Alexander Henry.

Alexander Henry's Travels and adventures in the years 1760-1776, ed. with historical introduction and notes by Milo Milton Quaife online

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consisting of skins, sugar, and dried meat.
Having laid these in a heap he commenced a
speech in which he informed me that some
years before he had observed a fast, devoting
himself according to the custom of his nation
to solitude and to the mortification of his body
in the hope to obtain from the Great Spirit
protection through all his days; that on this
occasion he had dreamed of adopting an
Enghshman as his son, brother, and friend;
that from the moment in which he first beheld
me, he had recognized me as the person whom
the Great Spirit had been pleased to point out
to him for a brother; that he hoped that
I would not refuse his present, and that he
should forever regard me as one of his family.

I could do no otherwise than accept the
present and declare my wUUngness to have so
good a man as this appeared to be for my
friend and brother. I offered a present in
return for that which I had received, which
Wawatam accepted, and then thanking me for
the favor which he said that I had rendered
him, he left me and soon after set out on his
winter's hunt.

Twelve months had now elapsed since the
occurrence of this incident, and I had almost
forgotten the person of my brother, when on
the second day of June, Wawatam came again
to my house in a temper of mind visibly
melancholy and thoughtful. He told me that


he had just returned from his wintering
ground, and I asked after his health; but
without answering my question he went on to
say that he was very sorry to find me returned
from the Sault; that he had intended to go to
that place himself immediately after his
arrival at Michilimackinac; and that he wished
me to go there, along with him and his family,
the next morning. To all this he joined an
inquiry whether or not the commandant had
heard bad news, adding that during the winter
he had himself been frequently disturbed with
the noise of evil birds; and further suggesting
that there were numerous Indians near the
fort, many of whom had never shown themselves
within it. Wawatam was about forty-five
years of age, of an excellent character among
his nation, and a chief.

Referring much of what I heard to the
peculiarities of the Indian character, I did not
pay all the attention which they will be found
to have deserved to the entreaties and remarks
of my visitor. I answered that I could not
think of going to the Sault so soon as the next
morning, but would follow him there after the
arrival of my clerks. Finding himself unable
to prevail with me he withdrew for that day;
but early the next morning he came again,
bringing with him his wife and a present of
dried meat. At this interview, after stating
that he had several packs of beaver for which
he intended to deal with me, he expressed


^(^lerantier l^enrp

a second time his apprehensions from the
numerous Indians who were round the fort,
and earnestly pressed me to consent to an im-
mediate departure for the Sault. As a reason
for this particular request he assured me that
all the Indians proposed to come in a body
that day to the fort to demand Liquor of the
commandant, and that he wished me to be
gone before they should grow intoxicated.

I had made, at the period to which I am now
referring, so much progress in the language in
which Wawatam addressed me as to be able
to hold an ordinary conversation in it; but the
Indian manner of speech is so extravagantly
figurative that it is only for a very perfect
master to follow and comprehend it entirely.
Had I been further advanced in this respect
I think that I should have gathered so much
information from this my friendly monitor as
would have put me into possession of the de-
sign of the enemy, and enabled me to save as
well others as myself; as it was, it unfortunately
happened that I turned a deaf ear to every-
thing, lea\ang Wawatam and his wife, after
long and patient, but ineffectual efforts, to
depart alone with dejected countenances, and
not before they had each let fall some tears.

In the course of the same day I observed
that the Indians came in great numbers into
the fort, purchasing tomahawks (small axes of
one pound weight) and frequently desiring to
see silver arm bands and other valuable orna-


ments, of which I had a large quantity for
sale. These ornaments, however, they in no
instance purchased; but after turning them
over, left them, saying that they would call
again the next day. Their motive, as it after-
ward appeared, was no other than the very
artful one of discovering, by requesting to see
them, the particular places of their deposit
so that they might lay their hands on them in
the moment of pillage with the greater cer-
tainty and dispatch.

At night I turned in my mind the visits
of Wawatam; but though they were calculated
to excite uneasiness nothing induced me to be-
lieve that serious mischief was at hand. The
next day being the fourth of June was the
King's birthday.^''

°° Contemporary documents show that the massacre
occurred on June 2 instead of June 4. See letters of
Captain Etherington in Wis. Hist. Colls., VII, 162-63,
and XVIII, 253-54. — Editor.


Cljapter 9


THE morning was sultry. A Chipewa
came to tell me that his nation was going
to play at baggatiway with the Sacs or
Saakies, another Indian nation, for a high wager.
He invited me to witness the sport, adding that
the commandant was to be there, and would
bet on the side of the Chipewa. In conse-
quence of this information I went to the com-
mandant and expostulated with him a little,
representing that the Indians might possibly
have some sinister end in \aew; but the com-
mandant only smiled at my suspicions.

Baggatiway, called by the Canadians le jeu
de la crosse, is played with a bat and ball. The
bat is about four feet in length, curved, and
terminating in a sort of racket. Two posts are
planted in the ground at a considerable distance
from each other, as a mile or more. Each party
has its post, and the game consists in throwing
the ball up to the post of the adversary. The
ball, at the beginning, is placed in the middle
of the course and each party endeavors as
well to throw the ball out of the direction of
its owTi post as into that of the adversary's.
I did not go myself to see the match which
was now to be played without the fort, because


there being a canoe prepared to depart on the
following day for Montreal I employed myself
in writing letters to my friends; and even when
a fellow trader, Mr, Tracy, happened to call
upon me, saying that another canoe had just
arrived from Detroit, and proposing that I
should go wdth him to the beach to inquire the
news, it so happened that I still remained to
finish my letters, promising to follow Mr. Tracy
in the course of a few minutes. Mr. Tracy
had not gone more than twenty paces from my
door when I heard an Indian war cry and a
noise of general confusion.

Going instantly to my window I saw a crowd
of Indians within the fort furiously cutting
down and scalping every Englishman they
found. In particular I witnessed the fate of
Lieutenant Jemette.

I had in the room in which I was a fowling
piece, loaded with swan-shot. This I imme-
diately seized and held it for a few minutes,
waiting to hear the drum beat to arms. In this
dreadful interval I saw several of my country-
men fall, and more than one struggling be-
tween the knees of an Indian, who, holding
him in this manner, scalped him while yet

At length, disappointed in the hope of seeing
resistance made to the enemy, and sensible, of
course, that no effort of my own unassisted
arm could avail against four hundred Indians,
I thought only of seeking shelter. Amid the


^Icjcanticr i^cnrp

slaughter which was raging I observed many
of the Canadian inhabitants of the fort calmly
looking on, neither opposing the Indians, nor
suffering injury; and from this circumstance I
conceived a hope of finding security in their

Between the yard door of my own house and
that of M. Langlade, my next neighbor,^^

^' This was Charles Langlade, one of the most re-
markable men in the histor>' of the Northwest. Born
at Mackinac in 1729 of a French father and a native
mother, he was bred to war from childhood, and is said
to have participated in ninety-nine battles and skir-
mishes. In 1752 Langlade led a band of northwestern
Indians in the descent upon the English at Pickawillany
and there struck what was virtually the first blow in
the Seven Years' War. Three years later he led his
northern tribesmen to the overthrow of General Brad-
dock 's army, and there is strong reason for thinking
that it was Langlade who planned this affair. At the
siege of Quebec in 1759, his quick eye caught the Eng-
lish armj' in a position where an attack would have
proved fatal to it, and he begged his French superiors
for the men necessary to make it. But Langlade was a
militiaman and a halfbreed, and the regular officers
gave no heed to his appeal; the opportunity passed
unutilized; Wolfe took the city, and New France be-
came a memory. When Montreal surrendered to Gen-
eral Amherst in September; 1760, Beaujeau, at Mack-
inac, departed for the Illinois in advance of the coming
of the English troops, leaving Langlade in charge, with
such authority as he might be able to wield, and he it
was who turned the place over to Captain Balfour a
year later. He seems loyally to have accepted the con-
sequences of French defeat, and for the remainder of
his active career was a partisan of Great Britain. After
the massacre of 1763, Captain Etherington authorized


there was only a low fence, over which I easily
climbed. At my entrance I found the whole
family at the windows, gazing at the scene of
blood before them. I addressed myself im-
mediately to M. Langlade, begging that he
would put me into some place of safety until
the heat of the affair should be over; an act
of charity by which he might perhaps pre-
serve me from the general massacre; but while
I uttered my petition M. Langlade, who had
looked for a moment at me, turned again to
the window, shrugging his shoulders and in-
timating that he could do nothing for me: —
"Que voudriez-vous que j'en ferais?"

This was a moment for despair; but the next
a Pani woman,^^ ^ slave of M. Langlade's,
beckoned me to follow her. She brought me
to a door which she opened, desiring me to
enter, and telling me that it led to the garret,

Langlade to assume charge of affairs at Mackinac.
Soon after the Pontiac War he moved to Green Bay,
where he lived until his death in the year 1800. In the
Revolution he was a staunch upholder of British in-
terests, leading his red followers repeatedly against the
Americans. — Editor.

^^ The Panics are an Indian nation of the south. —

This is quite true, but the term pani as here used
meant simply an Indian slave, without regard to his
tribal origin. It is a curious fact that as in Europe the
word slave, originally a national name, was degraded to
its present significance of bondman, so among the red
men of North America the name of an Indian tribe
came to have a like significance. — Editor.


^(^Icjranticr l^nirp

where I must go and conceal myself. I joy-
fully obeyed her directions; and she, having
followed me up to the garret door, locked it
after me and with great presence of mind
took away the key.

This shelter obtained, if shelter I could hope
to find it, I was naturally anxious to know
what might still be passing without. Through
an aperture which afforded me a view of the
area of the fort I beheld, in shapes the foulest
and most terrible, the ferocious triumphs of
barbarian conquerors. The dead were scalped
and mangled; tho dying were writhing and
shrieking under the unsatiated knife and
tomahawk; and from the bodies of some, ripped
open, their butchers were drinking the blood,
scooped up in the hollow of joined hands and
quaffed amid shouts of rage and victory. I was
shaken not only with horror, but with fear.
The sufferings which I witnessed I seemed
on the point of experiencing. No long time
elapsed before every one being destroyed who
could be found, there was a general cry of
"All is finished! " At the same instant I heard
some of the Indians enter the house in which
I was.

The garret was separated from the room
below only by a layer of single boards, at once
the flooring of the one and the ceiling of the
other. I could therefore hear everything that
passed ; and the Indians no sooner came in than
they inquired whether or not any EngUshman

were in the house. M. Langlade replied that
he could not say — he did not know of any —
answers in which he did not exceed the truth,
for the Pani woman had not only hidden me
by stealth, but kept my secret and her own.
M. Langlade was therefore, as I presume, as far
from a wish to destroy me as he was careless
about saving me, when he added to these
answers that they might examine for them-
selves, and would soon be satisfied as to the
object of their question. Saying this, he
brought them to the garret door.^'

^' It seems apparent that Henry was in no position
to estimate properly the motives which actuated the
conduct of Langlade. He possessed great influence over
these tribesmen, whom he had often led to war against
the English; although he had made his peace with the
latter, his red followers had not done so, as Henry's
own account sufficiently shows. Even today in civilized
America a frenzied mob intent on shedding blood will
frequently ignore the appeals for peace and mercy made
to it by a sherifJ or other constituted authority. In
Indian warfare mercy to the conquered was a thing un-
thought of. Thus Samuel Hearne, pleading with his
Indian friends to spare the life of an Eskimo girl, was
answered with ridicule and contempt. John Kinzie
possessed influence enough with the Indians to pass un-
scathed, with all his family, through the Fort Dearborn
massacre, but he had no influence to save the women
and children, his neighbors, who were slaughtered in
his presence. Captain Etherington testifies that Lang-
lade was "very instrumental" in saving his own life
and those of the soldiers after the massacre. It seems
reasonable to conclude that he recognized the futility
of any resistance to the Indians, as Henry himself had
done a few minutes before; and that under the cir-


^lejcanDer i$mtp

The state of my mind will be imagined.
Arrived at the door some delay was occasioned
by the absence of the key and a few moments
were thus allowed me in which to look around
for a hiding place. In one corner of the garret
was a heap of those vessels of birch bark used
in maple sugar making as I have recently

The door was unlocked, and opening, and
the Indians ascending the stairs, before I had
completely crept into a small opening, which
presented itself at one end of the heap. An
instant after four Indians entered the room,
all armed with tomahawks, and all besmeared
with blood upon every part of their bodies.

The die appeared to be cast. I could scarcely
breathe; but I thought that the throbbing of
my heart occasioned a noise loud enough to
betray me. The Indians walked in every
direction about the garret, and one of them ap-
proached me so closely that at a particular
moment, had he put forth his hand, he must
have touched me. Still I remained undiscov-
ered, a circumstance to which the dark color
of my clothes and the want of light in a room
which had no window, and in the corner in
which I was, must have contributed. In a word,
after taking several turns in the room, during
which they told M, Langlade how many they
had killed and how many scalps they had

cumstances the course he adopted was the wisest one
open to him. — Editor.


taken, they returned down stairs, and I with
sensations not to be expressed, heard the door,
which was the barrier between me and my
fate, locked for the second time.

There was a feather bed on the floor, and
on this, exhausted as I was by the agitation of
my mind, I threw myself down and fell asleep.
In this state I remained till the dusk of the
evening, when I was awakened by a second
opening of the door. The person that now
entered was M. Langlade's wife, who was much
surprised at finding me, but advised me not to
be uneasy, observing that the Indians had
killed most of the English, but that she hoped I
might myself escape. A shower of rain having
begun to fall, she had come to stop a hole in the
roof. On her going away, I begged her to
send me a little water to drink, which she did.

As night was now advancing I continued to
lie on the bed, ruminating on my condition,
but unable to discover a resource from which I
could hope for life. A flight to Detroit had no
probable chance of success. The distance
from Michilimackinac was four hundred miles;
I was without provisions; and the whole
length of the road lay through Indian countries,
countries of an enemy in arms, where the first
man whom I should meet would kill me. To
stay where I was threatened nearly the same
issue. As before, fatigue of mind, and not
tranquillity, suspended my cares and procured
me further sleep.


Cl^apter lo


THE game of baggatiway, as from the
description above will have been per-
ceived, is necessarily attended with much
violence and noise. In the ardor of contest the
ball, as has been suggested, if it cannot be
thrown to the goal desired, is struck in any
direction by which it can be diverted from that
designed by the adversary. At such a moment,
therefore, nothing could be less Hable to excite
premature alarm than that the ball should be
tossed over the pickets of the fort, nor that
having fallen there, it should be followed on
the instant by all engaged in the game, as well
the one party as the other, all eager, all strug-
gHng, all shouting, all in the unrestrained pur-
suit of a rude athletic exercise. Nothing could
be less fitted to excite premature alarm —
nothing, therefore, could be more happily
devised, under the circumstances, than a strat-
agem like this; and this was in fact the
stratagem which the Indians had employed,
by which they had obtained possession of the
fort, and by which they had been enabled to
slaughter and subdue its garrison and such of
its other inhabitants as they pleased. To be
still more certain of success they had prevailed

upon as many as they could by a pretext the
least liable to suspicion to come voluntarily
without the pickets, and particularly the com-
mandant and garrison themselves.

The respite which sleep afforded me during
the night was put an end to by the return of
morning. I was again on the rack of appre-
hension. At sunrise I heard the family stirring,
and presently after, Indian voices informing
M. Langlade they had not found my hapless
self among the dead, and that they supposed
me to be somewhere concealed. M. Lang-
lade appeared from what followed to be by
this time acquainted with the place of my re-
treat, of which no doubt he had been informed
by his wife. The poor woman, as soon as
the Indians mentioned me, declared to her
husband in the French tongue that he should
no longer keep me in his house, but deliver
me up to my pursuers, giving as a reason for
this measure that should the Indians discover
his instrumentaUty in my concealment, they
might revenge it on her children, and that
it was better that I should die than they.
M. Langlade resisted at first this sentence of
his wife's; but soon suffered her to prevail,
informing the Indians that he had been told
I was in his house, that I had come there
without his knowledge, and that he would put
me into their hands. This was no sooner ex-
pressed than he began to ascend the stairs, the
Indians following upon his heels.


^IcjrantJer l^cnrp

I now resigned myself to the fate with which
I was menaced; and regarding every attempt
at concealment as vain, I arose from the bed
and presented myself full in view to the Indians
who were entering the room. They were all
in a state of intoxication, and entirely naked,
except about the middle. One of them, named
Wenniway, whom I had previously known,
and who was upward of six feet in height, had
his entire face and body covered with charcoal
and grease, only that a white spot of two inches
in diameter encircled either eye. This man,
walking up to me, seized me with one hand by
the collar of the coat, while in the other he held
a large carving knife, as if to plunge it into my
breast; his eyes, meanwhile, were fixed stead-
fastly on mine. At length, after some seconds
of the most anxious suspense, he dropped his
arm, saying, "I won't kill you!" To this he
added that he had been frequently engaged in
wars against the EngHsh, and had brought
away many scalps; that on a certain occasion
he had lost a brother whose name was Musini-
gon, and that I should be called after him.

A reprieve upon any terms placed me among
the Hving, and gave me back the sustaining
voice of hope; but Wenniway ordered me down-
stairs, and there informing me that I was to be
taken to his cabin, where, and indeed every-
where else, the Indians were all mad with
liquor, death again was threatened, and not as
possible only, but as certain. I mentioned my

fears on this subject to M. Langlade, begging
him to represent the danger to my master.
M. Langlade in this instance did not withhold
his compassion, and Wenniway immediately
consented that I should remain where I was
until he found another opportunity to take me

Thus far secure I reascended my garret
stairs in order to place myself the furthest
possible out of the reach of insult from drunken
Indians; but I had not remained there more
than an hour, when I was called to the room
below in which was an Indian who said that
I must go with him out of the fort, Wenniway
having sent him to fetch me. This man, as
well as Wenniway himself, I had seen before.
In the preceding year I had allowed him to
take goods on credit, for which he was still in
my debt; and some short time previous to the
surprise of the fort he had said upon my up-
braiding him with want of honesty that he
would pay me before long. This speech now
came fresh into my memory and led me to
suspect that the fellow had formed a design
against my life. I communicated the suspicion
to M. Langlade; but he gave for answer that
I was not now my own master, and must do as
I was ordered.

The Indian on his part directed that before
I left the house I should undress myself, de-
claring that my coat and shirt would become
him better than they did me. His pleasure in


^tkrantier i^enrp

this respect being complied with, no other
alternative was left me than either to go out
naked, or to put on the clothes of the Indian,
which he freely gave me in exchange. His
motive for thus stripping me of my own ap-
parel was no other as I afterward learned than
this, that it might not be stained with blood
when he should kill me.

I was now told to proceed; and my driver
followed me close until I had passed the gate
of the fort, when I turned toward the spot
where I knew the Indians to be encamped.
This, however, did not suit the purpose of my
enemy, who seized me by the arm and drew me
\dolently in the opposite direction to the dis-
tance of fifty yards above the fort. Here,
finding that I was approaching the bushes and
sand hills, I determined to proceed no farther,
but told the Indian that I beheved he meant
to murder me, and that if so he might as well
strike where I was as at any greater distance.
He replied with coolness that my suspicions
were just, and that he meant to pay me in
this manner for my goods. At the same time
he produced a knife and held me in a position
to receive the intended blow. Both this and
that which followed were necessarily the affair
of a moment. By some effort, too sudden and
too little dependent on thought to be ex-
plained or remembered, I was enabled to arrest
his arm and give him a sudden push by which I
turned him from me and released myself from

his grasp. This was no sooner done than I ran
toward the fort with all the swiftness in my
power, the Indian following me, and I expect-
ing every moment to feel his knife. I succeeded
in my flight; and on entering the fort I saw
Wenniway standing in the midst of the area,
and to him I hastened for protection. Wenni-
way desired the Indian to desist; but the latter
pursued me round him, making several strokes

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Online LibraryAlexander HenryAlexander Henry's Travels and adventures in the years 1760-1776, ed. with historical introduction and notes by Milo Milton Quaife → online text (page 6 of 20)