If all the Indians go to war next year, it is certain to be a bloody campaign for our enemies."
Though he had doubts about their loyalty based on past experience, Villebon made an effort to establish a bond with the Natives that was strong enough to bring their tribesmen into military action. The strategy of maintaining an alliance with Native groups (Abenaki, Maliseet and Mi'kmaq) was essential to the success of French campaigns in the New World.
Villebon's correspondence, published in the book "Acadia at the End of the 17th Century" by John Clarence Webster describes feasts and gift-giving prior to embarking on the warpath. It was costly
Native people respected generosity. The newcomers from France were judged by the things they offered at the pre-war party.
"Within Mi'kmaq society goods were not privately accumulated but were either given to those most in need or used and then passed on to others. Similarly, food was shared. Generosity was the means by which to express goodwill towards others, and in demonstrating generosity, the giver acquired status within the community." - Bill Wicken "26 August 1726: A Case study in Mi'kmaq-New England Relations in the Early 18th Century"
Here's Villebon's shopping list:
"Two months' provisions to be brought out for the maintenance of the Indians, estimated at 200, to be divided equally among the three vessels.
2000 lbs of flour.
2 tierces of molasses, to flavor their sagamite. (corn porridge)
200 lbs of butter, for the same purpose.
10 kegs of brandy, without which it will be impossible to make them fight efficiently.
Memorandum of presents to the value of 3640 livres, accorded by His Majesty to the Indians of Acadia, for their warfare against the English.
2000 lbs of powder.
40 kegs of bullets.
10 kegs of swan shot.
400 lbs of Brazilian tobacco.
|Illustration of a Mi'kmaq warrior (Parks Canada)|
60 selected muskets like those sent this year.
200 Mulaix shirts, averaging 30 sous each
8 lbs. fine vermillion.
200 tufts of white feathers to be given to the Indians as a distinguishing mark, in case of night attack, which should not cost more than 6 to 7 s a piece; to be selected in Paris by M. de Bonaventure.
These presents will be distributed among the Indians when they assemble at the appointed rendezvous."
-Villebon to Count Pontchartrain, August 20, 1694
Liquored up and uniformed, with hemp shirts, French-made muskets and tomahawks, their faces painted red and heads adorned with white Parisian feathers, the brigade of Native warriors organized by the French must have been a fear-inducing sight as they approached the English fort.