Governor Glen, The Role of the Indians in the Rivalry Between France, Spain, and England 1761


The powerful Indian nations entrenched on the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains held the balance among the colonial powers on the North American continent. The Six Nations of the Iroquois are best known, but the great tribes southward along the ridge were almost as influential-the Cherokees, the Choctaws, and the Chickasaws.

The Cherokees were generally more friendly with the English, but the other two Indian nations were dominated by the Spanish and French.

Governor Glen of South Carolina recognized the role of the Indian nations in the contest among the outposts of Spanish, French, and English dominions. He believed that a strong English alliance with the Cherokees in this instance would insure tranquility for Carolina.

The Situation, Strength, and Connections of the several Nations of Neighbouring Indians; the Hostilities they have committed on British Subjects, at the Instigation of the French, and lately upon those Instigators themselves; some Particulars relating to the French Forts, Forces and Proceedings in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The concerns of this Country are so closely connected and interwoven with Indian Affairs, and not only a great branch of our trade, but even the Safety of this Province, do so much depend upon our continuing in Friendship with the Indians, that I thought it highly necessary to gain all the knowledge I could of them; and I hope that the accounts which I have from time to time transmitted of Indian affairs will shew, that I am pretty well acquainted with the subject.

However I think it expedient upon the present Occasion to give a general Account of the several Tribes and Nations of Indians with whom the Inhabitants of this Province are or may be connected in Interest: which is the more necessary as all we have to apprehend from the French in this part of the world, will much more depend upon the Indians than upon any Strength of their own; for that is so inconsiderable in itself, and so far distant from us that without Indian Assistance, it cannot if exerted, do us much harm.

There are among our Settlements several small Tribes of Indians, consisting only of some few families each: but those Tribes of Indians which we, on account of their being numerous and having lands of their own, call Nations are all of them situated on the Western Side of this Province, and at various distances as I have already mentioned.

The Catawbaw Nation of Indians hath about Three hundred Fighting Men; brave fellows as any on the Continent of America and our firm friends; their Country is about two hundred miles from Charles-Town.

The Cherokees live at the distance of about Three hundred miles from Charles-Town, though indeed their hunting grounds stretch much nearer to us-They have about Three thousand Gun men, and are in Alliance with this Government.

I lately made a considerable purchase from that Indian Nation, of some of those hunting grounds, which are now become the property of the British Crown, at the Charge of this Province: I had the deeds of conveyance formally executed in their own Country, by their head men, in the name of the whole people, and with their universal approbation and good will.

They inhabit a Tract of Country about Two hundred miles in Extent, and form a good barrier, which is naturally strengthened by a Country hilly and mountainous, but said to be interspersed with pleasant and fruitful vallies, and watered by many limpid and wholsome Brooks and rivulets, which run among the Hills, and give those real pleasures which we in the lower Lands have only in imagination.

The Creek Indians are situated about Five hundred miles from Charles-Town; their number of fighting men is about two thousand five hundred, and they are in Friendship with us.

The Chickesaws live at the distance of near Eight hundred miles from Charles-Town: they have bravely stood their ground against the repeated attacks of the French and their Indians: but are now reduced to Two or Three hundred men.

The Chactaw Nation of Indians is situated at a somewhat greater distance from us, and have till within this year or two been in the Interest of the French, by whom they were reckoned to be the most numerous of any nation of Indians in America, and said to consist of many Thousand Men.

The people of most experience in the affairs of this Country, have always dreaded a French war; from an apprehension that an Indian war would be the consequence of it; for which reasons, I have ever since the first breaking out of the war with France, redoubled my Attention to Indian Affairs: and I hope, not without Success.

For notwithstanding all the intrigues of the French, they have not been able to get the least footing among our Nations of Indians; as very plainly appears by those Nations still continuing to give fresh proofs of their attachment to us: and I have had the happiness to bring over and fix the Friendship of the Chactaw Nation of Indians in the British Interest.

This powerful Engine, which the French for many years past, played against us and our Indians, even in times of Peace, is now happily turned against themselves, and I believe they feel the force of it.

For according to last accounts, which I have received from thence, by the Captain of a Sloop that touched at Mobile about two months ago, the Chactaw Indians had driven into the Town of Mobile all the French Planters who were settled either upon the river bearing the same name or in the Neighbouring Country, and there kept them in a manner besieged, so that a few of the French who ventured out of the Town to hunt up Cattle were immediately scalped.

Monsieur Vaudreuille the Governor of Louisiana was then in Mobile endeavoring to support his people, and trying to recover the friendship of those Indians. At the same time there were some head men with about Twenty of their People in Charles-Town.

I have been the fuller in my Relation of this matter, because I humbly conceive it to be a very delicate Affair, for these Chactaw Indians, have formerly and even so lately as I have been in this Province, at the instigation of the French and assisted and headed by them, in time of Peace, murdered our Traders in their Way to the Chickesaw Indians, and Robbed them of their goods: but I hope the French Governors will never have it in their power to charge us with such unfair Practises.

I shall be particularly cautious of doing any thing inconsistent with the peace so lately concluded: but I think it incumbent on me to say, that it will be impossible to retain those Indians, or any other, in his Majesty's interest unless we continue to trade with them.

And since war and hunting are the business of the lives, both Arms and Ammunition as well as Cloaths other necessaries, are the goods for which there is the greatest demand among them-I therefore hope to receive instructions in this particular, as a rule of my conduct.

There are a pretty many Indians among the Kays, about the cape of Florida, who might be easily secured to the British Interest: but as they have little communication with any others on the main Land, and have not any goods to trade for, they could not be of any advantage either in peace or war.

There are also a few Yamasees, about twenty men near St. Augustine: and these are all the Indians in this part of the world that are in the Interest of the Crown of Spain.

The French have the Friendship of some few of the Creek Indians, such as inhabit near the Holbama Fort: and some of the Chactaw Indians have not as yet declared against them: They have also some tribes upon Mississippi River, and Ouabash, and in other parts: but most of these and all other Indians whatsoever, inhabit above a Thousand miles from Charles-Town; and yet it may be proper to give attention even to what happens among those who are so far from us; for to an Indian, a thousand miles is as one mile their Provisions being in the Woods, and they are never out of the way: they are slow, saying the Sun will rise again to-morrow, but they are steddy.

We have little intercourse with the French; but unless there have been alterations lately, the Accounts I have formerly sent may be relied on, there are not above six hundred men (Soldiers) in what they call Louisiana, and those thinly spread over a widely extended Country: some at New Orleans some at Mobile, and some as far up as the Ilinois.

They had a Fort at the Mouth of the Mississippi river called the Balise, but they found it was not of any service, and therefore they have built another farther up, where it commands the passage: their Forts Holbama, Chactawhatche, Notche, Notchitosh, and another on Ouabash are all inconsiderable stockadoed Forts, garrisoned by 40 and some by only 20 men each. If ever the French settlements on the Missippi grow great, they may have pernicious effects upon South Carolina, because they produce the same sorts of Commodities as are produced there, viz., Rice and Indigo: but hitherto, the only Inconvenience that I know of, is, their attempting to withdraw our Indians from us, and attacking those who are most attached to our interest.

I beg Leave to assure you that I shall never do any thing inconsistent with that good faith which is the basis of all his Majesty's Measures, but it is easy for me at present to divert the French in their own way, and to find them business for double the number of men they have in that Country.

However, this, and even the Tranquility of South Carolina will depend upon preserving our Interest with the Indians, which it will be very difficult to do, unless the presents are continued to them, and those Forts built which I have formerly proposed, or at least, one of them, and that to be in the Country of the Cherokees....