Before proceding to the consideration of the events immediately preceding the settlement of this portion of our country, it will be well to glance cursorily at the more salient of those earlier events which prepared the way for it.
The first Europeans who visited America were Scandinavians, who colonized Iceland in 875, Greenland in 983, and about the year 1000 had discovered Massachusetts. But it was not known to Southern Europe until the latter part of the fifteenth century when it was accidently discovered while in quest of a westerly route to India and China. In 1492, Columbus, a Genoese, set out on a voyage of discovery under the patronage of the Spanish Government, and in that and the two succeeding years made his tropical discoveries. John Cabot discovered New Foundland and portions of the adjacent continent in 1497; and in 1500, the coast of Labrador and the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where explored by two Portuguese brothers named Cortereal. In 1508, St. Lawrence was discovered by Aubert, and four years later, in 1512, Ponce de Leon discovered Florida. Magellan, a Portuguese, passed through the Straits which bear his name in 1519, and was the first to circumnavigate the globe. In 1534, the St. Lawrence was explored by Jacques Cartier as far as Montreal. In 1539, Florida was explored by Fernando de Soto. Upper California was discovered in 1578, by an English navigator named Drake. These data will be of service in aiding to a proper understanding of the relative importance of the events which subsequently transpired.
Thus we see that within a decade from the time that Columbus discovered America the different maritime powers of Europe were engaged in active competition for the prizes of the New World. Spain, actuated by the greed of gold and lust of conquest, conquered Mexico in 1521, seized upon the rich treasures of the Montezumas, and in 1540 carried her conquests into Peru. Stimulated by these successes, she took possession of Florida and that portion of the Northern Continent bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, and in 1565, seventy-three years after Columbus' discovery, and fifty-three years after Ponce de Leon's discovery, planted the first Spanish colony in North America, at St. Augustine, Florida.
While the Spaniards were pushing their territorial acquisitions in the South, the French, attracted by the rich prize of the New Foundland fisheries, had gained a foothold in the northern part of the continent. As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century the French, Basques, Bretons and Normans fished for cod along the entire coasts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and those in the vicinity, and traded for peltries. In 1518, Baron Livy settled there. In 1524, King Francis I. of France sent thither Jean Verazani, a distinguished Florentine mariner, on a voyage of exploration. He sailed along the coast twenty-one hundred miles in frail vessels, and returned safely to report his success to his sovereign. Ten years later, the same King sent thither Jacques Cartier (Quartier), a pilot of St. Malo, who made two voyages, and ascended as far as Montreal, previously called Hochelaga. As he sailed up the broad expanse of waters on St. Lawrence Day (August 10, 1534,) he applied to the river the name of that illustrious saint whose virtues that day commemorates. In 1540, Cartier was sent back with Jean Francis de Robarval, a gentleman of Picardy, whom King Francis I. appointed his Lieutenant-General over the new countries of Canada, Hochelaga and Saguenay. In 1543, Robarval came the second time from France in company with the Pilot Jean Alphonse of Saintouge, and they took possession of Cape Breton. At this time the settlement of Quebec was commenced. In 1598, King Henry IV. Of France conferred on the Marquis de la Roche, a Breton, the government of the territories of Canada and the adjacent countries; and in 1603, he conferred his commission of Lieutenant- General in the territories of New France, Acadia (Nova Scotia,) Canada and other parts, on Sieur de Mons, a gentleman of Saintouge, who, in 1608, built a fort at Quebec, the government whereof he left to Sieur Champlain, the first discoverer of the Iroquois.
The year previous, in 1607, the English Colonists made the permanent settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, under the immediate supervision of that Englishman of heroic spirit and indomitable energy, Capt. John Smith. In 1620, the English planted a second colony on this western continent, at Plymouth Rock, which was destined to exert an important influence in the affairs of this country. These two colonies were successful rivals of all the others of every nationality, in that competition for empire which has made their descendants the masters of North America.
Henry Hudson, an intrepid English navigator, in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, moored his vessel, the Half Moon, a mere yacht, in the waters of the river which bears his name, September 3, 1609. He met and entertained the natives and was in turn entertained by them. He imparted to them knowledge of the baneful effects of intoxicating liquor, and before his departure, became embroiled with them, losing one of his men. But he returned to Europe and imparted the information he had gained, which led soon after to the establishment of a colony by the Dutch, by the name of New Netherlands.
On the foregoing discoveries three European nations based claims to a part of the territory embraced in the State of New York. England, by reason of the discovery of Cabot, who sailed under letters patent from Henry VII, and on the 24th of June, 1497, struck the sterile coast of Labrador, and on that made the following year by his son Sebastian, who explored the coast from New Foundland to Florida, claiming a territory eleven degrees in width and extending westward indefinitely; France, by reason of the discoveries of Verrazani, claimed a portion of the Atlantic coast; and Holland, by reason of the discovery of Hudson, claimed the country from Cape Cod to the southern shore of Delaware Bay.
The Dutch became the actual possessors of the country, and in 1614 they planted a fort on Manhatten Island, and one at Albany the following year. Their establishment increased, and in 1621 the Dutch West India Company was formed, and took possession of New Amsterdam by virtue of its charter in 1622-3. For fifteen years the colonists lived on amicable terms with the Indians, but the harshness and cruelty of Wm. Kieft, who was commissioned Director-General in September, 1637, soon provoked the just resentment of the Indians, involving the colonists in a war with the latter, which continued with slight interruptions during the remainder of the Dutch occupancy, and jeopardized the very existence of the colony.
On the 12th of March, 1664, Charles II., of England, conveyed by patent to his brother James, Duke of York, all the country from the River St. Croix to the Kennebec, in Maine, also Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Long Island, together with all the land from the west side of the Connecticut River to the east side of Delaware Bay. The Duke sent and English squadron, under Admiral Richard Nicolls, to secure the gift, and on the 8th of September following Gov. Stuyvesant capitulated, and the territory till then held by the Dutch, passed into the hands of the English, who changed the name of New Amsterdam to New York. The victory was an easy one for restricted in their rights, and desirous of enjoying privileges and liberties accorded to the neighboring English colonists, the Dutch settlers refused to contest the supremacy, and Stuyvesant, unsupported, was obliged, thought reluctant, to resign.
When the French first assumed a military dominance in Canada, they found the Iroquois at war with the Adirondacks, the latter of whom lived in Canada in the vicinity of Quebec. The French allied themselves with the Canadian and Western Indians, and maintained friendly relations with them during the period of their supremacy in Canada. They espoused the cause of the Adirondacks against the Iroquois, with whom they were at sword's-points during much of that period, and long after the Adirondacks had been exterminated by their inveterate enemies. Champlain, having raised the drooping spirits of the Adirondacks, by an exhibition of the wonderful effect produced by the French guns, armed them and joined them in an expedition against the Iroquois in 1609, and thus commenced that horrible series of barbarities, which continued for more than a century and a half, an from which the European colonists, both in Canada and New York, suffered beyond description.
Champlain and his Indian allies met on the lake which bears his name a party of two hundred Iroquois. Both parties landed; but the Iroquois, dismayed at the murderous effect of the strange weapons, retreated to their fastnesses in the wilderness, leaving the French to return to Canada, without, however, having accomplished the object of their mission, which was to force the Iroquois to easy terms of peace.
This was the first meeting of the Iroquois with the whites, and the circumstances certainly were not such as to give a very favorable opinion of them, nor soften the savage nature so largely predominant in them.
Emboldened by this success, Champlain, with a few Frenchmen, and four hundred Huron allies, renewed the attack on the Iroquois in 1615. This event, thee is good reason to believe, connects the history of Chenango County with one of the earliest, as well as most memorable events, in the history, both of the State and of the nation.1 In view of this probability therefore, we deem a minute description of this expedition both warranted and pertinent.
This expedition was directed against the stronghold of the Onondagas. Champlain proceeded to the Upper Waters of the Ottawa River; thence crossed over to Lake Nipissing, and having discovered Lake Huron, joined the natives of that name in the contemplated expedition. We will allow him to describe it in his own language:---
"On the seventh of August I arrived at Cahiague,2 where I was received with great joy and gratitude by al the Indians of that country. They had intelligence that a certain Nation of their allies, with whom the Iroquois were at war, and who resided three good days' journey higher up (plus haut) than the Entouhonorons, wished to assist this expedition with five hundred good men, and enter into alliance and amity with us, having a great desire to see us, and that we should wage war altogether; and they testified their satisfaction at being acquainted with us; and I, in like manner, for having obtained this opportunity to satisfy the desire I had, of learning something about that country. That Nation is very warlike, according to the representation of the Attigonotans.3 They are only three villages in the midst of more than twenty others against which they wage war, not being able to receive assistance from their friends, especially as they must pass through the country of the Chouontouarouon, which is very populous, or else go a great way round.
"Having arrived at this village, it suited me to sojourn there whilst waiting until the warriors should come in from the circumjacent villages, then to leave it as soon as possible. During this interval it was a continual series of feasting and dancing, through joy for seeing us so determined to assist them in their war, and as a guarantee already of victory.
"On the assembling of the major part of our forces, we set out from the village on the first day of September, and passed along the border of a very small lake, distant three leagues from the village, where they take great quantities of fish, which they preserve for winter. There is another lake adjoining, 26 leagues in circumference, descending into the smaller by a channel where a great catch of said fish is taken by means of a number of stakes, which almost close the passage, leaving only small openings, over which they place their nets to catch the fish. These two lakes disembogue into the Fresh Sea [Lake Huron.] We sojourned a while at this place to wait for the rest of our Indians, where, being all assembled with their arms, meal and necessaries, consultation was had for the selection of some of the most resolute men of the troop to carry advice of our departure to those who were to assist and join us with five hundred men, in order that we may meet at the same time, before the enemy's fort. This deliberation adopted, they dispatched two canoes, with twelve of the most robust Indians, and one of our interpreters, who requested to me to make the voyage. This I willingly permitted him, as he was so disposed, and would see the country by that means and acquire knowledge of the people who inhabit it. The danger was not trifling, inasmuch as they had to pass through the midst of enemies. We continued our route towards the enemy, and made five or six leagues through the Lakes, whence the savages carried the canoes about ten leagues over land and came to another Lake extending about six or seven leagues in length, and three in width. A river issues from this which discharges into the Great Lake of the Entouhonorons.4 And having traversed this Lake, we passed a water fall, proceeding always down along the course of said river, about sixty-four leagues, which is the entrance of the said valley of the Entouhonorons, and passed by land five rapids (sauts,) some four or five leagues long, where there are several Lakes of pretty considerable extent; the said river which flows between them also bounds with good fish, and all this country is very fine and agreeable. In several places along the banks, the trees would seem to have been planted for ornament. All this country was formerly inhabited by Savages, who have since been constrained to abandon it, through fear of their enemies. Vines and nuts are in great quantities, grapes come to maturity here, but they leave always a sharp sour taste, which proceeds from want of cultivation; but those that have been cultivated in these parts are of pretty good flavour.
"We continued along the border of the Lake of the Entouhonorons, always hunting * * * ; being there, we crossed over at one of the extremities, extending Eastward, which is the beginning (l'entrée) of the river Saint Lawrence, in the parallel of forty-three degrees of Latitude. There are some beautiful and very large Islands in this passage. We made about fourteen leagues to cross to the other side of the Lake, proceeding southward, towards the enemy's country. The Indians concealed all their canoes in the woods, near the bank. We travelled by land about four leagues over a sandy plain, where I observed a very pleasing and fine country, watered by numerous small streams, and two little rivers which empty into said Lake, and a number of ponds and prairies, where there was an infinite quantity of game a great many vines and fine trees, vast number of chestnuts, the fruit of which was yet in the shell. It is quite small but well flavored.
"All the canoes being thus concealed, we left the bank of the Lake, which is 80 leagues long and 25 wide. It is inhabited for the greater part by Savages, along the sides of the streams, and we continued our journey overland some 25 to 30 leagues. In the course of four days we traversed a number of streams and one river issuing from a lake which empties into that of the Entouhonorons. This lake is 25 to 30 leagues in circumference, with many beautiful Islands, and is the Iroquois fishing ground, fish being in abundance there.
"The 9th of October; Our Indians going out scouting, encountered eleven Savages whom they took prisoners, to-wit: four women, three boys, one girl and three men, who were going fishing, four leagues distant from the enemy's fort. Now is to be noted that one of the chiefs seeing these prisoners, cut the finger off one of those poor women, as the commencement of their usual tortures. Whereupon I interfered, and censured the Iroquet Captain, representing to him that a Warrior, as he called himself, was not in the habit of acting cruelly towards women, who have no defense but their tears and who, by reason of their helplessness and feebleness, out to be treated with humanity. That on the contrary this act would be supposed to proceed from a vile and brutal courage, and that if he committed any more of those cruelties, he would not encourage me to assist them, nor to favor their war. Whereupon he replied, that their enemies treated them in the same manner. But since such customs displeased me, he would not act so any more to women, but exclusively to men.
"Next day, at three o'clock in the afternoon, we arrived before the enemy's fort, where the savages had some skirmishes, the one against the other, though it was not our design to discover ourselves until the morrow. But the impatience of our savages would not brook this, as well through the desire they felt to see us fire on their enemies, as to liberate some of their men who had ventured too far. Then I advanced and presented myself, but with the few men I had; nevertheless I shewed them what they never saw nor heard before. For as soon as they saw us, and heard the reports of the Arquebuse, and the balls whistling about their ears, they retired promptly within the fort, carrying off their wounded and dead; and we retreated in like manner to our main body, with five or six of our wounded, one of whom died.
"This being done, we retired within gunshot, beyond the view of the enemy, contrary, however, to my advice, and to what they had promised me. Which moved me to make use of and express to them in rude and angry words, in order to incite them to their duty, foreseeing that if everything went according to their fantasy and council nothing but misfortune would result, to their ruin and destruction. Nevertheless, failed not to send to them and propose means necessary to be used to overcome their enemies; which was to construct a movable tower (cavalier) of timber to overlook their pickets, whereupon I should post four or five of our Arquebusiers, who would fire over the palisade and galleries, which were well supplied with stones, and by this means the enemy who annoyed us from their galleries would be dislodged; and in the meantime we should give orders for some boards to form a species of parapet to cover and protect our men from the arrows and stones. These things, namely the tower and parapets, could be moved by main force; and one was made in such a way that water could not extinguish the fire to be applied to the front of the fort; and those on the tower would do their duty with some Arquebusiers posted there, and thus acting, we should so defend ourselves that they could not approach to extinguish the fire, that we should apply to their pickets. Approving this, they began next morning to construct and prepare said tower and parapets; and made such progress that these were finished in less than four hours. They were expecting the arrival this day of the five hundred men that had been promised, which was however doubtful; not being at the rendezvous as directed, and as they had promised, our savages were much afflicted. But seeing that they were numerous enough to capture the forts, and for my part, considering delay to be always prejudicial, at least in most cases, I urged them to attack said fort, representing that the enemy discovering their strength and the effect of our arms, which pierced what was arrow-proof, would barricade and shelter themselves, which, indeed, they did very well. For their village was inclosed with strong quadruple palisades of large timber, thirty feet high, interlocked the one with the other, with an interval of not more than a foot between them, with galleries in the form of parapets, defended with double pieces of timber, proof against our Arquebuses, and on one side they had a pond with a never-failing supply of water, which proceeded a number of gutters which they dug along the intermediate space, throwing the water without, and rendered it effectual inside for the purpose of extinguishing fire.
"Such was their mode of fortification and defense, which was much stronger than the villages of the Attigouatans [Hurons} and others.
"We advanced, then, to attack the village, causing our tower to be carried by two hundred of our strongest men. They placed it within a pike's length in front, and I posted on it four Arquebusiers, well sheltered from any arrows and stones that might have been shot at them. Nevertheless, the enemy did not, for all that, cease discharging and throwing a great number of arrows and stones over their pickets. But the multitude of Arquebuse shots that were fired, constrained them to vacate and abandon their galleries. But according as the tower was moved, instead of bringing the parapets as ordered, and that on which we were to have placed the fire, they abandoned them and commenced to yell against their enemies, shooting arrows within the fort, which, in my opinion, did not do much execution. They are very excusable, for they are not soldiers, and are, moreover, averse to discipline or correction, and do only what they like. Wherefore, one inconsiderately applied the fire to the wrong side of the fort, or to the leeward, so that it produced no effect. On the fire being kindled, the most of the savages began to set wood against the pickets, but in such small quantities, that they did not do much good. The disorder that supervened was in consequence so great, that it was impossible to hear. In vain I cried to them and remonstrated as well as I was able against the imminent danger to which they exposed themselves by their stupidity. They heard nothing in consequence of the violent noise they made. Seeing that by shouting I was only splitting my skull, and that my remonstrances were in vain, and that this disorder was irremediable, I resolved to do what was in my power with my men and fire on those we could discover or perceive. Yet, the enemy profited by our disorder. They went to the water and discharged it in such abundance that rivers, it may be said, spouted from their gutters, so that the fire was extinguished in less than no time, and they continued to pour arrows on us like hail. Those on the tower killed and wounded great many.
"This engagement lasted about three hours. Two of our chief and leaders were wounded; to wit, one called Ochateguain; the other Orani. and about fifteen individuals besides. The rest, seeing their folks and some oof their chiefs wounded, began to talk of retreating, without fighting any more, expecting the five hundred men, whose arrival was not far off; and so they withdrew, having accomplished nothing save this disorderly splutter. However, the chiefs have no absolute control of their companions who follow their whim, and act their pleasure, which is the cause of their disorder and ruins all their affairs. In having taken a resolution, any poor devil can make them violate it and change their plan. Thus, the one with the other, they effect nothing, as may be seen by this expedition.
"Having received two wounds from arrows, one in the leg and the other in the knee, which sorely incommoded me, we withdrew into our fort. Being all assembled there, I remonstrated with them several times on account of the disorder that had occurred. But all my talk was in vain; they said many of their men had been wounded and I also, and that it would be very inconvenient and fatiguing to carry them on the retreat; that there was no means of returning again to the enemy as I had proposed to them; but that they would willingly wait four days more for the five hundred men that were expected, on whose arrival they would renew the effort against the enemy, and execute what I had told them, better than they had already done. It was necessary to stop there to my great regret. * * *
"Next day blew a very strong and violent wind which lasted two days, particularly favorable for setting the enemy's fort in a blaze, which I strongly urged on them. But fearing failure, and moreover representing themselves as wounded, they would not do anything.
"We remained encamped until the 16th of the month. Several skirmishes occurred during that time between the enemy and our people, who became oftenest engaged with them rather by their imprudence than through want of courage; and I can assure you, that every time they made a charge, we were obliged to extricate them from the difficulty, not being able to help themselves, except by the help of our arquebuses which the enemy dreaded and greatly feared. For as soon as they perceived one of our Arquebusiers, they immediately retired, telling us by way of persuasion not to meddle with their fights, and that their enemies had very little courage to require our assistance; with many other such like discourses.
"Seeing that the five hundred men were not coming, they proposed to depart and retreat at once, and began to make certain litters to convey their wounded, who are put in them, tumbled in a heap, doubled and strapped in such a way that it is impossible to stir less than an infant in its swaddling clothes, not without considerable pain, as I can certify, having been carried several days on the back of one of our Indians, thus tied and bound, so that I lost all patience. As soon as I had strength to bear my weight, I got out of this prison, or to speak plainer out of hell.
"The enemy pursued us about the distance of half a league, endeavoring to catch some of the rear guard. But their labor was in vain and they retired.
"All I remarked in these wars is, that they retreated in good order, placing all their wounded and old people in their center, they being in front, on the wings, and in the rear, well armed and arranged in such wise according to order, until they are in a place of safety, without breaking their line. Their retreat was very tedious, being from 25 to 30 leagues, which greatly fatigued the wounded and those who carried them, though they relieved each other from time to time.
"On the 18th of said month some snow fell which melted rapidly. It was accompanied by a strong wind that greatly annoyed us. Nevertheless we contrived to get back to the border of the lake of the Entouhonorons and at the place where we had concealed our canoes which we found safe; for we feared lest the enemy might have broken them." 5
This narrative of Champlain's is accompanied by a diagram of the fort, which is in the form of a hexagon, situated on a slight elevation, in the angle of a stream, which is at once the inlet and outlet of a pond, which, with the stream, bounded three sides of the fort. The stream flowed into and out of the pond at points but a few rods apart. The situation is a peculiar one, and it is scarcely probable that another one could be found which so exactly corresponds with Champlain's description. While writers differ as to the exact location of the fort, nearly all agree that Champlain's last encampment before he attacked the fort was at or near the mouth of Chittenango Creek, for none other of the interior lakes meet the requirements of his description as to the presence of islands. Of the western lakes, Cayuga is the only one thus graced, and that has but a solitary one. Oneida is the only lake upon which he could have encamped that has islands. The locality indicated by Gen. Clark as the probable site of the fort has long been regarded an important one in connection with Indian antiquity, and has yielded many rare and interesting relics, which are now in the government collection in the Smithsonian Institute. A large part of the area which bears evidence of having been inclosed within well-defined outlines of the fortification, has been cultivated for years, but a part is covered by venerable forest trees of great size. The plow has disclosed many bits of crockery and broken stone implements, which have enriched many private cabinets; but, singularly, none of those articles so clearly referable to the Jesuit missions, and generally found in great abundance elsewhere, reward the searcher for antiquarian relics here. This fact is a strong confirmation of the correctness of Gen. Clark's deductions, as it clearly proves the existence of the fortification anterior to the advent of the Jesuits.6 In the undisturbed ground can be plainly seen marks left by the decay of the deeply-set palisades, and indentations, apparently where corn was cached. From the high point adjacent, the eye commands a wide range of country of unusual beauty, and an alarm fire on these commanding heights would be seen from near Lake Ontario to the western peaks of the Adirondacks. A small pond, whose ancient water-mark was much higher than at present, is fed by a stream which enters and leaves it on the south, and a low, broad knoll lies between these streams.
These coincidences are striking ones; but the elements of correspondence are so peculiar as to make it scarcely possible that they are merely coincidences.7
These unprovoked attacks of Champlain on the Iroquois provoked hostilities which ended only with the extirpation of French domination in North America. Great must have been the chagrin of the proud and boastful French General to be compelled to retreat thus ingloriously before a "savage" horde, whom he confidently expected to overawe into submission. But he was destined to still greater humiliation.
The Iroquois, alarmed but not dismayed, now artfully sued for peace. The French gladly listened to these overtures from an enemy from whom, in their weak state,8 they had so much to apprehend, and consented to a truce, imposing as the only condition that they might be allowed to send missionaries among them, hoping by this means to win them over to French allegiance. But the Iroquois held the Jesuit priests thus send them, as hostages to compel the neutrality of the French, while they prepared to wage a deadly war against the Adirondacks9 and Quatoghies10 (Hurons,) the latter of whom they defeated in a dreadful battle fought within two leagues of Quebec. This defeat within sight of the French settlements, and the terrible loss inflicted on the Quatoghies, filled with terror the Indian allies of the French, who were then numerous, having been attracted to the locality of Quebec by reason of the profitable trade carried on with the French, who supplied them with many useful conveniences. Many of them fled, some to the northward, others to the southwest, beyond the reach, as they hoped and supposed, of their terrible enemies, but only to enjoy a temporary respite, for they were sought out by the vindictive Iroquois and murdered in detail.
The Adirondacks, however, remained, and on them the Iroquois planned another raid. They had been supplied with fire-arms by the Dutch traders of Albany,11 and in 1646, they sent word to the Governor of Canada, (whom the Iroquois called Yonnendis,) that they intended to pay him a friendly visit during the winter. They set out with a thousand warriors12 and reached the village of the Adirondacks at a time when the warriors of that nation wee engaged in their annual hunt. They captured the women and children, and and a party of ten set out in search of the absent warriors. They fell in with Piskaret, a renowned Adirondack chief, who was returning alone. They knew his prowess from previous encounters with him and feared to openly attack him. They therefore approached him in the attitude of friends, Piskaret being ignorant of the rupture of the treaty of peace concluded with his and other nations in 1645. After learning from him that the Adirondack warriors were divided into two bodies, and their whereabouts, one of the party treacherously ran him through with a sword, and turned with his head to their army. They then divided their own forces, surprised and fell upon the unsuspecting Adirondacks, whom they almost exterminated. Thus a once powerful people, whom Colden regarded as "the most warlike and polite" of all the Indian nations of North America, were almost wiped out of existence by an enemy they had once despised.13
While the Mohawks were engaged in their work of death and devastation in the locality of the French settlements, the Senecas and others of the western nations of the Iroquois league were carrying out a similar programme with regard to the Hurons and other western nations. The war between the Hurons and Iroquois dates back previous to the time when the whites gained a knowledge of them, and was kept up in a desultory manner, with varying success, till 1650, when a series of decisive battles were fought, resulting in the complete success of the Iroquois and the almost utter destruction of the Hurons. The small remnant of them forsook the once populous villages near the lake which bears their name, and took refuge under the French guns at Quebec. They established a colony on the Isle of Orleans. But even there they were not safe from the inroads of their old enemies, for in 1656, the Iroquois made a descent upon them and carried off a large number of captives, under the very cannon of Quebec; the French not daring to fire upon the invaders, lest they should revenge themselves on the Jesuits who were then in their country. This calamity was followe d four years later by another, when the best of the Huron warriors, including their leader, the crafty and valient Etienne Annaotaha, were slain, fighting side by side with the French, in the desperate conflict of the Long Sault. After various removals to and in the near locality of Quebec, they finally located at Indian Lorette, on the St. Charles, about a dozen miles from Quebec, where a remnant of them still remain.14
The Tobacco nation, a division of the Huron family who, favored by their isolated position among the mountains, had held their ground longer than the rest, together with the Hurons who had sought refuge with them were pursued with like vehemence by the Iroquois who destroyed the villages of the former in 1649, having eluded by strategy the warriors who, hearing of their approach, sallied forth to meet them. They returned from their bootless raid, without having met the Iroquois, to find their villages in ashes, and their old men, women and children made captives. They sought safety in flight, and made their way to the Island of Michilimackenac, where they were joined by the Ottawas, who, with other Algonquins, had been driven by fear of the Iroquois from the western shore of Lake Huron and the banks of the River Ottawa. At Michilimackenac they were again attacked by the Iroquois, and after several years they again moved and took possession of the islands at the mouth of the Green Bay of Lake Michigan. Even there their old enemy did not leave them in peace; whereupon they fortified themselves on the main land, and afterwards migrated southward and westward. This brought them in contact with the Illinois, and Algonquin people, then very numerous, but who, like many other tribes at the epoch, were doomed to a rapid diminution from wars with other savage nations. Continuing their migrations westward the Hurons and Ottawas reached the Mississippi, where they became involved with the Sioux, who drove them from their country, and ultimately, about 1671, compelled them to return to Michilimackenac, when they afterwards removed to Detroit and Sandusky, where they lived under the name of the Wyandots till within the present century, exerting a marked influence upon the surrounding Algonquins. They were active allies of the French in the war which ended in the reduction of Canada; and were the most formidable enemies of the English in the war under Pontiac. The United States at length removed them to reserves on the western frontier, where a remnant of them may still be found.
The Atticamegues, or nation of the White Fish, who lived far to the north of Three Rivers, though themselves safe by reason of their remoteness and the difficult nature of the intervening country; but a party of Iroquois, marching on snow-shoes, a distance of twenty-one days' journey to the northward of the St. Lawrence, fell upon one of their camps in the winter of 1651-2, and made a general butchery of the inmates.15
Having dispersed the Hurons and their allies, the Iroquois next directed their attention to the Neutral Nation, (Attionandrons,) who were a numerous people having twenty-eight towns, besides many small hamlets, occupying wide and fertile districts, forty leagues in length, on the north shore of Lake Erie.16 Though maintaining a strict neutrality between their warring kindred, the Hurons and Iroquois, the deadly strife they waged with other tribes showed them to be abundantly ferocious. At the close of the fall of 1650, the Iroquois assaulted and took one of the principal towns of the Neutrals, which was said at the time to have had more than sixteen hundred men. Early the following spring they took another town. The slaughter was prodigious, and the victors drove back troops of captives for slaughter or adoption. It was the death blow of the Neutrals, who abandoned their cornfields in which the wildest terror, dispersed themselves in the forests, where they died by thousands for want of food, which the forests could not yield for so vast a multitude. From that time they have ceased to exist as a nation.
During the two or three succeeding years the Iroquois contented themselves with harrassing the French and Algonquins; but in 1653, each of the Five Nations made separate treaties of peace, and the colonists and their red allies had an interval of rest. There was no rest, however, for the Iroquois.17 The Eries, who occupied the country bordering on the south shore of Lake Erie, were the next to feel their avenging arm. That nation had made a treaty of peace with the Senecas, and in 1653 sent a deputation of thirty of their principal men to confirm it. One of the latter killed a Seneca in a casual affray, and to avenge his death his countrymen murdered the thirty deputies. A war ensued, and in 1654 the Iroquois, twelve hundred strong, invaded the country of the Eries, who, as the former approached, retired to the westward, till all were gathered in one body, when, fortifying themselves with palisades and felled trees, they awaited the onset. The Iroquois rushed to the assault, but were met with a shower of poisoned arrows, which killed and wounded many and drove the rest back. They renewed the attack with unabated ardor; this time carrying their bark canoes over their heads like huge shields, to protect them from the storm of arrows. These they planted upright, and, mounting them by the cross-bars, scaled the barricade with such impetuous fury that the Eries were thrown into a panic, and by the frightful butchery which ensued were soon wiped out of existence as a nation. But the Iroquois suffered so heavily that they were compelled to remain two months in the Eries' country, to bury their dead and care for their wounded.
Their worst and last formidable enemies, of their own race, the Andastes, who occupied the country to the south of them on and adjacent to the Susquehanna, were yet to be subdued. They were inferior in numbers to the Hurons, Neutrals or Eries, but they gave their assailants more trouble than all these united. There had long been a deadly enmity between the Andastes and Mohawks, the latter of whom seem at first to have borne the brunt of the Andastes' war, and were so roughly handled by these stubborn adversaries between the years 1650 and 1660, "that they were reduced from the height of audacious insolence to the depths of dejection." 18
Having disposed of their other adversaries, the remaining four Iroquois nation took up the quarrel, and fared scarcely better than the Mohawks. In the spring of 1662, eight hundred of their warriors invaded the Andastes' country for the purpose of striking a decisive blow; but the Andastes, having received aid and counsel from neighboring Swedish colonists, had surrounded their town with a double palisaide, flanked by two bastions, on which several pieces of cannon were mounted. These formidable preparations deterred them from making an assault. They therefore resorted to treachery, and on pretense of settling the terms of a peace, twenty-five of their warriors gained entrance; but here, too, they were foiled, for the Andastes, suspecting their motive, placed all of them on high scaffolds, and tortured them to death before the eyes of their countrymen, who decamped in miserable discomfiture. The hope of the French colonies and their Indian allies now rested in the Andastes; but, singularly enough, while their interests depended so much on the success of that nation in the war with the Iroquois, they concerted no measures to assist them.19 The Andastes planned a counter stroke and carried the war into the country of the Senecas, who were by far the most numerous of the Iroquois nations, and this, too, when they were full of despondency at the ravages of the small-pox. The Andastes war was continued with varying success, and without positive advantage to either till 1675, when they were overborne by the Senecas. Though subdued, they were not entirely destroyed, for a remnant of this valiant people continued to exist, under the name of the Conestogas, for nearly a century, until 1763, when they were butchered by the white ruffians known as the "Paxton Boys." 20
"The bloody triumphs of the Iroquois were complete. They had 'made a solitude and called it peace.' All the surrounding nations of their own lineage were conquered and broken up, while neighboring Algonquin tribes were suffered to exist only on condition of paying a yearly tribute of wampum. The confederacy remained a wedge thrust between the growing colonies of France and England.
"But what was the state of the conquerors? Their triumphs had cost them dear. As early as the year 1660, a writer, evidently well-informed, reports that their entire force had been reduced to twenty-two hundred warriors, while of these not more than twelve hundred were of the true Iroquois stock. The rest was a medley of adopted prisoners,---Hurons, Neutrals, Eries and Indians of various Algonquin tribes. Still their aggressive spirit was unsubdued. These incorrigible warriors pushed their murderous raids to Hudson's Bay, Lake Superior, the Mississippi and the Tennessee; they were the tyrants of all the intervening wilderness; and they remained for more than half a century a terror and a scourge to the afflicted colonists of New France."
The French were too eager to gain the good graces of the Iroquois to interfere in any quarrel in which they had only an indirect interest. Dec. 13, 1665, a treaty of peace was concluded by Gov. de Tracy, between them and the four western nations of the Iroquois, and was ratified by the Mohawks July 12, 1666. The Oneidas protested at the time "that their only object was to destroy the Algonquins and Hurons, their mortal enemies, protected by the French arms."---New York Colonial History.
20 - Gallatin locates the Andastes, called also the Guyandots, on the Alleghany River, and states that their principal town is supposed to have been near Pittsburgh. They have left their name to the Great and Little Guyandotte, two tributaries to the Ohio, in the south-west part of Virginia.---New York Colonial History, Vol. III. p. 125.