The Chickasaw Wars
In the late Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century, French
colonies stretched from Quebec in the north, down through Illinis, to Louisiana
in the south. The natural route from north to south (or vice versa) was the St.Lawrence,
Lake Michigan, Illinois River, Mississippi River route. The only problem was
a war-like Native nation allied to the British located
in what is now northern Mississippi and Western Tennessee.
These people were the Chickasaw.
They menaced riverine communications to such an extent that
in 1736, the French finally decided to mount a serious campaign
against them. Of course the foot soldiers in this campaign
would be France's faithful allies, the Illini.
Bienville was to lead an army of French and southern Indians
up the Mississippi to the Chickasaw
town of Ackia where he would link up with a northern force from Fort de Chartres
commanded by Pierre D'Artaguiette. D'Artaguiette commanded about two hundred
Frenchmen--regulars from Chartres and militia from the nearby villages.
The Michigamea Chief Chicagou commanded the Illinois and Miami warriors. A second group composed
of Cahokia and Michigamea were led by Montchervaux. In addition to these, some friendly Iroquois and CHoctaw joined
The Battle of Ackia
The Chickasaw learned of the French two-pronged attack and fortified themselves in their town.
Ackia (located near present-day Tupelo, Mississippi) was protected by a strong palisade and promised to afford a strong defensive
position to the Chickasaws. The Chickasaws prepared themselves and waited.
Inclement weather delayed Bienville's march so that Dartaguiette and the northern force arrived
before Bienville's force arrived. The northerners waited. After a week, supplies
ran low. D'Artaguiette held council with the Illini and their allies. It
was decided to attack without Bienville's force..
On the morning
of March 25, 1736, D'Artaguiette led his contingent against
the Chickasaw not at Ackia but a lesser town named Chopoussa. D'Artaguiette's
initial assault against the first of a series of stockades succeeded
but then his forces came under a withering crossfire from the Chickasaw
inner defenses. The French were pinned down, unable to advance. At
that moment, Chickasaw reenforcements from a nearby town
arrived and struck the French-led force's flank. The Miami
and Illini retreated. As a result, the French and northern
Indians were routed. Seventeen French, including
D'Artaguiette himself and Sieur de Vincennes were taken prisoner
by the Chickasaw. The remainder of the French, about forty in number,
led by a lad of sixteen named Voisin, retreated in good order and escaped.
Father Antoine Senat who could have escaped, chose to remain with
those who couldn't. He subsequently shared the gruesome fate
of theose unfortunate enough to become prisoners.
At first the Chickasaw treated Dartaguiette and the other prisoners with kindness.
But upon learning that Bienville was still some distance away, their mood changed.
Two large fires were built and the prisoners, D'Artaguiette included, were burned alive.
When at last Bienville arrived at Ackia, the Chickasaws were again ready. Fortified by
supplies captured from D'Artaguiette's defeated army, they repulsed Bienville's attacks
and inflicted severe casualties upon him. Humiliated, he retreated back to New Orleans.
The Chickasaw Campaign of 1739-1740
In order to avenge the French and Indian defeat at Ackia, Bienville assembled another army in
1739. This time he led a force of 3500 against the Chickasaw. Included
was a contingent from Illinois of 40 French regulars and and 117 Illinois Indians. They
were later joined by thirty more Kaskaskia warriors. These men were under the command of
of Alphonse LaBuissonniere. He had formerly been second in command to Dartaguiette, and
had succeeded him as Commandant of the Illinois District.
Once again heavy rain, this
time combined with outbreaks of disease, slowed up Bienville' advance. He was forced to
make peace with the Chickasaws. This defeat marked the end of the career of Bienville.
The French never managed to defeat the Chickasaws.
By allying themselves faithfully with the French, the Illini cast themselves as
mortal enemies of the Chickasaw. The two nations continued to raid each other into the English
period in Illinois.
- Gibson, A. The Chickasaw. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1971.
- Scott, James. The Illinois Nation. The Streator Historical Society, Streator, IL. 1973.
- Schlarman, J. From Quebec to New Orleans.Buechler Publishing, Bellville, IL.
All commercial rights reserved
Return to the Illini Confederation home page.