,"22 and each side, defending themselves, sought to disparage the other.

Bienville admitted the peace was not so glorious as a victory of eclat would have been, but he argued it would be advantageous











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to the colony which needed rest.23 Nevertheless, there were those in Louisiana as well as in Canada who could not understand how peace with the Chickasaw was to fit in with French policy toward the Choctaw which had always been one of keeping the latter at war with the former. Then, too, had not the French just previously refused to allow the Choctaw and their allies to make peace with the Chickasaw?24 In Canada, the consensus of opinion was that Bienville had made peace with the Chickasaw only to veil his own defeat,25 while some would put it in stronger terms than this.26 Father Mercier, writing from the Illinois, dubbed it a "pretendue paix."27

But more serious than these criticisms were those which came from the Minister, especially when the expense accounts of the campaign came in. Canada had spent over 136,000 livres28 and the expenditures made in Louisiana totalled over 830,000.29 Bienville's attempts to explain away the huge consumptions of food, drink, and materials, could not quiet the Minister's insistence that corruption had existed.30 It was further alleged that the news of the inability of the French forces to chastise the Chickasaw had reacted so unfavorably in France that merchants no longer had any desire to invest in the exploitation and development of the colony's trade, fearing for the safety of their investments.31 In the face of



















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all this criticism, Bienville asked to be recalled from the field of his forty years of service.32

Time was soon to prove the peace Bienville had made, and the governor had scarcely returned to New Orleans when news came of a raid on a trading convoy on the Mississippi near the Illinois. Of twelve voyageurs, six negroes, and ten Indians in the party, only nine were saved.33 This affair caused great uneasiness in the Illinois country, and fears for the safety of the convoy for that year were entertained.34 At about the same time, the Illinois Indians were raided by a tribe thought to be Chickasaw or Cherokee, and several were taken or killed.35 Shortly afterward, a Canadian trading convoy returning from the Illinois, consisting of five pirogues, was attacked on the Ohio near the mouth of the Tennessee with the loss of all the boats and cargoes and eighteen lives, including those of a woman and two children. Only eight escaped, four of these being badly wounded.36

The following year brought other attacks of equal fury. In September, 1741, raids were made near La Pointe Coupée by Natchez or Chickasaw.37 A month later a pirogue with ten men was lost on the Mississippi near the mouth of the Ohio.38 Even the















Page 475

government's convoy was not spared, two of its boats being attacked, one of which was lost with its crew of eight.39

Bienville was loath to grant that these raids had been committed by the Chickasaw with whom he had made peace, and he alleged that if by chance they were implicated it was only to avenge themselves for the attacks made upon them by the Canadians and the northern Indians as they returned from the campaign of 1739-1740.40 But the Canadians who had had no faith in Bienville's peace from the beginning saw in these new raids full justification of their belief, and so continued the war on the Chickasaw.41 Bienville in the face of all this continued to defend his peace stoutly, though he admitted it would be bad policy to extend it to the Choctaw for fear that the English in time of peace would inevitably extend their influence into that nation.42 So, the old governor in self defense set about to prove that the peace he had made with the enemy was a real thing. This battle he fought almost alone, for the proof of the innocence of the Chickasaw was something most men did not care to consider. Nearly every officer in Louisiana as well as in Canada, was convinced that the Chickasaw were guilty of breaking the peace, or else that they had never entered into it as a nation in the first place.43











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At last things began to turn in Bienville's favor. In August, 1741, D'Ernéville, the commandant at the Alabama post, held a conference with some Choctaw chiefs. To this conference came also one of the same Chickasaw chiefs who had treated with Bienville at Ft. L'Assomption in 1740. He had with him some twenty other chiefs of his nation, and his request was that Bienville fulfil his promises made at Ft. L'Assomption to stop the Canadian nations from their attacks against his people. This chief further alleged that the Chickasaw were not guilty of the raids on the French convoys, especially that one on the Ohio in 1740, unless renegade Chickasaw might have taken part in them.44 Bienville had already learned that the Cherokee were guilty of the attack upon Turpin's voyageurs in May, 1740.45 In the case of the raid on the convoy in November, 1741, even Salmon had to own that the Chickasaw may not have been the guilty ones; and D'Ernéville from the Alabama post confirmed that the Cherokee had been sending parties toward the Mississippi and Ohio.46

By way of further justification of himself, Bienville also showed that much of the loss of the convoys which had been attacked had been due to carelessness and lack of discipline on the part of those charged with the commands.47 These facts were brought to light along with others still more convincing when two prisoners escaped from the Cherokee arrived in Louisiana in 1742. These men testified that they had seen among that nation









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captives taken in three of the raids made on the French convoys in 1740-1741. This evidence of the guilt of the Cherokee was so convincing that the opponents of the Governor were silenced.48

The news that the Cherokee were making raids on the French at once brought the latter face to face with a new Indian menace, and the situation seemed to demand immediate attention. It was learned that new attacks were threatened, both in the direction of the Wea post and on the Mississippi.49 Bienville strongly urged that the northern Indians make peace with the Cherokee, since this seemed to be their chief demand.50 But Beauharnois continued to consider the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Natchez as common enemies, and continued to harass them as per the Minister's orders.51 Bienville was only relieved of his impossible situation in 1743 with the arrival of Vaudreuil, his successor in the governorship.52

The years 1741 and 1742 had seen great activity against the Chickasaw, especially on the part of the Canadians. In 1741 several hundred warriors composed of the Mississague, Ottawa and Pottawatomi of Detroit as well as some Huron went out, while Michilimakinac sent the Ottawa, and the River St. Joseph and Wea posts sent out Kickapoo, Miami, Mascoutin and Pottawatomi.53 The following year large numbers went out, chiefly from Detroit and the Miami Post, over two hundred warriors being rationed at













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the latter place alone. After 1742, the parties dwindled in number, there being few parties sent out during the latter years of the decade. We shall note the campaigns of the Choctaw against the Chickasaw below.

Throughout the struggle, the English machinated with the Cherokee and Chickasaw, now urging them to fight, now urging them to make peace, as it best suited their interests in opposition to the French. English subsidies in trade and military assistance played an important part in sustaining the Chickasaw resistance.54 In order to extend their control over the Cherokee, the English succeeded in making peace between that nation and the Creeks in 1741, and sought to extend this peace to other nations, French as well as British.55 But attempts to get the Six Nations to bury the hatchet with the Cherokee failed, after rosy promises. When the latter sent a large deputation to the Onondaga to seek peace, these under the influence of the French Indian agent, M. Joncaire, fell upon the Cherokee, killing many of them and putting the others to flight.56 The situation remained in a practical status quo with the French policy of attrition gradually exterminating the Chickasaw.

In the Illinois, the Chickasaw war had reverberations that developed into a threatened revolt against the French. It was a peculiar reaction to a French defeat or failure, mixed with the usual intrigues of the English. In May, 1741, Father Mercier wrote: "The failure of M. de Bienville's army against the Chickasaw has strangely indisposed our domiciled savages against us, and I really do not see why they don't rise up at once."57 A year later, this fear seemed likely to materialize. A Kaskaskia Indian who had gone to Oswego had been told that "the Frenchman is a dog who devours you. He has only bad merchandise and he sells









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it very dearly." Trade with the English seemed so attractive that others would have gone there, but the French dissuaded them by telling them that there was an epidemic sickness among the English.

Later some Chickasaw visited a Kaskaskia chief who was pleased with their promise to bring English traders to the Illinois to trade with the savages. The Cahokia also became interested in this. M. Benoist grew more suspicious when Iron Collar, a Kaskaskia chief, wanted to lead a war party to attack some Indians on the Missouri who were allies of the French, and also when he refused to go against the Chickasaw. Cat Face, another chief, openly boasted he would assist the Chickasaw, provided they would furnish him powder.58 In addition to these things, two incidents which occurred at this time served to confirm French fears of an Indian uprising and to increase their apprehension that the English were contemplating founding settlements in the Ohio valley. One of these was the mistreatment of two Frenchmen by the Miami and Wea, and the other was the capture of four Englishmen and a German on the Mississippi.

Two Frenchmen, fleeing from Chickasaw captivity, were picked up by a party of Miami and Pottawatomi of River St. Joseph. Having been conducted to the Wea post, these men were not delivered to the French, but were treated as slaves and made to dance with collars about their necks. St. Vincent, the commandant at the post, got them released only with difficulty, the chiefs acting at their own pleasure, and then insisting on delivering one of the prisoners to St. Pierre at River St. Joseph, instead of giving them both up to St. Vincent.59 This affair did much to arouse French suspicion, coming as it did at such a time.





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The other affair was even more serious. As the Illinois convoy was returning to New Orleans in the spring of 1742, it overtook, some thirty leagues above the Natchez, four Englishmen and a German in two canoes. Having been conducted to New Orleans, these men were tried by both the civil and the military authorities, and found guilty of having set out to explore the rivers and to reconnoiter the country for the extension of English settlements. First condemned to be sent to the Spanish mines, they were nevertheless held in prison for over two years at New Orleans. In 1744 two of them escaped, shortly after which the others were put on board one of the King's vessels bound for France. This vessel fell in with an English cruiser at sea and was taken, so that the prisoners again came into English hands. This affair greatly increased French apprehension that the English were intending to make settlements in the Ohio Valley, this expedition being viewed as the preliminary step to such an undertaking. Here too, the French saw the cooperation of the dissatisfied Indians with the English.60

Convinced by all these things of an impending revolt, the Sieur Benoist made plans to check the movement. He informed the commanders at the Wea, the Wabash, and River St. Joseph as well as at Detroit of the state of affairs, and asked that they send their war parties going against the Chickasaw by way of the Illinois, so as to intimidate the Illinois tribes. Benoist also held the Illinois convoy for some time, fearing it would be attacked on the way



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down the river. Beauharnois, too, was full of fears, and imagined revolt as spreading beyond the Illinois to Detroit and other posts. He even considered arousing the Sac and Foxes against the Illinois Indians, in order to bring them to terms.61

The revolt, however, did not materialize, and perhaps it is not too much to say that Sieur Benoist's fears were ill-founded, especially since new raids on the Illinois Indians by the Cherokee or Chickasaw in the winter of 1742 seemed to exonerate the former from complicity of alliance with the southern Indians.62 The convoy going up in 1742 found all quiet along the route, and the Illinois Indians had by this time returned to the war against the Chickasaw, thus again putting the French at ease in the Illinois.63

Meanwhile the French had been urging the Choctaw to continue the war with the Chickasaw. In 1740 Governor Bienville met the Choctaw in conference and encouraged them to carry on, promising to pay for scalps as usual, and to furnish ammunition and supplies. He especially encouraged the policy of taking the horses of the enemy in order to cripple their trade with the English. In the following year, some 700 Choctaw went out and returned with about one hundred captured horses, very many of which belonged to English traders. The next year this was repeated, the Choctaw claiming to have killed or captured one hundred and eighty horses as well as having destroyed much corn in the fields. Bienville reported this year that fifty-four of the Chickasaw had been killed or taken. Letters taken from the English traders showed that these blows had practically ruined their trade in that







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region.64 These successes led Bienville to believe that the Chickasaw power was finally broken, and it was generally believed that the remnant of that fierce tribe would move toward the Carolinas, a move which would have been welcome to the French. Beauharnois, on his part, continued to harass them with his Indians,65 though not with the success Bienville was having from the south.

Harassed from both sides, the Chickasaw soon took the course of trying to make peace with their Indian enemies, being encouraged in this, of course, by the English. They first approached the Alabama and Abeka, and Vaudreuil, aware of their movements as early as August, 1743, sought to counter their moves in this direction.66 Shortly afterward, he himself became interested in the idea; hoping he might direct the negotiations, he gave the commandant at the Alabama post the terms upon which he would make peace. He demanded that the Choctaw be included in the peace, that they have satisfaction for the wrongs of the past, and that the Chickasaw drive the English traders from their villages. He on his part promised to build a fort in the Chickasaw country and to set up storehouses which would supply their needs. If they should refuse these terms, he threatened to harass them worse than before.67

We are assured, however, that Vaudreuil did not enter this negotiation without suspicions of the sincerity of the Chickasaw, especially since they had been implicated in a new raid on the Mississippi that spring in which another boat had been lost.68 News also began to leak out that the influence of the English in the peace movement was very great and that they aimed at making peace











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between the Abeka, the Alabama, and the Talapoucha and the Chickasaw, thus leaving the Choctaw outside. This report led Vaudreuil to make new threats against the Chickasaw if they did not comply with his terms.69

Early in the following year, the Governor had his commandants harangue both the Choctaw and their allies. To the former it was pointed out that no peace could be made without the French being privy to it, and he put the latter to the test of their faith by demanding that they prevent the English from establishing any post in their country.70 In this policy, Vaudreuil had the full backing of the home government,71 but the Canadian authorities seem to have been little aware of the policy of the Louisiana governor, and they continued to send out their savages against the Chickasaw as before.72

Vaudreuil, in order to reassure himself, met the Choctaw at Mobile in February, 1744, and sounded them out. He was well satisfied with their loyalty, and encouraged them to work for a durable peace.73 So, when the Chickasaw proposed a truce shortly afterward, the Governor readily agreed to it, and informed his officers at Mobile, at the Alabama, and at Tombigbee to give out the news and to engage the savages to a cessation of arms for two











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or three months.74 But the truce so ordered was never to go into effect due to the occurrence of an unfortunate accident which removed its possibilities. In April, several Chickasaw chiefs and warriors on their way to the Alabama post to treat with the French were attacked by a band of Choctaw and cut to pieces. Two of the head chiefs were killed in this affair. It was said that the Chickasaw were coming to accept the French terms of peace. In spite of this blow, the Chickasaw made other attempts to negotiate, but the Choctaw blocked all such moves by their recalcitrant attitude toward the enemy.75 Then came news of the declaration of the war with the English, and Vaudreuil at once began to consider other plans, for English influence with the Indians was so great that he dared not go any further, and indeed he had begun to see the hand of the English in the whole movement.76 He had also, it seems, begun to experience the same difficulty Bienville had met in his peace of 1740,—that of stopping the Canadian Indians, who were being urged on by the Canadian governor,—for unless they could be stopped, no real peace could be anticipated. The fact that the Canadian Indians had lately sustained serious defeats at the hands of the southern Indians made it all the more difficult to get them to stop their attacks even had the Canadian government been cooperating with Vaudreuil.77

The beginning of the war with the English at once wrought a great hardship in Louisiana by reason of the delay in shipments of goods, and the English seized upon French necessity to extend









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their hold upon the French Indians, even the Choctaw.78 In December, 1744, Vaudreuil definitely abandoned his support of the peace movement, and he wrote, that although he might easily have come to terms with the Cherokee, he saw no other course open than to exterminate the Chickasaw.79

It remained for the war with the English to demonstrate how slippery the French hold on the southern Indians really was. The whole peace movement discussed above had really developed from dissensions between the Choctaw and their allies. This trouble had begun in 1739, when the Abeka and Talapoucha, under English influence, had slain four Choctaw warriors in revenge for the death of one of their men at the hands of the latter, this having presumably been done by mistake. The French were able to prevent war between the two parties only with much effort.80 Loubois wrote at this time that the English influence among the Alabama and Talapoucha was so strong that they had established themselves within two leagues of the French fort on the Alabama, and that a French store at the fort had been driven out of business by the English competition.81 This disaffection spread to the Choctaw themselves, abetted by the chief Red Moccasin and his village.82

Bienville had publicly rebuked this chief for his pro-English actions in the winter of 1740-1741 when he distributed the presents at Mobile. At this time Red Moccasin was accused of having made several trips to the Carolinas to encourage the English trade. He was also said to have been guilty of treasonable action in the ambush of a Choctaw party by the Chickasaw at the same time. Bienville gave the rebel chief only the presents of a simple warrior and threatened to take his medal from him. Red Moccasin seemed so penitent that he was restored to favor the next year











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when presents were distributed.83 By 1744, however, Vaudreuil began to suspect that the infiltration of English peace negotiations into the Choctaw and other tribes was being abetted by Red Moccasin whom he says "a toujours le coeur anglois" in spite of his feigning.84 It was the scarcity of goods in the French stores, that caused English credit with the French allies to rise. Vaudreuil was forced almost to desperation to hold out until the belated ship arrived in 1744. To stop English convoys from coming in, the French organized several parties of the Arkansas Indians upon whose loyalty they could depend and sent them to intercept the English traders.85 Vaudreuil temporized with Red Moccasin, and at one time seems to have won him back temporarily upon the promise of setting up new stores in his country.86 The arrival of considerable supplies in 1745 enabled the Governor partially to fulfill this promise and brought some relief to the situation.87

However serious the threat of Red Moccasin was, Vaudreuil seems never to have lost faith in the majority of the Choctaw, and time was to prove that he was right in holding this belief.88 Therefore, he set about to check the rebel's power, first by encouraging the Choctaw to continue their attacks on the Chickasaw, and later by turning the loyal element against him.89 That Vaudreuil came to blows with him was brought about by an act of the rebel himself. In August, 1746, Red Moccasin raised his standard by ordering the murder of three Frenchmen.

Vaudreuil, at the suggestion of Loubois, immediately asked the Choctaw to deliver him the head of the rebel and his close















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associates. Major De Beauchamp was sent to the Choctaw country to conduct this negotiation. He carried with him a train of merchandise for presents. Meeting with a great deal of opposition at first, the French officer held his ground, and refused presents to those who did not express their loyalty. Attempts were made to secure the assassination of the rebel, but none of the savages seemed bold enough for such a deed excepting the rebel's brother, who had scruples on the subject. So De Beauchamp was forced to return empty handed.90

The case, however, was not hopeless, and Vaudreuil sat down to await the results through the dark days that followed, when beside the Choctaw situation, the gulf coast was threatened with an English naval attack.91 He continued in his firm attitude toward the whole Choctaw nation, and withheld all merchandise and munitions from them until they should acquiesce in his demands.92 Also, he watched carefully the peace proposals made by the Shawnee to M. de Bertet, hoping that in the last extremity he might count upon that tribe to help him hold the southern allies in line.93

In the meantime, Father Baudouin, the Jesuit missionary among the Choctaw, had been working with that tribe to bring them to break completely with the rebel element. Soon he began to see signs of success. The French embargo on merchandise was telling its tale, for the English were not able to supply the Indians alone, though some of the rebels were moving toward the Carolinas to get supplies. Vaudreuil counseled that they should be allowed to remove if they wished, for he knew that not many









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would undertake to go.94 His predictions were carried out when at a general assembly of the Choctaw on May 10, 1747, it was decided to, deliver to the Governor the heads that he had requested,95 and in July this was partly carried out to the general relief of the French.96 Trade with the Choctaw was immediately resumed and tranquillity returned for a while.97

The following year, however, new trouble arose. English traders continued to come in, and the extent of their business may be estimated by the size of one convoy destroyed by the French near the Tombigbee in October, 1747, which contained sixty pack horses. Though the horses were all taken or killed, all the traders except one made good their escape.98

Dissatisfaction among the Choctaw still remained, and in 1748 some of their number attacked the French near the Natchez and the German Settlement, four persons being killed.99 The loyal Choctaw, encouraged by the French, now fell upon the revolters and exterminated them. In April, 1750, they brought to Mobile one hundred and thirty rebel scalps. The nation as a whole now seemed reconciled, and the Alabama, the Abeka, and the Talapoucha largely returned to French allegiance.100

One of the results of the struggle with the Chickasaw and the growing English influence with the southern Indians had been to demonstrate the necessity of additional protection for the Illinois country. Ft. Chartres was becoming dilapidated, and a new fort had been begun at Kaskaskia in 1738. Bienville then















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came to the conclusion that a fort located on the Ohio at the mouth of the Tennessee would be more useful, and this belief, added to a suspension of the work at Kaskaskia due to lack of funds, accentuated the proposed relocation of the fort.101 Bienville reported that a strong fort at the mouth of the Tennessee would be the best antidote to the inroads of the Chickasaw, while it would have the added advantage of being in position to guard against any English inroads by way of the Ohio. The project, however, would involve the settlement of some loyal Indians near the site of the proposed fort. At conferences with the Kickapoo and Piankeshaw, Bienville secured their promises to come, though they later refused on the ground that the site projected was subject to inundation. Bienville attributed this change of heart to the intrigues of Canadians. The Louisiana Governor worked hard to secure permission to build the fort, seeing in it advantages which would prove that "Messieurs Dartaguette and de la Buissonniere as well as myself have not failed."102

The natural result of the series of attacks on the French convoys during 1740 and 1741 was to heighten the interest in this project. In 1742 the Minister ordered Vaudreuil to make further investigations.103 Two years later, Vaudreuil reported in favor of the project in order to keep down abuses, to make trade flourish, and to block the Chickasaw menace.104 A year later he wrote again, pointing out the English menace in that region also. He proposed









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a stone fort and submitted estimates of its cost.105 The following year, M. de Bertet reported that the Kickapoo and Mascoutin were willing to locate at the site proposed, and the Shawnee who had migrated from their Ohio home had settled temporarily near this place.106

This migration of the Shawnee brought new proposals to settle the Chickasaw war by negotiation. These Indians connected to a group of their people who for some years had been living with the Alabama, sought to mediate a general peace between northern and southern Indians. M. de Bertet at the Illinois entered heartily into these proposals and tried to arrange a general conference of Indians such as the Shawnee had advocated. Vaudreuil necessarily supported De Bertet only in a peace along lines he had laid down to the Chickasaw in 1743. That these negotiations failed was due, partly, as Vaudreuil alleged, to lack of merchandise.107 The opposition of the Choctaw was another reason quite as valid.

In any case, the King in 1746 refused to permit the building of the fort until he found himself in more "favorable circumstances," and the Shawnee never succeeded in bringing any great number of the warring chiefs to De Bertet's council table.108 It was said to have been lack of finances which had caused the King to refuse the permission to build the fort at this time.109 Nevertheless, the











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King did approve the peace negotiations without the fort, and the Shawnee continued to work for peace, though they were able to accomplish little. Some of the Chickasaw chiefs, however, did come to the Illinois and conferred with the Commandant, having with them two French traders who acted as their agents. These two men also visited the Cherokee, but got nothing more than a favorable reception. They reported the futility of trying to make any arrangement of peace without the support of adequate trading facilities. The Shawnee themselves soon began to move away from the Illinois country and resumed trade with the English.110

After the failure of the Shawnee to arrange a mediation of the Indian wars, Vaudreuil revived the project of building the fort, and gained conditional permission to begin it, without, however, getting any money to do with. In the last analysis he was obliged to content himself with an increase in the amount of goods he was allowed for the Indian trade, and with an increase in the amount of supplies for the posts which Le Normand had so much opposed.111 Not long thereafter, the King cancelled the conditional permission to build the fort on the Ohio and the subject was dropped.112 A poor substitute was to be found in the construction of Fort Massac in 1757. As for the Shawnee, they shortly afterward left the lower







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Ohio and went in part to the Scioto settlement, and the others among the Alabama.113

The French had practically exterminated the Chickasaw and had crushed the rebellious element of the Choctaw. The safety of the Mississippi route during the remainder of French occupancy was in the main assured, though occasional raids along that route might be made.114 By 1750 the government had approved a plan to let the yearly convoy out to private contract, so peaceful had the Mississippi route become.115 When the French and Indian War broke out, Governor Kerlérec, largely relieved of the Chickasaw threat, was able to control the Cherokee and to prevent English attacks from that quarter. Indeed, during that struggle, Louisiana remained impregnable to the English. Had the French but have been able to have destroyed the Iroquois power in the north as they did that of the Chickasaw in the south, they might conceivably have held the Ohio valley and have waged a more even struggle with the English for the control of the interior of North America.116









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