Page images



men of the forest, drunk with the mad joy of assured success, chase hither and thither the screaming survivors, and pitilessly slay them in their hiding-places. Chopart himself, the scoundrel and tyrant who had caused the deed, was struck down among the first. Tradition

says that he revived again, as if doomed by God to behold the fruits of his mad folly; and rising up wounded and bloody, amid the bloody corpses of his men, he looked round him upon the horrors of the massacre; and at last, probably still confused with his wounds and the dreadful surprise, instead of standing on his defence, fled out into the garden, and whistled to call his soldiers. They could not answer; he might have seen them lying dead all around him. The Indians come, however, at his signal, and gather about their helpless, hated oppressor with unutterable rage and exultation on their swarthy faces. They ring him in with weapons and exult about him. They say he is a“ dog ;” unworthy to be slain by a brave man: and so they send for a minister to some degrading heathen ceremony, whom the early writer, calls the “chief stinking-man.' This base executioner kills him with a dog's blow; he knocks him in the head with a club; and thus did the wicked commandant, the first and the last of the slain, taste, in dreadful measure, the fullness of the bitterness of death.

During the massacre, the Great Sun, seating himself in the Company's warehouse, quietly smoked his pipe; while his warriors heaped before him in a frightful pyramid the heads of the slain. The ghastly pile is crowned with the dead features of the officers, and surmounted with the bloody visage of Chopart himself. The garrison is dead, the women, children and slaves are secured, and now the chieftain bids his warriors go to plunder. The slaves are made to bring out the spoil for distribution; the military stores are reserved for public use; and the victorious Indians give themselves up to orgies of savage triumph.

In the beginning of the attack, the houses near the fort were fired, and the smoke signalled the assault throughout the neighboring settlements. All were alike successful. The massacre began about nine in the morning. Before noon, two hundred and fifty French, every male of the colony of seven hundred souls on the St. Catherine's, except a tailor and a carpenter, spared to use their handicrafts for the Indians, and two soldiers who were away in the woods, slept in death. The like fate fell upon the colonies in the Yazoo, on the Washita at Sicily Island, and near the site of the present town of Monroe.

This dreadful blow filled the province with fear and mourning. But the revenge of the Frenchmen only ended with the utter extermination of the tribe. An expedition was sent at once against them, their




rortress besieged, their prisoners and spoil wrested from them, and the nation only by a dexterous mancuvre, evacuated the stronghold by night, and fled away to the westward. A second expedition ended in the reduction of a second fortress, defended by enormous earthworks and embracing four hundred acres, which they had erected at the confluence of the Washita and Little Rivers, and in the captivity of their principal chiefs and more than four hundred of the nation—nearly half of it. Yet unsubdued, and as fierce as ever, the remnant of their warriors having unsuccessfully attacked the French post at Natchitoches, were in turn assaulted by St. Denis, the commander there, and again dispersed with very severe loss. The chiefs and others taken in the second expedition were sold into slavery in St. Domingo. The scattered relics now left, incorporated themselves with various Indian tribes; and the Natchez nation was utterly extinct; although some few individuals of it have been seen in the town of Natchez even within the memory of those now living, still distinguished by the commanding form, lofty stature, and high retreating forehead, of their race.

But the war, although entirely successful, had drawn heavily upon the strength of the colony. For three years every nerve had been strained to the utmost to furnish men and supplies for expedition after expedition. A small tribe, of kin to the Natchez

the Chouacas, had been exterminated on suspicion, by way of collateral security. Two dangerous domestic negro plots had to be quelled; and amid fear and exertions, watchings and anxiety at home, and wasteful war abroad, the arts of peace had but ill thriven. The Western Company, at last quite discouraged, gave up their charter, and remitted Louisiana into the hands of the crown. The colony, although always a source of loss to the company, had grown, under their management, from seven hundred to five thousand souls, and had assured its footing upon the lands of Louisiana.

A few years later, a campaign was resolved upon against the Chickasaws. This warlike nation had long been inclined to the English interest; had afforded refuge and countenance to numbers of the dispersed Natchez, and in conjunction with them, and stimulated by British traders and emissaries, had committed many outrages against the French. Growing bolder, they had latterly destroyed the thoroughfare for trade and passage on the Mississippi; and, doubtless with British advice, even stirred up the negroes near New Orleans to a third insurrection, which was rapidly ramifying and ripening, when it was discovered and cruelly quenched in the lives of its ringleaders.

Bienville, now aged, yet still ambitious, was sent to Louisiana to govern the province and command the



expedition. Trusting in his old renown among the Indians, he sends a haughty demand to the Chickasaws, for the surrender of the Natchez amongst them; which is coolly refused, and Bienville forthwith prepares to inflict upon them a summary chastisementnothing less than the devastation of all their country with an irresistible force. He concerts with D’Artaguette, commandant at Fort Chartres in the district of the Illinois, a combined plan of operations; D’Artaguette is to come down the Mississippi with all the French and Indians he can muster, and cross to the Chickasaw country; Bienville on his part, moving by water to Mobile and up the Tombigbee, will meet him there about May 10th, 1736. Accordingly, burdened with stores and provisions, Bienville moves up the river to Fort Tombigbee, newly constructed as a military depot, and thence advancing a fortnight later than the day set for the junction with D'Artaguette, hearing nothing of him, vexed and disappointed, yet without any alternative, delivers the assault upon the Chickasaw towns with his own little

of six hundred French and twelve hundred Choctaw allies. But in spite of French valor and savage impetuosity, of arrow and musket, and hand grenade, of two desperate attacks, the indomitable Chickasaws, fortified with the help of British traders, of whom numbers are within their intrenchments, beat them off with tremendous loss. In terrible mortification, hearing


« PreviousContinue »