History of Louisisana
Le Page Du Pratz

Part 2 out of 8

other the Little; and they are about two leagues in length, and formed
by a chain of islets, or little isles, between the continent and
Cockle-island. The great channel is to the south.

We lay at the end of the channels in Cockle-island; so called, because
almost entirely formed of the shells named Coquilles des Palourdes, in
the sea-ports, without a mixture of any others. This isle lies before
the mouth of the Lake St. Louis to the east, and leaves at its two
extremities two outlets to the lake; the one, by which we entered,
which is the channel just mentioned; the other, by the Lake Borgne.
The lake, moreover, at the other end westward, communicates, by a
channel, with the Lake Maurepas; and may be about ten leagues in
length from east to west, and seven in breadth. Several rivers, in
their course southward, fall into it. To the south of the lake is a
great creek (Bayouc, a stream of dead water, with little or no
observable current) called Bayouc St. Jean; it comes close to New
Orleans, and falls into this lake at Grass Point (Pointe aux Herbes)
which projects a great way into the lake, at two leagues distance from
Cockle-island. We passed near that Point, which is nothing but a
quagmire. From thence we proceeded to the Bayouc Choupic, so
denominated from a fish of that name, and three leagues from the
Pointe aux Herbes. The many rivulets, which discharge themselves into
this lake, make its waters almost fresh, though it communicates with
the sea: and on this account it abounds not only with sea fish but
with fresh water fish, some of which, particularly carp, would appear
to be of a monstrous size in France.

We entered this Creek Choupic: at the entrance of which is a fort at
present. We went up this creek for the space of a league, and landed
at a place where formerly stood the village {18} of the natives, who
are called Cola-Pissas, an appellation corrupted by the French, the
true name of that nation being Aquelou-Pissas, that is, _the nation of
men that hear and see_. From this place to New Orleans, and the river
Missisippi, on which that capital is built, the distance is only a


_The Author put in Possession of his Territory. His Resolution to go
and settle among the_ Natchez.

Being arrived at the Creek Choupic the Sicur Lavigne, a Canadian, lodged
me in a cabin of the Aquelou-Pissas, whose village he had bought. He
gave others to my workmen for their lodging; and we were all happy to
find, upon our arrival, that we were under shelter, in a place that was
uninhabited. A few days after my arrival I bought an Indian female slave
of one of the inhabitants, in order to have a person who could dress our
victuals, as I perceived the inhabitants did all they could to entice
away our labourers, and to gain them by fair promises. As for my slave
and me, we did not understand one another's language; but I made myself
to be understood by signs, which these natives comprehend very easily:
she was of the nation of the Chitimachas, with whom the French had been
at war for some years.

I went to view a spot on St. John's Creek, about half a league distant
from the place where the capital was to be founded, which was yet only
marked out by a hut, covered with palmetto-leaves, and which the
commandant had caused to be built for his own lodging; and after him
for M. Paillou, whom he left commandant of that post. I had chosen
that place preferably to any others, with a view to dispose more
easily of my goods and provisions, and that I might not have them to
transport to a great distance. I told M. Paillou of my choice, who
came and put me in possession, in the name of the West-India company.

I built a hut upon my settlement, about forty yards from the creek of
St. John, till I could build my house, and lodging {19} for my people.
As my hut was composed of very combustible materials, I caused a fire
to be made at a distance, about half way from the creek, to avoid
accidents: which occasioned an adventure, that put me in mind of the
prejudices they have in Europe, from the relations that are commonly
current. The account I am going to give of it, may have upon those who
think as I did then, the same effect that it had upon me.

It was almost night, when my slave perceived, within two yards of the
fire, a young alligator, five feet long, which beheld the fire without
moving. I was in the garden hard by, when she made me repeated signs
to come to her; I ran with speed, and upon my arrival she shewed me
the crocodile, without speaking to me; the little time that I examined
it, I could see, its eyes were so fixed on the fire, that all our
motions could not take them off. I ran to my cabin to look for my gun,
as I am a pretty good marksman: but what was my surprize, when I came
out, and saw the girl with a great stick in her hand attacking the
monster! Seeing me arrive, she began to smile, and said many things,
which I did not comprehend. But she made me understand, by signs, that
there was no occasion for a gun to kill such a beast; for the stick
she shewed me was sufficient for the purpose.

The next day the former master of my slave came to ask me for some
salad-plants; for I was the only one who had any garden-stuff, having
taken care to preserve the seeds I had brought over with me. As he
understood the language of the natives, I begged him to ask the girl,
why she had killed the alligator so rashly. He began to laugh, and
told me, that all new comers were afraid of those creatures, although
they have no reason to be so: and that I ought not to be surprized at
what the girl had done, because her nation inhabited the borders of a
lake, which was full of those creatures; that the children, when they
saw the young ones come on land, pursued them, and killed them, by the
assistance of the people of the cabin, who made good cheer of them.

I was pleased with my habitation, and I had good reasons, which I have
already related, to make me prefer it to others; notwithstanding I had
room to believe, that the situation was {20} none of the healthiest,
the country about it being very damp. But this cause of an unwholesome
air does not exist at present, since they have cleared the ground, and
made a bank before the town. The quality of that land is very good,
for what I had sown came up very well. Having found in the spring some
peach-stones which began to sprout, I planted them; and the following
autumn they had made shoots, four feet high, with branches in

Notwithstanding these advantages, I took a resolution to quit this
settlement, in order to make another one, about a hundred leagues
higher up; and I shall give the reasons, which, in my opinion, will
appear sufficient to have made me take that step.

My surgeon came to take his leave of me, letting me know, he could be
of no service to me, near such a town as was forming; where there was
a much abler surgeon than himself; and that they had talked to him so
favourably of the post of the Natchez, that he was very desirous to go
there, and the more so, as that place, being unprovided with a
surgeon, might be more to his advantage. To satisfy me of the truth of
what he told me, he went immediately and brought one of the old
inhabitants, of whom I had bought my slave, who confirmed the account
he had given me of the fineness of the country of the Natchez. The
account of the old man, joined to many other advantages, to be found
there, had made him think of abandoning the place where we were, to
settle there; and he reckoned to be abundantly repaid for it in a
little time.

My slave heard the discourse that I have related, and as she began to
understand French, and I the language of the country, she addressed
herself to me thus: "Thou art going, then, to that country; the sky is
much finer there; game is in much greater plenty; and as I have
relations, who retired there in the war which we had with the French,
they will bring us every thing we want: they tell me that country is
very fine, that they live well in it, and to a good old age."

Two days afterwards I told M. Hubert what I had heard of the country
of the Natchez. He made answer, that he was {21} so persuaded of the
goodness of that part of the country, that he was making ready to go
there himself, to take up his grant, and to establish a large
settlement for the company: and, continued he, "I shall be very glad,
if you do the same: we shall be Company to one another, and you will
unquestionably do your business better there than here."

[Illustration: _Indian in summer time_]

This determined me to follow his advice: I quitted my settlement, and
took lodgings in the town, till I should find an {22} opportunity to
depart, and receive some negroes whom I expected in a short time.
[Footnote: Chap. VIII.] My stay at New Orleans appeared long, before I
heard of the arrival of the negroes. Some days after the news of their
arrival, M. Hubert brought me two good ones, which had fallen to me by
lot. One was a young negro about twenty, with his wife of the same
age; which cost me both together 1320 livres, or 55£. sterling.

Two days after that I set off with them alone in a pettyaugre (a large
canoe,) because I was told we should make much better speed in such a
vessel, than in the boats that went with us; and that I had only to
take powder and ball with me, to provide my whole company with game
sufficient to maintain us; for which purpose it was necessary to make
use of a paddle, instead of oars, which make too much noise for the
game. I had a barrel of powder, with fifteen pounds of shot, which I
thought would be sufficient for the voyage: but I found by experience,
that this was not sufficient for the vast plenty of game that is to be
met with upon that river, without ever going out of your way. I had
not gone above twenty-eight leagues, to the grant of M. Paris du
Vernai, when I was obliged to borrow of him fifteen pounds of shot
more. Upon this I took care of my ammunition, and shot nothing but
what was fit for our provision; such as wild ducks, summer ducks,
teal, and saw-bills. Among the rest I killed a carancro, wild geese,
cranes, and flamingo's; I likewise often killed young alligators; the
tail of which was a feast for the slaves, as well as for the French
and Canadian rowers.

Among other things I cannot omit to give an account of a monstrous
large alligator I killed with a musquet ball, as it lay upon the bank,
about ten feet above the edge of the water. We measured it, and found
it to be nineteen feet long, its head three feet and a half long,
above two feet nine inches broad, and the other parts in proportion:
at the belly it was two feet two inches thick; and it infected the
whole air with the odor of musk. M. Mehane told me, he had killed one
twenty-two feet long.

{23} After several days navigation, we arrived at Tonicas on Christmas
eve; where we heard mass from M. d' Avion, of the foreign missions,
with whom we passed the rest of the holy days, on account of the good
reception and kind invitation he gave us. I asked him, if his great
zeal for the salvation of the natives was attended with any success;
he answered me, that notwithstanding the profound respect the people
shewed him, it was with the greatest difficulty he could get leave to
baptize a few children at the point of death; that those of an
advanced age excused themselves from embracing our holy religion
because they are too old, say they, to accustom themselves to rules,
that are so difficult to be observed; that the chief, who had killed
the physician, that attended his only son in a distemper of which he
died, had taken a resolution to fast every Friday while he lived, in
remorse for his inhumanity with which he had been so sharply
reproached by him. This grand chief attended both morning and evening
prayers; the women and children likewise assisted regularly at them;
but the men, who did not come very often, took more pleasure in
ringing the bell. In other respects, they did not suffer this zealous
pastor to want for any thing, but furnished him with whatever he

We were yet twenty-five leagues to the end of our journey to the
Natchez, and we left the Tonicas, where we saw nothing interesting, if
it were not several steep hills, which stand together; among which
there is one that they name the White Hill, because they find in it
several veins of an earth, that is white, greasy, and very fine, with
which I have seen very good potters ware made. On the same hill there
are veins of ochre, of which the Natchez had just taken some to stain
their earthen Ware, which looked well enough; when it was besmeared
with ochre, it became red on burning.

At last we arrived at the Natchez, after a voyage of twenty-four
leagues; and we put on shore at a landing-place, which is at the foot
of a hill two hundred feet high, upon the top of which Fort Rosalie
[Footnote: Fort Rosalie, in the country of the Natchez, was at first
pitched upon for the metropolis of this colony. But though it be
necessary to begin by a settlement near the sea; yet if ever Louisiana
comes to be in a flourishing condition, as it may very well be, it
appears to me, that the capital of it cannot be better situated than
in this place. It is not subject to inundations of the river; the air
is pure; the country very extensive; the land fit for every thing, and
well watered; it is not at too great a distance from the sea, and
nothing hinders vessels to go up to it. In fine, it is within reach of
every place intended to be settled. Charlevoix, Hist. de la N. France,
III. 415.

This is on the east side of the Missisippi, and appears to be the
first post on that river which we ought to secure.] is built,
surrounded only with pallisadoes. {24} About the middle of the hill
stands the magazine, nigh to some houses of the inhabitants, who are
settled there, because the ascent is not so steep in that place; and
it is for the same reason that the magazine is built there. When you
are upon the top of this hill, you discover the whole country, which
is an extensive beautiful plain, with several little hills
interspersed here and there, upon which the inhabitants have built and
made their settlements. The prospect of it is charming.

On our arrival at the Natchez I was very well received by M. Loire de
Flaucourt, storekeeper of this post, who regaled us with the game that
abounds in this place; and after two days I hired a house near the
fort, for M. Hubert and his family, on their arrival, till he could
build upon his own plantation. He likewise desired me to choose two
convenient parcels of land, whereon to settle two considerable
plantations, one for the company, and the other for himself. I went to
them in two or three days after my arrival, with an old inhabitant for
my guide, and to shew me the proper places, and at the same time to
choose a spot of ground for myself; this last I pitched upon the first
day, because it is more easy to choose for one's self than for others.

I found upon the main road that leads from the chief village of the
Natchez to the fort, about an hundred paces from this last, a cabin of
the natives upon the road side, surrounded with a spot of cleared
ground, the whole of which I bought by means of an interpreter. I made
this purchase with the more pleasure, as I had upon the spot,
wherewithal to lodge me and my people, with all my effects: the
cleared ground was about six acres, which would form a garden and a
plantation for {25} tobacco, which was then the only commodity
cultivated by the inhabitants. I had water convenient for my house,
and all my land was very good. On one side stood a rising ground with
a gentle declivity, covered with a thick field of canes, which always
grow upon the rich lands; behind that was a great meadow, and on the
other side was a forest of white walnuts (Hiecories) of nigh fifty
acres, covered with grass knee deep. All this piece of ground was in
general good, and contained about four hundred acres of a measure
greater than that of Paris: the soil is black and light.

The other two pieces of land, which M. Hubert had ordered me to look
for, I took up on the border of the little river of the Natchez, each
of them half a league from the great village of that nation, and a
league from the fort; and my plantation stood between these two and
the fort, bounding the two others. After this I took up my lodging
upon my own plantation, in the hut I had bought of the Indian, and put
my people in another, which they built for themselves at the side of
mine; so that I was lodged pretty much like our wood-cutters in
France, when they are at work in the woods.

As soon as I was put in possession of my habitation, I went with an
interpreter to see the other fields, which the Indians had cleared
upon my land, and bought them all, except one, which an Indian would
never sell to me: it was situated very convenient for me, I had a mind
for it, and would have given him a good price; but I could never make
him agree to my proposals. He gave me to understand, that without
selling it, he would give it up to me, as soon as I should clear my
ground to his; and that while he stayed on his own ground near me, I
should always find him ready to serve me, and that he would go
a-hunting and fishing for me. This answer satisfied me, because I must
have had twenty negroes, before I could have been able to have reached
him; they assured me likewise, that he was an honest man; and far from
having any occasion to complain of him as a neighbour, his stay there
was extremely serviceable to me.

I had not been settled at the Natchez six months, when I found a pain
in my thigh, which, however, did not hinder me {26} to go about my
business. I consulted our surgeon about it, who caused me to be
bleeded; on which the humour fell upon the other thigh, and fixed
there with such violence, that I could not walk without extreme pain.
I consulted the physicians and surgeons of New Orleans, who advised me
to use aromatic baths; and if they proved of no service, I must go to
France, to drink the waters, and to bathe in them. This answer
satisfied me so much the less, as I was neither certain of my cure by
that means, nor would my present situation allow me to go to France.
This cruel distemper, I believe, proceeded from the rains, with which
I was wet, during our whole voyage; and might be some effects of the
fatigues I had undergone in war, during several campaigns I had made
in Germany.

As I could not go out of my hut, several neighbours were so good as to
come and see me, and every day we were no less than twelve at table
from the time of our arrival, which was on the fifth of January, 1720.
Among the rest F. de Ville, who waited there, in his journey to the
Illinois, till the ice, which began to come down from the north, was
gone. His conversation afforded me great satisfaction in my
confinement, and allayed the vexation I was under from my two negroes
being run away. In the mean time my distemper did not abate, which
made me resolve to apply to one of the Indian conjurers, who are both
surgeons, divines, and sorcerers; and who told me he would cure me by
sucking the place where I felt my pain. He made several scarifications
upon the part with a sharp flint, each of them about as large as the
prick of a lancet, and in such a form, that he could suck them all at
once, which gave me extreme pain for the space of half an hour. The
next day I found myself a little better, and walked about into my
field, where they advised me to put myself in the hands of some of the
Natchez, who, they said, did surprising cures, of which they told me
many instances, confirmed by creditable people. In such a situation a
man will do any thing for a cure, especially as the remedy, which they
told me of, was very simple: it was only a poultice, which they put
upon the part affected, and in eight days time I was able to walk to
the fort, finding myself perfectly cured, as I have felt no return of
my pain since that {27} time. This was, without doubt, a great
satisfaction to a young man, who found himself otherwise in good
health, but had been confined to the house for four months and a half,
without being able to go out a moment; and gave me as much joy as I
could well have, after the loss of a good negro, who died of a
defluxion on the breast, which he catched by running away into the
woods, where his youth and want of experience made him believe he
might live without the toils of slavery; but being found by the
Tonicas, constant friends of the French, who live about twenty leagues
from the Nàtchez, they carried him to their village, where he and
his wife were given to a Frenchman, for whom they worked, and by that
means got their livelihood; till M. de Montplaisir sent them home to

This M. de Montplaisir, one of the most agreeable gentlemen in the
colony, was sent by the company from Clerac in Gascony, to manage
their plantation at the Natchez, to make tobacco upon it, and to shew
the people the way of cultivating and curing it; the company having
learned, that this place produced excellent tobacco, and that the
people of Clerac were perfectly well acquainted with the culture and
way of managing it.


_The Voyage of the Author to_ Biloxi. _Description of that Place.
Settlement of Grants. The Author discovers two Coppermines. His Return
to the Natchez._

The second year after my settling among the Natchez, I went to
New Orleans, as I was desirous to sell my goods and commodities
myself, instead of selling them to the travelling pedlars, who often
require too great a profit for their pains. Another reason that made
me undertake this voyage, was to send my letters to France myself,
which I was certainly informed, were generally intercepted.

Before my departure, I went to the commandant of the fort, and asked
him whether he had any letters for the government. I was not on very
good terms of friendship with this commandant of the Natchez, who
endeavoured to pay his court {28} to the governor, at the expence of
others. I knew he had letters for M. de Biainville, although he told
me he had none, which made me get a certificate from the commissary
general of this refusal to my demand; and at the same time the
commissary begged me to carry down a servant of the company, and gave
me an order to pay for his maintenance. As I made no great haste, but
stopt to see my friends, in my going down the river, the commandant
had time to send his letters, and to write to the governor, that I
refused to take them. As soon as I arrived at Biloxi, this occasioned
M. de Biainville to tell me, with some coldness, that I refused to
charge myself with his letters. Upon this I shewed him the certificate
of the commissary general; to which he could give no other answer,
than by telling me, that at least I could not deny, that I had brought
away by stealth a servant of the company. Upon this I shewed him the
other certificate of the commissary general, by which he desired the
directors to reimburse me the charges of bringing down this servant,
who was of no use to him above; which put the governor in a very bad

Upon my arrival at New Orleans I was informed, that there were several
grantees arrived at New Biloxi. I thought fit then to go thither, both
to sell my goods, and to get sure conveyance for my letters to France.
Here I was invited to sup with M. d'Artaguette, king's lieutenant, who
usually invited all the grantees, as well as myself. I there found
several of the grantees, who were all my friends; and among us we made
out a sure conveyance for our letters to France, of which we
afterwards made use.

Biloxi is situate opposite to Ship-Island, and four leagues from it.
But I never could guess the reason, why the principal settlement was
made at this place, nor why the capital should be built at it; as
nothing could be more repugnant to good sense; vessels not being able
to come within four leagues of it; but what was worse, nothing could
be brought from them, but by changing the boats three different times,
from a smaller size to another still smaller; after which they had to
go upwards of an hundred paces with small carts through the water to
unload the least boats. But what ought still to have {29} been a
greater discouragement against making a settlement at Biloxi, was,
that the land is the most barren of any to be found thereabouts; being
nothing but a fine sand, as white and shining as snow, on which no
kind of greens can be raised; besides, the being extremely incommoded
with rats, which swarm there in the sand, and at that time ate even
the very stocks of the guns, the famine being there so very great,
that more than five hundred people died of hunger; bread being very
dear, and flesh-meat still more rare. There was nothing in plenty but
fish, with which this place abounds.

This scarcity proceeded from the arrival of several grantees all at
once; so as to have neither provisions, nor boats to transport them to
the places of their destination, as the company had obliged themselves
to do. The great plenty of oysters, found upon the coast, saved the
lives of some of them, although obliged to wade almost up to their
thighs for them, a gun-shot from the shore. If this food nourished
several of them, it threw numbers into sickness; which was still more
heightened by the long time they were obliged to be in the water.

The grants were those of M. Law, who was to have fifteen hundred men,
consisting of Germans, Provençals, &c. to form the settlement.
His land being marked out at the Arkansas, consisted of four leagues
square, and was erected into a duchy, with accoutrements for a company
of dragoons, and merchandize for more than a million of livres. M.
Levans, who was a trustee of it, had his chaise to visit the different
posts of the grant. But M. Law soon after becoming bankrupt, the
company seized on all the effects and merchandise; and but a few of
those who engaged in the service of that grant, remained at the
Arkansas; they were afterwards all dispersed and set at liberty. The
Germans almost to a man settled eight leagues above, and to the west
of the capital. This grant ruined near a thousand persons at L'Orient
before their embarkation, and above two hundred at Biloxi; not to
mention those who came out at the same time with me in 1718. All this
distress, of which I was a witness at Biloxi, determined me to make an
excursion a few leagues on the coast, in order to pass some days {30}
with a friend, who received me with pleasure. We mounted horse to
visit the interior part of the country a few leagues from the sea. I
found the fields pleasant enough, but less fertile than along the
Missisippi; as they have some resemblance of the neighbouring coast,
which has scarce any other plants but pines, that run a great way, and
some red and white cedars.

When we came to the plain, I carefully searched every spot that I
thought worth my attention. In consequence of the search I found two
mines of copper, whose metal plainly appeared above ground. They stood
about half a league asunder. We may justly conclude that they are very
rich, as they thus disclose themselves on the surface of the earth.

When I had made a sufficient excursion, and judged I could find
nothing further to satisfy my curiosity, I returned to Biloxi, where I
found two boats of the company, just preparing to depart for New
Orleans, and a large pettyaugre, which belonged to F. Charlevoix the
jesuit, whose name is well known in the republic of letters: with him
I returned to New Orleans.

Some time after my return from New Orleans to the Natchez, towards the
month of March 1722, a phaenomenon happened, which frightened the
whole province. Every morning, for eight days running, a hollow noise,
somewhat loud, was heard to reach from the sea to the Illinois; which
arose from the west. In the afternoon it was heard to descend from the
east, and that with an incredible quickness; and though the noise
seemed to bear on the water, yet without agitating it, or discovering
any more wind on the river than before. This frightful noise was only
the prelude of a most violent tempest. The hurricane, the most furious
ever felt in the province, lasted three days. As it arose from the
south-west and north-east, it reached all the settlements which were
along the Missisippi; and was felt for some leagues more or less
strong, in proportion to the greater or less distance: but in the
places, where the force or height of the hurricane passed, it
overturned every thing in its way, which was an extent of a large
quarter of a league broad; so that one would take it for {31} an
avenue made on purpose, the place where it passed being entirely laid
flat, whilst every thing stood upright on each side. The largest trees
were torn up by the roots, and their branches broken to pieces and
laid flat to the earth, as were also the reeds of the woods. In the
meadows, the grass itself, which was then but six inches high, and
which is very fine, could not escape, but was trampled, faded, and
laid quite flat to the earth.

[Illustration: Indian in winter time]

{32} The height of the hurricane passed at a league from my
habitation; and yet my hose, which was built on piles, would have been
overturned, had I not speedily propped it with a timber, with the
great end in the earth, and nailed to the house with an iron hook
seven or eight inches long. Several houses of our post were
overturned. But it was happy for us in this colony, that the height of
the hurricane passed not directly oer any post, but obliquely
traversed the Missisippi, over a country intirely uninhabited. As this
hurricane came from the south, it so swelled the sea, that the
Missisippi flowed back against its current, so as to rise upwards of
fifteen feet high.


_First War with the_ Natchez. _Cause of the War._

In the same year, towards the end of summer, we had the first war with
the Natchez. The French had settled at the Natchez, without any
opposition from these people; so far from opposing them, they did them
a great deal of service, and gave them very material assistance in
procuring provisions; for those, who were sent by the West India
Comany with the first fleet, had been detained at New Orleans. Had it
not been for the natives, the people must have perished by famine and
distress: for, how excellent soever a new country it may be, it must
be cleared, grubbed up, and sown, and then at least we are to wait the
first harvest, or crop. But during all that time people must live, and
the company was well apprized of this, as they had send, witht he
eight hundred men they had transported to Louisiana, provisions for
three years. The grantees and planters, obliged _to treat_, or truck for
provisions with the Natchez, in consequence of that saw their funds
wasted, and themselves incapable of forming so considerable a
settlement, without this trucking, as necessary, as it was frequent.

However, some benefit resulted from this; namely that the Natchez,
enticed by the facility of trucking for goods, before unknown to them,
as fusils, gun-powder, lead, brandy, linen, cloths, and other like
things, by means of an exchange of what they abounded with, came to be
more and more attached {33} to the French; and would have continued
very useful friends, had not the little satisfaction which the
commandant of Fort Rosalie had given them, for the misbehavior of one
of his soldiers, alienated their minds. This fort covered the
settlement of the Natchez, and protected that of St. Catharine, which
was on the banks of the rivulet of the Natchez; but botht he defence
and protection it afforded were very inconsiderable; for this fort was
only pallisadoed, open at six breaches, without a ditch, and with a
very weak garrison. On the other hand, the houses of the inhabitants,
though considerably numerous, were of themselves of no strength; and
then the inhabitants, dispersed in the country, each amidst his field,
far from affording mutual assistance, as they would had they been in a
body, stood each of them, upon any accident, in need of the assistance
of others.

A young soldier of Fort Rosalie had given some credit to an old
warrior of a village of the Natchez; which was that of the White
Apple, each village having its peculiar name: the warrior, in return,
was to give him some corn. Towards the beginning of the winter 1723,
this soldier lodging near the fort, the old warrior came to see him;
the soldier insisted on his corn; the native answered calmly, that the
corn was not yet dry enough to shake out the grain; that besides, his
wife had been ill, and that he would pay him as soon as possible. The
young man, little satisfied with this answer, threatened to cudgel the
old man: upon which, this last, who was in the soldier's hut,
affronted at this threat, told him, he should turn out, and try who
was the best man. On this challenge, the soldier, calling out murder,
brings the guard to his assistance. The guard being come, the young
fellow pressed them to fire upon the warrior, who was returning to his
village at his usual pace; a soldier was imprudent enough to fire: the
old man dropt down. The commandant was soon apprized of what happened,
and came to the spot; where the witnesses, both French and Natchez,
informed him of the fact. Both justice and prudence demanded to take
an exemplary punishment of the soldier; but he got off with a
reprimand. After this the natives made a litter, and carried off their
warrior, who died the {34} following night of his wounds, though the
fusil was only charged with great shot.

Revenge is the predominant passion of the people in America: so that
we ought not to be surprised, if the death of this old warrior raised
his whole village against the French. The rest of the nation took no
part at first in the quarrel.

The first effect of the resentment of the Natchez fell upon a
Frenchman named M. Guenot, whom they surprised returning from the fort
to St. Catharine, and upon another inhabitant, whom they killed in his
bed. Soon after they attacked, all in a body, the settlement of St.
Catharine, and the other below Fort Rosalie. It was at this last I had
fixed my abode: I therefore saw myself exposed, like many others, to
pay with my goods, and perhaps my life, for the rashness of a soldier,
and the too great indulgence of his captain. But as I was already
acquainted with the character of the people we had to deal with, I
despaired not to save both. I therefore barricadoed myself in my
house, and having put myself in a posture of defence, when they came
in the night, according to their custom, to surprise me, they durst
not attack me.

This first attempt, which I justly imagined was to be followed by
another, if not by many such, made me resolve, as soon as day came, to
retire under the fort, as all the inhabitants also did, and thither to
carry all the provisions I had at my lodge. I could execute only half
of my scheme. My slaves having begun to remove the best things, I was
scarce arrived under the fort, but the commandant begged I might put
myself at the head of the inhabitants, to go to succour St. Catharine.
He had already sent thither all his garrison, reserving only five men
to guard the fort; but this succour was not sufficient to relieve the
settlement, which the natives in great numbers vigorously straitned.

I departed without delay: we heard the firing at a distance, but the
noise ceased as soon as I was come, and the natives appeared to have
retired: they had, doubtless, discovered me on my march, and the sight
of a reinforcement which I had brought with me, deceived them. The
officer who commanded the detachment of the garrison, and whom I
relieved, returned {35} to the fort with his men; and the command
being thus devolved on me, I caused all the Negroes to be assembled,
and ordered them to cut down all the bushes; which covering the
country, favoured the approach of the enemy, quite to the doors of the
houses of that Grant. This operation was performed without
molestation, if you except a few shot, fired by the natives from the
woods, where they lay concealed on the other side of the rivulet; for
the plain round St. Catharine being entirely cleared of every thing
that could screen them, they durst not shew themselves any more.

However, the commandant of Fort Rosalie sent to treat with the _Stung
Serpent_; in order to prevail with him to appease that part of his
nation, and procure a peace. As that great warrior was our friend, he
effectually laboured therein, and hostilities ceased. After I had
passed twenty-four hours in St. Catharine, I was relieved by a new
detachment from the inhabitants, whom, in my turn, I relieved next
day. It was on this second guard, which I mounted, that the village we
had been at war with sent me, by their deputies, the _calumet_ or _pipe
of peace_. I at first had some thoughts of refusing it, knowing that
this honour was due to the commandant of the fort; and it appeared to
me a thing so much the more delicate to deprive him of it, as we were
not upon very good terms with each other. However, the evident risk of
giving occasion to protract the war, by refusing it, determined me to
accept of it; after having, however, taken the advice of those about
me; who all judged it proper to treat these people gently, to whom the
commandant was become odious.

I asked the deputies, what they would have? They answered, faultering,
_Peace_. "Good, said I; but why bring you the Calumet of Peace to me? It
is to the Chief of the Fort you are to carry it, if you wish to have a
Peace." "Our orders" said they, "are to carry it first to you, if you
choose to receive it by only smoking therein: after which we will
carry it to the Chief of the Fort; but if you refuse receiving it, our
orders are to return."

Upon this I told them, that I agreed to smoke in their pipe, on
condition they would carry it to the Chief of the Fort. {36} They then
made me an harangue; to which I answered, that it were best to resume
our former manner of living together, and that the French and the
_Red-men_ should entirely forget what had passed. To conclude, that they
had nothing further to do, but to go and carry the Pipe to the Chief
of the Fort, and then go home and sleep in peace.

This was the issue of the first war we had with the Natchez, which
lasted only three or four days.

The commerce, or truck, was set again on the same footing it had been
before; and those who had suffered any damage, now thought only how
they might best repair it. Some time after, the Major General arrived
from New Orleans, being sent by the Governor of Louisiana to ratify
the peace; which he did, and mutual sincerity was restored, and became
as perfect as if there had never been any rupture between us.

It had been much to be wished, that matters had remained on so good a
footing. As we were placed in one of the best and finest countries of
the world; were in strict connection with the natives, from whom we
derived much knowledge of the nature of the productions of the
country, and of the animals of all sorts, with which it abounds; and
likewise reaped great advantage in our traffic for furs and
provisions; and were aided by them in many laborious works, we wanted
nothing but a profound peace, in order to form solid settlements,
capable of making us lay aside all thoughts of Europe: but Providence
had otherwise ordered.

The winter which succeeded this war was so severe, that a colder was
never remembered. The rain fell in icicles in such quantities as to
astonish the oldest Natchez, to whom this great cold appeared new and

Towards the autumn of this year I saw a phaenomenon which struck the
superstitious with great terror: it was in effect so extraordinary,
that I never remember to have heard of any thing that either
resembled, or even came up to it. I had just supped without doors, in
order to enjoy the cool of the evening; my face was turned to the
west, and I sat before my table to examine some planets which had
already appeared. {37} I perceived a glimmering light, which made me
raise my eyes; and immediately I saw, at the elevation of about 45
degrees above the horizon, a light proceeding from the south, of the
breadth of three inches, which went off to the north, always spreading
itself as it moved, and made itself heard by a whizzing light like
that of the largest sky-rocket. I judged by the eye that this light
could not be above our atmosphere, and the whizzing noise which I
heard confirmed me in that notion. {38} When it came in like manner to
be about 45 degrees to the north above the horizon, it stopped short,
and ceased enlargeing itself: in that place it appeared to be twenty
inches broad; so that in its course, which had been very rapid, it
formed the figure of a trumpet-marine, and left in its passage very
lively sparks, shining brighter than those which fly from under a
smith's hammer; but they were extinguished almost as fast as they were

[Illustration: _Indian woman and daughter_ (on p. 37)]

At the north elevation I just mentioned, there issued out with a great
noise from the middle of the large end, a ball quite round, and all on
fire: this ball was about six inches in diameter; it fell below the
horizon to the north, and emitted, about twenty minutes after, a
hollow, but very loud noise for the space of a minute, which appeared
to come from a great distance. The light began to be weakened to the
south, after emitting the ball, and at length disappeared, before the
noise of the ball was heard.


_The Governor surprized the_ Natchez _with seven hundred Men.
Astonishing Cures performed by the Natives. The Author sends upwards of
three hundred Simples to the Company._

M. De Biainville, at the beginning of the winter which followed this
phaenomenonived very privately at our quarter of the Natchez, his
march having been communicated to none but the Commandant of this
Post, who had orders to seize all the Natchez that should come to the
Fort that day, to prevent the news of his arrival being carried to
their country men. He brought with him, in regular troops, inhabitants
and natives, who were our allies, to the number of seven hundred men.

Orders were given that all our settlers at the Natchez should repair
before his door at midnight at the latest: I went thither and mixed
with the crowd, without making myself known.

We arrived two hours before day at the settlement of St. Catharine.
The Commandant having at length found me out, {39} ordered me, in the
King's name, to put myself at the head of the settlers among the
Natchez, and to take the command upon me; and these he ordered to pay
the same obedience to me as to himself. We advanced with great silence
towards the village of the Apple. It may be easily seen that all this
precaution was taken in order to surprise our enemies, who ought so
much the less to expect this act of hostility, as they had fairly made
peace with us, and as M. Paillou, Major General, had come and ratified
this peace in behalf of the Governor. We marched to the enemy and
invested the first hut of the Natchez, which we found separate; the
drums, in concert with the fifes, beat the charge; we fired upon the
hut, in which were only three men and two women.

From thence we afterwards moved on to the village, that is, several
huts that stood together in a row. We halted at three of them that lay
near each other, in which between twelve and fifteen Natchez had
entrenched themselves. By our manner of proceeding one would have
thought that we came only to view the huts. Full of indignation that
none exerted himself to fall upon them, I took upon me with my men to
go round and take the enemy in rear. They took to their heels, and I
pursued; but we had need of the swiftness of deer to be able to come
up with them. I came so near, however, that they threw away their
cloaths, to run with the greater speed.

I rejoined our people, and expected a reprimand for having forced the
enemy without orders; though I had my excuse ready. But here I was
mistaken; for I met with nothing but encomiums.

This war, of which I shall give no further detail, lasted only four
days. M. de Biainville demanded the head of an old mutinous Chief of
this village; and the natives, in order to obtain a peace, delivered
him up.

I happened to live at some distance from the village of the Apple, and
very seldom saw any of the people. Such as lived nearer had more
frequent visits from them; but after this war, and the peace which
followed upon it, I never saw one of them. My neighbours who lived
nearer to them saw but a few of them, even a long time after the
conclusion of the war. The {40} natives of the other villages came but
very seldom among us; and indeed, if we could have done well without
them, I could have wished to have been rid of them for ever. But we
had neither a flesh nor a fish-market; therefore, without them, we
must have taken up with what the poultry-yard and kitchen-garden
furnished; which would have been extremely inconvenient.

I one day stopped the Stung Serpent, who was passing without taking
notice of any one. He was brother to the Great Sun, and Chief of the
Warriors of the Natchez. I accordingly called to him, and said, "We
were formerly friends, are we no longer so?" He answered, _Noco_; that
is, I cannot tell. I replied, "You used to come to my house; at
present you pass by. Have you forgot the way; or is my house
disagreeable to you? As for me, my heart is always the same, both
towards you and all my friends. I am not capable of changing, why then
are you changed?"

He took some time to answer, and seemed to be embarrassed by what I
said to him. He never went to the fort, but when sent for the
Commandant, who put me upon sounding him; in order to discover whether
his people still retained any grudge.

He at length broke silence, and told me, "he was ashamed to have been
so long without seeing me; but I imagined," said he, "that you were
displeased at our nation; because among all the French who were in the
war, you were the only one that fell upon us." "You are in the wrong,"
said I, "to think so. M. de Biainville being our War-chief, we are
bound to obey him; in like manner as you, though a Sun, are obliged to
kill, or cause to be killed, whomsoever your brother, the Great Sun
orders to be put to death. Many other Frenchmen, besides me, sought an
opportunity to attack your countrymen, in obedience to the orders of
M. de Biainville; and several other Frenchmen fell upon the nearest
hut, one of whom was killed by the first shot which the Natchez

He then said: "I did not approve, as you know, the war our people made
upon the French to avenge the death of their {41} relation, seeing I
made them carry the _pipe of peace_ to the French. This you well know,
as you first smoked in the pipe yourself. Have the French two hearts, a
good one today, and tomorrow a bad one? As for my brother and me, we
have but one heart and one word. Tell me then, if thou art, as thou
sayest, my true friend, what thou thinketh of all this, and shut thy
mouth to every thing else. We know not what to think of the French, who,
after having begun the war, granted a peace, and offered it of
themselves; and then at the time we were quiet, believing ourselves to
be at peace, people come to kill us, without saying a word."

"Why," continued he, with an air of displeasure, "did the French come
into our country? We did not go to seek them: they asked for land of
us, because their country was too little for all the men that were in
it. We told them they might take land where they pleased, there was
enough for them and for us; that it was good the same sun should
enlighten us both, and that we would walk as friends in the same path;
and that we would give them of our provisions, assist them to build,
and to labour in their fields. We have done so; is not this true? What
occasion then had we for Frenchmen? Before they came, did we not live
better than we do, seeing we deprive ourselves of a part of our corn,
our game, and fish, to give a part to them? In what respect, then, had
we occasion for them? Was it for their guns? The bows and arrows which
we used, were sufficient to make us live well. Was it for their white,
blue, and red blankets? We can do well enough with buffalo skins,
which are warmer; our women wrought feather-blankets for the winter,
and mulberry-mantles for the summer; which indeed were not so
beautiful; but our women were more laborious and less vain than they
are now. In fine, before the arrival of the French, we lived like men
who can be satisfied with what they have; whereas at this day we are
like slaves, who are not suffered to do as they please."

To this unexpected discourse I know not what answer another would have
made; but I frankly own, that if at my first address he seemed to be
confused, I really was so in my turn. "My heart," said I to him,
"better understands thy {42} reasons than my ears, though they are
full of them; and though I have a tongue to answer, my ears have not
heard the reasons of M. de Biainville, to tell them thee: but I know
it was necessary to have the head he demanded, in order to a peace.
When our Chiefs command us, we never require the reasons: I can say
nothing else to thee. But to shew you that I am always your real
friend, I have here a beautiful _pipe of peace_, which I wanted to carry
to my own country. I know you have ordered all your warriors to kill
some white eagles, in order to make one, because you have occasion for
it. I give it you without any other design than to shew you that I
reckon nothing dear to me, when I want to do you a pleasure."

I went to look for it, and I gave it him, telling him, that it was
_without design;_ that is, according to them, from no interested motive.
The natives put as great a value on a _pipe of peace_ as on a gun. Mine
was adorned with tinsel and silver wire: so that in their estimation
my pipe was worth two guns. He appeared to be extremely well pleased
with it; put it up hastily in his case, squeezed my hand with a smile,
and called me his true friend.

The winter was now drawing to a close, and in a little time the
natives were to bring us bear-oil to truck. I hoped that by his means
I should have of the best preferably to any other; which was the only
compensation I expected for my pipe. But I was agreeably disappointed.
He sent me a deer-skin of bear-oil, so very large that a stout man
could hardly carry it, and the bearer told me, that he sent it to me
as his true friend, _without design_. This deer-skin contained
thirty-one pots of the measure of the country, or sixty-two pints
Paris measure.

Three days after, the Great Sun, his brother, sent me another
deer-skin of the same oil, to the quantity of forty pints. The
commonest sort sold this year at twenty sols a pint, and I was sure
mine was not of the worst kind.

For some days a _fistula lacrymalis_ had come into my left eye, which
discharged an humour, when pressed, that portended danger. I shewed it
to M. St. Hilaire, an able surgeon, who {43} had practised for about
twelve years in the Hotel Dieu at Paris.

He told me it was necessary to use the fire for it; and that,
notwithstanding this operation, my sight would remain as good as ever,
only my eye would be blood-shot: and that if I did not speedily set
about the operation, the bone of the nose would become carious.

These reasons gave me much uneasiness, as having both to fear and to
suffer at the same time: however, after I had resolved to undergo the
operation, the Grand Sun and his brother came one morning very early,
with a man loaded with game, as a present for me.

The Great Sun observed I had a swelling in my eye, and asked me what
was the matter with it. I shewed it him, and told him, that in order
to cure it, I must have fire put to it; but that I had some difficulty
to comply, as I dreaded the consequences of such an operation. Without
replying, or in the least apprizing me, he ordered the man who brought
the game to go in quest of his physician, and tell him, he waited for
him at my house. The messenger and physician made such dispatch, that
this last came in an hour after. The Great Sun ordered him to look at
my eye, and endeavour to cure me: after examining it, the physician
said, he would undertake to cure me with simples and common water. I
consented to this with so much the greater pleasure and readiness, as
by this treatment I ran no manner of risque.

That very evening the physician came with his simples, all pounded
together, and making but a single ball, which he put with the water in
a deep bason, he made me bend my head into it, so as the eye affected
stood dipt quite open in the water. I continued to do so for eight or
ten days, morning and evening; after which, without any other
operation, I was perfectly cured, and never after had any return of
the disorder.

It is easy from this relation to understand what dextrous physicians
the natives of Louisiana are. I have seen them perform surprising
cures on Frenchmen; on two especially, who had put themselves under
the hands of a French surgeon {44} settled at this post. Both patients
were about to undergo the grand cure; and after having been under the
hands of the surgeon for some time, their heads swelled to such a
degree, that one of them made his escape, with as much agility as a
criminal would from the hands of justice, when a favourable
opportunity offers. He applied to a Natchez physician, who cured him
in eight days: his comrade continuing still under the French surgeon,
died under his hands three days after the escape of his companion,
whom I saw three years after in a state of perfect health.

In the war which I lately mentioned, the Grand Chief of the Tonicas,
our allies, was wounded with a ball, which went through his cheek,
came out under the jaw, again entered his body at the neck, and
pierced through to the shoulder-blade, lodging at last between the
flesh and the skin: the wound had its direction in this manner;
because when he received it, he happened to be in a stooping posture,
as were all his men, in order to fire. The French surgeon, under whose
care he was, and who dressed him with great precaution, was an able
man, and spared no pains in order to effect a cure. But the physicians
of this Chief, who visited him every day, asked the Frenchman what
time the cure would take? he answered, six weeks at least: they
returned no answer, but went directly and made a litter; spoke to
their Chief, and put him on it, carried him off, and treated him in
their own manner, and in eight days affected a complete cure.

These are facts well known in the colony. The physicians of the
country have performed many other cures, which, if they were to be all
related, would require a whole volume apart; but I have confined
myself to the three above mentioned, in order to shew that disorders
frequently accounted almost incurable, are, without any painful
operation, and in a short time, cured by physicians, natives of

The West India Company being informed that this province produces a
great many simples, whose virtues, known by the natives, afforded so
easy a cure to all sorts of distempers, ordered M. de la Chaise, who
was sent from France in quality of Director General of this colony, to
cause enquiry to be made {45} into the simples proper for physick and
for dying, by means of some Frenchmen, who might perhaps be masters of
the secrets of the natives. I was pointed out for this purpose to M.
de la Chaise, who was but just arrived, and who wrote to me, desiring
my assistance in this enquiry; which I gave him with pleasure, and in
which I exerted myself to my utmost, because I well knew the Company
continually aimed at what might be for the benefit of the colony.

After I thought I had done in that respect, what might give
satisfaction to the Company, I transplanted in earth, put into cane
baskets, above three hundred simples, with their numbers, and a
memorial, which gave a detail of their virtues, and taught the manner
of using them. I afterwards understood that they were planted in a
botanic garden made for the purpose, by order of the Company.


_French Settlements, or Posts. The Post at Mobile. The Mouths of the
Missisippi. The Situation and Description of_ New Orleans.

The Settlement at Mobile was the first seat of the colony in this
province. It was the residence of the Commandant General, the
Commissary General, the Staff-officers, &c. As vessels could not enter
the river Mobile, and there was a small harbour at Isle Dauphine, a
settlement was made suited to the harbour, with a guardhouse for its
security: so that these two settlements may be said to have made but
one; both on account of their proximity, and necessary connection with
each other. The settlement of Mobile, ten leagues, however, from its
harbour, lies on the banks of the river of that name; and Isle
Dauphine, over against the mouth of that river, is four leagues from
the coast.

Though the settlement of Mobile be the oldest, yet it is far from
being the most considerable. Only some inhabitants remained there, the
greatest part of the first inhabitants having left it, in order to
settle on the river Missisippi, ever since New Orleans became the
capital of the colony. That old post is the {46} ordinary residence of
a King's Lieutenant, a Regulating Commissary, and a Treasurer. The
fort, with four bastions, terraced and palisaded, has a garrison.

This post is a check upon the nation of Choctaws, and cuts off the
communication of the English with them; it protects the neighbouring
nations, and keeps them in our alliance; in fine, it supports our
peltry trade, which is considerable with the Choctaws and other
nations. [Footnote: Fort Lewis at Mobile is built upon the river that
bears the same name, which falls into the sea opposite to Dauphine
island. The fort is about 15 or 16 leagues distant from that island;
and is built of brick, fortified with four bastions, in the manner of
Vauban, with half-moons, a covered way and glacis. There is a magazine
in it, with barracks for the troops of the garrison, which is
generally pretty numerous, and a flag for the commandant.

I must own, I never could see for what reason this fort was built, or
what could be the use of it. For although it is 120 leagues from the
capital, to go down the river, yet it is from thence that they must
have every thing that is necessary for the support of the garrison:
and the soil is so bad, being nothing but sand, that it produces
nothing but pines and firs, with a little pulse, which grows there but
very indifferently: so that there are here but very few people. The
only advantage of this place is, that the air is mild and healthful,
and that it affords a traffick with the Spaniards who are near it. The
winter is the most agreeable season, as it is mild, and affords plenty
of game. But in summer the heats are excessive; and the inhabitants
have nothing hardly to live upon but fish, which are pretty plentiful
on the coast, and in the river. _Dumont_, II. 80.]

The same reason which pointed out the necessity of this post, with
respect to the Choctaws, also shewed the necessity of building a fort
at Tombecbe, to check the English in their ambitious views on the side
of the Chicasaws. That fort was built only since the war with the
Chicasaws in 1736.

Near the river Mobile stands the small settlement of the
Pasca-Ogoulas; which consists only of a few Canadians, lovers of
tranquillity, which they prefer to all the advantages they could reap
from commerce. They content themselves with a frugal country life, and
never go to New Orleans but for necessaries.

From that settlement quite to New Orleans, by the way of Lake St.
Louis, there is no post at present. Formerly, and {47} just before the
building of the capital, there were the old and new Biloxi:
settlements, which have deserved an oblivion as lasting as their
duration was short.

To proceed with order and perspicuity, we will go up the Missisippi
from its mouth.

Fort Balise is at the entrance of the Missisippi, in 29 deg. degrees North
Latitude, and 286 deg. 30' of Longitude. This fort is built on an isle, at
one of the mouths of the Missisippi. Tho' there are but seventeen feet
water in the channel, I have seen vessels of five hundred ton enter
into it. I know not why this entrance is left so neglected, as we are
not in want of able engineers in France, in the hydraulic branch, a
part of the mathematics to which I have most applyed myself. I know it
is no easy matter so to deepen or hollow the channel of a bar, that it
may never after need clearing, and that the expences run high: but my
zeal for promoting the advantage of this colony having prompted me to
make reflections on those passes, or entrances of the Missisippi, and
being perfectly well acquainted both with the country and the nature
of the soil, I dare flatter myself, I may be able to accomplish it, to
the great benefit of the province, and acquit myself therein with
honour, at a small charge, and in a manner not to need repetition.
[Footnote: Seven leagues above the mouth of the river we meet with two
other passes, as large as the middle one by which we entered; one is
called the Otter Pass, and the other the East Pass; and they assure
me, it is only by this last Pass that ships now go up or down the
river, they having entirely deserted the ancient middle pass. _Dumont,_
I. 4.

Many other bays and rivers, not known to our authors, lying along the
bay of Mexico, to the westward of the Missisippi, are described by Mr.
Coxe, in his account of Carolina, called by the French Louisiana.]

I say, fort Balise is built upon an island; a circumstance, I imagine,
sufficient to make it understood, that this fort is irregular; the
figure and extent of this small island not admitting it to be

In going up the Missisippi, we meet with nothing remarkable before we
come to the Detour aux Anglois, the English Reach: in that part the
river takes a large compass; so that {48} the same wind, which was
before fair, proves contrary in this elbow, or reach. For this reason
it was thought proper to build two forts at that place, one on each
side of the river, to check any attempts of strangers. These forts are
more than sufficient to oppose the passage of an hundred sail; as
ships can go up the river, only one after another, and can neither
cast anchor, nor come on shore to moor.

It will, perhaps, be thought extraordinary that ships cannot anchor in
this place. I imagine the reader will be of my opinion, when I tell
him, the bottom is only a soft mud, or ooze, almost entirely covered
with dead trees, and this for upwards of an hundred leagues. As to
putting on shore, it is equally impossible and needless to attempt it;
because the place where these forts stand, is but a neck of land
between the river and the marshes: now it is impossible for a shallop,
or canoe, to come near to moor a vessel, in sight of a fort well
guarded, or for an enemy to throw up a trench in a neck of land so
soft. Besides, the situation of the two forts is such, that they may in
a short time receive succours, both from the inhabitants, who are on
the interior edge of the crescent, formed by the river, and from New
Orleans, which is very near thereto.

The distance from this place to the capital is reckoned six leagues by
water, and the course nearly circular; the winding, or reach, having
the figure of a C almost close. Both sides of the river are lined with
houses, which afford a beautiful prospect to the eye; however, as this
voyage is tedious by water, it is often performed on horseback by

The great difficulties attending the going up the river under sail,
particularly at the English Reach, for the reasons mentioned, put me
upon devising a very simple and cheap machine, to make vessels go up
with ease quite to New-Orleans. Ships are sometimes a month in the
passage from Balise to the capital; whereas by my method they would
not be eight days, even with a contrary wind; and thus ships would go
four times quicker than by towing, or turning it. This machine might
be deposited at Balise, and delivered to the vessel, in order to go up
the current, and be returned again on its setting sail. It is besides
proper to observe, that this machine would be no detriment {49} to the
forts, as they would always have it in their power to stop the vessels
of enemies, who might happen to use it.

New Orleans, the capital of the colony, is situated to the East, on
the banks of the Missisippi, in 30 deg. of North Latitude. At my first
arrival in Louisiana, it existed only in name; for on my landing I
understood M. de Biainville, commandant general, was only gone to mark
out the spot; whence he returned three days after our arrival at Isle

He pitched upon this spot in preference to many others, more agreeable
and commodious; but for that time this was a place proper enough:
besides, it is not every man that can see so far as some others. As
the principal settlement was then at Mobile, it was proper to have the
capital fixed at a place from which there could be an easy
communication with this post: and thus a better choice could not have
been made, as the town being on the banks of the Missisippi, vessels,
tho' of a thousand ton, may lay their sides close to the shore even at
low water; or at most, need only lay a small bridge, with two of their
yards, in order to load or unload, to roll barrels and bales, &c.
without fatiguing the ship's crew. This town is only a league from St.
John's creek, where passengers take water for Mobile, in going to
which they pass Lake St. Louis, and from thence all along the coast; a
communication which was necessary at that time.

I should imagine, that if a town was at this day to be built in this
province, a rising ground would be pitched upon, to avoid inundations;
besides, the bottom should be sufficiently firm, for bearing grand
stone edifices.

Such as have been a good way in the country, without seeing stone, or
the least pebble, in upwards of a hundred leagues extent, will doubtless
say, such a proposition is impossible, as they never observed stone
proper for building in the parts they travelled over. I might answer,
and tell them, they have eyes, and see not. I narrowly considered the
nature of this country, and found quarries in it; and if there were any
in the colony I ought to find them, as my condition and profession of
architect should have procured me the knowledge of {51} them. After
giving the situation of the capital, it is proper I describe the order
in which it is built.

[Illustration: _Plan of New Orleans, 1720_ (on p. 50)]

The place of arms is in the middle of that part of the town which
faces the river; in the middle of the ground of the place of arms
stands the parish church, called St. Louis, where the Capuchins
officiate, whose house is to the left of the church. To the right
stand the prison, or jail, and the guard-house: both sides of the
place of arms are taken up by two bodies or rows of barracks. This
place stands all open to the river.

All the streets are laid out both in length and breadth by the line,
and intersect and cross each other at right angles. The streets divide
the town into sixty-six isles; eleven along the river lengthwise, or
in front, and six in depth: each of those isles is fifty square
toises, and each again divided into twelve emplacements, or
compartments, for lodging as many families. The Intendant's house
stands behind the barracks on the left; and the magazine, or
warehouse-general behind the barracks on the right, on viewing the
town from the river side. The Governor's house stands in the middle of
that part of the town, from which we go from the place of arms to the
habitation of the Jesuits, which is near the town. The house of the
Ursulin Nuns is quite at the end of the town, to the right; as is also
the hospital of the sick, of which the nuns have the inspection. What
I have just described faces the river.

On the banks of the river runs a causey, or mole, as well on the side
of the town as on the opposite side, from the English Reach quite to
the town, and about ten leagues beyond it; which makes about fifteen
or sixteen leagues on each side the river; and which may be travelled
in a coach or on horseback, on a bottom as smooth as a table.

The greatest part of the houses is of brick; the rest are of timber
and brick.

The length of the causeys, I just mentioned, is sufficient to shew,
that on these two sides of the Missisippi there are many habitations
standing close together; each making a causey to secure his ground
from inundations, which fail not to come every year with the spring:
and at that time, if any ships {52} happen to be in the harbour of New
Orleans, they speedily set sail; because the prodigious quantity of
dead wood, or trees torn up by the roots, which the river brings down,
would lodge before the ship, and break the stoutest cables.

At the end of St. John's Creek, on the banks of the Lake St. Louis,
there is a redoubt, and a guard to defend it.

From this creek to the town, a part of its banks is inhabited by
planters; in like manner as are the long banks of another creek: the
habitations of this last go under the name of Gentilly.

After these habitations, which are upon the Missisippi quite beyond
the Cannes Brulees, Burnt Canes, we meet none till we come to the
Oumas, a petty nation so called. This settlement is inconsiderable,
tho' one of the oldest next to the capital. It lies on the east of the

The Baton Rogue is also on the east side of the Missisippi, and
distant twenty-six leagues from New Orleans: it was formerly the grant
of M. Artaguette d'Iron: it is there we see the famouse cypress-tree
of which a ship-carpenter offered to make two pettyaugres, one of
sixteen, the other of fourteen tons. Some one of the first
adventurers, who landed in this quarter, happened to say, that tree
would make a fine walking-stick, and as cypress is a red wood, it was
afterwards called le Baton Rouge. Its height could never be measured,
it rises so out of sight.

Two leagues higher up than le Baton Rouge, was the Grant of M. Paris
du Vernai. This settlement is called Bayou-Ogoulas, from a nation of
that name, which formerly dwelt here. It is on the west side of the
Missisippi, and twenty-eight leagues from New Orleans.

At a league on this side of Pointe Coupee, are les Petits Ecores,
(little Cliffs) where was the grant of the Marquis de Mezieres. At
this grant were a director and under-director; but the surgeon found
out the secret of remaining sole master. The place is very beautiful,
especially behind les Petits Ecores, where we go up by a gentle
ascent. Near these cliffs, a rivulet falls into the Missisippi, into
which a spring discharges its waters, which so attract the buffalos,
that they are very often {53} found on its banks. 'Tis a pity this
ground was deserted; there was enough of it to make a very
considerable grant: a good water-mill might be guilt on the brook I
just mentioned.

At forty leagues from New Orleans lies a la Pointe Coupee, so called,
because the Missisippi made there an elbow or winding, and formed the
figure of a circle, open only about an hundred and odd toises, thro'
which it made itself a shorter way, and where all its water runs at
present. This was not the work of nature alone: two travellers, coming
down the Missisippi, were forced to stop short at this place, because
they observed at a distance the surff, or waves, to be very high, the
wind beating against the current, and the river being out, so that they
durst not venture to proceed. Just by them passed a rivulet, caused by
the inundation, which might be a foot deep, by four or five feet broad,
more or less. One of the travellers, seeing himself without any thing to
do, took his fusil and followed the course of this rivulet, in hopes of
killing some game. He had not gone an hundred toises, before he was put
into a very great surprize, on perceiving a great opening, as when one
is just getting out of a thick forest. He continues to advance, sees a
large extent of water, which he takes for a lake; but turning on his
left, he espies les Petits Ecores, just mentioned, and by experience he
knew, he must go ten leagues to get thither: Upon this he knew, these
were the waters of the river. He runs to acquaint his companion: this
last wants to be sure of it: certain as they are both of it, they
resolve, that it was necessary to cut away the roots, which stood in the
passage, and to level the more elevated places. They attempted at length
to pass their pettyaugre through, by pushing it before them. They
succeeded beyond their expectation; the water which came on, aided them
as much by its weight as by its depth, which was increased by the
obstacle it met in its way: and they saw themselves in a short time in
the Missisippi, ten leagues lower down than they were an hour before; or
than they would have been, if they had followed the bed of the river, as
they were formerly constrained to do.

This little labour of our travellers moved the earth; the roots being
cut away in part, proved no longer an obstacle to {54} the course of
the water; the slope or descent in this small passage was equal to
that in the river for the ten leagues of the compass it took; in fine,
nature, though feebly aided, performed the rest. The first time I went
up the river, its entire body of water passed through this part; and
though the channel was only made six years before, the old bed was
almost filled with the ooze, which the river had there deposited; and
I have seen trees growing there of an astonishing size, that one might
wonder how they should come to be so large in so short a time.

In this spot, which is called la Pointe Coupee, the Cut-point, was the
Grant of M. de Meuse, at present one of the most considerable posts of
the colony, with a fort, a garrison, and an officer to command there.
The river is on each side lined with inhabitants, who make a great
deal of tobacco. There an Inspector resides, who examines and receives
it, in order to prevent the merchants being defrauded. The inhabitants
of the west side have high lands behind them, which form a very fine
country, as I have observed above.

Twenty leagues above this Cut-point, and sixty leagues from New
Orleans, we meet with the Red River. In an island formed by that
river, stands a French post, with a fort, a garrison, its commandant
and officers. The first inhabitants who settled there, were some
soldiers of that post, discharged after their time of serving was
expired, who set themselves to make tobacco in the island. But the
fine sand, carried by the wind upon the leaves of the tobacco, made it
of a bad quality, which obliged them to abandon the island and settle
on the continent, where they found a good soil, on which they made
better tobacco. This post is called the Nachitoches, from a nation of
that name, settled in the neighbourhood. At this post M. de St. Denis

Several inhabitants of Louisiana, allured thither by the hopes of making
soon great fortunes, because distant only seven leagues from the
Spaniards, imagined the abundant treasures of New Mexico would pour in
upon them. But in this they happened to be mistaken; for the Spanish
post, called the Adaies less money in it than the poorest village in
Europe: the Spaniards being ill clad, ill fed, and always ready to buy
{55} goods of the French on credit: which may be said in general of all
the Spaniards of New Mexico, amidst all their mines of gold and silver.
This we are well informed of by our merchants, who have dealt with the
Spaniards of this post, and found their habitations and way of living to
be very mean, and more so than those of the French.

From the confluence of this Red River, in going up the Missisippi, as
we have hitherto done, we find, about thirty leagues higher up, the
post of the Natchez.

Let not the reader be displeased at my saying often, _nearly_, or _about
so many leagues_: we can ascertain nothing justly as to the distances
in a country where we travel only by water. Those who go up the
Missisippi, having more trouble, and taking more time than those who
go down, reckon the route more or less long, according to the time in
which they make their voyage; besides, when the water is high, it
covers passes, which often shorten the way a great deal.

The Natchez are situate in about 32 deg. odd minutes of north latitude,
and 280 deg. of longitude. The fort at this post stands two hundred feet
perpendicular above low-water mark. From this fort the point of view
extends west of the Missisippi quite to the horizon, that is, on the
side opposite to that where the fort stands, though the west side be
covered with woods, because the foot of the fort stands much higher
than the trees. On the same side with the fort, the country holds at a
pretty equal height, and declines only by a gentle and almost
imperceptible slope, insensibly losing itself from one eminence to

The nation which gave name to this post, inhabited this very place at
a league from the landing-place on the Missisippi, and dwelt on the
banks of a rivulet, which has only a course of four or five leagues to
that river. All travellers who passed and stopped here, went to pay a
visit to the natives, the Natchez. The distance of the league they
went to them is through so fine and good a country, the natives
themselves were so obliging and familiar, and the women so amiable,
that all travellers failed not to make the greatest encomiums both on
the country, and on the native inhabitants.

{56} The just commendations bestowed upon them drew thither
inhabitants in such numbers, as to determine the Company to give
orders for building a fort there, as well to support the French
already settled, and those who should afterwards come thither, as to
be a check on that nation. The garrison consisted only of between
thirty and forty men, a Captain, a Lieutenant, Under Lieutenant, and
two Serjeants.

The Company had there a warehouse for the supply of the inhabitants, who
were daily increasing in spite of all the efforts of one of the
principal Superiors, who put all imaginable obstacles in the way: and
notwithstanding the progress this settlement made, and the encomiums
bestowed upon it, and which it deserved, God in his providence gave it
up to the rage of its enemies, in order to take vengeance of the sins
committed there; for without mentioning those who escaped the general
massacre, there perished of them upwards of five hundred.

Forty leagues higher up than the Natchez, is the river Yasou. The
Grant of M. le Blanc, Minister, or Secretary at War, was settled
there, four leagues from the Missisippi, as you go up this little
river. [Footnote: The village of the Indians (Yasous) is a league from
this settlement; and on one side of it there is a hill, on which they
pretend that the English formerly had a fort; accordingly there are
still some traces of it to be seen. _Dumont_, II. 296.] There a fort
stands, with a company of men, commanded by a Captain, a Lieutenant,
Under-Lieutenant, and two Serjeants. This company, together with the
servants, were in the pay of this Minister.

This post was very advantageously situated, as well for the goodness
of the air as the quality of the soil, like to that of the Natchez, as
for the landing-place, which was very commodious, and for the commerce
with the natives, if our people but knew how to gain and preserve
their friendship. But the neighbourhood of the Chicasaws, ever fast
friends of the English, and ever instigated by them to give us
uneasiness, almost cut off any hopes of succeeding. This post was on
these accounts threatened with utter ruin, sooner or later; as
actually happened in 1722, by means of those wretched Chicasaws; {57}
who came in the night and murdered the people in the settlements that
were made by two serjeants out of the fort. But a boy who was scalped
by them was cured, and escaped with life.

Sixty miles higher up than the Yasouz, and at the distance of two
hundred leagues from New Orleans, dwell the Arkansas, to the west of
the Missisippi. At the entrance of the river which goes by the name of
that nation, there is a small fort, which defends that post, which is
the second of the colony in point of time.

It is a great pity so good and fine a country is distant from the sea
upwards of two hundred leagues. I cannot omit mentioning, that wheat
thrives extremely well here, without our being obliged ever to manure
the land; and I am so prepossessed in its favour, that I persuade
myself the beauty of the climate has a great influence on the
character of the inhabitants, who are at the same time very gentle and
very brave. They have ever had an inviolable friendship for the
French, uninfluenced thereto either by fear or views of interest; and
live with the French near them as brethren rather than as neighbours.

In going from the Arkansas to the Illinois, we meet with the river St.
Francis, thirty leagues more to the north, and on the west side of the
Missisippi. There a small fort has been built since my return to
France. To the East of the Missisippi, but more to the north, we also
meet, at about thirty leagues, the river Margot, near the steep banks
of Prud'homme: there a fort was also built, called Assumption, for
undertaking an expedition against the Chicasaws, who are nearly in the
same latitude. These two forts, after that expedition, were entirely
demolished by the French, because they were thought to be no longer
necessary. It is, however, probable enough, that this fort Assumption
would have been a check upon the Chicasaws, who are always roving in
those parts. Besides, the steep banks of Prud'homme contain iron and
pit-coal. On the other hand, the country is very beautiful, and of an
excellent quality, abounding with plains and meadows, which favour the
excursions of the Chicasaws, and which they will ever continue to make
upon us, till we have the address to divert them from their commerce
with the English.

{58} We have no other French settlements to mention in Louisiana, but
that of the Illinois; in which part of the colony we had the first
fort. At present the French settlement here is on the banks of the
Missisippi, near one of the villages of the Illinois. [Footnote: They
have, or had formerly, other settlements hereabouts, at Kaskaskies,
fort Chartres, Tamaroas, and on the river Marameg, on the west side of
the Missisippi, where they found those mines that gave rise to the
Missisippi scheme in 1719. In 1742, when John Howard, Sallee and
others, were sent from Virginia to view those countries, they were
made prisoners by the French; who came from a settlement they had on
an island in the Missisippi, a little above the Ohio, where they made
salt, lead, &c. and went from thence to New Orleans, in a fleet of
boats and canoes, guarded by a large armed schooner. _Report of the
Government of Virginia_.] That post is commanded by one of the
principal officers; and M. de Bois-Briant, who was lieutenant of the
king, has commanded at it.

Many French inhabitants both from Canada and Europe live there at this
day; but the Canadians make three-fourths at least. The Jesuits have
the Cure there, with a fine habitation and a mill; in digging the
foundation of which last, a quarry of orbicular flat stones was found,
about two inches in diameter, of the shape of a buffoon's cap, with
six sides, whose groove was set with small buttons of the size of the
head of a minikin or small pin. Some of these stones were bigger, some
smaller; between the stones which could not be joined, there was no
earth found.

The Canadians, who are numerous in Louisiana, are most of them at the
Illinois. This climate, doubtless, agrees better with them, because
nearer Canada than any other settlement of the colony. Besides, in
coming from Canada, they always pass through this settlement; which
makes them choose to continue here. They bring their wives with them,
or marry the French or India women. The ladies even venture to make
this long and painful voyage from Canada, in order to end their days in
a country which the Canadians look upon as a terrestrial paradise
[Footnote: It is this that has made the French undergo so many long and
perilous voyages in North-America, upwards of two thousand miles,
against currents, cataracts, and boisterous winds on the lakes, in
order to get to this settlement of the Illinois, which is nigh to the
Forks of the Missisippi, the most important place in all the inland
parts of North-America, to which the French will sooner or later remove
from Canada; and there erect another Montreal, that will be much more
dangerous and prejudicial to us, than ever the other in Canada was.
They will here be in the midst of all their old friends and allies, and
much more convenient to carry on a trade with them, to spirit them up
against the English, &c. than ever they were at Montreal. To this
settlement, where they likewise are not without good hopes of finding
mines, the French will for ever be removing, as long as any of them are
left in Canada.]



_The Voyages of the_ French _to the_ Missouris, Canzas, _and_ Padoucas.
_The Settlements they in vain attempted to make in those Countries; with
a Description of an extraordinary Phaenomenon._

The Padoucas, who lie west by northwest of the Missouris, happened at
that time to be at war with the neighbouring nations, the Canzas,
Othouez, Aiaouez, Osages, Missouris, and Panimahas, all in amity with
the French. To conciliate a peace between all these nations and the
Padoucas, M. de Bourgmont sent to engage them, as being our allies, to
accompany him on a journey to the Padoucas, in order to bring about a
general pacification, and by that means to facilitate the traffick or
truck between them and us, and conclude an alliance with the Padoucas.

For this purpose M. de Bourgmont set out on the 3d of July, 1724, from
Fort Orleans, which lies near the Missouris, a nation dwelling on the
banks of the river of that name, in order to join that people, and
then to proceed to the Canzas, where the general rendezvous of the
several nations was appointed.

M. de Bourgmont was accompanied by an hundred Missouris, commanded by
their Grand Chief, and eight other Chiefs of war, and by sixty-four
Osages, commanded by four Chiefs of war, besides a few Frenchmen. On
the sixth he joined the Grand Chief, six other Chiefs of war, and
several Warriors of the Canzas, who presented him the Pipe of Peace,
{60} and performed the honours customary on such occasions, to the
Missouris and Osages.

On the 7th they passed through extensive meadows and woods, and
arrived on the banks of the river Missouri, over against the village
of the Canzas.

On the 8th the French crossed the Missouri in a pettyaugre, the
Indians on floats of cane, and the horses were swam over. They landed
within a gun-shot of the Canzas, who flocked to receive them with the
Pipe; their Grand Chief, in the name of the nation, assuring M. de
Bourgmont that all their warriors would accompany him in his journey
to the Padoucas, with protestations of friendship and fidelity,
confirmed by smoking the Pipe. The same assurances were made him by
the other Chiefs, who entertained him in their huts, and [Footnote: It
is thus they express their joy and caresses, at the sight of a person
they respect.] rubbed him over and his companions.

On the 9th M. de Bourgmont dispatched five Missouris to acquaint the
Othouez with his arrival at the Canzas. They returned on the 10th, and
brought word that the Othouez promised to hunt for him and his
Warriors, and to cause provisions to be dried for the journey; that
their Chief would set out directly, in order to wait on M. de
Bourgmont, and carry him the word of the whole nation.

The Canzas continued to regale the French; brought them also great
quantities of grapes, of which the French made a good wine.

On the 24th of July, at six in the morning, this little army set out,
consisting of three hundred Warriors, including the Chiefs of the
Canzas, three hundred women, about five hundred young people, and at
least three hundred dogs. The women carried considerable loads, to the
astonishment of the French, unaccustomed to such a sight. The young
women also were well loaded for their years; and the dogs were made to
trail a part of the baggage, and that in the following manner: the
back of the dog was covered with a skin, with its pile on, then the
dog was girthed round, and his breast-leather put on; and {61} taking
two poles of the thickness of one's arm, and twelve feet long, they
fastened their two ends half a foot asunder, laying on the dog's
saddle the thong that fastened the two poles; and to the poles they
also fastened, behind the dog, a ring or hoop, lengthwise, on which
they laid the load.

On the 28th and 29th the army crossed several brooks and small rivers,
passed through several meadows and thickets, meeting every where on
their way a great deal of game.

On the 30th M. de Bourgmont, finding himself very ill, was obliged to
have a litter made, in order to be carried back to Fort Orleans till
he should recover. Before his departure he gave orders about two
Padouca slaves whom he had ransomed, and was to send before him to
that nation, in order to ingratiate himself by this act of generosity.
These he caused to be sent by one Gaillard, who was to tell their
nation, that M. de Bourgmont, being fallen ill on his intended journey
to their country, was obliged to return home; but that as soon as he
got well again, he would resume his journey to their country, in order
to procure a general peace between them and the other nations.

On the evening of the same day arrived at the camp the Grand Chief of
the Othouez: who acquainted M. de Bourgmont, that a great part of his
Warriors waited for him on the road to the Padoucas, and that he came
to receive his orders; but was sorry to find him ill.

At length, on the 4th of August, M. de Bourgmont set out from the
Canzas in a pettyaugre, and arrived the 5th at Fort Orleans.

On the 6th of September, M. de Bourgmont, who was still at Fort
Orleans, was informed of the arrival of the two Padouca slaves on the
25th of August at their own nation; and that meeting on the way a body
of Padouca hunters, a day's journey from their village, the Padouca
slaves made the signal of their nation, by throwing their mantles
thrice over their heads: that they spoke much in commendation of the
generosity of M. de Bourgmont, who had ransomed them: told all he had
done in order to a general pacification: in fine, extolled the French
to such a degree, that their discourse, held in presence {62} of the
Grand Chief and of the whole nation, diffused an universal joy that
Gaillard told them, the flag they saw was the symbol of Peace, and the
word of the Sovereign of the French: that in a little time the several
nations would come to be like brethren, and have but one heart.

The Grand Chief of the Padoucas was so well assured that the war was
now at an end, that he dispatched twenty Padoucas with Gaillard to the
Canzas, by whom they were extremely well received. The Padoucas, on
their return home, related their good reception among the Canzas; and
as a plain and real proof of the pacification meditated by the French,
brought with them fifty of the Canzas and three of their women; who,
in their turn, were received by the Padoucas with all possible marks
of friendship.

Though M. de Bourgmont was but just recovering of his illness; he,
however, prepared for his departure, and on the 20th of September
actually set out from Fort Orleans by water, and arrived at the Canzas
on the 27th.

Gaillard arrived on the 2nd of October at the camp of the Canzas, with
three Chiefs of war, and three Warriors of the Padoucas, who were
received by M. de Bourgmont with flag displayed, and other testimonies
of civility, and had presents made them of several goods, proper for
their use.

On the 4th of October arrived at the Canzas the Grand Chief, and seven
other Chiefs of war of the Othouez; and next day, very early, six
Chiefs of war of the Aiaouez.

M. de Bourgmant assembled all the Chiefs present, and setting them
round a large fire made before his tent, rose up, and addressing
himself to them, said, he was come to declare to them, in the name of
his Sovereign, and of the Grand French Chief in the country, [Footnote:
The Governor of Louisiana.] that it was the will of his Sovereign,
they should all live in peace for the future, like brethren and
friends, if they expected to enjoy his love and protection: and since,
says he, you are here all assembled this day, it is good you conclude
a peace, and all smoke in the same pipe.

{63} The Chiefs of these different nations rose up to a man, and said
with one consent, they were well satisfied to comply with his request;
and instantly gave each other their pipes of peace.

After an entertainment prepared for them, the Padoucas sung the songs,
and danced the dances of peace; a kind of pantomimes, representing the
innocent pleasures of peace.

On the 6th of October, M. de Bourgmont caused three lots of goods to
be made out; one for the Othouez, one for the Aiaouez, and one for the
Panimahas, which last arrived in the mean time; and made them all
smoke in the same pipe of peace.

On the 8th M. de Bourgmont set out from the Canzas with all the
baggage, and the flag displayed, at the head of the French and such
Indians as he had pitched on to accompany him, in all forty persons.
The goods intended for presents were loaded on horses. As they set out
late, they travelled but five leagues, in which they crossed a small
river and two brooks, in a fine country, with little wood.

The same day Gaillard, Quenel, and two Padoucas were dispatched to
acquaint their nation with the march of the French. That day they
travelled ten leagues, crossed one river and two brooks.

The 10th they made eight leagues, crossed two small rivers and three
brooks. To their right and left they had several small hills, on which
one could observe pieces of rock even with the ground. Along the
rivers there is found a slate, and in the meadows, a reddish marble,
standing out of the earth, one, two, and three feet; some pieces of it
upwards of six feet in diameter.

The 11th they passed over several brooks and a small river, and then
the river of the Canzas, which had only three feet water. Further on,
they found several brooks, issuing from the neighbouring little hills.
The river of the Canzas runs directly from west to east, and falls
into the Missouri; is very great in floods, because, according to the
report of the Padoucas, it comes a great way off. The woods, which
border this river, afford a retreat to numbers of buffaloes and other
game. On the left were seen great eminences, with hanging rocks.

{64} The 12th of October, the journey, as the preceding day, was
extremely diversified by the variety of objects. They crossed eight
brooks, beautiful meadows, covered with herds of elks and buffaloes.
To the right the view was unbounded, but to the left small hills were
seen at a distance, which from time to time presented the appearance
of ancient castles.

The 13th, on their march they saw the meadows covered almost entirely
with buffaloes, elks and deer; so that one could scarce distinguish
the different herds, so numerous and so intermixed they were. The same
day they passed through a wood almost two leagues long, and a pretty
rough ascent; a thing which seemed extraordinary, as till then they
only met with little groves, the largest of which scarce contained an
hundred trees, but straight as a cane; groves too small to afford a
retreat to a quarter of the buffaloes and elks seen there.

The 14th the march was retarded by ascents and descents; from which
issued many springs of an extreme pure water, forming several brooks,
whose waters uniting make little rivers that fall into the river of
the Canzas: and doubtless it is this multitude of brooks which
traverse and water these meadows, extending a great way out of sight,
that invite those numerous herds of buffaloes.

The 15th they crossed several brooks and two little rivers. It is
chiefly on the banks of the waters that we find those enchanting
groves, adorned with grass underneath, and so clear of underwood, that
we may there hunt down the stag with ease.

The 16th they continued to pass over a similar landscape, the beauties
of which were never cloying. Besides the larger game, these groves
afforded also a retreat to flocks of turkeys.

The 17th they made very little way, because they wanted to get into
the right road, from which they had strayed the two preceding days,
which they at length recovered; and, at a small distance from their
camp, saw an encampment of the Padoucas, which appeared to have been
quitted only about eight days before. This yielded them so much the
more pleasure, as it shewed the nearness of that nation, which made
them encamp, after having travelled only six leagues, in order {65} to
make signals from that place, by setting fire to the parts of the
meadows which the general fire had spared. In a little time after the
signal was answered in the same manner; and confirmed by the arrival
of two Frenchmen, who had orders given them to make the signals.

On the 18th they met a little river of brackish water; on the banks of
which they found another encampment of the Padoucas, which appeared to
have been abandoned but four days before: at half a league further on,
a great smoke was seen to the west, at no great distance off, which
was answered by setting fire to the parts of the meadows, untouched by
the general fire.

About half an hour after, the Padoucas were observed coming at full
gallop with the flag which Gaillard had left them on his first journey
to their country. M. de Bourgmont instantly ordered the French under
arms, and at the head of his people thrice saluted these strangers
with his flag, which they also returned thrice, by raising their
mantles as many times over their heads.

After this first ceremony, M. de Bourgmont made them all sit down and
smoke in the Pipe of Peace. This action, being the seal of the peace,
diffused a general joy, accompanied with loud acclamations.

The Padoucas, after mounting the French and the Indians who
accompanied them, on their horses, set out for their camp: and after a
journey of three leagues, arrived at their encampment; but left a
distance of a gun-shot between the two camps.

The day after their arrival at the Padoucas, M. de Bourgmont caused
the goods allotted for this nation to be unpacked, and the different
species parcelled out, which he made them all presents of.[Footnote:
Red and blue Limburgs, shirts, fusils, sabres, gun-powder, ball,
musket-flints, gunscrews, mattocks, hatchets, looking-glasses, Flemish
knives, wood cutters knives, clasp-knives, scissars, combs, bells,
awls, needles, drinking glasses, brass-wire, boxes, rings, &c.]

After which M. de Bourgmont sent for the Grand Chief and other Chiefs
of the Padoucas, who came to the camp to the number of two hundred:
and placing himself between them and {66} the goods thus parcelled and
laid out to view, told them, he was sent by his Sovereign to carry
them the word of peace, this flag, and these goods, and to exhort them
to live as brethren with their neighbours the Panimahas, Aiaouez,
Othouez, Canzas, Missouris, Osages, and Illinois, to traffick and
truck freely together, and with the French.

He at the same time gave the flag to the Grand Chief of the Padoucas,
who received it with demonstrations of respect, and told him, I accept
this flag, which you present to me on the part of your Sovereign: we
rejoice at our having peace with all the nations you have mentioned;
and promise in the name of our nation never to make war on any of your
allies; but receive them, when they come among us, as our brethren; as
we shall, in like manner, the French, and conduct them, when they want
to go to the Spaniards, who are but twelve days journey from our
village, and who truck with us in horses, of which they have such
numbers, they know not what to do with them; also in bad hatchets of a
soft iron, and some knives, whose points they break off, lest we
should use them one day against themselves. You may command all my
Warriors; I can furnish you with upwards of two thousand. In my own,
and in the name of my whole nation, I entreat you to send some
Frenchmen to trade with us; we can supply them with horses, which we
truck with the Spaniards for buffalo-mantles, and with great
quantities of furs.

Before I quit the Padoucas, I shall give a summary of their manners;
it may not, perhaps, be disagreeable to know in what respects they
differ from other Indian nations.[Footnote: The Author should likewise
have informed us of the fate of those intended settlements of the
French, which Dumont tells us were destroyed, and all the French
murdered by the Indians, particularly among the Missouris; which is
confirmed below in book 11. ch. 7.]

The Padoucas, who live at a distance from the Spaniards, cultivate no
grain, and live only on hunting. But they are not to be considered as
a wandering nation, tho' employed in hunting winter and summer; seeing
they have large villages, consisting of a great number of cabins,
which contain very numerous families: these are their permanent
abodes; from which a {67} hundred hunters set out at a time with their
horses, their bows, and a good stock of arrows. They go thus two or
three days journey from home, where they find herds of buffaloes, the
least of which consists of a hundred head. They load their horses with
their baggage, tents and children, conducted by a man on horseback: by
this means the men, women, and young people travel unencumbered and
light, without being fatigued by the journey. When come to the
hunting-spot, they encamp near a brook, where there is always wood;
the horses they tie by one of their fore-feet with a string to a stake
or bush.

Next morning they each of them mount a horse, and proceed to the first
herd, with the wind at their back, to the end the buffaloes may scent
them, and take to flight, which they never fail to do, because they
have a very quick scent. Then the hunters pursue them close at an easy
gallop, and in a crescent, or half ring, till they hang out the tongue
through fatigue, and can do no more than just walk: the hunters then
dismount, point a dart at the extremity of the shoulder, and kill each
of them one cow, sometimes more: for, as I said above, they never kill
the males. Then they flay them, take out the entrails, and cut the
carcasse in two; the head, feet, and entrails they leave to the wolves
and other carnivorous animals: the skin they lay on the horse, and on
that the flesh, which they carry home. Two days after they go out
again; and then they bring home the meat stript from the bones; the
women and young people dress it in the Indian fashion; while the men
return for some days longer to hunt in the same manner. They carry
home their dry provisions, and let their horses rest for three or four
days: at the end of which, those who remained in the village, set out
with the others to hunt in the like manner; which has made ignorant
travellers affirm this people was a wandering nation.

If they sow little or no maiz, they as little plant any citruis, never
any tobacco; which last the Spaniards bring them in rolls, along with
the horses they truck with them for buffalo-mantles.

The nation of the Padoucas is very numerous, extends almost two
hundred leagues, and they have villages quite close {68} to the
Spaniards of New Mexico. They are acquainted with silver, and made the
French understand they worked at the mines. The inhabitants of the
villages at a distance from the Spaniards, have knives made of
fire-stone, (_pierre de feu_,) of which they also make hatchets; the
largest to fell middling and little trees with; the less, to flay and
cut up the beasts they kill.

These people are far from being savage, nor would it be a difficult
matter to civilize them; a plain proof they have had long intercourse
with the Spaniards. The few days the French stayed among them, they
were become very familiar, and would fain have M. de Bourgmont leave
some Frenchmen among them; especially they of the village at which the
peace was concluded with the other nations. This village consisted of
an hundred and forty huts, containing about eight hundred warriors,
fifteen hundred women, and at least two thousand children, some
Padoucas having four wives. When they are in want of horses, they
train up great dogs to carry their baggage.

The men for the most part wear breeches and stockings all of a piece,
made of dressed skins, in the manner of the Spaniards: the women also
wear petticoats and bodices all of a piece, adorning their waists with
fringes of dressed skins.

They are almost without any European goods among them, and have but a
faint knowledge of them. They knew nothing of fire-arms before the
arrival of M. de Bourgmont; were much frighted at them; and on hearing
the report, quaked and bowed their heads.

They generally go to war on horseback, and cover their horses with
dressed leather, hanging down quite round, which secures them from
darts. All we have hitherto remarked is peculiar to this people,
besides the other usages they have in common with the nations of

On the 22nd of October, M. de Bourginont set out from the Padoucas,
and travelled only five leagues that day: the 23d, and the three
following days, he travelled in all forty leagues: the 27th, six
leagues: the 28th, eight leagues: the 29th, six leagues; and the 30th,
as many: the 31st, he travelled only four leagues, and that day
arrived within half a league of the Canzas. From the Padoucas to the
Canzas, proceeding always {69} east, we may now very safely reckon
sixty-five leagues and a half. The river of the Canzas is parallel to
this route.

On the 1st of November they all arrived on the banks of the Missouri.
M. de Bourgmont embarked the 2d on a canoe of skins; and at length, on
the 5th of November, arrived at Fort Orleans.

I shall here subjoin the description of one of these canoes. They
choose for the purpose branches of a white and supple wood, such as
poplar; which are to form the ribs or curves, and are fastened on the
outside with three poles, one at bottom and two on the sides, to form
the keel; to these curves two other stouter poles are afterwards made
fast, to form the gunnels; then they tighten these sides with cords,
the length of which is in proportion to the intended breadth of the
canoe: after which they tie fast the ends. When all the timbers are
thus disposed, they sew on the skins, which they take care previously
to soak a considerable time to render them manageable.

From the account of this journey, extracted and abridged from M. de
Bourgmont's Journal, we cannot fail to observe the care and attention
necessary to be employed in such enterprizes; the prudence and policy
requisite to manage the natives, and to behave with them in an affable

If we view these nations with an eye to commerce, what advantages
might not be derived from them, as to furs? A commerce not only very
lucrative, but capable of being carried on without any risque;
especially if we would follow the plan I am to lay down under the
article Commerce.

The relation of this journey shews, moreover, that Louisiana maintains
its good qualities throughout; and that the natives of North America
derive their origin from the same country, since at bottom they all
have the same manners and usages, as also the same manner of speaking
and thinking.

I, however, except the Natchez, and the people they call their
brethren, who have preserved festivals and ceremonies, which clearly
shew they have a far nobler origin. Besides, the richness of their
language distinguishes them from all those other people that come from
Tartary; whose language, on the {70} contrary, is very barren: but if
they resemble the others in certain customs, they were constrained
thereto from the ties of a common society with them, as in their wars,
embassies, and in every thing that regards the common interests of
these nations.

Before I put an end to this chapter, I shall relate an extraordinary
phaenomenon which appeared in Louisiana.

Towards the end of May 1726, the sun was then concealed for a whole
day by large clouds, but very distinct one from another; they left but
little void space between, to permit the view of the azure sky, and
but in very few places: the whole day was very calm; in the evening
especially these clouds were entirely joined; no sky was to be seen;
but all the different configurations of the clouds were
distinguishable: I observed they stood very high above the earth.

The weather being so disposed, the sun was preparing to set. I saw him
in the instant he touched the horizon, because there was a little
clear space between that and the clouds. A little after, these clouds
turned luminous, or reflected the light: the contour or outlines of
most of them seemed to be bordered with gold, others but with a faint
tincture thereof. It would be a very difficult matter to describe all
the beauties which these different colourings presented to the view:
but the whole together formed the finest prospect I ever beheld of the

I had my face turned to the east; and in the little time the sun
formed this decoration, he proceeded to hide himself more and more;
when sufficiently low, so that the shadow of the earth could appear on
the convexity of the clouds, there was observed as if a veil,
stretched north to south, had concealed or removed the light from off
that part of the clouds which extended eastwards, and made them dark,
without hindering their being perfectly well distinguished; so that
all on the same line were partly luminous, partly dark.

This very year I had a strong inclination to quit the post at the
Natchez, where I had continued for eight years. I had taken that
resolution, notwithstanding my attachment to that {71} settlement. I
sold off my effects and went down to New Orleans, which I found
greatly altered by being entirely built. I intended to return to
Europe; but M. Perier, the Governor, pressed me so much, that I
accepted the inspection of the plantation of the Company; which, in a
little time after, became the King's.


_The War with the_ Chitimachas. _The Conspiracy of the Negroes against
the_ French. _Their Execution._

Before my arrival in Louisiana, we happened to be at war with the
nation of the Chitimachas; owing to one of that people, who being gone
to dwell in a bye-place on the banks of the Missisippi, had
assassinated M. de St. Come, a Missionary of that colony; who, in
going down the river, imagined he might in safety retire into this
man's hut for a night. M. de Biainville charged the whole nation with
this assassination; and in order to save his own people, caused them
to be attacked by several nations in alliance with the French.

Prowess is none of the greatest qualities of the Indians, much less of
the Chitimachas. They were therefore worsted, and the loss of their
bravest warriors constrained them to sue for peace. This the Governor
granted, on condition that they brought him the head of the assassin;
which they accordingly did, and concluded a peace by the ceremony of
the Calumet, hereafter described.

At the time the succours were expected from France, in order to
destroy the Natchez, the negroes formed a design to rid themselves of
all the French at once, and to settle in their room, by making
themselves masters of the capital, and of all the property of the
French. It was discovered in the following manner.

A female negroe receiving a violent blow from a French soldier for
refusing to obey him, said in her passion, that the French should not
long insult negroes. Some Frenchmen overhearing these threats, brought
her before the Governor, {72} who sent her to prison. The Judge
Criminal not being able to draw any thing out of her, I told the
Governor, who seemed to pay no great regard to her threats, that I was
of opinion, that a man in liquor, and a woman in passion, generally
speak truth. It is therefore highly probable, said I that there is
some truth in what she said: and if so, there must be some conspiracy
ready to break out, which cannot be formed without many negroes of the
King's plantation being accomplices therein: and if there are any, I
take upon me, said I, to find them out, and arrest them, if necessary,
without any disorder or tumult.

The Governor and the whole Court approved of my reasons: I went that
very evening to the camp of the negroes, and from hut to hut, till I
saw a light. In this hut I heard them talking together of their
scheme. One of them was my first commander and my confidant, which
surprised me greatly; his name was Samba.

I speedily retired for fear of being discovered; and in two days
after, eight negroes, who were at the head of the conspiracy, were
separately arrested, unknown to each other, and clapt in irons without
the least tumult.

The day after, they were put to the torture of burning matches, which,
though several times repeated, could not bring them to make any
confession. In the mean time I learnt that Samba had in his own


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