CHAPTER V, SMALL POX
All these recent blog entries need editing. The citations are not finished, nor are the photos in the right order. I'll finish that when I get a chance.
Since there is more written about this tribe or band of the Catawba than many, I will spend a little more time on them than on many of the others..
Wikipedia says the Xualae were a Native American people who lived along the banks of the Great Kanahwa River in what is today West Virginia, and in the westernmost counties of Virginia. The Cherokee, expanding from the south, seized these regions from them during the years 1671 to 1685. [54.] Wikipedia did NOT get their material from reputible sources. That's just WRONG!!
I'd like to vehemently dispute this. ALL Indian peoples, or a great many, roamed from place to place over time. There are a couple of problems with the above scenario. First, the Spanish place the Xualla further south. Second, other references place another band of the Catawba in that region. Third, I 'd like to see how the author of the above knows the Cherokee attacked them. There is mention of some “foreign” Indians who were called “Rickahockens” in the vicinity at some point. But there is no evidence that I am aware of saying that they were Cherokee. I suspect that many Catawba hunting bands, at one time or another, might have passed through that region, remaining during the hunting season, and returned homeward when they had secured enough food for their families. Any more than this is just a guess.
We know from Spanish records the Xualla/Joara were in Western North Carolina at least from the until the 1540s or so until the 1570's. We lose track of them for many years. We can say these people were the same people as the Saura/Cheraw of the later English chroniclers. The Cherokee might well have forced the Xualla (also called Joara/Saura/Cheraw) to abandon their lands in Western Carolina. In fact the “Qualla” boundary, the place where the Eastern Cherokee live today, was taken from the name “Xualla”. It appears that the people who inhabited those lands before the arrival of the Cherokee might have been these Xualla. If the Cherokee ever did attack them (and since these bands did attack one another often, they probably did.), it would have been further to the south, in North Carolina.
Please refer to map 13. is of the movements of many of the Southern bands of the Eastern Siouans from the times of the Spanish until much later times. It shows the Xuala/Joara in 1670 as being in the same location as the Guatari were in the 1560's. Next we see or hear of the Saura they are on the Dan River, in two towns, Upper and Lower Saura Towns. As “Gua” in Spanish is pronounced “Wa” in English, this is the same tribeal band as the “Wateree”. Since the Saura abandoned their two towns on the Dan River about 1700. They must have abandoned the region of the former Wateree about 1670, and at that time moved to the Dan River. They might have abandoned their town at Xuala/Joara long before. Since this is the only map I have at present showing this location (beside Guateri), this map is placed here.
All American Indian males were trained as and considered warriors, and I suspect when Pardo's men attacked those towns to the west, it started a chain of events forcing their removal later. The people they attacked (possibly the Cherokee), of course, had to gain their revenge, and they may have harmed the Xoara/Saura so badly, they were forced to remove further east. After the Spanish abandoned them, they were no longer there to protect them with their superior technology.
About 1700 they fled to the Southeast towards Ylasi on the Pee Dee River, which the Yadkin River becomes further downstream. They are still in South Carolina, but right on the NC/SC line, in what was to become the Cheraw District of the state of South Carolina.
Map 15 is dated 1733. It shows the locations of various bands associated with the Catawba, including the “Saraw”. This map shows them in the North side of the Pee Dee River, not the south side. Near the Catawba and the Sataree are just north of the Saraw and the Keawee, just to the east of the Yadkin River. The Waxaus are just to the South of the Sataree, and on the opposite side of the river are the Wateree. Notice how far east the Saura have fled. But also notice the year – 1733. The Waxhaw who were supposed to have disappeared from history after the Yamassee War, are still on the map, as are the Yamassee. Notice the “ee” ending. As far as I know, no one has ever has ever said the Yamassee were Eastern Siouan. That “ee” ending makes one wonder . . . Also recall the map of state recognized tribal units in the Carolinas and Virginia, shown earlier. The location of the Lumbee on that map is very close to the map here showing the Keowee and the Saraw.
I have one more map mentioning the Cheraw – “Charraw Town” is mentioned on this 1756 map (Map 17), and they are shown as living with the Catawba. Did they return to the NC/SC border region near the Pedee River, after this date? What became of them after 1756?
From “History of the Old Cheraws” by Alexander Gregg
From Gregg's account, he says there were no less than 28 Indian tribes in South Carolina [55.] They did not realize many of these “tribes” were actually just 'bands' or a small part of a greater nation. I am interested in those who were of Eastern Siouan origin. Notice on map 20 above that beside Camden, South Carolina, which is on the left edge of the map, half way from top to bottom is written “Indian Town”. We now know this was the location of what the Spanish called “Confitaquechi” (sp?)
Notice Map 20. To the right of Camden and up a little is written “Cheraw's Precinct”. This was named for the Cheraw Indians.. As we have seen from previous maps, these are another name for the “Saura” Indians. Here is what Gregg says about them. “Of the tribes which dwelt upon the Pedee and its tributaries. The Saras, or Saraws, as they were first called, afterwards the Charrows, Charraws, and Cheraws – occupied the region still identified by the name, Their territory extending thence to the coast, and along the coast from the Cape Fear to the Pedee.
. . . upon the middle and lower parts of the river, are the Winyaws. The Kadapaws were found on Lynche's Creek” You will find “Lynche's Cerek” east of Camden, and also east of the “Indian Town” beside it. The “Kadapaw” Indians are the “Catawba” Indians. Gregg seems to think the Cheraw or “Sara” Indians had lived in this region quite some time, but we know they were recent arrivals from the Spanish records of an earlier time. The Indian town near Camden was once a great city, and the capital town of the Eastern Siouans, of which the Cheraw/Saura were but one band or region. [56.] Gregg continues to write as though the Catawba and the Cheraw were two distinct tribes, not realizing they were two bands of a once greater nation. He speaks of the other tribes on the Pedee, and says they were absorbed by the greater tribes around them, in this instance meaning the Catawba. In reality however, they were ALWAYS one people, and when they moved in together, it was for strength, as their numbers were dwindling. He says by 1743, twenty dialects were being spoken by the Catawba, saying “Cherah” was one of them. Per Gregg, the Cheraw were first mentioned by John Lederer, who travelled through the area between March 1669 and September 1770. Gregg suggests for a full story of Lederer's travels, we refer to Dr. Hawk's “History of North Carolina”, vol 11 pp. 43-63, with maps annexed. [57.] He says Lederer calles them “Sara's or “Saraw's.” He quotes Lederer: “I departed from Wateree the one and twentieth of June, and keeping a west course for nearly thirty miles, I came to Sara. . . . From Sara I kept a southwest course until the five and twentieth of June, and then I reached Wisacky. He speaks of nearby Indians called “Usheries”.There is no such tribe. I suspect he meant “Uchee's”. Gregg goes on to say these directions make no sense, and the tribes of his time never lived where Lederer's description puts them. However the map on page 20 shows this exact measure. The Wateree later moved south to live near the Catawba, while the Saura moved due north to live on the Dan River. Gregg, by assuming the description of the Saura of his time as living in the Cheraw District, get's hopelessly lost in geography. He concludes the Wateree and Waccamaw are the same people. They aren't. Gregg confesses “Lederer's itenerary presents difficulties which we confess w can not satisfactorially solve. [58.]”
There was one comment that caught my eye. Gregg said, “If, as is here conjectured, Lederer passed through Robeson County, into South Carolina . . . it brings to light the fact never before suggested or imagined . . . that the Pedee, in the earlier days of aboriginal history, was known as “Sara”. And by 1732 there were Indians known as the Pedee Indians On December 15th, 1732, here is mention of the murder of a Pedee Indian, by the Upper House of the South Carolina Assembly. [59.] The man suspected of committing the murder was William Kemp.Gregg says; “concerning the fact of an Indian fellow being killed, named Corn-White-Johnny, His excellency issued the following order. On the 17th January, 1733, in council, upon hearing this day the information of William Kemp, relating to the death of of Corn White Johnny, and the affidavit of Thomas Burton, it is ordered that King Harry,, Captain Billy, George and Dancing Johnny, and some of the relations of the deceased be and appear before me, the second Wednesday of February next ensuing, to give an account of what they know of the death of the said Indian, and that Wm. Kemp do attendat the same time. Likewise that Mr. John Thompson, Jun., is desired to acquaint the said Indians of the order. [60.]”
The South Carolina Gazette, dated June 30-July6, 1739 sayd “On Saturday last . . . arrived at this town (Charleston, S. C.) eleven of the chief men among the Catawba and Cheraw Indians, who came to pay a tribute to his Honor, the Lieutenant Governor and inform him that some time since a party of their people went out to war . . .” [61.]. This means although eleven men came th Charleston, others had “gone off to war. What war was being fought in of June/July of 1739?
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/war-jenkins-ear . We touched briefly on this war earlier. The new colony of Georgia was going to war with the Spanish colony of Florida. English privateers had been attacking Spanish shipping for some time. This led the Spanish to, in 1731, cut off Robert Jenkins ear. He went to speak before Parliament about the incident, which enraged the English public about the cruelty of the Spanish. The Spanish in their turn were upset when England established a colony in Georgia next doot to Spanish Florida. Spain considered that territory as theirs, as they had planted colonies there in the past. The article at the link above states "Throughout the 1730s, diplomatic attempts between England and Spain occurred in Europe and America, but they only served to increase the animosity that led to war in late 1739." I suspect this is telling us that the Cheraw and Catawba participated in this war upon the Spanish Colony of Florida.
In the Council Journal, no. 11, p. 133, dated March 2, 1743, we have; “his Excellency, the Governor, signed the following order . . . to provide for the Pedee Indians now in town . . .
“ . . . In Council, 25th of July, 1744, the governor admitted 4 Pedee Indians . . . who informed his excellency that 7 Catawbas had been killed by the Notchee Indians, who live among them. Governor Glen had the Notchee and Pedee Indians move closer to settlements, for safety, as the Catawbas were seeking revenge.
Several Catawba leaders are mentioned 2 years later. On the 27th of April, 1746, several Catawba leaders are mentioned as meeting the governor at the Congarees. The headmen mentioned are Yenabe Yalangway, the King. The old leader, Captain Taylor, Nafkehee, and some others, no other names given, unfortunately. During this meeting, there is mentioned a Mr. Brown, who trades amongst the Catawba's. According to Gregg, Brown reported the following to the Governor. Gregg's accoount says, “Brown (who trades among the Catawba's) acquainted him that some of the Pedees and Cheraw's (two small tribes who have long been incorporated with the Catawbas) intended to leave them, which might prove of dangerous consequences at a time when they were so closely attacked by their enemies, the Northern Indians. Mr. Brown therefore entreated that if possible, such a separation might be prevented.” The governor then gave a speech to the Pedee and Cheraw Indians, advising them of the wisdom of remaining united as one. Gregg adds, “After this, they all promised to continue together” (8). Although Gregg says these Indians remained with the Catawba all their remaining history, King Haigler later wrote a letter to Governor Glen dated Nov. 21, 1752, asking the Pedee Indians to return. It is difficult to understand how and just who these Pedee Indians were, and what was their relationship to the Cheraw/Saura Indians.  So they did NOT remain with the Catawba.
We hear that the Pedee and Cheraw were two small tribes who had long been associated with the Catawba. We have heard for some time now of the Pedee Indians who lived “in the settlements” meaning the White mens towns. Perhaps some of these Indians banded together. We have also heard that Nafkehee and Haigler wee the same person. Here we record the two individuals, Nafkehee and the King, as both being present.
The Pedee's are again mentioned August 30, 1748. Michael Welch, an overseer on Uchee Island on the Carolina coast line, sold a Negro slave to King Billy. It then goes on to say the Catawba Indians came and took the slave. He then escaped from the Catawba. So the Catawba still held sway over the Pedee Indians. The attitude of this Catawba King who took this slave might shed some light as to why these Indians wanted to leave the Catawba. I do not know if this is speaking about King Haigler or his predecessor. The earliest I have found, so far, mentions King Haigler in 1751.But I have only seen a few references. [63.]
An effort was made on the part of the Catawba to have the Pedee Indians move in with them. These Pedee Indians are not mentioned by that name earlier in their history. I suspect they were members of several groups that had dwindled to such a small number that they agreed to unite under a new name. Here is what the King of the Catawba said to Gov. Glen of South Carolina.. It is dated November 21st, 1752. There are a great many Pedee Indians living in the settlements that we want to come and settle amongst us. We desire for you to send for them, and advise for them to this, and give them this string of wampum in token that we want them to settle here, and will always live like brothers with them. The Northern Indians want them to settle with us; for as they are now at peace. They may be hunting in the woods or straggling about, killed by some of them, except they join us, and make but one nation, which will be a great addition of strength to us The (his [x] mark) King. [64.] Haigler was king of the Catawba at this time.
Here we have Haigler saying there are many Pedee Indians still living in the White Man's settlements as late as 1752.
Immediately after this, Gregg mentions a treaty between the Northwards Indians and the Southern Tribes. This treaty is dated before Haigler's letter; on May 24th, 1751. He mentions they tried living among the settlers, and says, "All the tribes . . . that live amongst our settlements, such as the Charrows, Uchees, Pedees, Notches, Cape Fears, and other Indians." [65.] So there were numerous groups that had virtually been exterminated, but were still in existence, in pockets, in rural and urban South Carolina.
Gregg continues his commentary. His next reference is dated 17th of October, 1755. He mentions a John Evans making a visit to the Catawbas by order of Governor Glen. From Evans journal, dated 17th of October, Evans mentions that during the summer, some Cherrakees amd Notchees had killed some Pedees and Waccamaws in the White peoples settlements. [66.] So we have mention now, of the Waccamaw as well, living in the White Peoples settlements. And we have the Catawba wanting them to move in with them, to strengthen their numbers. We have King Haigler trying to strengthen his people in numbers, by trying to get all these other bands, to move in with him and his Catawba. Our map previously listed dated 1756 shows some of the results of his efforts. The 1750 and 1756 maps attest to the success of King Haigler's efforts. The infortunated 1759 Spall Pox epedimic, and the murder of Haigler in 1763 put a dagger into his hopes for unification, as well.
Continuing with this account, we have the following dated October 22, 1755. Evans says, "I set out from the Catawba Nation homeward, and at night came to a camp of Pedees. I aquainted them with my trip to the nation, and desired them to let me know who it was that killed and scalped the Pedee women and carried their boys away. Lewis Jones, their chief, answered, . . . he went down from the nation to the settlements . . . to inquire what harm was done . . . He met a Pedee Indian named Prince who lived in the settlements, and Prince told him that a day or two before the mischief was done, here was five Cherokees and one Notchee . . .and Lewis John said, he did believe they scalped the women and carried the boys away. [67.]" Evans might be a figure to remember in the future. He sounds like an interesting fellow. Both Evans and Pedee Chief Lewis Jones/John 'left the Nation'. By nation, they mean the Catawba Nation. Third, these Pedee Indians are also found 'in the settlements', menaing the White settlements. They seem to be equally at home with the Catawba, and in White settlements. Lastly fourth, the Pedee Chief is named Lewis Jones in one place, and next he is called 'Lewis John'. 'Johns' is a well known surname of one modern band of the Catawba, the Moncan. This might be a coincidence,but there it is, nonetheless.
Gregg continues to write about tribes in the "Old Cheraws" region of South Carolina. He mentions the Pedee Indians, and says they were first called Pedee's about the year 1731-2, saying there is no mention of them before that date [69.]. If one suggests they were members of wasted tribes, and took the name Pedee so they might be named after the Pedee River. From the 1730s until the late 1750s there were both Cheraw and Pedee Indians. Were they simply calling one people by two separate names? Were the Pedee Indians simply remnants of several “wasted” tribes or bands? Did the Pedee and Cheraw later unite? It might be impossible to know for certain.
Chapman Milling in “Red Carolinians” tries to pinpoint the exact moment the Cheraw and Pedee Indians became extinct. We know some Pedees lived in the White Settlements Milling writes (p 229); “Of the settlement band of Pedee we have little further information other than the following from Ramsey's History of South Carolina: Persons now living remember that there were about thirty Indians, a remnant of the Pedee and Cape Fear trbes that lived in the Parishes of St. Stephens and St. John's. King John was their chief.” He last date mentioned was 1755, so this is some time after 1755. I can't help but think of Captain Johnny, called both a Catawba warrior and a Cheraw Warrior of the French and Indian Wars. He goes on to write, “There was another man among the same tribe who was called Prince. Governor Lyttleton gave him a Commission of Captain General and Commander in Chief of the Two Tribes (speaking of Cheraw and Pedee) which superceded Johnny. The latter took umbrage at the promotion of the former and tried to kill him.” So governor Lyttleton was playing politics with the Cheraw and Pedee Indians. Milling writes (p230) “All this remnant of these ancient tribes are now  extinct except one woman and a half-breed. . . . Bishop Gregg pronounced the following; “The history of those Pedee and Cheraw who united with that Nation [Catawba] can not be separately traced. . . . within the memory of persons now living , a few of the Cheraws have visited the upper Pedee to take a last look at the localities which their own traditions had identified as the homes of their fathers.” So people still living in 1867 could remember seeing Pedee and/or Cheraw Indians on the Pedee River. 1867 was just after the end of the Civil War, and there was the Lowery family in the area as well, at the end of the Civil War who were known to have been Indian. We have a tradition to this day of mixed-race Indian families in Robison County, NC, today called the Lumbee Indians. This appears to be a continual stream of Indian families in the region from those earlier times, to the present. Remember the warriors returning from Fort Duquesne in Pennsylvania brought the Small Pox home with them, and that includes perhaps the last of the Cheraw War Chiefs, Captain Johnny, in 1759. It was said of the Catawba that perhaps from ½ to as many as 2/3rds of them died during the small-pox epidemic of 1759-1760. It is possible that from ½ to 2/3rds of the Pedee and Cheraw died at the same time.
(p 16, The Catawba Indians, People of the River, by Douglass Summers Brown, University of South carolina Press, (c) 1966). Robert Ward asked elderly Chief Robert Lee Harris in 1940 about the Catawba, and Chief Harris Responded; “Once upon a time the Catawbas numbered many thousand braves, but the Small Pox killed many thousands of people.” (p86 Ibid) When Lawson went hrough the Sewee town @1701, Brown says; “The Sewees . . . had once been a rgeat nation, but when Lawson came upon them, they had already been rgeatly reduced by small pox . . .” A few pages later we see a similar theme. (p 90, ibid) Lawson came upon the Congaree Indians, which they say is the location today of the state Capital of South Carolina, Columbia. Lawson says, “The Congarees were a comely sort of Indians who had already been much reduced in numbers by the Small Pox.” Brown, p. 154, Ibid) Another time, Brown states some Indians were porters, delivering pelts in 1717 to Charlestown, South Carolina, but states they had trouble hiring enough help, saying “The burdeners were quickly sent back to the nation because of the danger of their getting Small Pox in our settlements.” (ibid, p 180). Per Brown, the outbreak Lawson spoke of occurred in 1697. He talks of the 1738 epedimic, saying, the small pox; “was brought to Charles Town by a Guinea slave ship. The disease was spread to Indian tribes by the infected trade goods . . .” Of the 1759 epedimic, Brown says the following;
Maurice Moore wrote: “Their numbers were reduced to less that one half.” Another claim was that two-thirds of the nation had perished. The tradition that I heard in my boyhood was that it was introduced through the avarice of some of the white men, to enable them to get more easy possession of the rich lands of the Indians.” Per Brown, the woods were full of corpses as tehre were not enough survivors to bury the dead.
(ibid p. 181 Brown). Part of the treatment of the Indian doctors was sweat the patient, then throw them into cold water. Moore said; “I remember being told by an eye-witness, a reliable man who lived among them at the time, that he had seen twenty five day, during the prevalence of the scourge, to be taken out of the river dead.”
The final destruction of these Indians is hinted at in the next paragraph. "In the Gazette of December 8th-15th, 1759, was this sad account of its [small pox] ravages; it is pretty certain that the small pox has lately raged with great violence among the Catawba Indians, and that it has carried off near one half of that nation . . . This distemper has since appeared among the inhabitants at the Charraws and Waterees." Immediately after this, Greggs says "The small pox went through the province in the year 1738." He continues "So distructive . . . had been this disease among the Indians . . .that its appearance brought on a spirit of . . . desperation." Later in the same paragraph we have; "About the time of the Revolution, some of the Catawba Warriors having visited Charleston, there contracted the disease again, and returning communicated it to their Nation." We have a last account mentioning the Charraws. Gregg says, "It was after this, having been sorely thinned by disease, that they were advised by their friends to invite the Charraws to move up and live with them as one tribe. here spoken of by the writers of the day, must have been a part of the tribe which had maintained its independence probablyin the region lower down the Pedee or on the coast, where they lead a proud but feeble existence.” [68.] Gregg goes on to say this small remnant of the Cherraws went to live with the Catawba, as had their brethren before, thus disappearing from history.
So we have three late outbreaks of small pox, one in 1738, one in 1759, and a last, a third, about the time of the Revolutionary War -- no date is given. Of the second outbreak, it was said that the small pox carried away half of the Catawba Nation. We have the entire Cherraw Tribe disappearing from history. But today, there is are a people called the "Lumbee" tribe of Indians living near where the Cheraws had been observed living as late as the Revolutionary War. Are the modern Lumbee that last remnant of the Cheraws? I don't know, but I don't think I have to go too far out on a limb to say "maybe".
On page 129 Carlson says; “Compared to the Cherokee, the Catawba and their confederates were a relatively small population to start, and the war and recent small pox epidemics had taken their toll on adult Catawba males.”
The war referred to was called in Europe The Seven Years War, but in America it was referred to as the French and Indian War. Chistopher Gist played a prominent role in that war. I am also a Gist descended from the same line of Maryland Gist’s. The best book documenting them is Christopher Gist of Maryland and Some of His Descendants 1679-1957; by Jean Muir Dorsey and Maxwell Jay Dorsey. Christopher and Nathaniel Sr (whom I descend from) are recorded as being brothers.
But Carlson also refers to a small pox epidemic. I am reminded of what the Dorsey’s said; p 28 – “Christopher Gist died of Small Pox on the road from Williamsburg to Winchester on July 25th, 1759. He was conducting 62 hand-picked Catawba Warriors to Winchester to help guard the western frontier of Virginia ((ibid., series 21664, part 1, , pp 216-217). It continues to say that these Catawba were urged to continue “but they said their father Capt. Gist (as they called him) was dead at it was better for them to return home (ibid., p. 302).”The Dorsey’s were referring to “The Papers of Colonel Henry Boquet”. Other books on the Catawba refer to this 1759 epidemic as something similar to the straw that broke the camel’s back. One writer says or implies two-thirds of the Catawba died during this tragic epidemic. What was six Catawba towns moves down stream a few miles, and only two Catawba towns are remaining afterwards. Only two of six towns remaining means 2/6th, which is 1/3rd of the population remaining.
THE SMALL POX
BOUQUET AND AMHERST
BOUQUET AND AMHERST
What exactly did Lord Jeffrey Amherst do? He was once well respected, a college was named after him. Who was he? The web site above says this about him:
Lord Jeffery1 Amherst was commanding general of British forces in North America during the final battles of the so-called French & Indian war (1754-1763). He won victories against the French to acquire Canada for England and helped make England the world's chief colonizer at the conclusion of the Seven Years War among the colonial powers (1756-1763).
The town of Amherst, Massachusetts, was named for Lord Jeff even before he became a Lord. Amherst College was later named after the town. It is said the local inhabitants who formed the town preferred another name, Norwottuck, after the Indians whose land it had been; the colonial governor substituted his choice for theirs. Frank Prentice Rand, in his book, The Village of Amherst: A Landmark of Light [Amherst, MA: Amherst Historical Society, 1958], says that at the time of the naming, Amherst was "the most glamorous military hero in the New World. ... ...the name was so obvious in 1759 as to be almost inevitable." [p. 15]
comment: Hmmm . . . It says he [Jeffrey Amherst] was a “glamerous hero” and says that this was obvious in 1759. That is the year our Christopher Gist dies, and the year of the Catawba Holocaust, the year the Small Pox devastated the tribe. Was he responsible for the deaths of many of the English Indian Allies? Let's go on.
Despite his fame, Jeffery Amherst's name became tarnished by stories of smallpox-infected blankets used as germ warfare against American Indians. These stories are reported, for example, in Carl Waldman's Atlas of the North American Indian [NY: Facts on File, 1985]. Waldman writes, in reference to a siege of Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) by Chief Pontiac's forces during the summer of 1763:
... Captain Simeon Ecuyer had bought time by sending smallpox-infected blankets and handkerchiefs to the Indians surrounding the fort -- an early example of biological warfare -- which started an epidemic among them. Amherst himself had encouraged this tactic in a letter to Ecuyer. [p. 108]
Some people have doubted these stories; other people, believing the stories, nevertheless assert that the infected blankets were not intentionally distributed to the Indians, or that Lord Jeff himself is not to blame for the germ warfare tactic.
Comment: Well, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the disease that killed half of the Catawba in 1759 and 1760. That still isn't very comforting, but it seems to be the fact. Chief Pontiac is mentioned. Fort Pitt, built near the ruins of the French Fort Duquesne, was the location. Chief Pontiac was a war chief of the Ottawa, a Canadian Great Lakes tribe. He besieged Fort Pitt. What happened next?
Lord Jeff's letters during Pontiac's Rebellion
The documents provided here are made available to set the record straight. These are images of microfilmed original letters written between General Amherst and his officers and others in his command during the summer of 1763, when the British were fighting what became known as Pontiac's Rebellion.
Pontiac, an Ottawa chief who had sided with the French, led an uprising against the British after the French surrender in Canada. Indians were angered by Amherst's refusal to continue the French practice of providing supplies in exchange for Indian friendship and assistance, and by a generally imperious British attitude toward Indians and Indian land. As Waldman puts it:
... Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the British commander-in-chief for America, believed ... that the best way to control Indians was through a system of strict regulations and punishment when necessary, not "bribery," as he called the granting of provisions. [p. 106]
The documents provided here are among Amherst's letters and other papers microfilmed as part of the British Manuscript Project, 1941-1945, undertaken by the United States Library of Congress during World War II. The project was designed to preserve British historical documents from possible war damage. There are almost three hundred reels of microfilm on Amherst alone.
The microfilm is difficult to read, and paper copies even harder. Nonetheless, the images obtained by scanning the copies are sufficiently clear for online viewing. The images are of key excerpts from the letters. An index is provided to show by microfilm document number the location of the imaged documents in the microfilm set. Text files of the excerpts are also provided.
Comment: Okay, they've got me curious. What do these documents say? Well he goes on to say evidence consists of two mail letters. One a letter from Colonel Henry Bouquet suggesting the British distribute blankets “to inoculate the Indians” and the second a message from Amherst approving of Bouquet's suggestion. Amherst suggests "to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race." Amherst suggest using “the Spanish method” which is the usage of dogs. The narative continues:
Historian Francis Parkman, in his book The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War after the Conquest of Canada [Boston: Little, Brown, 1886] refers to a postscript in an earlier letter from Amherst to Bouquet wondering whether smallpox could not be spread among the Indians:
Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them. [Vol. II, p. 39 (6th edition)]
I have not found this letter, but there is a letter from Bouquet to Amherst, dated 23 June 1763, [189k] three weeks before the discussion of blankets to the Indians, stating that Captain Ecuyer at Fort Pitt (to which Bouquet would be heading with reinforcements) has reported smallpox in the Fort. This indicates at least that the writers knew the plan could be carried out.
It is curious that the specific plans to spread smallpox were relegated to postscripts. I leave it to the reader to ponder the significance of this.
Several other letters from the summer of 1763 show the smallpox idea was not an anomaly. The letters are filled with comments that indicate a genocidal intent, with phrases such as:
- "...that Vermine ... have forfeited all claim to the rights of humanity" (Bouquet to Amherst, 25 June) [149k]
- "I would rather chuse the liberty to kill any Savage...." (Bouquet to Amherst, 25 June) [121k]
- "...Measures to be taken as would Bring about the Total Extirpation of those Indian Nations" (Amherst to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of the Northern Indian Department, 9 July) [229k]
- "...their Total Extirpation is scarce sufficient Attonement...." (Amherst to George Croghan, Deputy Agent for Indian Affairs, 7 August) [145k]
- "...put a most Effectual Stop to their very Being" (Amherst to Johnson, 27 August [292k]; emphasis in original).
Amherst's correspondence during this time includes many letters on routine matters, such as officers who are sick or want to be relieved of duty; accounts of provisions on hand, costs for supplies, number of people garrisoned; negotiations with provincial governors (the army is upset with the Pennsylvania assembly, for example, for refusing to draft men for service); and so on. None of these other letters show a deranged mind or an obsession with cruelty. Amherst's venom was strictly reserved for Indians.
In the Spring of 1763, had met with a Delaware Chief. The Delaware demanded the surrender of the fort, and in response the English commander, who happened to be a Suiss mercenary named Simeon Ecuyer, provided them with two blankets and a handkerchief. It was written that by mid July the Delaware were dying at an alarming rate of Small Pox. That is about the same time as Bouquet and Amherst were writing letters to one another, back and forth, about using Smaill Pox a germ warfare.
What can I conclude? Did the English provide blankets to their Indian allies as well as their enemies? Did they intentionally give spall pox to the Catawba? Evidence suggests no. It also killed an up and coming officer, Captain Christopher Gist, a friend of George Washington. However I do suspect they knew how to infect the Indians with the disease. They had seen the effect the disease had on tribes such as the Catawba.
Several horors came down upon the Catawban peoples like the Biblical plagues of old. First Explorers studied the lands and people for weaknesses they could exploit. Second came slave raids. The Third was warfare. After the Tuscarora and Yamassee wars most of the bands had gone. And Fourth, came disease. But the real end of the people is that they became forgotten, absorbed, and assimilated. There are actually websites and groups that state some of the Indians were Jews brought over by the Dutch. Others say these mixed race people are Portuguese. Such portrayals are the biggest insults of all. The fifth horror is denial of the truth. They negate our right to be who we are. If you want to be Portuguese or Hebrew, fine, maybe you are! But there is not a bone of MY body that is either of those nationalities. This is the final nail in the coffin,
After the French and Indian War, they were a mere shadow of their former selves. This was followed up not by extinction, but rather assimilation. There are thousands of people today walking around with Catawban and Eastern Siouan blood in their veins. Some think they are mixed-Cherokee, or Jewish, or Portuguese, or some even say Turkish. Instead of extinction there is that long lingering memory. Our ancestors WANT to be found, but there are traps and roadblocks everywhere. This makes them very difficult to find.
Maybe I'd hoped Amherst and Bouquet were monsters – but they were products of their time. Many felt just like them. If we could be a name to blame and a shadow to hate. But rarely is it that simple. I don't know, I just wanted to learn, to do research. Any time you shine a torch into the darkness you find something and if you share it others can find it too. I guess that's all I've done.