The Jesuit Missions : A chronicle of the cross in the wilderness eBook

Thomas Guthrie Marquis
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 85 pages of information about The Jesuit Missions .
they raced down the rapids.  On a level stretch near the foot of the Sault there was a rude fort ready at hand, a palisaded structure which had served during the previous autumn as a shelter for an Algonquin war-party.  The French drew the canoes up on the shore, and stored the provisions and ammunition in the fort.  Then all save the watchful sentinels lay down for a much-needed rest.  On the following day Daulac’s band was reinforced by four Algonquins and forty Hurons, the Hurons led by the chief Annahotaha, an inveterate foe of the Iroquois, who had on more than one occasion taken terrible revenge on the enemies of his people.  Daulac, now in command of sixty men, confidently awaited the Iroquois.  In the meantime axe and saw and shovel were plied to erect a second row of palisades and to fill the space between with earth to the height of a man’s breast.  Scouts went out and discovered the encampment of the Iroquois, and at last brought the news that two canoes were running the rapids.  Daulac hurriedly placed several of his best marksmen in ambush at a spot where the Iroquois were likely to land.  The musketeers, however, in their excitement, did not kill all the canoemen.  Two of the Iroquois escaped and sped back through the forest to warn their countrymen, and soon a hundred canoes came leaping down the turbulent waters.  For a moment Daulac and his men watched the advancing savages.  Then they dashed into the fort to prepare for the fight.  Against their defences rushed the Iroquois.  Again and again the defenders drove them back with great loss.  And for a week the heroic band, living on short rations of crushed corn and water from a well they had dug within the fort, kept the assailants at bay.  During this time the Iroquois received large reinforcements, but to no avail.  At length they made shields of split logs heavy enough to resist bullets; and presently the bewildered defenders of the fort saw a wooden wall advancing against them.  They fired rapid, despairing volleys; a few of the shield-bearers fell, but their places were quickly filled from those in the rear.  At the foot of the palisades the Iroquois cast aside the shields, and, hatchet in hand, hacked an opening.  The end had come.  The Iroquois breached the wall.  But Daulac and his men stood to the last, brandishing knife and axe, while with fierce war-cries the Iroquois bounded into the fort; and when the sounds of battle ceased there remained only three Frenchmen, living but mortally wounded, on whom the savages could glut their vengeance.

[Footnote:  The story of the fight was brought to Montreal by some Hurons who deserted Daulac’s party and escaped.]

The Iroquois had won, but they had no stomach for raiding the settlements.  If seventeen Frenchmen, assisted by a few Indians, could keep their hosts at bay for a week, it would be useless to attack strongly fortified posts.  And so Daulac and his men at this ‘Canadian Thermopylae’ had really turned aside the tide of war from New France.  The settlements were saved, and for a time traders and missionaries journeyed along the St Lawrence and the Ottawa unmolested.

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The Jesuit Missions : A chronicle of the cross in the wilderness from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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