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History of Louisisana by Le Page Du Pratz

Part 3 out of 8

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country been at the head of the revolt by which the French lost Fort
Arguin; and when it was recovered again by M. Perier de Salvert, one
of the principal articles of the peace was, that this negro should be
condemned to slavery in America: that Samba, on his passage, had laid
a scheme to murder the crew, in order to become master of the ship;
but that being discovered, he was put in irons, in which he continued
till he landed in Louisiana.

I drew up a memorial of all this; which was read before Samba by the
Judge Criminal; who, threatening him again with torture, told him, he
had ever been a seditious fellow: upon which Samba directly owned all
the circumstances of the conspiracy; and the rest being confronted
with him, confessed {73} also: after which, the eight negroes were
condemned to be broke alive on the wheel, and the woman to be hanged
before their eyes; which was accordingly done, and prevented the
conspiracy from taking effect.


_The War of the Natchez. Massacre of the_ French _in 1729. Extirpation
of the_ Natchez _in 1730._

In the beginning of the month of December 1729, we heard at New
Orleans, with the most affecting grief, of the massacre of the French
at the post of the Natchez, occasioned by the imprudent conduct of the
Commandant. I shall trace that whole affair from its rise.

The Sieur de Chopart had been Commandant of the post of the Natchez,
from which he was removed on account of some acts of injustice. M.
Perier, Commandant General, but lately arrived, suffered himself to be
prepossessed in his favour, on his telling him, that he had commanded
that post with applause: and thus he obtained the command from M.
Perier, who was unacquainted with his character.

This new Commandant, on taking possession of his post, projected the
forming one of the most eminent settlements of the whole colony. For
this purpose he examined all the grounds unoccupied by the French, but
could not find any thing that came up to the grandeur of his views.
Nothing but the village of the White Apple, a square league at least
in extent, could give him satisfaction; where he immediately resolved
to settle. This ground was distant from the fort about two leagues.
Conceited with the beauty of his project, the Commandant sent for the
Sun of that village to come to the fort.

The Commandant, upon his arrival at the fort, told him, without
further ceremony, that he must look out for another ground to build
his village on, as he himself resolved, as soon as possible, to build
on the village of the Apple; that he must directly clear the huts, and
retire somewhere else. The better to cover his design, he gave out,
that it was necessary for the {74} French to settle on the banks of
the rivulet, where stood the Great Village, and the abode of the Grand
Sun. The Commandant, doubtless, supposed that he was speaking to a
slave, whom we may command in a tone of absolute authority. But he
knew not that the natives of Louisiana are such enemies to a state of
slavery, that they prefer death itself thereto; above all, the Suns,
accustomed to govern despotically, have still a greater aversion to

The Sun of the Apple thought, that if he was talked to in a reasonable
manner, he might listen to him: in this he had been right, had he to
deal with a reasonable person. He therefore made answer, that his
ancestors had lived in that village for as many years as there were
hairs in his double cue; and therefore it was good they should
continue there still.

Scarce had the interpreter explained this answer to the Commandant,
but he fell into a passion, and threatened the Sun, if he did not quit
his village in a few days, he might repent it. The Sun replied, when
the French came to ask us for lands to settle on, they told us there
was land enough still unoccupied, which they might take; the same sun
would enlighten them all, and all would walk in the same path. He
wanted to proceed, farther in justification of what he alleged; but
the Commandant, who was in a passion, told him, he was resolved to be
obeyed, without any further reply. The Sun, without discovering any
emotion or passion, withdrew; only saying, he was going to assemble
the old men of his village, to hold a council on this affair.

He actually assembled them: and in this council it was resolved to
represent to the Commandant, that the corn of all the people of their
village was already shot a little out of the earth, and that all the
hens were laying their eggs; that if they quitted their village at
present, the chickens and corn would be lost both to the French and to
themselves; as the French were not numerous enough to weed all the
corn they had sown in their fields.

This resolution taken, they sent to propose it to the Commandant, who
rejected it with a menace to chastise them if they did not obey in a
very short time, which he prefixed. {75} The Sun reported this answer
to his council, who debated the question, which was knotty. But the
policy of the old men was, that they should propose to the Commandant,
to be allowed to stay in their village till harvest, and till they had
time to dry their corn, and shake out the grain; on condition each hut
of the village should pay him in so many moons (months,) which they
agreed on, a basket of corn and a fowl; that this Commandant appeared
to be a man highly self-interested; and that this proposition would be
a means of gaining time, till they should take proper measures to
withdraw themselves from the tyrrany of the French.

The Sun returned to the Commandant, and proposed to pay him the
tribute I just mentioned, if he waited till the first colds, (winter;)
and then the corn would be gathered in, and dry enough to shake out
the grain; that thus they would not be exposed to lose their corn, and
die of hunger: that the Commandant himself would find his account in
it; and that as soon as any corn was shaken out, they should bring him

The avidity of the Commandant made him accept the proposition with
joy, and blinded him with regard to the consequences of his tyrrany.
He, however, pretended that he agreed to the offer out of favour, to
do a pleasure to a nation so beloved, and who had ever been good
friends of the French. The Sun appeared highly satisfied to have
obtained a delay sufficient for taking the precautions necessary to
the security of the nation; for he was by no means the dupe of the
feigned benevolence of the Commandant.

The Sun, upon his return, caused the council to be assembled; told the
old men, that the French Commandant had acquiesced in the offers which
he had made him, and granted the term of time they demanded. He then
laid before them, that it was necessary wisely to avail themselves of
this time, in order to withdraw themselves from the proposed payment
and tyrannic domination of the French, who grew dangerous in
proportion as they multiplied. That the Natchez ought to remember the
war made upon them, in violation of the peace concluded between them:
that this war having been made upon their village alone, they ought to
consider of the surest means {76} to take a just and bloody vengeance:
that this enterprise being of the utmost consequence, it called for
much secrecy, for solid measures, and for much policy: that thus it
was proper to cajole the French Chief more than ever: that this affair
required some days to reflect on, before they came to a resolution
therein, and before it should be proposed to the Grand Sun and his
council: that at present they had only to retire; and in a few days he
would assemble them again, that they might then determine the part
they were to act.

In five or six days he brought together the old men, who in that
interval were consulting with each other: which was the reason that
all the suffrages were unanimous in the same and only means of
obtaining the end they proposed to themselves, which was the entire
destruction of the French in this province.

The Sun, seeing them all assembled, said: "You have had time to
reflect on the proposition I made you; and so I imagine you will soon
set forth the best means how to get rid of your bad neighbours without
hazard." The Sun having done speaking, the oldest rose up, saluted his
Chief after his manner, and said to him:

"We have a long time been sensible that the neighbourhood of the
French is a greater prejudice than benefit to us: we, who are old men,
see this; the young see it not. The wares of the French yield pleasure
to the youth; but in effect, to what purpose is all this, but to
debauch the young women, and taint the blood of the nation, and make
them vain and idle? The young men are in the same case; and the
married must work themselves to death to maintain their families, and
please their children. Before the French came amongst us, we were men,
content with what we had, and that was sufficient: we walked with
boldness every road, because we were then our own masters: but now we
go groping, afraid of meeting thorns, we walk like slaves, which we
shall soon be, since the French already treat us as if we were such.
When they are sufficiently strong, they will no longer dissemble. For
the least fault of our young people, they will tie them to a post, and
whip them as they do their black slaves. Have they not {77} already
done so to one of our young men; and is not death preferable to

Here he paused a while, and after taking breath, proceeded thus:

"What wait we for? Shall we suffer the French to multiply, till we are
no longer in a condition to oppose their efforts? What will the other
nations say of us, who pass for the most ingenious of all the Red-men?
They will then say, we have less understanding than other people. Why
then wait we any longer? Let us set ourselves at liberty, and show we
are really men, who can be satisfied with what we have. From this very
day let us begin to set about it, order our women to get provisions
ready, without telling them the reason; go and carry the Pipe of Peace
to all the nations of this country; make them sensible, that the
French being stronger in our neighbourhood than elsewhere, make us,
more than others, feel that they want to enslave us; and when become
sufficiently strong, will in like manner treat all the nations of the
country; that it is their interest to prevent so great a misfortune;
and for this purpose they have only to join us, and cut off the French
to a man, in one day and one hour; and the time to be that on which
the term prefixed and obtained of the French Commandant, to carry him
the contribution agreed on, is expired; the hour to be the quarter of
the day (nine in the morning;) and then several warriors to go and
carry him the corn, as the beginning of their several payments, also
carry with them their arms, as if going out to hunt: and that to every
Frenchman in a French house, there shall be two or three Natchez; to
ask to borrow arms and ammunition for a general hunting-match, on
account of a great feast, and to promise to bring them meat; the
report of the firing at the Commandant's, to be the signal to fall at
once upon, and kill the French: that then we shall be able to prevent
those who may come from the old French village, (New Orleans) by the
great water (Missisippi) ever to settle here."

He added, that after apprising the other nations of the necessity of
taking that violent step, a bundle of rods, in number equal to that
they should reserve for themselves, should be {78} left with each
nation, expressive of the number of days that were to precede that on
which they were to strike the blow at one and the same time. And to
avoid mistakes, and to be exact in pulling out a rod every day, and
breaking and throwing it away, it was necessary to give this in charge
to a person of prudence. Here he ceased and sat down: they all
approved his counsel, and were to a man of his mind.

The project was in like manner approved of by the Sun of the Apple:
the business was to bring over the Grand Sun, with the other petty
Suns, to their opinion; because all the Princes being agreed as to
that point, the nation would all to a man implicitly obey. They
however took the precaution to forbid apprising the women thereof, not
excepting the female Suns, (Princesses) or giving them the least
suspicion of their designs against the French.

The Sun of the Apple was a man of good abilities; by which means he
easily brought over the Grand Sun to favour his scheme, he being a
young man of no experience in the world, and having no great
correspondence with the French: he was the more easily gained over, as
all the Suns were agreed, that the Sun of the Apple was a man of
solidity and penetration; who having repaired to the Sovereign of
nation, apprised him of the necessity of taking that step, as in time
himself would be forced to quit his own village; also of the wisdom of
the measures concerted, such as even ascertained success; and of the
danger to which his youth was exposed with neighbours so enterprising;
above all, with the present French Commandant, of whom the
inhabitants, and even the soldiers complained: that as long as the
Grand Sun, his father, and his uncle, the Stung Serpent, lived, the
Commandant of the fort durst never undertake any thing to their
detriment; because the Grand Chief of the French, who resides at their
great village (New Orleans,) had a love for them: but that he, the
Grand Sun, being unknown to the French, and but a youth, would be
despised. In fine, that the only means to preserve his authority, was
to rid himself of the French, by the method, and with the precautions
projected by the old men.

{79} The result of this conversation was, that on the day following,
when the Suns should in the morning come to salute the Grand Sun, he
was to order them to repair to the Sun of the Apple, without taking
notice of it to any one. This was accordingly executed, and the
seducing abilities of the Sun of the Apple drew all the Suns into his
scheme. In consequences of which they formed a council of Suns and
aged Nobles, who all approved of the design: and then these aged
Nobles were nominated heads of embassies to be sent to the several
nations; had a guard of Warriors to accompany them, and on pain of
death, were discharged from mentioning it to any one whatever. This
resolution taken, they set out severally at the same time, unknown to
the French.

Notwithstanding the profound secrecy observed by the Natchez, the
council held by the Suns and aged Nobles gave the people uneasiness,
unable as they were to penetrate into the matter. The female Suns
(Princesses) had alone in this nation a right to demand why they were
kept in the dark in this affair. The young Grand female Sun was a
Princess scarce eighteen: and none but the Stung Arm, a woman of great
wit, and no less sensible of it, could be offended that nothing was
disclosed to her. In effect, she testified her displeasure at this
reserve with respect to herself, to her son; who replied, that the
several deputations were made, in order to renew their good intelligence
with the other nations, to whom they had not of a long time sent an
embassy, and who might imagine themselves slighted by such a neglect.
This feigned excuse seemed to appease the Princess, but not quite to rid
her of all her uneasiness; which, on the contrary, was heightened, when,
on the return of the embassies, she saw the Suns assemble in secret
council together with the deputies, to learn what reception they met
with; whereas ordinarily they assembled in public.

At this the female Sun was filled with rage, which would have openly
broke out, had not her prudence set bounds to it. Happy it was for the
French, she imagined herself neglected: for I am persuaded the colony
owes its preservation to the vexation of this woman rather than to any
remains of affection {80} she entertained for the French, as she was
now far advanced in years, and her gallant dead some time.

In order to get to the bottom of the secret, she prevailed on her son
to accompany her on a visit to a relation, that lay sick at the
village of the Meal; and leading him the longest way about, and most
retired, took occasion to reproach him with the secrecy he and the
other Suns observed with regard to her, insisting with him on her
right as a mother, and her privilege as a Princess: adding, that
though all the world, and herself too, had told him he was the son of
a Frenchman, yet her own blood was much dearer to her than that of
strangers; that he needed not apprehend she would ever betray him to
the French, against whom, she said, you are plotting.

Her son, stung with these reproaches, told her, it was unusual to
reveal what the old men of the council had once resolved upon;
alledging, he himself, as being Grand Sun, ought to set a good example
in this respect: that the affair was concealed from the Princess his
consort as well as from her; and that though he was the son of a
Frenchman, this gave no mistrust of him to the other Suns. But seeing,
says he, you have guessed the whole affair, I need not inform you
farther; you know as much as I do myself, only hold your tongue.

She was in no pain, she replied, to know against whom he had taken his
precautions: but as it was against the French, this was the very thing
that made her apprehensive he had not taken his measures aright in
order to surprise them; as they were a people of great penetration,
though their Commandant had none: that they were brave, and could
bring over by their presents, all the Warriors of the other nations;
and had resources, which the Red-men were without.

Her son told her she had nothing to apprehend as to the measures
taken: that all the nations had heard and approved their project, and
promised to fall upon the French in their neighbourhood, on the same
day with the Natchez: that the Chactaws took upon them to destroy all
the French lower down and along the Missisippi, up as far as the
Tonicas; to which last people, he said, we did not send, as they and
the Oumas {81} are too much wedded to the French; and that it was
better to involve both these nations in the same general destruction
with the French. He at last told her, the bundle of rods lay in the
temple, on the flat timber.

The Stung Arm being informed of the whole design, pretended to approve
of it, and leaving her son at ease, henceforward was only solicitous
how she might defeat this barbarous design: the time was pressing, and
the term prefixed for the execution was almost expired.

This woman, unable to bear to see the French cut off to a man in one
day by the conspiracy of the natives, sought how to save the greatest
part of them: for this purpose she be thought herself of acquainting
some young women therewith, who loved the French, enjoining them never
to tell from whom they had their information.

She herself desired a soldier she met, to go and tell the Commandant,
that the Natchez had lost their senses, and to desire him to be upon
his guard: that he need only make the smallest repairs possible on the
fort, in presence of some of them, in order to shew his mistrust; when
all their resolutions and bad designs would vanish and fall to the

The soldier faithfully performed his commission: but the Commandant,
far from giving credit to the information, or availing himself
thereof; or diving into, and informing him self of the grounds of it,
treated the soldier as a coward and a visionary, caused him to be
clapt in irons, and said, he would never take any step towards
repairing the fort, or putting himself on his guard, as the Natchez
would then imagine he was a man of no resolution, and was struck with
a mere panick.

The Stung Arm fearing a discovery, notwithstanding her utmost
precaution, and the secrecy she enjoined, repaired to the temple, and
pulled some rods out of the fatal bundle: her design was to hasten or
forward the term prefixed, to the end that such Frenchmen as escaped
the massacre, might apprize their countrymen, many of whom had
informed the Commandant; who clapt seven of them in irons, treating
them as cowards on that account.

{82} The female Sun, seeing the term approaching, and many of those
punished, whom she had charged to acquaint the Governor, resolved to
speak to the Under-Lieutenant; but to no better purpose, the
Commandant paying no greater regard to him than to the common

Notwithstanding all these informations, the Commandant went out the
night before on a party of pleasure, with some other Frenchmen, to the
grand village of the Natchez, without returning to the fort till break
of day; where he was no sooner come, but he had pressing advice to be
upon his guard.

The Commandant, still flustered with his last night's debauch, added
imprudence to his neglect of these last advices; and ordered his
interpreter instantly to repair to the grand village, and demand of
the Grand Sun, whether he intended, at the head of his Warriors, to
come and kill the French, and to bring him word directly. The Grand
Sun, though but a young man, knew how to dissemble, and spoke in such
a manner to the interpreter, as to give full satisfaction to the
Commandant, who valued himself on his contempt of former advices; he
then repaired to his house, situate below the fort.

The Natchez had too well taken their measures to be disappointed in
the success thereof. The fatal moment was at last come. The Natchez
set out on the Eve of St. Andrew, 1729, taking care to bring with them
one of the lower sort, armed with a wooden hatchet, in order to knock
down the Commandant: they had so high a contempt for him, that no
Warrior would deign to kill him. [Footnote: Others say he was shot:
but neither account can be ascertained, as no Frenchman present
escaped.] The houses of the French filled with enemies, the fort in
like manner with the natives, who entered in at the gate and breaches,
deprived the soldiers, without officers, or even a serjeant at their
head, of the means of self defence. In the mean time the Grand Sun
arrived, with some Warriors loaded with corn, in appearance as the
first payment of the contribution; when several shot were fired. As
this firing was the signal, several shot were heard at the same
instant. Then at length the Commandant saw, but too late, his folly:
he ran into his garden, whither he was pursued {83} and killed. This
Massacre was executed every where at the same time. Of about seven
hundred persons, but few escaped to carry the dreadful news to the
capital; on receiving which the Governor and Council were sensibly
affected, and orders were dispatched every where to put people on
their guard.

The other Indians were displeased at the conduct of the Natchez,
imagining they had forwarded the term agreed on, in order to make them
ridiculous, and proposed to take vengeance the first opportunity, not
knowing the true cause of the precipitation of the Natchez.

After they had cleared the fort, warehouse, and other houses, the
Natchez set them all on fire, not leaving a single building standing.

The Yazous, who happened to be at that very time on an embassy to the
Natchez, were prevailed on to destroy the post of the Yazous; which
they failed not to effect some days after, making themselves masters
of the fort, under colour of paying a visit, as usual, and knocking
all the garrison on the head.

M. Perier, Governor of Louisiana, was then taking the proper steps to
be avenged: he sent M. le Sueur to the Chactaws, to engage them on our
side against the Natchez; in which he succeeded without any
difficulty. The reason of their readiness to enter into this design
was not then understood, it being unknown that they were concerned in
the plot of the Natchez to destroy all the French, and that it was
only to be avenged of the Natchez, who had taken the start of them,
and not given them a sufficient share of the booty.

M. de Loubois, king's lieutenant, was nominated to be at the head of
this expedition: he went up the river with a small army, and arrived
at the Tonicas. The Chactaws at length in the month of February near
the Natchez, to the number of fifteen or sixteen hundred men, with M.
le Sueur at their head; whither M. de Loubois came the March

The army encamped near the ruins of the old French settlement; and
after resting five days there, they marched to the enemy's fort, which
was a league from thence.

{84} After opening the trenches and firing for several days upon the
fort without any great effect, the French at last made their approach
so near as to frighten the enemy, who sent to offer to release all the
French women and children, on the condition of obtaining a lasting
peace, and of being suffered to live peaceably on their ground,
without being driven from thence, or molested for the future.

M. de Loubois assured them of peace on their own terms, if they also
gave up the French, who were in the fort, and all the negroes they had
taken belonging to the French; and if they agreed to destroy the fort
by fire. The Grand Sun accepted these conditions, provided the French
general should promise, he would neither enter the fort with the
French, nor suffer their auxiliaries to enter; which was accepted by
the general; who sent the allies to receive all the slaves.

The Natchez, highly pleased to have gained time, availed themselves of
the following night, and went out of the fort, with their wives and
children, loaded with their baggage and the French plunder, leaving
nothing but the cannon and ball behind.

M. de Loubois was struck with amazement at this escape, and only
thought of retreating to the landing-place, in order to build a fort
there: but first it was necessary to recover the French out of the
hands of the Chactaws, who insisted on a very high ransom. The matter
was compromised by means of the grand chief of the Tonicas, who
prevailed on them to accept what M. de Loubois was constrained to
offer them, to satisfy their avarice; which they accordingly accepted,
and gave up the French slaves, on promise of being paid as soon as
possible: but they kept as security a young Frenchman and some negro
slaves, whom they would never part with, till payment was made.

M. de Loubois gave orders to build a terrace-fort, far preferable to a
stoccado; there he left M. du Crenet, with an hundred and twenty men
in garrison, with cannon and ammunition; after which he went down the
Missisippi to New Orleans. The Chactaws, Tonicas, and other allies,
returned home.

{85} After the Natchez had abandoned the fort, it was demolished, and
its piles, or stakes, burnt. As the Natchez dreaded both the vengeance
of the French, and the insolence of the Chactaws, that made them take
the resolution of escaping in the night.

A short time after, a considerable party of the Natchez carried the
Pipe of Peace to the Grand Chief of the Tonicas, under pretence of
concluding a peace with him and all the French. The Chief sent to M.
Perier to know his pleasure: but the Natchez in the mean time
assassinated the Tonicas, beginning with their Grand Chief; and few of
them escaped this treachery.

M. Perier, Commandant General, zealous for the service, neglected no
means, whereby to discover in what part the Natchez had taken refuge.
And after many enquiries he was told, they had entirely quitted the
east side of the Missisippi, doubtless to avoid the troublesome and
dangerous visits of the Chactaws; and in order to be more concealed
from the French, had retired to the West of the Missisippi, near the
Silver Creek, about sixty leagues from the mouth of the Red River.

These advices were certain: but the Commandant General not thinking
himself in a condition fit to attack them without succours, had
applied for that purpose to the Court; and succours were accordingly
sent him.

In the mean time the Company, who had been apprized of the misfortune
at the Post of the Natchez, and the losses they had sustained by the
war, gave up that Colony to the King, with the privileges annexed
thereto. The Company at the same time ceded to the King all that
belonged to them in that Colony, as fortresses, artillery, ammunition,
warehouses, and plantations, with the negroes belonging thereto. In
consequence of which, his Majesty sent one of his ships, commanded by
M. de Forant, who brought with him M. de Salmont, Commissary-General
of the Marine, and Inspector of Louisiana, in order to take possession
of that Colony in the King's name.

I was continued in the inspection of this plantation, now become the
King's in 1730, as before.

{86} M. Perier, who till then had been Commandant General of Louisiana
for the West India Company, was now made Governor for the King; and
had the satisfaction to see his brother arrive, in one of the King's
ships, commanded by M. Perier de Salvert, with the succours he
demanded, which were an hundred and fifty soldiers of the marine. This
Officer had the title of Lieutenant General of the Colony conferred
upon him.

The Messrs. Perier set out with their army in very favourable weather;
and arrived at last, without obstruction, near to the retreat of the
Natchez. To get to that place, they went up the Red river, then the
Black River, and from thence up the Silver Creek, which communicates
with a small Lake at no great distance from the fort, which the
Natchez had built, in order to maintain their ground against the

The Natchez, struck with terror at the sight of a vigilant enemy, shut
themselves up in their fort. Despair assumed the place of prudence,
and they were at their wits end, on seeing the trenches gain ground on
the fort: they equip themselves like warriors, and stain their bodies
with different colours, in order to make their last efforts by a
sally, which resembled a transport of rage more than the calmness of
valour, to the terror, at first, of the soldiers.

The reception they met from our men, taught them, however, to keep
themselves shut up in their fort; and though the trench was almost
finished, our Generals were impatient to have the mortars put in a
condition to play on the place. At last they are set in battery; when
the third bomb happened to fall in the middle of the fort, the usual
place of residence of the women and children, they set up a horrible
screaming; and the men, seized with grief at the cries of their wives
and children, made the signal to capitulate.

The Natchez, after demanding to capitulate, started difficulties,
which occasioned messages to and fro till night, which they waited to
avail themselves of, demanding till next day to settle the articles of
capitulation. The night was granted them, but being narrowly watched
on the side next the gate, they could not execute the same project of
escape, as in the war {87} with M. de Loubois. However, they attempted
it, by taking advantage of the obscurity of the night, and of the
apparent stillness of the French: but they were discovered in time,
the greatest part being constrained to retire into the fort. Some of
them only happened to escape, who joined those that were out a
hunting, and all together retired to the Chicasaws. The rest
surrendered at discretion, among whom was the Grand Sun, and the
female Suns, with several warriors, many women, young people, and

The French army re-embarked, and carried the Natchez as slaves to New
Orleans, where they were put in prison; but afterwards, to avoid an
infection, the women and children were disposed of in the King's
plantation, and elsewhere; among these women was the female Sun,
called the Stung Arm, who then told me all she had done, in order to
save the French.

Some time after, these slaves were embarked for St. Domingo, in order
to root out that nation in the Colony; which was the only method of
effecting it, as the few that escaped had not a tenth of the women
necessary to recruit the nation. And thus that nation, the most
conspicuous in the Colony, and most useful to the French, was


_The War with the_ Chicasaws. _The first Expedition by the river_
Mobile. _The second by the_ Missisippi. _The war with the_ Chactaws
_terminated by the prudence of_ M. de Vaudreuil.

The war with the Chicasaws was owing to their having received and
adopted the Natchez: though in this respect they acted only according
to an inviolable usage and sacred custom, established among all the
nations of North America; that when a nation, weakened by war, retires
for shelter to another, who are willing to adopt them, and is pursued
thither by their enemies, this is in effect to declare war against the
nation adopting.

But M. de Biainville, whether displeased with this act of hospitality,
or losing sight of this unalterable law, constantly {88} prevailing
among those nations, sent word to the Chicasaws, to give up the
Natchez. In answer to his demand they alledged, that the Natchez
having demanded to be incorporated with them, were accordingly
received and adopted; so as now to constitute but one nation, or
people, under the name of Chicasaws, that of Natchez being entirely
abolished. Besides, added they, had Biainville received our enemies,
should we go to demand them? or, if we did, would they be given up?

Notwithstanding this answer, M. de Biainville made warlike
preparations against the Chicasaws, sent off Captain le Blanc, with
six armed boats under his command; one laden with gun-powder, the rest
with goods, the whole allotted for the war against the Chicasaws; the
Captain at the same time carrying orders to M. d'Artaguette,
Commandant of the Post of the Illinois, to prepare to set out at the
head of all the troops, inhabitants and Indians, he could march from
the Illinois, in order to be at the Chicasaws the 10th of May
following, as the Governor himself was to be there at the same time.

The Chicasaws, apprized of the warlike preparations of the French,
resolved to guard the Missisippi, imagining they would be attacked on
that side. In vain they attempted to surprise M. le Blanc's convoy,
which got safe to the Arkansas, where the gun-powder was left, for
reasons no one can surmise.

From thence he had no cross accident to the Illinois, at which place
he delivered the orders the Governor had dispatched for M.
d'Artaguette; who finding a boat laden with gun-powder, designed for
his post, and for the service of the war intended against the
Chicasaws, left at the Arkansas, sent off the same day a boat to fetch
it up; which on its return was taken by a party of Chicasaws; who
killed all but M. du Tiffenet, junior, and one Rosalie, whom they made

In the mean time, M. de Biainville went by sea to Fort Mobile, where
the Grand Chief of the Chactaws waited for him, in consequence of his
engaging to join his Warriours with ours, in order to make war upon
the Chicasaws, in consideration of a certain quantity of goods, part
to be paid down directly, the rest at a certain time prefixed. The
Governor, {89} after this, returned to New Orleans, there to wait the
opening of the campaign.

M. de Biainville, on his return, made preparations against his own
departure, and that of the army, consisting of regular troops, some
inhabitants and free negroes, and some slaves, all which set out from
New Orleans for Mobile; where, on the 10th of March, 1736, the army,
together with the Chactaws, was assembled; and where they rested till
the 2d of April, when they began their march, those from New Orleans
taking their route by the river Mobile, in thirty large boats and as
many pettyaugres; the Indians by land, marching along the east bank of
that river; and making but short marches, they arrived at Tombecbec
only the 20th of April, where M. de Biainville caused a fort to be
built: here he gave the Chactaws the rest of the goods due to them,
and did not set out from thence till the 4th of May. All this time was
taken up with a Council of War, held on four soldiers, French and
Swiss, who had laid a scheme to kill the Commandant and garrison, to
carry off M. du Tiffenet and Rosalie, who had happily made their
escape from the Chicasaws, and taken refuge in the fort, and to put
them again into the hands of the enemy, in order to be better received
by them, and to assist, and shew them how to make a proper defence
against the French, and from thence to go over to the English of

From the 4th of May, on which the army set out from Tombeebee, they
took twenty days to come to the landing-place. After landing, they
built a very extensive inclosure of palisadoes, with a shed, as a
cover for the goods and ammuninition, then the army passed the night.
On the 25th powder and ball were given out to the soldiers, and
inhabitants, the sick with some raw soldiers being left to guard this
old sort of fort.

From this place to the fort of the Chicasaws are seven leagues: this
day they marched five leagues and a half in two columns and in file,
across the woods. On the wings marched the Chactaws, to the number of
twelve hundred at least, commanded by their Grand Chief. In the
evening they encamped in a meadow, surrounded with wood.

{90} On the 26th of May they marched to the enemy's fort, across thin
woods; and with water up to the waist, passed over a rivulet, which
traverses a small wood; on coming out of which, they entered a fine
plain: in this plain stood the fort of the Chicasaws, with a village
defended by it. This fort is situated on an eminence, with an easy
ascent; around it stood several huts, and at a greater distance
towards the bottom, other huts, which appeared to have been put in a
state of defence: quite close to the fort ran a little brook, which
watered a part of the plain.

The Chactaws no sooner espied the enemy's fort, than they rent the air
with their death-cries, and instantly flew to the fort: but their
ardour flagged at a carabin-shot from the place. The French marched in
good order, and got beyond a small wood, which they left in their
rear, within cannon-shot of the enemy's fort, where an English flag
was seen flying. At the same time four Englishmen, coming from the
huts, were seen to go up the ascent, and enter the fort, where their
flag was set up.

Upon this, it was imagined, they would be summoned to quit the enemy's
fort, and to surrender, as would in like manner the Chicasaws: but
nothing of this was once proposed. The General gave orders to the
Majors to form large detachments of each of their corps, in order to
go and take the enemy's fort. These orders were in part executed:
three large detachments were made; namely, one of grenadiers, one of
soldiers, and another of militia, or train-bands; who, to the number
of twelve hundred men, advanced with ardour towards the enemy's fort,
crying out aloud several times, _Vive le Roi_, as if already masters of
the place; which, doubtless, they imagined to carry sword in hand; for
in the whole army there was not a single iron tool to remove the
earth, and form the attacks.

The rest of the army marched in battle-array, ten men deep; mounted
the eminence whereon the fort stood, and being come there, set fire to
some huts, with wild-fire thrown at the ends of darts; but the smoke
stifled the army.

The regular troops marched in front, and the militia, or train-bands,
in rear. According to rule these train-bands {91} made a quarter turn
to right and left, with intent to go and invest the place. But M. de
Jusan, Aid-Major of the troops, stopt short their ardor, and sent them
to their proper post, reserving for his own corps the glory of
carrying the place, which continued to make a brisk defence.
Biainville remained at the quarters of reserve; where he observed what
would be the issue of the attack, than which none could be more

Both the regulars and inhabitants, or train-bands, gave instances of the
greatest valour: but what could they do, open and exposed as they were,
against a fort, whose stakes or wooden posts were a fathom in compass,
and their joinings again lined with other posts, almost as big? From
this fort, which was well garrisoned, issued a shower of balls; which
would have mowed down at least half the assailants, if directed by men
who knew how to fire. The enemy were under cover from all the attacks of
the French, and could have defended themselves by their loop-holes.
Besides, they formed a gallery of flat pallisadoes quite round, covered
with earth, which screened it from the effects of grenadoes. In this
manner the troops lavished their ammunition against the wooden posts, or
stakes, of the enemy's fort, without any other effect than having
thirty-two men killed, and almost seventy wounded; which last were
carried to the body of reserve; from whence the General, seeing the bad
success of the attack, ordered to beat the retreat, and sent a large
detachment to favour it. It was now five in the evening, and the attack
had been begun at half an hour after one. The troops rejoined the body
of the army, without being able to carry off their dead, which were left
on the field of battle, exposed to the rage of the enemy.

After taking some refreshment, they directly fortified themselves, by
felling trees, in order to pass the night secure from the insults of
the enemy, by being carefully on their guard. Next day it was observed
the enemy had availed themselves of that night to demolish some huts,
where the French, during the attack, had put themselves under cover,
in order from thence to batter the fort.

{92} On the 27th, the day after the attack, the army began its march,
and lay at a league from the enemy. The day following, at a league
from the landing-place, whither they arrived next day, the French
embarked for Fort Mobile, and from thence for the Capital, from which
each returned to his own home.

A little time after, a serjeant of the garrison of the Illinois
arrived at New Orleans, who reported, that, in consequence of the
General's orders, M. d'Artaguette had taken his measures so well, that
on the 9th of May he arrived with his men near the Chicasaws, sent out
scouts to discover the arrival of the French army; which he continued
to do till the 20th: that the Indians in alliance hearing no accounts
of the French, wanted either to return home, or to attack the
Chicasaws; which last M. d'Artaguette resolved upon, on the 21st, with
pretty good success at first, having forced the enemy to quit their
village and fort: that he then attacked another village with the same
success, but that pursuing the runaways, M. d'Artaguette had received
two wounds, which the Indians finding, resolved to abandon that
Commandant, with forty-six soldiers and two serjeants, who defended
their Commandant all that day, but were at last obliged to surrender;
that they were well used by the enemy, who understanding that the
French were in their country, prevailed on M. d'Artaguette to write to
the General: but that this deputation having had no success, and
learning that the French were retired, and despairing of any ransom
for their slaves, put them to death by a slow fire. The serjeant
added, he had the happiness to fall into the hands of a good master,
who favoured his escape to Mobile.

M. de Biainville, desirous to take vengeance of the Chicasaws, wrote
to France for succours, which the Court sent, ordering also the Colony
of Canada to send succours. In the mean time M. de Biainville sent off
a large detachment for the river St. Francis, in order to build a fort
there, called also St. Francis.

The squadron which brought the succours from France being arrived,
they set out, by going up the Missisippi, for the fort that had been
just built. This army consisted of Marines, {93} of the troops of the
Colony, of several Inhabitants, many Negroes, and some Indians, our
allies; and being assembled in this place, took water again, and still
proceeded up the Missisippi to a little river called Margot, near the
Cliffs called Prud'homme, and there the whole army landed. They
encamped on a fine plain, at the foot of a hill, about fifteen leagues
from the enemy; fortified themselves by way of precaution, and built
in the fort a house for the Commandant, some cazerns, and a warehouse
for the goods. This fort was called Assumption, from the day on which
they landed.

They had waggons and sledges made, and the roads cleared for
transporting cannon, ammunition, and other necessaries for forming a
regular siege. There and then it was the succours from Canada arrived,
consisting of French, Iroquois, Hurons, Episingles, Algonquins, and
other nations: and soon after arrived the new Commandant of the
Illinois, with the garrison, inhabitants, and neighbouring Indians,
all that he could bring together, with a great number of horses.

This formidable army, consisting of so many different nations, the
greatest ever seen, and perhaps that ever will be seen, in those
parts, remained in this camp without undertaking any thing, from the
month of August 1739, to the March following. Provisions, which at
first were in great plenty, came at last to be so scarce, that they
were obliged to eat the horses which were to draw the artillery,
ammunition, and provisions: afterwards sickness raged in the army. M.
de Biainville, who hitherto had attempted nothing against the
Chicasaws, resolved to have recourse to mild methods. He therefore
detached, about the 15th of March, the company of Cadets, with their
Captain, M. de Celoron, their Lieutenant, M. de St. Laurent, and the
Indians, who came with them from Canada, against the Chicasaws, with
orders to offer peace to them in his name, if they sued for it.

What the General had foreseen, failed not to happen. As soon as the
Chicasaws saw the French, followed by the Indians of Canada, they
doubted not in the least, but the rest of that numerous army would
soon follow; and they no sooner saw them approach, but they made
signals of peace, and came out {94} of their fort in the most humble
manner, exposing themselves to all the consequences that might ensue,
in order to obtain peace. They solemnly protested that they actually
were, and would continue to be inviolable friends of the French; that
it was the English, who prevailed upon them to act in this manner; but
that they had fallen out with them on this account, and at that very
time had two of that nation, whom they made slaves; and that the
French might go and see whether they spoke truth.

M. de St. Laurent asked to go, and accordingly went with a young
slave: but he might have had reason to have repented it, had not the
men been more prudent than the women, who demanded the head of the
Frenchman: but the men, after consulting together, were resolved to
save him, in order to obtain peace of the French, on giving up the two
Englishmen. The women risk scarce any thing near so much as the men;
these last are either slain in battle, or put to death by their
enemies; whereas the women at worst are but slaves; and they all
perfectly well know, that the Indian women are far better off when
slaves to the French, than if married at home. M. de St. Laurent,
highly pleased with this discovery, promised them peace in the name of
M. de Biainville, and of all the French: after these assurances, they
went all in a body out of the fort, to present the Pipe to M. de
Celoron, who accepted it, and repeated the same promise.

In a few days after, he set out with a great company of Chicasaws,
deputed to carry the Pipe to the French General, and deliver up the
two Englishmen. When they came before M. de Biainville, they fell
prostrate at his feet, and made him the same protestations of fidelity
and friendship, as they had already made to M. de Celoron; threw the
blame on the English; said they were entirely fallen out with them,
and had taken these two, and put them in his hands, as enemies. They
protested, in the most solemn manner, they would for ever be friends
of the French and of their friends, and enemies of their enemies; in
fine, that they would make war on the English, if it was thought
proper, in order to shew that they renounced them as traitors.

{95} Thus ended the war with the Chicasaws, about the beginning of
April, 1740. M. de Biainville dismissed the auxiliaries, after making
them presents; razed the Fort Assumption, thought to be no longer
necessary, and embarked with his whole army; and in passing down,
caused the Fort St. Francis to be demolished, as it was now become
useless; and he repaired to the Capital, after an absence of more than
ten months.

Some years after, we had disputes with a part of the Chactaws, who
followed the interests of the Red-Shoe, a Prince of that nation, who,
in the first expedition against the Chicasaws, had some disputes with
the French. This Indian, more insolent than any one of his nation,
took a pretext to break out, and commit several hostilities against
the French. M. de Vaudreuil, then Governor of Louisiana, being
apprised of this, and of the occasion thereof, strictly forbad the
French to frequent that nation, and to truck with them any arms or
ammunition, in order to put a stop to that disorder in a short time,
and without drawing the sword.

M. de Vaudreuil, after taking these precautions, sent to demand of the
Grand Chief of the whole nation, whether, like the Red-Shoe, he was
also displeased with the French. He made answer, he was their friend:
but that the Red-Shoe was a young man, without understanding. Having
returned this answer, they sent him a present: but he was greatly
surprised to find neither arms, powder, nor ball in this present, at a
time when they were friends as before. This manner of proceeding,
joined to the prohibition made of trucking with them arms or
ammunition, heightened their surprise, and put them on having an
explication on this head with the Governor; who made answer, That
neither arms nor ammunition would be trucked with them, as long as the
Red-Shoe had no more understanding; that they would not fail, as being
brethren, to share a good part of the ammunition and arms with the
Warriors of the Red-Shoe. This answer put them on remonstrating to the
Village that insulted us; told them, if they did not instantly make
peace with the French, they would themselves make war upon them. This
threatening declaration made them sue for peace with the French, who
were not in a condition to maintain {96} a war against a nation so
numerous. And thus the prudent policy of M. de Vaudreuil put a stop to
this war, without either expence or the loss of a man.


_Reflections on what gives Occasions to Wars in_ Louisiana. _The Means
of avoiding Wars in that Province, as also the Manner of coming off with
Advantage and little Expence in them._

The experience I have had in the art of war, from some campaigns I
made in a regiment of dragoons till the peace of 1713, my application
to the study of the wars of the Greeks, Romans, and other ancient
people, and the wars I have seen carried on with the Indians of
Louisiana, during the time I resided in that Province, gave me
occasion to make several reflections on what could give rise to a war
with the Indians, on the means of avoiding such a war, and on such
methods as may be employed, in order either to make or maintain a war
to advantage against them, when constrained thereto.

In the space of sixteen years that I resided in Louisiana, I remarked,
that the war, and even the bare disputes we have had with the Indians
of this Colony, never had any other origin, but our too familiar
intercourse with them.

In order to prove this, let us consider the evils produced by this
familiarity. In the first place, it makes them gradually drop that
respect, which they naturally entertain for our nation.

In the second place, the French traffickers, or traders, are generally
young people without experience, who, in order to gain the good-will
of these people, afford them lights, or instruction, prejudicial to
our interest. These young merchants are not, it is true, sensible of
these consequences: but again, these people never lose sight of what
can be of any utility to them, and the detriment thence accruing is
not less great, nor less real.

In the third place, this familiarity gives occasion to vices, whence
dangerous distempers ensue, and corruption of blood, {97} which is
naturally highly pure in this colony. These persons, who frequently
resort to the Indians, imagined themselves authorized to give a loose
to their vices, from the practice of these last, which is to give
young women to their guests upon their arrival; a practice that
greatly injures their health, and proves a detriment to their

In the fourth place, this resorting to the Indians puts these last
under a constraint, as being fond of solitude; and this constraint is
still more heightened, if the French settlement is near them; which
procures them too frequent visits, that give them so much more
uneasiness, as they care not on any account that people should see or
know any of their affairs. And what fatal examples have we not of the
dangers the settlements which are too near the Indians incur. Let but
the massacre of the French be recollected, and it will be evident that
this proximity is extremely detrimental to the French.

In the fifth and last place, commerce, which is the principal
allurement that draws us to this new world instead of flourishing, is,
on the contrary, endangered by the too familiar resort to the Indians
of North America. The proof of this is very simple.

All who resort to countries beyond sea, know by experience, that when
there is but one ship in the harbour, the Captain sells his cargo at
what price he pleases: and then we hear it said, such a ship gained
two, three, and sometimes as high as four hundred per cent. Should
another ship happen to arrive in that harbour, the profit abates at
least one half; but should three arrive, or even four successively,
the goods then are, so to speak, thrown at the head of the buyer: so
that in this case a merchant has often great difficulty to recover his
very expenses of fitting out. I should therefore be led to believe,
that it would be for the interest of commerce, if the Indians were
left to come to fetch what merchandize they wanted, who having none
but us in their neighbourhood, would come for it, without the French
running any risk in their commerce, much less in their lives.

For this purpose, let us suppose a nation of Indians on the banks of
some river or rivulet, which is always the case, as all {98} men
whatever have at all times occasion for water. This being supposed, I
look out for a spot proper to build a small terras-fort on, with
fraises or stakes, and pallisadoes. In this fort I would build two
small places for lodgings, of no great height; one to lodge the
officers, the other the soldiers: this fort to have an advanced work,
a half-moon, or the like, according to the importance of the post. The
passage to be through this advanced work to the fort, and no Indian
allowed to enter on any pretence whatever; not even to receive the
Pipe of Peace there, but only in the advanced work; the gate of the
fort to be kept shut day and night against all but the French. At the
gate of the advanced work a sentinel to be posted, and that gate to be
opened and shut on each person appearing before it. By these
precautions we might be sure never to be surprised, either by avowed
enemies, or by treachery. In the advanced work a small building to be
made for the merchants, who should come thither to traffick or truck
with the neighbouring Indians; of which last only three or four to be
admitted at a time, all to have the merchandize at the same price, and
no one to be favoured above another. No soldier or inhabitant to go to
the villages of the neighbouring Indians, under severe penalties. By
this conduct disputes would be avoided, as they only arise from too
great a familiarity with them. These forts to be never nearer the
villages than five leagues, or more distant than seven or eight. The
Indians would make nothing of such a jaunt; it would be only a walk
for them, and their want of goods would easily draw them, and in a
little time they would become habituated to it. The merchants to pay a
salary to an interpreter, who might be some orphan, brought up very
young among these people.

This fort, thus distant a short journey, might be built without
obstruction, or giving any umbrage to the Indians: as they might be
told it was built in order to be at hand to truck their furs, and at
the same time to give them no manner of uneasiness. One advantage
would be, besides that of commerce, which would be carried on there,
that these forts would prevent the English from having any
communication with the Indians, as these last would find a great
facility for their truck, and in forts so near them, every thing they
could want.

{99} The examples of the surprise of the forts of the Natchez, the
Yazoux, and the Missouris, shew but too plainly the fatal consequences
of negligence in the service, and of a misplaced condescension in
favour of the soldiers, by suffering them to build huts near the fort,
and to lie in them. None should be allowed to lie out of the fort, not
even the Officers. The Commandant of the Natchez, and the other
Officers, and even the Serjeants, were killed in their houses without
the fort. I should not be against the soldiers planting little fields
of tobacco, potatoes, and other plants, too low to conceal a man: on
the contrary, these employments would incline them to become settlers;
but I would never allow them houses out of the fort. By this means a
fort becomes impregnable against the most numerous; because they never
will attack, should they have ever so much cause, as long as they see
people on their guard.

Should it be objected that these forts would cost a great deal: I
answer, that though there was to be a fort for each nation, which is
not the case, it would not cost near so much as from time to time it
takes to support wars, which in this country are very expensive, on
account of the long journeys, and of transporting all the implements
of war, hitherto made use of. Besides, we have a great part of these
forts already built, so that we only want the advanced works; and two
new forts more would suffice to compleat this design, and prevent the
fraudulent commerce of the English traders.

As to the manner of carrying on the war in Louisiana, as was hitherto
done, it is very expensive, highly fatiguing, and the risk always great;
because you must first transport the ammunition to the landing-place;
from thence travel for many leagues; then drag the artillery along by
main force, and carry the ammunition on men's shoulders, a thing that
harasses and weakens the troops very much. Moreover, there is a great
deal of risk in making war in this manner: you have the approaches of a
fort to make, which cannot be done without loss of lives: and should you
make a breach, how many brave men are lost, before you can force men who
fight like desperadoes, because they prefer death to slavery.

{100} I say, should you make a breach; because in all the time I
resided in this Province, I never saw nor heard that the cannon which
were brought against the Indian forts, ever made a breach for a single
man to pass: it is therefore quite useless to be at that expence, and
to harass the troops to bring artillery, which can be of no manner of

That cannon can make no breach in Indian forts may appear strange: but
not more strange than true; as will appear, if we consider that the
wooden posts or stakes which surround these forts, are too big for a
bullet of the size of those used in these wars, to cut them down,
though it were even to hit their middle. If the bullet gives more
towards the edge of the tree, it glides off, and strikes the next to
it; should the ball hit exactly between two posts, it opens them, and
meets the post of the lining, which stops it short: another ball may
strike the same tree, at the other joining, then it closes the little
aperture the other had made.

Were I to undertake such a war, I would bring only a few Indian
allies; I could easily manage them; they would not stand me so much in
presents, nor consume so much ammunition and provisions: a great
saving this; and bringing no cannon with me, I should also save
expences. I would have none but portable arms; and thus my troops
would not be harassed. The country every where furnishes wherewithal
to make moveable intrenchments and approaches, without opening the
ground: and I would flatter myself to carry the fort in two days time.
There I stop: the reader has no need of this detail, nor I to make it


Pensacola _taken by Surprize by the_ French. _Retaken by the_ Spaniards.
_Again retaken by the_ French, _and demolished_.

Before I go any farther, I think it necessary to relate what happened
with respect to the Fort of Pensacola in Virginia. [Footnote: The
author must mean Carolina.] This fort belongs to the Spaniards, and
serves for an {101} Entrepot, or harbour for the Spanish galleons to
put into, in their passage from La Vera Cruz to Europe.

Towards the beginning of the year 1719, the Commandant General having
understood by the last ships which arrived, that war was declared
between France and Spain, resolved to take the post of Pensacola from
the Spaniards; which stands on the continent, about fifteen leagues
from Isle Dauphine, is defended by a staccado-fort the entrance of the
road: over against it stands a fortin, or small fort, on the west
point of the Isle St. Rose; which, on that side, defends the entrance
of the road: this fort has only a guard-house to defend it.

The Commandant General, persuaded it would be impossible to besiege
the place in form, wanted to take it by surprise, confiding in the
ardor of the French, and security of the Spaniards, who were as yet
ignorant of our being at war with them in Europe. With that view he
assembled the few troops he had, with several Canadian and French
planters, newly arrived, who went as volunteers. M. de Chateauguier,
the Commandant's brother, and King's Lieutenant, commanded under him;
and next him, M. de Richebourg, Captain. After arming this body of
men, and getting the necessary supplies of ammunition and provisions,
he embarked with his small army, and by the favour of a prosperous
wind, arrived in a short time at his place of destination. The French
anchored near the Fortin, made their descent undiscovered, seized on
the guard-house, and clapt the soldiers in irons; which was done in
less than half an hour. Some French soldiers were ordered to put on
the cloaths of the Spaniards, in order to facilitate the surprising
the enemy. The thing succeeded to their wish. On the morrow at
day-break, they perceived the boat which carried the detachment from
Pensacola, in order to relieve the guard of the fortin; on which the
Spanish march was caused to be beat up; and the French in disguise
receiving them, and clapping them in irons, put on their cloaths; and
stepping into the same boat, surprised the sentinel, the guard-house,
and at last the garrison, to the very Governor himself, who was taken
in bed; so that they all were made prisoners without any bloodshed.

{102} The Commandant General, apprehensive of the scarcity of
provisions, shipped off the prisoners, escorted by some soldiers,
commanded by M. de Richebourg, in order to land them at the Havanna:
he left his brother at Pensacola, to command there, with a garrison of
sixty men. As soon as the French vessel had anchored at the Havanna,
M. de Richebourg went on shore, to acquaint the Spanish Governor with
his commission; who received him with politeness, and as a testimony
of his gratitude, made him and his officers prisoners, put the
soldiers in irons and in prison, where they lay for some time, exposed
to hunger and the insults of the Spaniards, which determined many of
them to enter into the service of Spain, in order to escape the
extreme misery under which they groaned.

Some of the French, newly enlisted in the Spanish troops, informed the
Governor of the Havanna, that the French garrison left at Pensacola
was very weak: he, in his turn, resolved to carry that fort by way of
reprisal. For that purpose he caused a Spanish vessel, with that which
the French had brought to the Havanna, to be armed. The Spanish vessel
stationed itself behind the Isle St. Rose, and the French vessel came
before the fort with French colours. The sentinel enquired, who
commanded the vessel? They answered, M. de Richebourg. This vessel,
after anchoring, took down her French, and hoisted Spanish colours,
firing three guns: at which signal, agreed on by the Spaniards, the
Spanish vessel joined the first; then they summoned the French to
surrender. M. de Chateauguiere rejected the proposition, fired upon
the Spaniards, and they continued cannonading each other till night.

On the following day the cannonading was continued till noon, when the
Spaniards ceased firing, in order to summon the Commandant anew to
surrender the fort: he demanded four days, and was allowed two. During
that time, he sent to ask succours of his brother, who was in no
condition to send him any.

The term being expired, the attack was renewed, the Commandant bravely
defending himself till night; which two thirds of the garrison availed
themselves of, to abandon their Governor, {103} who, having only
twenty men left, saw himself unable to make any longer resistance,
demanded to capitulate, and was allowed all the honours of war; but in
going out of the place, he and all his men were made prisoners. This
infraction of the capitulation was occasioned by the shame the
Spaniards conceived, of being constrained to capitulate in this manner
with twenty men only.

As soon as the Governor of the Havanna was apprised of the surrender
of the fort, vainly imagining he had overthrown half his enemies at
least, he caused great rejoicings to be made in the island, as if he
had gained a decisive victory, or carried a citadel of importance. He
also sent off several vessels to victual and refresh his warriors,
who, according to him, must have been greatly fatigued in such an
action as I have just described.

The new Governor of Pensacola caused the fortifications to be repaired
and even augmented; sent afterwards the vessel, named the Great Devil,
armed with six pieces of cannon, to take Dauphin Island, or at least
to strike terror into it. The vessel St. Philip, which lay in the
road, entered a gut or narrow place, and there mooring across, brought
all her guns to bear on the enemy; and made the Great Devil sensible,
that Saints resist all the efforts of Hell.

This ship, by her position, served for a citadel to the whole island,
which had neither fortifications nor intrenchments, nor any other sort
of defence, excepting a battery of cannon at the east point, with some
inhabitants, who guarded the coast, and prevented a descent. The Great
Devil, finding she made no progress, was constrained, by way of
relaxation, to go and pillage on the continent the habitation of the
Sieur Miragouine, which was abandoned. In the mean time arrived from
Pensacola, a little devil, a pink, to the assistance of the Great
Devil. As soon as they joined, they began afresh to cannonade the
island, which made a vigorous defence.

In the time that these two vessels attempted in vain to take the
island, a squadron of five ships came in sight, four of them with
Spanish colours, and the least carrying French hoisted to {104} the
top of the staff, as if taken by the four others. In this the French
were equally deceived with the Spaniards: the former, however, knew
the small vessel, which was the pink, the Mary, commanded by the brave
M. Iapy. The Spaniards, convinced by these appearances, that succours
were sent them, deputed two officers in a shallop on board the
commodore: but they were no sooner on board, than they were made

They were in effect three French men of war, with two ships of the
Company, commanded by M. Champmelin. These ships brought upwards of
eight hundred men, and thirty officers, as well superior as subaltern,
all of them old and faithful servants of the King, in order to remain
in Louisiana. The Spaniards, finding their error, fled to Pensacola,
to carry the news of this succour being arrived for the French.

The squadron anchored before the island, hoisted French colours, and
fired a salvo, which was answered by the place. The St. Philip was
drawn out and made to join the squadron: a new embarkation of troops
was made, and the Mary left before Isle Dauphine.

On September the 7th, finding the wind favourable, the squadron set
sail for Pensacola: by the way, the troops that were to make the
attack on the continent, were landed near Rio Perdido; after which the
ships, preceded by a boat, which shewed the way, entered the harbour,
and anchored, and laid their broad sides, in spite of several
discharges of cannon from the fort, which is upon the Isle of St.
Rose. The ships had no sooner laid their broad-sides, but the
cannonade began on both sides. Our ships had two forts to batter, and
seven sail of ships that lay in the harbour. But the great land fort
fired only one gun on our army, in which the Spanish Governor, having
observed upwards of three hundred Indians, commanded by M. de St.
Denis, whose bravery was universally acknowledged, was struck with
such a panick, from the fear of falling into their hands, that he
struck, and surrendered the place.

The fight continued for about two hours longer: but the heavy metal of
our Commodore making great execution, the Spaniards cried out several
times on board their ships, to {105} strike; but fear prevented their
executing these orders: none but a French prisoner durst do it for
them. They quitted their ships, leaving matches behind, which would
have soon set them on fire. The French prisoners between decks, no
longer hearing the least noise, surmised a flight, came on deck,
discovered the stratagem of the Spaniards, removed the matches, and
thus hindered the vessels from taking fire, acquainting the Commodore
therewith. The little fort held out but an hour longer, after which it
surrendered for want of gunpowder. The Commandant came himself to put
his sword in the hands of M. Champmelin, who embraced him, returned
him his sword, and told him, he knew how to distinguish between a
brave officer, and one who was not. He made his own ship his place of
confinement, whereas the Commandant of the great fort was made the
laughing-stock of the French.

All the Spaniards on board the ships, and those of the two forts were
made prisoners of war: but the French deserters, to the number of
forty, were made to cast lots; half of them were hanged at the
yard-arms, the rest condemned to be galley-slaves to the Company for
ten years in the country.

M. Champmelin caused the two forts to be demolished, preserving only
three or four houses, with a warehouse. These houses were to lodge the
officer, and the few soldiers that were left there, and one to be a
guard-house. The rest of the planters were transported to Isle
Dauphine, and M. Champmelin set sail for France. [Footnote: At the
peace that soon succeeded between France and Spain, Pensacola was
restored to the last.]

The history of Pensacola is the more necessary, as it is so near our
settlements, that the Spaniards hear our guns, when we give them
notice by that signal of our design to come and trade with them.




_Of the Country, and its Products_.


_Geographical Description of Louisiana. Its Climate_

Louisiana that part of North America, which is bounded on the south by
the Gulf of Mexico; on the east by Carolina, an English colony, and by
a part of Canada; on the west by New Mexico; and on the north, in part
by Canada; in part it extends, without any assignable bounds, to the
Terrae Incognitae, adjoining to Hudson's Bay. [Footnote: By the
charter granted by Louis XIV. to M. Crozat, Louisiana extends only
"from the edge of the sea as far as the Illinois," which is not above
half the extent assigned by our author.] Its breadth is about two
hundred leagues, [Footnote: According to the best maps and accounts
extant, the distance from the Missisippi to the mountains of New
Mexico is about nine hundred miles, and from the Missisippi to the
Atlantic Ocean about six hundred; reckoning sixty miles to a degree,
and in a straight line.] extending between the Spanish and English
settlements; its length undetermined, as being altogether unknown.
However, the source of the Missisippi will afford us some light on
this head.

The climate of Louisiana varies in proportion as it extends northward:
all that can be said of it in general is, that its southern parts are
not so scorching as those of Africa in the {108} same latitude; and
that the northern parts are colder than the corresponding parts of
Europe. New Orleans, which lies in lat. 30 deg., as do the more northerly
coasts of Barbary and Egypt, enjoys the same temperature of climate as
Languedoc. Two degrees higher-up, at the Natchez, where I resided for
eight years, the climate is far more mild than at New Orleans, the
country lying higher: and at the Illinois, which is between 45 deg. and
46 deg., the summer is in no respect hotter than at Rochelle; but we find
the frosts harder, and a more plentiful fall of snow. This difference
of climate from that of Africa and Europe, I ascribe to two causes:
the first is, the number of woods, which, though scattered up and
down, cover the face of this country: the second, the great number of
rivers. The former prevent the sun from warming the earth; and the
latter diffuse a great degree of humidity: not to mention the
continuity of this country with those to the northward; from which it
follows, that the winds blowing from that quarter are much colder than
if they traversed the sea in their course. For it is well known that
the air is never so hot, and never so cold at sea, as on land.

We ought not therefore to be surprised, if in the southern part of
Louisiana, a north wind obliges people in summer to be warmer
cloathed; or if in winter a south wind admits of a lighter dress; as
naturally owing, at the one time to the dryness of the wind, at the
other, to the proximity of the Equator.

Few days pass in Louisiana without seeing the sun. The rain pours down
there in sudden heavy showers, which do not last long, but disappear
in half an hour, perhaps. The dews are very plentiful, advantageously
supplying the place of rain.

We may therefore well imagine that the air is perfectly good there;
the blood is pure; the people are healthy; subject to few diseases in
the vigour of life, and without decrepitude in old age, which they
carry to a far greater length than in France. People live to a long
and agreeable old age in Louisiana, if they are but sober and

This country is extremely well watered, but much more so in some
places than in others. The Missisippi divides this {109} colony from
north to south into two parts almost equal. The first discoverers of
this river by the way of Canada, called it Colbert, in honour of that
great Minister. By some of the savages of the north it is called
Meact-Chassipi, which literally denotes, The Ancient Father of Rivers,
of which the French have, by corruption formed Missisippi. Other
Indians, especially those lower down the river, call it Balbancha; and
at last the French have given it the name of St. Louis.

Several travellers have in vain attempted to go up to its source;
which, however, is well known, whatever some authors, misinformed, may
alledge to the contrary. We here subjoin the accounts that may be most
depended upon.

M. de Charleville, a Canadian, and a relation of M. de Biainville,
Commandant General of this colony, told me, that at the time of the
settlement of the French, curiosity alone had led him to go up this
river to its sources; that for this end he fitted out a canoe, made of
the bark of the birch-tree, in order to be more portable in case of
need. And that having thus set out with two Canadians and two Indians,
with goods, ammunition, and provisions, he went up the river three
hundred leagues to the north, above the Illinois: that there be found
the Fall, called St. Antony's. This fall is a flat-rock, which
traverses the river, and gives it only between eight or ten feet fall.
He caused his canoe and effects to be carried over that place; and
that embarking afterwards above the fall, he continued going up the
river an hundred leagues more to the north, where he met the Sioux, a
people inhabiting that country, at some distance from the Missisippi;
some say, on each side of it.

The Sioux, little accustomed to see Europeans, were surprized at seeing
him, and asked whither he was going. He told them, up the Missisippi to
its source. They answered, that the country whither he was going was
very bad, and where he would have great difficulty to find game for
subsistence; that it was a great way off, reckoned as far from the
source to the fall, as from this last to the sea. According to this
information, the Missisippi must measure from its source to its mouth
between fifteen and sixteen hundred leagues, as they reckon eight
hundred leagues from St. Antony's Fall to the sea. This {110} conjecture
is the more probable, as that far to the north, several rivers of a
pretty long course fall into the Missisippi; and that even above St.
Antony's Fall, we find in this river between thirty and thirty-five
fathom water, and a breadth in proportion; which can never be from a
source at no great distance off. I may add, that all the Indians,
informed by those nearer the source, are of the same opinion.

Though M. de Charleville did not see the source of the Missisippi, he,
however, learned, that a great many rivers empty their waters into it:
that even above St. Antony's Fall, he saw rivers on each side of the
Missisippi, having a course of upwards of an hundred leagues.

It is proper to observe, that in going down the river from St.
Antony's Fall, the right hand is the west, the left the east. The
first river we meet from the fall, and some leagues lower down, is the
river St. Peter, which comes from the west: lower down to the east, is
the river St. Croix, both of them tolerable large rivers. We meet
several others still less, the names of which are of no consequence.
Afterwards we meet with the river Moingona, which comes from the west,
about two hundred and fifty leagues below the fall, and upwards of an
hundred and fifty leagues in length. This river is somewhat brackish.
From that river to the Illinois, several rivulets or brooks, both to
the right and left, fall into the Missisippi. The river of the
Illinois comes from the east, and takes its rise on the frontiers of
Canada; its length is two hundred leagues.

The river Missouri comes from a source about eight hundred leagues
distant; and running from north-west to south-east, discharges itself
into the Missisippi, about four or five leagues below the river of the
Illinois. This river receives several others, in particular the river
of the Canzas, which runs above an hundred and fifty leagues. From the
rivers of the Illinois and the Missouri to the sea are reckoned five
hundred leagues, and three hundred to St. Antony's Fall: from the
Missouri to the Wabache, or Ohio, an hundred leagues. By this last
river is the passage from Louisiana to Canada. This voyage is
performed from New Orleans by going up the Missisippi to the Wabache;
which they go up in the same manner quite to {111} the river of the
Miamis; in which they proceed as far as the Carrying-place; from which
there are two leagues to a little river which falls into Lake Erie.
Here they change their vessels; they come in pettyaugres, and go down
the river St. Laurence to Quebec in birch canoes. On the river St.
Laurence are several carrying-places, on account of its many falls or

Those who have performed this voyage, have told me they reckoned
eighteen hundred leagues from New Orleans to Quebec. [Footnote: It is
not above nine hundred leagues.] Though the Wabache is considered in
Louisiana, as the most considerable of the rivers which come from
Canada, and which, uniting in one bed, form the river commonly called
by that name, yet all the Canadian travellers assure me, that the
river called Ohio, and which falls into the Wabache, comes a much
longer way than this last; which should be a reason for giving it the
name Ohio; but custom has prevailed in this respect. [Footnote: But
not among the English; we call it the Ohio.]

From the Wabache, and on the same side, to Manchac, we see but very
few rivers, and those very small ones, which fall into the Missisippi,
though there are nearly three hundred and fifty leagues from the
Wabache to Manchac. [Footnote: That is, from the mouth of the Ohio to
the river Iberville, which other accounts make but two hundred and
fifty leagues.] This will, doubtless, appear something extraordinary
to those unacquainted with the country.

The reason, that may be assigned for it, appears quite natural and
striking. In all that part of Louisiana, which is to the east of the
Missisippi, the lands are so high in the neighbourhood of the river,
that in many places the rain-water runs off from the banks of the
Missisippi, and discharges itself into rivers, which fall either
directly into the sea, or into lakes.

Another very probable reason is, that from the Wabache to the sea, no
rain falls but in sudden gusts; which defect is compensated by the
abundant dews, so that the plants lose nothing by that means. The
Wabache has a course of three hundred {112} leagues, and the Ohio has
its source a hundred leagues still farther off.

In continuing to go down the Missisippi, from the Wabache to the river
of the Arkansas, we observe but few rivers, and those pretty small.
The most considerable is that of St. Francis, which is distant thirty
and odd leagues from that of the Arkansas. It is on this river of St.
Francis, that the hunters of New Orleans go every winter to make salt
provisions, tallow, and bears oil, for the supply of the capital.

The river of the Arkansas, which is thirty-five leagues lower down,
and two hundred leagues from New Orleans, is so denominated from the
Indians of that name, who dwell on its banks, a little above its
confluence with the Missisippi. It runs three hundred leagues, and its
source is in the same latitude with Santa-Fe, in New Mexico, in the
mountains of which it rises. It runs up a little to the north for a
hundred leagues, by forming a flat elbow, or winding, and returns from
thence to the south-east, quite to the Missisippi. It has a cataract,
or fall, about the middle of its course. Some call it the White River,
because in its course it receives a river of that name. The Great
Cut-point is about forty leagues below the river of the Arkansas: this
was a long circuit which the Missisippi formerly took, and which it
has abridged, by making its way through this point of land.

Below this river, still going towards the sea, we observe scarce any
thing but brooks or rivulets, except the river of the Yasous, sixty
leagues lower down. This river runs but about fifty leagues, and will
hardly admit of a boat for a great way: it has taken its name from the
nation of the Yasous, and some others dwelling on its banks.
Twenty-eight leagues below the river of the Yasous, is a great cliff
of a reddish free-stone: over-against this cliff are the great and
little whirlpools.

From this little river, we meet but with very small ones, till we come
to the Red River, called at first the Marne, because nearly as big as
that river, which falls into the Seine. The Nachitoches dwell on its
banks, and it was distinguished by the name of that nation; but its
common name, and which it still bears, is that of the Red River. It
takes its rise in New Mexico, {113} forms an elbow to the north, in
the same manner as the river of the Arkansas, falls down afterwards
towards the Missisippi, running south east. They generally allow it a
course of two hundred leagues. At about ten leagues from its
confluence it receives the Black River, or the river of the Wachitas,
which takes its rise pretty near that of the Arkansas. This rivulet,
or source, forms, as is said, a fork pretty near its rise, one arm of
which falls into the river of the Arkansas; the largest forms the
Black River. Twenty leagues below the Red River is the Little
Cut-point, and a league below that point are the little cliffs.

From the Red River to the sea we observe nothing but some small
brooks: but on the east side, twenty-five leagues above New Orleans,
we find a channel, which is dry at low water. The inundations of the
Missisippi formed this channel (which is called Manchac) below some
high lands, which terminate near that place. It discharges itself into
the lake Maurepas, and from thence into that of St. Louis, of which I
gave an account before.

The channel runs east south-east: formerly there was a passage through
it; but at present it is so choaked up with dead wood, that it begins
to have no water [Footnote: Manchac is almost dry for three quarters
of the year: but during the inundation, the waters of the river have a
vent through it into the lakes Ponchartrain and St. Louis. _Dumont_, II.

This is the river Iberville, which is to be the boundary of the
British dominions.] but at the place where it receives the river
Amite, which is pretty large, and which runs seventy leagues in a very
fine country.

A very small river falls into the lake Maurepas, to the east of
Manchac. In proceeding eastward, we may pass from this lake into that
of St. Louis, by a river formed by the waters of the Amite. In going
to the north of this lake, we meet to the east the little river
Tandgipao. From thence proceeding always east, we come to the river
Quefoncte, which is long and beautiful, and comes from the Chactaws.
Proceeding in the same route, we meet the river Castin-Bayouc: we may
afterwards quit the lake by the channel, which borders the same
country, {114} and proceeding eastward we meet with Pearl River which
falls into this channel.

Farther up the coast, which lies from west to east, we meet St.
Louis's Bay, into which a little river of that name discharges itself:
farther on, we meet the river of the Paska-Ogoulas: and at length we
arrive at the Bay of Mobile, which runs upwards of thirty leagues into
the country, where it receives the river of the same name, which runs
for about a hundred and fifty leagues from north to south. All the
rivers I have just mentioned, and which fall not into the Missisippi,
do in like manner run from north to south.

_Description of the Lower_ Louisiana, _and the Mouths of the_

I return to Manchac, where I quitted the Missisippi. At a little
distance from Manchac we meet the river of the Plaqumines; it lies to
the west, and is rather a creek than a river. Three or four leagues
lower down is the Fork, which is channel running to the west of the
Missisippi, through which part of the inundations of that river run
off. These waters pass through several lakes, and from thence to the
sea, by Ascension Bay. As to the other rivers to the west of this bay,
their names are unknown.

The waters which fall into those lakes consist not only of such as
pass through this channel, but also of those that come out of the
Missisippi, when overflowing its banks on each side: for, of all the
water which comes out of the Missisippi over its banks, not a drop
ever returns into its bed; but this is only to be understood of the
low lands, that is, between fifty and sixty leagues from the sea
eastward, and upwards of a hundred leagues westward.

It will, doubtless, seem strange, that a river which overflows its
banks, should never after recover its waters again, either in whole or
in part; and this will appear so much the more singular, as every
where else it happens otherwise in the like circumstances.

It appeared no less strange to myself; and I have on all occasions
endeavoured to the utmost, to find out what could {115} produce an
effect, which really appeared to me very extraordinary, and, I
imagine, not without success.

From Manchac down to the sea, it is probable, and even in some degree
certain, that all the lands thereabouts are brought down and
accumulated by means of the ooze which the Missisippi carries along
with it in its annual inundations; which begin in the month of March,
by the melting of the snow to the north, and last for about three
months. Those oozy or muddy lands easily produce herbs and reeds; and
when the Missisippi happens to overflow the following year, these
herbs and reeds intercept a part of this ooze, so that those at a
distance from the river cannot retain so large a quantity of it, since
those that grow next the river have stopt the greatest part; and by a
necessary consequence, the others farther off, and in proportion as
they are distant from the Missisippi, can retain a much less quantity
of the mud. In this manner the land rising higher along the river, in
process of time the banks of the Missisippi became higher than the
lands about it. In like manner also these neighbouring lakes on each
side of the river are remains of the sea, which are not yet filled up.
Other rivers have firm banks, formed by the lands of Nature, a land of
the same nature with the continent, and always adhering thereto: these
sorts of banks, instead of augmenting, do daily diminish, either by
sinking, or tumbling down into the bed of the river. The banks of the
Missisippi, on the contrary, increase, and cannot diminish in the low
and accumulated lands; because the ooze, alone deposited on its banks,
increase them; which, besides, is the reason that the Missisippi
becomes narrower, in place of washing away the earth, and enlarging
its bed, as all other known rivers do. If we consider these facts,
therefore, we ought no longer to be surprised that the waters of the
Missisippi, when once they have left their bed, can never return
thither again.

In order to prove this augmentation of lands, I shall relate what
happened near Orleans: one of the inhabitants caused a well to be sunk
at a little distance from the Missisippi, in order to procure a
clearer water. At twenty feet deep there was found a tree laid flat,
three feet in diameter: the height of the earth was therefore
augmented twenty feet since the fall or lodging of that tree, as well
by the accumulated mud, as by the {116} rotting of the leaves, which
fall every winter, and which the Missisippi carries down in vast
quantities. In effect, it sweeps down a great deal of mud, because it
runs for twelve hundred leagues at least across a country which is
nothing else but earth, which the depth of the river sufficiently
proves. It carries down vast quantities of leaves, canes and trees,
upon its waters, the breadth of which is always above half a league,
and sometimes a league and a quarter. Its banks are covered with much
wood, sometimes for the breadth of a league on each side, from its
source to its mouth. There is nothing therefore more easy to be
conceived, than that this river carries down with its waters a
prodigious quantity of ooze, leaves, canes and trees, which it
continually tears up by the roots, and that the sea throwing back
again all these things, they should necessarily produce the lands in
question, and which are sensibly increasing. At the entrance of the
pass or channel to the south-east, there was built a small fort, still
called Balise. This fort was built on a little island, without the
mouth of the river. In 1734 it stood on the same spot, and I have been
told that at present it is half a league within the river: the land
therefore hath in twenty years gained this space on the sea. Let us
now resume the sequel of the Geographical Description of Louisiana.

The coast is bounded to the west by St. Bernard's Bay, where M. de la
Salle landed; into this bay a small river falls, and there are some
others which discharge their waters between this bay and Ascension
bay; the planters seldom frequent that coast. On the east the coast is
bounded by Rio Perdido, which the French corruptedly call aux Perdrix;
Rio Perdido signifying Lost River, aptly so called by the Spaniards,
because it loses itself under ground, and afterwards appears again,
and discharges itself into the sea, a little to the East of Mobile, on
which the first French planters settled.

From the Fork down to the sea, there is no river; nor is it possible
there should be any, after what I have related: on the contrary, we
find at a small distance from the Fork, another channel to the east,
called the Bayoue of le Sueur: it is full of a soft ooze or mud, and
communicates with the lakes which lie to the east.

{117} On coming nearer to the sea, we meet, at about eight leagues
from the principal mouth of the Missisippi, the first Pass; and a
league lower down, the Otter Pass. These two passes or channels are
only for pettyaugres. From this place there is no land fit to tread
on, it being all a quagmire down to the sea. There also we find a
point, which parts the mouths of the Missisippi: that to the right is
called the South-Pass, or Channel; the west point of which runs two
leagues farther into the sea than the point of the South-east Pass,
which is to the left of that of the South Pass. At first vessels
entered by the South-east Pass, but before we go down to it, we find
to the left the East-Pass, which is that by which ships enter at

At each of these three Passes or Channels there is a Bar, as in all
other rivers: these bars are three quarters of a league broad, with
only eight or nine feet water: but there is a channel through this
bar, which being often subject to shift, the coasting pilot is obliged
to be always sounding, in order to be sure of the pass: this channel
is, at low water, between seventeen and eighteen feet deep. [Footnote:
I shall make no mention of the islands, which are frequent in the
Missisippi, as being, properly speaking, nothing but little isles,
produced by some trees, though the soil be nothing but a sand

This description may suffice to shew that the falling in with the land
from sea is bad; the land scarce appears two leagues off; which
doubtless made the Spaniards call the Missisippi Rio Escondido, the
Hid River. This river is generally muddy, owing to the waters of the
Missouri; for before this junction the water of the Missisippi is very
clear. I must not omit mentioning that no ship can either enter or
continue in the river when the waters are high, on account of the
prodigious numbers of trees, and vast quantities of dead wood, which
it carries down, and which, together with the canes, leaves, mud, and
sand, which the sea throws back upon the coast, are continually
augmenting the land, and make it project into the Gulf of Mexico, like
the bill of a bird.

I should be naturally led to divide Louisiana into the Higher and
Lower, on account of the great difference between {118} the two
principal parts of this vast country. The Higher I would call that
part in which we find stone, which we first meet with between the
river of the Natchez and that of the Yasous, between which is a cliff
of a fine free stone; and I would terminate that part at Manchac,
where the high lands end. I would extend the Lower Louisiana from
thence down to the sea. The bottom of the lands on the hills is a red
clay, and so compact, as might afford a solid foundation for any
building whatever. This clay is covered by a light earth, which is
almost black, and very fertile. The grass grows there knee deep; and
in the bottoms, which separate these small eminences, it is higher
than the tallest man. Towards the end of September both are
successively set on fire; and in eight or ten days young grass shoots
up half a foot high. One will easily judge, that in such pastures
herds of all creatures fatten extraordinarily. The flat country is
watery, and appears to have been formed by every thing that comes down
to the sea. I shall add, that pretty near the Nachitoches, we find
banks of muscle-shells, such as those of which Cockle-Island is
formed. The neighbouring nation affirms, that according to their old
tradition, the sea formerly came up to this place. The women of this
nation go and gather these shells, and make a powder of them, which
they mix with the earth, of which they make their pottery, or earthen
ware. However, I would not advise the use of these shells
indifferently for this purpose, because they are naturally apt to
crack in the fire: I have therefore reason to think, that those found
at the Nachitoches have acquired their good quality only by the
discharge of their salts, from continuing for so many ages out of the

If we may give credit to the tradition of these people, and if we
would reason on the facts I have advanced, we shall be naturally led
to believe, and indeed every thing in this country shews it, that the
Lower Louisiana is a country gained on the sea, whose bottom is a
crystal sand, white as snow, fine as flour, and such as is found both
to the east and west of the Missisippi; and we may expect, that in
future ages the sea and river may form another land like that of the
Lower Louisiana. The Fort Balise shews that a century is sufficient to
extend Louisiana two leagues towards the sea.



_The Author's Journey in_ Louisiana, _from the Natchez to the River St.
Francis, and the Country of the Chicasaws._

Ever since my arrival in Louisiana, I made it my business to get
information in whatever was new therein, and to make discoveries of
such things as might be serviceable to society. I therefore resolved
to take a journey through the country. And after leaving my plantation
to the care of my friends and neighbours, I prepared for a journey
into the interior parts of the province, in order to learn the nature
of the soil, its various productions, and to make discoveries not
mentioned by others.

I wanted to travel both for my own instruction, and for the benefit of
the publick: but at the same time I desired to be alone, without any
of my own countrymen with me; who, as they neither have patience, nor
are made for fatigue, would be ever teazing me to return again, and
not readily take up either with the fare or accommodations, to be met
with on such a journey. I therefore pitched upon ten Indians, who were
indefatigable, robust, and tractable, and sufficiently skilled in
hunting, a qualification necessary on such journeys. I explained to
them my whole design; told them, we should avoid passing through any
inhabited countries, and would take our journeys through such as were
unknown and uninhabited; because I travelled in order to discover what
no one before could inform me about. This explication pleased them;
and on their part they promised, I should have no reason to be
dissatisfied with them. But they objected, they were under
apprehensions of losing themselves in countries they did not know. To
remove these apprehensions, I shewed them a mariner's compass, which
removed all their difficulties, after I had explained to them the
manner of using it, in order to avoid losing our way.

We set out in the month of September, which is the best season of the
year for beginning a journey in this country: in the first place,
because, during the summer, the grass is too high for travelling;
whereas in the month of September, the meadows, the grass of which is
then dry, are set on fire, and {120} the ground becomes smooth, and
easy to walk on: and hence it is, that at this time, clouds of smoke
are seen for several days together to extend over a long track of
country; sometimes to the extent of between twenty and thirty leagues
in length, by two or three leagues in breadth, more or less, according
as the wind sets, and is higher or lower. In the second place, this
season is the most commodious for travelling over those countries;
because, by means of the rain, which ordinarily falls after the grass
is burnt, the game spread themselves all over the meadows, and delight
to feed on the new grass; which is the reason why travellers more
easily find provisions at this time than at any other. What besides
facilitates these excursions in Autumn, or in the beginning of Winter,
is, that all works in the fields are then at an end, or at least the
hurry of them is over.

For the first days of our journey the game was pretty rare, because
they shun the neighbourhood of men; if you except the deer, which are
spread all over the country, their nature being to roam indifferently
up and down; so that at first we were obliged to put up with this
fare. We often met with flights of partridges, which the natives
cannot kill, because they cannot shoot flying; I killed some for a
change. The second day I had a turkey-hen brought to regale me. The
discoverer, who killed it, told me, there were a great many in the
same place, but that he could do nothing without a dog. I have often
heard of a turkey-chace, but never had an opportunity of being at one:
I went with him and took my dog along with me. On coming to the spot,
we soon descried the hens, which ran off with such speed, that the
swiftest Indian would lose his labour in attempting to outrun them. My
dog soon came up with them, which made them take to their wings, and
perch on the next trees; as long as they are not pursued in this
manner, they only run, and are soon out of sight. I came near their
place of retreat, killed the largest, a second, and my discoverer a
third. We might have killed the whole flock; for, while they see any
men, they never quit the tree they have once perched on. Shooting
scares them not, as they only look at the bird that drops, and set up
a timorous cry, as he falls.

{121} Before I proceed, it is proper to say a word concerning my
discoverers, or scouts. I had always three of them out, one a-head, and
one on each hand of me; commonly distant a league from me, and as much
from each other. Their condition of scouts prevented not their carrying
each his bed, and provisions for thirty-six hours upon occasion. Though
those near my own person were more loaded, I however sent them out,
sometimes one, sometimes another, either to a neighbouring mountain or
valley: so that I had three or four at least, both on my right and left,
who went out to make discoveries a small distance off. I did thus, in
order to have nothing to reproach myself with, in point of vigilance,
since I had begun to take the trouble of making discoveries.

The next business was, to make ourselves mutually understood,
notwithstanding our distance: we agreed, therefore, on certain
signals, which are absolutely necessary on such occasions. Every day,
at nine in the morning, at noon, and at three in the afternoon, we
made a smoke. This signal was the hour marked for making a short halt,
in order to know, whether the scouts followed each other, and whether
they were nearly at the distance agreed on. These smokes were made at
the hours I mentioned, which are the divisions of the day according to
the Indians. They divide their day into four equal parts; the first
contains the half of the morning; the second is at noon; the third
comprizes the half of the afternoon; and the fourth, the other half of
the afternoon to the evening. It was according to this usage our
signals were mutually made, by which we regulated our course, and
places of rendezvous.

We marched for some days without finding any thing which could either
engage my attention, or satisfy my curiosity. True it is, this was
sufficiently made up in another respect; as we travelled over a
charming country, which might justly furnish our painters of the
finest imagination with genuine notions of landskips. Mine, I own, was
highly delighted with the sight of fine plains, diversified with very
extensive and highly delightful meadows. The plains were intermixed
with thickets, planted by the hand of Nature herself; and interspersed
with hills, running off in gentle declivities, and with {122} valleys,
thick set, and adorned with woods, which serve for a retreat to the
most timorous animals, as the thickets screen the buffaloes from the
abundant dews of the country.

I longed much to kill a buffalo with my own hand; I therefore told my
people my intention to kill one of the first herd we should meet; nor
did a day pass, in which we did not see several herds; the least of
which exceeded a hundred and thirty or a hundred and fifty in number.

Next morning we espied a herd of upwards of two hundred. The wind
stood as I could have wished, being in our faces, and blowing from the
herd; which is a great advantage in this chace; because when the wind
blows from you towards the buffaloes, they come to scent you, and run
away, before you can come within gun-shot of them; whereas, when the
wind blows from them on the hunters, they do not fly till they can
distinguish you by sight; and then, what greatly favours your coming
very near to them is, that the curled hair, which falls down between
their horns upon their eyes, is so bushy, as greatly to confuse their
sight. In this manner I came within full gun-shot of them, pitched
upon one of the fattest, shot him at the extremity of the shoulder,
and brought him down stone-dead. The natives, who stood looking on,
were ready to fire, had I happened to wound him but slightly; for in
that case, these animals are apt to turn upon the hunter, who thus
wounds them.

Upon seeing the buffalo drop down dead, and the rest taking to flight,
the natives told me, with a smile: "You kill the males, do you intend
to make tallow?" I answered, I did it on purpose, to shew them the
manner of making him good meat, though a male. I caused his belly to
be opened quite warm, the entrails to be taken out directly, the
bunch, tongue, and chines to be cut out; one of the chines to be laid
on the coals, of which I made them all taste; and they all agreed the
meat was juicy, and of an exquisite flavour.

I then took occasion to remonstrate to them, that if, instead of
killing the cows, as was always their custom, they killed the bulls,
the difference in point of profit would be very considerable: {123}
as, for instance, a good commerce with the French in tallow, with
which the bulls abound; bull's flesh is far more delicate and tender
than cow's; a third advantage is, the selling of the skins at a higher
rate, as being much better; in fine, this kind of game, so
advantageous to the country, would thereby escape being quite
destroyed; whereas, by killing the cows, the breed of these animals is
greatly impaired.

I made a soup, that was of an exquisite flavour, but somewhat fat, of
the broth boiled from the marrow-bones of this buffalo, the rest of
the broth serving to make maiz-gruel, called Sagamity, which to my
taste surpassed the best dish in France: the bunch on the back would
have graced the table of a prince.

In the route I held, I kept more on the sides of the hills than on the
plains. Above some of these sides, or declivities, I found, in some
places, little eminences, which lay peeled, or bare, and disclosed a
firm and compact clay, or pure matrix, and of the species of that of
Lapis Calaminaris. The intelligent in Mineralogy understand what I
would be at. The little grass, which grows there, was observed to
droop, as also three or four misshapen trees, no bigger than one's
leg; one of which I caused to be cut down; when, to my astonishment, I
saw it was upwards of sixty years standing. The neighbouring country
was fertile, in proportion to its distance from this spot. Near that
place we saw game of every kind, and in plenty, and never towards the

We crossed the Missisippi several times upon Cajeux (rafts, or floats,
made of several bundles of canes, laid across each other; a kind of
extemporaneous pontoon,) in order to take a view of mountains which
had raised my curiosity. I observed, that both sides of the river had
their several advantages; but that the West side is better watered;
appeared also to be more fruitful both in minerals, and in what
relates to agriculture; for which last it seems much more adapted than
the East side.

Notwithstanding our precaution to make signals, one of my scouts
happened one day to stray, because the weather was {124} foggy; so
that he did not return at night to our hut; at which I was very
uneasy, and could not sleep; as he was not returned, though the
signals of call had been repeated till night closed. About nine the
next morning he cast up, telling us he had been in pursuit of a drove
of deer, which were led by one that was altogether white: but that not
being able to come up with them, he picked up, on the side of a hill,
some small sharp stones, of which he brought a sample.

These stones I received with pleasure, because I had not yet seen any
in all this country, only a hard red free-stone in a cliff on the
Missisippi. After carefully examining those which my discoverer
brought me, I found they were a gypsum. I took home some pieces, and
on my return examined them more attentively; found them to be very
clear, transparent, and friable; when calcined, they turned extremely
white, and with them I made some factitious marble. This gave me hopes
that this country, producing Plaster of Paris, might, besides, have
stones for building.

I wanted to see the spot myself: we set out about noon, and travelled
for about three leagues before we came to it. I examined the spot,
which to me appeared to be a large quarry of Plaster.

As to the white deer above mentioned, I learned from the Indians, that
some such were to be met with, though but rarely, and that only in
countries not frequented by the hunters.

The wind being set in for rain, we resolved to put ourselves under
shelter. The place where the bad weather overtook us was very fit to
set up at. On going out to hunt, we discovered at five hundred paces
off, in the defile, or narrow pass, a brook of a very clear water, a
very commodious watering-place for the buffaloes, which were in great
numbers all around us.

My companions soon raised a cabin, well-secured to the North. As we
resolved to continue there for eight days at least, they made it so
close as to keep out the cold: in the night, I felt nothing of the
severity of the North wind, though I lay but lightly covered. My bed
consisted of a bear's skin, and two robes or coats of buffalo; the
bear skin, with the flesh side {125} undermost, being laid on leaves,
and the pile uppermost by way of straw-bed; one of the buffalo coats
folded double by way of feather-bed; one half of the other under me
served for a matrass, and the other over me for a coverlet: three
canes, or boughs, bent to a semicircle, one at the head, another in
the middle, and a third at the feet, supported a cloth which formed my
tester and curtains, and secured me from the injuries of the air, and
the stings of gnats and moskitto's. My Indians had their ordinary
hunting and travelling beds, which consist of a deer skin and a
buffalo coat, which they always carry with them, when they expect to
lie out of their villages. We rested nine days, and regaled ourselves
with choice buffalo, turkey, partridge, pheasants, &c.

The discovery I had made of the plaster, put me to look out, during our
stay, in all the places round about, for many leagues. I was at last
tired of beating about such fine plains, without discovering the least
thing, and I had resolved to go forward to the North when at the
noon-signal the scout a-head waited to shew me a shining and sharp
stone, of the length and size of one's thumb, and as square as a joiner
could have made a piece of wood of the same bigness. I imagined it might
be rock-crystal; to be assured thereof, I took a large musquet flint in
my left hand, presenting its head, or thick end, on which I struck with
one of the edges of the crystal, and drew much more fire than with the
finest steel: and notwithstanding the many strokes I gave, the piece of
crystal was not in the least scratched or streaked.

I examined these stones, and found pieces of different magnitudes,
some square, others with six faces, even and smooth like mirrors,
highly transparent, without any veins or spots. Some of these pieces
jutted out of the earth, like ends of beams, two feet and upwards in
length; others in considerable numbers, from seven to nine inches;
above all, those with six panes or faces. There was a great number of
a middling and smaller sort: my people wanted to carry some with them;
but I dissuaded them. My reason was, I apprehended some Frenchman
might by presents prevail on them to discover the place.

{126} For my part, I carefully observed the latitude, and followed, on
setting out, a particular point of the compass, to come to a river
which I knew. I took that route, under pretense of going to a certain
nation to procure dry provisions, which we were in want of, and which
are of great help on a journey.

We arrived, after seven days march, at that nation, by whom we were
well received. My hunters brought in daily many duck and teal. I
agreed with the natives of the place for a large pettyaugre of black
walnut, to go down the river, and afterwards to go up the Missisippi.

I had a strong inclination to go up still higher north, in order to
discover mines. We embarked, and the eleventh day of our passage I
caused the pettyaugre to be unladen of every thing, and concealed in
the water, which was then low. I loaded seven men with the things we

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