Henry Bouquet

Henry Bouquet

Henry Bouquet (1719 – September 2, 1765) was a prominent British Army officer in the French and Indian War and Pontiac's War. Bouquet is best known for his victory over Native Americans (American Indians) at the Battle of Bushy Run, lifting the siege of Fort Pitt during Pontiac’s War.

Early life

Bouquet was born into a moderately wealthy family in Rolle, Switzerland. The son of a Swiss roadhouse owner and his well-to-do wife, he entered military service at the age of 17. Like many military officers of his day, Bouquet travelled between countries serving as a professional soldier. He began his military career in the army of the Dutch Republic and later was in the service of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In 1748, he was again in Dutch service as lieutenant colonel of the Swiss guards.

French and Indian War

He entered the British Army in 1756 as a lieutenant colonel in the 60th Regiment of Foot (The Royal American Regiment), a unit made up largely of members of Pennsylvania's German immigrant community. After leading the Royal Americans to Charleston, South Carolina to bolster that city's defences, the regiment was recalled to Philadelphia to take part in General John Forbes' expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758.

Bouquet was named Forbes' second in command for the campaign. He did much of the work because Forbes was so ill. It was by his advice that the army constructed a new road through central Pennsylvania, instead of using the road from Maryland made during the disastrous Braddock Expedition. Forbes fell ill during the campaign and much of the burden of command during the expedition fell on Bouquet.

While Bouquet travelled down the road toward Philadelphia, his troops were attacked by French and Indians at Loyalhanna, near present Ligonier, Pennsylvania, but the attack was repulsed and they continued on to Fort Duquesne, only to find it razed by the fleeing French.

Bouquet ordered the construction of a new British garrison on the site of Fort Duquesne. Bouquet is given credit for naming the new garrison Fort Pitt and the village that quickly grew up around it Pittsburgh(1).

Pontiac's War

In 1763, Pontiac's War broke out on the frontier. Pontiac, an Ottawa war leader, began urging the defeated Indian tribes that had been allied to the French during the French and Indian War to join together to continue the fight against the British. Pontiac initiated attacks on frontier forts and settlements, believing the defeated French would rally and come to their aid. The conflict began with the siege of Fort Detroit on May 10,1763. Fort Sandusky, Fort Michilimackinac, Fort Presque Isle, and numerous other frontier outposts were quickly overrun.

Several frontier forts in the Ohio Country had fallen to the allied tribes, and Fort Pitt, Fort Ligionier, and Fort Bedford along Forbes’ road were besieged. Bouquet, who was in Philadelphia, threw together a hastily organised force of 500 men, most of them Scots Highlanders, to relieve the forts. On August 5, 1763, Bouquet and the relief column were attacked by warriors from the Delaware, Mingo, Shawnee, and Wyandot tribes near a small outpost called Bushy Run, in what is now Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. In a two-day battle, the tribes were defeated by Bouquet's force and Fort Pitt was relieved. The battle marked a turning point in the war.

It was during Pontiac's War that Bouquet gained a certain lasting infamy. In a series of letters during the summer of 1763 between Bouquet and his commander, General Jeffery Amherst, the idea was raised of infecting the Indians who had besieged Fort Pitt with smallpox by giving them blankets from the fort's smallpox hospital. However, apparently the fort's commander already had thought of the idea and may have carried out the plan on his own initiative. An outbreak of smallpox did occur among the area Indians at this time, but it is impossible to know if blankets from Fort Pitt were the cause of the epidemic or if the outbreak arose from some other form of contact. If it were caused by the blankets, it would be the first known case of deliberate biological warfare in North America.

By the autumn of 1764, Bouquet had become the commander of Fort Pitt. To subdue the ongoing Indian uprising, he led a force of nearly 1,500 militiamen and regular British soldiers from the fort into the Ohio Country. On October 13, 1764, Bouquet's army reached the Tuscarawas River. Shortly thereafter, representatives from the Shawnees, Senecas, and Delawares came to Bouquet to sue for peace.

Bouquet then moved his army from the Tuscarawas River to the Muskingum River at modern-day Coshocton, Ohio. This placed him in the heart of tribal lands and would allow him to quickly strike the natives' villages if they refused to cooperate. As part of the peace treaty, Bouquet demanded the return of all white captives in exchange for a promise not to destroy the Indians' villages or seize any of their land. The return of the captives caused much bitterness among the tribesmen, because many of them had been forcibly adopted into Indian families as small children, and living among the Native Americans had been the only life they remembered. Some 'white Indians' managed to escape back into the native villages; many others were never exchanged. However, Bouquet managed to return more than 200 white captives to the settlements back east.

Promotion and sudden death

In 1765, Bouquet was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of all British forces in the southern colonies. He died in Pensacola, West Florida on September 2, 1765, probably from yellow fever.

In literature

Bouquet is referred to in Conrad Richter's 1953 novel "The Light in the Forest", which tells the story of one young man returned to his white family as part of the 1764 treaty.

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Defenders of the Frontier: Colonel Henry Bouquet and the Officers and Men of the Royal American Regiment, 1763-1764 - Kenneth Stuart, Ph.D. Swiss-born Colonel Henry Bouquet remains one of the most unappreciated British Army officers from the pre-Revolutionary War period in North America. During the uneasy peace that followed the French and Indian War, Bouquet and his Royal Americans, along with troops from the Black Watch and Highland regiments, protected and rescued settlers on the western frontiers of Pennsylvania and Maryland from increasingly frequent Indian attacks. Bouquet's victory at Bushy Run and his triumphant march into the Ohio Country essentially halted the Indian uprising of 1763-1764. With patience, military discipline and tactical skill, he defeated a resourceful and deadly enemy. Historian Martin Blumenson called Bouquet "the foremost soldier of his day." Ironically, other British Army defeats and disasters of a more sensational nature often obscure Bouquet's brilliant accomplishments. Military historian and instructor Kenneth P. Stuart thoroughly researched the official papers of Bouquet and his contemporaries for this detailed study. Correspondence reveals Bouquet's highly trained military mind, his personal frustrations with the colonial assemblies and the British high command, and his private moments of occasional depression. This well-rounded work includes maps, illustrations, annotations, appendices, a select bibliography and an index.

References

1) [http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/ppet/bouquet/page1.asp? Henry Bouquet and Pennsylvania] . "Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission". Retrieved June 1, 2006.


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