In accordance with the customs of tribes in the area, women and children were spared but 300 were taken prisoner

In accordance with the customs of tribes in the area, women and children were spared but 300 were taken prisoner

The story of the French in North America is usually told in terms of how well they got along with native peoples.

Much of this is true, with some notable exceptions, because the French were relatively few, their trade was welcome, and they rarely took land.

However, when the French wanted land, as they did in this case, they could be as overbearing as the British or Spanish.

Trouble was not long in coming, and after a French soldier at Fort Rosalie killed an old Natchez man over a disputed debt, a Natchez uprising killed two French and drove the rest inside the fort (First Natchez or Four Day War – 1723).

At this point, the Chickasaw who, through all their wars with other tribes in the area had remained friendly with the Natchez, got into the act.

Feeling that if the French could arm the Choctaw to attack them, there was nothing wrong in returning the favor by encouraging the Natchez to attack the French.

Their constant goading of the Natchez as the “lackeys of the French” added to the tension until only a single spark was needed.

In November, 1729, the Natchez rose in revolt and killed more than 250 Frenchmen at Fort Rosalie and Fort Pierre just to the north

This came when the commandant of Fort Rosalie, Sieur de Chepart, demanded that the Natchez abandon a village with a sacred mound to make way for his plantation.

The previous year, they had decided to annihilate the Fox who had fought them for many years in the Great Lakes (Second Fox War 1728-37), and their response to the Fort Rosalie massacre was that the Natchez would suffer the same fate.

To preclude any possibility that blacks would join the revolt, the French armed a group of black slaves and sent them to destroy the Chawasha, a small peaceful tribe just south of New Orleans without the slightest connection to the Natchez.

Then they assembled an army, including 1,500 Choctaw and Tunica warriors, at Point Coupe, Louisiana and proceeded upstream to Natchez.

Cooler heads took charge, and the local French had almost negotiated a peace, when Bienville, who had been reinstated as governor by John Law, arrived with an army, burned one of the Natchez towns, and took its chief hostage

The Natchez were prepared and had taken refuge inside a fort with walls so strong that French cannon could not penetrate them.

There was already suspicion that the British were responsible for the uprising, and the taunts coming from inside the Natchez fort that the Chickasaw and British would come and destroy the French only seemed to confirm this.

But the Chickasaw and British never came, and with the French unable to take the fort, negotiations began for the release of the women and children.

Choctaw and Chakchiuma warriors intercepted one group trying to reach the Chickasaw killing 150 and freeing a large group of French women, children and black slaves.

Another large group was caught by the French and their Caddo allies near Natchitoches, Louisiana and dispatched in like manner.

Only a few managed to elude the French and find a refuge among the Creek, Cherokee, with one band settling in South Carolina.

By far, the largest Natchez group to escape the French were the 1,000 (including 200 warriors) who had found their way to the Chickasaw.

For the most part, the French ignored the other Natchez survivors, but the Chickasaw group used their sanctuary to launch raids against tribes that had helped the French destroy them.