Pontiac’s Rebellion Against the British

While the siege was in progress, twenty batteaux, with 97 troops and stores, on their way from Niagara to Detroit, arrived at Point Pelee, on Lake Erie, about 50 miles easterly from Detroit. Apprehending no danger, the troops landed and encamped. The Indians, who had watched their movements, attacked them about the dawn of day, and massacred or took prisoners all, except 30, who succeeded in escaping, in a barge, across the lake to Sandusky Bay. The Indians placed their prisoners in the batteaux, and compelled them to navigate them on the Canadian side of the lake and river, toward Detroit. As the fleet of boats was discovered coming around the point of the Huron church, the English assembled on the ramparts to witness the arrival of their friends; but, they were only greeted by the death song of the Indians, which announced their fate. The light of hope flickered on their countenances only to be clouded with the thick darkness of despair. It was their barges, but they were in possession of the Indians, and filled with the scalps and prisoners of the detachment. The prisoners, with the exception of a few who escaped when opposite the town, were taken to Hog Island, above Detroit, massacred and scalped.

A few weeks after, a vessel from Niagara with 60 troops, provisions and arms, entered the Detroit River. For the purpose of boarding her as she ascended, the Indians repaired to Fighting Island, just below the city, which she soon reached, and then, for want of wind, was obliged to anchor. The Captain concealed his men in the hold, and in the evening, the Indians proceeded in silence, to board the vessel from their canoes, while the men on board were required to take their stations at the guns. The Indians approached near the side when the signal for a discharge was given by a blow upon the mast with a hammer. Many of the Indians were killed and wounded, and the remainder, panic-stricken, paddled away in their canoes with all speed. After this, Pontiac endeavored to burn the vessels that lay anchored before Detroit, for which object, he made an immense raft from several barns, which he pulled down for that purpose, and filled it with a pitch and other combustibles. It was then towed up river and set on fire, under the supposition that the current would float the blazing mass against the vessels. The English foiled this attempt by anchoring boats, connected by chains, above their vessels.

During the siege, the body of the French people in and around Detroit, were neutral. Pontiac, in a speech of great eloquence and power, endeavored to persuade them to join his cause. But, his solicitations did not prevail, and shortly after, on June 3rd June, the French had a double reason for maintaining neutrality in the news which they received of the treaty of peace, by which France ceded their country to England.On the 29th of July, 300 regular troops, under Captain James Dalyell, arrived, in gunboats, from Canada. On the night of the 30th, Captain Dalyell, with over 200 men, attempted to surprise Pontiac’s camp. That chieftain having, by some means, been apprised of the contemplated attack, was prepared, and lay in ambush with his Indians, concealed behind high grass, at the Bloody Bridge, one and a half miles above Detroit. As the English reached the bridge, a sudden and destructive fire was poured upon them. This threw them into the utmost confusion. The attack in the darkness, from an invisible force, was critical. The English fought desperately, but, were obliged to retreat, with the loss of their commander, and over 60 in killed and wounded.

The operations of Pontiac in this quarter soon called for the efficient aid of government, and during the season, General John Bradstreet arrived to the relief of the posts on the lakes, with an army of 3,000 men. The tribes of Pontiac, excepting the Delaware and the Shawnee, finding that they could not successfully compete with such a force, laid down their arms and made peace. Pontiac, however, took no part in the negotiation, and retired to Illinois, where he was, a few years after, assassinated by an Indian of the Peoria tribe.

 

The death of Chief Pontiac

The death of Chief Pontiac

By Henry Howe, 1857 – Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated December 2017.

About the Author and Article: This article was a chapter in Henry Howe’s book Historical Collections of the Great West, published by George F. Tuttle, of New York, in 1857. Henry Howe (1816 -1893) was an author, publisher, historian, and bookseller. Born in New Haven Connecticut, his father owned a popular bookshop and was also a publisher. Henry would write histories of several states. His most famous work was the three volume Historical Collections of Ohio. As he collected facts for his writing, he also drew sketches which helped create interest in his work. The article as it appears here is not verbatim, as it has been edited for the modern reader; however, the content remains essentially the same.

Also See:

Ottawa Chief Pontiac – Masterminding a Rebellion

French and Indian War

The Ottawa

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