Haughty Conquerors: Amherst and the Great Indian Uprising of 1763

By William R. Nester | Go to book overview

For weeks commanders in the other posts would remain oblivious to the attack that opened against Fort Detroit on May 8, 1763. In each of those posts the uprising would be announced with war shrieks, a flurry of musket shots and hatchets thudding into skulls, and the screams of dying soldiers.

Yet British arrogance was more important than isolation in explaining the capture of those nine posts, the ambush of supply convoys, and the slaughter of several hundred of His Majesty's soldiers and civilians in the early summer of 1763. Each post commander dismissed warnings from Canadians, British traders, and Indians that an uprising was imminent. "The savages wouldn't dare," sneered the commanders and most of their underlings. Most responsible for that attitude and the policy of squeezing the Indians, upon which it was based, was their commander, Sir Jeffrey Amherst.

Ironically, while mayhem blood-soaked the frontier, the commander in chief of His Majesty's forces in North America was reassuring his Indian Superintendent that all was well. On May 29, Amherst wrote Johnson that he "cannot think the Indians have it in their power to execute anything serious against us while we continue to be on our guard."53

That delusion would soon end.


NOTES
1
For excellent descriptions, see Donald Campbell to Henry Bouquet, December 11, 1760, in Syvester K. Stevens, Donald H. Kent, Autumn L. Leonard, Louis M. Waddell , and John Totteham, eds., The Papers of Henry Bouquet (hereafter cited as Bouquet Papers), 6 vols. ( Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1972- 1994), 5:170-72; Donald Campbell to Henry Bouquet, March 10, 1761, ibid., 5:340-341.

The best accounts of Detroit's siege include: Milo Milton Quaife, ed., The Siege of Detroit in 1763: The Journal of Pontiac's Conspiracy and John Rutherford's Narrative of a Captivity ( Chicago: Lakeside Press, 1958); Franklin B. Hough, ed., Diary of the Siege of Detroit in the War with Pontiac. Also a Narrative of the Principal Events of the Siege by Major Robert Rogers; A Plan for Conducting Indian Affairs by Colonel Bradstreet; and other Authentick Documents, never before printed ( Albany, N.Y.: J. Munsell, 1860); Jehu Hay diary, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Mich. (hereafter cited as CL); James McDonald to George Croghan, July 12, 1763, in James Sullivan and A. C. Flick, eds., The Papers of William Johnson (hereafter cited as Johnson Papers), 14 vols. ( Albany: State University of New York, 1921- 1965), 10: 736-45.

The following account of the siege has been drawn mostly from those sources. Differences among the accounts are noted in footnotes.

Ironically, the siege's most comprehensive story, "The Journal of Pontiac's Conspiracy," is anonymous. For discussions of possible authors see Quaife, "Historical Introduction," "Preface," and "Translator's Preface," in The Siege of Detroit, xxiv- xxviii, xli-xliv, xlv-lv. Former notary and sub-intendent under the French regime Robert Navarre is the most likely author. In Hay's diary he is constantly in contact

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Haughty Conquerors: Amherst and the Great Indian Uprising of 1763
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Notes xiii
  • 1 - Conquest "Where Are We Now? The French Are All Subdued" 1
  • Notes 31
  • 2 - Conspiracies "Destroy Their Forts and Make Them Rue the Day" 35
  • Notes 66
  • 3 - Attacks "And Drive These Britons Hence Like Frightened Deer" 73
  • Notes 103
  • 4 - Counterattacks "Big with Their Victories" 107
  • Notes 145
  • 5 - Stalemate "Leave These Distant Lakes and Streams to Us" 149
  • Notes 179
  • 6 - Subjection "To Be a Vassal to His Low Commanders" 185
  • Notes 223
  • 7 - Settlements "Nay Think Us Conquered, and Our Country Theirs" 231
  • Notes 269
  • 8 - Consequencesl "Whom See We Now, Their Haughty Conquerors" 279
  • Notes 283
  • Index 285
  • About the Author *
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