The Natchez revolt, or the Natchez Massacre, was an attack by the Natchez people on French colonists near present-day Natchez, Mississippi, on November 29, 1729. The Natchez and French had lived alongside each other in the Louisiana colony for more than a decade prior to the incident, mostly conducting peaceful trade and occasionally intermarrying. After a period of deteriorating relations, however, Natchez leaders were provoked to revolt when the French colonial commandant, Sieur de ChÃÂ©part, demanded land from a Natchez village for his own plantation near Fort Rosalie. They plotted their attack over several days and managed to conceal their plans from most of the French; those who overheard and warned ChÃÂ©part of an attack were considered untruthful and were punished. In a coordinated attack on the fort and the homesteads, the Natchez killed almost all of the Frenchmen, while sparing most of the women and African slaves.
Approximately 230 colonists were killed overall, and the fort and homes were burned to the ground. When the French in New Orleans, the colonial capital, heard the news of the massacre, they feared a general Indian uprising and were concerned that the Natchez might have conspired with other tribes. They first responded by ordering a massacre of the Chaouacha people, who had no relation to the Natchez revolt, wiping out their entire village. The French and their Choctaw allies then retaliated against the Natchez villages, capturing hundreds of Natchez and selling them into slavery, although many managed to escape to the north and take refuge among the Chickasaw people. The Natchez waged low-intensity warfare against the French over the following years, but retaliatory expeditions against Natchez refugees among the Chickasaw in 1730 and 1731 forced them to move on and live as refugees among the Creek and Cherokee tribes. By 1736 the Natchez had ceased to exist as an independent people. The attack on Fort Rosalie destroyed some of the Louisiana colony's most productive farms and endangered shipments of food and trade goods on the Mississippi River. As a result, the French state returned control of Louisiana from the French West India Company to the crown in 1731, as the company had been having trouble running the colony. Louisiana governor ÃÂtienne PÃÂ©rier was held responsible for the massacre and its aftermath, and he was recalled to France in 1732. Contents [hide] 1 Background 1.1 First, Second and Third Natchez Wars 1.2 Commandant ChÃÂ©part 2 Attack 3 French response 4 Historical interpretations 5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links Background 220px-Chromesun_grandvillage_of_the_natchez01.jpg ÃÂ¬ Mound at the site of the Grand Village in the city of Natchez in 2008 While descending the Mississippi River in 1682, Robert de La Salle became the first Frenchman to encounter the Natchez and declared them an ally. The Natchez were sedentary and lived in nine semi-autonomous villages; the French considered them the most civilized tribe of the region. By 1700 the Natchez' numbers had been reduced to about 3,500 because of the diseases that ravaged indigenous populations in the wake of contact with Europeans, and by 1720 further epidemics had halved that population. Their society was strictly divided into a noble class called "the Suns" (Natchez: ÃÂuwahÃÂiÃÂÃÂ«) and a commoner class called in French "the Stinkards" (Natchez: miÃÂmiÃÂkipih). Between 1699 and 1702, the Natchez received Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville in peace and allowed a French missionary to settle among them. The Natchez were at war with the Chickasaw people, who had received guns from their English allies, and the Natchez expected to benefit similarly from their relation with the French. Nonetheless, the British presence in the territory led the Natchez to split into pro-British and pro-French factions. The central village, called Natchez or the Grand Village, was led by the paramount chief Great Sun (Natchez: ÃÂuwahÃÂiÃÂÃÂ« liÃÂkip) and the war chief Tattooed Serpent (Serpent PiquÃÂ© in the French sources, Natchez obalalkabiche), both of whom were interested in pursuing an alliance with the French. First, Second and Third Natchez WarsThe first conflict between the French and the Natchez took place in 1716, when the Governor of Louisiana, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, passed through Natchez territory and neglected to renew the alliance with the Natchez by smoking the peace calumet. The Natchez reacted to this slight by killing four French traders. Cadillac sent his lieutenant Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville to punish the Natchez. He deceived the Natchez leaders by inviting them to attend a parley, where he ambushed and captured them, and forced the Natchez to exchange their leaders for the culprits who had attacked the French. A number of random Natchez from the pro-British villages were executed. This caused French-Natchez relations to further deteriorate. As part of the terms of the peace accord following this First Natchez War, the Natchez promised to supply labor and materials for the construction of a fort for the French. The fort was named Fort Rosalie, and it was aimed at protecting the French trade monopoly in the region from British incursions. By 1717, French colonists had established the fort and a trading post at Natchez, Mississippi. They also granted numerous concessions for large plantations, as well as smaller farms, on land acquired from the Natchez. Relations between Natchez and colonists were generally friendly-some Frenchmen even married and had children with Natchez women-but there were tensions. There were reports of colonists abusing Natchez, forcing them to provide labor or goods, and as more colonists arrived, their concessions gradually encroached on Natchez lands. 220px-Natchez_Paramount_chief.jpg ÃÂ¬ 1758 drawing of the Natchez paramount chief Great Sun, by Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz From 1722 to 1724, brief armed conflicts between the Natchez and French were settled through negotiations between Louisiana governor Bienville and Natchez war chief Tattooed Serpent. In 1723, Bienville had been informed that some Natchez had harassed villagers, and he razed the Natchez village of White Apple and enslaved several villagers, only to discover that the alleged harassment had been faked by the colonists to frame the Natchez. One of the later skirmishes in 1724 consisted of the murder of a Natchez chief's son by a colonist, to which the Natchez responded by killing another Frenchman named Guenot. Bienville then sent French soldiers from New Orleans to attack the Natchez at their fields and settlements, and the Natchez surrendered. Their plea for peace was met following the execution of one of their chiefs by the French. Chronicler Le Page du Pratz, who lived among the Natchez and was a close friend of Tattooed Serpent, records that he once asked his friend why the Natchez were resentful towards the French. Tattooed Serpent answered that the French seemed to have "two hearts, a good one today, and tomorrow a bad one", and proceeded to tell how Natchez life had been better before the French arrived. He finished by saying, "Before the arrival of the French we lived like men who can be satisfied with what they have, whereas today we live like slaves, who are not suffered to do as they please." The most faithful ally of the French, Tattooed Serpent died in 1725, another blow to the relations between the Natchez and the colonists. According to archaeologist Karl Lorenz, who excavated several Natchez settlements, another factor that complicated relations between the Natchez and the colonists was the fact that the French did not well understand the Natchez political structure. The French assumed that the Great Sun, the chief of the Grand Village, also held sway over all the other Natchez villages. In truth, each village was semi-autonomous, and the Great Sun's power only extended to the villages of Flour and Tioux (with which the Grand Village was allied) and not to the three pro-British villages of White Apple, Jenzenaque and Grigra. When the Great Sun died in 1728 and was succeeded by his inexperienced nephew, the pro-British villages became more powerful than the pro-French villages centered at Natchez. Commandant ChÃÂ©partIn 1728, Sieur de ChÃÂ©part (also known as Etcheparre and Chopart), whom Governor ÃÂtienne PÃÂ©rier had recently appointed as commandant of Fort Rosalie, was brought to New Orleans and put on trial before the governor for abuse of power, specifically behavior toward the Natchez that was unpopular among the French. ChÃÂ©part was saved from punishment, however, by "the interference of influential friends", and upon returning to the fort, he continued to administer it as he had before. ChÃÂ©part told the Natchez that November that he wished to seize land for a plantation in the center of White Apple, where the Natchez had a temple of their people's graves. Governor PÃÂ©rier sided with ChÃÂ©part and planted a cross on the land he sought. By this point, most of the colonists disapproved of ChÃÂ©part's actions, including Jean-FranÃÂ§ois-Benjamin Dumont de Montigny, a French historian who wrote that ChÃÂ©part's demand marked the first time that a French colonial leader had simply claimed Natchez land as his own, without prior negotiations. When the Natchez began to protest the seizure of their land for the plantation, ChÃÂ©part said he would burn down the temple that contained their ancestors' graves. In response to this threat, the Natchez seemed to promise to cede the land, wrote Dumont de Montigny, but only if they were given two months to relocate their temple and graves. ChÃÂ©part agreed to give them the time in exchange for pelts, oil, poultry, and grain-a request the Natchez promised to fulfill later. Attack 250px-Natchez_Massacre_location.png ÃÂ¬ The event took place in what is now Natchez National Historical Park in Natchez, Mississippi, along the lower Mississippi River. The Natchez then began to prepare for a strike on the French at Fort Rosalie, borrowing firearms from some French colonists with promises to go hunting and to share the game with the guns' owners. Some French men and women overheard the Natchez planning such an attack. According to Le Page du Pratz, it was the Natchez female chief Tattooed Arm who attempted to alert the French of an upcoming attack led by her rivals at White Apple. When colonists told ChÃÂ©part, he disregarded them and placed some in irons on the night before the massacre, when he was drunk. On the morning of November 29, 1729, the Natchez came to ChÃÂ©part with corn, poultry, and deerskins, also carrying with them a calumet-well known as a peace symbol. The commandant, still somewhat intoxicated from drinking the night before, was certain that the Natchez had no violent intentions, and he challenged those who had warned of an attack to prove that the rumors were accurate. While ChÃÂ©part was accepting the goods, the Natchez started firing, giving the signal for a coordinated attack on Fort Rosalie and on the outlying farms and concessions in the area now covered by the city of Natchez. ChÃÂ©part ran to call his soldiers to arms, but they had already been killed. The details of the attack are mostly unknown, as chroniclers such as Le Page du Pratz, who talked with several eyewitnesses, stated that the events were "simply too horrific" to recount. The Natchez had prepared by seizing the galley of the West India Company anchored on the river, so that no Frenchmen could board it and attempt to escape. They had also stationed warriors on the other side of the river to intercept those who might flee in that direction. The commandant at the Yazoo trading post of Fort St. Pierre, Monsieur du CodÃÂ¨re, was visiting Fort Rosalie with a Jesuit priest when they heard gunshots. They turned around to return to their ship, but warriors caught up with them, killing and scalping them. The Natchez killed almost all of the 150 Frenchmen at Fort Rosalie and only about 20 managed to escape. Most of the dead were unarmed. Women, children, and African slaves were mostly spared; many were locked inside a house on the bluff, guarded by several warriors, from where they could see the events. According to Dumont de Montigny's account of the attack, women seen defending their husbands from the violence, or trying to avenge them, were taken captive or killed. One woman's unborn baby was torn from her before she herself was killed, wrote Dumont de Montigny. A year after the event, the tally of dead was put at 138 men, 35 women and 56 children, or approximately 230 overall. Some scholars argue that the fact that the Natchez spared the African slaves was because of a general sense of affinity between the Natchez and the Africans; some slaves even joined the Natchez against their masters, while others took the chance to escape to freedom. A group of Yazoo people who were accompanying Commandant du CodÃÂ¨re remained neutral during the conflict but were inspired by the Natchez revolt. When they returned to Fort St. Pierre, they destroyed the fort, killing the Jesuit priest and 17 French soldiers. The Natchez lost only about 12 warriors during the attack. Eight warriors died attacking the homestead of the La Loire des Ursins family, where the men had been able to prepare a defense against the intruding Natchez. ChÃÂ©part himself was taken captive by the Natchez, who were at first unsure what to do with him, but finally decided that he should be killed by a stinkard-a member of the lowest caste in the tribe's hierarchy. The Natchez kep