Fox Wars

French Indian War

Fox Wars Summary and Definition

Fox Wars Summary and Definition: The Fox Wars were a series of conflicts from 1701 and 1742 between the French and the Fox (Mesquakie) Native Indian tribe and their respective allies in the regions that are now the states of Michigan and Wisconsin. The names given to the major conflicts were the First Fox War (17121716) and the Second Fox War (17281733).

The first war began when Fox, Kickapoo, and Mascouten attacked Fort Pontchartrain, later called Fort Detroit. The Second War flared from 17281733. The Fox Wars were caused largely economic reasons related to trade. The tribe controlled the Fox River and exacted a toll from all those that accessed it. The French wanted rights to use the river system to gain access to the Mississippi which was vital for the fur trade between French Canada and North America, especially the Sioux. The French set up a trading post called Fort Detroit and invited many Indian tribes to settle in the area. Conflicts soon arose. The Fox were the only Algonquian speaking tribes who did not support the French. The animosity between the two was due to the French encroachment on Fox lands for trading purposes and the close relationship that the French had with the Chippewa (Objibwe) tribe who were the mortal enemies of the warlike Fox.  Following the defeat in the wars the Fox Native Americans were reduced to 500 by French troops and their Native Indian allies.  The tribe continued with their resistance by allying with the Sauk in 1735 to fend off the Europeans and other Indian tribes. The Fox (Meskwaki) resistance to French rule was so effective that the King of France signed a decree commanding the complete extermination (genocide) of the Meskwaki which was the only edict of its kind in history.

Fast Facts about the Fox Wars
Who fought in the Fox Wars? When did the conflict start and when did the conflict end? What were the causes of the Fox Wars? What was the significance of the Fox Wars? What were the results and effects of the Fox Wars? Interesting history and facts about the Fox Wars:

Name of Conflict: Fox Wars
Alternative Names for the Fox War: First Fox War and Second Fox War, French Fox Wars
Location of the Fox Wars: Michigan and Wisconsin
Year the Fox Wars started:1712 - First Fox War (17121716)
Year the Fox Wars ended:1733 - Second Fox War (17281733)
Combatants in the Fox Wars: France and their Native Indian Allies the Makisabi, the Ottawa and Potawatomi
Combatants in the Fox Wars: Fox, Sauk, Kickapoo, and Mascouten Native Indian Tribes
Result of the Fox Wars:Victory for the French
Famous Leaders in the First of the Wars: French Commanders: Charles Renaut Sieur Dubuisson and Louis de la Porte de Louvigny. Algonquian speaking Indian allies including Potawatomi, Ottawa, Huron, Miami, and Ojibwa (Chippewa). A famous Indian leader of the era was Chief Saguima. The Fox Chiefs were Lamyma and Pemaussa. The Mascouten chiefs were Kisis and Ouabimanitou
Famous Leaders in the Second of the Wars: Captain Pierre Paul Marin and Fox Chief Kiala

Specific Causes of the Fox Wars
What were the specific causes of the Fox Wars? The Fox Wars were the strongest resistance to European colonialism between King Philip's War and Pontiac's Rebellion (1763).The specific causes of the Fox Wars at a local level were:

  • Trade: The French sought for dominance of the highly lucrative fur trade

  • A series of French Forts were built acting as trading posts giving the French a power base

  • Hostilities grew between the indigenous population of the region and the French over trade routes

  • The Indian tribes allied to the French all fought against the Fox

  • Forced relocation of the Fox

  • The edict of King Louis XV of France ordered the complete destruction of the Fox and led to the second of the wars

History Timeline of the Fox Wars
This short History Timeline of the Fox Wars provides fast facts and information about the history, years & dates, key events and famous people who fought in the Fox Wars. The History Timeline is split into the First and Second Wars.

First Fox War (1728 - 1733)

  • 1701: Fort Detroit was built by by the French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac to try to keep the British from moving west of New England and to monopolize the fur trade in North America
  • 1702: Numerous Native Indian tribes were invited by the French to settle in the trading area of Fort Detroit
  • 1702 -12: Tribes including the Potawatomi, Ottawa, Huron, Miami, and Ojibwa (Chippewa) set up villages in the trading area. The populations of the combined tribes numbered over 6000
  • 1708: Disputes and conflicts flared up between various tribes. The disputes between the Ottawa and the Miami tribes were so severe that the Miami left the area
  • 1712: The Fox established a trading village just outside the walls of Fort Detroit (names Fort Pontchartrain)
  • 1712: The French, under the command of Charles Renaut Sieur Dubuisson, were concerned at the close proximity of the Fox village to the fort, having less than 50 French troops in attendance and two of their closest allies, the Huron and Ottawa, were on hunting trips.
  • 1712: Dubuisson sent out messages to the absent tribes to hasten their return. He then requested the Fox to remove their village
  • 1712: April 1712: Siege of Fort Detroit: The Fox with Sauk and Mascouten warriors totalling nearly 1000 men laid siege to the garrison of Fort Detroit (see the above picture).
  • 1712: May 1712: When the absent tribes returned, the Fox were then caught between the French and their Allies and were themselves besieged until the end of May. The Fox were forced to surrender so their families would be spared. The French agreed, but after the Fox were disarmed, they and their allies attacked and killed over 500 in what became known as the Fox Indian Massacre.
  • 1712: The Fox who had escaped the massacre rejoined their communities in Northeastern Wisconsin
  • 1712 - 1716: They began to intercept French traders using the Fox River exacting tolls from passing boats and canoes, and attempted to prevent guns from reaching their Sioux enemies
  • 1716: First Battle at Little Butte des Morts: French commander Louis de la Porte de Louvigny led an expedition of 800 to confront the Fox at their fortified village located at Little Butte des Morts. The battle raged for 3 days but the French were the victors.
  • 1716: The French captured Fox war chief Pemaussa which led to a peace agreement ending the first war

Second Fox War (1728 - 1733)

  • 1716 - 1724: Hostilities continued between the French and their Indian adversaries
  • 1724 - 1728: Various French expeditions to northern Illinois and Wisconsin were led by Constant Le Marchand de Lignery who negotiated various truces, which were largely ineffective.
  • 1728: In 1728 King Louis XV of France ordered the complete destruction of the Meskwaki
  • 1730: Second Battle at Little Butte des Morts: Captain Pierre Paul Marin leads a surprise a genocidal attack against the village virtually wiping out the settlement
  • 1730: The survivors retreat to Wauzeka, on the lower Wisconsin. Pierre Paul Marin attacked again. This time Marin took prisoners who he would only release if the Fox permanently left Wisconsin
  • 1730: The French and their Illinois allies corner the Fox on their way to Lake Michigan
  • 1733: The Fox seek refuge with the Sauk tribe near Green Bay
  • 1735: French soldiers under Des Noyelles fight battle with Sauk and Fox Indians near present Des Moines
  • 1737: The French grant a general pardon to the Fox (Meskwaki) thus ending the Fox Wars.
  • 1742: The remaining Meskwaki prisoners were finally released by the French.

The Significance and Effects of the Fox Wars
The effects and significance of the Fox Wars in history is that the Meskwaki suffered removal from their ancestral lands and the number of people of the Fox nation significantly and sadly diminished from over 6500 at the start of the wars to less than 500 at the end of the wars. The demise of the Fox led to the prosperity of the French fur traders and the power of the French in the area until they were ousted by the British following the French and Indian Wars.

The Indian Wars
Native Indian Tribes Index

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