Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 16, No. 4
THE CHICKASAW THREAT TO FRENCH CONTROL OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE 1740's1
NORMAN W. CALDWELL
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
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
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-
5Some of the southern tribes were often referred to by the French as the "Tetes Plates" or Flat Heads. The term is used in
various places to include various tribes. Note the following: " . . Cela pourait faire prendre aux Chaouanons le parti de falloir aux les Tetes Plattes Cherakis, et Chicachas pour se vanger." Again, "The Cherakis, Chicachas, Totiris are included under the name of Flatheads by the Iroquois, . . .", Doc. Rel. to the Col. Hist. of N. Y., IX, 1052-58. Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, applies the term to the Muskhogeans (Creeks, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw), as well as to the Catawba and other southern
tribes, but I do not find that the French in this period ever used the term in reference to the Choctaw. Nearly always they
used it in reference to the Chickasaw or Cherokee. Pouchot describes the Flatheads as those tribes who " . . have a forehead
flat, and the upper part of the head elevated, because in infancy their heads are tied between two pieces of wood." Memoir on the Late War, II, 185.
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-
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
10Beauharnois to Minister, Montreal, June 30, 1739, Arch. Nat., Col., C11A, 71: 36-36v. The source for the personnel of the expedition is the expense accounts in Arch. Nat., Col., C11A, 71: 151 ff. Paul Joseph le Moyne, Baron, de Longueuil, (1701-1778), was a brother of Iberville and Bienville. Pierre
Joseph Celoron, Sieur de Blainville or Bienville, (1693-1759), was a distinguished French officer chiefly noted for his expedition
into the Ohio valley in 1749.
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
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-
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
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
16Memoir of 1740, Oct. 31 —, Arch Nat., Col., C13A, 25: 131-132; Salmon to Minister, June 28, 1740, Ibid., C13A, 25: 184-184v.
17Beauharnois to Minister, Oct. 7, 1740, Ibid., C11A, 74: 34-45; same to same, Oct. 11, 1740, Ibid., C11A, 74: 48-49.
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
22Longueuil to Minister, April, 1741, Arch. Nat., Col., C11A, 76: 255-255v; Salmon to Minister, July 1, 1740, Ibid., C13A, 25: 195-195v.
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
30A fifth part of the slaves of the colony were levied for use on the convoys on the river. This alone must have meant over
800 men. Bienville and Salmon to Minister, June 24, 1740, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 25: 9-16v; Minister to Bienville and Salmon, Fontainebleau, Oct. 28, 1740, Ibid., B, 70, 472-473v. The Minister took the stand that the Louisiana officials should shoulder all the blame for the failure
of the campaign. The heavy financial outlays in Louisiana, mostly in the form of bills of credit, caused a serious derangement
in the finances of the colony.
31Minister to Bienville and Salmon, Fontainebleau, Oct. 28, 1740, Ibid., B, 70: 472-473v; Minister to Bienville, Versailles, Jan. 19, 1742, Ibid., B, 74: 622-623v.
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
33Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, June 18, 1740, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 25: 109-111; Loubois to Minister, New Orleans, June 29, 1740, Ibid., 240-241; La Loere Flaucourt to Minister, Illinois, 1740, Ibid., C13A, 26: 192-192v. The scene of this attack, described
as being twelve leagues above the mouth of the Ohio, must have been in the vicinity of the present little village of Thebes,
36Benoist de St. Clair to Salmon, Illinois, Dec. 7, 1740, Ibid., C13A, 26: 143-144; De Beauchamp to Minister, Apr. 25, 1741, Ibid., 206-209v; Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Apr. 30, 1741, Ibid., 81-87. The casualty list given above was sent by St. Vincent and confirmed by La Buissonniere just before his death.
37Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Sept. 30, 1741, Ibid., 97-106. The Natchez at this time were supposed to be leaving the Chickasaw among whom they had taken refuge in 1731. A
chance meeting of a band of Miami and a group of Natchez on the Tennessee in the summer of 1741, resulted in the capture of
the Natchez band, which was made up of seven pirogues of women and children. Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Sept. 30, 1741, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 26: 97-106; De Beauchamp to Minister, Sept. 18, 1741, Ibid., 210-213.
38Hocquart to Minister, Quebec, June 11, 1742, Ibid., C11A, 77; 277-283; Beauharnois to Minister, Quebec, Sept. 24, 1742, Ibid., 108-112v. This happened at the place called
the Iron Mine on the Kentucky shore, just below the mouth of the Ohio.
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
40The Canadian Indians returning from the campaign of 1739-1740 attacked certain parties of Chickasaw whom they encountered.
Though the Canadians claimed these were war parties, Bienville maintained they were only hunters. See Memoir on Indians, Apr.,
1740, Wisc. Hist. Coll., XVII, 335,336; Salmon to Minister, May 4, 1740, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 25: 159-164v; Bienville to Minister, Apr. 30, 1740, Ibid., C13A, 26: 81-87; same to same, Sept. 30, 1741, Ibid., 97-106.
42Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Sept. 30, 1741, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 26: 97-106. In another place Bienville said: "As to the solidity of the peace with the Chicachas, I have always thought . . . that it will be as good as it could be upon the word of the Savages. . . The situation of this
nation engages it to remain quiet; I do not believe, however, that it is yet convenient to stop the raids of the Chactas." See Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Apr. 30, 1741, Ibid., 81-87.
43The intendant, Salmon, was perhaps Bienville's chief opponent in this matter in keeping with his controversial nature. In
October, 1741, he wrote the Minister, attributing all the trouble to the Chickasaw, and accusing Bienville of trying to force
him to believe otherwise. Salmon to Minister, New Orleans, Oct. 4, 1741, Ibid., 170-171v. For the attitude of lower officials such as Loubois, see Loubois to Minister, Oct. 2, 1741, Ibid., 199-200. The reader of the documents is also almost convinced that the Governor was only trying to cover up his own disgrace,
until the actual situation is brought to light and it is seen that he was partly right in the matter.
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
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
44Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Sept. 30, 1741, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 26: 97-106. For the arguments of the Canadians to the contrary, see Extract of Letters of Commandants, etc., Ibid., F3, 24: 315-316v.
45Bienville to Minister, June 27, 1740, New Orleans, Ibid., C13A, 25: 124-124v. This act was disowned also by the Chickasaw, acting through the Alabama. Minister to De Beauchamp,
Oct. 6, 1741, Ibid., B, 72: 479-479v. Bienville had collected information from the Illinois, the Arkansas, and the Alabama to prove his contention.
Bienville to Minister, Mar. 7, 1741, Ibid., C13A, 26: 55-60.
46Salmon had written De Beauchamp in November, 1740, that he had changed his mind. See De Beauchamp to Salmon, Dec. 13, 1740,
Ibid., C13A, 252-56. See also Salmon to Minister, Feb. 13, 1742, Ibid., C13A, 27: 91-92v; Bienville to Minister, Feb. 18, 1742,
Ibid., 38-42v. The prospect of the Cherokee taking up the hatchet against the French was not a welcome one to the Louisiana officials.
Minister to Vaudreuil, Versailles, Oct. 27, 1742, Ibid., B, 74: 660-660v.
47Bienville to Minister, Apr. 30, 1741, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 26: 81-87. See also Coussot's Declaration, Dec. 3, 1742, in Ibid., C13A, 27: 182-183v; Loubois to Minister, New Orleans, June 23, 1744, Ibid., C13A, 25: 236-239. Stories of bad discipline as well as of corruption in the administration of the convoys were common.
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
48Journal of Antoine Bonnefoy, in Mereness, op. cit., 241 ff. Also Coussot's Declaration as above; Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, June 27, 1742, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 27: 36-37; Loubois to Minister, Mobile, June 12, 1742, Ibid., 139-141.
51Beauharnois to Minister, Quebec, Oct. 12, 1742, I bid., C11E, 16: 257-265v; Minister to Beauharnois, Marly, May 6, 1741, Ibid., B, 72: 373-374. Hocquart even toyed with the scheme
to exterminate the Chickasaw by putting a very high price on their scalps and paying a heavy bounty for prisoners. Hocquart
to Minister, Quebec, Oct. 3, 1741, Arch. Nat., Col., C11A, 75: 329-334.
53This information is compiled from a study of the expense accounts of the western posts for these years. According to one journal
over 600 men went out in six months in 1741. Only sixty prisoners and scalps were secured by these, however. Besuharnois to
Minister, Sept. 24, 1742, Ibid., C11A, 77: 108-112v. The River St. Joseph Post was located near the present Niles, Michigan; the Wea Post near present Lafayette,
Indiana. Near by at the present Ft. Wayne, Indiana, was the Miami Post.
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
56Bull to Clarke, Charlestown, June —, 1741, Ibid., 210; Canadian Memoir on Indians, Apr., 1741, Arch.. Nat., Col., C11A, 76: 315-317v.
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.
59Beauharnois to Minister, Quebec, Oct. 12, 1742, Ibid., C11A, 16: 257; 265v. Bienville hinted that the Wea may have made some of the raids on the French convoys in 1740-1741.
Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Feb. 4, 1743, Ibid., C13A, 28: 33-33v. This party of Miami arriving with the two Frenchmen was rationed at the Miami post on June 18, 1742,
Arch. Nat., Col., C11A, 76: 186-187. Henry Albert de St. Vincent, Sieur de Narcy, later signed the capitulation of Quebec. These Frenchmen
who were mistreated were Louisianans, and the Indians who abused them pled that the Canadian governor had told them to treat
the Louisianans as enemies. We do know that Canadians and Louisianans did not like each other. Sectionalism was developing
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
60For an account of this affair, see Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, July 30, 1742, Ibid., C13A, 27: 83-84; Loubois to Minister, Mobile, Aug. 2, 1743, Ibid., C13A, 28: 158v-159. The petition of Heyward, the leader of the party, to the English king asking for their release, dated
June 21, 1743, is printed in the Louisiana Hist. Quart., V, 3, 321-322. The journal of John Peter Salling, the German who was with Heyward, is also printed in the same, 323-332.
Historians have doubted somewhat the authenticity of this document. Bienville and Salmon hardly knew what to do with these
men. Sending them to the Mexican mines would have involved a strong escort. For this reason they were left in prison. Bienville
and Salmon to Minister, Feb. 6, 1743, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 28: 6-6v. Vaudreuil who became governor in 1743 inherited the problem. He was afraid to send them back to their homes
for fear their knowledge of the secrets of the French colony would be a great asset to the English in time of war. Vaudreuil
to Minister, New Orleans, July 28, 1743, Ibid., 71-72. The problem was finally solved by the escape of the two prisoners in 1744, and the loss of the others as they were
on the Elephant on their way to France in 1746. Vaudreuil and LeNormand to Minister, Jan. 4, 1745, Ibid., 29: 5v; Vaudreuil to Minister, New Orleans, April 8, 1747, Ibid., 31: 52-52v.
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
61Beauharnois to Minister, Oct. 12, 1742, Ibid., C11E, 16: 257-265v. Gayarre, in his History of Louisiana, I, 523, speaks of some English traders being taken in the Illinois at this time and of their being sentenced to serve in
the Mexican mines. It would appear that the writer has confused this with Heyward's party. Benoist released the convoy again
after a few days and this convoy was the one which picked up the Heyward party. Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, July 30,
1742, Ibid., C13A, 27: 81-83. Charles, Marquis de Beauharnois, (1670-1749), was governor of Canada, 1746-1747.
63Beauharnois to Minister, Sept. 17, 1743, Ibid., C11A, 79: 113v-114; Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Feb. 4, 1743, Ibid., C13A, 28: 32v-33; Minister to Salmon, Jan.
13, 1744, Ibid., B, 78: 452 ff.
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
64Bienville to Minister, New Orleans, Mar. 7, 1741, Ibid., C13A, 26; 55-60v; same to same, New Orleans, Feb. 18, 1742, Ibid., C13A, 27: 38-42v. Other raids in the fall of 1742 were equally successful. Same to same, Feb. 4, 1743, Ibid., C13A, 28: 31v-32v.
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
69Vaudreuil to Loubois, Oct. 18, 1743, Vaudreuil Mss., 6v-7v; Vaudreuil to Haussaye, Nov. 2, 1743, Ibid., 8v. See also the Parole que Mr. de la Haussaye, comdt. aux halibamons fera porter par L'interprette du fort aux Chefs et considerez des Chikachas, etc., Jan. 1, 1744, Ibid., 28-29v.
71Minister to Vaudreuil, Versailles, Jan. 22, 1744, Arch. Nat., Col., B, 78: 19-19v; same to same, Versailles, Mar. 24, 1744, Ibid., 21-21v.
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
77Beauharnois to Minister, Quebec, Oct. 21, 1744, Arch. Nat., Col., C11A, 81: 182-184. During the previous winter he says a party of the Sault had been defeated by the Cherokee with a loss
of thirty men. There were other serious defeats also. Vaudreuil also distrusted the sincerity of the Choctaw quite as much
as he did that of the Chickasaw, and he expected at one time that if they entered into peace with their enemies, it would
be only to fall upon them at another time. Vaudreuil to Father Baudouin, May 13, 1744, Vaudreuil Mss., 40v-41v.
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
79Vaudreuil to Minister, New Orleans, Dec. 6, 1744, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 28: 247-248; same to same, Oct. 28, 1745, in Ibid., C13A, 29: 51v-52.
81Loubois to Minister, New Orleans, June 23, 1740, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 25: 236-239. It was rumored that the English had considered building a fort nearby and that they had officers there
to study the project. Vaudreuil to Father Baudouin, Mar. 30, 1744, Vaudreuil Mss., 33v-34.
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
83Bienville to Minister, Mar. 7, 1741, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 26: 55-60v; same to same, Mar. 28, 1742, Ibid., C13A, 27: 63-67.
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
93Vaudreuil to Le Soeur, Oct. 18, 1747, Vaudreuil Mss., 117-117v; Vaudreuil to Minister, Mar. 15, 1747, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 31: 22-22v. De Bertet was commandant in Illinois, 1742-1749.
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
94Vaudreuil to Loubois, Apr. 7, 1747, Vaudreuil Mss., 130-130v. See also Vaudreuil to Le Soeur, Apr. 7, 1747, Ibid., 131-131v. On Mar. 15, 1747, Vaudreuil wrote that forty-two villages of the Choctaw had sent him deputies expressing their
loyalty and that a party was at that time out hunting for the rebels. Vaudreuil to Minister, Mar. 15, 1747, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 31: 17-19.
100Ministerial minute on Louisiana despatches, Sept. 18, 1750, Doc. Rel. to the Col. Hist. of N. Y., X, 219-220; Vaudreuil to Minister, Sept. 22, 1749, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 33: 79-83. Minister to Vaudreuil, Versailles, Sept. 30, 1750, Ibid., B, 91: 21-21v.
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
101The work at the Kaskaskia site had proceeded no further than the collection of materials, two hundred and twenty-four tons
of stone, the same number of tons of lime, and 26,000 clapboards, being all that had been gathered. This had already cost
three times the sum allotted and work was suspended in 1739. These materials were later disposed of by allowing the parish
to use them for the construction of a church. Minister to Bienville and Salmon, Fontainebleau, Oct. 28, 1740, Arch. Nat., Col., B, 70: 472-473v. Minister to Vaudreuil and Salmon, Versailles, Oct. 22, 1742, Ibid., B, 74: 651-651v. Ft. Chartres was located on the Mississippi half way between Kaskaskia and Cahokia.
103Same to same, Mar. 28, 1742, Ibid., C13A, 27: 63-67; Minister to Vaudreuil and Salmon, Nov. 15, 1742, Ibid., B, 74: 683-684v.
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
106The name of the modern city of Shawneetown, Illinois, originated at this time. The Shawnee settled at a spot on the river
three leagues below the junction of the Tennessee and the Ohio. Vaudreuil to Minister, Feb. 6, 1746, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 29: 28-30v. Vaudreuil claimed the Winnebago, Sac, and Foxes were also interested in settling there. Vaudreuil to
Minister, Mar. 22, 1747, Ibid., C13A, 21: 45-46.
107The Governor and Intendant were at odds over the supplying of the posts at this time. Vaudreuil to Minister, Mar. 9, 1746,
Ibid., C13A, 29: 23-23v; same to same, Mobile, Apr. 12, 1746, Ibid., C13A, 30: 58-58v. Vaudreuil said that the lack of goods would defeat the proposition on all sides. At peace with the Chickasaw,
the French would be forced to supply both them and the other Indians who would be gathered about the fort to be located an
the Wabash, which of course would be more than could be done. Vaudreuil to Minister, Apr. 12, 1746, Arch. Nat. Col., C13A, 30: 58v-59v.
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
110Minister to Vaudreuil, Versailles, Apr. 30, 1746, Ibid., 38x. See also Vaudreuil to Minister, New Orleans, Nov. 20, 1746, Ibid., C13A, 30: 72-75v; same to same, Mobile, Apr. 12, 1746, Ibid., 60-61. In the last mentioned despatch, he mentions the necessity of merchandise to hold the Shawnee on the lower Ohio.
Here also he aceuses Le Normand of selling goods to Frenchmen that ought to have been sent to the posts for trading purposes.
111Minister to Vaudreuil, Oct. 10, 1746, Arch. Nat., Col., B, 83: 40-40v. De Bertet reported at this time that he must have goods to hold the Shawnee and defeat the English influence
among them. Vaudreuil to Minister, Apr. 8, 1747, Margry, VI, 662-664.
112Minister to Vaudreuil, Versailles, Feb. 1748, Arch. Nat., Col., B, 87: 1-1v. Of interest at this time is a proposal by a French nobleman to found a colony near the mouth of the Ohio.
This scheme included the building of a strong fort, as well as minor posts, the settlement of colonists from France on the
basis of the seigneurial system, and schemes for trade expansion. It was urged that such a venture would greatly develop trade, subjugate the Indian
nations in that region, and serve as a bulwark against the English advance from the Ohio. The cost of institution of the colony
was put at the modest figure of 36,000 I. Memoir of M. le Bailly, Mgr., joined to a letter of M. Poisson to his daughter,
Mde. Pompadour, Dec. 17, 1749, Ibid., C13A, 33: 219-221v.
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
114In May, 1749, for example, some Chickasaw and renegade Choctaw raided Arkansas Post, killing six Frenchmen and taking prisoner
eight women and children. Vaudreuil to Minister, Sept. 22, 1749, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 33:83-86v.
115Minister. to M. Michel, Versailles, Sept. 26, 1750, Arch. Nat., Col., B, 91: 8; Minister to Vaudreuil and Michel, Versailles, Sept. 26, 7.750, Ibid., 91: 13-13v. Economy was also a factor in this decision, the yearly convoy costing the government exorbitant sums due to
the inefficient way in which it was handled. For, example, M. de Monchervaux, the officer who commanded the convoy in 1749,
submitted a bill for 1200 livres for services of a hunter who provided game for his table! M. Michel to Minister, New Orleans,
Jan. 22, 1750, Arch. Nat., Col., C13A, 34: 291-296.
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