Skip to main content

Full text of "The Fox Indians during the French régime"

See other formats



« M O 

r .^sswi 

/■3 vfV 


***£, <c 

iV V. 

1+ % 

5u . •J'j 


.# ^ 


-^ *.,,- A' 

:♦•* %-.^y V"^V v™V 
■ * V;ifc o - /^^%\ ^isafe* *A 


%<£.. ^ 

.•* cP 

» * • • «A <N> '«» • » 

* * 

* v *< 



The Fox Indians during the French 

By Louise Phelps Kellogg, Ph. D. 

Editorial Assistant on the Society's Staff" 

- Xm 

I UUH '-, ... 

[From Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1907] 




Wisconsin Historical Society 

The Fox Indians During the 
French Regime 

By Louise Phelps Kellogg, Ph. D. 

In the keystone of the great arch of colonial empire that the 
French sought to rear in North America, with one end at Que- 
bec and the other at New Orleans, lay the territory now known 
as Wisconsin. Two of the chief routes connecting the upper 
waters of Canada with the Mississippi passed through this re- 
gion, and it was one of the earliest interior portions of the con- 
tinent to be explored. Fourteen years after English colonists 
first touched the coast of Massachusetts, the first French ex- 
plorer, Jean Nicolet, stood upon the shores of Green Bay. 

But in his first visit to Wisconsin, Nicolet encountered none 
of the Fox Indians. Not until twenty-five or more years had 
passed, did this brave and contumacious tribe make its appear- 
ance upon the river to which it gave a name and whose valley 
it has made historic. •**. • 

The origin of the Foxes is lost in* the obscurity of Indian 
legend and tradition. They called themselves Musquakkie 
(Mus-quak-kie-uck). 1 Because of their wily nature, their 
neighbors called them Outagami, a word translated by the 
French into Renards, which again the English rendered into 
Foxes. There seems to be some trace among them of a com- 

i Jedidiah Morse, Report to the Secretary of War on Indian Affairs 
(New Haven, 1822). Appendix, p. 122; Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, p. 127. 


Q. ol 

Fox Indian Wars 

posite origin. 2 Perrot, than whom none knew the Northern 
aborigines more thoroughly, reports that the Outagami were 
composed of two divisions, one named Red Earth, the other 
Renards, each with its own chieftain. 4 





Vlk.UltU'3 VltTany 

Seat of the Fox Wars in Wisconsin and Illinois 

The original habitat of the tribe is not certain. Of Algon- 
quian origin, closely allied in language and customs to the 

a/d., ii, p. 492; iii, p. 203. 

4 Bacqueville de la Potherie, Histoire de VAmerique Septentrionotle 
(Paris, 1703), ii, p. 174. Note also the meaning in Wis. Hist. Colls., 
iii, p. 127. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

Sauk, Mascoutin, and Kickapoo, 5 a dim tradition of an early 
home in the St. Lawrence valley, near Montreal, seems to 
have clung to their memories. 6 Thence they appear to have 
drifted westward with the general Algonquian movement 
along the northern shores of lakes Ontario and Erie. The 
early seventeenth century found them occupying lower Michi- 
gan, 7 in near proximity to the Sauk, who have left their name 
in Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. 

One interesting episode of their history which seems to have 
occurred while still in Michigan, is related by La Potherie.* 
The Winnebago tribe, then on the shores of Green Bay, were 
at war with the Outagami, "qui habitoient a Fautre bord du 
lac" (who dwell upon the other side of the lake). The former 
sent a body of five hundred warriors, who all perished in a 
tempest that arose while they were crossing the lake. The pre- 
sumption is, that so great a disaster as this, must have occurred 
on Lake Michigan itself. Moreover, Father Claude Allouez,* 
referring to this war, says that it occurred "about thirty years 
ago," which would place it between 1636 and 1639, at a time 
when it is apparently demonstrated that no Foxes lived in 
Wisconsin. 10 

The first definite knowledge we have that the Outagami were 
in Wisconsin is from the information of Father Gabriel Druil 
lettes, who on his visit to Mackinac in 1656 met Pierre Esprit 
Radisson, with his confrere Grosseilliers. From Radisson 
the missionary learned that the Outitchkouk were among the 
tribes gathered at Green Bay, and that they were of a very gen- 

is Morse, Report, App., p. 122. 

« Ibid., p. 138. 

ilbid., p. 123; Wis. Hist. Colls., iii, p. 137; Draper MSS. 28J34. 

» La Potherie, Hist., ii, p. 72. 

• Thwaites, Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents (Cleveland, 
1896-1902), li, p. 77. 

ioC. W. Butterfield, History of the Discovery of the Northivest by 
John Nicolet (Cincinnati, 1881), p. 64. 


Fox Indian Wars 

tie disposition. 11 Father Allouez, who met them on Lake Su- 
perior in 1065, gives a more unfavorable account of their tem- 
perament, saying they are "less docile than the Potawatoini." 12 
It was during this decade (1655-65) that the tribe was just 
finding its way into Wisconsin, and searching for a new site 
upon which to fix their village home. Driven with the other 
Algonquian people before the fleeing Huron, who on their part 
were pursued by the fierce blast of Iroquois wrath, the Foxes 
with rheir kin, the Sauk, Mascoutin, and Kickapoo, abandoned 
their Michigan habitat, and sought refuge upon the lakes and 
waterways of Wisconsin. It seems probable, since they did 
not at this period use lake-going canoes, that they came around 
the southern end of Lake Michigan, pushing back the Illinois 
confederacy, that lrad previously ranged from the Ohio to Lake 
Superior. 13 Once upon Wisconsin soil they found the Win* 
nebago who had already battled with them, but who now al- 
lowed them to settle and marry among them. 14 Farther east 
were the Potawatomi, whose language they could understand, 
who had come from Mackinac via the islands of Green Bay. 
To the west the Mascoutin, Kickapoo, and Miami, had built a 
great town upon a prairie near the upper Fox. 15 

nJes. Rel., xliv, p. 247. Radisson makes no mention of this tribe 
in his journal, but gives it in his general enumeration; G. D. Scull, 
Radisson's Voyages (Boston, 1885), p. 246. 

™Jes. Rel, li, p. 43. 

13 Gen. William Clark, for many years superintendent of Western 
Indian affairs, related that he believed the Foxes and Sauk dispo&r 
sessed the Illinois of the country west of Lake Michigan, and that 
some desperate battles were fought a little below Chicago on the 
shore of the lake. See Draper MSS., 28J34. 

With regard to the use of canoes by the Foxes, it is repeatedly 
stated by the early teachers and missionaries that they did not know 
their use — Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 56, 70, 257, 374; N. Y. Colon. 
Docs., ix, p. 160. Later, however, they appear to have learned to em- 
ploy them from their Winnebago and Potawatomi neighbors; see Wis. 
Hist. HJolls., xvi, p. 311; xvii, p. 33. 

**Jes. Rel., li, p. 77. 

if* For this site see Wisconsin Historical Society Proceedings, liv, 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

Some time during the winter of 1665-66, 16 the Foxes, seek- 
ing safety from the murderous Iroquois, and a fertile land to 
sow their corn, built for themselves a village on the waters of 
Wolf River, somewhere probably in the present county of Wau- 
paca, Wisconsin. 17 Here they were first visited in the summer of 
1666 by that astute trader and explorer, Nicolas Perrot. Weil 
would it have been for the French empire in America had all 
their traders and negotiants exercised the diplomacy of Per- 
rot in dealing with the haughty Foxes. Years afterwards he 
reminded them that he was "their father since he had been the 
first Frenchman to open the door of their cabin." 18 The 
Foxes complained in 1701, at the great council at Montreal, 
that now they have no more spirit since Perrot has left them. 

Perrot, responding to the invitation of their chiefs to visit 
them, gives a somewhat disagreeable picture of this great vil- 
lage, which comprised six hundred cabins. 19 "They found a 

pp. 167-182. Butterfield (op. cit., note 10, ante) assumed that this 
village existed here at the time of Nicolet's visit. I find no proof 
thereof, but think these people doubtless came with the great migra- 
tion of 1650-65. 

is This date is fixed by Perrot, who first came to Wisconsin in the 
spring of 1666 (Jes. Rel., lv, p. 320), and says that the Outagami vil- 
lage was a new establishment built the preceding winter; Wis. Hist. 
Colls., xvi, p. 39. 

17 Allouez gives the name of this village as Ouestatimong (Jes. Rel., 
liv, p. 12). Its exact location has not been determined; see Wis. Hist. 
Colls., xvi. p. 39, note. 

is La Potherie, Hist., ii, p. 173. 

is This would be a very large population for an Indian town, but 
no larger than that reported for the kindred Mascoutin village, which 
is represented as having at one time 20,000 souls. Allowing ten per- 
sons to a cabin, a low estimate, the total population would have 
reached 6,000. Allouez mentions six cabins as having contained one 
hundred women and children while the men were away hunting, an 
average of about eighteen to a cabin. On this estimate, the Wolf 
River village would have a population of about 10,000. Allouez says 
the tribe is renowned for being populous, and has more than 400 war- 
riors. He says later there were but 200 cabins; but with five, six, or 
ten families to each, the population would approach that indicated by 

[146 1 

Fox Indian Wars 

large village, but destitute of everything. These people had 
only five or six hatchets, which had no edge, and they used 
these, by turns, for cutting their wood; they had hardly one 
knife or one bodkin to a cabin, and cut their meat with the 
stones which they used for arrows." These are, then, aborig- 
inal tribesmen, relying upon their own resources of stone 
knives and flint instruments, unaccustomed to the goods of the 
French trader, and using only the arts of primitive life. Their 
destitution, however, was probably only relative. Allouez 
mentions the excellence of the soil, and the advanced state of 
agriculture among them. Their cabins were well-made, and 
covered with thick bark, and they knew the art of fortifying 
their village. 

Perrot's visit was their first contact with the white man. 
They had heard of these marvelous visitors who brought iron 
knives and hatchets, guns to slay enemies, kettles to cook food, 
and beautiful glass beads for the adornment of their persons. 
They had even secured a few of their products through the 
Potawatomi, who had been down to Montreal, and brought 
back materials for trade. Xow one of these wonderful 
strangers had appeared in their midst. They followed his 
footsteps at every turn, importuning him for gifts "for those 
Savages imagined that whatever their visitors possessed ought 
to be given to them gratis; everything aroused their desires, 
and yet they had few Beavers to sell." The practical Perrot 
left some Sauk to do his trading for him, and returned to 
Green Bay. 

Other French traders with whom the Outagami came early 
in contact impressed them less favorably than Perrot. When 
a hundred and twenty of the tribe visited Chequamegon dur- 
ing the winter of 1666-67, Allouez reported that they and the 
Sauk would kill a Frenchman if they found him alone, be- 
cause they disliked beards. 20 

Perrot. It is doubtful, however, whether their numbers ever ex- 
ceeded 5,000 all told. 
20 Jes. Rel., li, p. 44. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

When the good Jesuit father first came to Green Bay, it 
was at the urgent request of the Potawatomi, "to curb some 
young Frenchmen, who being- among them for the purpose of 
trading, were threatening and maltreating them." 21 Allouez 
found similar conditions in the Fox village. Instead of the 
exalted idea they had first received of the Frenchman as a 
god — a manitou sent by the Great Spirit, the shocking conduct 
of two French traders had given them a low opinion of the 
whole nation, an idea the Jesuit labored hard to remove. 62 
When Allouez prepared to return to them the following an 
tunm, he learned that some of the Foxes had that summer 
made the then momentous voyage to Montreal, and that there 
they had been maltreated by French soldiers, and were so bent 
upon revenge that not a trader dared venture into their vicin- 
ity. Even Allouez, in going among them, took his life in his 
hand.- 1 

The specimens of humanity found on the frontier of white 
advance into barbarian territory are either the best or the 
worst of their race. With the exception of Perrot, the Foxes 
had found the French traders unjust, deceitful, arrogant, and 
brutal. Nor did the devoted services of the "black-gown" 
missionaries make much impression on these men of the for- 

The devoted Allouez spent three days in their village (April 
24-27, 1B70), and there founded the mission of St. Marc. 
Had the French traders who had been among them behaved 
better, "I would have had less trouble," he succinctly remarks. 
In his autumn visit of the same year he received a very frigid 
welcome for causes before noted. 24 In February of the fol- 
lowing year, the faithful missionary again sought his Fox 
neophytes. Going overland, in the depths of a Wisconsin 
winter, he Avas frost-bitten, and suffered much physical hard- 

21 Id., liv, p. 197. 
^ Ibid., p. 255. 
as id., lv, p. 185. 
z* Hid., p. 219. 


Fox Indian Wars 

ship. All this he counted as nothing compared to his bitter- 
ness of spirit when he was received with mockery and ribald 
jests, by these souls for whose salvation he yearned. Gradu- 
ally their spirit, touched by his patience and fidelity, softened. 

In 1672 he erected a cross in the village, and a party of 
young warriors going against the Sioux inscribed the sacred 
symbol on their shields, and returned victorious. 25 But the 
following year, this new species of exorcism had proved a fail- 
ure. The Sioux had killed or taken prisoners thirty Fox sol- 
diers of the cross, and the good father found them "badly dis- 
posed towards Christianity." 26 Nor did the mission of St. 
Marc ever become flourishing; for eight years (1670-78) the 
black-robed apostles made them frequent visits but never more 
than an occasional baptism of an ailing infant or a dying old 
man rewarded their efforts. Upon the mass of the tribe Chris- 
tianity made no impression. They remained wedded to their 
primitive vices and their ancient superstitions, and were "self- 
Avilled beyond anything that can be imagined." 27 

The first years' residence of the Foxes in Wisconsin were 
thus the momentous ones of their first contact with the 
French, when the seeds of distrust Avere sown, which were to 
blossom later into a harvest of hatred and war. It is not con- 
tended that the treatment of the Foxes was worse than that 
accorded by the French to the other Algonquian tribes around 
Green Bay ; but the former were a stronger race, of a more 
consistent self-regard, less easily subdued by a show of force, 
self-reliant, and revengeful, cherishing their vengeance long, 
and venting it when the moment seemed opportune. This ap- 
pears from the earliest reports, wherein they are noted as "less 
docile than the Potawatomi," and "a proud and arrogant peo- 
ple," held in low estimation by their neighbors 28 — no doubt be- 

26 id., lvi, p. 143. 

26 Id., lviii, p. 47. 

27 Ibid., p. 49. 

28 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 153. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

cause of their superior qualities — and as displaying "more 
steadfast courage than did the other allies." 29 

Their remote situation, also, hidden behind the lakes and 
swamps beyond the Fox-Wisconsin trade route, distant from 
Green Bay and removed from constant intercourse with 
traders, preserved their native spirit and promoted their inde- 
pendence. In their village on Wolf River they lived as had 
their forefathers, devoting their energies to war and hunting, 
with flourishing families growing up around them, their in- 
dustrious women cultivating the fields of corn and squash, 
dressing their skins, weaving their mats, and satisfied with 
native manufactures. One kind of implement, however, they 
learned to use and never failed to secure from the traders — 
the implements of war. Hunting still with bows and arrows, 
they reserved their new and deadly weapons for raids upon 
Sioux, Chippewa, or Iroquois, and every Fox warrior pos- 
sessed his gun and a well-stocked powder-horn. Thus strong 
in primitive virtues, and secure in their independence, the 
Foxes dwelt remote until the changing conditions in the Up- 
per Country drew them from their fastnesses and gave them a. 
prominent part in the drama of Western history. 

The era of pristine discovery was over, Xicolet and Radis- 
son, Marquette and Jolliet, La Salle and Hennepin, Duluth 
and Perrot, had threaded the streams that unite the Great 
Lakes with the Mississippi, and explored the latter to the Gulf. 
The age of exploitation had begun. To the remoter tribes the 
coureurs des bois had penetrated. It remained to organize the 
trade, to colonize the strategic points, to secure the savages' al- 
legiance. That master-merchant, Robert Cavelier de la Salle, 
supported by favor at Versailles and Quebec, secured a monop- 
oly of the Illinois country, built his fort on the river of that 
name, planned an establishment at the mouth of the Wiscon- 
sin, and sought a new adjustment of tribal geography. 
The Illinois were clustered around his central fortification, the 

29 Ibid., p. 70. 

[ 150 ] 

Fox Indian Wars 

Miami were tempted southward, and settled in two great divi- 
sions, one on the St. Josephs River, Michigan, and one in 
northeastern Illinois, near a place called Marameg. 30 With 
them, went the allied tribes of the Mascoutin and Kickapoo, the 
latter giving its name to Rock River, on whose upper branches 
it settled. On their part, the Foxes, abandoning their village 
site upon the upper Wolf, removed to the river which now 
bears their name. 

This river had until then without exception been called 
"Riviere des Puants," from the Winnebago tribe inhabiting 
its banks, and from the name of the bay into which it dis- 
charges. The earliest mention of the river by its new name, 
is on Hennepin's map in his edition of La Louisiana, where he 
uses the term "R. et L. Outagamis." Perrot, in his minutes 
of taking possession of the country of the upper Mississippi 
(1689), annexes the "Baye des Puants, the lake and rivers of 
the Outagamis and Maskoutins." 31 Lahontan, who journeyed 
by the Fox- Wisconsin waterway in 1G88, speaks of two vil- 
lages of the Outagami on the upper Fox. 32 La Salle, who 
calls the river Kakaling, locates the Fox village near Lake 
Petit Butte des Morts, where it is likewise found on Fran- 
quelin's map of 1684. 33 Allouez's last mention of the mission 

so This place has usually been identified with the Marameg River 
in Michigan. Franquelin's map of 1684 places it upon the upper Fox 
River of Illinois. Perrot was stationed there in 1692, and later a Fox 
village was built in this neighborhood, and left its name to the river; 
see Wis. Hist. Colls., xvii, pp. 129, 173; J. F. Steward, Lost Maramech 
and Earliest Chicago (Chicago, 1903). On Franquelin's map the Miami 
are scattered through the northern Illinois region. He places one vil- 
lage of 1300 population upon a branch of the Kankakee; the Pianke- 
shaw, Ouiatanon, and other Miami tribes are located on branches of the 
Illinois. Later (1692) the tribe seems to have been collected at Mara- 
meg, Chicago, and St. Joseph — this before the migration towards 

si Wis. Hist. Colls., xi, p. 35. 

32 Thwaites, Lahontan: s Voyages (New York, 1903), i, p. 175. 

S3 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 106. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

of St. Marc, on Wolf River, is in 1678. La Salle's letter 
locating the Fox village, is dated 1682, therefore their migra- 
tion must have occurred between these two dates, probably 
about 1680. 

The Foxes were thus brought prominently into the arena of 
action during a troubled period for the colony of New 
France. For twenty years the war with the Iroquois raged. 
In the West, confusion reigned. The attempt of La Salle to 
concentrate the tribes at his Illinois establishment had been 
but partially successful, and during his ill-fated Louisiana 
expedition and after his death, Tonty commanded at Fort St. 
Louis. He built a secondary establishment at Chicago, and 
shipped peltry through Lake Michigan and Mackinac. 34 Du- 
luth founded (1686) a post on the Detroit River, which was 
abandoned two years later by the profligate Baron Lahon- 
tan. 85 

At Green Bay matters were in great disorder. The Indians 
were mutinous and insolent ; even the docile Potawatomi, thor- 
oughly wedded to French interest, in which they saw their 
own as middlemen for intertribal trade, required to be hum- 
bled. 36 The Menominee murdered some of the Jesuits' serv- 
ants, 37 and pillage and rapine spread abroad. 

The one man capable of coping with these fierce spirits waa 
Daniel Graysolon Duluth. In Lake Superior he even ven- 
tured to put to death a powerful Chippewa chief for the mur- 
der of some Frenchmen. 38 To Green Bay he sent his ablest 
lieutenant, in the person of Nicolas Perrot. In 1682 a Sau- 
teur-Outagami war had broken out, in the course of which 
captives had been taken, among whom w r as the daughter of a 
powerful Ottawa chief at Mackinac. The affair threatened to 
embroil all the Wisconsin tribes ; vain attempts had been mad© 

si Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, xxxiii, p. 75. 

35 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 125; Lahontan's Voyages, i, p. 163. 

36 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 110, 111. 

37 ibid., pp. 99-102. 

38 Ibid., pp. 114-125. 


Fox Indian Wars 

to secure this captive maiden. The Foxes, haughty in their 
success, refused to listen to any envoys, and threatened with 
death all who approached their village. Duluth persuaded 
Perrot to put his head within this lion's jaws. With a 
bravado which charmed the savage spirit, Perrot suddenly ap- 
peared in their midst, and baring his chest exclaimed: "Listen, 
Outagamis, to what I am going to say. I have learned that you 
are very anxious to eat the flesh of the French; I have come 
with these young men whom you see, in order to satisfy you. 
Put us into your kettles, and satiate yourselves with the flesh 
you have wanted." Then with a dramatic gesture of his sword, 
he continued, "My flesh is white and savory, but it is quite 
salt; if you eat it, I do not think that you can swallow it with- 
out vomiting." Having by much diplomacy secured the Ottawa 
maiden, lie hastened to Green Bay, where the chiefs were aston- 
ished at his success. His empire over their spirits increased, 
he secured satisfaction for the murdered Jesuit servants, and 
reached Mackinac in time to arrest an Ottawa war-party just 
setting forth. 39 

Perrot was next commissioned (1684) to take a reinforce- 
ment of Western tribes to La Barre's aid in the latter' s foray 
into Iroquois territory. A few Outagami accompanied this 
war-party, whose failure alienated the Western tribesmen. 40 

In consequence of this abortive expedition, the Outagami, 
when enlisted for Denonville's enterprise three years later, 
were easily turned back by a party of Loup (Mahican) In- 
dians, whom they met on their way to Detroit. 41 Returning to 
Green Bay, during Perrot's absence on this expedition, their 
mischievous tendencies soon appeared. At the point of the 
sword they forced the Jesuits' blacksmith to sharpen their 

39 La Potherie relates this episode twice — Hist, ii, pp. 148-157, 
167-177. The former account is translated in Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 
99-103. I have combined the two narratives, each having its dramatic 
features, and setting forth the astuteness of Perrot. 

40 Lahontan's Voyages, i, p. 73. 

*' La Potherie, Hist., ii, pp. 193-199. 

[ 153 1 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

knives and axes, 1 - which they proceeded to employ in a raid 
upon the Chippewa. At this time the church and mission 
house were burned, and the inference is that the fire, by which 
Perrot lost a large amount of peltry, was of incendiary origin. 
Upon his return Perrot once more subdued the Renards to his 
will, but secured no satisfaction for his vanished furs. Indeed, 
he but narrowly escaped personal violence at the hands of the 
Poxes. 43 

During all the years of Frontenac's second administration 
(1689-98), the Renards were in secret or open rebellion. 
After the Laehine massacre (1689), in common with the other 
Western tribesmen, 44 they openly sent envoys to the Iroquois ; ts 
afterwards the Poxes planned to migrate with the Mascoutin 
and Kickapoo to the Wabash, and there ally themselves with 
this great confederacy. 46 Thwarted in that scheme by the exer- 
tions of Louis de la Porte, Sieur de Louvigny, whom Fronte- 
nac sent to command at Mackinac, 47 they once more turned 
their arms against the Sioux. 48 

The Pox-Wisconsin waterway now became unsafe for French 
traders, 49 and in 1693 Pierre Charles le Sueur was sent to 
keep open the route to the Mississippi via Lake Superior and 
the rivers Bois Brule and St. Croix. 50 Perrot by his personal as- 

^Ibid., p. 209; Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 143. 

*3 This episode, like that of the rescue of the prisoner, is twice re- 
lated by La Potherie — Hist., ii, pp. 211-214, 244-256. The latter is 
translated in Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 143-151. 

"Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 134; Jes. Rel, Ixiv, pp. 23-39. 

"5 Wis Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 141. 

«« La Potherie, Hist., ii, p. 314. 

<7 Wis. Hist. Colls., v, pp. 108-110. 

♦s Ibid., p. 303; Mich. Pion. it- Hist. Colls., xxxiii, p. 90. 

4» Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 149. 

so Ibid., p. 173. In a memorial regarding Le Sueur, written in 1702, 
he is stated to have carried on trade in the West "for the last 14 
years, at first under pretence of stopping the war between the Foxes 
and other nations — a mission repeated several times that has had no 
other result than to bring him many beavers." — Canadian Archives, 
1905, i, p. 524. 


Fox Indian Wars 

cendency maintained a hold upon the haughty Foxes, who res- 
cued him from the resentment of the Miami, 51 and sent in 1007 
chiefs with him to visit the great Onontio. Frontenac, unable 
to punish their insolence, threatened them with a punitive ex- 
pedition if they did not keep the peace. 52 

The following- year the great governor diet!, but in one respect 
his works lived after him. He had finally cowed the fierce 
Iroquois, and in 1700 they sought the new governor, Louis 
Hector de Callieres, in the interests of peace. After prolonged 
negotiations they promised to restore the prisoners taken from 
the Indian allies of the French, provided that on their part the 
allies would return the Iroquois held as slaves. Messengers 
were sent to all the far nations, who came in 1701 to Montreal 
bringing their Iroquois prisoners. The Outagami chief had 
protested, however, that he had no prisoners to return."" Park- 
man, following the account of La Potherie, who was an eye- 
witness of this great council, has given us a graphic picture of 
its setting, and several incidents. 54 It was an Outagami who 
created much merriment by the dignified way in which he ad- 
vanced, crowned with an old French peruke, which he treated 
as a hat. His speech, however, was eloquent and significant. 
Parkman omits his final words, "I now regard the Iroquois as 
my brother; but I am yet at war with the Sioux." To this 
declaration is annexed the pithy comment, "They did not wish 
to touch upon this last remark," which was allowed to pass un- 

Was it strange that the Outagami conceived themselves 
authorized by the authority of the governor himself, to plunder 
traders carving munitions of war to the tribesmen whose en- 
mity they had so openly proclaimed? 

si Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 166; Tailhan, Perrot's Memoire (Leipzig 
and Paris, 1864), p. 331; Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, pp. 173, 

zzWis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 172. 

?>8 N. Y. Colon. Docs., ix, p. 724. 

54 Francis Parkman, Frontenac and New France (Boston, 1877), pp. 
447-431; La Potherie, Hist., ii, pp. 240-266. 
11 [ 155 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

For the moment all seemed auspicious in the Canadian 
colony. The tree of peace, in the figurative language of the 
eloquent tribesmen, had been planted on a mountain high 
enough for all the world to see. The Upper Country was paci- 
fied, all sat quiel upon their mats, and smoked the calumet. 
But it was an unstable equilibrium, based upon the alliance of 
tribes scattered over two thousand miles of wilderness, resembl- 
ing a "vast menagerie of wild animals, where the lynx bristled 
at the wolf, and the panther grinned fury at the bear, in spite 
of all efforts to form them into a happy family under paternal 
rule." 55 

Frontenac, the great war-governor, being dead, a new parly 
had come into control of Xew France. In contrast to the ex- 
pansionist policy of Frontenac and his able lieutenants. La 
Salle, Tonty, Duluth, Perrot, and La Mothe-Cadillac, this may 
in modern parlance be called the "anti-imperialistic" party. 
Their policy was to leave the tribesmen to themselves, to ignore 
their quarrels, to withdraw the officers from the posts, and to 
force the fur-trade into its former channels, when fleets 
of savages came each year to Montreal to traffic for their peltry. 
Yielding to their solicitations, the court at Versailles gave 
•orders in conformity thereto, and from all the Upper Country 
traders were summoned, conges revoked, and officers ordered 
home. Mackinac, St. Joseph, and Marameg were abandoned, 
and all forces of control, save the Jesuit priests, withdrawn. 56 

The Illinois post was exempted from this order. The found- 
ing <>f Louisiana opened a new route into the upper Mississippi 
region and partially nullified the prohibition to carry goods. 
Eighty-four coureurs des hois, refusing to return to Canada, 
escaped to the Mississippi country, and there laid the founda- 
tion of the Illinois settlement. 57 Juchereau de St. Denis was 
permitted to begin ;i posl at the mouth of the Ohio, and Pierre 
Charles le Sueur ascended the Mississippi a- far as the St. 

55 Parkman, Fronienac. p. 403. 

56 Tailhan, Perrot's Memoire. p. 332. 

57 N. Y. Colon. Docs., ix. p. 721. 


Fox Indian Wars 

Peter's, and built a fort within the present limits of Minne- 
sota. 58 

Left to themselves the Foxes carried on the Sioux war with 
vigor, and closed the Fox-Wisconsin waterway to all travellers. 
In 1699 Father St. Cosine found it necessary to go to the Il- 
linois via the Chicago portage, because "the Foxes who are on 
this little river that you ascend on leaving the Bay to reach the 
Weskonsin will not suffer any person to pass for fear they will 
go to places at war with them, and hence have already 
plundered several Frenchmen who wished to go by that road." *' 

In 1702 a Montreal merchant who had been allowed to go 
and reinforce Le Sueur at Fort FHuillier was plundered by 
the Foxes of goods to the value of 25,000 to 30,000 livres. 
Juchereau de St. Denis bribed the brigands of Fox River with 
a thousand crowns' worth of goods to let his canoes proceed."' 
.Not long after this a force of Foxes and Mascoutin appeared in 
the Sioux country, killed three members of the garrison of the 
fort, and compelled the rest to evacuate the place. 61 No won- 
der that Cadillac complained of the fruits of the policy of non 
interference, that Frenchmen were '"exposed to the humiliations 
and insults which they have so often endured without being 
able to help it, such as being plundered and cruelly beaten, 
which has disgraced the name of France among these tribes." 62 

Urging these considerations, and the danger that the Upper 
Country, left to itself, would place its fur-trade in the hands of 
the Iroquois and English, an order was obtained (1699) 
from the French court to found a colony at Detroit under the 
fostering care of Antoine la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac. 

Of Gascon birth, La Mothe came to New France about 1683, 
and after some years' service as hydrographer, received a large 

ss Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 177-200. 

sa John Gilmary Shea, Early Voyages on the Mississippi (Albany, 
1861)1 p. 49. 
go Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, p. 175. 
6i Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 200. 
QZMich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, p. 144. 

[ 157 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

grant of land on the coast of Maine, including the island of 
Mount Desert. In 1687 he was married at Quebec, and his 
home was burned at Port Royal during the English invasion of 
1600. At first a lieutenant, then a captain, in the colonial 
troops, he succeeded Louvigny as commandant at Michilimack- 
inac, and during his command (1694-97) made a study of the 
Western situation. His plan, like those of La Salle and Perrot, 
included the removal of the Indian tribes to the neighborhood 
of the post, and their instruction in the French language and 
in some measure of civilization. His invitations to settle near 
Detroit were first accepted by the Huron and Ottawa, whom 
he had known while commandant at Mackinac. A considerable 
village of Lonps (Mahican), who had long been allies of the 
Iroquois, settled north of the fort, but removed after the trouble 
of 1700. 63 The Miami had before the founding of Detroit 
concentrated at St. Joseph by the express command of Fron- 
tenac. The Jesuit missionaries at this station opposed their 
removal to Detroit, but in 1707 they were induced to place their 
villages on the river Maumee. 61 In 1703 a village of Chippewa 
and Mississagua settled near Fort Pontchartrain. The Pota- 
watomi, always arch-traders and submissive to French influ- 
ence, took the Mi amis' place at St. Joseph, and sometime be- 
tween 1706 and 1712 formed a village at Detroit. 65 In 1701 
there were two thousand Indians at this site; bnt after the 
troubles of 1706, when, during Cadillac's absence, his inef- 
ficient lieutenant Bourgmont was drawn into a quarrel between 
Miami and Ottawa, and lost two soldiers and a missionary, 
there were bnt twelve hundred. 66 

The Foxes, frequently solicited by La Mothe's agents to re- 
move their village within range of the protection of his fort, for 
a long time refused. Nearly all their neighbors had, however. 

«s Ibid., pp. 138, 163, 270. 
«*Ibid., p. 338. 
«:>IM(l., pp. 385, 552. 
«« JhUh. pp. 205, 340. 

158 ] 

Fox Indian Wars 

left their vicinity, traders came but rarely among them, 67 and 
their isolation became distasteful to a large party of the tribe. 
Even the Jesuits had abandoned the Green Bav region, follow- 
ing their Sauk and Potawatomi neophytes to St. Josephs 
River. 68 

Finally, in 1710, moved by some impulse not at this distance 
of time fully clear to us, a large party of Outagami decided for 
migration, and gathered their effects for the long overland 
journey. Lodge poles and provisions were packed on the 
backs of their faithful squaws, and with numerous troops of 
children and dogs the long journey began. Somewhere on the 
march a band of Maseoutin was encountered, who joined forces 
with them, and proceeded onward, a disorderly but peaceful 
rabble of more than a thousand souls. 69 

Cadillac, however, was no longer at his village on the strait. 
Summoned to the governorship of Louisiana, his place at De- 
troit had been taken by Charles Regnault, Sieur Dubuisson, 
who did not sympathize with Cadillac's policy of concentra- 
tion, and was annoyed by this large, uncouth, plundering body 
of strange Indians, that had made its way to his vicinity. 

In 1711 the new governor, Marquis de Yaudreuil, sent for 
a number of Fox chiefs to visit him at Montreal. 70 The officer 
who was deputed with the summons found the Renards already 
embroiled with their neighbors at Detroit, 71 and rescued from 
their hands a condemned prisoner. 72 The governor upbraided 

«" Ibid., pp. 449, 459. An illegal trader named Boisseau did a thriv- 
ing business at Green Bay in 1707. 

«s Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, pp. 501, 532. 

wibid.. pp. 500, 505; Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 293. It was claimed that 
the Foxes were on their way to the Iroquois; but if such were their 
purpose they would have avoided Detroit, rather than have foraged 
in its vicinity for two years. 

"o Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, pp. 497-500. 

« Ibid., pp. 504, 505. 

« Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 273. 

[ 159 1 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

the visiting chiefs, 73 and advised them to return to their form- 
er village in Wisconsin. 74 

Well would it have been for the Foxes had they heeded the 
warning of the great Onontio ; well would it have been for the 
fortunes of New France, had Vaudreuil succeeded in reversing 
the policy of Cadillac, and persuaded this unruly tribe to re- 
tire once more to their Wisconsin fastnesses. It required 
more than human wisdom to keep the ''happy family 1 ' clus- 
tered around Detroit from flying at each other's throats. 73 

The instigator of the difficulty of 1712 was the great Ottawa 
war-chief, Saguina. 76 During the winter of 1711-12, he 
planned an attack upon a Mascoutin village wintering upon 
the St. Joseph River, and killed or captured fifty of this tribe. 
The news flew to Detroit, and set the great Fox village there 
on fire. Three Ottawa squaws were immediately secured, one 
the wife of Sagnina himself. 

The French commandant, in mistaken zeal, made common 
cause with one party against the other. The Outagami had 
made themselves obnoxious by their haughty bearing. 77 Du- 
buisson, therefore, received the Ottawa and Huron into his 
fort, and by exciting speeches urged them against the common 
enemy. The allied tribes, thus stimulated, attacked the 
stockade in which the Foxes had entrenched themselves. The 
siege abounded with thrilling incidents, bold harangues, 
hurtling defiances, and despairing attempts at peace. We 

?3 Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, p. 505. 

"* Ibid., p. 506. 

is Ibid., p. 440. 

'« The evidence presented, founded largely on documents published 
since the writing of his book, is sufficient to overthrow S. S. Hebberd's 
argument in his History of Wisconsin under French Dominion (Madi- 
son, 1890), pp. 81-84. that the French lured the Foxes to Detroit in 
order to destroy them. They came, certainly, on the invitation of 
French officers, but they were warned to go back, and had long been 
obnoxious to a large portion of the Western tribesmen. See N. Y. 
Colon. Docs., ix, 863, on Saguina's participation. 

« Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, p. 505. 

[160 1 

Fox Indian Wars 

possess several contemporary narratives: the official report of 
Dubuisson ; 7S that of Vaudreuil to the minister in France; 7 ' 
an account attributed to the celebrated engineer, Chaussegros 
de Lery; 80 and letters of Father Marest, missionary at Mack- 
inac. 81 

Had we only the report of some Outagami chronicler, what 
marvels of obstinate defense, of mighty despair, of heroic 
deaths, might we not record ! Even in the chronicles of their 
enemies, the Foxes appear as heroic figures. Listen to the 
speech of their great chief when the French and their allies 
first fired upon the Fox fort: "What does this mean, my 
Father? Thou didst invite us to come to dwell near thee; 
thy word is even now fresh in our pouches. And yet thou 
deelarest war against us. What cause have we given for it? 
My Father, thou seeine<t no longer to retnember that there are 
no nations among those whom thou callest thy children who 
have not yet wet their hands with the blood of Frenchmen. 
I am the only one whom thou canst not reproach; and yet 
thou art joining our enemies to eat us. But know that the 
Kenard is immortal; and that if in defending myself I shed 
the blood of Frenchmen, my Father cannot reproach me." 8 

" This was first published in pamphlet form at Detroit in 1845 and 
was incorporated by William R. Smith in his History of Wisconsin 
(Madison, 1854), iii, pp. 315-336, and republished in Wis. Hist. Colls., 
xvi, pp. 267-287. C. M. Burton of Detroit had a copy made from the 
original in the Paris archives, and translated for Mich. Pion. and 
Hist. Colls., xxxiii, pp. 537-552. Charlevoix's account in his History 
of Neiv France (Shea trans., N. Y., 1872), v, pp. 257-262, is taken 
almost verbatim from this report; and Parkman's chapter in A Half 
Century of Conflict (Boston, 1892), i, pp. 267-287, is largely founded 
on this document. Dubuisson wrote well, with an eye to dramatic ef- 

•9 Three different letters making allusions to this, Sept. 15, Oct. 12. 
and Nov. 6, published respectively in Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., 
xxxiii, pp. 259-567, 569-571, and N. Y. Colon. Docs., ix, pp. 862-865. 

so Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 293-295. 

si Ibid., pp. 288-292; Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, pp. 553-559. 

82 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 293. 

\ 161 1 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

With enemies four times their own number, from tribes as 
far distant as the Osage and Missouri, aided by the French 
garrison with their cannon, the Renards maintained an obstin- 
ate defense of their fortress for nineteen days, and then were 
driven out only by the lack of water and the infection of the 
dead. Their own relatives the Sauk deserted to the enemy, 
and brought news of their straits. Yet with all this the be- 
siegers were on the point of abandoning the siege, and the 
French in alarm wished to slip away to Mackinac. Dubuisson 
spent four sleepless days and nights, reanimating the spirit of 
his dusky warriors, and with hundreds of these savage foes 
upon the watch, the wily Foxes escaped in a body from their 
fort "on an obscure night with rain." Expecting immediate 
pursuit, a few miles above Detroit they prepared an ambus- 
cade, 83 into which twenty of their enemies fell. Here they 
again resisted four days, while the French brought up their 
cannon, and a hundred canoes bore provisions to the French 
allies. At last came an end of this superb resistance. They 
"surrendered at discretion to our people, who gave them no 
quarter. AH were killed except the women and children 
whose lives were spared, and one hundred men, who had been 
tied, but escaped." 

Thus laconically Dubuisson relates the result. The allies' 
"amusement was to shoot four or five of them every day. The 
Hurons did not spare a single one of theirs." Such were the 
amenities of savage warfare, to which the civilized subjects 
of Louis XIV gave their aid. A grand mass was chanted in 
thanks to God, and the commandant piously adds, "It is God 
who has suffered these two audacious nations to perish." 

But great as was their loss, the Foxes and Mascoutin were 
far from having perished. In the woods of Wisconsin still 
dwelt the major portion of their tribes, and the enmity now 
•flamed into active hatred, and a blind fury of revenge. The 

83 At the mouth of a small creek now called the Fox, two miles above 
Detroit— C. M. Burton. 


Fox Indian Wars 

French had scattered a thousand tire-brands through all the 
western uplands. The Foxes with their allies were every- 
where. Every solitary Frenchman took his life in his hands 
when he stepped into his canoe to thread the forest water- 
ways in search of native customers. The Huron at Detroit 
were murdered if they stepped beyond the palisades of their 
fort. According to the governor's report of 1714, all the 
savage nations were ''dying of hunger in their cabins, not dar- 
ing to leave them to go hunting on account of their well 
grounded fear that the Reynards will destroy them all, one 
after the other. The merchants will have a gloomy confirma- 
tion of this, this year, on seeing how little peltry has come 
down to Michilimackinac." 84 

Roused by this danger to the prosperity of the colony, the 
governor in 1714 sent Marchand de Lignery to incite the 
neighboring savages against the enemy. 85 The Foxes had 
already made alliance with the Sioux, 86 and sent an embassy 
to the Iroquois, who "never appeared so haughty as they are 
at present." 87 An expedition to rendezvous in two divisions 
was planned for 1715. The southern, under charge of 
Lieutenant de Maunior, son of Claude de Ramezay, and 
Ensign d'Adoncourt of the house of Longueuil, was to gather 
at Chicago and proceed by the last of August to Green Bay, 
there to meet the forces from the north. Meanwhile Rene 
Boucher, Sieur de la Perriere, was to go by Lake Superior to 
detach the Sioux from the Fox alliance. 

The affair ended in a fiasco. Measles among the southern 
tribes prevented their assembling, the garrison for Mackinac 
was retained en route, and the only punishment the Foxes 
met was an attack late in Xovember upon a hunting party." 

84 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 301. 

zslbid., pp. 295-297; Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, p. 571. 
s « Canadian Archives, 1904, p. 40. 
87 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 321. 

ssfbid., pp. 341, 342; Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, p. 577. 
Pachot, a step-son of Sieur de la Forest, and Bisaillon, a noted coureur 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

The following year a better planned and better equipped 
expedition proceeded into the Fox country, led this time by 
La Porte de Louvigny. Since Frontenac's time this was the 
first French army that had entered Indian territory, and the 
first warlike expedition that had ever penetrated to the far 
West. Taking the route via the lower lakes, in order to over- 
awe the Iroquois, with two hundred and twenty-five Frenchmen, 
induced to join tli3 expedition by promise of free trade in 
the I pper Country, considerable reinforcements were received 
at Detroit and Mackinac, and the little army, now numbering 
eight hundred, toiled up the rapids of Fox River, eager for 
anticipated victory. ( lontrary to all rules of Indian warfare,the 
Outagami stood their ground, working fiercely to strengthen 
their defenses, and preparing to "sell their lives as dearly 
as possible." Their fort was surrounded by a palisade made 
of triple stakes, inside of which was a ditch or moat from 
which the defenders tired upon the invaders. Louvigny's two 
small cannon and a grenade-mortar made but little impression 
upon this stoui barricade/ 1 ' Not daring to push his men too 
near the cross fire of the desperate savages, Louvigny opened 
trenches during three nights of the siege, and had approached 
within a few yards of the fort when a parley was requested; 
a messenger with a white flag came forth, making overtures of 
surrender. 80 This offer was indignantly spurned, and all the 
allies believed that the Fox nation was "on the brink of utter 
destruction. " ni A re-inforcement of three hundred was. how- 

des bois, were the only Frenchmen among this party, largely recruited 
in the Illinois, where d'Adoncourt and Maunoir were both detained by 
illness. These two young officers met an untimely fate the following 
year, falling victims to a marauding band of Southern Indians; see 
A*. Y. Colon. Docs., ix, p. 875, and Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, 
p. .58 7. 

<•» See description of a similar fortification at Mackinac in Wis. Hist. 
Coils., xvi. ]). 352. 

90 We have but few details of this siege, but see a similar incident 
in the Detroit attack. Wis. Hist. Colls., p. 276. 

"i Charlevoix, History, v, p. 306. 


Fox Indian Wars 

ever, on its way, and the Outagami had resolved to make a 
great sortie on the following night, 92 when Lonvigny unex- 
pectedly agreed to a second parley, and consented to terms 
for peace. The conditions submitted were not severe, and the 
astonished Indian allies, balked of their prey, sullenly with- 
drew. Six hostages were brought away to assure the fulfill- 
ment of the terms of peace, and Lonvigny, returning in tri- 
umph, announced the subjugation of the Renards. 

Reading between the lines, one recognizes that this was a 
vast trading expedition, disguised under a show of war in 
order to deceive the court in France. Louvigny's contem- 
poraries were not deceived; Perrot derided the results se- 
cured, 93 and Charlevoix exposed the pretended peace. Even 
the Foxes seem to have had a hint of the commandant's pur- 
pose, else why did they not flee to their forests on his ap- 
proach ? 

The expedition left Montreal loaded with merchandise, 
among which were forty casks of brandy. 94 The governor re- 
ported that the display of force was made "without any cost 
to the king/' 95 and the terms of peace included the provision 
that the Foxes were to pay its cost by the proceeds of their 
hunting. The Foxes knew that they were being bought off 
with the proceeds of their beaver skins, and had no intention 
of fulfilling the terms of peace. Of their hostages who were 
carried to Montreal, two, including Pemoussa, the hero of 
Detroit, died of small-pox in Canada; a third, Okimaouasen, 
was employed in later negotiations and ultimately returned to 
his tribe. 96 

One result, interesting for Wisconsin history, arose from 
Louvigny's sham war-exploit — the establishment of the first 
permanent French post at Green Bay, under the command of 

»2 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 419. 

»s Tailhan, Perrot's Memoire, pp. 153-157. 

**Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 340. 

ss Ibid., p. 342. 

»s Ibid., pp. 377-379; Mich. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiii, pp. 588-590. 

[165 1 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

Etieime Rocbert, Bieur de la Morandiere. 97 This officer vainly 
attempted to detach the. Winnebago (Puants) and Sauk 
from the Fox alliance; the Menominee were the only Bay 
tribes upon whose allegiance he could count. 

Warned by experience, the Foxes, never abandoning their 
design of vengeance upon the faithless French, nevertheless 
learned to temporize, and by astute diplomacy lulled the officers 
into a belief that they were subdued. Vaudreuil, in 1719, re- 
ported their docility to the authorities in France, and seems 
assured that they, as well as the Kickapoo and Mascontin, are 
"disposed to maintain peace with all the Nations," 98 little 
dreaming that at that very time they were intriguing with a 
brave Acadian tribe to come and settle among them and fill 
their depleted ranks. 1 '" 

It would be interesting if one could identify the "forest- 
born Demosthenes'' among the Foxes, who by his eloquence 
was building up a series of alliances that threatened the very- 
integrity of New France. Some nameless precursor of Pon- 
tine and Tecumseh dwelt among the Wisconsin tribesmen, and 
by his diplomatic ski!! arrayed barbarism against civilization, 
savage valor against colonizing ardor, the passion for revenge 
against the white man's greed. Wherever throughout the 
breadth of the continent a tribe felt dissatisfaction with tra- 
der-', missionaries.' or governors' methods, there an envoy of 
the Foxes stood, insinuating reasons for opposing the hated 
white man. Wherever in the fastnesses of the West a tribe 
lived untouched by French influence, undebauched by French 
brandy, these the Foxes sought to gather to their alliance, and 
form one vast confederation of proud, uncontaminated sav- 
agery. The French commandants saw in these intrigues the 
menace of the English, and the machinations of the Iroquois. 
The latter would no doubt have been glad to have drawn the 
Foxes, like the Tuscarora, to re-inforce their number; but it. 

»' Ibid., p. 590. 

»» Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 380. 

99 Ibid., p. 432; xvii, p. 192. 


Fox Indian Wars 

was in their Western allies that the Outagami chiefly trusted. 
The great Dakota stock still wandered over the vast prairies 
between the Mississippi and Missouri, in all the vigor of their 
pristine barbarism. Their one outlying branch in Wisconsin, 
the Winnebago, were firm allies of the rebel Foxes. The Sioux, 
with whom they long had waged fierce war, were now 
conciliated, 1 and an alliance formed so close that it offered an 
asylum for retreat, if by mischance the Renards should be 
driven from their Wisconsin homes. Against this alliance, 
the French made many ventures. The post at Chequame- 
gon was founded in 171S, 2 not only to conciliate the neigh- 
boring Saulteur, but to gain an entry among the Sioux. 
Thence Pachot and Linctot were sent in 1719, but failed of 
success, "because the Renards had already warned the Sioux 
against the French, by making them believe that they wished 
to betray them, and it was impossible to dissuade them from 
this idea." 3 

South of the Sioux lay the Iowa (Aiouez), a brave race ap- 
parently first discovered by Perrot, who for many years of- 
fered an asylum to the harassed Foxes, and aided them against 
the Illinois. Still farther to the west and southwest lay the 
Oto, relatives and friends of the Iowa. In 1721 Etienne Yen- 
yard, Sieur de Bourgmont, on his trans-Missouri expedition 
from Fort Orleans, discovered that the Renards were tamper- 
ing with the Oto, and would also have won over the Mahas 
(Omaha) and Panimaha. had not this Louisiana officer pre- 
vented. 4 

Charlevoix 5 intimates that the Renards sought alliance 
among the Chickasaw, which is not improbable after their 
proclaimed enmity against Louisiana. We have thus the 

i/d.. xvi. p. 306. 
2 Ibid., p. 380. 

a Pierre Margry, Dccouvertes et Etablissements des FranQais dans 
lAmcrique Septentrionale (Paris, 1884), vi, p. 509. 
*IMd., p. 396. 
s Charlevoix, History, v, p. 309. 

[ 167] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

sweep of this confederacy — from Lake Ontario in the east to 
the Missouri in the west, from the borders of Lake Winnipeg 
in the north, where the Sioux often roamed, to the bluffs of 
Memphis in the south, where the Chickasaw made their home. 
Built up tribe by tribe, by means of unnumbered embassies, 
floods of savage eloquence, wampum belts, and calumet tokens 
without number, had it succeeded New France would have 
been rent in twain, Louisiana severed from Canada, the hard- 
won forest empire of Louis XIV and XV re-conquered for 
savagery, and the Indian have dwelt alone in his fatherland. 

Meanwhile a desultory, intermittent warfare harassed the 
Western posts without destroying them. The Illinois, the 
Foxes' hereditary enemies, had become devoted henchmen of 
their French masters. Taking advantage of the jealous rivalry 
between Louisiana and Canada, the Foxes and their allies 
struck the Illinois with impunity, chasing them to the very 
gates of the French fort. 6 At first they desisted from attack- 
ing the French, and even came in apparent penitence to La 
Morandiere at Green Bay, to atone for the death of a French- 
man stabbed among the Kickapoo. 7 But after murdering some 
Miami ambassadors who were visiting the Sauk, and attack- 
ing the Potawatomi and Saulteur as well as the Illinois, Vau- 
dreuil was convinced of their bad intentions, and declared in 
1721 that he abandoned the Foxes to the hostile tribes, and 
offered supplies for warring against them. 8 

In fact there were two parties among the Outagami them- 
selves — a French party, led by the chief Ouachala, and a war- 
party under the chieftainship of Kiala. These factions were 
sufficient to divide the tribe into two villages. 9 The former 
claimed that they had never killed a Frenchman; they sought 
the commandant at the Bav for advice, and as late as 1720 

6 See list of these atrocities, as recited by the Illinois, in Wis. Hist. 
Colls., xvi, pp. 459-463. 
■ IUd., pp. 396, 397. 
s IUd., p. 398. 
» Id., xvii, p. 28. 

[ 163 ] 

Fox Indian Wars 

Ouachala went down to Montreal. But with the rising war- 
spirit, the influence of the French party waned, and when in 
17 -2 -J. the Illinois captured and burned a nephew of Ouachala, 
the fury of revenge seized the whole nation. 

Forming a large war-party of Mascoutin, Kickapoo, Winne- 
bago, Sauk, Sioux, and Abenaki allies, they advanced into the 
Illinois country, where the escarped rock known as Le Rocher 
dominated the valley of Illinois River. There the preceding 
year Father Charlevoix had found a peaceful village whose 
chief was "handsome, gentle, of an amiable physiognomy, and 
of whom the French report much that is good." 

The gentle priest had been, however, horrified by the spec- 
tacle of two corpses abandoned to birds of prey, the remains 
of prisoners burned but a few days before. Perchance one 
of these was the nephew of the Fox chief for whose death re- 
venge was then preparing. 10 A furious, unexpected onslaught, 
drove the villagers to the summit of the rock, where after a 
somewhat protracted siege, their lives were finally spared by 
the besiegers. 11 The ultimate result was the abandonment of 
the locality by the Illinois, and the domination by the Renards 
of the second great waterway (the Chicago-Illinois river) be- 
tween Canada and Louisiana. 

Open warfare was once more alight in the Upper Coun- 
try, but the allies were slow to attack the dreaded Foxes. 
Even after Vaudreuil's dramatic announcement that he aban- 
doned them to their fate, the neighboring tribesmen refused 
to take the warpath. The Detroit savages declined to be 
again duped as they had been in 1716\ 12 Only the Chip] tow;, 

10 Charlevoix, Journal Historique, iii, pp. 381, 382. 

ii Our only authorities for this are the Foxes' speech to Montigny 
at La Baye. in Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 418-422, and the account in 
Charlevoix's History, vi, pp. 71, 72. These do not agree in details. 
The former represents the attack as a Fox victory, and desires praise 
for sparing the lives of the Illinois. The latter represents it as a 
Fox defeat, but admits that the Illinois abandoned the locality per- 
manently and withdrew to the Mississippi villages. 

I 2 Charlevoix, Journal Historique. iii, p. 258. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

and Ottawa of Saginaw responded to the appeal. If the sav- 
ages were lukewarm in pressing the war, the officers at the 
forts were no less disinclined. In 1724 the French minister 
writes sharply to the governor that he has learned that the 
commandants at Detroit, Mackinac, and other places prevent 
raids upon the Foxes. This can only he to serve their own 
interests he declares, to the detriment of the government of 
Louisiana which suffers great losses through the Foxes. 13 The 
commandant of the Illinois forts that the colony is almost 
ruined through their attacks: "We are killed everywhere by 
the Renards, to whom Canada supplies weapons and powder 
* * * The Beaver in their district cause this Great car- 
nage among us/' 14 

So long, therefore, as the Foxes confined their attacks to 
the rival colony of Illinois, the commandants at the Canadian 
posts showed little interest therein. A royal order proscribed 
the selling of powder or weapons to the Foxes, 1 '' and the com- 
plaints from Louisiana having finally reached the royal ear, 
the governor of Canada was commanded to stop their depre- 
dations against the Illinois. Acting under these orders, 
Ligncry proceeded to Green Bay in the summer of 1724, and 
having summoned the chiefs of the Ilenards, Sauk, and Win- 
nebago to meet him, adjusted a peace between them and the 
Saulteur and Ottawa, without including the Illinois. 16 For 
this measure he received a sharp rebuke from the royal court. 
"It looks as if he tried to ruin the fur-trade from Louisiana." 11 

Again in 172G, Lignery, acting under the spur of the au- 
thorities in France, visited Green Bay, and summoned the 
chiefs of all the tribes before him. Reluctantly thev came. 

is Canadian Archives, 1904. p. 53. 

14 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 451, 452. 

15 Canadian Archives, 1904, p. 52. 

16 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, pp. 444-451. 

17 Canadian Archives, 1904, p. 62. The Illinois commandant shrewdly 
suspects the governor of Canada in this complicity against his col- 
ony; see Wis. Hist. Colls., xvi, p. 456. 


Fox Indian Wars 

and promised speciously to make peace with the Illinois, to 
send their chiefs to Montreal, and to accept a missionary and 
French commandant within their village. 18 Father Chardon, 
however, who aided in the negotiation, reported that as long 
as the Foxes had an assured refuge among the Sioux, »o 
long they would be insolent and unruly. 16 

The new governor, Charles de la Boische, Marquis de 
Beauharnois, who arrived in the colony in August, 1726, came 
out determined to act vigorously, and to break up the official 
connivance at the Renards' misdoings. According to direc- 
tions received from France, he at once arranged for a post 
among the Sioux, and taking advantage of the brief tranquil- 
ity secured by Lignery's peace, sent a considerable convoy 
through the Fox-Wisconsin waterway to build a fort on Lake 
Pepin. Father Guignas is the chronicler of this expedition, 
and describes the "cabins of the Renards, a nation so dreaded, 
and really very little to be dreaded. " :: " "' '"' They ha:e 
only simple cabins of bark without any sort of palisade or 
other fortification. When the French canoes touched their 
shores, they ran down with their peace calumets lighted in 
spite of the rain, and everybody smoked." 20 Before the end 
of October, Fort Beauharnois was finished on Lake Pepin, 
and there the new governor's fete-day was celebrated with fire- 
works, which so alarmed the Sioux that "the women and 
children took to flight, and the most courageous of the men 
cried for mercy, and urgently asked that the astonishing play 
of this terrible medicine should be made to cease." 21 

The Sioux fort once built, the new governor-general threw 
off the mask of conciliation, and announced his intention of 
"striking a Signal blow, that may lower the pride of the sav- 
ages and overthrow the projects of our Enemies." 2 Desli- 

lS Ibid., pp. 464-468. For the speeches on this occasion, see Id., lii, 
pp. 150-156. 

^ Id., xvii, p. 7. 
™IMd„ pp. 23, 24. 
2i Ibid., p. 27. 
Mid., xvi, p. 477. 

12 [ 171 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

ettes, at Fort Charters, said that the surest method to be 
rid of trouble would be to destroy the Foxes. Lignery had 
objected that this would be dangerous if unsuccessful. Never- 
theless the new governor, impetuously eager to distinguish the 
beginning of his term of service by an auspicious feat of arms, 
prepared the ill-fated expedition." 3 Lignery, as the most com- 
petent officer in the Indian country, was chosen to command. 
There seems to be a slight suspicion that Lignery acted with 
bad faith; certainly, after his failure he was severely blamed 
for unnecessary delays, unwarranted trust in a savage envoy, 
and other like blunders. He himself attributes his failure 
to lack of co-operation on the part of the Illinois command- 
ant. 24 

We possess three original narratives of this expedition, 
that of the commandant, of the chaplain, and of the governor- 
general. 25 The second of these is most circumstantial and full 
of picturesque details. The good Recollect father, Emanuel 
Crespel, not long in the New World, was filled with horror 
at the cruel torments that befell the captured prisoners, and 
remonstrated in no measured terms with the Christian In- 
dians of the Canadian missions, who composed a large portion 
of the Indian contingent. The Winnebago had fled from 
their village at the head of the lower Fox, the three Renard 
villages beyond were empty, a hundred canoes having re- 
movd the women and children, while the armed men had 
marched overland. Lignery despairing of pursuit, burnt the 
villages and corn-fields, and upon his retreat destroyed the 
post at Green Bay as no longer safe for a French garrison. 
He took precaution also to warn the Sioux post, where after a 
hasty consultation, the commander, chaplain, and ten others 
took canoes hoping to reach the Illinois. Arrested by a 
wandering party of Maseoutin and Kiokapoo. they were kept 

23 See the annoyance of the ministry in France at this unauthorized 
expedition. Id., xvii, pp. 21, 22. 

24 Id., v, p. 94; xvii, p. 34. 

25 Id., pp. 87-95; x, pp. 47-53; xvii, pp. 31-35. 

f 172 1 

Fox Indian Wars 

for days in suspense regarding their fate. Twice an angry 
party of Renards attempted to wrest them from their captors, 
but by much address they won over the tribesmen, who finally 
agreed to make peace with the Illinois, and break the Fox al- 
liance. With this fortunate bit of diplomacy, Beauharnois 
consoled himself for the failure of the great expedition. 2 " 

In truth the results of the expedition were greater than 
could have been predicted from its apparent failure. The 
solicitations of the French had aroused all their neighbors 
against the fugitive Foxes. In the summer of 1729, Beau- 
harnois exhorted the faithful tribesmen who visited him at 
Montreal "to destroy the Foxes, and not to suffer on this 
earth a demon capable of confounding or opposing our friend- 
ly alliance." 27 Accordingly, that autumn a large party of 
Ottawa, Chippewa, and Winnebago fell upon a Fox hunting 
party and made great havoc among them. 28 It was significant 
that a portion of the Winnebago had abandoned the Fox alli- 
ance. With the loss of these allies, and the Kickapoo and Mas- 
coutin, and the temporary abandonment of the Sioux and Iowa, 
the fate of the rebels seemed sealed. They even ventured 
as far as St. Joseph to beg for peace, and their spirit seemed 
to the French authorities to be utterly cowed. 29 

Meanwhile a new officer had been sent to the Fox country, 
one who was to be instrumental in finally ending these- 
wars. This was Pierre Paul la Perriere, Sieur Marin, who 
repaired to the Menominee village, and received deputations 
from the repentant Winnebago, who assured him that they 
were submissive and obedient children of Onontio, and that 
nothing could change their hearts." A severe test of their 
fidelity to the French occurred early in the spring of 1730. 
Having ventured back to their village on Doty Island, they 

26 ibid., pp. 36-62. 

" Id., V, P. 105. 

<*Ibid., p. 104; xvii, p. 81. 

wibid., pp. 63, 67, 70. 
so Ibid., p. 89. 

[ 173 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

were suddenly attacked by a large force of Foxes, who were 
especially enraged at their desertion. Marin went to their 
assistance with a force of Folle Avoines and a few Frenchmen. 
After a siege that lasted a month and a half, the Foxes finally 
abandoned their position in discouragement. 31 

It seems to have been at this time that the Foxes were 
secretly offered an asylum among the Iroquois, and assured 
of a passage through the lands of the Ouiatanon. Dubuis- 
son at Mackinac Avas in the midst of preparations for a war- 
party for their extermination, 32 when news suddenly reached 
the southern posts of a great migration, and arrangements 
were immediately set on foot to hinder it. A band of Mascou- 
tin, Kickapoo, and Illinois, who had so lately became recon- 
ciled through the efforts of De Boucherville, descried the 
Renards on the march, and at once notified the commandants 
at Fort Chartres, St. Joseph, and Miami. A messenger was 
likewise despatched to Detroit, but too late to secure assistance 
therefrom. Parties of savages with supporting French were 
at once made up to the amount of nearly fourteen hundred 
men. Coulon de Villiers from St. Joseph, as the senior of- 
ficer, took command; Nicolas Joseph de Xoyelles brought the 
reinforcement from Miami; Jean de St. Ange led the Illi- 
nois contingent. The Foxes swing themselves pursued, stood 
ar bay, hastily constructed a fort in the prairie, sixty leagues 
south of the end of Lake Michigan, 33 and defended them- 
selves during a prolonged siege of twenty-three days. The 
besiegers attempted to shut off the wafer supply, but the 
Foxes dug underground passages to the small prairie stream 
near by. and held their own. Several of the besieging tribes- 
men secretly sympathized with the victims, the Sauk sup- 
plied them with provisions, and all the allies besought De 
Villiers to granl the Renards their lives. This request he 
indignantly spurned and the besieged continued the fight 

si/bu/.. mi. 88-100. 
^ Id., v, pp. 100, 107. 
«3 Id., xvii. p. 129. 


Fox Indian Wars 

with their characteristic courage, making desperate though 
unsuccessful sorties. Finally hunger began to pinch both 
armies. The Foxes had eaten their skin coverings; no hope 
was left but an escape. On the night of September 9, favored 
by a terrible storm of wind and rain, they stole from the 
sheltering fort, and hastened away over the prairies. The 
crying of the little children betrayed them; the pursuers 
gained upon them, cumbered with their women and children, 
ami great carnage ensued. Three hundred warriors were 
killed or captured, 34 six hundred women and children abso- 
lutely destroyed. The fifty or sixty who escaped threw away 
all guns and ammunition, and were hotly pursued by the victor- 
ious allies. 35 Coulon de Villiers sent his son to Quebec as a 
special envoy to carry the news, and present to the governor 
a wretched Renard prisoner. ''Tranquility for so many 
years disturbed in the upper country, will now reign," writes 
the governor in exultation.''''' 

Tracked and harassed on every side, the wretched fugitives 
took the last desperate step, scut two of their new chiefs to 
Montreal to make submission. The governor promised them 
their lives if they would keep the peace and send him hos- 
tages the following year. He admits however, that this was 
but a subterfuge, and that ho only waited the opportunity of 
cutting off the last remnant of these wretched rebels. No 
wonder the Foxes were always suspicious, and feared treach- 
ery, their entire experience with the French authorities had 
been a training therein. 

During the succeeding year another act of treachery con- 
firmed their suspicions. A band of Huron and Iroquois 
mission Indians left Canada in the winter of 1 To 1-32 to go 
and "eat up" the remaining Rewards. The governor, al- 
though not giving final consent, opposed no obstacle to this 

• ;4 Some reports say two hundred. 

ss For the several contemporary accounts see Wis. Hist. Colls., v, pp. 
107, 108; xvii, pp. 100-102, 109-1 IS, 129, 130. 
36/6i(7., p. 140. 

[ 175 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

expedition, and when overtaken by this force on snowshoes, 
in the depth of the Wisconsin forest, the Renards exclaimed, 
"It is our Father Onontio, who has caused us to be killed." 
Three hundred fell victims to this unexpected assault, and but 
thirty true Renards were said to have escaped. 37 

Both the Sioux post and that of Green Bay having been re- 
established during the year 1781, 38 the few poor refugees from 
the once haughty Renard tribe came begging for peace and 
their lives. They had no allies left. The Sioux had spurned 
them, the Mascoutin and Kickapoo had gone over to the 
enemy, the Sauk had all returned to the Bay and placed their 
village under the protection of the French fort. Thither 
came the proud Kiala, the inveterate enemy of the French, 
and offered his life for the lives of his tribe. De Villiers, 
who in reward for his brilliant victory in 1730 had been pro- 
moted to command at the Bay, took him to Montreal, where 
the governor, still fearing his powers, had him transported to 
Martinique. 39 There, under the blazing tropical skies, 
chained in a slave gang, the great chief did not long survive. 
His wife who had followed him to Canada, escaped from her 
gaolers, and let us hope found her way back once more t<> her 
loved Wisconsin land. 4 " 

The conditions the governor granted the defeated Foxes 
were hard. The entire remnant of the tribe was to be trans- 
ported to slavery at Montreal, and if resistance was made, all 
were to be killed. Complete extermination was decreed. 
While these negotiations were taking place, the Foxes with 
a flash of their old spirit, fortified themselves on Lake Mar- 
ameg, and routed a Huron party coming from Detroit to 
work their destruction. 41 The war with the Foxes seemed 
ended. The allies were ordered to turn their arms against 

s- Ibid., pp. 148-154. 

**Ibid., pp. 167-169. 

39 Canadian Archives, 1905, vol. 1, pp. xli, lxix. 

«° Wis. Hist. Colls., xvii, p. 210. 

** Ibid., p. 173; Midi. Pion. and Hist. Colls., xxxiv, p. 104. 


Fox Indian Wars 

the Chickasaw, who were harassing the colony of Louisiana. 
De Villiers set forth in full security for the Upper Country, 
to annihilate the last remnant of the Fox tribe, and crown 
his victory with the entire destruction of these savages who had 
so long disturbed the peace. 

But the French had presumed too far on the complaisance 
of the savages. Hated as the Foxes were, the other tribes saw 
in their destruction a presage of doom. Especially their kins- 
men the Sauk, although until now among the French al- 
lies, hesitated to deliver them to slavery and death. De 
Villiers, with overweening confidence in his authority, pro- 
ceeded to Green Bay and demanded of the Sauk, the Renards 
secreted in their village. Upon their delay to deliver them 
up, he sent word lie would come for them himself. Sur- 
rounded by his family, with an insufficient guard, he presented 
himself at the door of the S'auk fort, and attempting to force 
a passage was fired upon, his young son killed at his side, and 
he himself fell victim to the sure aim of a Sauk boy of 
twelve. 42 A battle ensued at the gates of the fort, and the 
elder son of De Villiers, who afterwards met Major George 
Washington upon the Ohio in 1754, pursued the murderers 
as they fled and battled all day near the Butte des Morts. 
The French lost heavily in this action, and report the number 
of wounded enemies considerable, but unknown. This affair 
had several important consequences; it marks the abandon- 
ment of Green Bay by the Sauk and Foxes; from this time 
also dates the union of these two tribes, so close that it be- 
came a practical amalgamation ; and the Fox wars were re- 
opened. The Western allies once more espoused their cause, 
and in the land of the Iowa the courageous enemy built a 
new fort, and awaited results. 43 

*a Wis. Hist. Colls., xvii, pp. 188, 189, 200-204. The local tradition 
is to be found in Id., iii, p. 200, and viii, pp. 207, 208. As related b.r 
Ausustin Grignon the French fired first and killed an Indian, there- 
upon the fire was returned and Black bird shot the commandant. 

4S In eastern Iowa, on the Wapsipinicon River. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

This took the form of a land expedition that was entrust- 
ed to the care of De Xoyelles, who had been second in com- 
mand at the defeat of the Foxes in 1730. Eighty-four 
French volunteers were enlisted with two hundred mission 
Indians, and reinforcements were collected en route from the 
southern posts. Leaving Canada in August, 1734, the ex- 
pedition was seven months on the march, and only reached the 
neighborhood of the enemy the following spring. Led astray 
by false guides of the Kickapoo tribe, they finally arrived at 
Wapsipinicon River only to discover the enemy fled to the 
Des Moines, where a slight skirmish took place April 10, 
1735, with little result but to discourage the attacking party 
and cause their retreat. The commandant De Xoyelles was 
discredited at court, for his failure, which the governor-gen- 
eral did his best to mininize." De Xoyelles consoled himself 
with the Sauk's promise to separate from the Foxes and re- 
turn to the Bay, but this proved but a specious pledge, calcu- 
lated to deceive none but the credulous commander. 

Father le Boullenger, Jesuit missionary in the Illinois, wrote 
in 1736, "The court was deceived when it was informed the 
Renards were destroyed." 45 After the affair at Green Bay, 
and the killing of De Villiers, the other tribes, far from per- 
secuting the Foxes, sent back all their prisoners thai they held, 
furnished them with arms and ammunition, and secretly en- 
couraged their revolt. As Beauharnois expressed it to the 
minister, *'Y<>u may imagine, 'Men seigneur, that the Savages 
have their policy as we have Ours, and they are not greatly 
pleased ai seeing a nation destroyed, for Fear that their turn 
may eouie. They manifest Much ardor toward the French 
and act quite differently. * * '"' The Savages as a rule 
greatly fear the French, but they do not love them. All that 
they manifest towards them is Xever Sineere." 4 

Too weak to attempt concerted action, the remnant of the 

**Wis. Hist. Colls., xvii, pp. 208-210, 215-233. 
*'•> Ibid., p. 255, note. 
**lbid., p. 256. 


Fox Indian Wars 

Renards determined to divide into small bands and strike 
blindly in their despair. The Sauk, meanwhile, interceded 
for them and themselves, but could obtain for the Foxes a 
promise of pardon only on condition that they should dis- 
perse among the other tribes, and that no mention should be 
made of the name of Renards, who had so disturbed the 
earth. 47 This was too hard a condition to be accepted. The 
Sioux once more made overtures to the discouraged Foxes, 
and became so turbulent that Sieur de St. Pierre was obliged 
to abandon the post in their country early in 1737, and all 
the faithful French Indians united in pleading for their 
ancient enemies at the Montreal council of the same year. 48 

As the governor was unable to refuse this petition, he grand- 
iloquently made a virtue of his necessity, and granted a gen- 
eral pardon, which lie considered a stroke of policy, tending to 
peace in the Upper Country. But this proved but a barren 
peace. Only the Menominee yet remained at the Bay; neither 
Winnebago, Fox, nor Sauk could be induced to return to their 
ancient seats, which were stained with their own and French 
blood, and no longer in the eyes of the superstitious savages 
would produce crops. 4!> 

Therefore the allied tribes gathered at Rock River, and 
took up their abode near the lead mines, that were afterwards 
to prove to them a source of wealth. The governor-general, 
wishing to watch their movements, to detach them from the 
Sioux, and restrain them from injuring the Illinois, sent 
Sieur Marin to their territory with orders to build a fort, 
and watch the suspected tribes. In 1738, this officer pro- 
ceeded to the Western country, 50 and by adroit skill and ad- 
dress for five years kept the turbulent tribesmen in some 

*~ IMd., p. 258; Canadian Archives, 1904, p. 239. 

<« Wis. Hist. Colls., xvii, pp. 264, 267-276. 

**Ibid., p. 319. 

so Marin's post was on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, a few miles 
below Prairie du Chien; see Wis. Hist. Colls., ix, p. 289. The post on 
Lake Pepin therein noted, was built in 1750. 

F 179 1 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

sort of subjection. Marin was an arrant trader, and his oper- 
ations were viewed with much distrust by the court of Ver- 
sailles, and the governor was frequently admonished to recall 
him. 51 Warned, however, by past experience, Beauharnois 
assured the minister that this officer was the only one who 
could keep peace in the Upper Country, and left him at his 
post. He persuaded a Fox chief to visit Montreal in 17-j8, 
to thank the governor for his clemency on behalf of his tribe. 
This was the first Renard to seek the French, since the ill- 
fated Iviala had met his doom. Beauharnois received him 
graciously, and the minds of the suspicious savages were for 
the moment re-assured. The gathering for the Chickasaw 
expedition the next year struck terror to their hearts. Seek- 
ing Marin at his fort they exclaimed: ''We had resolved to 
do what Our Father Onontio demanded of Us, to go and re- 
kindle our fire on our Former land at La Baye, hut to-day we 
see clearly that we are dead. We await the thunder which 
hangs over our heads ready too crush us." 63 Flaving reassured 
them on this score, Marin renewed his application to the tribes 
to return to the Bay. The Winnebago finally consented, 
and by 1741 a large portion of them occupied their old village 
site. 53 

The Sauk and Foxes still remained distrustful ; secretly 
encouraged by vagabond traders at Chicago and Milwaukee, 
they remained in their new villages, near Bock Biver, and in 
1741 killed several Frenchmen in the Illinois, and drew out 
the threat of another punitive expedition. 54 

The following year, however, they yielded to Marin's 
solicitations, and sent a number of their chiefs to Montreal, 
where the governor made conciliatory speeches, gave them 
Icicle four prisoners of their tribe, and received them among 
the number of his faithful allies. 55 The Fox wars were 

sa Canadian Archives, 1904, pp. 289. 304. 

52 Wis. Hist. Colls., xvii. p. 320. 

53 Ibid., 367, 400. 

6* Ibid., pp. 338, 339. 
5= Ibid., pp. 404, 416. 


Fox Indian Wars 

practically at an end. Marin, relieved at his own request, 
was succeeded by Paul Louis Dazenard, Sieur de Lusignan, 
who reaping the fruit of Marin's policy, succeeded in collect- 
ing the scattered Foxes and Sauk in one village tributary to 
the Bay. 56 

But the harvest of rebellion was yet to be reaped. The 
French having by their treatment of this one tribe sown 
the wind in the Upper Country, were yet to reap the 
whirlwind. King George's War, begun in the Old World 
after a long season of peace, reawakened animosity between the 
French and English colonies in the New. With the pres- 
sure of war, and the growing peculation among the highest 
officers of the province, goods became exorbitant in price, 
and the most docile of the allied Indians rebelled against the 
extortion. In 1747 the great and honest Governor Beauhar- 
nois was recalled, and the way was opened for that gigantic 
system of plunder and graft that brought Xew France to its 
swift end. The same year a rebellion flamed up in the Upper 
Country. The two central posts of Detroit and Miehilimack- 
inac were both destined for surprise and plunder by their 
domiciled Indians. The Miami already disaffected, and long 
intriguing with English traders, boldly entered the conspiracy. 
Even the Illinois, sunk in sloth and subjection, were aroused 
against their masters. The Mississagua and Saulteur caught 
the contagion, and murdered French traders at Sault Ste. 
Marie and the Huron Islands. The Sioux, Foxes, and Sauk 
"struck wherever an opportunity presented. 07 The Iowa killed 
some Frenchmen. 58 Only the Potawatomi at St. Josephs, un- 
der the immediate control of their commandant Marin, re- 
mained faithful. 

Prompt and vigorous methods at all the posts, to which the 

5« Ibid., p. 437. There is no certain indication of the location of this 
village. I am inclined to think it that of Sauk Prairie on the Wiscon- 
sin, but it may have been nearer the old site at Green Bay. 

&iN. Y. Colon. Docs., x, p. 87. 

™Wis. Hist. Colls., xviii (still in MS.). 


Wisconsin Historical Society 

ablest officers were sent, resulted in re-establishing French, 
ascendency for the remaining years of the colony's existence. 
St. Pierre at Mackinac arrested some of the murderers, and 
sent them to Montreal. But while going down in a boat to 
Quebec, these manacled and unarmed savages overpowered 
seven soldiers, drowned them in the river, and made their 
escape. Nevertheless the work of pacification proceeded. In 
1T.">0 the Foxes, Sank, Winnebago, Menominee, Sanlteur. and 
Sioux met the uew governor, Marquis tie la Jonquiere, at 
Quebec, and "assured me of their fidelity and complete sub- 
mission." 30 The same year the commandant at La Baye, 
Sieur Milon, was drowned while hunting on the waters of the 

An opportunity, therefore, presented itself to the new gov- 
ernor and his confederate- to share the spoils of this profitable 
post in Wisconsin. La Jonquiere, Bigot, Breard, St. Pierre, 
and Marin formed a partnership to exploit this country. 
Marin, whose skill in managing the Tribesmen was well known, 
was to be the resident partner. Part of the plan was to re- 
establish the Sioux post, and draw furs from their rich prov- 
ince. In 1750 Marin returned to the site of his former ex- 
ploits, and after tranqnilizing the tribes at Green Bay, ad- 
vanced to the .Mississippi and bnilt his fort on Lake Pepin. 60 
The profits were reported at 150,000 livres a year. Although 
Marin found the tribes at La Baye very uneasy, and although 
a war broke out between Sioux, Renards, and Sank, and the 
Illinois, yet on the whole the trade remained satisfactory and 
in the words of Bougainville, the exploiting firm found that 
"peace was more profitable than war." 1 '' 

To this period has been assigned the vengeance of Marin 
npon the Fox village, so noted in traditional lore, according 
to which companies of soldiers in canoes, loaded apparently 

so ibid. 

so ma., also Margry, Decouv, et Mabl.. vi, p. 636; Memoires inedites 
(Paris, 1867), p. 59. 
« Ibid., p. 59. 


Fox Indian Wars 

with simple merchandise, were concealed beneath tarpaulin 
and advanced up the Fox River. Upon the demand of the 
Renards for their tribute, the disguise was thrown off, the de- 
ceived Foxes shot down without mercy, and their village 
destroyed by fire. Thus runs the story, related with many 
variations in recollections and legendary memories. 62 Whether 
even with the countenance of the governor, Marin would have 
dared thus to embroil the Upper Country, and break the 
peace he had so carefully fostered, is a question for discus- 
sion. Suffice it to say that contemporary documents, so far 
as known, are completely silent in reference to any such act 
of treachery; and it is incompatible with his commercial prin- 
ciple that u La Paix vaut niieux que la guerre" (peace is more 
profitable than war). 

In 1753 Marin was withdrawn to build a chain of new 
forts being erected upon the Ohio. The profits of this most 
profitable post of La Baye were granted, at first for a term 
of years, finally in 1750 for life, to Armand de Pigaud, 
brother of the new governor,'"' Marquis de Vaudreuil. The 
younger Marin retained command of the Sioux post, where he 
made peace for the Illinois, with the allied Sioux, Winnebago, 
Fox, and Sauk. 04 

After the outbreak of the French and Indian War, we 
catch but few glimpses of affairs in the Upper Country. In 
1755 it was reported that this region was greatly neglected and 
the tribes at war with one another. The same year Ottawa, 
Fox, Sauk, and Menominee chiefs visited Vaudreuil at Mon- 
treal. 65 Large contingents of Wisconsin Indians par- 
ticipated in the chief battles. Probably there were 
Renards and Sauk in the army of Langlade that in 1752 
attacked the Miami chief at Pickawillany, and destroyed that 
nest of British renegades on the Great Miami. The same 

«2Fis. Hist. Colls., iii, pp. 206-209; v, 93-103. 
63 Id., xviii. 
es Ibid. 

[ 183 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

tribesmen no doubt accompanied this officer to the Monon- 
gahela and took part in the defeat of Braddock, and the rav- 
age of the surrounding country. Certain it is that under 
the command of Marin junior and their interpreter Pierre 
Reaunie 68 they were at the siege of Fort William Henry in 
1757. During the death struggle of New France, in the bat- 
tles around Quebec in 1759, Sauk and Foxes again made part 
of Langlade's army, and joined in the attack on Wolfe's ad- 
vance at Montmorency Falls, July 9, 1759. ° 7 

But if in her declining years tbe Foxes were loyal to the 
colony of New France, the blow they had inflicted on her 
prosperity and prestige in the Upper Country by the long 
series of intermittent wars extending over nearly sixty years 
of her history, had aided in bringing about her downfall. 
The French colonial system had proven itself inadequate, its 
boasted control of the Indian had been defeated by one tribe, 
the persistent defiance of the Renards had wrought confusion 
and dismay. In the words of Father Charlevoix, ''The Iro- 
quois bad raised up against us a new enemy as brave as them- 
selves, less politic, much fiercer, whom we have never been 
able to subdue or tame, and who like those insects that seem 
to have as many lives as parts of their body, sprang to life 
again, so to say, after their defeat, and reduced almost to a 
handful of brigands, appear everywhere, have aroused the 
hatred of all the nations on this continent, and for the last 
twenty-five years and more interrupt commerce and render the 
roads impracticable for five hundred leagues around. These 
are the Outagamie commonly called Foxes." 68 

Upon the surrender of the Upper Country to the English, 
the fort at La Baye was occupied on October 12, 1761, by 
Lieut. .James Gorrell with a garrison of seventeen soldiers of 
the 60th infantry. Traders had preceded the soldiers into 
Wisconsin territory, and found the Sauk and Foxes inclined 

eetf. y. Colon. Docs., x, 608, 630. 
« Wis. Hist. Colls., vii, p. 140. 
es Charlevoix, History, v, p. 2'56. 

[ 184 

Fox Indian Wars 

to the English interest/' 9 During Pontiaes conspiracy it 
was the Sauk, Foxes, and Menominee who protected the Brit- 
ish garrison at Green Bay, and rescued from the hands of the 
hostile Ottawa the prisoners taken at Mackinac. 70 There can 
be no doubt that French influence was less potent in Wiscon- 
sin than elsewhere in the Upper Country, and that by this 
means the garrison at Fort Edward Augustus was saved from 
ruthless massacre 

The history of the Fox Indians during the hundred years 
of the French regime, a.s outlined in the previous survey, may 
be summarized as follows: 

1. The entry of the Foxes into Wisconsin and their life 
upon the Wolf River, covering approximately the years 1665- 
80. This is the period of their first contact with the French, 
and of the Jesuit mission of Saint Marc. 

2. The period of partial French control, and of Fox 
River brigandage, approximately 1680-1710. During this 
period the great village of the tribe was located near Lake 
Petit Butte des Morts, and the influence of La Salle, Perrot, 
and Duluth was sufficient to keep the Foxes in a measure of 
subjection. They aspired to control the Fox-AYisconsin water- 
way and the trade with the Sioux. 

3. Period of open warfare, 1712-33 — from the siege of De- 
troit to the final expulsion of the Foxes from the Fox River 
valley. During this period the Foxes built up their great 
confederacy, but were overpowered by the combined attacks of 
the French allies and French officers. 

4. Sauk and Fox union and gradual submission, 1733-60. 
During this period the allied tribes found their homes on the 
Wisconsin River, and beyond the Mississippi. They gradu- 
ally gave over their fierce opposition, were treated with 
leniency by the French authorities, regained the friendship of 
the surrounding tribes, and became submissive to French 

wWis. Hist. Colls., i, p. 26; viii, p. 234, 235. 
•o Id., i, pp. 40-47. 

[ 185 ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 

authority; never, however, becoming entirely docile or yielding 
their hard-won autonomy. 

The Fox wars, which were closed by leniency and diplomacy 
on the part of French officials, were induced and prolonged by 
serious mistakes of administration. Their causes are to be 
sought not only in the character of the tribe itself — hardy, sus- 
picious, jealous of its rights and of great personal powers — but 
in faulty methods of the French colonial system. The 
policy of removing and congregating tribes around a French 
post induced friction that produced war. La Salle's 
colonial system in Illinois brought the Renards to their 
strategic position on Fox River, where they quickly learned 
the advantages of their position. La Clothe Cadillac's con- 
centration about Detroit brought into play animosities that re- 
sulted in the outbreak of 1712. The jealousies of rival posts, 
and particularly that between the officers of Canada and 
Louisiana, gave opportunity to the wily savage to play off one 
party against the other. The French in the Illinois com- 
plained that the Canadian traders gave the savages to under- 
stand that they were a different sort of white men, and not en- 
titled to the Indian-' regard. 

But chiefly it was the fur-trade, with all its ramifications of 
self-interest, that provoked and prolonged the wars. While 
for the interest of the colony at large, peace among the In- 
dians of the Upper Country best promoted economic pros- 
perity, nevertheless adventurous and illegal traders found 
large personal profits in a state of war. i^ever did the Foxes 
lack for weapons or ammunition, obtained at exorbitant prices 
from illicit traders. French officers viewed with some com- 
placency attacks upon the hunters of another post, which in- 
creased the prices and profits of their own. Even a punitive 
expedition could be turned to profit, if both government and 
savages were skillfully exploited. That the Fox wars dragged 
their slow length over so many decades of the history of New 
France was largely due to the opposition of private interests 
in the fur-trade, rather than to considerations of the public wel- 


Fox Indian Wars 

The history of the Fox Indians during the French regime 
is told m the annals of their enemies and conquerors. Only 
occasional glimpses are preserved to us from the translation 
of their speeches, to indicate their own point of view, to por- 
tray their wrongs, to glorify their heroes. The annalist with 
some knowledge of Indian psychology must read between the 
nies, and interpret events in the light of their barbaric, hence 
hunted, comprehension. Viewed from this standpoint the 
Fox wars become a national rebellion, the revolt of a brave and 
independent race from the exactions of French traders, and 
the debasing submission to French officers. Throughout their 
course, the French authorities claim to have discerned the 
machinations of the English, and the insidious influence of 
the Iroquois. Sin<]y of the conditions leads to the belief that 
this influence is largely exaggerated, that instead of their wars 
being instigated by the Iroquois, it was the Foxes who sought 
the aid of the latter in the struggle for independence. The 
Foxev reliance therein was upon barbaric strength, and not 
upon a rival civilization. ^ w and again one catches glimpses 
of heroic figures among the rebellious tribesmen. Pemoussa, 
hurtling the defiant cry at Dubuisson for his treachery, '"'Know 
that the Renard is immortal!" dying later a hostage at Mon- 
treal of the dreaded disease of small-pox; Kiala, "the instigator 
of aH their misdeeds," offering himself a sacrifice for the life 
of his people, and dying in the tropical heats of the island oi 
Martinique. Shadowy figures these, but worthy to stand in 
the hall of fame beside the heroic Pontiac or the wily Tecum- 
seh, witnesses of the heroic impulse which stirs the heart of 
mankind whether in a white or a red man's spirit. 

Striking and picturesque as are the various incidents of 
the Fox wars, it. is by their influence upon history that their 
importance must be judged. They led in the first place to a 
change in the trade routes in the Upper Country. The Fox- 
Wisconsin waterway being controlled by this hostile tribe, and 
the Illinois-Chicago route often rendered unsafe, the routes 
by Lake Superior were developed, the Grand Portage to the 

13 [ 1ST ] 

Wisconsin Historical Society 


Northwest discovered, and the far regions of Winnipeg and 

Saskatchewan opened by daring French explorers. On the 
other hand, communication by the usual routes between 
Louisiana and Canada being interrupted, the portages from 
Erie and Ontario to the Ohio were opened — an effect which 
brought about the dash of interests that resulted in, or rather 
precipitated, the French and Indian War. 

The Fox wars likewise proved a training school for officers in 
the later colonial wars. St. Pierre and Coulon de Villiers, 
whom Washington encountered on the Allegheny, had com- 
manded in Wisconsin for many years. The elder and younger 
Marin, Celeron de Blainville, Dazenard de Lusignan, Boucher 
de la Perriere, members of the Le Moyne, Repcntigny, and 
Ramezay families, all useful officers in the final struggle of Xew 
France, had learned the trade of war and the command of sav- 
age auxiliaries in the contests of the Upper Country. Charles 
de Langlade bred at Mackinac, aided in the defeat of Brad- 
dock, and fought upon the Plains of Abraham. 

Finally, the Fox wars proved to be "the entering wedge of 
ruin for the French Dominion in America." 11 Whether the 
treat interior valleys were to remain under French, or pass to 
English control, was the problem of the eighteenth century in 
America. The obstinate resistance of this one barbarous 
tribe in the forests of Wisconsin changed French policy in the 
West* rn country, weakened French dominion over her sava 6 *e 
allies, and set in motion forces that gave the rivers and prairies 
"f the Great West to the English-speaking race. 

Hebberd, French Dominion in Wisconsin, p. 15' 

U'.jlu8 [1881 





'«• ^ 



aP V*. * ^H 



? n « a "8 

V c°""* 


£ .."J 

5> » 


J> > . l ' * * ^ o* . • • • « *o a* • . * • • * ^ o* t • ■ • . 

' * ^ V • * * °» v^ 

^\ * ' 

^>2 , <^b 


^ ^ 

o. •TT^* ^0'