Account of the battle fought by M. D Artaguiette, Chevalier de St. Louis, Major of New Orleans, and Commandant at the Illinois, with the Chickasaw Indians, March 25, 17362
M. D Artaguiette, having received orders from M. de Bienville to come to join him at the Chickasaws with the troops that he was able to take from his garrison, the Illinois Indians, and the habitants of his district whom he was able to assemble, left Fort Chartres the 22nd of February last, with S. de St. Ange, Desgly and Dutisné, lieutenants; De Vincennes, half pay lieutenant and Commandant at the Ouabache, de Coulange, infantry ensign, and de La Graviere and Frontigny, second ensigns, 27 soldiers, 110 habitants, 38 Iroquois, 28 Arkan­saws, 100 Illinois, 160 Miamis, which made up a small army of 145 French and 326 Indians.
He left in command at the Illinois in his absence Sieur De la Buissonniere, captain, and Sieur de Montcharvaux, infantry ensign, to assemble the 180 Illinois Indians who were in winter quarters, and lead them to Ecorse a Prudeshy; homme, where he would wait for them. He arrived at Ecorse a Prudhomme the 28th of February, and built there a small palisade fort, where he left 25 men, including three sick soldiers, and a militia captain named Jolishybois to command. He left there the fifth of March following for the Chickasaw country.
When he was about 18 leagues from the Chickasaw villages he sent three Illinois Indians and a Miami Indian to find out whether M. de Bienville had arrived. They reported that they had seen nothing. He took counsel with the Iroquois, who, not trusting in the report of the Illinois, induced him, in order to be more certain, to send for reconnaissance four of their people with four Illinois, a Chickasaw adopted by the Miamis, and a Canadian called Framboise, to learn the position of the Chicka­saw fort and the number of their cabins. They reported that they had seen about 15 cabins on a little hill, five or six on another, a small fort about 40 feet long by 30 wide, and that they believed that there might be in that village 30 or 35 cabins more.
M. D Artaguiette took counsel with all the chiefs of the allies, and asked them what they wished to do. The Illinois and Miami chiefs replied to him that they would rely upon what was decided by the Iroquois, who were cleverer than they were. The Iroquois said that they would do anything that M. D Artaguiette judged proper. He thanked them, and asked for their judgment. Since you wish, replied the Iroquois, to know what we think, we shall tell it to you.
"The march which we have just made,
having been longer than we expected, has used up our provisions. We
have no more of them, and if we intend to wait for M. De Bienville,
who perhaps will not come for ten or eleven days, we run the risk of
dying from hunger. To prevent this danger, it is necessary to attack
the Chickashy;saw village which we found. When we have taken it we
will find there means of subsistence, and we can entrench ourselves
in the fort that we have captured while waiting for M. De Bienville.
This plan was good, and M. D Artaguiette, who approved it, made all
his little, troop march. He arrived March 24th at nine o'clock in
the evening, about a league from the fort of the Chickasaws. He sent
four Iroquois to reconnoitre; during their absence there were heard
fired several gunshots from the direction of the Chickasaw village;
a thing which made them think that perhaps M. De Bienville had come
up on the other side.
The four Iroquois spies did not come back until three hours after midnight, and reported that all the Chickasaws were very quiet. The little army began marching again, and came within a half league of the fort. M. D Artaguiette ordered the horses which carried the baggage to be unloaded, but the Iroquois thought this place of deposit too far from the place where it was necessary to attack. The horses were reloaded and went on to an eighth of a league from the Chickasaws.
There M. D Artaguiette placed his powder, munitions and baggage, under the guard of Sieur de Frontigny, ensign, with five soldiers and fifteen habitants. The Reverend Jesuit Father Senat, who acted as Chaplain, also remained at this place. By ground well sheltered, about 6 to 7 o'clock in the morning of March 25, 1736, M. D Artaguiette at the head of his officers and his soldiers, numbering 26 men including himself, formed with habitants to the number of 73 the center of the army. The Iroquois, at the head of the Miamis, were at the left, and the Arkansaws, at the head of the Illinois, were at the right.
They marched in this order against the fort of the Chickasaws. At about a gunshot from it, the Illinois and Miamis gave a great war-whoop, and attacked a hill where they thought they saw a few cabins, but there were more beyond on another hill. As the army approached the fort, a chief of the Chickasaws came out with three peace pipes, but the Illinois and Miami Indians fired on him without listening to him, and killed him. Four or five cabins were taken possession of, and the fort was attacked. Immediately the Chickasaws in the fort and the other cabins did not show themselves. They defended themselves wholly through the loopholes. The Iroquois took one scalp, and captured a Tonica woman who was a prisoner among the Chickasaws. The Miamis captured a woman, and the Arkansaws a child.
At the end of a quarter of an hour there appeared or the hills four or five hundred Chickasaws who came to the rescue of their people, which so frightened the Illinois and Miamis that they took flight, in spite of the remonstrance's of their chiefs. M. D Artaguiette, seeing and baggage, under the guard of Sieur de Frontigny, ensign, with five soldiers and fifteen habitants. The Reverend Jesuit Father Senat, who acted as Chaplain, also remained at this place. By ground well sheltered, about 6 to 7 o'clock in the morning of March 25, 1736, M. D Artaguiette at the head of his officers and his soldiers, numbering 26 men including himself, formed with habitants to the number of 73 the center of the army. The Iroquois, at the head of the Miamis, were at the left, and the Arkansaws, at the head of the Illinois, were at the right.
They marched in this order against the fort of the Chickasaws., At about a gunshot from it, the Illinois and Miamis gave a great war-whoop, and attacked a hill where they thought they saw a few cabins, but there were more beyond on another hill. As the army approached the fort, a chief of the Chickasaws came out with three peace pipes, but the Illinois and Miami Indians fired on him without listening to him, and killed him. Four or five cabins were taken possession of, and the fort was attacked. Immediately the Chickasaws in the fort and the other cabins did not show themselves. They defended themselves wholly through the loopholes. The Iroquois took one scalp, and captured a Tonica woman who was a prisoner among the Chickasaws. The Miamis captured a woman, and the Arkansaws a child.
At the end of a quarter of an hour there appeared or the hills four or five hundred Chickasaws who came to the rescue of their people, which so frightened the Illinois and Miamis that they took flight, in spite of the remonstrances of their chiefs. M. D Artaguiette, seeing himself abandoned at one stroke by more than 250 Indians, was obliged to call a retreat to the place where the baggage and munitions were. In retiring he had three fingers of his right hand cut off by a bullet. The Chickasaws, encouraged by the flight of the Illinois and Miamis, pursued our little army with great fury, and surrounded it.
M. D Artaguiette received a second bullet shot in his thigh, which obliged him to lean against a tree, and there he strove by his words to rouse his troops. Many of those who were near him advised him to save himself. His servant, called Pantaloon, led his horse to him, and tried, with some of the habitants, to induce him to mount, but he insisted on staying to encourage his officers, soldiers and Indians to repulse the Chickasaws. While he was exhorting them he received a third gunshot wound in the abdomen, from which he fell dead.
Despite the death of M. D Artaguiette, M. De St. Ange, first lieutenant, and the other officers tried hard to repulse the Chickasaws, but they succumbed to the force of numbers, and were most of them killed near the body of M. D Artaguiette; the greater part of the officers of the militia perished here also. The small number of soldiers of the troops and militia who remained, seeing themselves without leaders and without officers, were obliged to save themselves. The Chickasaws pursued them for nearly four leagues, and would without doubt have overtaken them and killed them all, if the rain, which fell in great quantity, and which began at ten o'clock in the morning, had not prevented them.
This combat lasted from between six and seven in the morning until nine o'clock. The Iroquois arid the Arkansaws behaved splendidly, and there are, owing to their valor and to their care during the retreat, more than twenty wounded soldiers and habitants who would have been killed or made prisoners, whom they aided in carrying to Ecorse a Prudhomme, where the remnant of the army arrived, part on the 29th and the rest on the 30th of March following.
The day after the defeat our people met Sieur de Montcharvaux, who was coming to join M. Artaguiette with 180 Illinois, five soldiers and eight habitants. He turned back and came to Ecorse a Prudhomme. The Illinois, who were the first to take flight, crossed the Mississippi river and returned to their home through the country of the Arkansaws, and have gone by the river to their villages, and the Iroquois accompanied by water our French to the post of the Illinois.
The Tonica woman was interrogated as to the number of the Chickasaws. She said they may be 1000 men in number, 100 Natchez, and 80 Shawnees; that M. D Artaguiette had been misled by the reports of the spies into supposing that the villages of the Chickasaws were all grouped in one place, where they would be able to give reciprocal aid in case of attack; that what had deceived the spies was that all these villages were on hills which conceal one another, which are surrounded by forests, and of which one cannot learn the number until he is in the midst of them. This woman also said that there were perhaps eight or ten English traders in the fort which M. D Artaguiette had attacked.
During the attack an Iroquois planted his flag in the ground in the middle of the village; two Englishmen made a sortie from the Chickasaw fort and trampled it under foot. The Iroquois fired on them; some say they were killed on the field, and others that they withdrew.
LIST OF THE DEAD:
OFFICERS OF THE TROOPS,
D Artaguiette, Commandant.
St. Ange, the son, Lieutenant.
De Vincennes, half-pay Lieutenant.
Coulange, infantry ensign.
De La Graviere, second ensign.
Duclos, the younger.
La Croix, corporal.
Francois Leger, called Mauricaut
Joseph Lelarge, called L Enclume (Anvil).
Pierre Guebert, called Courte OreilIe
(Short Earactually made prisoner).
Pierre Huet, called La Palme.
Pierre David, called Le Breton.
Ives le Libris, called Beaulieu.
Nicholas Beaudran, called La France.
Joseph Duval, called Le Breton.
OFFICERS OF MILITIA AND HABITANTS
Messrs. Desessars, Captain.
(All three named below are brothersof the officer - ensign - named above.)
Bel Ecars la Graviere
Cargueville la Gravier
J Richardville la Gravier
St. Cire - Allart
Carriere - Bonvillain
Rochefort - Va Deboncoeur
Savot - Monte Jean
Chauvin - Masson
Cochon - Bourmon
Reverend Father Senat, Jesuit.
Dutisné, Lieutenant of the Troops.
De la Lande, Captain of Militia.
Sieur Frontigny, second ensign;
(he was lost in the flight, and is supposed to have been captured, or perhaps killed in the woods.)
The enemy captured of munitions,
450 pounds of powder, 1200 pounds of bullets, 30 jugs of brandy.
It is estimated that they had about 60 or 70 men killed, and many wounded.
It has been since learned from letters written by Messrs. De La Buissoniere, Commandant, and Delaloere, chief scrivener at the Illinois, that about one or two days journey from the Chickasaw country M. D Artaguiette had received the letters by which M. De Noyan had told him of the order of M. de Bienville to retard his march, and wait for him in order that they might strike together against the Chickasaws and Natchez; that after the defeat of M. D Artaguiette, the Chickasaws, who took possession of all their belongings, without doubt found these letters, as well as all those which various persons in New Orleans had written to the Illinois, which were all in one package in one envelope; and they communicated with the English, who consequently have had complete information of the measures and preparations which M. de Bienville was making against these Indians; this caused them to assemble, to fortify themselves, and to call the English to their aid, in order to be in a condition of resistance to the army which they knew M. de Bienville would lead against them.
LETTER OF M. DE CREMONT TO THE MINISTER
I have had the honor of informing you of our arrival at the Cape the 13th of last month. Our stay was of only five days, which were spent in replacing the water and wood that we had used since our departure from France. This provision made, we left the 17th of January for Balize, where, we anchored the fourth of this month, which makes eighteen days of voyage from the Cape here, which, with 47 days from France to Santo Domingo, makes sixty five, not counting the stay at the Cape We would have arrived here in fifteen days if we had not been held back by the north-west winds from the tropic till here. We were astonished to find this kind of wind so obstinate in these latitudes, but our surprise on the island of Santo Domingo was lessened on our arrival here when we learned that they have prevailed since October.
The stubbornness of these winds misled the judgment of our pilots, because they have caused the changing of the gulf streams, which, instead of bearing to the east, as they usually do at this season, carried us on the contrary in the opposite direction, and far from landing at the middle of Ste. Roye island, about fifty leagues to the east of the mouth of the river, as we should, following the course from the north which we had taken, we found ourselves five leagues west of Balize, which was the first land that we had seen. These, Monseigneur, are the most important happenings of our trip.
As I arrived here,, Monseigneur, only two days ago, I have not yet been able to look into the present situation of this colony in connection with the Indians. M. de Bienville has told me that it would be absolutely impossible to go to attack the Chickasaws this year, and that this enterprise could not be accomplished sooner than in eighteen months.
It has not been found true, as was believed at first, that M. D Artaguiette and all his officers were killed on the field of battle. Wounded by three gunshots, he was captured with some of his officers, also wounded, Father Senat, and some soldiers and habitants, the whole to the number of nineteen; and an Indian girl, an eye witness, who had been a slave among the Chickasaws, being rescued from them by the Alabamas, M. de Bienville had her come here, and she reported that on the same day as the attack, M. D Artaguiette, his officers, Father Senat the Jesuit priest, and the other prisoners to the number of seventeen altogether, were thrown alive into two different fires which the Indian women had prepared. And when they burned them, she assured us also that, during the preparation of this barbarous tragedy, our French sang, in the same manner as the Indians, who judge the valor of a warrior only by the strength or weakness of his voice at the time when they are about to put him to death.
The Chickasaws have kept alive the other two prisoners, who are believed to be habitants, in order to exchange them for the Chickasaw named Courserai, whom M. de Bienville has kept prisoner during the war. This exchange will take place in order that we may gain from these two men a clear idea of the present situation of the Indians, and the position of their strongholds. The exchange will be made through the Alabamas who will send two of their warriors to the Chickasaws as hostages. When the two Frenchmen are surrendered to them, M. de Bienville will send Courserai to the Alabamas in return for the French, and the Alabamas will get back their two men on giving up Courserai to the Chickasaws, a thing which must be done at once. These, Monseigneur, are the bits of news which have come to my knowledge since my arrival here.
I expect to leave for Mobile in two weeks, and I will have the honor of informing Monseigneur on the return of the King s ship, of. the state in which I find that department.
ACCOUNT OF THE MARCH AND OF THE DEFEAT OF D ARTAGUIETTE, BY PARISIEN
Recountal of the defeat of the French army which left the Illinois country under the command of M. D Artaguiette, Major, to go against our enemies the Chickasaws, by the said Parisien, Anspessade, 2 who escaped; of the overthrow of the army, composed of 130 French, towit: 41 regulars, including the commandant, the officers, sergeants and corporals; 99 volunteers of the militia, including the officers; 38 Iroquois, brave men who stood firm; 38 Arkansaws; 190 Illinois and Miami Indians, making 396 men.
It left the Illinois country on February 20; arrived at Ecorse a Prudhomme the 23d of the same month; left there the 25th to proceed to the country of the Chickasaws, where it arrived the 25th of March, Palm Sunday, when it attacked the enemy. The Illinois and Miamis, as soon as they saw the army in the fight, took flight, in order to avenge, as they said, the death of one called Duhalies de Fer, one of their chiefs, whom a Frenchman had killed the summer preceding. The flight of the Indians leaving our forces too inferior to those of our enemies, who were before this already greater in number, made M. D Artaguiette determine to call a retreat, in order to joIn the powder guard, which he had left a quarter of a league from the enemy, who pursued the French to that place with so great fury that they killed 42 to. 45 of them, of whom the most notable are
M. D Artaguiette,
Commandant, who received three gunshot wounds, the first in the hand,
the second in the thigh, and the third through the body
M. De Saint Ange, the son, first lieutenant.
M. Vincennes, sublieutenant.
M. De Coulange, infantry ensign.
M. Lagranier, second ensign.
M. Contigny, ensign.
OFFICERS OF THE MILITIA
M. Des Essarts, captain.
M. Estaing Langlois, lieutenant.
M. Carrier, the senior.
The reverend Jesuit Father Senat, chaplain.
M. Dutisnay, infantry officer.
Lalande, captain of militia.
Five or six soldiers.
The enemy enhanced their victory by gaining possession of powder to the amount of 450 pounds, 1200 pounds of bullets, 30 jugs of brandy, 11 horses, and all the provisions and clothes which individual soldiers, or Frenchmen of the militia had. Those who escaped fled with only the clothing they had on, and were pursued all day; and, but for a rain which lasted from ten o clock in the morning till seven in the evening, there would not have been a single Frenchman saved.
The village of the Chickasaws, where all of the nation were assembled when the army attacked it, it is in the shape of a horseshoe. It is so large that we had trouble in finding the entrance to it. There were many English there, traders and others, who had the audacity of coming to tear down and trample upon the French flag which an Iroquois had set up near their fort. They were repaid for their insults; two were killed on the field.
The said Parisien reports that there were on the way to join M. D Artaguiette, M. De Monchervau, with 60 men, and M. De Grandpre, commandant at the Arkansaws, with 120 men, who, having heard of the defeat of the army, turned back. He adds that the Chickasaws lost more men killed than the French, in the battle, which lasted from daybreak until nine o clock. Others report that there were among the Chickasaws a considerable reinforcement of Cherokees, devoted to the English, at whose request these Indians had come; which agrees with the information which several Choctaws gave M. De Bienville, as well as myself.
REPORT OF RICHARDVILLE ON D ARTAGUIETTE S EXPEDITION AGAINST THE CHICKASAWS
Sr. Drouet de Richardville who took part in the expedition of M. D Artaguiette against the Chickasaws in March, 1736, arrived in Montreal June 10th, 1739, by way of Fort St. Frederic, conducted by Sr. D Artigny.
He reports that in March, 1736, in D Artaguiette s attack, three of his brothers were killed and he himself suffered two gunshot wounds, one in the left arm and the other in the abdomen, and an arrow wound in the right wrist, which did not keep him from defending himself. He was captured while fighting, by three Chickasaws, who brought him into the village, a quarter league distant from the field of battle, with twenty-two Frenchmen, of whom twenty were burned, among whom were,
Father Senat, a Jesuit.
De St. Ange, the son,
De Tonty, the cadet (younger son).
These gentlemen were burned, along with the Reverend Father, from three in the afternoon until about midnight. The other French burned were officers and soldiers of the militia.
Sieur de Courselas, or Coustillas, an officer of Louisiana, was burned three days later in the Grand Village, with an Iroquois from Sault St. Louis. Said Sieur de Courselas had been made guard of the powder, with thirty five men, and, having lost his way, went to the village of the Chickasaws, not knowing where he was going. The thirty five French retreated, otherwise Sieur de Richardville might have known what became of them..
Sieur de Richardville was led away, and put in the cabin of the chief of the village of Jantalla, where he was watched for six months by the young men; after which he lived with full liberty among the Chickasaws and hunted with them.
After eighteen months stay among the Indians he escaped from the village with one called Pierre de Courtoreille, a soldier of the garrison of the Illinois, by the help of an English trader, who told them the route they should take; and having made forty leagues they met some English traders from Georgia, who took them to Mr. James Oglethorpe, Commandant in chief of the troops of his British majesty, who ransomed them from the Chickasaw Indians who came to claim them. He gave him a passport the twenty seventh of September, 1738 (displayed by Sieur de Richardville) which permitted him to pass through Virginia and from Virginia into Canada.
Pierre de Courte Oreille had to embark in Georgia to join his family in Paris, and Sieur de Richardville went through Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Albany, Fort St. Frederick, and finally to Montreal.
Sieur de Richardville reports that from Ecorse a Prudhomme, stretching eastward, there are nine Chickasaw villages, at two, three and four arpents distant from one another. The Grand Village is a half league from these, beyond a village of the Natchez, which is near. There were there at that time about six hundred warriors, including the Natchez, who are in small number. There are nine forts for the nine villages, and around, outside these forts, are the cabins.
The forts are square, without bastions, fifty or sixty feet across the front. The enclosure is of posts, reaching seven or eight feet above, propped up at the back by forked stakes. These posts are redoubled, and are pierced with loop-holes; they are set two and a half feet in the ground, and they cannot be thrown down either from the inside or the outside. The cabins, which are around these forts, are round, made of oak posts, covered with mud in the shape of a dome, and covered over that with straw; the interstices are filled with mud; the doorways are so low and narrow that one can only enter sidewise and stooping; there is nothing underground; the floor is level with the ground. There is no opening except the door.
There are no streams in any of the villages ; they have only some springs where they make wells which supply them water. These Indians do not raise much maize, and live by the chase. Generally seven or eight go together and at night they come together and sleep in ravines of cane, and for fear of a surprise attack they make no fire. They have a great many horses; the women use them just as the men do. There is many a cabin where there are at least six of them. Forage may be found everywhere. All the warriors have guns, powder, and bullets, which the English furnish them in exchange for furs, but since the affair of M. D Artaguiette and that of M. de Bienville, they do not go on the great hunt.
Sieur de Richardville says that these Indians told him many times that if the French desired peace they had only to come with a pavilion, a peace pipe, and wampum to mark the road which they would make; and that if the French came to an agreement with them, they would surrender the Natchez to M. de Bienville, without him troubling himself about it. The Natchez live with the Chickasaws, and are treated as slaves. They make them work, dig, etc. There are about forty of them in their villages.
The Chickasaws have for allies and friends the Cherokees, who are about four days journey from them. They come from time to time to smoke the peace-pipe with them, an event which occurred twice during Sieur de Richardville s sojourn there. There was always to be seen, as long as he remained there, an English trader, with three, four, or five men employed, in each village. The Chickasaws are always distrustful; the chiefs tell the young men every evening to place their guns opposite their heads. They often said that they knew well that the French would eat them, and that they will eat many of them first.
The nine villages are in a plain cut by several little ridges; from one east hill the wood has a good range for gunshot, and from the other east one the prairie; however the first two villages which one comes to, after leaving Ecorse a Prudhomme to go there, are much farther away from the wood. From the Ecorse a Prudhomme to the nine villages, Sieur de Richardville thinks must be sixty leagues, road good and bad, the ground low and overgrown with ash.
The Chickasaws make no use of their horses in warfare, but it was told Sieur de Richardville many times that when the French came to besiege them they would keep them in their forts to use for food in their need. These people said that they had lost only one man in M. Bienville s attack, and in that of M. D Artaguiette twenty were killed and thirty were wounded. Ten Missasaugas who arrived from near the Chickasaws brought a prisoner and three scalps.
STATE OF THE TROOPS AND MILITIA WHO
MADE THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE CHICKASAWS
Company of Grenadiers, composed of
30 French and 15 Swiss 45 men
Company of Lusser ...................... 31
Company of Custillas .................. 30
Company of Petit........................ 30
Company of Berthet ................ .. 30
Company of Bombelles........... . .30
Company of Benac .... .............. 31
Company of Membrede......... .. 30
Company of Leblanc ... .......... 30
Swiss company .. ........ ......... 130
Company of Militia from New Orleans 45
Company of Militia from Mobile 40
Volunteers and Voyageurs 42
The officers are not included in this statement; and there should be deducted 20 men left to guard the baggage, and ten sick, leaving 514 effective men.
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