Bourgmont's Expedition.Dumont and Bossu both tell of a Spanish expedition which was sent out from Santa Fe in 1720, having for its object the punishment of the Missouris, a powerful tribe of Indians inhabiting what is now the central and western parts of the State of Missouri, for wrongs inflicted upon the Spaniards. The commander of the expedition was instructed to visit the Osages and secure their assistance in the destruction of the Missouris. Through a mistake in the route, the expedition first reached the Missouri villages. Supposing them to be the Osages, the Spanish commander unfolded his plan, and asked the chiefs to aid him in carrying it out. With a diplomacy rarely excelled, the Missouri chiefs concealed the identity of their tribe and consented to the arrangement. The Indians were then furnished with arms, and during the following night they massacred the entire caravan except a Jacobin priest. This story is repeated by Chittenden, in his "American Fur Trade," but Prof. John B. Dunbar, who has made extensive researches pertaining to the early French and Spanish movements in the southwest, thinks it largely in the nature of a myth, or at least an incorrect account of the Villazur expedition (q. v.) of that year.
Most historians have adopted the theory that news of a Spanish expedition of some sort reached New Orleans, and the French government of Louisiana determined to establish a fort at some suitable point on the Missouri river, as a means of holding the allegiance of the Indians and guarding against Spanish invasion or interference.
According to the Michigan Pioneer Collections (vol. 34, p. 306) Etienne Venyard Sieur de Bourgmont was temporarily in charge of the post of Detroit in the early part of the 18th century, during the absence of Cadillac, and in 1707 he deserted and went to the Missouri river, where he lived for several years among the Indians. His familiarity with the country and his acquaintance with the natives of that sec tion doubtless led to his selection as the proper man to lead the expedition. M. de Bourgmont was at that time in France, but he hurried to America and soon after his arrival at New Orleans set out at the head of a body of troops for the Missouri river. His first work was to erect Fort Orleans (q. v.), where he established his headquarters.
Du Pratz's narrative says: "The Padoucas, who lie west by northwest of the Missouris, were at war with several neighboring tribes all in amity with the French, and to conciliate a peace between all these nations and the Padoucas, M. de Bourgmont sent to engage them, as being our allies, to accompany him on a journey to the Padoucas in order to bring about a general pacification."
Du Pratz himself states that his narrative was "extracted and abridged from M. de Bourgmont's journal, an original account, signed by all the officers, and several others of the company." A few years ago a translation of Bourgmont's original journal was made by Prof. Dunbar, and a copy of his translation was presented by him to the Kansas Historical Society. According to this account, Bourgmont left Fort Orleans on July 3, 1724, crossed the Missouri river on the 8th, and "landed within a gunshot of the Canzes village, where we camped." The Canzes came in a body to Bourgmont's camp, and seven of the leading chiefs assured him that it was the desire of all the young men of the tribe to accompany him to the country of the Padoucas. On the 9th Bourgmont sent five of his Missouris to the Otoes, to notify them of his arrival at the Canzes village and that it was his intention to continue his journey as soon as he could complete his arrangements. Two weeks were then spent in securing horses from the Canzes, and in other necessary preparations. Sieur Mercur and Corporal Gentil left the Canzes village on the 24th with a pirogue loaded with supplies, which they were to take to the Otoes for Bourgmont, whose intention it was to return that way.
Everything was being made ready, Bourgmont resumed his march on the 25th. Besides his Indian allies, he was accompanied by M. de St. Ange, an officer; Sieur Renaudiere, engineer of mines; Sieur du Bois, sergeant; Sieur de Beloin, cadet; Rotisseau, corporal; nine French soldiers; three Canadians, and two employees of Renaudiere. On July 31, when within ten days' journey of the Padouca villages, Bourgmont became too ill to retain his seat in the saddle. A litter was constructed and he was carried for some distance in it, but his illness increasing, he was forced to discontinue his march. In this emergency he decided to send a Padouca woman, who had been a slave among the Canzes, and a boy of sixteen or seventeen years of age to inform the Padoucas that he was on his way, but was ill, and that he would be with them as soon as he was able.
Gaillard, one of the soldiers, volunteered to conduct the woman and boy to the Padoucas. Bourgmont gave him a letter to the Spanish (in case he met them), and also a letter in Latin to the chaplain. Gaillard was instructed to bring the Padouca chiefs to meet Bourgmont, and in case they declined to come to wait at their villages until his arrival. A few days later Bourgmont decided to return to Fort Orleans, where on Sept. 6 he received a letter from Sergt. du Lois advising him of Gaillard's arrival among the Padoucas on Aug. 25.
Having recovered his health, Bourgmont again left Fort Orleans on Sept. 20 and arrived at the Canzes village on the 27th. On Oct. 2 Gaillard arrived at the camp with three Padouca chiefs and three warriors, and reported some 60 others four days' distant. On the 8th the expedition left the Canzes village, moved up the valley of the Kansas river, and on the 18th reached the Padoucas. The next day the chiefs of that tribe were called together, Bourgmont made a speech to them, distributed presents, and concluded a treaty of peace. On the 22nd he set out on his return to Fort Orleans, where he arrived on Nov. 5.
Franklin G. Adams, for many years secretary of the Kansas Historical Society, and George J. Remsburg, an acknowledged authority on the archaeology of the Missouri valley, think that the Canzes village mentioned in Bourgmont's journal was located near the present town of Doniphan, in Doniphan county, Kan. A map of the expedition in Volume IX, Kansas Historical Collections, shows this place to the starting point west of the Missouri, whence the expedition moved southwest to the Kansas river, which was crossed near the northwest corner of the present Shawnee county; thence up the south bank of the Kansas and Smoky Hill rivers, crossing the latter near the mouth of the Saline; thence following the Saline to the Padouca villages in the northern part of what is now Ellis county.
Who were the Padoucas? Parrish, in his account of the expedition, speaks of them as the Comanches, and this may he correct. On a map published in 1757, in connection with Du Pratz's History of Louisiana, the country of the Padoucas is shown extending from the headwaters of the Republican to south of the Arkansas, the great village of the tribe being located near the source of the Smoky Hill. Other authorities say that "Padoucas" was the Siouan name for the Comanches, a branch of the Shoshones. The Comanches were a "buffalo nomad" tribe that ranged from the Platte to Mexico.
The theory that the Bourgmont expedition was the sequel of some Spanish expedition massacred by the Indians is hardly tenable, when it is carefully considered in the light of known facts. The Villazur expedition, the only Spanish expedition of 1720 of which there is any authentic record, was massacred on Aug. 16, while Bourgmont's commission bore date of Aug. 12, 1720, four days before the massacre occurred. It is far more likely that Bourgmont was sent outjust as other explorers of that day were sent outwith the general view of establishing amicable relations with the Indians and thereby profit by the fur trade, etc.Pages 226-228 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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