Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763-1766)

Home » Research Guide – U.S. Military Records » Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763-1766)

Right after the French and Indian Wars came to a close, Pontiac’s Rebellion took place. It was a rebellion that pitted the Native Americans against the British Settlers.

Causes of Pontiac’s Rebellion

Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763-1766)

Up until the point of Pontiac’s Rebellion, the Native Americans had experienced fairly friendly dealings with the French. In fact, French fur traders had actually been quite generous to them. Unfortunately, dealings with English settlers had not been so friendly. So, when the British overtook New France (Old Canada), the Native Americans were upset, to say the least. The French had previously provided the Native Americans with free ammunition, but the English would not. When the English proceeded to construct forts in the area and let white settlers live on land that was owned by the Native Americans, war soon broke out.

The Course of the War

The Native Americans held a council along the Ecorse River, which was located near Detroit, in April of 1763. That council allowed them to plan to attack a Detroit fort. The plan was for Chief Pontiac to ask the Commandant Major Henry Gladwin at the fort for a meeting. His people, who would be carrying weapons, would then be allowed into the fort, which would give them free access to take the fort by surprise. The plan didn’t work because Gladwin was warned of the attack ahead of time. So, on May 10 of that year, Pontiac’s Ottawa Indians joined forces with groups of Ojibwas, Wyandots, and Potawatomis and they all attacked the fort together. When summer came, supplies were delivered to the Garrison from Niagara. However, Pontiac and his men continued attacking the fort until November, when they retreated because, to Pontiac’s great disappointment, the French refused to help in the attack. He and his men wound up falling back to the shores of the Maumee River.

Gladwin sent a messenger to warn Pennsylvania’s Fort Pitt. That warning helped them to ward off the attack until Colonel Henry Bouquet and his men could assist them. He and his men were traveling tot he fort in August of 1763 when they were engaged in an attack at Bushy Run, but they were successful in defeating the enemy there. Many British outposts, including Michilimackinac, Presque Isle, and Sandusky, were destroyed by allies of Pontiac around that same time. Those allies included the Seneca, Shawnee, and Delaware tribes. Then, on July 31, 1763, the British attempted a surprise attack on Pontiac’s camp. That attack was known as the battle of Bloody Run, and it wound up causing many losses to the British. In fact, those residing along the borders of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, were in a constant state of fear due to Indian retaliation.

The English planned to go on the offensive in the spring of 1764. They sent one army led by Colonel John Bradstreet to the Great Lakes, while the other, led by Colonel Bouquet, was sent to Ohio. Although Colonel Bradstreet did his best to try to create treaties, the new commander in chief who had replaced Sir Jeffery Amherst, General Thomas Gage, was against the idea. So, Bradstreet returned with little headway made. Bouquet had more success in Pennsylvania, which led to a Treaty being signed between Sir William Johnson, the Shawnee, and the Delaware. Pontiac tried to get help from other tribes to the south and west, but he was unsuccessful. So, in 1766, a treaty was finally signed between Pontiac and Sir William Johnson and he was given a pardon at that time.