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1763 Rogers

Rogers' journal of events as taken from the officers of the fort during the Pontiac's attack.

A Journal of the Siege of Detroit, taken from the Officers who were then in the Fort, and wrote in their Words in the following Manner, viz:

The 6th of May; when we were privately informed of a Conspiracy formed against us by the Indians, particularly the Tawa Nation, who were to come to council with us the next Day, and massacre every Soul of us. On the Morning of that Day, being Saturday the 7th of May, fifteen of their Warriors came into the Fort and seemed very inquisitive and anxious to know where all the English Merchants' Shops were.

At 9 o'clock the Garrison were ordered under Arms and the Savages continued coming into the Fort till 11 o'clock, diminishing their Numbers as much as possible by dividing themselves at all the Corners of the streets most adjacent to the Shops. Before 12 o'Clock they were three hundred Men, at least three times the Number equal to that of the Garrison; but seeing all the Troops under Arms, and the Merchants Shops shut, imagined prevented them from attempting to put their evil Scheme into execution that Day.

Observing us thus prepared, their Chiefs came in a very condemned like Manner, to Council, where they spoke a great deal of Nonsense to Major Gladwine and Capt. Campbell, protesting at the same Time the greatest Friendship imaginable to them, but expressing their Surprise at seeing all the Officers and Men under Arms. The Major then told them that he had certain Intelligence that some Indians were projecting Mischief, and on that Acct he was determined to have the Troops always under Arms upon such Occasions: That they being the oldest Nation, and the first that had come to Council, needed not to be astonished at that Precaution as he was resolved to do the same to all Nations.

At 2 o'Clock they had done speaking, went off seemingly very discontented and crossed the River half a League from the Fort, where they all emcamped about 6 o'Clock that Afternoon. Six of their Warriors returned and brought an old Squaw Prisoner, alledging that she had given us false Information against them. The Major declared she had never given any kind of Advice. They then insisted upon naming the Author of what he had heard in regard to the Indians, which he declined to do, but told them it was one of themselves, whose Name he promised never to reveal; where upon they went off and carried the old Woman Prisoner with them. When they arrived at their Camp, Pondiac their greatest Chief seized on the Prisoner and gave her three Strokes with a Stick on the Head, which laid her flat on the Ground, and the whole Nation assembled around her and called repeated Times kill her, kill her.

Sunday the 8th, Pondiac and several other of the principal Chiefs came into the Fort, at 5 o'Clock in the Afternoon and brought a Pipe of Peace with them of which they wanted to convince us fully of their Friendship and Sincerity, but the Major judging that they only wanted to caggole us would not go neigh them nor give them any Countenance, which obliged Capt. Campbell to go and speak with them, and after smoking with the Pipe and Peace and assuring him of their Fidedity, they said that the next Morning all the Nation would come to the Council where every thing would be settled to our Satisfaction, after which they would immediately disperse, and that that would remove all kind of Suspicion.

Accordingly on Monday Morning the 9th, six of their Warriors came into the Fort at 7 o'Clock, and upon seeing the Garrison under Arms went off without being observed. About 10 o'Clock we counted fifty-six Canoes, with seven or eight Men in each, crossing the River from their Camp, and when they arrived nigh the Fort, the Gates were shut, and the Interpreter went to tell them that not above fifty or sixty Chiefs would be admitted into the Fort, upon which Pondiac immediately desired the Interpreter in a peremptory Manner to return directly and acquaint us that if all their People had not free Access into the Fort none of them would enter it: that we might stay in our Fort, but he would keep the Country, adding that he would order a Party instantly to an Island where we had twenty-four Bullocks, which they immediately killed. Unluckily three Soldiers were on the Island and a poor Man with his Wife and four Children which they all murthered except two Children, as also a poor Woman and her two Sons, that lived about half a Mile from the Fort.

After having thus put all the English without the Fort to death, the ordered a Frenchman who had seen the Woman and her two Children killed and scalped, to come and inform us of it, and likewise of their having murthered Sir Robert Davers, Captain Robertson and a Boats' Crew of six Persons two Days before, being Saturday the 7th of May, near the Entrance of Lake Huron, for which Place they set out from hence on Monday the 2d Inst. in order to know if the Lakes and Rivers were Navigable for a Schooner which lay here to proceed to Michilimackinac. We were then fully persuaded that the Information given us was well founded, and a proper Disposition was made for the Defense of the Fort, although our Number was but small, not exceeding one hundred and twenty, including all the English Traders, and the Works were nigh Mile in Circumferance.

On Tuesday the 10th, very early in the Morning, the Savages began to fire on the Fort, and Vessels which lay opposite to the east and west Sides of the Fort. About 8 o'Clock the Indians called a Parley and ceased firing, and half an Hour after, the Waindotes Chiefs came into the Fort, on their way to a Council where they were called by the Tawas and promised us to endeavour to soliciate and persuade the Tawas from committing further Hostilties. After drinking a Glasss of Rum they went off at three o'Clock that Afternoon. Several of the Inhabitants and four Chiefs of the Tawas, Waindotes and Chippawas and Pottawattomes came and acquainted us, that most of all the Inhabitants were assembled at a Frenchman House about a Mile from the Fort, where the Savages proposed to hold a Council, and desiring Captain Campbell and another Officer to go with them to that Council, where they hoped with their Presence and Assistance further Hostilities would cease, assuring us at the same Time that come whata would, that Capt. Campbell and the other Officers that went with him, should return whenever they pleased. This Promise was assertained by the French as well as the Indian Chief, whereupon Captain Campbell and Lieutenant McDougall went off escorted by a Number of the Inhabitants and the four Chiefs, they first promised to be answerable for their returning yt Night.

When they arrived at the House already mentioned they found the French and Indians assembled, and after counceling a long while, the Waindotes were prevailed on to sing the War Song, and this being done, it was next resolved that Captain Campbell and Lieutenant McDougall should be detained as Prisoners, but would be indulged to lodge in a French House till a French Commandant arrived from the Ilenoes, that next Day five Indians and as many Canadians would be dispatched to acquaint the Commanding Officer of the Ilonies that Detroit was in their Possession and require of him to send an Officer to Command, to whome Captain Cample and Lieutenant McDougall should be delivered. As for Major Gladwin he was summoned to give up the Fort and two Vessels, &c., the Troops to ground their Arms, and they would allow as many Battoes and as much Provision as they judged requisite for us to go to Niagara: That if these Proposals were not accepted of, they were a thousand Men, and storm the Fort at all events, and in that Case every Soul of us should be put to the Torture. The Major returned for Answer, that as soon as the two Officers they had detained were permitted to come into the Fort, he would after consulting them give a positive Answer to their Demand, but could do nothing without obtaining their Opinion.

On Wednesday the 11th, several Inhabitants came early in the Morning into the Fort, and advised us by way of Friendship to make our Escape aboard the Vessels, assuring us that we had no other Method by which we could preserve our Lives, as the Indians were then fifteen hundred fighting Men, and would be as many more in a few Days, and that they were fully determined to attack us in an Hours time. We told the Mons'rs that we were ready to receive them, and that every Officer and Soldier in the Fort would willingly perish in the Defense of it, rather than condescend or agree to any Terms that Savages would propose. Upon which the French went off as I suppose to communicate what we had said to their Allies, and in a little afterwards the Indians gave their usual Hoop, and five or six hundred began to attack the Fort on all Quarters. Indeed some of them behaved extremely well and advanced very boldly in an open plain exposed to our Fire, and came within sixty Yards of the Fort, but upon having three Men killed and above a dozen wounded, they retired as briskly as they advanced, and fired at three hundred Yards Distance till seven o'Clock at Night, when they sent a Frenchman into the Fort with a Letter to the Major, desiring a cessation of Arms, that Night, and proposing to let the Troops with their Arms aboard the Vessels, but insisting upon our giving up the Fort, leaving the French Auxilliary all the Merchandize and officers Effects, and had even the Insolence to demand a Negro Boy belonging to a Merchant to be delivered to Pondiack.

The Major's Reply to these extraordinary Propositions was much the same as to the first.

Tuesday the 12th, five Frenchmen and an many Indians were sent off for the Illinois with Letters wrote by a Canadian agreable to Pondiacs Desire. On the 13th we were informed by the Inhabitants that Mr. Chapman, a Trader from Niagara, was taken Prisoner by the Waindotes, with five Battoes loaded with Goods.

The 21st, on of the Vessels was ordered to sail for the Niagara, but to remain till the sixth of June at the Mouth of the River in order to advert the Battoes which we expected daily from Niagara.

Upon the 22nd we were told that Ensign Paully who commanded at Sandusky was brought Prisoner by ten Tawas, who reported that they had prevailed after long Consultation with the Waindotes who lived at Sandusky to declare War against us; that some Days ago they came early of a Morning to the Block House, and murthered every Soul therein, consisting of twenty seven Perons, Traders included; that Messrs Callender and Prentice, formerly Captains in the Pennsylvania Regt were amongst that Number, and that they had taken one hundred Horses loaded with Indian Goods, which with the Plunder of the Garrison was agreed to be given the Waindotes before they condescended to join them; that all they wanted was the Commanding Officer.

On the 29th of May, we had the Mortification to see eight of our Battoes in the Possession of the Enemy, passing on the opposite Shore, with several Soldiers Prisoners in them. When the foremost Battoe came opposite the Sloop, she fired a Gun, and the Soldiers aboard called at those in the Battoe, that if they passed the Savages would kill them all, upon which they immediately seized on two Indians and threw them overboard with him and tomahawked him directly, they being near the Shore and it quite shoal. Another Soldier laid hold of an Oar, and struck that Indian upon the Head, of which Would he is since dead. Then there remained only three Soldiers, of which two were wounded, and although fifty Indians were on the Bank not sixty Yards, firing upon them, the three Soldiers escaped aboard the Vessel, with the Battoe loaded with eight Barrels of Provisions and gives the following Account of their Misfortune, viz:

That two Nights before, about 10 o'Clock, they arrived about six Leagues from the Mouth of the River where they encamped. That two Men went a little from the Camp for Firewood to boil their Kettle, when one of the two was seized on by an Indian, killed and scalped in an Instant. The other Soldier ran directly and alarmed the Camp, upon which Lieutenant Cuyler immediately ordered to give Ammunition to the Detachment, which consisted of one Serjeant and seventeen Soldiers of the Royal Americans, three Serjeants and seventy-two Rank and File of the Queen's Independent Company of Rangers. After having delivered their Ammunition, and a Disposition made of the Men, the Enemy came close to them without being observed, behind a Bank and fired very smartly on one Flank which could not sustain the Enemys Fire and they retired precipitately and threw the Whole in Confusion. By that Means the Soldiers embarked aboard teh Battoes with one, two and three Oars in each Battoe, which gave an Opportunity to the Savages of taking them all except the two Battoes that escaped with Mr. Cuyler to Niagara.

Sunday the 5th of June, we were acquainted that Fort Miames was taken, that Ensign Homs who commanded there had been informed by two Frenchmen who arrived there preceeding Day of Detroits being attacked by the Indians, which he would hardly believe, but threatened to imprison the French for that Report, that an Indian Woman had betrayed him out of the Fort by pretending that another Woman was very sick, and begged of him to come to her Cabin to let blood of her, and when he had gone a little Distance from the Fort was fired on and killed. The Serjeant hearing the Report of the firing ran to see what it was, and was immediately taken Prisoner. The Soldiers shut the Gates and would probably defended the Fort if one Walsh, a Trader who had been taken Prisoner a few Days before, had not advised them to open the Gates, alledging that if they did not comply the Indians would set Fire to the Fort and put them to death; whereas, if they opened the Gates, they should be well treated. Whereupon the Gates were opened, and the Soldiers grounded their Arms.

On the 10th of June we heard that Ensign Schlosser the Commanding Officer at Saint Josephs was taken Prisoner and that all the Garrison (except three Men) were massacred. That the Indians came on the 25th of May with a Pretence to Council, and as soon as the Chiefs had shaken Hands with Mr. Schlosser, they seized on him, gave a Shriek and instantly killed ten Men.

The 12th we were told that Lieut. Jenkins and all the Garrison of Owat'anon, consisting of a Sergeant and eighteen Men were taken Prisoners and carried to the Ilonies.

The 18th a Jesuit arrived from Michillimakenac and brought a Letter from Captain Etherinton and Lieutenant Lessley, with an Account of their being taken Prisoners. That Lieutenant Janet and twenty-one Soldiers. That on the 2nd the Indians were playing Ball as usual nigh the Fort, where Captain Etherington and Lieut. Lessley happened to be looking at them, but were suddenly seized on and carried into the Woods. At the same Time the Savages had purposely thrown their Ball into the Fort, as if that had happened by Accident, and followed it directly into the Fort, where a Number of their Women had Tomahawks and Spears concealed under their Blankets, which they delivered them and put the whole Garrison to death, except thirteen Men.

The 30th we were informed that the Blockhouse at Presque Isle was burned, that Ensign Christie and all his Garrison, which consisted of twenty-nine Men were taken Prisoners except six Men, who it was believed made their escape to La Beuf.

On the night of the 2nd Instant and Lieut. McDougall were lodged at the House I have already mentioned, about two Miles from the Fort, and made a Resolution to Escape, when it was agreed on between them that McDougall should set off first, which he did and get safe into the Fort, but you know it was much more dangerous for Captain Campbell than for any other Person by Reason that he could neither run or see, and being sensible of that failing I am sure prevented him from attempting to escape.

The 4th a Detachment was ordered to destroy some Breastworks and Entrenchments the Indians had made a Quarter of a Mile from the Fort, and about twenty Indians came to attack that Party, which they engaged but were drove off in an Instant with Loss of one Man killed (and two wounded) which our People scalped and cut to Pieces. Half an Hour after the Savages carried the Man they had lost before Captain Campbell, striped him naked, and directly murthered him in a cruel Manner, which indeed gives one Pain beyond Expression, and I am sure cannot miss but to affect sensibly all his Acquaintences, although he is now our of the Question.

The Indians likewise reported that Venango and Le Beuf is taken by the Savages.

Dated at Detroit 8th Augt 1762.

(Signed) Robert Rogers

To Sir William Johnson.


See also:

Dictionary of Canadian Biography 3: 525-531.

Dowd, Gregory E. The French King Wakes up in Detroit: "Pontiac's War" in Rumor and History. Ethnohistory 1990 37 (3): 254-278.

Hollman, Clide. Pontiac, King of the Great Lakes. NY: Hastings House, 1968.

Keller, Allan. Pontiac's Conspiracy. American History Illustrated 1977 12 (2): 4-9, 42-49.

Kelsey, Harry. The Amherst Plan: A Factor in the Pontiac Uprising. Ontario History 1973 65 (3): 149-158.

Kopperman, Paul E. The Captive's Return: Bouquet's Victory. Timeline 1990 7 (2): 2-15.

Parmenter, Jon William. Pontiac's War: Forging new line in the Anglo-Iroquois Covenant Chain, 1758 - 1766. Ethnohistory 1997 44 (4): 617-654.

Peckham, Howard H. Pontiac and the Indian Uprising. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947.