Relation of the Massacre of the French at Natchez and the War against the Indians

by the officer de Laye

June 1st 1730



            The first of December 1729, the Sieur Bunel, an employee of the Company [of the Indies], and the two men known as Captain and La Pierre arrived at the bluff at four oÕclock in the morning. They told me that the Natchez had struck the French on the 28th of November, and they believed the French had been completely defeated, because not a single habitant was prepared for the attack, even though they had all been warned two days before the Massacre. Such was the name that must be given to this affair.

            The Indian women of the Kolly concession were warned by other women of their nation, who bemoaned the impending the death of the Frenchmen--they alerted their masters, and the Sieur de Longraye. M. de Kolly went immediately to the fort to give notice to M. de Chepar, the Commandant of the post, who called him deluded and treated his warning with ridicule, regarding it as a product of fear. Other habitants also went to the fort to give notice of the rumor to the Sieur Chepar, who became so angry at them that he called them cowards and traitors, and also threatened them with prison or some other harsh treatment. It was on the 25th or 26th of November that this rumor spread in that place there.

            The 27th, which was a Sunday, M. de Kolly spoke to M. de Chepar coming out of Mass of what was being said among the habitants about the plan of the Natchez, of which he must be well informed. The Sieur de Longraye insisted on the matter. The two of them drew a laugh from the Commandant, in the presence of all the habitants, who made up jokes about the news; they set up Madame Desnoyers as the Queen of the Indians, they set around her several princesses. In short the morning passed in laughter. Everyone acted as if he was not afraid, and was safe in his home. But M. de la Loire, knowing the Indians well, believed the rumors, and took arms from the magazine.

            [2] The evening of the same day seven or eight habitants again made the journey to the CommandantÕs house. They told him that the Natchez were set upon assassinating all the Frenchmen, and that it was time to assemble all the habitants and put them in a state of defense. This sage advice should have led him to take every necessary precaution to secure his post against all such threats, and should have forced him to complete this process by spreading notice of all the warnings. Far from doing that, he regarded these men as seditious, as mutinous scoundrels, and he had them put in irons.

            A moment later the chief of that nation, perceiving something in this activity that he had seen among the French, carried to the commandant some fifty chickens, so as to remove any suspicion. The latter received the gift warmly, seeing it as a sign of his friendship. He let it be known to all that he was the master of the Indians, who would never dare undertake anything against the French, so much was he feared and loved. The barbarian, more subtle than he was, had distracted him by this present, and by knowing well his logic and his avarice, had found the way to blind him.

            The Sieur Macˇ, an officer in the garrison, also warned Chepar and was immediately placed under arrest. After that he ordered that the guards be stationed, more as a joke and a whim than for security. Upon seeing this Nicolas de la Tour and Nicolas Le Blond also went to warn Chepar, and he put them in irons.

            Toward ten oÕclock at night the Sieurs Bailly, Ricard, Bourbeaux, and Ducoder, as well as the interpreter [Poulain, or du Parc?] went to the village to see what was happening. They asked the Indians if they wanted [3] to kill us as was being claimed, and they insisted they did not. In truth they did want to arrest and kill them, but altered their plan on the advice of a few of the most experienced who said that if they killed these men then, it would betray their plot. So the Natchez left them alone and they were received according to custom. They asked the Indian women to have a dance that night to which the women replied that the really beautiful dance would be tomorrow night. It seems that these gentlemen had no other desire than for the pleasure of the Indian womenÕs favors, and believed these women could never rebel against the French. In posing such a question to the Indians these men must have been completely deprived of common sense; did they really think that the Indians would reveal something that they had kept secret under penalty of death? Passion blinded them, and if on the other hand infernal Passion had seen fit to shorten their lives by one night, this would have been a good thing for the post, for it would have prevented the complete loss of the settlement. It must be also that they were really blind to not sense some significance in the words of the Indian women at that moment, particularly after all the rumors that were spreading around.

            The Indians did not begin anything that night, because they had seen some movements among our men. When daybreak came and they saw the post was again calm, they resolved to all attack at the same hour, and that the first gunshot would serve as a signal to all. The Sieur Chepar at mid-morning had all the habitants who were in irons set free. He said to them that if anyone else came to him with similar talk, he would seize them, and he ridiculed several men for all that had been said on this topic.

            At seven oÕclock in the morning an habitant named Navarre came to the post in a great hurry to warn the commandant that all the Natchez were gathering to attack the French. When he found two men who told him that they had just been released from irons, on account of making similar warnings, he was forced to reverse his [4] course and look for some way to save himself, for fear that he might be subject to the same punishment as the others and would be killed while he was in irons.

            At nine oÕclock in the morning, the commandant saw a large number of Indians coming, carrying presents, the Grand Chef in the lead, holding the calumet in the air. A less presumptuous officer would have had some suspicion of this maneuver, particularly after all the rumors that had been spreading, and would have fired a cannon to assemble everybody, which would have disrupted the plot that was in progress. The calumet the Chief was carrying had two goals. The first was in the hope of making greater surprises, because the Indians only offer the calumet as a symbol of peace and alliance. The second was in case they had not succeeded in their surprise, the calument and the presents might alleviate all suspicion of their activities. By this you can see that the Indians practice more ruses than you even imagine. In his blind ambition this officer awaited them with a sense of trust, hoping to gain a profit by this ceremony. He saw a large number of Indians disembark at the waterÕs edge, others go to the homes of habitants next to his fort, all with some gift, whether ducks, fish, etc. And when each was in position the first gunshot that was fired at the riverside was the signal. They attacked the fort, the galley, and all the habitants at the same moment. They killed the commandant with the blow of a tomahawk at the moment when he was examining the presents that had just been brought to him. These barbarians have recounted to our women that after having received the first blow Chepar said to them that if they would spare his life, he would give [5] them all the goods that were in the warehouse. They had no need for him to give them the goods, for they were already in possession. They seized the galley which had no guards, no sentinel, but only the captain, and they cut his throat. They also seized the warehouse killing those inside except for the Sieur Ricard the warehouse keeper, who had time to save himself. They cut the throat of the Sieur Bailly in his bed. Finally the two concessions [Terre Blanche and St. Catherines], and all the habitants suffered at the same instant the same fate, with the exception of thirty people, workers, habitants, soldiers and boatmen among them.

            These barbarians after having massacred all the soldiers and all the habitants, which they accomplished in about fifteen minutes, took possession of all the goods of the Company and of the individuals. After this they rounded up all our women, children and slaves. They imposed upon our women all the greatest cruelties imaginable. They raped some, killed, massacred, and impaled others. They did all that the spirit of vengeance might suggest as the greatest cruelty to satisfy their rage and their passion for brutality. It was the Indians of the Pomme village who distinguished themselves most in their crimes, and did the most evil. The other villages treated them with less inhumanity and cruelty. This in brief is what happened at Natchez the 28th of November last year.


            The refugees who saved themselves, some on a piece of wood drifting along in the water, and others by land, made their way to the Tioux who had seemed to be loyal to us. In the beginning they received these poor people kindly, saying that they wanted to avenge the death [6] of the French. After these expressions of friendship one would never have imagined that they had declared themselves opposed to us, all the more so given that the Natchez are not their friends. They had held a council, and had sent some deputies to the Natchez to see what was happening and to choose a side. The latter had received them well, and had given them presents, and the Tioux made a promise to attack us. And they stuck to this promise, for no sooner had they returned to their village than they killed four pour victims who had fled in the hope of finding some succor. From there they went to the Tunicas to kill the habitants in that place, and to engage that nation in their plot, but they did not find what they expected in that village, where the greater part declared themselves in our favor and had protected the habitants there, which forced the Tioux to return home.

            These barbarians, seeing that they could do nothing on that side of the river went to the Red River where they took a concession belonging to the Marquise de Mezi¸res, and killed eighteen people who had settled in that area, after which they went back to Natchez to collect payment for their scalps. I must observe here that the Indians never kill men without also cutting off their scalps. This is the proof of their heroic deed.

            The day of the massacre, fourteen of the Yazoos found themselves at Natchez. They were returning from the Houmas, carrying a calumet. They appeared at first very zealous for the French, seeming to sympathize with our plight. Those who escaped from the enemy into their hands [7] were clothed, given food and a pirogue to save themselves. But the next day it was otherwise, because they did the contrary; they burned the Frenchmen who had been so unlucky as to fall into their hands. They had been engaged to do this by the other barbarians who had told them that the Choctaw had descended the Mississippi and that there were no more French alive. Perhaps they persuaded the Yazoos with threats. It was believed that the conspiracy was widespread; we shall see the contrary in what follows. It might have become widespread if not for the indefatiguable efforts of M. Perier who found a quick antidote by assuaging the Choctaws with presents. The Yazoos, however, returned home and cut the throats of the troops and habitants of the posts.

            Informed only of the destruction of the post at Natchez, I left on the first of December from the bluff for New Orleans to alert Monsieur Perier of this disaster, and also to get weapons and munitions to arm the habitants in my region. I arrived at the city on the third at eleven oÕclock in the morning. This same day news came of the arrival of a vessel from France. I offered my services to Monsieur Perier. I pleaded with him to employ me in this affair; I laid out for him the necessity of arming all the habitants, above all those along my side of the river who were most exposed. He told me that this was his intention. He immediately dispatched the captain Sieur Merveilleux to go to the Tunicas so as to prevent the uprising of the enemy there, and also to warn all the habitants on both banks of the river to be on their guards and to build forts.

            On the 4th M. Perier told me to take from the storehouse whatever I would need and to promptly return upstream to guard my settlement; [8] he gave me orders of which a copy is attached here:


ŅM. de Laye will take charge to assemble in his settlement as many French as he can for the purpose of going upstream, and if he foresees that there is too great a risk in guarding his settlement, he will descend with the French or with our Indian allies, so as to unite with the larger group that I will take upstream. He will also take charge, if he foresees too great a threat from the Indians in the upper colony, to bring down as much grain as he can to New Orleans. He will take special care to bring the latest news and to inform me at New Orleans.

            This fourth day of December 1729, PerierÓ


            I left the same day, accompanied only by my men. I arrived in three days at the Houmas, where I took seven Indians and quickly returned upstream. By means of great diligence I arrived at Pointe Coupˇe the eleventh of the same month, and I found all the habitants very upset with the Sieur Merveilleux. One complained that Merveilleux had taken eau-de-vie from him and then had resold to him this same eau-de-vie at a very high price, and for payment he had written a bill upon the clerk of the Company, so that he might be reimbursed. Another complained of having received a blow from a sabre, and a third of having been flogged. Finally, so many habitants were complaining that rather than encourage his men Merveilleux was making them afraid, that they took fright at the slightest noise. He had under him some fifty men with whom he could undertake some action, such as destroying the Tioux, who were few in number. He knew where they were and could go lay in wait to attack them as they passed. He could have gone to retake the galley that was at Natchez. Neither honor [9] nor duty concerned him so much as his own interest; he was known for a sordid avarice. This teaches us the lesson that it is rare to find a man in his kind of position who is truly brave, for being preoccupied with the wealth that he so adores, he avoids the sort of dangers from which he might acquire real glory. We have seen this in the case of this officer, because he employed his men only to protect himself. He displayed such temerity, that when he took to the saddle, he had himself escorted by four armed men, and when he slept, he always had four soldiers guarding him, with bayonets on their guns. He showed such folly and such venality that it would take a stack of paper to record it all, and so I will pass over it in silence. There is no better comparison for the character of this man than to the soldier of the guard who acts brave in town but is a coward in the country. Monsieur Perier, when informed of all the accusations against him recalled him and put in his place Monsieur de Loubo‘y, whose kindness and good manners earned him friendship from everyone.

            The rendez-vous of the army was to be at Tunica, and in this place all the volunteers and all of our Indian allies were also to assemble.

            Given the distressed situation of the colony, and its need for men of strong will, I looked for a way to be useful, and to distinguish myself. To this end, I took half of my men, and I persuaded all the habitants of Pointe Coupˇe and environs to follow me, explaining to them that the Company would recognize their service, that they could protect their settlement only through the destruction of the savages, and that each man must contribute, particularly the habitants, who must be courageous and full-hearted. Most of the men there responded to me with good will and promised to come with me. [10]. After satisfying myself of this support, I took fifteen men and went to Tunica, so as to know if it was true that they wanted to switch sides, as rumor had it. I left on the sixteenth from Pointe Coupˇe and I arrived at Tunica on the seventeenth. So as to know better what was happening among the Indians, I took with me a young man who had been raised among them, and acted as though I was returning him to them. I told him not to speak to me or to any of my men, but to come to me every night around midnight when the Indians were sleeping, so as to tell me what he had learned. I stayed in this place for five days so as to earn the trust of their secrets, I gathered those whose words conformed with what I learned each day from the young man whom I had planted in their village. They told me that there were among them some who had a badly made heart (this was the term that they used), some who were doing what they could to plan an attack on us, but that they did not regard these people as Tunicas, although they were of that tribe. They said that the Tunica had a French heart, that they would die alongside the French rather than betray them. Some who were worthless had gone off with the Tioux, but that if they could catch these renegades they would kill them. The Tunicas told me that we should not be surprised at this, because in all nations, even the most loyal, there are traitors everywhere. They gave me several harangues about their loyalty, telling me that the Natchez had offered them trade goods in exchange for killing us, to which they had replied that whereas goods might spoil the French would not. The Tioux their neighbors and kinsmen tried to persuade them to declare themselves our enemies, but they [11] did not want to, and as they were not strong enough to attack the Tioux they had chosen to stay neutral until we arrived. They had sheltered all the French who were among them, and this was the best they were able to do in such a situation. Satisfied with the sincerity of these declarations, I wrote of this to Monsieur Perier who in his region was taking all measures possible and was meeting with the Choctaw and doing what was needed to destroy all the enemy Indians.

            Our men built among the Tunicas two forts, one on an eminence commanding the entire village, and the other at the riverÕs edge. The first was useless—its location appeared to make it impregnable, but was in fact a fatal weakness—one would die of hunger and thirst if one were forced to hole up there, and the retreat was very difficult and dangerous due to the difficulty of passing through a bayou where men could only march in single file along a log, exposing the entire detachment to being massacred without means of defending themselves before they could reach the river. There was no imaginable reason for building this fort. Why prepare for oneÕs own demise when one could avoid it? The fort on the bank of the river was very well located, both for the security of the boats and the goods as for that of the garrison and for the advantage of having water even when besieged by the enemy. There was no weakness for which one could reproach this fort.

            As I had a desire to descend to Pointe Coupˇe to see what was happening there, and I worried that my volunteers might lose their resolve, I left them at Tunica, promising to come rejoin them in a few days. What prompted me to choose this course is that there were already several men who were [12] discontented, and who could have soured the others whom I had taken with me. I descended on the 23rd with my men and arrived at Pointe Coupˇe the same day. I found everything very quiet there, and I stayed two days, during which I formed a plan for an expedition, and to ascend the river as far as the Kansas to protect all the voyageurs [it canÕt be CansasTaensas maybe?]. I engaged twenty men to come with me and left Pointe Coupˇe on the evening of the 25th. I marched all night, and arrived at Tunica on the 26th at noon.

            No sooner had I arrived than I described my plan to Monsieur de Loubo‘y, who immediately approved of it, and commended me for my zeal, promising to arrange for my prompt departure. This action elicited a great deal of jealousy among the officers, who maintained that it was not practical for me to set out without them. Each came forth to register his opposition to my expedition, above all the Sieur Broutin who asked for a lieutenant and forty soldiers. Another made a similar demand, while Messieurs Dartaguiette and Coustilhas both held a stubborn silence and allowed the others to speak. They all knew well that there was plenty to occupy all our men, yet they grumbled so much that they held the decision of the commandant in suspense, and they prevented me from departing in spite of my repeated insistence that I was not at all weakening their troops since I was not taking any soldiers with me, and I found it very strange that they would oppose my expedition which inclined only toward the good of the service, since the men I had with me were volunteers who wanted to be under my orders and whom I had recruited on this condition. Only in this land would one oppose the free will of such volunteers. Finally after many speeches from one party [13] and another I felt like giving up had it not been for a letter that I received from Monsieur Perier who informed me that he had written to Monsieur de Loubo‘y to support my plan to operate on my own. In consequence of this order from Monsieur de Perier I was repeatedly promised an exp[ŅeditionÓ?]; I would be supplied with all I needed for my voyage and when all was ready I asked the commandant to give me his orders. He tells me to wait for a while, to which I replied that an expedition of such importance should not be delayed, because every day the savages were scalping our men as they descended the river, fully confident even as they knew nothing of our actions, and that if I did not leave, and no one else did, the upper colony ran the risk of suffering the same fate as at Natchez. I also maintained that he could anticipate the orders from Monsieur Perier who was sending a detachment from New Orleans for this purpose by dispatching the same number from among his own troops. He [Loubo‘y] always appeared to be coming around to my way of thinking, but was being harassed by so many people that he could not quite make up his mind and kept postponing the action that would have benefitted the service, because it caused him trivial difficulties.

            We rested in this state of inactivity from the 26th of December until the fourth of January of this year, when the Very Reverend Father Doutreleau, a Jesuit, arrived with a wound in his arm. He told us how as he was saying Mass on a sand bar near Yazoo, he had been attacked by a party of that nation who had killed one of his men, broke the thigh of another, and had injured him in the arm, all in a single volley of gunfire. This news seemed to suddenly arouse the valor of our officers, each of whom seemed to want to go out and seek the enemy, but at the [14] end of the day this strong will amounted to mere words, because rather than follow through by going there, they talked so well that nobody departed, and they prevented me from departing. I donÕt know what their plan was; my only conclusion is that they worried that I might earn a glory that they believed was reserved for the military. Our commandant made me a thousand little promises and told me that he was holding me in reserve for a still more propitious opportunity when I would be more useful. This did not prevent me from carrying my complaints to Monsieur Perier of the opposition that had been raised against my expedition. But they found a means of justifying their conduct by sending some men named Voussant and Beneris to Arkansas by way of Natchitoches. I strongly decried this manoeuvre; I said that it was a mere diversion, that these men would surely never arrive there [Arkansas], and that it was pointless to go through Natchitoches for two reasons: first because our enemies were hiding out there, and the Indians there had received presents from the Natchez; second because these Indians were the sworn enemies of long standing of the Arkansas, and in consequence they could not serve as guides for the French. And even if these two men were so fortunate as to arrive at the Arkansas, their voyage would not protect the lives of all those who were on the river between the Arkansas and Natchez. By going there by water instead they might save everyone they found along the way, and enhance the strength of their party with men who could be very useful and would serve [15] to reinforce the army. All these reasons amounted to nothing, and on the contrary,  hastened the departure of these two men. I asked the two messieurs why they opposed my expedition which was infinitely more useful for the protection both of the habitants and of the voyageurs. They said to me that in the present situation, the colony was within two fingers of collapse, and it was not worth risking any men for fear of exposing the lower colony, that must be seen as the root of the settlement of this province. Depleting it ran the rist of losing it, and in losing it we sould lose the entire colony; this was the judgment of Monsieur Perier. I replied to them that Monsieur Perier thought otherwise, as we will see in what follows.

            All these reasons seemed plausible and sensible to men who did not know the colony. They would seem perfectly just if they were not driven by a principle of self-interest. These are people who have all their possessions in that place, and their family speaks in this manner because they care very little for the preservation of the upper colony, so long as they preserve the lower. I told them that the upper colony must be preserved as well as the lower, to save the lives of all the voyageurs, and to destroy our enemies, and that all this could be realized only if each man desired the best for his compatriot [ŅConcourrir auce ardantÓ the transcription could be wrong here?]. This plan would ensure the security of the Illinois post and the lives of the voyageurs going upriver to Arkansas; that from there word could reach the commandant of Illinois of all that had happened; that this voyage would require a month at the most, and that we would return in time to join [16] the army at Natchez, assuming that we would not be ready to attack until that time. I also said to them that it was necessary to know what had happened at Arkansas, as we had heard no news from there, and to see if the habitants in that place had been destroyed. All these reasons amounted to nothing. It was contrary to the interest of the majority of those who were there, who had their wealth along the river, and who were not at all in the mood to risk their wealth and their family.

            The fifth of January we saw a large number of Tunicas descending the river. I asked them where they were going. They told me that they were going to the large prairies on the bluffs. I alerted M. de Loubo‘y; I told him that we must follow them so as to scrutinize their movements, and to see if they might not be going to meet up with the Choctaw, as we had every reason to suspect. This was my notion and I took it upon myself to immediately descend to Pointe Coupˇe, where we saw a large fire in the prairies two leagues back from the riverbank. I took with me three French and six negroes and travelled to that place where I quickly found the Tunicas dispersed here and there, and I asked them where they had come from and if they had come to hunt at a time when we were preparing to ascend to Natchez. They said to me that the French chiefs, for this is what they call the officers, were very eager to have bearÕs grease, and that they had come to get some to sell to them. I told them that it was not good to stray from oneÕs village because the [17] enemies might come and carry away their women, and they they would find greater profit and greater honor in killing men than bears. They responded to my logic and returned to their village with only a little bearÕs grease. I followed the greater part of them and arrived back home on the eighth, and I alerted our commandant of all that I had seen.

            The tenth the Sieur Mesplet returned from the Avoyelles, where he had his farm, and where he had gone to send along a letter to Monsieur de Saint Denis, commandant of the Red River. These Avoyelles, whom we suspected of being part of the conspiracy, appeared to be loyal to the French. They brought to us that day at Tunica the head of a Natchez. The Sieur Saint Amant and Daviaux also brought us, from that same place, two Natchitoches who were carrying goods they had taken from the Natchez post. Several letters, stained with blood, were found on them. Monsieur Loubo‘y immediately sent them to New Orleans, strongly bound.

            The eleventh the Sieur Mesplet proposed to go to the Red River in pursuit of the Tioux. Monsieur de Loubo‘y gave him the men that he asked for. This undertaking, although a bit late, was still admirable. The outcome convinced us that it was not Indians they were after, however, it was the horses at the Avoyelles that they wanted, for a week after they left they brought back thirty. I perceived then that the greater part of these officers trafficked in poultry, in bearÕs grease, and in corn, and that this was their entire livelihood, a pleasant means for acquiring glory. Nonetheless, Monsieur Perier explicitly [18] defended their actions.

            These Tioux I have just spoken of could have been destroyed, if they had not amused themselves with mustard [is this a French expression?]. If we had wanted, we could have gone to lay in wait for them at the entrance of the bayou [of St. Catherine Creek] in Natchez. I myself offered several times to go there, and if at the beginning the Sieur Merveilleux had wanted to go or to send others after them, he could have easily defeated them, even before they had massacred all the habitants at Ouachitas. But he had other projects in mind that were less dangerous, pillaging that he could count on to enrich himself.

            The Sieur Mesplet upon his return from the Avoyelles proposed going to Natchez to carry away some Indian women and take prisoners. Monsieur Loubo‘y was pleased with him and immediately assented to his proposal, and gave him seven select men. I could not prevent myself from telling him that he was not thinking of what he was doing, that it was sending seven men off to be butchered, that if we wanted to go against the enemy we could not do it with less than fifty men. We would risk nothing with that number but we would risk all with such a small detachment; that such a plan was an extravagance, a folly, and that the outcome would be nasty. I explained that these small expeditions would only weaken our troops, and would serve no purpose; that the two men sent off to Arkansas by land were two men as good as lost, and that if they survived they would endure great hardship and have the displeasure of coming back without having achieved anything, because that sort of undertaking was better suited to Indians. Such a situation called for a select group of French troops [19] traveling by water and prepared to do battle with the Indians, whereas the other type of detachment was very weak and was lost because it was a fool who commanded them, whose only form of bravery was vainglory and a vile presumption. All these words amounted to nothing. He [Mesplet?] departed on the nineteenth. Before his departure he came to consult with me and I told him that I could give no advice to a fool, a madman, and self-server, because if all he wanted was to capture one man, he could do it without risking his troops, but that out of his desire to capture something he would die alongside his men. He implored me to tell him what means to use to capture prisoners. I advised him that once he reached eight leagues above Tunica to travel only at night, to disembark below the large bluffs and to hide his boat there, then to go set up an ambush along the path to the Natchez village, along which they went out every day scouting. After assuring himself of a line of retreat in case he should be discovered and forced out, once this was done, he could kill one or two men, because they rarely sent more than that on their scouting parties. If he succeeded at that, he should not lose any time on the return trip, and that if on the other hand he took two men alive, he could leave one with his troops, after having set them up in a safe place, and then go with the other to the Indians, from whom he could obtain several French women in return. He should examine their forts, the manner in which they were built and how many Indians were in them, and how we might attack them. This was the advice that I gave him before he departed: a strong recommendation not to leave the banks of the river; not to [20] advance to far into the Natchez lands; and where he must set up his ambush. If he had such a foolishness that could only be motivated by a spirit of vainglory, he would surely fall into the hands of the enemy who would not grant him any mercy. He said to me that this was a good lesson but that it was impossible for him to follow it because his temperament was too hot and his sensibility was quite different from my own, that he wanted to go seize Indian women from within a musket-shot of their fort, and that in a week he would return with several captives. I could not help saying that if he did not change his way of thinking, he would suffer the cruelty of the barbarians, because I was certain he would fall into their hands. I advised him to put his affairs in order before he left. He laughed at all my words, and set off with great self-confidence.

            On the twentieth Ittˇ Mastabˇ, a man of the Choctaw nation, in whom Monsieur Perier placed great confidence, and who had been at Tunica since the initial rendez-vous there, formed a plan for the second time to go to Natchez and take several scalps. He had not achieved anything the first time, and had returned with great shame, which he imputed to the Tunicas whom he described as cowards. He left on this day and returned on the twenty-fourth with a scalp. I can scarcely describe the pride with which he entered and which he has maintained ever since his feat. He says that he is the first of his nation to kill a Natchez in this war, that this is the action of a true warrior, and earns him great status.

            The twenty-fifth the one named Legrandeur, a soldier of the detachment of the Sieur Mesplet, returned from Natchez. He told us that, arriving at Natchez in broad daylight, the Sieur Mesplet had gone straight [21] into their lands to capture prisoners, and had been surrounded by some three hundred Indians, who in the first volley of gunfire had killed four of his men and wounded the others, excepting himself, and that they had taken them all away as prisoners after tying them up tightly. As soon as they arrived in the village the barbarians had painted them all black as a mark of their slavery, and declared them to be soon burned. However, after having debated for a long time among them, they decided to send this young man Legrandeur to sue for peace, with assurances from Mesplet that it would be granted. They demanded at least one hundred thousand livres of merchandise in exchange. In the message that they sent to Monsieur de Loubo‘y, they said that it was not they who had declared war on the French, but the commandant who had mistreated them, and who had made them work as slaves without pay, and they added many other reasons tending to soften and assuage their crimes. They demanded that the Sieur Broutin come to conclude the peace, as well as the Chief of the Tunicas, stipulating that these two people come with only a small entourage, and unarmed. They untied our men, and told Mesplet to order some limbourg cloth to give to the surgeon who had bandaged the wounds. They washed the prisoners and left them unbound, though under a strong guard, and gave them food. They next day they sent to the riverbank, with an escort, this soldier [Legrandeur], who arrived here completely naked, and overcome by fear and misery.

            Monsieur de Loubo‘y was distressed at the loss of this detachment, which I had predicted, and assembled the officers to see what action he might take in this sad conjuncture. The Sieur Broutin offered to go to New Orleans to inform M. Perier of the wishes of the Indians, and also to ask for credit for trade goods, [22] since the Indians had demanded this. He left immediately and with an amazing determination. I donÕt know in what manner he will be received by M. Perier with his outrageous demands, coming downstream at a moment when we are on the brink of heading upstream; this is no way to attack the enemy, nor to acquire glory.

            Ever since the beginning of this war Monsieur de Loubo‘y has not failed to send out every day detachments to build a road two leagues away from the village, so as to stretch out the enemy and put his post in greater security.

            The twenty-sixth the officers decided to send back the little guy Lagrandeur with a letter for the Sieur Mesplet telling the Indians that we had written to New Orleans to find out the intentions of the Big Chief, and to take good care of Mesplet. I told these men that the barbarians were much more clever than they thought, that the proposals were outrageous, that they had no other goal than to burn the men whom they asked to come to make peace, that we were wrong to listen to any proposal that would be insulting to our nation, and that if they regretted the massacre that they had committed, it was their place to come to us with extraordinary apologies, to ask our forgiveness and surrender themselves to the discretion of the French. Otherwise we should not listen to them, and all those who felt differently were men without honor, without courage, and without reason. Several objected that it was not right to allow a man to perish who had sacrificed himself so courageously for his country, and that it was necessary to redeem him at whatever price. I told them that the sacrifice of a fool did not merit our attention at present, when even if he had made the grandest feats on record, he must be resolved to suffer the same [23] fate as those who had gone with him. At such time as we might, by negotiation or by force of arms, rescue our women, our children, and all that belonged to us, we would take care not to forget him, if he should be alive, and that we should always recognize his good faith, but I believed that at that hour he was reduced to ashes. However, what if he has been washed of his slavery? Everyone says that a French person or another who has fallen into the hands of our Indian enemies will surely be allowed to live if he has been washed. It is true that he preserves his life if he is redeemed by one of the old women who have no men—this is the prerogative of a woman, particularly if she has lost her husband in war—otherwise there is no hope of mercy. I have studied the conduct of that nation, I have seen that it is filled with treason and deceit, and if that nation asks the Sieur Broutin to come it is with the goal of adding him to the ranks of their victims; if that nation asks for the Chief of the Tunicas, it is to burn him for he is their sworn enemy; that nation sacrificed part of a village in order to get the head of that man. Thus all their demands tend only to add to their massacres, and to continue their cruelties, as was plain to see. We were under an obligation to stay on our guard, to be in a continual state of readiness. These were the words I delivered to those men, who finally did change their minds, for they did not send back that soldier [Legrandeur].

            The twenty-eighth the Sieur Irard, an officer, arrived at Tunica with ten Frenchmen and ten negroes. He had orders to ascend to Illinois to alert that post, and also any travelers he encountered along the way. The officers could now see that if they had allowed me to depart, they would have anticipated the intentions of Monsieur Perier who believed I was already [24] at Arkansas, because I had written to him that I was counting on going up there. He did not imagine that my voyage had been interrupted, that my detachment had been held up in spite of the orders he had given for great haste, and to not stop anywhere. The departure was delayed until February 2nd when a party of Choctaw arrived. The reason for this delay was apprehension that the Natchez would perceive the boat going upstream as a provocation, and anxiety about bringing on a bad end for Mesplet. I told them that we must act as if Mesplet was no more, that taking that attitude would mean never doing anything, and that the interest of the public must prevail over that of any one man. All these reasons were ignored.

            The party of Choctaw arrived with a letter from the Sieur Le Sueur who told Monsieur de Loubo‘y that as many as eight hundred Choctaws were coming, and that they had attacked the Natchez on the twenty-eighth of the previous month, and had killed sixty-three of them and carried off fifty of our women or children, and a hundred negroes along with twenty Indian women. This was a pretty small number given the size of their force, and something of a surprise, for if they had real courage, they could have surely destroyed all the Natchez and could have taken the two forts, which had nobody in them at the time they had attacked.

            This attack had spoiled all the plans set in place by Monsieur Perier. He had planned and had given orders that when the Choctaws were within a certain distance from Natchez, to alert our army at Tunica, half of which was to then travel overland to join the Choctaws, and the other half by water, with both to arrive at the same time. If this plan had been carried out, the [25] defeat of these barbarians was certain, because we would quickly take both forts, and as soon as the enemy came to try to enter them, we would kill them, or at least drive them away with our gunfire, and our Indians would chase them down in the forests if they tried to flee there. This is how we could have succeeded. In reality, our allies thought first of all of seizing the munitions, and they took there without securing the negroes who had taken the side of the Natchez and who fought in their defense. This inconvenience would not have come about if the French had been there.

            The ambition of the Sieur Le Sueur caused considerable harm to the colony, which could have been rid of its enemies if we had used better tactics--nobody doubts this. The Natchez donÕt doubt it; they were not expecting us to come by land, and they were all spread out at least ten arpents away from their forts, which we might have seized before they could perceive us. Then our women, our children, and our slaves would have been in our hands, and would not have been able to flee with our enemies as they did in apprehension of falling into the hands of the Choctaws whom they did not know and whom they feared more than the Natchez. This was the sad outcome of the ambition of an ignoramous who imagined that his very presence, alongside that of our allies, could destroy our enemies. Even if he had achieved that happy outcome, he would still be guilty of contravening the orders of the general. He said by way of explanation that to alert us of his actions he had sent two Indians who were unable to find the Tunica village, which is surely false, because all the Indians know [26] that place.

            This party of Choctaws [that arrived on Feb. 2nd] is composed of seven warriors, and has brought a habitant from Natchez named Mayeux whom the Natchez kept alive to help build houses and maintain their forts. They also saved a tailor named Dubos. These two men fled to the Choctaws during the attack. This Mayeux reported that as soon as the little Legrandeur departed the Natchez had taken Mesplet and his companion and burned them, and that when they had asked for Broutin and others to come talk peace it was to burn them too. I knew this all along, and I alerted the officers who did not want to believe it. Mayeux told us that they had sent back that soldier [Legrandeur] because he had not fired at them at the time they had attacked the party led by Mesplet, and had thrown his musket to the ground rather than defend himself. This had obliged them to grant him mercy as to a woman, and to send him back to us under pretext of peace in the hope that he might bring back with him the men whom they asked for. This seems quite plausible. This soldier did not give us an accurate account of the expedition of Mesplet, who had defended himself well and had killed or wounded five Indians according to their report and to what our men had seen. If Legrandeur says that he did not fire, that as soon as they saw they were surrounded, they gave themselves up, this is false, because if Mesplet had not put up any resistance, he would not have lost four men in a single volley.

            The Sieur Le Sueur asked urgently for powder and shot, which obliged M. de Loubo‘y to quickly send the Sieur Girard to bring some. The same day the Sieur Chambellan, an officer, arrived, and he told us that M. Baron [27] was following him close behind.

            Monsieur de Loubo‘y summoned all his garrison to the riverbank and caused the boats to be loaded with all the supplies for an expedition such as this. One has never seen an officer of his age more active, nor more vigilant. He was matched only by Monsieur Dartaguiette--for zeal and fortitude these two are unmatched. I for my part worked to get my boat ready, and prepare my men for departure.

            When all was ready M. de Loubo‘y ordered the embarkation on the 3rd of February of this detachment of fifty men under the orders of Monsieur Dartaguiette. I followed them with my men. When we were two days from Tunica, we found an Indian who had a letter from Monsieur de Loubo‘y who asked M. Dartaguiette to wait there and informed him that M. Baron was to arrive. We waited there until the sixth for the arrival of M. Baron, and M. Chambellan, and the rest of the army composed in all of ninety-six men from the troops and one hundred ten habitants or volunteers. The minor tribes followed, three hundred Indians in all.

            The next day we departed for Natchez, where we arrived on the ninth. We endured a lot of rain on our voyage, during which I noticed the lack of discipline among the officers, who made so much noise in their tents, carrying on in spite of the constant warnings of the commandant and the principal officers. This was a matter of the greatest consequence because it exposed us to being ambushed when we could least afford it—under the cover provided by this noise the enemy approached and perceived each of the officers who was ascending. We saw the enemyÕs pirogue some two leagues above the old post [28] after it had put into the river some two hours before to return to their village.

            When we were within sight of Natchez we hesitated to disembark at the old fort and we waited some time on the opposite bank of the river, from which M. de Loubo‘y sent word to the Choctaws. This precaution was useless and contrary to logic, for we had ascended with the purpose of going to the fort, and it was best to go straight there without waiting to alert anybody. Such hesitation was perceived by the Choctaw and made a very bad impression—they made clear to us their contempt, regarding our maneuvers as those of men who were timid and fearful. Their chiefs told us that they had come with their men to avenge the deaths of the French, and not to insult us. They said they were our friends; they gave us a thousand other marks of their friendship; they made a number of harangues at our commandant which were very lengthy and expressed their sufferings and their poverty. M. de Loubo‘y promised that he would take care of them, and that he would make sure they were rewarded by M. Perier who regarded them as his children. It would have been best had we gone straight to the fort without telling the Choctaw, because in alerting them we exposed ourselves to being attacked, if they had had malicious intent.

            We were to build in that place a small trench to give us some protection against any attack, after which we might go alert our allies and make talk with them, and see their troops, and only then go find a suitable place to camp, which was suitable for laying seige. This was the business of M. Broutin who was to become well-known in this land [29] and who was the chief engineer.

            That same day we left to go to the camp of the Choctaws, where we arrived a half-hour after sunset. We passed a very unpleasant night there because of the continual rainstorms. We went from one danger to another; one moment we hesitated to cross the river because we were afraid of a Choctaw, the next moment we lay down next to him.

            On the tenth we went to camp at one musket-shot from the Choctaw camp, at the Saint Catherines concession. This plantation was completely ruined and abandoned. There was no remnant of the settlement--the Indians killed men, women, children, several slaves and even all the livestock, and burned all the houses. It was not the only plantation that had suffered the cruelties of these barbarians; all the farms had suffered likewise, having all been burned, most of all those which had fallen into the hands of the men from the Pomme village, who had spared neither women nor children in spite of their tears and lamentations. (The Indians of other villages treated them with less inhumanity, and spared the women and the children who fell into their hands.) We saw only dead bodies on one side and the other, gnawed upon by dogs and other animals. In short this concession gave us the greatest possible horror, and should serve as inspiration for valor even among the most timid men, to avenge the death of all these poor victims.

            On the eleventh the Choctaws went to a rendez-vous that had been set up by the Natchez to talk about a peace. They could not settle anything because of numerous difficulties raised by one of the nations, however our allies brought back to us four women. It seemed that the Natchez had no other end in [30] view than to recruit the Choctaw over to their side so as to massacre us all. There were four Chickasaws with the Natchez who came to the site of the rendez-vous. They said to the Choctaws in the presence of M. Le Sueur that they had lost the desire to kill the Natchez, who were red men like themselves, and that it was better to all join together kill all the French, who wanted to reduce all the Indians to slavery. They gave them several other reasons, which our allies dismissed. They chose a time and a place to speak again the next day. They also promised to bring Madame Desnoyers, whom the Choctaws had asked for, in exchange for whom the Choctaws would be required to hand over two of their women.

            Given that all these meetings with the Natchez tended only to weaken and win over the Choctaws, who might finally turn Cassock, I proposed to seize all the Natchez chiefs who might come to the conference, by means of which we would be able to make an exchange and get all our women, children and slaves without firing a shot. This plan could be of the greatest importance for us in securing the Choctaws, for following such a deceitful blow they would be forever resented by the Natchez. I immediately proposed the idea to M. de Loubo‘y and the other officers, who spoke of it to the Choctaw chief, who strongly approved of the plan. He offered to go with the two Indian women who had been promised to the enemy, so as to erase any of their suspicions. He asked for fifteen Frenchmen to support him, and M. Dartaguiette offered to go. I volunteered to follow him. Our allies went to set up an [31] ambush on the right and left sides, not knowing that it was we who were running into the trap. We saw nothing except a large number of Choctaws who had assembled at a musket-shotÕs distance from the Natchez fort. I then saw that we had been betrayed. I asked them what they were shooting at, for we had come to take the fort from the Natchez and not to fire into the air. In spite of my reproofs, they set themselves behind trees and told us to go out in front, which we did upon orders from M. Dartaguiette, who wanted to make others see how were were as brave as they. At last we got within a pistol-shot of their fort, using a few trees as cover. In this position we were poorly situated, exposed to the fire of the Choctaws behind us and that of our enemies who were in front of us, and feared the latter less than the former. These two volleys were very violent, especially that of our allies who fired without restraint and blinded us with the smoke. This musketry served no purpose but to bring upon us that of the enemy who was closed up in his fort, for we could at best shoot at the pilings of the fort, and seeing the uselessness of that maneuver I said to the Choctaws that they should cease their fire, that they were using up powder in vain, powder which should be used against the enemy and not against the logs of the palisade. I also said to M. Dartaguiette that since the blow we had planned to strike was mislaid, it was best to retreat. He agreed with this but he could not assemble his troops who were dispersed to one side and the other, and he also felt he could only retreat alongside [32] the Choctaws. During this back and forth the enemies leveled such a strong volley that they killed a soldier next to me, and lightly wounded the Sieur Vilainville in the chest as well as the Sieur Izet, a cadet, as he stood next to Monsieur Dartaguiette. At last our allies fell back, we followed them and made our retreat in fairly good order.

            One can say in praise of M. Dartaguiette that he is brave and filled with courage. He has done the duty of a true officer. The Sieur Vilainville also distinguished himself there. He has been accused of cowardice because he came back without his clothes. He took them off not to remain anonymous when the enemy tried to fire at officers rather than at soldiers, as some have claimed, but rather because they did not fit him well and caused him discomfort in the excessive heat. And as he left them far behind, the Choctaws stole them in the midst of the confusion. There are some who say that he did not dare go look for his clothes because of enemy fire, but the people who say this who were not there at the scene.

            At the signal of a single gunshot, we went to join M. de Loubo‘y who had come with the rest of his troops, and was camped near the temple de valeurmaison de valeurÓ which refers not to the French army HQ but I think to the temple de valeur of the Natchez]. After having given him an account of our adventure we returned as a group to our camp, quite ashamed of having done nothing, of having missed our chance for victory. According to what we were told by several Choctaw chiefs, during our approach one of their men, upon recognizing a Natchez who had killed one of his relatives, could not prevent himself from firing at him, and that the enemy seeing him shooting at a time when they did not expect it, holed up in their fort, and responded in the same manner. This is the reason they gave to [33] M. de Loubo‘y, who took them at their word. For me, ever since that day I have been suspicious of the Choctaw, for I have seen how they were not acting as our true friends; the Natchez were tipped off to our plan and were able to strike out at us. The musket shot fired by that Choctaw was a signal to them to retreat into the fort, for it is impossible that that Choctaw recognized the Natchez who was six hundred paces away from him. I was an eyewitness of this exchange and I was quite surprised by it, which made me very apprehensive, as all our troops were, that when push came to shove the Choctaw might turn their guns on us. I said as much to M. de Loubo‘y.

             We stayed in camp from the eleventh until the morning of the fourteenth when we left to advance our army toward that of the enemy. The reason for our delay was our ammunition, but while we waited some officers took advantage of the opportunity to satisfy their avarice; they went to visit the Choctaw, for the purpose of trading with them, and they made very good revenues in silver. The poor miserable slaves, IÕm speaking about our women, should not they have inspired some compassion in the hearts of our men?--most of all in the hearts of the men who might have sought to distinguish themselves by setting aside some of their wealth and their possessions for the benefit of the captives? It was then that I observed for the second time that we had come more to make a market than to make war.

            All the French settlersÕ goods and belongings that were in the hands of the Choctaws had to be repurchased with merchandise from the Company before it could be distributed to the poor victims, to whom we later made generous provision. Given their plight, this was the intention of M. Perier who strongly [34] recommended that we keep in mind the interests of the women who had lost their husbands, their families, and their wealth. It believe that Mssrs. de Loubo‘y and Dartaguiette distinguished themselves with several generous gifts that they made from their own accounts.

            We camped that night some ten arpents from the enemy on a small rise facing the Natchez fort. Those barbarians sent to us one of our women with a letter from Madame Desnoyers, whose husband was the manager of the concession of M. Dasfeld, and adjutant major at the post. They sued for peace, and appeared to want to make peace. Our side was ready to send Madame Desnoyers, but I said to the officers that it would be a bad idea to do this, that since they had given her to us we should hold on to her, and that it would be better to keep them waiting for a response until we had set up our new camp in a position chosen as the best for laying a siege. They agreed with this opinion, told Madame Desnoyers, and sent a response with the interpreter du Parc, who passed it along to an Indian that he caused to come out in response to the signal of our flag. Because it was very rainy that day, he decided to go camp at the temple de valeur, which is that place where their idol is kept. I do not know who gave this advice, which seems as though it could come only from the Sieur Broutin, as it was not what the Messieurs Loubo‘y and Dartaguiette were thinking, for that fort is a veritable death trap, located on the banks of the small river [St. Catherines Creek], and surrounded by canes and brush, from which the enemy could ambush at any moment. We made a small trench there.

            The fifteenth we took control of a small mound of earth [35] connecting the prairie with the fort, and made a trench to protect our men from enemy fire. This same day M. Loubo‘y had two cannons set up and aimed at the temple de valeur, where it was in a position to attack at the same time both of the enemy forts. And before beginning the cannon fire, he decided to try to find a way to obtain our women, and to this end he sent the interpreter, who by presenting his flag caused the enemy to come out of its fort, flying also its own flag. Our interpreter advanced and when he was at a certain distance, he stopped to wait for the enemy to advance. The latter feigned an advance but did not come close at all; their only goal was to cause our man to approach near enough that they could kill him. He was accompanied by some twenty other men who all had their muskets with them, and when they were ready they fired but the twenty shots did not hit anyone. This sudden discharge was not expected and forced our interpreter to abandon his flag and flee the field. The soldier called the Parisien from the company of Dartaguiette went out to recapture the flag. He brought it back to the Commandant who to reward him gave him the halberd. What led the Natchez to shoot at the interpreter was because they saw that he was misleading them, and that our actions did not correspond to his words. When he went to speak with them, he was thinking only of getting money; he said whatever he wanted, and not what we had ordered him to say. The Indians, more savvy than he was, came to understand his deceit and wanted to take revenge by firing at him. There is no other reason that inspired them to insult us in this manner, to go to this extreme, for it is true that this interpreter never dealt with [36] the Natchez without coming away with spoons, forks, or cups made of silver. His greedy self-interest led to the loss of his life, and he deserved not simply to die at the hands of the Natchez but to be hanged by the head in front of the army.

            M. de Loubo‘y, irritated by the insolence of the enemy fired that day fifty rounds of cannon at the two forts, but this had no effect because of the distance, for it was at least two hundred toises away. The enemy came that night close to the mound where they severely wounded one of my men with a gun shot.

            On the sixteenth Monsieur de Loubo‘y, seeing great confusion in our army, too little order, and too little subordination in spite of all his efforts, asked me to take charge as commandant of the militia. He said that it was only just that they serve under my orders since I had recruited the majority of them. I did not hesitate at this offer, on the contrary I was delighted and hoped to find an opportunity to distinguish myself, all the more so since I saw only indolence among the soldiers serving under our officers. I appointed the Sieur Soileau as lieutenant, the Sieur Guihaut sub-lieutenant, and Ricard as ensign. We were assigned to guard the mound or butte, a dangerously exposed place, harassed day and night by the muskets of the enemy. I improved the trenches and built there an outdoor kitchen [huh?] to protect my men from the constant fire. I redoubled the number of nighttime sentinels and told them to return fire at the slightest noise. This precaution caused no grumbling even among the hot headed troops; I am surprised that the troops did not offer any protest when I was given the post to guard—it was on the front lines, it should have been their station and not for the militia. I did not try to remind them of their rights, nor their privileges, which they generally seemed so jealous of. We put two cannons on the butte.

            The night of the sixteenth to seventeenth I heard some noise in the bushes that were very close to my trench. I had prohibited my sentinels from crying out because the enemy fires at the sound of a voice, and thinking that it was the Natchez, I ordered the cannon, loaded with metal scrap, to be fired at that spot, and it killed several members of the party and forced the others to flee. By this means I protected my post.

            The seventeenth at daybreak I saw three women trying to save themselves, running from the fort toward our side, pursued by a dozen Indians. Thinking that these were our women I sent out a detachment of six men, who captured one of the three. The other two were still too close to the fort and were seized by the Natchez before my men could reach them. The one was a Houma woman who fled in fear of her life, anxious that if we attacked the enemy she would be caught in the ruin visited upon all the others. The Natchez would have retaken her along with the two others had I not sent the detachment out to pursue them. When they saw that they could not recapture her they fired more than twenty balls, none of which hit her. I passed her along to M. de Loubo‘y who interrogated her. She told us that the Natchez were still bad to the core, and were periodically killing some of our women, that many among them were ill, that their own women and children were crying a lot and reproaching their men for having killed the French, and [38] were ridiculing us as women, as chickens, and other similar epithets.

            On our side we were just sitting still, which enraged Messieurs de Loubo‘y, Dartaguiette, and Baron. The latter proposed mounting the siege, and all agreed that this was the only means of defeating the enemy. Orders were given to build gabions for the trenches and mantelets to protect the men working in the trenches from enemy fire. I was asked to provide men for this work, and I supplied them immediately.

            Every day we were constantly firing the cannons, but to no purpose, for the balls flew more than forty feet over the top of the fort. The cannoneer found it impossible to adjust the aim given the long range of the weapons. The enemy gathered up all the balls and sent them back at us with much greater effect, using a cannon that they had taken from one of the two concessions. So firing our cannon was a manoeuvre that I strongly discouraged, and that M. de Loubo‘y tried several times to stop, and it caused us considerable losses. It rendered the enemy even more proud and insolent, and attracted the contempt of our allies. The Natchez feared only the cannon, and so it could have given us all we desired, a peace settlement with all the terms that we wished for, if only we had not fired it. The typical Choctaw was impatient to see a breach in the wall of the fort, and when we began firing some foolish soldiers among our men told him that within two hours there would be a breach large enough for thirty men to march through. The Choctaw expressed such awe not because he was eager to [39] mount the assault but because he counted on our chasing the enemy out of his fort and leaving him free to pillage it; this was the only reason he stood by us and he became insolent when the cannon proved worthless.

            During the night of the seventeenth to eighteenth we enlarged the trench and by this time all the gabions had been built. It was the habitants who dug the trench, supported by thirty soldiers from the company of M. Dartaguiette who had as officers the Sieurs Coustilhas and Chambellan, both men of strong will and an incomparable ardor for the service. We could not find any sapper among the troops, except for a sergeant named Brinville, and if I had not furnished him laborers, the work would have remained stalled. It was M. Baron who led the workers; he filled the role of engineer with an inexpressible zeal and was just as useful to us as the Sieur Broutin. The enemy did not fire on us that night, and did not see our work until morning. The trench had been dug in the wrong place—across a field on a downward slope, leading toward the point we planned to attack first. My advice was to not dig it there, nor to attack that fort, because it was dominated by the other fort, situated on much higher ground. You understand that the enemy had two forts located on the banks of the small river that passed in between the two. The smaller is the stronger, as it is located on the high ground, and the larger in the prairie, facing the first. The are both well-placed in terms of security, and each flanked with four bastions. Yet it is the lower one that we attacked, contrary to all reason and rule of warfare. There was a [40] position well-suited for attacking the upper fort, but it was deemed inappropriate, chiefly by the Sieur Broutin, because he found it too dangerous. I asked what reason there might be to prevent an attack from that side, and he said that a canebrake there would shelter the enemy who might ambush us from it. I told him I found no cause to rule out that approach, for when camped two arpents away on high ground above the canebreak, we should have only the fire from the fort to worry about, and we could protect ourselves from that for a least a quarter hour by digging a small retrenchment. The enemy would not come to attack us from behind for fear of being surrounded by our Indians, who would approach behind us as we approached the enemy, and that the canebreak that he found so bothersome was on the contrary a significant asset because it would cover our approach, and it was impossible for the enemy to stage an ambush from that place, because it was only a narrow band of canes some fifty or sixty feet wide that could be cut down in less than two hours. All these reasons were to no effect, the Sieur Broutin was not convinced, he who promised to perform miracles and claimed to know the territory better than the Indians did. My opinion was so different from his and from those who thought like him. I said that if they wanted to attack the lower fort, it should be done not from the prairie, where we would have to endure fire from both forts and from two other locations which the enemy might use for an ambush, but it should instead be attacked from the other side [41] where we had been with M. Dartaguiette, and where we could approach within close range at little risk and without building any siege works. I explained that from there we would be exposed to fire only from one of the forts.  This was the opinion of the officers, but not of that engineer [Broutin] whose most notable quality was that sense of caution found in mediocre minds. Because nobody knew the territory as well as he who had lived there so long, M. de Loubo‘y was forced to defer to his opinion.

            On the nineteenth eight negroes went on their own initiative to find a good position to lay in wait for the enemy. They were under the orders of Simon, a mulatto. They set up an ambush at the edge of the canebrake near the upper fort, which was called the Farine fort. They quickly set to work on a small trench. The enemy was worried about their activity, and set to the task of driving them out, but the negroes vigorously repelled them, taking the lives of three of their men. One of the negroes came to alert M. de Loubo‘y and to ask for help, saying that their position was very good for attacking the enemy as they exited their fort, and would also be a good spot to set up cannons. M. de Loubo‘y quickly sent twenty men in a detachment along with the Sieur Broutin, who made as if to evaluate the position, from which he returned a moment later. He said that the spot was only good for allowing our troops to be skewered. This forced M. de Loubo‘y to send the Sieur Bessant, an officer, with another detachment to bring back the negroes. I was curious enough to go and examine the position myself and I found there that officer hiding in the canebrake, from where he had sent a soldier named Legrandeur [same guy as above? no way to know] to tell the negroes to return. Since it was necessary to pass through a small, narrow clearing, from which one could easily see the enemy, who had the [42] same advantage over us, and who were continually shooting, I walked very quickly to try to spoil their aim. The soldier named Villemin, who followed me, did not take this precaution and he received a gunshot low in his stomach. I examined the ŅassietteÓ of their fort, and the trench built by the negroes which was well made for ambushing the enemy, who were forced to watch us work steadily on the trench. It is from position that they attacked, and upon which they kept up a continual barrage, but one can see the essential value of this position in the prompt loss that the enemy suffered, which heightened the determination and the esteem of these negroes, and we had great difficulty in persuading them to return. One of them was lightly wounded. I said to M. de Loubo‘y that that position was of infinite value and that we must hold it so as to strike back at whenever the enemy should be so bold as to try any movement against us. But he did not share my feelings, and in fact he defended the opinions of the Sieur Broutin over all others.

            The Natchez, worried about our advance, and fearful of what might follow, resolved to make a sortie in hope of turning [43] us back or killing us. On the twenty-second of the month they chose a moment that the sun was behind them, hiding their movements from our perception. They succeeded inasmuch as they were very close to the trench before those guarding it could see them. It was the sentinel from my post who alerted the soldiers, who rather than put themselves in a defensive position ran away and abandoned their cover at the sight of the enemy, dropping their weapons so as to run more quickly. The seven habitants who were serving as sappers, after having fired their muskets and seeing no support from the troops fell back toward my post without warning me. The Natchez, after having seized the trench threw down the mantlets that had been set up to protect the men digging it, and installed themselves in the third horseshoe, a pistolÕs shot distant from my trench, from which they issued a furious volley, so violent that I was unable to see the place where they were. Since I did not know that our men had abandoned the trench, I could only fire to the right and the left so as to protect them and drive back the enemy. Then when I saw the Sieur de la Tour, who was in my post, and he said to me that the troops had passed over his body and that the enemies were in the trench, I told my men to cease their fire for a moment so as to better see the enemyÕs movements. I saw that there were at least two hundred of them to the right and left of my post, not more than fifty or sixty paces away, and that they were slowly approaching with their heads down. They were counting on the element of surprise due to the musket fire from their men in the trench, which had distracted me and drawn my fire toward them. Seeing their advance [44] and sensing their motives, I ordered my men to fire only at their feet in the prairie, and I ordered a cannon-shot of fragments into the trench, which had a marvelous effect. The enemy was forced to abandon the ground that they had won, and to desist in their plans for what might have been a second massacre. This manouevre quickly succeeded and all those who have knowledge of this exchange are fully persuaded that if I had not held my ground there the entire army would have been defeated. All the Indians waited in suspense to see which side would gain the upper hand, among them the Tunicas, who began to pursue the enemy when they saw them turning back.

            The temple de valeur where the officers were had also been attacked but the enemy had barely emerged from the canebrake and made little progress toward that position, which they could have taken, when they hesitated to see if they had been able to seize my post, which was essential because all the artillery was there. One can see from the conduct of the Indians here that they are men of courage and resolve and not women as some believe.

            There is no doubt that the Choctaw were waiting for our moment of weakness to attack us, and they had promised the Natchez to do so. Since I did not trust these barbarians, I had, since the beginning of the attack, ordered my post to be ready to do combat against any nation, and if the Choctaw had approached at that time I would have fired at them, as at the Natchez. I had given this order, and I was resolved to go to this extreme rather than to be vulnerable to any such betrayals, which posed a greater danger than a straightforward attack by the enemy.

            The Choctaw saw the constant readiness [45] that I maintained and were very afraid of my post. I did not allow them to enter during the night, and only briefly during the day, and when they came in, under the pretext of shooting at the Natchez, I advised my men to be on guard, and I expressly forbid them from firing, in case the Indians were waiting for that moment to turn and massacre us. Finally, seeing that they could not beat us that way, they directed the Natchez to make an attack, confident that when this put us on the defensive, they could seize that moment to overwhelm us. This was their goal. The Natchez that same night reproached them for their hesitation. It was unknown how many men the enemy had lost because they hid the bodies from the eyes of our women, but they had had at least forty men wounded, as we learned later after their retreat. We had not lost a single man, though I had had two men lightly wounded. Because I was on high ground, behind a low wall, and the enemy was very near, they could barely aim at the brims of our hats, which they did not hit. Another reason why they did not kill any of our men was that my negro had hung up several shirts to dry on some bushes and the enemy fired many times at these shirts, thinking that they were men preparing an ambush. They saw the white fabric and could not distinguish it from actual men due to the smoke of our muskets. Each of the shirts was hit by at least ten balls.

            When the fighting ceased on both sides, and the enemy was retreating into its fort, M. de Loubo‘y visited all the posts to see what state they were in. He found the Sieur de la Tour at mine and he asked him why he had come there. He replied that his men had abandoned him, and had passed right over [46] his body, and that he had come to this place to replace his musket which had been folded in two, and to wait until the battle had been decided in favor of one side or the other. M. Dartaguiette, who accompanied M. de Loubo‘y, upon hearing this story of a cowardice unworthy of his troops quickly took with him five or six volunteers and went to the same trench to take up the place of the Sieur Villainville who was in command that day. Villainville has been accused of cowardice and all the blame has fallen upon him and above all on his comrades, who in truth know not what happened nor how. He was near the sappers at the head of the trench, with thirty men. A sergeant known as Avignon was at the head of this advanced guard. The Sieur de la Tour, ensign, commanded the rear guard with ten men. The sentinel did not sound any alarm, and deserved death for that. When the first man began to flee, the sergeant, rather than rally his troops, took with him the entire detachment and ran, straight over the prone body of the Sieur de la Tour, who then had to follow all the others. The Sieur Villainville held out his bayonette and attempted to prevent his troops from retreating, and the sappers report that if he had not fallen down he would have killed one soldier. At last he remained alone in the trench. What could he do, having been completely abandoned before he even knew it? If anyone is truly guilty, aside from the sentinel, it is the sergeant, and also those who made up the rear guard. Has anyone ever seen an officer, holding his gun in his hands, allow his own men to run right over his body? It is he who [47] halt the flight and prevent their surrender. I donÕt pretend to condone the conduct of the Sieur de Villanville, far from it, his actions were culpable but arose more out of ignorance of duty than of cowardice, because when he saw that his men were abandoning him, he should have immediately told the commandant so as to obtain more men to retake his post, rather than remain idle. And after the affair was over he should have asked for a council of war to punish the guilty. This is what he should have done to put his own conduct beyond reproach.

            It is commonly observed that a manÕs misfortunes never come singly, for that same morning at about nine oÕclock the enemy had begun firing ceaselessly at that trench, from which our men responded fairly strongly, until that officer ordered them to cease out of anxiety that they might hit the sappers or draw the enemyÕs fire toward them. The enemy used this moment to adjust their aim, with the result that they killed one volunteer. Villainville has been blamed for this because he had prevented his men from firing, given that his troops were in the trench for the sole reason of protecting the sappers. The commandant was on the verge of relieving him of his command, which would have been a stroke of luck for him, because then the subsequent affair would not have happened to him. And so that was the story of that trench, which the enemy was able to seize without trouble, and which I myself was forced to reconquer by my continual musket-fire. I had at the outset no more than twenty men, the remainder being assigned to another detachment, and I was reinforced by some fifteen from among those who had fled the trench. The Sieurs Guerey, Guilhaut and Soileau distinguished themselves in this action.

            [48] This affair did not reflect any honor upon our nation.

            There were two cannons in the trench but neither one of them had been loaded, and even if they had been it would not have done any good, for the enemy had fired upon us, and could have continued to do so as long as he pleased. This was the only opportunity where we might have distinguished ourselves, for there was not a single man guarding the fort and if we had attacked then we could have penetrated it, if only there had been some sense of courage and of order in our army. That evening the Natchez spoke out to us; they told us that all the Indians had killed the French, that they were not the only ones who had taken part.

            The twenty-third they asked for peace. M. de Loubo‘y directed the reply that all our women must be returned to us, and our slaves, and they promised to do so. Nonetheless the Sieur Broutin continued to work upon our battery, which he finished preparing that night.

            The twenty-fourth M. de Loubo‘y, seeing that the enemies were not any closer to bringing us our women, and that our slaves were getting anxious, ordered that a cannon be fired, and the enemies responded with volleys from two hundred muskets that they fired all at once directly at the battery, and upon the seventh of these our cannoneer was wounded, as well as two of my men, and we could not find any soldier to serve as cannoneer. The officers were extremely embarrassed, and it was the ignorance of the engineer [Broutin] that was the cause. They did not know what to do to repair the [49] battery, due to the continual fire from the enemy. One spoke of setting up a madrier, another offered another measure that had no chance of success, as it was impossible to shore up the battery with wood due to the dangers. I proposed mattresses, which we brought and set up there, and which had a marvelous effect.

            As the officers imagined they could make a breach in the palisade in fewer than twenty shots from the cannon once M. de Loubo‘y ordered the assault, M. de Loubo‘y put himself at the head of thirty men from among the troops, with Messieurs Chambellan and Coustilhas as officers. I was supposed to follow at the head of ten volunteers. The detachments were assigned such small numbers because there was a much larger force ready to support us. The battery having been repaired by means of our mattresses we resumed the cannon fire, and the enemy responded with a strong will but without much success. As I foresaw that they had more men out of view, I recommended to the cannoneer that the fire onto the ground inside the fort, so as to cause more injuries when the ball bounced across the surface, and to further weaken them before a breach in the wall might open up a chance to attack the fort. However, after thirty cannon shots, we did not see a single breach. The cannonballs simply made a hole, or fell in front of the palisade. We did however kill three people.

            As we had only a little powder and even fewer balls, and the Choctaw were demanding ammunition from us, in a most insolent manner, M. de Loubo‘y called together his council, and resolved to lift the siege. Several men suggested that rather than taking this extreme decision he should continue to fire the cannon toward the fort from time to time [50] so as to distract the enemy, and then to attack the Farine fort at night with grenades, as it was not at all intimidated and kept its flag flying during our cannonade. He would have consented to this idea had it been confident of the bravery of his men, but he had been concerned about this since their previous failure, and he could not resolve himself to take on any such plan, for fear of losing the few brave men he had and being left with the more timorous, which would have placed the colony in danger, exposed to contempt and continual insults from all the Indian nations, most of all the one that was beginning to mock us due the poor success of our cannon. So he made a wise decision and at four in the afternoon raised our white flag. The enemies then put theirs up, and they promised to bring to us the next morning all our women, our children, and our slaves, on the condition that we took away our cannon.

            The twenty-fifth at eight oÕclock in the morning the one named Taotal came with many of the women and children and negroes, whom he returned to M. de Loubo‘y. He made several trips that morning from his village to our camp, during which he brought all our women and our slaves. He had a great deal of difficulty in delivering some of the negroes who were very much attached to his people, and who had fired at us. They served as cannoneers and were more stalwart than the Natchez.

            This Taotal is of the Natchez nation, and was formerly in the service of M. de Bienville, having fled into his arms for fear of his life, when the men of his village wanted to kill him because he was married to the female chief, who died about that time. It is a custom among them to strangle the husband and all the people [51] in her entourage to accompany the female chief into the other world, and as Taotal did not in the least wish to be a religious observer of this custom, he fled to refuge among the French and attached himself to M. de Bienville, who reconciled him with his nation. Every time that he came into our camp our interpreter was sure to ask him for silver, and the officers seeing this began to do likewise, especially the Sieur Broutin who obtained from him several silver spoons and forks. Such is the character of most of the officers in Louisiana.

             When we had all that belonged to us, I told the officers that it would be best to fortify the positions that we occupied, to lay up supplies, which were plentiful at the riverside, and to sit tight until M. Perier sent us help. I said that we would receive ammunition and that we had enough to sustain us until the arrival of the first convoy which would not be long, and if we abandoned this place the enemy would leave its fort and cross the river, and retreat to the Black River so as to be secure from the paths of the Choctaws. I said that we were strong enough with the smaller tribes to destroy them, and that I was fully persuaded that when M. Perier learned of our situation, he would not fail to send us a detachment of the militia from the lower colony, by means of which we could easily do away with these savages. The Choctaw were causing us too much embarrassment, and it was better to be free of them, to give them all the trade goods we had and send them back to their village. M. de Loubo‘y and Dartaguiette seemed to be in agreement with this idea, but they saw their troops and habitants were very tired and very discouraged, and could not be counted [52] upon. The officer had none of the ambition that was needed; he dreamed only of his wife or of his plantation that he extolled so highly; he appeared to detest the job that weighed to heavily upon him. The soldier expressed the same sentiments and said that if he died he would be lucky. In a word, it was difficult to find a good soldier when the officer was so worthless. This difficulty forced M. de Loubo‘y to make a retreat to the riverbank. All the officers were saying that the enemy would never abandon the village because they believed themselves invulnerable.  This was never my opinion, for the Natchez would be poisoned by staying in that place given the putrid cadavers that were piled up inside their forts, and in any case a no nation ever stays in the place where it has been defeated.

            This same day M. de Loubo‘y retreated to the banks of the water and I accompanied him with my men. I brought with me the greater part of the artillery. M. Dartaguiette, who followed me, was insulted by the great chief of the Choctaws, who wanted to take all the powder he had. He did not want it to give him without a specific order from M. de Loubo‘y, and this so irritated the chief that in a rage he threw his hat to the ground and stepped on it; he said that henceforth if we found French men dead we might have to conclude that it was Choctaws who did it and not Natchez, and with that he went off to his camp, as it was already quite late. M. Dartaguiette was forced to make camp right on the trail with his detachment. He was not, however, attacked, and the next day, the twenty-sixth, he arrived at the riverbank. That evening the chief came to see us, looking at us with disdain, and when we reproached him for his bad conduct and bad character, he said that had just as much right to be angry with the French, and that [53] words were just words, which passed like the wind. M. de Loubo‘y ordered that he be given two hundred livres worth of powder, which was half of what we had. This same day three rebellious negroes were captured and bound; they were recognized by our women as having fired upon us, and having tried to persuade the Natchez to burn them. One of the three, conscious of his guilt, threw himself into the river with a knife in his mouth, and as he reached the shore under the bluff in a place where we were not able to reach him, I shot and killed him.

            During the entire war we lost four soldiers and nine volunteers from among those I had brought. We had a dozen wounded, none of which worsened in the aftermath.

            M. de Loubo‘y had done all that a brave officer could do. In the situation as it transpired I approved of his retreat just as much as a glorious victory; he had forced the enemy to turn over our women, children and slaves, which is everything he could have done. M. Dartaguiette distinguished himself with ample proof of his valor, and the Sieurs Coustilhas, Chambellan, Ste. Ther¸se and Villainville all served well and with good will.

            The twenty-seventh everybody assembled at the riverbank. My men told me that they had to leave to go work on their farms, for during the three months that they had been absent they had had few or no slaves at work, and that if they did not descend promptly to clear their fields they would not have any harvest, which would cause them a considerable loss. I told them that it was imperative to built a small temporary fort to keep our troops safe from attack and that M. de Loubo‘y would ask nothing more from them beyond that, and [54] we could disperse immediately after. They set to work and in four days built a trench sufficient to shelter the troops from any attack. [ŅretranchementÓ seems to signify more than just a trench, but some kind of palisade as well] As for those who did not have farms, I engaged them to move upstream three or four leagues above Natchez, for I still believed that the enemy would cross the river.

            During all the time that we remained on the riverbank the Choctaw continued their insults; they stole with impunity, they taunted our men, and one of them broke the arm of one of our soldiers with a gunshot. They fired at the chief surgeon the Sieur Reytel, and they also fired at the corpses of our dead. In short they were looking for some pretext to attack us. As they finally left they burned the guardhouse (?) of the Dasfeld concession. M. de Loubo‘y finally got rid of them through the gift of much merchandise, as well as what they stole from us. The topic of their discontent arose from the big promises that the Sieur Sueur had made that they would find at Natchez all that they wished for. They were counting on this, on trading with our men who had become too familiar with them, and thus the object of contempt. Several negroes had been stolen, particularly from the Sieur Broutin, and although he had owned them before he should not have tried to take them back without payment, for the Indian was counting on this to buy merchandise, and when he saw his aim frustrated by the bad faith of the Frenchman, this angered him so much that it was the cause of the insults that the Choctaws made toward us. So whereas in the beginning they were quite zealous, or at least appeared to be ready to prove their mettle, one sees in the outcome how the FrenchmanÕs avarice is always the source of the troubles he experiences.

            [55] When the Choctaws had departed and the major construction had been finished, I left Natchez on the fourth of March with my men to go to Pointe Coupˇe where I arrived on the fifth. I found there a letter from M. Perier that I insert into this relation so as to grant it its full weight.


ŅI am very pleased, Monsieur, with how you distinguished yourself in your service during the siege of Natchez. I ask that you keep your militia in readiness to help our soldiers build the fort at RousseauÕs landing, when it is in a position to defend itself. I would also be pleased to have you speak to our men; we await your particular information, offered frankly and without prejudice, on the negro slaves which I know some individuals have surreptitiously taken, either by pretending they were Indians, or by corrupting them. This matter is important for the good of the service and for the public order, as it is neither just nor natural that some poor people who have few assets aside from their slaves lose them due through the conniving of other individuals. I would add this good deed to the others you have performed for the colony by your valor and good faith, and will make these deeds known to the Crown and to the Company. I hope that they will be recognized, as I have always carried in my heart a desire to reward good subjects, and I am pleased to count you among these subjects. Please be assured, Monsieur, that I am your humble and obedient servant, PerierÓ


One can see in this letter that none of the cares and worries that accompany the duties of our commandant, none of the difficulties that he finds himself in at this difficult time distract him from looking after the interests of the least fortunate, [56] of those who were lost in this massacre, so as to ensure that their property will pass to their heirs. He thinks only of the interests of the Company and its functionaries ahead of the individuals to whom he is connected. By his example he encourages zealous persons to continue serving by giving them the expectation of rewards, and he is always looking for ways to uncover malefactors and to punish them. Finally in spite of all his efforts, he had the grief of failure in the face of what seemed certain success, of which he had in surplus, just as with my own affairs. Yet he never stopped working for the security and prosperity of every one in the colony.

            As soon as the Natchez saw that we had left, they all moved to the riverbanks where they stayed for two weeks, so that they could build pirogues. During this time the chief of the Tunicas was able to capture or kill five women and three men. When their boats were ready they crossed the river and moved down into the bayous of the Taensas along the Red River.

            The one called Taotal fooled the officers to the end. He came to see them several times, saying that thirty Natchez had come to give oil [bearÕs grease] to the French, that he wanted to give a hundred pots of it to the commandant and thirty to each of the other officers. They put faith in the words of this operator who was more crafty than they thought. He said this only to distract them from the approach of his men. He brought a brass dish to the commandant on behalf of the female chief who had sent it to him as a present. He came several times, always with something to amuse them, and then he suddenly would disappear and go rejoin his troops. One can see how clever the Indians are; they know how to exploit the weakness of most Frenchmen, or at least they know enough to get what they want. The female chief for instance did [57] all she could to escape to our side, and all of our women owe her their lives; they would have all died without her.

            We would still not know about the escape of the Natchez if it were not for the one called Forbant who was out walking and saw a large number of vultures [ŅcarencrocsÓ], a bird that eats human flesh, flying above their fort, which made him think that the enemies had fled, and as he approached he did not see anyone. He entered and saw a great number of coffins as well as some booty, which he hid and then went to tell the commandant what he had found. The officer and the soldiers had never been so excited as they were on this occasion. They went to fill their boats with goods that they had purchased from the soldier. The Sieur Broutin went to the Dasfeld concession of which he had been manager and he forbade the soldiers from touching anything at pain of death, all so that he could get a better price. He hid a number of things that the soldiers were hoping to take away. This war brought little honor to the officers for whom the principal occupation, from start to finish, was to pillage and to profit. I except M. Dartaguiette, Chambellan, and M. de Loubo‘y; these three officers seemed to me to be disinterested, especially the first of the three who has the true character of an officer. During my time at Natchez the Sieurs Villainville, Ste. Thˇr¸se, La Tour, Yens, and Beslant seemed disinterested as well. This in brief is all that happened there from the beginning of the war to the end.

            Let us now look at the cause of all the misfortunes that followed upon the single desperate blow struck by the Natchez. There never was a single good commandant at that post; we have seen nothing but drunkards, tyrants, and misers there. The last two were subject to all of these vices. The Sieur Merveilleux distinguished himself by his avarice, and the tyranny that he inflicted [58] upon the Indians as well as toward the French. He was seen perpetrating a thousand actions unworthy of a man of honor, such as ordering his guard to arrest Indians carrying fresh game, seizing the best pieces for himself, and sending the hunters away with nothing. The last commandant imitated MerveilleuxÕs example and held Indians for ransom just like the French do. All the habitants who escaped the massacre reported that he forced them all to bring him as a present a half-dozen ŅsausagesÓ of tobacco, which no doubt brought him a fortune given the number of habitants who were established in that place. He promised them his protection and that they would get negroes from the Company, but these poor suckers found themselves deeply in debt to him for they did not hesitate to give him all he asked in hope of getting some slaves. He made the same promise to the Natchez; but they found they were working for the Company, and that he gave them only half of what they had produced, and when they complained he would extract the payment with blows of a stick. The Indian, born free, found himself abused and reduced to slavery, attached to us not by inclination but by fear. Since the end of the previous war everyone was full of praise for the Natchez—if a habitant needed two men, he could find them and hire them for very little; if he needed forty, he could just as easily find them and set them to whatever labor he had in mind. Never had a tribe been so affectionate toward the French, and they were so friendly in fact that the other tribes call them slaves.

            The sole cause of the massacre was that the Sieur Chepart wanted to make a plantation from the fields that belonged to the chief of the Pomme village, and told the Indians of that village to go somewhere else, that he needed those lands. This speech did not please them one bit, least of all that chief who is [59] a big rebel who never liked the French. He asked why Chepart wanted to drive him out of his home and the commandant did not give him any reason. He repeatedly ordered the chief to leave on pain of being placed in irons. He threatened to burn down his village, and other threats that so irritated him that he began looking for a way to avenge himself. The Sieur Chepart sent his negroes to seize the cabins of this chief and tear them down, and this forced him to bring the chiefs of all the other villages into the quarrel. They did not hesitate to do so because of the discontent that each of them felt, and at last they plotted together the downfall of our post. So as to allay any suspicions that the commandant had, they made him a present of a bunch of poultry and wheat. They resolved among themselves to be more friendly than ever toward the French so as to win their trust.

            This officer moved to consolidate the power he had over the tribe, which he imagined to be in fear, saying that he had made these harsh moves so as to make them soft and obedient, and to obtain what he wanted from them. The Indians were more subtle than he; they had other aims in view. Knowing his character, and his avarice, they hoped to smother him with kindness and by this means to arrive at their goal. They resolved among themselves to trade for all the merchandise offered by the habitants and especially their arms; they promised to do everything that was asked of them. In a word they played double agents, and found by this means the secret of disarming two thirds of the habitants, after which they chose the day to assassinate everyone, as they did on the 28th of November 1729 as we have seen at the beginning of this relation. This massacre could have been foreseen had this officer heeded the warnings that he was given. We now see that [60] this nation fell upon us only as a desperate measure and that it was not a massive conspiracy as many claim. Others believe that the English provoked the Indians to strike this blow, and I would like to believe this, however, if the Natchez had not been so upset with our behavior they would not have undertaken anything.

            I am surprised that all the habitants, having been warned, did not put themselves in a state of defense. They were all killed like women. Only the ones called Jappio and Brisebois fought to defend themselves, holding off fifty Natchez whom they repelled with the loss of three men. They escaped by the skin of their teeth and stole a pirogue from in front of a hundred and fifty of the savages, firing at them as they left. These were the only men who defended themselves. All those who escaped the massacre say that all the habitants would have been on their guard if not for the officers who the night before went to the Natchez village (Pomme village?) and proclaimed that they had found the Indians to be very peaceful and that there was nothing to fear, that if they had had any malicious designs, they would have been killed then and there. Clearly all these men had lost their senses. This catastrophe will serve as an example to the habitants to always be on guard in the future. The same refugees also say that if the commandant had wanted to he could have prevented this attack, thereÕs no doubt about it.

            Everyone was surprised by the final acts of the commandant who ever since he had come to the colony had always distinguished himself, and it was only on the basis of strong recommendations on his behalf that was he sent to be commandant at Natchez. He had descended three months prior to the massacre and the habitants were worried that he might not return; they sent [61] a request to M. Perier pleading with him strongly to not deprive them of their commandant whom they were very happy with. Clearly it must be that this officer had been corrupted by flatterers, who led him to believe that all his provocations were simply prerogatives that as commandant he had the right to impose, and, not being aware of the true situation, he followed the advice that was given him, a sad effect of flattery. I knew him for a long time and I always found him very wise. It was said that he was seized by a constant preoccupation and that he had become very drunk. This could be true, for he had always had a habit of relaxing when he was not under the eyes of his commanding officer.

            Let us look at how the Tioux attacked us. ItÕs well known that when one misfortune occurs another is always close behind, with the effect that sometimes it seems as if we are besieged on all sides, or at least so heavily blockaded by an army of calamities that every passage by which we might receive help is completely closed off. This is the state in which a few miserable refugees found themselves as they escaped, some on floating pieces of wood drifting down in the current of the river, and others traveling overland to the Tioux village in spite of the difficulty of the path. The former were happy to be well received by this small tribe who did not know of the massacre except by the report of our people. They initially appeared to sympathize with the plight of these victims and gave them food. However, after having reconsidered the situation they decided to go to Natchez and see what was happening, and the Natchez persuaded them to join the cause by giving them presents. They returned to their village, where they waited for a few days for those who might descend there, whom they then killed at the moment [62] they disembarked. Thinking that there were no more survivors coming down from Natchez, they went to Tunica to persuade them to kill the habitants who were in their village, as well as those at Pointe Coupˇe. They offered the Tunicas presents on behalf of the Natchez to join in their cause. For some time the Tunicas weighed the threats they faced, for the Natchez would destroy them if they did not attack us. Not knowing which side to take, and because the greater part of their men were away hunting, the elders and the most experienced decided to keep the Tioux waiting, so as to have the time to help save our people, and that when they were saved to declare themselves neutral until their warriors and the French arrived. This they did with great resolve. When our people had gone, they said that they did not want to dip their hands in the blood of the French. However, there were five of that nation who joined with the Tioux and who seeing that they could do nothing more there went to the Red River where they destroyed a concession belonging to the Marquise de Mezi¸res and assassinated eighteen people who had settled in that area, and from there they went to the Natchez to see their comrades and to enjoy the fruits of their cruelty and treachery, for all the savages who had killed our men joined hands with them.

            This shows that the Tioux were not complicit in the initial massacre, which they at first had no knowledge of, for if they had been part of the plot and if they had been incited to it by the English, they would have killed some thirty more people whom they instead helped to escape.

            [63] Some fourteen Yazoos who found themselves in Natchez on the day of the massacre, traveling home from the Houmas to whom they had brought a calumet, seemed at first to be very distraught at our suffering. The chief of the nation even helped to save one named Fonder by giving him food and a boat, and suggested that he tell M. Perier what he had done for him, and that he was going to go to up to his village where he would warn all the French to be on their guard, and that he was planning to avenge the attack. After all these marks of friendship, one would never have believed that those Indians [the Yazoos] had plotted anything against us. But the next day was quite a different story, and this good will was transformed into the greatest cruelty, for they burned the people who unluckily fell into their hands. These poor unfortunates who tried to extend their lives by trusting in the Indians whom they regarded as friends of ours instead shortened their lives for in the Yazoos they found their cruel executioners. It is said that the Yazoos had great difficulty in declaring themselves our enemies and that the Natchez forced them into it by giving them presents and also by threats, claiming that all the tribes had struck together and that all the French were dead. They showed them the large quantity of merchandise that they had won, and the number of slaves that they taken, and made them numerous presents, especially eau-de-vie and ammunition, which had a greater effect than their words. Finally greed overwhelmed the friendly affection that had been shown toward us. One should not be surprised that the savages are won over by greed, since we see every day how it also corrupts the most civilized people. [64] A few days later they fled to their village and used the same techniques as the Natchez to assassinate all our people; they presented the calumet to the Sieur Desroches, who commanded there. They killed him and all the French in the post at the same time.

            One can see by the conduct of that nation that it was not at all involved in the massacre that the Natchez had planned and that it was only the presents and the fear of being destroyed that compelled them to attack us, because the others convinced them that every other nation had done the same. Some have asserted that the Yazoos knew of the plans and that they went to carry the news to the Houmas, but those who talk this way are not paying attention or do not know what these Indians have done since the outbreak of the war. The Yazoos went to the Houmas to carry the calumet following their annual custom so as to get trade goods and to renew their longstanding friendship. If they had been in on the plot, they would never have been so foolish as to tell the Houmas, where numerous Frenchmen would quickly have learned of it. They might indeed have said to the Houmas that the French sell their trade goods at high prices and that the English offer better value, that is the sort of talk that I heard during the five years that I lived at Ouchita where the Houmas often visited. Another reason which proves that the Yazoos knew nothing of it and that they had no desire to attack us is that they left two of their men with a habitant in my neighborhood to hunt during the winter, where they would have no way to save themselves. Likewise among the Tioux [65] there was a Yazoo and a Koroa who helped to save a party of the refugees, which they would not have done had they been part of the conspiracy, for in that case they would have worked with others to kill the refugees. I am fully convinced that if that party of Yazoos had not happened to be at Natchez that day then the Yazoo post would not have been destroyed.

            After having massacred all their poor victims the Yazoos sent three of their men to carry some scalps to the Chickasaws, who for I know not what reason refused them. The Chickasaws have never really liked us, and I believe they did this because they saw that the Choctaws were on our side. They sent back the three Yazoos who were killed by the Chacchoumas who after having struck this blow joined with the Tapoux [?] and the Choctaws who came in a party of two hundred on orders of M. Perier to destroy the Yazoos. They all attacked together and killed twenty or twenty-five, men, women and children, and captured our women whom they enslaved, as well as much ammunition.

             La Pezˇe [Lapaisˇe?], the wife of a habitant at Yazoo, reports that some time after the savages had struck their blow, two of their Indians arrived with a letter. They said that the French were at Tunica, and were soon going to come up to destroy Natchez. This news made the Yazoo men very distraught; they believed all the French were dead, as the Natchez had assured them. They cast blame upon one another, their women and children were crying, and at last they left their village and went to hide out in a bayou, where our allies attacked them. Then they crossed over the river and went to the Red River to a place where they [66] had once had a village. The two Yazoos who carried this letter were the two Indians whom IÕve already referred to [presumably on pp7-9 but there is no mention of a letter there], whom the Sieur Merveilleux found at Point Coupˇe and sent back home with a letter to alert the commandant of the Yazoo post.

            If the massacre had been a widespread conspiracy the Chacchoumas would have been invited to join it, since they are friends of the Chickasaws. They attacked the Yazoos without any order to do so, out of pure affection for the French and to avenge their dead. They brought their scalps to M. Perier, and they say that the Yazoos are reduced to some forty men.

            The Offos, neighbors of the Yazoos, did not fall upon us. They were out hunting when the others struck the blow. If they had been in their village they would have tried to prevent the massacre, as they are Indians who are strongly attached to us; they rescued a French women from the hands of the enemies. They retreated downriver to a place near Grand Gouffre, where they stayed until they met some of our people who arrived by chance in a boat descending from the Illinois. They then came to the Tunicas, old friends of theirs, among whom they have made a village.

            Some have argued that the conspiracy was widespread and incited by the English and that the Choctaw were supposed to attack New Orleans at the same time as the Natchez, but that the latter attacked too early. Those who assert this know nothing of the colony, nor of the Indians, nor do they know what has happened since the beginning of this business. The Choctaws are the enemies of the Natchez and have been for a long time. If the Natchez had told the Choctaws, it would be [67] to trick them into making an attack that would doom them. But they did not tell them, and the Choctaws knew nothing, and only learned of the massacre from the French. The Natchez kept the plan very secret; they did not want to tell any other nation for fear of being betrayed. When the deed was done they told others that all the nations were supposed to attack at the same hour so as to persuade the others to declare themselves our enemies, that if they did not attack us as the Natchez themselves had done they would all be destroyed, and that they could no longer expect any help from the French. This is the reasoning that persuaded the Tioux and the Yazoos to declare themselves our enemies, and which would have engaged all the other Indians to do the same if not for the care and foresight of M. Perier who disrupted their plans by reassuring the Choctaw.

            Some two weeks after the massacre the Natchez sent some fifteen of their men to go to the Choctaws carrying a calumet so as to win them over to their side, but having gone halfway there, they reconsidered their mission and thought that the Choctaws might have been tipped off and might arrest them and take them to M. Perier. This caution led them to return home. Here is strong proof that the Choctaws were not part of the plot, for having been ordered by M. Perier to investigate the Natchez a party of fifteen Choctaws went there with a calumet so as to examine their forts and see by what means they might attack. A few of them spoke with some of our women, to whom they said that soon they would rescue them from the hands of those dogs, and a short time after they did attack, as we have [68] already described. They would have succeeded and the victory would have been certain if they had had with them another man, with better judgment. If these Indians have insulted us, it is we who have earned it by our bad conduct.

            There are people who say that if we have only engaged the petites nations on our side, we would have easily defeated the Natchez. Those who talk like this do not know the Indians, nor the colony, and know nothing of what has happened since the beginning of its settlement. It is true that we might have done anything that we wanted to do, and that these nations would not have been so insolent and would have stood by us and followed all our wishes, all that is well and good but the petites nations could not have given us courage and strong will, which was the only thing lacking to conquer the enemy. If we had had that we might have achieved our goal in spite of all the misfortunes that occurred, if only we had followed a different strategy and attacked on a different front.

            The same people who so exalt the courage of these petites nations should consider the prowess those nations demonstrated in the time of M. de Bienville, when he took them with him to make war upon the Natchez who had at that time killed several Frenchmen, and who had plotted among themselves to takeover the post. If those savages had been punished as they should have been they would never have undertaken anything against the French. The current misfortune of the colony comes only from the weakness of the former governor [69] for these Indians have said to one another that it is best to kill the French and steal from them, and after this we will make peace with them, as indeed we have done in the past.

            M. Perier took the right course in using the Choctaws in this war. If he had not done so the Choctaws would have been envious and jealous, they would have taken our reluctance as evidence of our hostility, they would have waited for the moment when we were at Natchez to fall upon us at New Orleans and all the neighboring settlements would have been easily defeated. M. Perier foreseeing in advance what could happen invited the Choctaws to attack our enemies, promising them rewards, and relied upon the small militia he collected so as to leave troops to secure the lower part of the river. He acted very wisely because if he had done otherwise he would have exposed the colony to rebellions of Indians who would have not missed the chance to attack in the hope of pillage. Of all the bad things we might have done [it would have been worse] to let the Indians come down the river. Fortunately, they saw my view of the colony. This could be our downfall in the future. The colony has been within two fingers of its end not only by the attack of the Indians but also by this panicked fear that has overtaken all the habitants along the river who have fled their farms. M. Perier, seeing the sad situation of this land has acted as if he had every tribe to fight and has quickly formed a militia and has caused forts to be built at every post, where he has established captains over each neighborhood to secure live and property of all the habitants. He has quickly armed them as best he could , and these forts have held the Indians in check, especially those along the Mississippi which were well built. In short, he has put everyone to work in our defense. We now have only the Yazoos and the Natchez for our enemies. M. Perier has pursued them ceaselessly; they cannot be completely destroyed except by the means of a strong reinforcement of troops; one cannot rely upon those already in the colony, of whom the greater part are lacking in will and honor. These Indians used all sorts of deceptions to massacre us at Natchez. They know their crime is so great that it will never be pardoned. They don't expect peace, and they seem not to want it, because they believe themselves unconquerable. They will carry their rage to the last extremity. It is absolutely necessary to destroy them to serve as an example to the other Indians, and if not we will be exposed to more accidents like this one.

            This relation shows that our colony survives, that it requires only courage and the care and wisdom of our commandant who has alone borne the burden for all.

            At the bluffs, the 1st of June, 1730