Windmill Point
Grosse Pointe Historical Society
Local History Brought to Life!
The Legends of Grosse Pointe
Legend of Windmill Pointe #1
The Fox Indian Massacre

When La Mothe Cadillac established Detroit in 1701, he built a Fort known as Fort Pontchartrain. Fort Pontchartrain was envied by the English since it was the key to entering the Upper Great Lakes region. The English determined to wait until the watchfulness of the French military force relaxed. In the early spring of 1712, the opportunity for the English to overtake the fort seemed to present itself. The French commander was away and their allies the Hurons and Ottawas IndiansFort Pontchartrain had not returned from their winter hunting deep in the forest. At the same time, Fort Ponchartrain was left with only a small number of men to defend it with Du Buisson as its temporary commander. A band of Macoutims and Fox Indians were sent to the fort by the English, who lit their camp-fire beneath the shadow of the fort, and pitched their tents almost within the range of its guns. But the Frenchman, Du Buisson, knew all too well the Indian's craftiness, and too experienced to be fooled by this show of friendship. Nor did he neglect those measures of common sense and planning necessary to keep them safe from an attack. Fearing an attack from the Miamis, he ordered all the food supplies to be brought into the fort from the storehouses. He sent word to the Huron and Pottawatonmie Indians that he was in danger, and asked them to come quickly to his aid. The number of the Fox Indians seemed to increase daily, and seeing that their lawless acts went un punished, they became more and more bold. The little fort held bravely on, and though a powerful and merciless foe lay crouching at its gates, watching its every movement, ready to pounce on its prey, the soldiers seemed not to notice it, and went along with their daily routine.

Windmill PointeBut beneath the soldiers calm and indifferent appearance, they had sad and weary hearts; they knew unless help came soon, their loved lily of France, Fort Pontchartrain, would soon be crimsoned by their own blood. The brave Du Buisson would try to encourage his soldiers by his example, relating the deeds of French soldiers at other far and desolate forts, while the gentle minister, Deniau, would tell them to place their trust in God, to remember their distant homes and their loved ones. A new light would come to their eyes, heavy from long, weary attentiveness, and new courage steal into their hearts and nerve their arms to deeds of daring. At last Saguina, Chief of the Ottawa Indians, and Makisabe, Chief of the Pottawatomie Indians, with their warriors in full war armor, lit up the landscape and came to aid their French allies. Their savage war whoops shattered the silence of the forests, and terrified the anxious hearts inside the surrounded fort. Branches of the Sacs, Illinois, and even Osages and Missouri tribes, also hurried to aid the fort, because they were natural born enemies of the Fox and Macoutin tribes. Saguina presented himself at the fort and said to its leader Du Buisson: "Behold our tribes are all around you. We will, if need be, gladly die for you, only take care of our wives and children, and spread a little grass over our dead bodies to protect them against the flies."

The English allies, the Fox Indians were driven back. Taking advantage of a stormy night, they crept away under the shelter of darkness, and fortified themselves at Presque Isle eight miles North of Detroit, at the entrance of Lake St. Clair. When the Huron Indians and other French allies discovered the flight of the Fox, they were soon in pursuit. For days, the Foxes retained their stronghold but at last over one thousand Fox IHistorical Plaquendians fell beneath the tomahawk of the attackers. In vain Du Buisson tried to stop the fearful slaughter, but his voice fell on ears only willing to hear the agonizing wails of their victims, the sweetest music to these Indian warriors. The ground was covered with blood, and the dead as numerous as the leaves of the forest; the blood-curdling yells of the conquerors, mingled with the groans of the dying, made so fearful a picture that the French soldiers, use to war and carnage, turned away with sickened hearts. The English allies carried away their dead and wounded, but left the remains of the conquered to the mercy of the elements. Shortly afterwards the last remnants of the Fox nation came to Presque Isle to "hold the feast of the dead" and to cover the bones of their warriors. Until the late 1800's their bones were exposed by the ruthless plow, and any one interested in Indian relics would have found some by visiting Presque Isle, now known as Windmill Pointe.

Historical Note: Today there is an historical plaque marking this site and event on Windmill Pointe.