History Timeline 1760s

Above: Engraving of Faneuil Hall in Boston. Courtesy Library of Congress. Right: Political cartoon, "A New Way to Pay the National-Debt" of King George III, Queen Charlotte, William Pitt and others, 1786, James Gillroy. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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  • 1763 Detail

    May 6, 1763 - Chief Pontiac rebels against British rule after the Treaty of Paris ending the French and Indian War and attacks the British from Detroit to Pennsylvania in Pontiac's Rebellion.

    Chief Pontiac

    While the Treaty of Paris had ended the French and Indian War for the the British and French and their colonists, it did not end the conflict for many of the allies of the French. Chief Pontiac, head of the Ottawas, and Guyasuta, leader of the Seneca, were not pleased, as were not their brethren in the tribes of the Ojibwas, Potawatomis, Hurons, Miamis, Weas, Kickapoos, Mascoutens, Piankashaws, Delawares, Shawnees, Wyandots, Mingos and Iroquois. And while it may not have been the Treaty of Paris itself that they railed against (many did not know of the treaty tenants at the time), they particularly disliked the new policies of British General Jeffrey Amherst. Beginning in May 1763, they began to attack white settlements and British forts throughout the western frontier.

    Some of their displeasure stemmed back to the Treaty of Easton, which, in 1758, had made a line of demarcation on the ridge of the Alleghany Mountains as the furthest west European settlement would go. That treaty, made with the Shawnee and Lenape, had, in the ensuing years, been breached. When British troops took over the forts of the French won in the French and Indian War, they no longer cultivated the same alliances, instead treating the tribes as conquered people, as they had the French. The tribes of the Great Lakes, Illinois, and Ohio had differing alliances with the French, but most took the side of the French in the previous war. When the British began to strengthen the forts in the conquered territory, territory which the Indian tribes still thought was theirs, conflict was inevitable.

    Amherst's policies toward the western frontier had begun to disrespect the tribes even before the peace treaty in February. He cut back on gifts to the tribes in 1761, withheld trade of gunpowder and ammunition to the Indians, and arrogantly only stationed five hundred of his eight thousand troops in the region, not considering the tribes capable of rebellion. This policy disregarded warnings that an attack was being planned as early as 1761.

    Siege of Fort Detroit

    On April 27, 1763, Chief Pontiac held a council ten miles from Detroit. He spoke of the bad influence of the British and the need to eradicate their presence from the region. Several days later, he took forty Ottawa warriors to canvas Fort Detroit, pretending he was on a peace mission, and determined it lightly defended with only one hundred and thirty soldiers. On May 6, warriors ambushed twelve members of a survey party from Fort Detroit, killing four and capturing the rest. The next day, Pontiac walked into Fort Detroit with three hundred warriors, intending a surprise attack, but the garrison was prepared. He held a small council with the British Major Henry Gladwin, then retreated, and laid it to siege two days later. The siege would climb to nine hundred warriors from a variety of tribes; they killed British colonists and soldiers found outside the fort, eating one soldier.

    Two hundred and eighty British reinforcements arrived at Fort Detroit, then attacked Pontiac's camp on July 31, 1763 in the Battle of Bloody Run, but could not displace them, losing one hundred and fifty men. Over the next several months, the British began to make peace with individuals and tribes engaged in the siege, causing a loss of strength to Pontiac. He ended the siege on October 31, 1763, and retreated to plan further attacks, although the main thrust of the war, both at Fort Detroit and other locations, was starting to wane.

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    Additional Battles of Pontiac's Rebellion

    May 16, 1763 - Fort Sandusky (Ohio) attacked and destroyed by Ottawa and Wyandot. Garrison had not known of the siege of Fort Detroit when allowing warriors inside the fort for a council. All but one soldier and trader inside the fort were killed.

    May 25, 1763 - Fort St. Joseph (Michigan) attacked and captured by Potowatamie, using the same council ruse as that at Fort Sandusky.

    May 27, 1763 - Fort Miami (Indiana) attacked by Miami tribe, third fort to fall. Garrison surrenders after the commander was killed.

    May 28, 1763 - Delaware and Mingo tribes begin siege of Fort Pitt, i.e. Fort Duquesne (Pennsylvania). Siege lasts until a surprise victory by Colonel Henry Bouquet, sent as relief to Fort Pitt, at the Battle of Bushy Run, thirty miles south of the fort, on August 5-6, 1763. This is the first victory by British troops in Pontiac's War with end of the siege occuring August 10 upon their arrival.

    June 1, 1763 - Fort Ouitenon (Indiana) surrenders to Weas, Kickapoo, and Mascouten warriors without firing a shot.

    June 2, 1763 - Fort Michilimackinac (Michigan) falls to Chippewa and Souks, using game between them as a diversion to take the fort. It is the fifth fort captured.

    June 16, 1763 - Fort Venango (Pennsylvania) attacked and destroyed by Seneca warriors with entire garrison killed.

    June 18, 1763 - Fort Le Boeuf (Pennsylvania) attacked and destroyed by Seneca warriors, but majority of garrison escapes to Fort Pitt.

    June 19-22, 1763 - Siege of Fort Presque Isle ends with entire garrison surrendering to two hundred and fifty Ottawa, Chippewa, Wyandot, and Seneca. It is the eighth fort to fall in six weeks time, and the final fort to fall.

    June 22, 1763 - Attack by Delaware and other tribes within siege of Fort Pitt fails. Fort Pitt was then home to nearly five hundred and fifty people, including hundreds of colonists who had fled the raids in Pennsylvania and attacks on nearby Forts at Bedford and Ligonier.

    September 1763 - News of the peace treaty ending the French and Indian War finally reaches Fort de Chartres along the Mississippi River (Illinois), which was still occupied by the French. Commander Joseph de Villiers urges Indian tribes to make peace with the British.

    September 14, 1763 - Engagement at Devil's Hole (New York) ends with greatest casualty loss to the British with one hundred and two soldiers and teamsters killed by over three hundred Seneca warriors.

    October 7, 1763 - Royal Proclamation issued by King George III, stating that lands west of the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains is considered Indian territory and will not be settled by British colonists.

    October 29, 1763 - Pontiac shows letter from de Villiers to other chiefs, but does not give up, despite realization that the French can no longer be useful allies.

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    The End of Pontiac's Rebellion

    Once word of the loss of eight forts reached Great Britain, General Amherst was recalled to London. He was replaced in August 1763 with Major General Thomas Gage. However, with the issuance of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the realization that there would be no French assistance, and the end of the siege at Fort Detroit, the next eighteen months saw skirmishes and a variety of motions, two expeditions sent by Gage to stop the rebellion and arrest those responsible, then movements toward peace, which Gage proposed, differing from Amherst's plan. This effort began at Fort Niagara in July 1764 with a treaty with the Iroquois and Seneca. Additional treaty negotiations were begun with the Ohio Indian tribes in late 1764. Pontiac, with news of his allies making peace, now began to acknowledge that he was losing allies, even though some, in Illinois, wanted to continue the conflict. On April 18, 1765, Pontiac met with two British emmisaries, to begin peace talks. By July, at Fort Ouiatenon, Pontiac and Colonel George Croghan agreed to preliminary terms. Over the next year, meetings are held with the various tribes before a final agreement was signed by Pontiac and other chiefs at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York on July 25, 1766. It was not a universally accepted settlement.

    Throughout the conflicts of Pontiac's Rebellion, it is estimated that over two thousand settlers were killed or captured, and around four hundred and fifty British soldiers were killed or captured.

    Source: Chief Pontiac of the Ottawas, 1922, Harris and Ewing. Courtesy Library of Congress. Image below: Montage of Fort Ligonier (backgrond), 2019, Carol M. Highsmith, and Major Campbell with Chief Pontiac (inset), 1883, Augustus L. Mason. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info Source: Library of Congress; Emersonkent.com; Detroit Historical Society; Wikipedia Commons.

    Pontiac's Rebellion

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