Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

Border Wars

by Elizabeth Eggleston Seelye
Assisted by Edward Eggleston
New York
Dodd, Mead and Company, Publishers, 1879.



FOR the next two or three years the Five Nations kept up that constant petty warfare with the Canadian settlements with which Indians delight to harass their enemies. Brave soldiers and brave priests lost their lives under the blow of the Iroquois tomahawk. The adventurers and missionaries who came to Canada, many of them courting martyrdom, believed that their cause was a holy one, and that the Iroquois warriors were led on by the very hand of Satan himself. " I came here only to die in the service of God," said Major Closse, who was afterwards killed by the Iroquois, " and if I thought I could not die here I would leave this country to fight the Turks, that I might not be deprived of such a glory."

" Hobgoblins," a chronicler of these times calls the Iroquis, who " sometimes appeared at the edge of the woods, assailing us with abuse; sometimes they glided stealthily into the midst of the fields, to surprise the men at work; sometimes they appreached the houses, harassing- us without ceasing", and, like importunate harpies or birds of prey, swooping down on us whenever they could take us unawares."

In the spring of 1660, some Algonquin allies of the French captured a Mohegan Indian who had been adopted among the Iroquois. He was sentenced to the usual cruel death of the Indians. He was first instructed in religion and baptized by the Jesuits, who cared not to raise their hands to save bodily torment, but looked out only for the future welfare of the savages. In fact they felt surer of heaven for these untamable Iroquois if they could but pass first through the fire. This particular Indian made a revelation which fell like a thunderbolt upon Quebec. There was something- more serious afoot than the ordinary harassing warfare. Twelve hundred Jroquois were on the war-path, some of them now near Quebec, preparing to kill the Governor, destroy the town, and then turn upon Three Rivers and Montreal. The inhabitants were terror-stricken; all fled within the town ; every measure was taken to be ready for the terrible attack.

Some three years before, a young man of good family named Daulac had come to Canada, ambitious to wipe out some stain upon his name in the Old World, by brave deeds in the New World. He held the office of commandant at Montreal, and here he was the leader of a band of sixteen young men, as daring as himself. A month before the alarm at Quebec, Daulac asked permission of the governor to lead his adventurous little company in an expedition against the Iroquois. The young men had all sworn a solemn oath never to accept quarter. When they had gained the permission of the governor, they made their wills, attended the confessional, and received the sacraments. Indian-fighting had become an occupation with the brave inhabitants of Montreal. They envied the young men their hazardous expedition. Some of them begged the young men to wait until the spring sowing was over and they would go with them. But Daulac refused; the young men wanted the glory to themselves.

The little band ascended the St. Lawrence to the Ottawa, and the Ottawa to the rapids known as the Long Saut. Here they stopped, for here the Iroquois were sure to pass. They were joined at the Long Saut by some forty Indians, the last remnant of the Huron warriors, under their noted chief Annahotaha, with a band of converted Algonquins. These Indians had followed them, ambitious to join in the adventure.

The Frenchmen had found a rude little fort of logs, planted in a circle, which had been left by an Algonquin war-party. This would serve them for defence, and here they encamped, Frenchmen and Indians joining in prayer three times a day. They had planted themselves, without knowing it, upon the road of a large part of the Iroquois army, which was descending upon Quebec to destroy it.

The Frenchmen had been here but a few days, when their scouts came running into camp, saying that two Iroquois canoes were ascending the rapids. Daulac quickly placed his men in ambush where he thought the enemy likely to land. They fired on the Iroquois Indians, but so precipitately that two escaped to carry the news to some two hundred warriors who were now on their way down the rapids. These were almost instantly upon Daulac's band, leaving them scarcely time to get into their fort. The Iroquois made a disorderly attack, but met a sharp repulse. They then set to work to build themselves a rough fort in the neighboring woods. Meantime the French strengthened their fort as best they might, planting a row of stakes within the palisades, and filling the spaces between the two with earth and stones. They also prepared rude loopholes, at each of which three men were stationed. They had not finished, when the Iroquois were again upon them, with their own birch canoes broken up and blazing, with which to fire the palisades of the little fort. The Iroquois were again driven back by a steady fire from the French and Indians within. Again they attacked, and again they were repulsed, leaving many dead behind them, among whom was one of the principal Seneca chiefs. Some of the French made a rush from the fort, cut off his head, and raised it on the palisades, to the rage of the yelling Iroquois. A third time they attacked, and a third time they were defeated.

The baffled Indians despatched a messenger to a band of five hundred Iroquois at the mouth of the Richelieu, where they were only waiting for the remainder of the army to attack Quebec. The grand plan must now all be delayed by this little band behind their rude palisades. For five days the two hundred Iroquois kept up a harassing fire from behind trees, and waited for reinforcements. Meanwhile the inmates of the fort had but dry hominy for food, and were suffering for water. Under cover of a fire from the fort, some of them managed to run down to the river and get water in what few vessels they had. But this was but a drop to the thirsty men. They dug a hole within the palisades and at last reached a little muddy water, with which they must content themselves.

Adopted Hurons were among- the besiegers, and they coaxed over those within the fort who were suffering from hunger and thirst. One by one they deserted over the palisades, but the brave Annahotaha stood by his post, and when he saw his nephew, who went by the significant name of The Mouth among the French, join the renegades, he fired his pistol after him.

After five days, a chorus of war-whoops announced the arrival of the reinforcements. Seven hundred Iroquois to reduce a little band of twenty-three within a poor pen of a fort. The Iroquois advanced to the attack. But the Frenchmen were ready for them. Being entirely covered themselves, with a steady fire from muskets and great musketoons, which scattered scraps of lead and iron, they made havoc among the crowds of Iroquois warriors. Three days followed each other in successive attacks, but made in the disorderly way common among the Indians.

With their well-known fickleness, the Indians were now discouraged, and would fain have abandoned the siege. But the pride of the Five Nations was in the way of this. Volunteers to lead in an assault were called for. Bundles of little sticks were thrown upon the ground, and those brave enough to dare the front of the battle picked them up. Large shields were made of split logs, and, with this protection, the army advanced on the poor little fort with its worn and fainting defenders. Notwithstanding their brave fire, the Indians reached the palisades and commenced hewing to make a breach. Those who hewed were below the range of shot. Daulac making a sort of grenade of a musketoon, crammed to the mouth with powder, lighted the fuse, and attempted to throw it into their midst, but it struck on the palisades, and fell back to burst among the little band within, killing some of them. In the confusion of the moment, the savages gained the loopholes and fired upon the inmates. An instant, and they had made a breach. Firm to their vow never to surrender, Daulac and his companions sprang to the breach and fought. This was soon followed by other breaches. Daulac was killed, but the survivors, with hatchet and knife, battled against the furious assailants. They were not to be taken alive, and the Iroquois were forced to fall back and shoot them down. Truly these young men were the bravest of the brave. So the Iroquois thought; for after burning those bodies that had a little life lingering within them, and falling in their thirst for blood upon the miserable renegade Hurons, they abandoned the attack on Quebec; for if seventeen Frenchmen could fight thus, what could the whole colony do? Canada was again saved from destruction.

Copyright 1998, -- 2003. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.

Contents Introduction Links Home