Bouquet's Expedition

From Ohio History Central

Colonel Henry Bouquet led an expedition into the Ohio country to put down a American Indian uprising that later came to be called Pontiac's Rebellion.

In 1763, Pontiac, a leader of the Ottawa, successfully united many of the American Indian peoplesin the Ohio Country. His goal was to drive British settlers, traders, and soldiers from the Ohio Country. Pontiac's Rebellion, as it became known, was a direct result of the French and Indian War. In 1763, after Britain's victory in the war, the British government acquired all of France's colonies in North America. This created fear among American Indians of the Ohio Country, due to the large and increasing number of British colonists in North America. While the French were in North America, the American Indians could count on them for military assistance against the British as well as a steady supply of guns and ammunition thanks to the fur trade. With the French gone from North America, the Ohio Country American Indians' ituation had become precarious at best.

The first year of Pontiac's Rebellion went badly for the British. The American Indians drove most British settlers from the Ohio Country. Britain's two most important fortresses west of the Appalachian Mountains, Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt, nearly fell. The confederated American Indians successfully captured Fort Sandusky and murdered the entire garrison.

In the autumn of 1764, the British military went on the offensive. Colonel Henry Bouquet, the commander of Fort Pitt, led a force of nearly 1,500 militiamen and regular soldiers from the fort into the heart of the Ohio Country in October. Bouquet's force moved westward slowly. He had no intention of surprising the American Indians. He hoped to avoid battle altogether by convincing the American Indians that they had no chance against the sizable number of British soldiers. Bouquet had every intention of destroying American Indian villages -- especially those of the Lenape (Delaware) and the Seneca-Cayuga, in eastern Ohio -- unless they surrendered and agreed to all of the colonel's demands.

On October 13, Bouquet's army reached the Tuscarawas River. Shortly thereafter the Shawnee, the Ohio Seneca-Cayuga, and the Lenape (Delaware) informed Bouquet that they were ready for peace. They promised to return all English captives in their possession if the British spared their villages. Bouquet initially rejected the offer but then agreed to consider it. On October 20, he informed the confederatiobn that English citizens demanded vengeance for the American Indians' actions. He claimed that he would do all in his power to restrain them as long as the American Indians returned all captives, including English and French men, women, and children, as well as any African Americans, within twelve days. They must also provide the freed prisoners with ample food, clothing, and horses to make the trek back to Fort Pitt. The American Indians agreed to all conditions, but fearing that they would renege on the agreement, Bouquet moved his army from the Tuscarawas River to the Muskingum River at modern-day Coshocton. This placed him in the heart of Indian Territory and would allow him to quickly strike the natives' villages if they refused to cooperate.

Over the next several weeks, the American Indians brought in their captives. Eventually more than two hundred were returned to Bouquet. Several of the freed prisoners welcomed the opportunity to return to their past lives. But many had become so accustomed to American Indian practices that they did everything in their power to escape Bouquet's grasp, including running away on the march back to Fort Pitt. Some even tried to return to the Ohio Country and American Indian culture after returning to their white families. Bouquet also required the Shawnee, Delaware, and Seneca to turn over two hostages apiece. The British would detain these men until a formal peace treaty was signed in the spring of 1765 and until the American Indians returned all of their captives. In return, Bouquet promised not to destroy American Indians villages or seize any of their land. Bouquet's army left for Fort Pitt on November 18. His campaign became known as Bouquet's Expedition.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
  2. Smith, William. Historical Account of Bouquet's Expedition Against the Ohio Indians, in 1764: with preface by Francis Parkman and a translation of Dumas' biographical sketch of General Bouquet. Cincinnati, OH: R. Clarke, 1868.