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THE fortifications of the savage or hunter tribes of North America are uniformly represented to have been constructed of rows of pickets, surrounding their villages, or enclosing positions naturally strong and easy of defence. The celebrated stronghold of the Narragansetts in Rhode Island, destroyed in 1676 by the New England colonists under Winthrop and Church, was an elevation of five or six acres in extent, situated in the centre of a swamp, and strongly defended by palisades. It was of extraordinary size, and enclosed not far from six hundred lodges.

Of like character was the fort of the Pequots, on the Mystic River, in Connecticut, destroyed by Captain Mason. According to Hackluyt, the towns of the Indians on the St. Lawrence were defended in a similar manner. The first voyagers describe the aboriginal town of Hochelaga, now Montreal, as circular in form, and surrounded by three lines of palisades. Through these there was but a single entrance, well secured by stakes and bars; and upon the inside of the defence, were stages or platforms, upon which were placed stones and other missiles, ready for use, in case of attack. The town contained about fifty lodges.—(Hackluyt, Vol. III., p. 220.)

Charlevoix observes, that "the Indians of Canada are more expert in erecting their fortifications than in building their houses." He represents that their villages were surrounded by double and frequently by triple rows of palisades, interwoven with branches of trees, and flanked by redoubts.—(Canada, Vol. II., p. 128.) Champlain also describes a number of fortified works on the St. Lawrence, above Trois Riviéres, which "were composed of a number of posts set very close together." He also speaks of "forts which were great enclosures, with tiers joined together like pales," within which were the dwellings of the Indians.—(Purchas, Vol. IV., pp. 1612, 1644.) Says La Hontan, "their villages were fortified with double palisades of very hard wood, which were as thick as one's thigh, fifteen feet high, with little squares about the middle of the courtines (curtains).—(Vol. II., p. 6.) The Indians on the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina are described as possessing corresponding defences. "When they would be very safe," says Beverly, "they treble the pales."—(Hist. Vir., p. 149. See also Amidas and Barlow, in Pink., Vol. XII., p. 567; Heriot, ib. p. 603; Lafitau, Vol. III., p. 228, etc. etc.)

Among the Floridian tribes, the custom of fortifying their villages seems to have been more general than among the Indians of a higher latitude. This may readily be accounted for from the fact that they were more fixed in their habits, considerably devoted to agriculture, and less averse to labor than those of the north. The chronicler of Soto's Expedition speaks of their towns as defended by "strong works of the height of a lance," composed of "great stakes driven deep in the ground, with poles the bigness of one's arm placed crosswise, both inside and out, and fastened with pins to knit the whole together." Herrara, in his compiled account of the same expedition, has the following confirmation. "The town of Mabila or Mavila (Mobile) consisted of eighty houses seated in a plain, enclosed by piles driven down, with timbers athwart, rammed with long straw and earth between the hollow spaces, so that it looked like a wall smoothed with a trowel; and at every eighty paces was a tower, where eight men could fight, with many loop-holes and two gates. In the midst of the town was a large square."—(Hist. America, Vol. V., p. 324.) Du Pratz also gives a corresponding account of the defences of the Natchez and neighboring tribes. "Their forts are built circularly, of two rows of large logs of wood, the logs of the inner row being opposite to the joinings of those of the outer row. These logs are about fifteen feet long, five feet of which are sunk in the earth. The outer logs are about two feet thick, the inner ones half as much. At every forty paces along this wall, a circular tower juts out, and at the entrance of the fort, which is always next the river, the two ends of the wall pass beyond each other, leaving a side opening. In the middle of the fort stands a tree, with the branches lopped off within a short distance of the trunk, and this serves as a watch-tower.—(Hist. Louisiana, p. 375.) The sub- joined description and illustrative engraving, copied from De Bry, no doubt convey a correct idea of the character of the Floridian defences.

"Solent Indi hac ratione sua oppida condere. Delecto aliquo loco secundum torrentis alicujus profluentem, eum quantum fieri potest cornplanant; deinde sulco in orbem ducto, crassos et rotundos palos duorum hominum altitudinis conjunctim terrae infigunt, circa oppidi ingressum circulum nonnihil contrahendo cochleae in morem, ut aditum angustiorem reddant, nec plures quam binos conjunctim admittentem, torrentis etiam alveo ad hunc aditum ducto; ad hujus aditus caput solet aedicula rotunda extrui, altera item ad ejus sinum, singulm rimis et foraminibus plenae, et eleganter pro regionis ratione constructae. In his constituuntur vigiles viri illi, qui hostium vestigia é longinquo odorantur; nam simul atque aliquorum vestigia naribus perceperunt, adversus contendunt, et iis deprehensis clamorem attollunt, quo exaudito incolae statim ad oppidi tutelam convolant; arcubus sagittis, et clavis armati. Oppidi meditullium occupant, Regis aedes nonnihil sub terram depressae ob solis aestum; has cingunt, nobiliorum aedes, omnes palmae ramis leviter tectae, quia novem mensibus dumtaxat iis utuntun, tribus aliis mensibus, ut diximus, in sylvis degentes. Unde reduces, domos repetunt; sin eas ab hostibus incendio absumptas reperiunt, novas simili materia exstruunt, adeo magniiica sunt Indorum palatia."

Figure 29

"The Indians build their towns in this wise. Having made choice of a spot near a running stream, they level it off as even as they can. They next draw a furrow of the size of the intended town in the form of a circle, in which they plant large round stakes, twice the height of a man, and set closely together. At the place where the entrance is to be, the circle is somewhat drawn. in, after the fashion of a snail-shell, making the opening so narrow as not to admit more than two at a time. The bed of the stream is also turned into this entrance. At the head of the entrance, a small round building is usually erected; within the passage is placed another. Each of them is pierced with slits and holes for observation, and is handsomely finished off after the manner of the country. In these guardhouses are placed those sentinels who can scent the trail of enemies at a great distance. As soon as their sense of smelling tells them that some are near, they hasten out, and, having found them, raise an alarm. The inhabitants on hearing the shouting immediately fly to the defence of the town, armed with bows, arrows, and clubs.

"In the middle of the town stands the king's palace, sunk somewhat below the level of the ground, on account of the heat of the sun. Around it are ranged the houses of the nobles, all slightly covered with palm branches; for they make use of them only during nine months of the year, passing, as we have said, the other three months in the woods. When they return, they take to their houses again; unless, indeed, they have been burnt down in the meantime by their enemies, in which case they build themselves new ones of similar materials. Such is the magnificence of Indian palaces."

Among the Indians to the westward of the Mississippi, particularly among the Mandans and kindred tribes, a somewhat different system of defence prevailed. The serpentine courses of the rivers, all of which have here high steep banks, leave many projecting points of land on elevated peninsulas, protected on nearly all sides by the streams, and capable, with little artificial aid, of being made effective for defensive purposes. Mr. Catlin describes the principal village of the Mandans, while that remarkable tribe existed, as protected upon three sides by the river, and upon the fourth "by a strong picket, with an interior ditch, three or four feet in depth." The picket was composed of timbers a foot or more in diameter and eighteen feet high, set firmly in the ground, at a sufficient distance from each other to admit guns to be fired between them. The warriors stationed themselves in the ditch during an attack, and were thus almost completely protected from their assailants. These practices seem, however, to be of comparatively late introduction.—(N. A. Indians, Vol. I., p. 81.)

Brackenridge (Views of Louisiana, p. 242) mentions the ruins of an Indian town upon the Missouri River, fifty miles above the mouth of the Shienne. The spot was marked by "great piles of Buffalo bones and quantities of earthen-ware. The village appeared to have been scattered around a kind of citadel or fortification, enclosing from four to five acres, in an oval form." The earth was thrown up about four feet, and a few of the palisades were remaining. The Shienne River is 1300 miles above the mouth of the Missouri. Lewis and Clark also mention a number of remains of Indian fortifications of like character, but it is to be observed that they distinguish between them and the larger and more imposing ancient works which fell under their notice in the same region. They describe an abandoned village of the Riccarees, called Lahoocat, which was situated in the centre of Goodhope Island. It contained seventeen lodges, surrounded by a circular wall, and is known to have been occupied in 1797.—(Exp., p. 72.) They also mention the remains of a deserted village, erected by Petit Arc or Little Bow, an Omahaw chief, on the banks of a small creek of the same name, emptying into the Missouri. It was surrounded by a wall of earth about four feet high.—(Exp., p. 41.) A circular work of earth, formerly enclosing a village of the Shiennes, was noticed by these explorers, a short distance above the mouth of the Shienne River.—(Exp., p. 80.) The ancient villages of the Mandans, nine of which were observed in the same vicinity, within a space of twenty miles, were indicated by the walls which surrounded them, the fallen heaps of earth which covered the huts, and by the scattered teeth and bones of men and animals.—(Exp., p. 84.) Another defensive work, probably designed for temporary protection, was observed by these gentlemen in the vicinity of the mouth of the Yellowstone. "It was built upon the level bottom, in the form of a circle, fifty feet in diameter, and was composed of logs lapping over each other, about five feet high, and covered on the outside with bark set upright. The entrance was guarded by a work on each side of it, facing the river." These entrenchments, they were informed, are frequently made by the Minaterees and other Indians at war with the Shoshonees, when pursued by their enemies on horseback.—(Exp., p. 622.) Lieut. Fremont found similar constructions in the vicinity of the Arkansas. A much more feasible method of protection, under such circumstances, is mentioned by Pike. He states that the Sioux, when in danger from their enemies in the plains, soon cover themselves by digging holes with their knives, and throwing up small breastworks.—(Exp., p. 19.) They are represented as being able to bury themselves from sight, in an incredibly short space of time.

The numerous traces upon the Missouri of old villages occupying similar positions, and having evidently been defended in a like manner with those above described, place it beyond doubt that this method of fortification was not of recent origin among those Indians. Mr. Catlin mentions that there are several ruined villages of the Mandans, Minaterees and Riccarees, on the banks of the river, below the towns then occupied, which have been abandoned since intercourse became established with the whites.

Prince Maximilian notices a feature in the defences of the Mandan village of Mih-tutta-hang-kush, which does not seem to have been remarked by any other traveler. This village is represented to have consisted of about sixty huts, surrounded by palisades, forming a defence, at the angles of which were "conical mounds, covered with a facing of wicker-work, and having embrasures, completely commanding the river and plain." In another place, however, our author adds, that these bastions were erected for the Indians by the whites.—(Travels in the Interior of North America, by Maximilian, Prince of Weid, pp., 173, 243.)

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