Your Guide to the
and the Greater
September 20, 2018
History - Frontier Forts
Memoirs of a French Soldier at Fort Duquesne, 1754-1758
EXPEDITION TO THE FORKS OF THE OHIO
YEAR 1754: At the beginning of January, they raised five hundred men, as many regulars as militia. They did not fail to include me in this number, as I had foreseen. We left Quebec by land, on the 15th, under the command of Captain Contrecoeur and other officers. We traveled over snow and ice all the way to Montreal, which we reached on
the 26th. We stayed there a week while taking on reinforcements of three hundred militia, and supplies for two months. We left by land, February 3rd, with a traine to each man.
February 25th, we reached Niagara, where we left one hundred men to reinforce the garrison of this post. Then we went on by land, climbing the three mountains near the Falls of Niagara to reach Toronto where there were bateaux and canoes to carry us to Presque Isle. We left Toronto on the 28th in ninety bateaux and canoes, following the south shore of Lake Erie as far as Presque Isle, where we arrived on March 8th. We immediately made a portage as far as the River aux Boeufs, which is four leagues distant from it. This portage lasted for twelve days, because the artillery had to be dragged. When that was accomplished, we left two hundred more men at Presque Isle, and we set out with only five hundred men for the River aux Boeufs.
March 25, we left the fort of the River aux Boeufs in bateaux and pirogues, all loaded with food and munitions. (Pirogues are made of the trunks of birch or whitewood trees from which the bark is stripped. They are hollowed like a trough, cut square at the stern with a sharp point at the bow. They are rather flattened in the bottom and underneath, but very liable to tip when a foot is put on the side.) We had to navigate by short stages on the river, because it was obstructed by many trees which had fallen into it, either from old age or because of the hurricanes which are common enough in these parts where whirlwinds often uproot trees. Many had to be cut and others had to be cleared away, to get through.
As we were making a halt one day on the riverbank, while we were going down, we saw several of the white-tail deer and mule deer which abound in this country. I was one of four who seized a gun, intending to kill at least one. I had with me my dog; a very keen creature, full of vigor. When he found the deer scent, he took up the chase farther than he should have; for when it came time to embark, I called my dog without avail. I could not wait for him, since I had to follow the other pirogues. When we had finally gone about a league down the river, I saw my dog on the heights of the steep cliffs, from which he could not descend to get back to me. I was then forced to abandon him, not without much regret, sure that he could only die of hunger and be the food of ferocious animals. This dog, which I had for two years, and cost me three hundred francs, had
already earned two hundred francs by his strength and skill. This is without counting
the other service he had done by drawing my traine over the snow and ice.
April 4th, we reached the lower part of River aux Boeufs, where it forks with the River aux Iroquois (The River aux Iroquois appears to be French Creek above its junction with Le Boeuf Cree). They flow together into the Ohio or Belle River (They flow into the Allegheny, which the French considered to be the main stream of the Ohio, also called the Beautiful River), which rises in the Iroquois country toward Lake Erie and flows on into the Mississippi after its junction with the Wabash River. About ten leagues below the mouth of the River aux Boeufs, on the bank of the Ohio, going down, we perceived an English fort. We crossed a league above this fort to the same side, where we mounted four cannons on their carriages. An officer and a drummer were sent at once to the commander of this fort with a summons, whose terms were substantially as follows:
"The surprise felt by the French on finding the English established on the bank of the Ohio River, a river belonging to France. No doubt this violation of territory has been made only at the request of a company of traders to favor their commerce with the savages. Whatever the reason, the commander and his garrison could retire very peaceably from it within an hour. Otherwise, force would necessarily be used to capture the garrison and destroy the fort."
The reply of the commander (Captain Trent) was that he would yield to the summons. The capitulation was signed at once. We took possession of the fort in which there were only fifty men and four cannons, but no provisions at all. We distributed enough to the garrison to last them three days, and destroyed the fort, which was no more than an enclosure of upright stakes. We put their artillery in the boats with ours, and went to camp five leagues farther down.
The following day, we continued our journey, and arrived at an abattis of trees which aroused our suspicion. Twenty-five men were sent ahead by land to see if they could discover anything. They reported that they had gone as far as the bank of a river, about two leagues from their point of departure. This river empties into the Ohio, and on its opposite bank is a large, steep mountain bordering the river. We at once advanced as
far as this river, where we discovered a site appropriate for settlement by the erection of a fort. At the forks of this river and at its entrance into the Ohio, a ground plan for construction was laid out. It was begun by felling the trees and clearing the ground.
April 8th, construction was started on this fort which we named Fort Duquesne, while we gave the name Mal Engueulee to the river which the English called the Monongahela. Fort Duquesne is the most distant of the French possessions on the Ohio side, which is to the south of Upper Canada. The fort was built of squared timbers twelve feet thick on the land side; its thickness filled in with earth; with a strong parapet; and three bastions each mounting four cannon. It had a deep moat on the outside and a drawbridge on the north, which is the upper side toward the Ohio.
The part of the fort next to the water is toward the west, and is only a framework of trees driven into the ground like piles, with a bakehouse on the same side.
Inside, there are four separate buildings. The one on the right, when entering by the drawbridge, is the commander's quarters. Opposite, to the left, are the guardhouse and the barracks. At the end facing the entrance is the storehouse for provisions and goods, and on the water side are the quarters of the gunners.
We worked as quickly as possible to complete the fort. It was half-finished when savage Shawnees, who lived five leagues further down on the banks of the Ohio, arrived there. We welcomed them, though we suspected they were spies, who must be watched. A few days later we learned that these savages had carried news to the English of our work and of our talk with them.
These savages had for neighbors another tribe called the Loups (The Delaware or Lenape Indians were called Loups (wolves) by the French.). These also came to Fort Duquesne, were well received, and became attached to the French, as the latter were kind to these savages, who often went among the English. As they went there freely, the French induced them to go and see what was going on, which they did in the most helpful and serviceable manner. They were rewarded by presents and good treatment which, when continued, aroused jealousy among their neighbors, the Shawnees. They wanted to imitate them in telling what they knew about the English, and the French profited by this jealousy. However, as the savages are only honest as far as their own interests are concerned, it is reasonable to suppose that the French and English were both being informed of what happened in each camp--that is, in the two camps.
Fort Duquesne was almost completed when Commander Contrecoeur sent some savages with Frenchmen to reconnoiter. This detachment returned at the end of several days, and reported that the English had settled in Virginia, forty leagues away, and were building storehouses, probably with the intention of attacking Fort Duquesne. Upon this news, the commander determined to send an officer with an escort to carry a summons to the first English officer that he could find, but with care to be on guard against a surprise attack from either the English or the savages, and likewise to encourage friendly feeling with the latter; and especially to familiarize themselves with the country and its various trails. May 23rd, the bearer of this summons, who was the Sieur Dejumonville, with an escort of thirty-four men and an interpreter, departed.
The officer Dejumonville, (Jumonville) was an ensign in the troops, and had with him another officer named Drouillon; three cadets named Boucherville, Du Sable, and another; with a volunteer named LaForce; an interpreter--in all thirty-five men. They left with the order and summons just mentioned, and marched until the 26th. In the evening, he had to camp because of bad weather. He stopped in low ground with his escort. He was then only two leagues from the English fort, toward which he was directing his course.
Bad weather detaining him all morning in his camp, he was discovered by savage Iroquois, who went at once to tell the English. Thereupon they started out. The next morning, the 27th (The skirmish actually took place on May 28, 1754), sixty men, half of them English and half savages, surrounded the French. The French did not realize this until a musket shot was fired at them by the enemy. Then Sieur Dejumonville performed his duty by reading the summons he was carrying. The enemy paid no attention to it, and in a second volley Sieur Dejumonville and nine of his men were killed. The rest, numbering twenty-four were taken prisoner and conducted to Winchester, which they reached on the 4th of June.
The defeat of what was a sort of embassy obliged the Commander Contrecoeur to inform Governor General Duquesne about it. The latter wrote to the Minister of Marine, who denounced it to the English Ambassador as assassination. It resulted in arousing much feeling in this country between the French and the English.
Shortly after the defeat of Sieur Jumonville, a courier arrived at Fort Duquesne bringing word from Quebec, that the King of England had sent all the governors of New England secret orders to prepare to attack Canada on all sides.
June 26th, Captain De Villiers commander of Fort Chartres, a dependency of Louisiana, arrived at Fort Duquesne with three hundred savage Illinois, and hostages, along with several boats laden with provisions, and goods transported by fifty Frenchmen. Upon his arrival, this officer learned of the death of Sieur Jumonville, his brother, and about the preparations in progress to avenge this death, which was regarded as a murder. He asked for the command of the detachment which they had planned to send under the command of Sieur Lemercier who, at the request of Sieur De Villiers, consented to give up his place; as much to let him have revenge for his brother, as because he was his senior in rank. Sieur Lemercier was second in command on this expedition. This detachment was intended at first to have only one hundred men, but was augmented by three hundred savages who had come with Captain De Villiers. This detachment then seemed rather strong. I was included in it.
The 28th, we started our march up the Monongahela River, part going by land and part by water.
We left the next morning and marched on. About noon, we reached the place where Sieur Jumonville had been killed. Four corpses, whose scalps had been taken, were still there. They were buried and general prayers were said, after which Commander De Villiers addressed the savages upon the spot where his brother had been assassinated, about the vengeance he hoped to have with their help. They promised to back him. Thereupon the march was continued until about three o'clock in the afternoon, when our scouts informed us that we were only a half league from the English fort.
Then we advanced more cautiously, trying to get as near the fort as we could without being discovered. But when we sighted it, half a hundred armed men came out to engage us, probably not expecting to find us so numerous. We advanced in three columns to the right. All the savages went to the left, shouting their war cry, which so frightened the fifty leaving the fort that they turned back hastily. We advanced opposite the fort, but only within rifle shot, because the fort was built in the middle of the plain. We had scarcely arrived in this position when the fort's cannon began to fire on us with grapeshot (they were small cannons). We were in the woods, each behind a tree. As we had no cannon, we could only return fire with rifle shots. We, nevertheless, reached the fort.
Our musketry-fire lasted until eight o'clock in the evening, when we sent an officer with a drummer to summon the commander to surrender, failing which they would be taken by assault. Actually we had been preparing for this by making fascines during the firing. This precaution was unnecessary because at the very moment when the officer bearing the summons was going toward the fort, the enemy's flag was lowered. This was a signal that the enemy had decided to surrender.
The French officers and the hostages were surrendered. The capitulation was drawn up and signed the same day, July third, the day of the attack, by the English commander, George Washington. While escaping from the fort he forgot part of his papers, from which we learned that he had been major of militia in Virginia; and that on May 15th, 1753, he was made lieutenant-colonel of the Regiment of Virginia, at the time composed of one hundred and fifty men. His commission was received on May 30th. This man was a partisan of the savages, whom he often commanded without however leading them to war. He was greatly loved by them, and they called him Concorins, an Iroquois name, showing their friendship for him.
INDIAN WAR PARTIES
IN THE MONTHS of July and August, various bands of savages passed Fort Duquesne, on their way to make raids on the English settlements in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, which is farthest from Fort Duquesne. Newly arrived savages, numbering two hundred, also set out on a raid, and returned fifteen days later with twenty-one scalps and nine prisoners. Three of these were given to the commander, and the rest taken by the savages to their villages. There were a great many prisoners and scalps taken in all the different raids.
This is the way the savages take a scalp and give prisoners the "bastonnade." When a war party has captured one or more prisoners that cannot be taken away, it is the usual custom to kill them by breaking their heads with the blows of a tomahawk. When he has struck two or three blows, the savage quickly seizes his knife, and makes an incision around the hair from the upper part of the forehead to the back of the neck. Then he puts his foot on the shoulder of the victim, whom he has turned over face down, and pulls the hair off with both hands, from back to front, just as described before in connection with the scout dance. This hasty operation is no sooner finished than the savage fastens the scalp to his belt and goes on his way. This method is only used when the prisoner cannot follow his captor; or when the Indian is pursued. Then he wants to take away proof of his valor. He quickly takes the scalp, gives the deathcry and flees at top speed. Savages always announce their valor by a deathcry, when they have taken a scalp. A short deathcry means a victory. If it is slow and long drawn out, it is a sign of loss. Several cries, following each other quickly, mean prisoners and scalps. If the same cries are repeated slowly, they are counted, as they give the number of men lost; and then the Indians return with their faces daubed with black.
When a savage has taken a scalp and is not afraid he is being pursued, he stops and scrapes the skin to remove the blood and fibers on it. He makes a hoop of green wood, stretches the skin over it like a tambourine, and puts it in the sun to dry a little. The skin is painted red, and the hair on the outside is combed. When prepared, the scalp is fastened to the end of a long stick, and carried on his shoulder in triumph to the village or place where he wants to put it. But as he nears each place on his way, he gives as many cries as he has scalps to announce his arrival and show his bravery. Sometimes, as many as fifteen scalps are fastened on the same stick. When there are too many for one stick, they decorate several sticks with the scalps.
The French and the English were accustomed to pay for the scalps, to the amount of thirty francs' worth of trade goods. Their purpose was then to encourage the savages to take as many scalps as they could, and to know the number of the foe who had fallen. This precaution gave rise to a trick among the savages, either native or suggested to them. To increase the compensation received for scalps, they got the idea of making them of horsehide, which they prepared in the same way as human scalps. The discovery of this fraud was the reason they were more carefully inspected before a payment was made. Consequently, the French and English finished by giving only a trifling amount in the form of presents.
It is shameful for the human race to use such barbarous methods. Yet, to tell the truth, the idea belongs only to the savages, who were using it before they heard of the civilized nations. This horrible custom was practiced by these savages alone, and sprang from their own barbarism, for it seems never to have existed in any other nation, not even among nations who, like them, have never received any idea of civilized life.
The practice of the "bastonnade" is just as ancient. When a party has taken prisoners, they take care of them and do not mistreat them. But if this party, on its return from war, passes any villages, which usually happens from pride or vanity, they take care to announce themselves at some distance from the village by cries quickly repeated. Then the young men come to meet them. When they have joined them, they lay hold of the prisoners, and force them to go between two lines formed by the young savages. They make the prisoners run to the end of the row by striking them with sticks and stones, and with their fists. The prisoner so unfortunate as to fall in the course of the bastonnade must get up quickly and keep on, or he will be beaten to death on the spot. No one is allowed to touch the prisoners when they reach the village of their captors. They then enter in the custody of those bringing them. They could not take offense at the painful reception their prisoners received even when some are crippled by it. This sometimes happens, especially when the party has passed several villages in a few days, and the prisoners have had this treatment in each place. This disagreeable ceremony is, however, sport for the young savages.
Generally, savages have scruples about molesting a woman prisoner, and look upon it as a crime, even when she gives her consent; but when she is free, nothing that she will permit is forbidden.
At that time, there were at Fort Duquesne many savages of different tribes, who had come expressly to war against the English. They formed five divisions and went separately to attack the English settlements. Twelve days later, two of these divisions returned to the fort, with only one prisoner and five scalps. Three other divisions came back successively with only nineteen scalps among them. Other parties went out on raids, burned settlements, and brought back twenty-seven scalps, but not a single prisoner.
In the first days of May, sixty Ottawa savages arrived from the north. After three days' rest, they started for Virginia, and came back seventeen days later with twenty-five prisoners and thirty scalps. They had burned an entire settlement of fifty-five families, the rest of whom had perished in the flames.
YEAR 1755: At the beginning of May a convoy of sixty canoes laden with provisions and merchandise arrived at Fort Duquesne with two hundred militia to reinforce the garrison of the fort. At the time of the declaration of war in Europe between France and England, various savage tribes of the north, who had been invited during the previous year to take up the hatchet, arrived at Fort Duquesne. These savages numbered five hundred. A council was held when they arrived, in which these savages made evident their desire to fight for their French brothers. Tobacco, rifles, powder, and shot were given them. The second day they divided into five bands and set out for the settlements in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Carolina. Before leaving, they held their usual war feast and sang their war song. For this feast they have a dog or a prisoner boiled. Upon this occasion it was a prisoner, who had been bought by promising to give another in return. It must be noted that savages give these feasts only when they are at a great assembly or in large parties. When the meat was cooked, the man in charge cut it in small bits and distributed a piece to each warrior. They sat in a circle on the ground and ate it, as though wishing to do the same with their common enemy. As there were several French spectators, including myself, at this feast, a piece of flesh was given to each of us, and we had to bite into it. I did what the others did, and immediately let the rest of my share fall into the frill of my shirt without anyone seeing. This was because the savages would despise any who did not do as they did on such an occasion, and would consider them cowards.
After this feast, the savages danced part of the evening and left the next morning. Ten Frenchmen were sent with them to know what they were doing. One of the five parties of savages came back twelve days later, with only five scalps and one prisoner. They had lost a man on their raid, which vexed them very much. After a few days rest, they decided to make another foray against the enemy, to avenge their comrade's death. But they were no luckier on the second expedition, in which they got only four scalps. The four other parties also returned, one after another, with scalps and prisoners, who received the bastonnade as usual.
AT THE END OF JUNE, 1755, word was received that Braddock's army had marched across the Appalachians and was advancing on Fort Duquesne. At the same time more savages came to the fort from the north. They were sent out in small detachments to reconnoiter and keep us informed of the enemy's daily march.
The evening of July 8th, the scouts announced that, in less than two days, the enemy's army would be in sight of Fort Duquesne. The next day they would ford the Mal Enguelee River (Monongehela) four leagues above the fort. At this news, a council was held concerning the course to be followed. It was decided not to wait for the enemy; but to go to meet him in full force, leaving only one hundred soldiers and some savages to guard the fort.
The morning of July 9th the march was begun, eleven hundred strong. Of this number, three hundred and fifty were Frenchmen, and seven hundred and fifty were savages. The whole force was commanded by Captains Beaujeu, Dumas, Lemercier, and others. Commander Contrecoeur remained in the fort with a garrison of a hundred soldiers and as many savages. The army marched through the woods in three columns to meet the enemy, with our scouts always in advance. At noon, the army halted when news came that part of the enemy's army, with its artillery, had crossed the river, and had halted to await the rear guard and baggage train. We were then only a quarter of a league from them. Immediately the order was given to advance in double-quick time, and to attack the enemy simultaneously from the front and on both flanks. This order was hastily carried out. The savages shouted their war cry, and the French opened fire with a volley, which was followed by a volley from the savages. The enemy, taken by surprise, formed a line of battle, and fired their artillery. De Beaujeu was killed by the first volley; and the savages, terrified by the unfamiliar noise of the cannon, took flight momentarily.
But Captain Dumas took command immediately after Sieur de Beaujeu's death, and encouraged the French. The savages saw the steadfastness of the Frenchmen and no longer heard the cannon, which the French had seized. They, therefore, returned to charge the enemy, following the French example, and forced them to retreat after two hours of fierce combat, leaving two thousand men dead on the battlefield. The English hastily crossed the river, where many were killed by the never-ending hail of bullets upon them.
In this battle the French lost eleven men and had twenty-two wounded. The savages lost two men and had twenty wounded. They took sixteen prisoners. They were forbidden to scalp the dead, who were buried with care. When this battle was over, three hundred of the savages returned to their villages, taking along the sixteen prisoners. The rest of the savages remained to make raids on the English settlements.
General Braddock had made the same mistake as Baron Dieskau by arranging his troops in formal battle order in the middle of the forest. In this way they could not make an effective attack, and ran the risk of being overcome, as did happen. This was the opinion of the French Canadians, from which it may be concluded that it is wiser to use the fighting methods of the country you are in.
During September several bands of savages were sent out from Fort Duquesne to raid the English settlements. They took some prisoners and scalps, and burned several settlements. The English for their part also sent out bands of Iroquois savages towards Fort Duquesne. One of these bands watched us so closely that they succeeded in taking three scalps from men cutting wood about five arpents from the fort. So passed the remainder of the campaign. Things were very quiet all during the winter, a season when the English made no attempt upon any post in Canada.
THE INDIANS AT FORT DUQUESNE
IN MARCH, 1756, a convoy arrived at Fort Duquesne, with food and one hundred and eighty men as reinforcements. At the same time, the order was received to use economy; considering the difficulty of transportation, which might become impracticable if Fort Niagara were captured by the English. At this time, I was made storekeeper of the trade goods. This job was very advantageous for me, as I was in a position to do favors. This suited my disposition well enough. I had various opportunities for doing these favors for the young officers, among others.
I also did favors for some of the savages, who showed their gratitude by bringing me game. They took care to supply me with all I wanted. As a result, I could give part of it to a few Frenchmen, which was a source of satisfaction to me.
As many as seven or eight hundred members of these tribes assembled and came to Fort Duquesne in June to go to war against the English. Their unexpected arrival made us so distrustful that we held a council with them under the cannons of the fort, although these tribes manifested much good will. For six weeks they continued to make raids on the English settlements, where they took many prisoners and scalps. They gave nineteen prisoners to the commander.
In June, I was made temporary keeper of the provision stores. This position enabled me to augment my income without incurring any risk.
THE OHIO COUNTRY
I HAVE already spoken about the situation of Fort Duquesne. I am now going to tell about its climate and soil; and about the soil along the Ohio.
The climate is mild and temperate, only the month of January being cold. The rains in the spring and fall, however, cause floods, which come from the mountains and fill the Ohio River to a point where it overflows its banks.
The soil is easily cultivated, though I have never seen anything grown there except maize or Indian corn, peas, beans, pumpkins, and tobacco as good as that grown in Virginia. South of the Ohio there are wide prairies, called the Scioto, where there are quicksands in some areas. Game and fish are abundant a little farther down. The game consists of deer, elk, bear, buffalo, red-legged partridges, squirrels, and various species of ducks.
To the east of Fort Duquesne are the Appalachian or Allegheny mountains, about which we have already spoken. New England is beyond them. In the Ohio and its tributaries, they usually fish for carp, eels, pike, sturgeon, and brill.
All the varieties of trees are very beautiful in this Ohio country. The maple is the most remarkable of all these trees, because every year, in February and March, there exudes from this tree an abundant flow of a delicious, sweet and clear liquid which is fragrant and very wholesome. The tree will die, however, if it is used too often. The method of extracting this juice from it is quite simple. When the sap in the trees begins to rise to any extent, a slanting groove is cut about three feet from the ground, and a knife blade, or a piece of wood shaped like the blade of a knife, is inserted. The juice runs down this spout so abundantly that twenty-five pails of it may be drawn from a healty tree between sunrise and sunset. The liquid flows into a large vessel to be emptied into large kettles as it fills. These are placed over a hot fire to boil the juice which becomes first a syrup, then moist sugar. This amounts to twelve or fifteen pounds a day, and while moist is put into wooden bowls to harden into a round loaf. Maple sap can be drawn from the same tree for five or six consecutive days, if care is taken to make new grooves every day always on the side toward the noonday sun. This must be, too, when it has been cold the night before, and when there is bright sunshine without a cold, fierce wind. It can be determined that the tree contains no more sap when the sap appears whitish and runs slowly.
There are in the neighborhood of the Ohio many humming birds scarcely as large as olives. There are also glow-worms or fireflies, as well as swarms of bees in the trees with their honey. The savages of these parts call bees English flies. These are more common in Carolina, which also is true of silkworms.
In the autumn of the same year (1757), there was such a flood on the Ohio River, that it caused a considerable inundation in the neighborhood of Fort Duquesne. The later rose twenty-five feet above its usual level, so that it was five feet deep above the bank, or grounds, where Fort Duquesne was built.
The flood did not reach the fort, because at the time it was laid out they foresaw what might happen and raised the ground it was built on. The moat around it was, however, flooded with water. This inundation lasted for twelve hours, starting at noon and steadily rising until midnight.
THE CAMPAIGN OF 1758
YEAR 1758: This campaign opened in March, when a convoy of food and munitions with a reinforcement of one hundred and fifty men arrived at Fort Duquesne. The Governor General had learned that the English were planning to drive the French from the Ohio.
Shortly after, five hundred savages came from the region of Michillimakinac. The day after they arrived, we held a council with them, in which they explained their desire to fight against the English. They were made welcome for their goodwill and were given tobacco, powder, and shot, as was customary. They had a war feast, boiling a dog in water, and dividing it among them. Then they danced part of the night.
Next morning, they split up into five bands and set out in various directions to the English settlements. One band returned twenty days later with forty prisoners and one hundred and twenty scalps. This party had laid waste two settlements in Virginia. Their prisoners were fortunate in escaping the bastonnade as there were no savages at the fort when they arrived.
The four other parties, one after the other, came in some days later, with many scalps and prisoners. These prisoners were not so lucky as the first, for they had to undergo the bastonnade from the savages who had first arrived. Of all these prisoners, only seven were given to the commander. The savages kept the rest and took them away, as well as the scalps.
It is a rather general custom among savage tribes, not to continue warfare when they have been victorious. This is because they fear their tutelary gods will not be favorable or will punish them. It is also customary, when they have been victorious in war, for the chief of the war party to leave a tomahawk on the battlefield. The emblems of the tribe and the number of warriors he had with him are indicated on its handle. He does this as much to show his valor, as to defy his enemies to come and attack him. Some tribes merely make the same signs on a tree, stripping off the outside bark. It must be said, however, that this is only done in wars with other savages. It is very seldom done when they fight Europeans, unless there are hostile savages fighting along with the Europeans.
The prisoners taken are either adopted, enslaved, or condemned to death. Slaves have to do the most menial work, such as cutting firewood, cultivating the fields, harvesting, pounding Indian corn or maize to make sagamite, cooking, mending the hunters' shoes, carrying their game, and, in general, anything that the women do. The women are in charge of the slaves, and deny them food if they are lazy. Adoption is undertaken by a family which has lost a man in battle, and wants to replace him by a
prisoner who seems suitable to them. The women are left free to select this prisoner, especially those women who have lost their husbands. In this case, they choose the prisoners to be adopted, even from those condemned to be burned (for there is no other form of execution among the savages) ; and in these circumstances, a woman need only throw her blanket over the condemned man's body. Though he be trussed up ready for execution, that is enough to prove that he has been adopted. The woman unties him and takes him away without objection from the executioners.
During the month of July, Sieur Aubry, captain of the Louisiana troops, arrived at Fort Duquesne with two hundred and forty men, and several large boats carrying ten tons of both provisions and merchandise. Four thousand pounds of Natchez tobacco, which belonged to a guide, were part of this load. They were offered to me for six thousand livres. I knew that the owner would rather sell it wholesale than retail, and that only I and my partner were in a position to purchase it. I offered him half of his price in ready cash. When the salesman tried to haggle, I said it must be yes or no and that he could get no more for it, turning my back on him. The man decided to let me have it, and I paid him at once. About an hour later, a trader, who knew about the purchase I had just made, looked me up to buy the goods from me. I told him I wanted six thousand francs for it. He took up my offer and the business was finished in such a way that I made a profit of a thousand crowns, without looking at the goods or running any risk of loss. A few days after Captain Aubry's arrival, an English army of a thousand men, led by Major Grant came to attempt a surprise assault on Fort Duquesne. To draw out the garrison, his first move was to have a general alarm beaten on the Ohio side. Meanwhile, the greater part of his army waited on the Monongahela side to assail the fort as soon as he saw the garrison depart. But his plan was thwarted
Captain Aubry led about five hundred men out from the fort; but instead of marching in the direction of the beating drums, he advanced along the Monongahela River, and suddenly met the enemy. The battle began once, and so vigorously, that the enemy took flight after three hundred men had fallen. Thirty-five prisoners were taken. The savages gave the seven they captured to the commander of the fort. The French had but one man killed and five wounded. The reason for the small loss on the French side was that they fought behind trees, while the enemy were in the open. This success, with the others won previously in this Ohio region, should have discouraged the English from making further attempts, but they were not disheartened. Powerful levies of militia were raised in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Carolina, and New Jersey. Savages were sent toward Fort Duquesne in hope of taking prisoners among the French engaged in chopping firewood daily.
During August, various bands of savages were sent out from Fort Duquesne to raid the English settlements. They brought back many prisoners and scalps.
I had been warned in September that I would shortly be relieved of the position which I held as storekeeper for merchandise and provisions and sent back to Quebec. I made the necessary preparations, beginning with a general inventory of everything in the warehouses and making up an account of receipts and expenditures. The 21st of October was the date of my departure from Fort Duquesne, after three years' residence there.
Editor's Note: Following the English Major Grant's defeat, the French abandoned Fort Duquesne, knowing that it could not withstand a seige by Bouquet's army. The English, under Washington and Armstrong found the fort a smoldering ruin on October 24, 1758.