A Journal Of An Indian Captivity During Pontiac’s Rebellion In The Year 1763, By Mr John Rutherfurd, Afterward Captain, 42nd Highland Regiment


Peewash knew nothing of the intended attack till the firing of the artillery and small arms roused him from his sleep. As soon as he heard it, he got up in a great hurry and put on his powder horn and pouch. He then tied my hands, lest in the confusion I should make an attempt to kill the women in the family and make my escape, after which he took his gun and ran as hard as he could to join the army with his party, which was about two miles from where we lived. About two hours afterward he returned to us, overjoyed with the success of the day, giving a most pompous description of the battle and making out that vast numbers of British soldiers were killed, while only six of the Indians had fallen. He likewise told me that our sugema, or great chief, was slain, meaning Captain Dalzell.

I was now unbound and sent to another hut for a large wooden mortar to pound corn in. The Indian to whom I went for it had likewise been in the engagement, and was boasting of his feats prodigiously. He told me he had taken the heart of our great warrior, which he would soon feast upon, showing me poor Dalzell’s heart roasting at the fire, pieces of the fat of which the young men took off, and in my presence rubbed it on the mouth of a poor soldier of the 60th Regiment whom they had taken prisoner. This, and other barbarities committed upon prisoners taken in the action, shocked me so much that I went directly to Monsieur Boileau’s under pretence of bringing some bread to our hut, and agreed to meet him the next night at the place appointed, after having repeated and enlarged my promises of reward to him.

When the evening came I lay down as usual upon my bear skin to sleep, putting off all my ornaments: wampum, silver bracelets, collar, etc. About the middle of the night when I guessed that the family were all fast asleep, I crawled out of the hut on all fours. When I was outside, I stood at the door for five minutes to hear if they were stirring, but as everything was still I thought this was my time to set off, which I did as fast as my feet could carry me, directly to the woods. I had no other clothes than my shirt, not even daring to put on a pair of moccasins to save my feet, for if the family had happened to awake, they would immediately have come after me; and if they had found me dressed, they would not be long in discovering my intention.

In all my life I never saw such a night of rain, thunder, and lightning. It was so dark, and the woods were so thick and full of briars and thorns, that I was very much retarded in my progress. I could scarcely make more than a mile in an hour. I therefore resolved upon a new method, and quitting the woods I went to the river which was hard by, in which I thought I could walk with the water up to my chin, so that the Indians on the road could not see me. This plan would have succeeded had I had more time, but I had yet four miles to go before I could reach the Frenchman, and was in danger of being surprised by daylight.

I therefore resolved to take to the woods again, but I was within an ace of being prevented, for just as I was going ashore I saw two Indians with their guns, in close conference. They passed by on the road within twenty yards of me. Fortunately there was an old tree which had fallen into the river close by me, behind which I immediately squatted; but I could not conceal myself altogether, so that they must have seen me had they looked that way. If they had observed me, I never would have gotten out of that spot alive. I knew this and was in dreadful apprehension, as several soldiers attempting to escape were caught, scalped, and tomahawked on the spot. But these Indians, fortunately for me, were engaged in earnest discourse, and were returning from a feast a little intoxicated. I saw them go into a little French house about one hundred yards from me. I immediately ran to the thicket, making as little noise as possible; and to prevent the whiteness of my skin from discovering me to the Indians I rubbed myself all over with black moss and mire.

Thus pursuing my journey in fear and hope, starting at every rustling among the leaves and often mistaking trees for Indians, I at last arrived at the place where I thought the Frenchman would be waiting with the canoe, but could not find him. I ventured to call out in a low voice, but nobody answered. I then began to exclaim against the perfidy of the Frenchman, who, in my desperate situation, I thought had deceived me. Being much exhausted with fatigue, I sat down to rest, hardly knowing what I did. My thoughts were occupied about the Frenchman who, upon reflection, I thought would not be such a coward as to abandon me when he knew that I had to go through the most dangerous part of the enterprise myself. I considered, likewise, that it was to his interest to carry out our agreement. Recollecting myself a little and looking around me, I discovered what my anxiety had made me overlook, that I was about a quarter of a mile higher up the river than the place we had appointed.

This discovery gave me fresh vigor and spirit. I soon reached the right place, and to my inexpressible joy, I found the man asleep in his canoe. After waking him we embarked and pushed to the middle of the river in order that the current might carry us down. We passed through the middle of the enemy’s camp, making as little noise with our paddles as possible. We could plainly hear them talk, and saw some of them dancing and singing at a feast around a fire. About an hour before day-break we arrived on board a ship lying opposite to Detroit.