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.
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