On a warm, late-summer morning Young Gull left his village
with Fish Hawk, the strangers from Michilimackinac, and a war party
of two hundred and fi fty. Th e party made their way along the shores
of Lake Superior to Boweeting. Fish Hawk’s fi fty warriors joined
them but the Jesuit, Marest, left to return to Michilimackinac.
The awesome party of three hundred, feathered Ojibwa warriors,
faces painted vermilion and black, made their way down the western
shores of Lake Huron into the St. Clair River where they silently
past the newly constructed French post Fort St. Joseph. They made
camp south of the post. To Young Gull’s amazement he recognized
the territory. It was from his dream. Everything was the same, the
great rapids, the dark blue river, the black river that fl owed into it as
well as the abundance of fruit trees, hardwoods, marshes and game.
Again he wondered what his dream was telling him.
The next morning strong Ojibwa arms propelled their light
canoes down the river past the delta at its foot. One hundred and
fi fty Miami, Wyandotte and Potawatomi warriors were camped on
the western shore of Lake St. Claire waiting for their Ojibwa allies.
A council was held on the shores of the round lake. Th e small
party of war chiefs chose Young Gull to fi ll the temporary position
of Grand Chief of this party. Under his direction they made their
way past Detroit into the White Water Lake or Lake Erie. After
passing along the northern shore line they made the portage at the
waterfalls and into the Beautiful Lake or Lake Ontario. They met
Denonville and his force of two thousand at Irondequoit Bay at the
mouth of the Genesee River.
When the French governor appeared the three coureurs de
bois stepped forward. Th e one called Du Lhut spoke to Governor Denonville and La Durantaye acted as interpreter for Young Gull
and the other war chiefs.
“We have commanded these four hundred and fi fty warriors
from the western tribes to serve the French King in His Majesty’s
extermination of the Seneca,” Du Lhut said to Denonville. “Th ey
follow us because we are looked upon as the greatest of warriors and
the elders of the land. I now place them under your command.”
La Durantaye interpreted the French words. “Th ese are Ojibwa
warriors. Th eir power makes the earth tremble and they are here to
teach the insolent Seneca a lesson.” He continued, “Th is great force
allied against the Seneca will follow Young Gull’s warriors because
they are the greatest in all the earth”.
“Put our savages in the front and let them take the brunt of any
resistance by the Seneca” ordered Denonville.
“Because the Ojibwa are the greatest warriors they will be given
the honor to lead in the battle. Th e French will follow up with
reinforcements” La Durantaye translated.
Young Gull spoke. “The French Governor is wise to acknowledge
the power of the Ojibwa. It is good that the French submit the honor
of the battle to us.”
La Durantaye translated Young Gull’s words for Denonville.
“The chief of the savages submits his authority and agrees to follow
the order by your Excellency to lead in the battle.” Denonville smiled
at the words of La Durantaye.
The following day Young Gull led the Western Nations,
including the three coureurs de bois, up the Genesee. Th e French
The Seneca were alarmed by the news of the advancing force
and of its size. Th e fact that the Ojibwa was leading it was even
more alarming. Th ey prepared a hasty plan of defense. Th ey would
ambush their enemy on a bend of the river several miles from their
The village had a population of more than two thousand
including a fi ghting force of six hundred. It was fortifi ed with a
palisade protecting the long houses and surrounded by acres of tall
corn interwoven with the vines of huge, ripening pumpkin and squash. Th is bountiful harvest meant that most of the six hundred
Seneca warriors were available for the trap at the river’s bend.
Young Gull was in the lead canoe, followed by ninety canoes
manned by the best of the Western Nations. Four hundred canoes
manned by Denonville’s French army followed them. Th e hidden
Seneca let the Ojibwa contingent pass and waited patiently for the
French who were less adept at forest warfare. Th e French regulars and
conscripts passed in front of the strung out Seneca and they opened
fi re with Dutch muskets. Confusion reigned. Th e French abandoned
their canoes and rushed up the hill and into the surrounding forest.
Th e French soldiers panicked and in the confusion began fi ring
upon each other.
The warriors of the Western Nations heard the din behind them
and returned to the battle as quickly as they could. Four hundred
and fi fty warriors charged wildly up the banks shrieking fearsome
war whoops. Some were fi ring French muskets while others waved
their war clubs. Th e Seneca broke ranks and turned in full retreat
toward their village. Th ey passed the abandoned and burning village
in full fl ight deep into Seneca country.
Denonville was so disheartened by the panic of his troops that
he ordered his men to only clear and burn the cornfi elds. Th ey found
and burned a few smaller villages in the surrounding countryside
but did not pursue the fl eeing Seneca. Ten days later the governor
ordered his troops to withdraw.
The failure not to capitalize on the rout of the Seneca and
complete the extermination of their old enemy was not appreciated
by Young Gull and the other war chiefs. It deprived them of valuable
scalps and the spoils of a larger conflict.
“This will teach the scoundrels a lesson they will never forget. Th ey
will surely come groveling for peace now!” exclaimed Denonville. La
Durantaye interpreted for the war chiefs.
“Denonville is a fool! Th e French make poor warriors. They vow
to annihilate our common enemy, the Seneca but only make war
on their cornfi elds. Th ey have only succeeded in creating a swarm
of angry hornets by knocking the nest down. We will never again give such an eff ort for so little return!” exclaimed Young Gull. La
Durantaye did not translate nor did Denonville ask him to.
The disgruntled war chiefs left in a huff and immediately
returned to their own country to tell of the French treachery.
Denonville withdrew to Niagara where he ordered his men to begin
the construction of a large fort. But the most ominous consequence
of the French’s scorched earth policy was the longhouse council being
held at Onondaga. All fi ve nations of the Iroquois were enraged at
the arrogance of the French and their allies and the infuriated chiefs
were planning their revenge.
1300 Moons is based on the life story of Saulteux Ojibwa Chief Kioscance or Young Gull who lived during the French régime in North America ca 1640-1748. It follows his life’s journey from a youth through his years as a warrior, to great War Chief, to elder on the council. Young Gull led his people south after the Iroquois War to establish them at Aamjiwnaang at the foot of Lake Huron.
About the Author
David D Plain is a member of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and great-great-great grandson of Young Gull. His other books, The Plains of Aamjiwnaang and Ways of Our Grandfathers, have received overwhelming critical acclaim.