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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi

Chapter V:   Indians

 Indian Land Marks

D'ARTAGUETTE'S BATTLE  was fought at Old Pontotoc, four miles southeast of the present town of Pontotoc in section 17, township 10, and range 3 east on Sunday, May 20, 1736.  This site is seven miles north of the site of DeSoto's camp, where the Chickasaws came so near destroying DeSoto and his army of Spaniards, in 1540.  In 1934 the John Foster Society, D. A. R. erected a suitable marker commemorating the battle.  (1)

STUART, north of the site of DeSoto's Camp, was named in honor of the Rev. Thomas C. Stuart, the beloved missionary to the Chickasaws.

MONROE MISSION, established by Stuart in 1841, was named in honor of James Monroe, then President of the United States.

TAKSHISH (Toxish) was the home of General William Colbert, where he died.

TREATY PONTOTOC  was the place where treaties were debated and entered into.

OLD PONTOTOC marks the place where the ancient Council house of the Chickasaw once stood.

"PONTOTOC CEMETERY ,  The treaty of 1832, entered into October 20, 1832, with General John Coffee, and the whole Chickasaw Nation at the Council House, On Pontotoc Creek, provided, that a tract of land, including the graveyard near the town of Pontotoc, where many of the Chickasaws and their white friends are buried, and not exceed four acres in quantity, shall be and is hereby set apart and conveyed to the said town of Pontotoc to be held sacred for the purpose of public burial ground forever."

This note of pathos hid away in the dry verbiage of a formal treaty reminded us that the memories of the Chickasaws still brooded over the scenes where reposed the ashes of their ancestors.

Rev. T. C. Stuart, affectionately called "Father Stuart", was buried in this cemetery, and his grave in an attractive location is well kept.  In 1821 Rev. Stuart first preached the Christian Religion to the Chickasaws, carrying the word of God into the wilderness of North Mississippi, where he spent a life time of service for his Master among the Indians.

D'ARTAGUETTE'S BATTLE site is important from a historical standpoint.  When Bienville, commander of the French, determined on war with the English, his plan was to penetrate into the heart of the Chickasaw nation by way of the Tombigbee River and to call a cooperative force from the post of Illinois, to form a junction at a point to be agreed upon.  Therefore, he issued orders to D'Artaguette, commander of the Illinois, to descend the river  with as many French and Indians as he could muster and meet him on May 10, 1735.  (2)

E. T. Winston, an authority on Indian history writes:  "D'Artaguette, set out from Fort Chartres  on the Illinois with one hundred French and Canadians and strong detachment of Indians and arrived at the Chickasaw Bluffs on the 9th of May one day before the time designated.  All the writers on this subject assign the lower Chickasaw Bluff as the point where D'Artaguette landed and from which he marched.  But the Rev. Dr. Patton, a distinguished scholar in his centennial address at Tupelo, Mississippi says:  'He landed at the mouth of Bear Creek, a tributary of the Tennessee'.  Dr. Patton resided in Lee County, has made the Chickasaw traditions a study and is a recognized authority in all such matters.

"He had expected to be reinforced by Grand-pre, from the post of Arkansas, but by some inadvertence this junction did not take place.  Hearing nothing from Bienville, his Indians becoming impatient and threatening to withdraw, and being in want of supplies, he advanced into the nation,

PHOTOGRAPH:  Father Stuart's Grave

and on the 20th of May attacked a village supposed to be occupied by Natchez refugees and to be well stored with provisions.  While assailing the enemy in front a detachment of five hundred Chickasaws supported by thirty Englishmen, attacked him in his flank and rear so suddenly and fiercely that most of his Indian allies fled from the field.  His gallant officers, D'Essarts, St. Ange, De Conlanger, De La Graviere, De Courtigny Langlois, and LeVieux fell at the first fire, and orders were given to fall back to camp.  But the enemy, in vastly superior numbers, rushed upon them with their tomahawks.  D'Artaguette fell severely wounded, and Capt. Dutisme, Lelande, Vicennes, Father Senac, their chaplain, and fourteen soldiers were captured.  The few who escaped were led by Voisin, a youth of sixteen who, having bravely fought until the retreat was ordered, now took command of the fugitives and succeeded in reaching the boats.

"The Chickasaws treated their prisoners kindly, intending to use them to secure terms with the great French general who was advancing into their country, and from whom they had everything to fear.  With the arms and ammunition they captured on the field and in the camp of D'Artaguette, they fought and defeated Bienville six days later.  This sealed the fate of the prisoners.  Ten days afterwards all but one, who was permitted to go to Bienville and relate the horrid event, were stripped and pinioned to stakes and roasted to death by slow fire.  The Indians chanted the Miserere, while Father Senac, to the last moment of his martyrdom, whispered the consolation of religion.  'The ashes of these young heroes and of this devoted priest', says Dr. Patton, 'now mingle with the soil of Lee County.'

"D'Artaguette's battle was fought at Old Pontotoc, four miles southeast of the Town of Pontotoc.  The site of the Natchez Village which he attacked Sunday, May 20, 1736, is locally known as Tobias Ridge.  In 1934 the John Foster Society, C. A. R., erected a suitable marker commemorating the battle."(3)

(1) E. T. Winston's History of Pontotoc.

(2) Mississippi as a Province, Territory and State, J. F. H. Claiborne, Vol. I, p. 59

(3) E. T. Winston, Pontotoc, Miss.

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