1712 Dubuison

Mr. Dubuison Governor General of Canada, Official Report.

Jacques-Charles Renaud Dubuisson [1666-1739] was the Acting Commandant at Detroit in 1712. His first year was made difficult by Cadillac who was still at Detroit and reluctant to give up his authority and privileges.

In 1712 a war party of Ottawas and Pottawatomies pursuing the Fox and Mascutens arrived in Detroit and insisted on attacking. Dubuisson supported them since he was unable to stop them. They besieged the Fox camp for 19 days. Several councils were held but no peace could be arranged until finally the Fox and Mascoutins escaped, going north only a few miles before they were forced to make a final stand. When they surrendered most of the male captives were killed. Dubuisson reported the total killed as 1,000 enemy, 60 allies, and 1 Frenchman.

Official Report.

Sir, - As I have thought it was of great consequence to inform you of the state of this post, by an express canoe, I have requested Mr. De Vincennes to make the voyage, having assured him that this arrangement would be pleasing to you, persuaded as I am, Sir, that you are very solicitous about what passes here. The fatigue I undergo day and night, in consequence of the public and private councils, that I hold with the Indians, preventing me from rendering you a detailed account of all the circumstances, Mr. De Vincennes has promised to forget nothing, which has passed, in order to communicate it fully to you.

The destruction of two Mascoutin and Ottagamie villages, is one of the principal reasons which induces me to send this express canoe. It is God, who has suffered these two audacious nations to perish. They had received many presents, and some belts, from the English, to destroy the post of Fort Pontchartrain, and then to cut our throats and those of some of our allies, particularly the Hurons and Ottawas, residing upon the Detroit River; and after that, these wretches intended to settle among the English and devote themselves to their service. It is said, that the band of Oninetonam, and that of Mucatemangona, have been received among the Iroquois, and have established a village upon their lands. This information has been brought by three canoes of Ontagamies, who have been defeated by the Chippeways within four leagues of this post. I am under some apprehension for the safety of Mr. Delaforet, because, being no doubt upon his march to this place, he may fall in with some of those hostile bands, who have joined themselves to the Iroquois.

The band of the great chief Lamima, and that of the great chief Pemoussa, came early in the spring and encamped, in spite of my opposition, at about fifty paces from my fort, never willing to listen to me, speaking with much insolence, and calling themselves the owners of all this country. It was necessary for me to be very mild, having, as you know, Sir, but thirty Frenchmen with me, and wishing to retain eight Miamis, who were with Mr. De Vincennes, and also to sow our grain, and pasture our cattle; and besides the Ottawas and Hurons had not come in from their winter hunt. I was thus exposed every day to a thousand insults. The fowls, pigeons, and other animals belonging to the French, were killed without their daring to say a word, and, for myself, I was in no condition openly to declare my intentions.

One of their party entered my fort, in order to kill one of the inhabitants, named Lagmenesse, and a daughter of Roy, another inhabitant. I could then no longer restrain myself, but took arms to prevent their accomplishing their object. I compelled them to retire immediately from the vicinity of the fort, in order not to give them time to strengthen their party, as they expected the Kickapoos, their allies, that they might together execute their nefarious project; hoping to be strong enough to retire without loss among the English and Iroquois. They waited but for a favorable moment to set fire to the fort.. . .

The church and the house of Mr. Mullet were outside of the fort, and all our wheat was stored there. The contrary winds prevented our allies from arriving, which troubled me much, as the circumstances now pressing, I prevailed upon the few Frenchmen, who were with me, immediately to bring the wheat into the fort. And it was well I did so; for, two days later, it would have been pillaged. We had to fire upon the enemy to secure it, and as it was they stole a considerable portion of it. But the principal object was, to pull down, as quick as possible, the church, the storehouse, and some other houses which were near my fort, and so close, that the Indians, at any time, by setting fire to them, might have burnt our works. And, besides, it was important in order to defend ourselves in case of an attack, which very soon took place. . . . .

Every arrangement being made, and while we were waiting with impatience, I was informed that there were many people in sight. I immediately ascended a bastion, and casting my eyes towards the woods, I saw the army of the nations of the south issuing from it. - They were the Illinois, the Missouries, the Osages and other nations yet more remote. There were also with them, the Ottawa Chief, Saguina, and also the Potawatamies, the Sacs, and some Menomnies. Detroit never saw such a collection of people. It is surprising how much all these nations are irritated against the Mascoutins and the Ottagimies. This army marched in good order, with as many flags, as there were different nations, and it proceeded directly to the fort of the Hurons. These Indians said to the head chief of the army you must not encamps. Affairs are too pressing. We must enter immediately into our Fathers Fort, and fight for him. As he has always had pity on us, and as he loves us, we ought to die for him. - And don't you see that smoke also. They are these women of your village, Saguina, who are burning there, and your wife is among them. Not another word was necessary. . . .

The different nations have returned peaceably with all their slaves. Saguina has abandoned his village, and gone to Michilimacinac. The Potawatamies abandoned also theirs, and will either come here or go to the Illinois. More than half of the Ottawas, of this place, will repair to Michilimacinac. The Chippeways and Mississaguas will go to Topinanich. They have not at all been disposed to make any satisfaction to the Miamis, for the murder of the last year, with Mr. Tonty. . . .

My success has been much owing to the great influence, I have over the nations, Mr. De Vincennes is the witness to this. I do not say this either to gratify my vanity, or to claim any credit, for truly I am very tired of Detroit.

You can easily judge, Sir, in what a condition my affairs must be, in consequence of having no presents, belonging to the king, in my hands. However, I venture to trust to your goodness, and hope that you will not suffer a devil to be reduced to beggary.


Au Fort du Detroit, Pontchartrain, June 15, 1712.

This letter was addressed to The Marquis de Vaudreuil, Governor General of New France.


See Also:

Dictionary of Canadian Biography 2: 562-563.

Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections 33 (1904): 483-85, 495-97, 506-8, 510-12, 517, 528-52, 554, 561, 572.