History of the Fox Wars Term Paper

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Louvigny returned to Quebec and was considered by Canadians to have ended the first Fox War. He returned to the area in 1717 to continue the policing of the Meskwaki forces, yet made little progress in making contact or forcing the provisions of the previous treaty. In later communication with the government, Meskwaki chiefs expressed their own desire for peace. During the period between 1714 and 1727, the French were able to reopen waterways and move freely throughout the areas previously hindered by the danger of Indian encounters. However, other communications between the French and the American Indians were failing. Among these, the greatest failure was the inability of the French to include the Indian groups in the agricultural settlements they had attempted, including the one at Detroit.

Though the city groups of Indians and white men did not last, the area remained secure enough for the French and Americans to successfully establish posts at all key portage and waterway routes. These routes included the paths connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi valley, the Maumee portage, the St. Joseph River portage, and the Illinois portage. Additionally the French post at Fort Howard was built and was maintained until the fall of the French in the Americas. A 1726 council at Lignery between the French and Meskwaki had concluded peace between the groups. Further, the French promised the Meskwaki a post and commandment. This never materialized, and the French's expansion into the northwest was slowing.

However, by the mid-1720s the Meskwaki were causing difficulties for French expeditions again, hindering the fur trade and threatening French stability. French reports indicate that the Meskwaki were planning to expel the French entirely from their area of Wisconsin. Meskwaki chief Kiala rallied many groups of Native Americans together for this purpose, including tribes as far away as the Iroquois, the Oto and the Sioux. In 1727, Meskwaki forces killed a French lieutenant and seven other soldiers who were traveling up the Missouri River from Fort de Chartres. France considered the killings an act of war and began the second of the Fox Wars with the goal of eliminating all opposing Meskwaki forces.

Canada's new governor-general, the Marquis de Beauharnois, replaced Vaudreuil in 1727. Inexperienced in Indian affairs, Beauharnois opposed the warnings of his advisors and sent a force of 400 French and 800 Indians into Wisconsin in August of 1728. The force was led by Lignery and was able to recruit 300 more men at Mackinac. Traveling across Green Bay and arriving at the French fort at night, Lignery's plan was to surprise the Meskwaki. However, Lignery's forces were too large to remain hidden and a Potawatomi chief who was acting as a double agent reported his whereabouts to the Meskwaki. Lignery traveled up the Fox River and found the area to be nearly deserted. From the few people left behind, Lignery learned that the Meskwaki had fled and assembled a fort further up river. Further, he learned that the women, children, and elderly were retreating by canoe while the men followed along the river by foot. Lignery followed along the Fox River until it met with the Wolf, but did not go farther. Lignery reportedly had many excuses for why he was unable to find and attack the Meskwaki, and instead burned the crops and cabins he found in an attempt to force starvation on the tribe.

The consequences of Lignery's failure in 1728 were devastating to French interests in the area. French groups in area forts and trading posts felt threatened when they realized their position between the Meskwaki and their allies, the Sioux. Among these was a group of about twenty soldiers and twenty traders at Fort Beauharnois. Some traders refused to leave their goods and stayed in the fort, while the others attempted to canoe down the Mississippi toward safety. The group was intercepted near the mouth of the Wisconsin River by a group of Mascouten and Kickapoo Indians. The Mascouten and Kickapoo were Meskwaki allies and captured the party, most likely with the intent of turning them over to the Meskwaki. However, a faction of the group escaped and the others succeeded, after being kept over the winter of 1728-1729, in convincing the Indians to let them go. They further convinced the Indians to break their alliance with the Meskwaki and instead align themselves with the Illinois.

The loss of allied tribes to the enemy greatly affected the strength of the Meskwaki. Those who stayed behind in Fort Beauharnois were able to defend it. The Winnebago, who had previously been attacked by the French with considerable losses, did not seek revenge or have interest in attacking the French with the Meskwaki. Using the newfound peace with many of the tribes in the area, Governor Beauharnois called upon the allied forces to wipe out the Meskwaki completely. The call was made from Montreal in the summer of 1729. By October, attacks had begun on the Meskwaki by many tribes who were aided and supplied by the French. Nearly three hundred Meskwaki, more than half women and children, were killed by an Ottawa and Chippewa hunting party in October 1729. The Meskwaki appealed to the Sioux to assist them in traveling to Montreal to ask for a peace agreement. However, the Meskwaki and Sioux decided against this measure, fearing that it would be unwise to put themselves in the hands of their enemies.

Beauharnois chose Paul de la Marque Sieur Marin to lead an expedition to suppress the Meskwaki. Marin and his forces left Montreal in the summer of 1729 and wintered over in a deserted fort near the Menominee village. He first encountered Meskwaki people in the spring, near Little Lake Butte des Morts. After five days of fighting the Meskwaki were successful in escaping during the night and eluding capture or defeat by Marin. Having lost all of their allies and left with few resources in their home area, the Meskwaki took an offer from the Iroquois to seek refuge outside of Wisconsin. In the summer of 1730 they set off for Lake Ontario, traveling through southern Wisconsin and along the Illinois River. They had plans to meet with allies in the Ouiatanon tribe near Lafayette, Indiana. However, their travel was also reported to the French by the Meskwaki's former allies, the Mascouten and the Kickapoo. The French threatened the Iroquois for offering refuge to the Meskwaki. Meanwhile, St. Ange of Peoria, Illinois gathered a force of French and Indian warriors and pursued the Meskwaki.

When the Meskwaki found that they were being pursued and surrounded they assembled a fort between the Illinois and the Wabash forces. St. Ange's forces attacked first, followed by Villiers and then a force from Fort Vincennes. The Meskwaki defended their fort for twenty-three days despite the fact that they were outnumbered and blocked in. Tunnels from their fort to a nearby stream allowed them water from inside. Additionally, some of the attacking forces sympathized with them and secretly aided them with food and water. The siege came to an end on September 9, 1730 when the Meskwaki made an escape attempt. Due to stormy weather, the French and Indian forces did not have a guard watching, and the Meskwaki slipped out during the night. However, the crying of their children alerted the forces to their attempt and they were soon overtaken and slaughtered on the Illinois prairies. Four to six hundred Meskwaki were killed, with half of those being women or children. More than four hundred were captured and split up among the attacking parties. Thos that were not tortured and killed were likely transported as into Canada as slaves. Some Meskwaki also fled and so escaped back to Wisconsin.

The French declared victory against the Meskwaki after the 1730 killing on the Illinois plains. The remaining Meskwaki attempted to rebuild a small community on the Wisconsin River. However, they were victim to continual attacks from those tribes that still allied with the French. The few Meskwaki chiefs who remained had bargained for peace with France in Montreal. Though they had agreed on a peace settlement, Beauharnois did not believe that they would keep the peace and so opted to break it first. He designed for a war party of Indian forces to attack the Meskwaki village in the middle of winter 1730-1731. Though they put up great defenses, three hundred Meskwaki were killed or captured on the bank of the Wisconsin. Again, a small faction of the attacked Meskwaki escaped, this time to the Mississippi.

Small encounters continued, with remaining Meskwaki attacked by wither Indian or French forces wherever they were found in hiding. In the fall of 1752, fifty Meskwaki succeeded in defending themselves from a group of Hurons, Ottawa, and Potawatomi from Detroit. They succeeded by entrenching themselves in a fort near the Fox River in Illinois. By 1733, the continued attacks wore down on the Meskwaki so greatly that chief Kiala and three other…[continue]

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