Now, le Bourdon was fully aware that one of the surest pulses of approaching hostilities between England and America was to be felt in the far West. If the Indians were in movement, some power was probably behind the scenes to set them in motion. Pigeonswing was well known to him by reputation; and there was that about the man which awakened the most unpleasant apprehensions, and he felt an itching desire to learn all he could from him, without betraying any more of his own feelings, if that were possible.
“I do not think the British will attempt Mackinaw,” Ben remarked, after a long pause and a good deal of smoking had enabled him to assume an air of safe indifference.
“Got him, I tell you,” answered Pigeonswing, pointedly.
“Got what, Chippewa?”
“Him—Mac-naw—got fort—got so’gers—got whole island. Know dat, for been dere.”
This was astounding news, indeed! The commanding officer of that ill-starred garrison could not himself have been more astonished, when he was unexpectedly summoned to surrender by an enemy who appeared to start out of the earth, than was le Bourdon, at hearing this intelligence. To western notions, Michilimackinac was another Gibraltar, although really a place of very little strength, and garrisoned by only one small company of regulars. Still, habit had given the fortress a sort of sanctity among the adventurers of that region; and its fall, even in the settled parts of the country, sounded like the loss of a province. It is now known that, anticipating the movements of the Americans, some three hundred whites, sustained by more than twice that number of Indians, including warriors from nearly every adjacent tribe, had surprised the post on the 17th of July, and compelled the subaltern in command, with some fifty odd men, to surrender. This rapid and highly military measure, on the part of the British, completely cut off the post of Chicago, at the head of Lake Michigan, leaving it isolated, on what was then a very remote wilderness. Chicago, Mackinac, and Detroit, were the three grand stations of the Americans on the upper lakes, and here were two of them virtually gone at a blow!