Home  |  Authors  |  Books  |  Stories  |  What's New  |  How to Get Involved 
   T h e   B a l d w i n   P r o j e c t
     Bringing Yesterday's Classics to Today's Children                 @mainlesson.com
Search This Site Only
 
 
Indian History for Young Folks by  Francis S. Drake


 

 

THE IROQUOIS

[127] THE Iroquois, or Six Nations, stand first among the native races of this continent for valor, policy, and eloquence. Their home was in western and central New York, and their geographical situation, on a broad summit of fertile table-land, favorable for raising maize and abounding in game, gave them great advantages. The leading rivers of this region, running in all directions, and enabling then to descend rapidly into an enemy's country, contributed largely to the success of their warlike expeditions. Their attachment to the English alone saved Western New York from becoming a French colony.

They had attained their highest point about the year 1700. At that period, besides carrying terror by their war parties to the walls of Quebec, they had, by virtue of their combination, subdued and held in subjection, one after another, all the principal Indian nations occupying the territory now embraced in the States of New York, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and parts of Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Northern Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New England, and Upper Canada.

If any of these nations became involved in domestic differences, a delegation of chiefs went among them and restored tranquillity, prescribing at the same time their future conduct. From the Delawares they took all civil power, declared them women, and bade them henceforth to confine themselves to the pursuits of the females.

"How came you," said Cauassatego, an Iroquois chief, addressing the Delawares upon occasion of a dispute about a sale of land to the English—"how cause you to take upon you to sell land at all? We conquered you, we made women of you; you know you are women, and can no more sell land than women. For the laud you claim you have been paid with clothes, meat, drink, and goods, and now you want it again, like children as you are. But what makes you sell land in the dark? Did you ever tell us that you had sold this land! . . . We charge you to remove instantly. We don't give you liberty to think about it. You are women!" The Delawares dared not disobey this command, and very soon left the country.

[128] In New England and Canada the Iroquois were the dread of the native Algonkin tribes. When, in the early days of the Massachusetts colony, they made war on the New England Indians, it was said that as soon as a single one of them was seen in their country, these Indians raised the cry from hill to hill, "A Mohawk a Mohawk!" upon which they all fled, like sheep before wolves, without attempting to make the least resistance.


[Illustration]

LONG HOUSE AT ONANDAGA.

Independence and love of liberty was one of the most marked characteristics of the Iroquois. Their pride was so great that they called themselves Ongwe Hongwe, "the men surpassing all others," and yet in their most prosperous days they could hardly muster four thousand warriors. Their losses in battle were made up by their custom of adopting a part of their captives as members of their tribe.

Their strongholds were surrounded by palisades pierced with loop-holes, having platforms within, supplied with stones to hurl upon the heads of the enemy, and with water to extinguish any fire that might be kindled from the outside. These defences sometimes included a large area, and dwellings more than one hundred feet in length. They were circular or oval in form.

Their general assembly was at the Great Council held at the Long House in the Onondaga Valley. This was built of bark; on each side were six seats, each holding six persons. None but members of the council were admitted, except a few who were particularly honored. If one rose to speak, all the rest sat silent, smoking their pipes. The speaker uttered his words in a singsong tone, always rising a few notes at the close of each sentence. Whatever was the pleasure of the council was confirmed by all with the word "Nee," or yes, and at the close of each speech the whole assembly applauded the speaker by shouting "Hoho!"

Originally the confederacy consisted of five tribes or nations: Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, Oneidas, and Senecas. The Tuscaroras of North Carolina, after their defeat by the colonists in 1714, joined them, and thenceforth they were known as the Six Nations. These again were divided into three tribes, or families, who distinguished themselves by three different arms or ensigns called totems. These were the tortoise, [129] the bear, and the wolf, and the sachems, or old men of their families, put this family mark to every public paper when they signed it. Each of these six nations was an absolute republic by itself. Each had a castle of its own, and was governed in all public affairs by its own sachems, or old men.

Their league was a defensive measure adopted long before the European discovery. Their general council, composed of sachems equal in rank, was the supreme authority over all matters considered by it. Its sessions lasted five days. Discussion was open to all, but the council alone decided. It made peace and war, and concluded treaties and agreements. When the question of peace or war was decided, the councillors united in chanting hymns of praise or warlike choruses, which at the same time gave expression to public feeling and imparted a kind of sanctity to the act. The Onondagas, being the central tribe, were made "the keepers of the council brand," and their valley was the seat of government.

A remarkable instance of Iroquois treachery is related by Parkman. At their urgent solicitation a French colony and mission had been planted on the margin of Lake Onondaga. A plot for its destruction was revealed to one of the Jesuit fathers by a dying Indian convert.

What was to be done? Immediate action was necessary, but the warriors camped around them watched them so closely that the case seemed hopeless. A plan of escape was at length suggested which seemed to promise success. Two light, large flat-boats were built in a loft over the mission-house. The grand difficulty was to get them to the lake unobserved. This is the way it was done:

One of the peculiar customs of the Indians is to hold a feast at which all must devour everything set before them, as long as the provider of the feast wishes to have them, or so long as they have the power to eat. One of the younger colonists who had been adopted by an Iroquois chief, pretending to have dreamed that he would soon die unless the spirits were appeased, gave one of these feasts. Obedience to the wishes of the spirits is a sacred obligation with the Indian. The day for the feast was fixed, and all was prepared for the occasion.

Late in the evening of the appointed day, when the festivity was at its height, and the French musicians with drum and trumpet were making all the noise they possibly could, the boats were carried from the house to the lake. The French silently embarked and made good their escape.

Next morning the amazed savages, on recovering from their stupor— [130] for they had completely gorged themselves on the previous evening—found, on peering curiously into the deserted mission, that its sole occupants were a hen and her brood of chickens. The Indians were superstitious enough to believe that the blackbirds—the black-robed priests—and their flock had actually flown away.


[Illustration]

GOING TO FIGHT THE IROQUOIS.

The Iroquois first came in contact with the Europeans when, in the summer of 1609, Samuel de Champlain, with two other Frenchmen, joined a party of Hurons and Algonkins in all expedition against the Iroquois, their hereditary enemies. Ascending the river Sorel they crossed the lake that now bears his name. At night they felled large trees, as a barricade to their camp, and sent out a party to reconnoitre, but posted no sentinels. [133] When near their foes they would advance stealthily by night and retire by day into the picket fort, where they kept perfectly quiet, so as to avoid discovery. Champlain's account of the first conflict with the Iroquois in which fire-arms were used, is as follows:

"At nightfall we embarked in our canoes to continue our journey, and as we advanced very softly and noiselessly, we encountered a war party of Iroquois about tell o'clock at night, at the point of a cape which juts into the lake on the west side (near Crown Point). They and we began to shout, each seizing his arms. We withdrew towards the water, and the Iroquois repaired on shore and arranged all their canoes, the one beside the other, and began to hew down trees with villanous axes and fortified themselves very securely. Our party likewise kept their canoes arranged, the one along side the other, tied to poles so as not to run adrift, in order to fight altogether should need be. We were on the water, about an arrow-shot from their barricades.


[Illustration]

FIRST BATTLE WITH THE IROQUOIS.

"The whole night was spent in dancing and singing, as well on one side as on the other, mingled with an infinitude of insults and taunts. After the one and the other had sung, danced, and parleyed enough, day broke. My companions and I were always concealed, for fear the enemy should see us preparing our arms. After being equipped with light armor we took each an arquebuse (a short musket) and went ashore. I saw the enemy leave their barricade. They were about two hundred men, of strong and robust appearance, who were coming slowly towards us, with a gravity and assurance which greatly pleased me, led on by three chiefs. Ours were marching in similar order, and told me that those who bore three lofty plumes were the chiefs, and that I must do all I could to kill them.

"The moment we landed they began to runabout two hundred paces towards their enemies, who stood firm and had not yet perceived my companions, who went into the bush with some savages. Ours commenced [134] calling me in a loud voice, and making way for me opened in two and placed me at their head, marching about twenty paces in advance, until I was within thirty paces of the enemy. The moment they saw me they halted, gazing at me, and I at them. When I saw them preparing to shoot at us I raised my arquebuse, and aiming directly at one of the three chiefs, two of them fell to the ground by this shot and one of their companions received a wound of which he died afterwards. I had put four balls in my arquebuse. Ours, on witnessing a shot so favorable for them, set up such tremendous shouts that thunder could not have been heard, and yet there was no lack of arrows on one side and the other.


[Illustration]

SAMUEL DE CHAMPLAIN.

"The Iroquois were greatly astonished, seeing two men killed so instantaneously, notwithstanding they were provided with arrow-proof armor woven of cotton thread and wool; this frightened them very much. Whilst I was reloading, one of my companions in the bush fired a shot which so astonished them anew, seeing their chiefs slain, that they lost courage, took to flight, and abandoned the field and their fort, hiding themselves in the depths of the forest, whither pursuing them I killed some others. Having feasted, danced, and sung, we returned three hours afterwards with ten or twelve prisoners. I named the place where this battle was fought, Lake Champlain."

This was the first time the Iroquois had heard the sound of fire-arms, by the mysterious power of which they were then easily vanquished. The French having allied themselves with the Adirondacks and Hurons, and given them arms and assistance, a spirit of hatred for them was aroused among the Iroquois that never ceased to burn until Canada was wrested from them by the English.


[Illustration]

LAKE CHAMPLAIN.

A year later another conflict took place near the mouth of the Richelieu, in which Champlain again participated. One hundred Iroquois were at bay behind a palisade surrounded by a horde of Algoukin warriors, [135] whose attack they had bloodily repulsed. When Champlain, with four of his men, approached, wild yells arose from the Algonkins in which were mingled the howl of the wolf, the whoop of the owl, and the screams of the cougar, to which a fierce response was made by the desperate Iroquois.

A storm of arrows burst upon the French as they rushed on, wounding Champlain and one of his companions. When, however, the terrible weapons of their mysterious assailants were thrust through the crevices of their barricade, dealing death among its defenders, they could not control their fear, and threw themselves flat on the ground. The allied Indians now rushed in and leveled the barricade, while at the same time a boat-load of French fur-traders who had heard the firing joined in the fray, and helped to secure a complete victory. "By the grace of God," writes Champlain, "behold the victory won!"


[Illustration]

ATTACK ON AN IROQUOIS FORT.

While journeying to the country of the Hurons at a later period, Champlain suddenly encountered three hundred Indians, whom, from their odd method of dressing their hair, he named the Cheveux Relevez. "Not one of our courtiers," he says, "takes so much pains in dressing his hair as these savages do." They were wholly [136] naked, their bodies were tattooed, and they were armed with bows and arrows, and shields of bison-hide.

They informed him that the great Lake of the Hurons was close at hand. He explored its shores for more than one hundred miles, and visited many Huron villages, all of which were palisaded like that seen by Cartier at Montreal. Cahiagué, the Huron capital, the modern township of Orillia, near the River Severn, contained two hundred lodges, and here gathered the warriors whom, after days and nights of feasts and war-dances, Champlain led in his last expedition against the Iroquois.

Entering the hostile territory they encountered a fortified town of the Onondagas. Some of the Hurons rushed to attack it, and were driven back with loss. Four rows of palisades, thirty feet high, set aslant in the earth and meeting at the top, supported a shot-proof gallery provided with wooden gutters and amply supplied with water from an adjoining pond. They were also well provided with stones to hurl upon the assailants.

Champlain reproved his allies for their rash conduct, and the next morning had a wooden tower made higher than the palisades, and large enough to contain four or five marksmen. Great wooden shields or parapets were also constructed. Two hundred warriors dragged the tower close to the palisades. From it three arquebusiers opened a raking fire along the galleries upon the throng of its defenders.

The ungovernable Hurons threw aside the shields designed for their protection and scattered over the open field, shouting and shooting off their arrows, to which the Iroquois replied in like manner. Champlain and his men, unable to control these wild and infuriated allies, at last abandoned the attempt, and occupied themselves with picking off the Iroquois on the ramparts. The French leader was at length disabled, being struck by an arrow in the knee and the leg, and after a three-hours' contest the assailants drew off discomfited. He was eager to renew the attack, but the Hurons, crestfallen and disheartened, would not move without a reinforcement, for which they had sent. After waiting in vain five days they retreated, followed by the victorious Iroquois. The wounded leader was packed in a basket and borne upon the shoulders of a warrior.

"Bundled in a heap," says Champlain, "doubled and strapped together in such a fashion that one could move no more than an infant in swaddling-clothes . . . I lost all patience, and as soon as I could bear my weight I got out of this prison, or, to speak plainly, 'out of hell.'" He was obliged to remain with the Hurons all that winter.

[137] In 1660 a daring enterprise was undertaken by a few young Canadians, led by Daulac, commandant of the garrison at Montreal. It was known that a large body of Iroquois had planned a descent upon Canada, and these brave fellows thought that by attacking the Indians in their own haunts this danger might be averted. Having bound themselves by oath to accept no quarter, made their wills, confessed, and received the sacrament—for they were all good Catholics—they set out upon their heroic but desperate adventure.


[Illustration]

FORTIFIED TOWN OF THE ONONDAGAS.

The Thermopylæ of this Spartan band was at the foot of the formidable rapid called the Long Sault, where the Iroquois were sure to pass. Here, in an old enclosure formed of trunks of small trees planted in a circle, seventeen Frenchmen awaited the savage host. They were soon joined by some Hurons and Algonkins.

[138] In a few days they were attacked by a large war party of Iroquois. Again and again the Indians were driven back with loss. The fifth day found the defenders of the fort still at bay, although they had been deserted by their Indian allies. Five hundred fresh warriors now joined their assailants, and the attacks were fiercely renewed. In vain they rushed upon the feeble barrier between them and their foe, yelling and firing; the French stood firm, and many a warrior fell before the leaden greeting of the little garrison.

Three days more passed in constant attack and repulse, the French, meanwhile, suffering from exhaustion, famine, and thirst. At length, stung to madness at the thought of the disgrace that would attend such a failure, the Iroquois determined to make one more effort to take the fort.

A chosen band of warriors, covering themselves with large heavy shields, led the advance and succeeded in reaching the fort. With their hatchets they endeavored to hew their way through the palisades. At this critical moment the premature explosion of a large musketoon, intended to be thrown over the barrier, and to explode among the throng of warriors without, killed and wounded several of the Frenchmen. In the confusion some of the Iroquois thrust their guns through the loop-holes, firing on those within, and others entered the enclosure through the breach made in the logs by their hatchets. The French fought desperately. Daulac, the Leonidas of this Spartan band, was slain, and one after another of his companions was struck down, until all had fallen. One only seemed likely to survive, and he was reserved for torture. By thus sacrificing themselves these heroes had saved the colony.

Amazed and dispirited, the Iroquois gave up their intended enterprise, and returned to their villages to bewail their discomfiture and to howl with wrath over their losses.

For many years the warfare between the French and Iroquois was almost constant. Expedition after expedition was launched against the Indian towns by the French governors with but little result. One of these, under M. de Courcelle, undertaken in the dead of winter, was a complete failure. They lost their way, and suffered from cold and hunger to such a degree that sixty of the French perished during their homeward march.

A new expedition was undertaken soon after by De Tracy and Courcelle. With one thousand three hundred men they left Quebec, crossed Lakes Champlain and St. Sacrament, now Lake George, in three hundred boats and canoes, and landing on the spot where Fort William Henry was afterwards built, traversed the hundred miles of [139] wilderness that lay between them and the Mohawk towns. Arriving at the first Mohawk stronghold in the early morning, twenty drums beat the charge, and the Indians, panic-stricken by the noise, which seemed to them to be made by evil spirits in the service of the French, fled in terror to their next town.

This was taken as easily as the first, and so were the third and fourth, The French pushed on, and at sundown reached Andaraqué, the largest and strongest of their forts. Again the drums struck terror into the savages and there was no opposition. Andaraqué was a quadrangle, with a triple palisade twenty feet high, a bastion at each corner. Some of the houses in the enclosure were one hundred and twenty feet long, with fires for eight or nine families. Here the Iroquois had resolved to fight to the last, but at the sight and sound of the enemy lost courage and fled. Their dwellings, forts, and possessions were all destroyed.

The blow told, and in the following spring they sent an embassy to Quebec begging for peace. It was at last granted; hostages were given by them, and there was a respite from war for nearly twenty years.

Causes for hostility, however, were frequently arising, and an expedition against the Senecas was at length undertaken by Governor La Barre. It failed ignominiously. Fever and famine prostrated his men, and he was glad to make a truce with his enemies and to be permitted to withdraw without molestation.

The Marquis de Denonville, his successor, "a pious Colonel of Dragoons," resolved to inflict a severe chastisement upon the hostile nation. As he advanced he invited some peaceful Iroquois, living at a Jesuit Mission on the north shore of Lake Ontario, to a feast at Fort Frontenac. They came, but no sooner were they inside the fort than all—men, women, and children—were captured. There were nearly two hundred of them. They were baptized, and the men, excepting those who were restored to their relatives, were sent as slaves to France to work in the galleys. Many of these captive women and children died from excitement and distress, and some from a pestilential and fatal disease.

Denonville then summoned the Western Indians from lakes Huron and Michigan, and from Illinois, to come and be revenged on their enemies. A few weeks later a great fleet of canoes came down from the lakes, filled with warriors. They landed one July morning at Irondequoit Bay, Lake Ontario, the boundary of the Seneca country, north-east of Rochester, New York.

Here was to be seen upon this unusual occasion a motley and pictu- [140] resque assemblage: French soldiers in uniform, Jesuit priests, and Indians in war-paint and feathers, wearing skins of the buffalo, the horns ornamenting their heads, the tails trailing upon the ground, brandishing their tomahawks and scalping knives among the camp-fires at night, boasting of their exploits, and telling how they would destroy their enemies. Including Indians, the army numbered fully three thousand men.

The distance to the chief Seneca town was only fifteen miles. The day was hot and dusty, and as the army marched forward, scouts reported that only squaws were to be seen at the village. Several dangerous defiles had been passed, no enemy had appeared, and it looked as though the Indians had fled. Suddenly, as the troops entered a narrow pass, a yell was heard, the air was filled with flying arrows, guns flashed upon all sides at once, and the Iroquois were upon them.

Denonville quickly rallied his troops, and the Canadians from behind the trees returned the fire. Soon the Senecas, who were a mere handful, retired, bearing off their dead and wounded. A heap of ashes was all that remained of the town as the French entered it next morning. The Senecas had burned it and vanished. After destroying their corn, Denonville built a fort at Niagara and returned to Montreal. The enraged Senecas were soon back again, rebuilding their wigwams. Though in want of food and with their fields laid waste, their Iroquois brethren would not let them starve. Denonville was told when he went out that if he destroyed a wasp's nest he must crush the wasps or they would sting him. He left the wasps alive.

Adario, also called Kondiaronk, or the Rat, was the leading chief and councillor of the Huron Wyandot tribe. He was brave, politic, and sagacious, and possessed great energy and decision of character. His nation had been driven from its ancient seat by the Iroquois, and it was his policy to keep the latter embroiled with his friends the French.

Learning that Denonville was about to conclude a peace with the Five Nations, and perceiving that such a step would leave the Iroquois free to push the war against his people, he waylaid the Iroquois delegates as they were proceeding to Montreal, and killed or captured the whole party.


[Illustration]

AT AN IROQUOIS COUNCIL FIRE.

Adario then adroitly shifted the blame of the act upon Governor Denonville, telling his prisoners that it was by him that he had been informed of their intention to pass that way. Surprised at this act of apparent perfidy, they told Adario that they were truly on an errand of peace. Affecting great anger, the chief declared he would be revenged on Denonville for making him a tool in such a piece of treachery. Then look- [141] ing steadfastly on the prisoners, "Go," said he, "my brothers, I untie your hands and send you home again, although our nations are at war. The French governor has made me commit so black an action that I shall never be easy after it until the Five Nations have taken full revenge."

So completely were the ambassadors deceived that they replied in the most friendly terms, and said the way was open to their concluding peace between their respective tribes at any time. Adario then dismissed his prisoners with presents. He thus rekindled the embers of discord between the French and their old enemies, at the moment they were about to expire, and laid the foundation of a peace with his own nation. Though Denonville sent a message to the Iroquois to disclaim the act of Adario, they put no faith in it, but burned for revenge.

It was not long before the Iroquois found an opportunity to return the blow inflicted upon them by Denonville in 1687 with interest.

Fifteen hundred of their warriors followed the well-known trail to Canada, paddling their canoes along Lake Champlain by night, and secreting themselves in the forest by day. Early one morning, during a violent hail-storm, they crawled on their hands and knees into the village of La Chine, six miles from Montreal, and sounding their terrible warwhoop, began the most frightful massacre in Canadian history.

In one hour two hundred—men, women, and children—were murdered. After a severe skirmish they captured the fort and the island. For miles around, all the houses were burned and the country pillaged. Next day they attacked and defeated a party of eighty French soldiers. After extending their ravages over the open country for more than twenty miles, occupying it for weeks, they at last withdrew, taking with them one hundred and twenty prisoners destined to be tortured for their diversion.

Denonville's successor was one of the most striking and picturesque characters of a remarkable age—that of Louis XIV., of France, the "Grande Monarque."

Louis de Buade, Count de Frontenac, was a courtier of noble family, "a man of excellent parts," says St. Simon, a contemporary, "living much in society and completely ruined." Vanity was one of his especial weaknesses; and one who knew him well tells us that whenever he had new clothes "he paraded them like a child. He praised everything that belonged to himself," says the same authority, "and acted as if everybody owed duty to him." Entering upon a military career, he became a colonel at twenty-three and a brigadier-general at twenty-six, and had seen service in Italy and in Holland under the Prince of Orange.

[142] At the age of fifty-two, to retrieve his fortunes, he accepted the post of Governor of New France, and at once set himself to work to promote the prosperity of the country. He was a man of strong vitality, "keen, fiery, and headstrong," and from the very first he exercised an extraordinary influence over the Indians with whom he had to deal.

Frontenac knew just how to manage them, flattering them adroitly, conforming to their usages, and borrowing their modes of expression, while at the same time assuming towards them an air of haughtiness which compelled their respect. He would not call them "brothers"—the usual mode of addressing them—but "children," and this indication of superiority even the proud Iroquois accepted from him. They admired the great "Onontio," as the French governors were called, who condescended to play with their children and gave small presents to their wives; who smiled upon them when they did well, and who saw through their artifices, and who did not fear, when they transgressed, to punish them.

Having quarrelled with the priests, who were all-powerful in Canada, he had been recalled in 1682; but when, a few years later, the condition of the colony had become desperate, he was re-appointed as the only man who could revive and strengthen it.

"I send you back to Canada," said King Louis, "where I am sure you will serve me as well as you did before; and I ask nothing more of you." Although seventy years of age, Frontenac accepted the arduous task.

On his arrival at Quebec, Frontenac found Canadian affairs in a truly deplorable condition. The energetic governor at once sent out numerous war parties to strike the English settlements, inflicting a series of terrible blows upon them as will be seen in a subsequent chapter. Against the Iroquois he sent the skilful partisans De Mantet, Courtemanche, and La None, with a force of six hundred and twenty-five men. Sixteen days' journey brought them to the Iroquois country. They captured and destroyed three Mohawk villages, and returned with three hundred prisoners—women and children. Under Frontenac's vigorous rule Canada speedily became prosperous, and a source of dread to the English.

In 1694 an Iroquois deputy came to Quebec with overtures of peace. War and famine had greatly reduced the Confederacy, and they were almost entirely destitute of arms and ammunition, and even the necessaries of life.

"Let each of your Five Nations send me two deputies," says Frontenac, "and I will listen to what they have to say."

[143] They would not go to him, but sent another deputation inviting him to come and treat with them at Onondaga. The haughty governor kicked away their wampum belts and told them they were rebels, bribed by the English; that if they would send a deputation to Quebec, honestly desiring to make peace, he would still listen; but if they came to him with any more such propositions as they had just made they should be roasted alive.


[Illustration]

GOVERNOR COLDEN.

A final delegation, headed by the renowned orator, Decanisora, then came. He spoke eloquently and offered peace, but demanded that it should include the English. Frontenac declined this proposition, and the envoys departed, pledging themselves to return and deliver up all their prisoners, leaving two hostages as security for the performance of their promise. Dissensions among the Iroquois and the efforts of the Governor of New York prevented the consummation of this treaty, and the war was renewed.

Frontenac determined to thoroughly subdue this fierce and powerful enemy. Leaving Montreal, at the head of twenty-two hundred men, he reached Fort Frontenac on the 19th, and on the 1st of August had arrived at the border of Lake Onondaga. On the 5th they reached the Onondaga village, the governor, enfeebled by age, being carried in an arm-chair. Two bundles of reeds suspended from a tree, which they encountered on their way, denoted that fourteen hundred and thirty-four warriors (the number of reeds) defied them. They found the stronghold in ashes, the Indians having, upon the approach of so large an army, burned their town and retreated into the forest.

For two days the army was employed in destroying the corn and other stores of the Onondagas. A messenger for peace from the Oneidas was told that they could have it on condition that they should all migrate and settle in Canada. Within three days Vaudreuil, with seven hundred men, had destroyed their town and seized a number of chiefs as hostages for the fulfilment of Frontenac's demands. The expedition then returned, achieving only a partial success. The Indians had saved themselves by flight. The government of New York supplied them with corn to prevent a famine, and the Iroquois had not yet been subdued. Their [144] power, however, was so far broken that they were never again very formidable to the French.

The peace of Utrecht (February, 1698) ended the struggle, and the death of the heroic old governor took place a few months later (November 28).

In 1750 the Iroquois had diminished one-half, from the introduction of ardent spirits among them and from emigration to the St. Lawrence under Jesuit influence. With the exception of the Oneidas, they espoused the British cause during the Revolution, and were severely punished by an expedition into their country under General Sullivan in 1779.


 Table of Contents  |  Index  | Previous: The New England Indians  |  Next: King Philip's War
Copyright (c) 2000-2017 Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.