CHAPTER 2: The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion
Conflict in the Far North and South
Fighting the Spanish in Louisiana
The entry of Spain into the war in July 1779 also caused concern among the British, with respect to their being able to keep the West. The Spanish already occupied much of the territory west of the Mississippi. In addition, in 1778-79, General George Rogers Clark's Americans, helped by some inhabitants of French descent, had already taken the British forts of Vincennes, Cahokia and Kaskaskia. There was thus a risk that the British territory south of the Great Lakes could fall into Spanish and American hands. To prevent this, the British at Michilimackinac decided to attack St. Louis, the capital of Spanish Illinois. This small city had only 29 soldiers of the Fijo de Luisiana Colonial Regiment and 281 militiamen, virtually all of French descent. In July 1780 they were nevertheless able to repulse the attack of a group of approximately 750 Amerindians, Canadian volunteers and a few British soldiers. At Cahokia, the Americans also fended off a British attack. The following year, the Spanish went on the offensive: 65 St. Louis militiamen, accompanied by approximately 60 Amerindians, took Fort St. Joseph. An attack on Michilimackinac, a key post for the fur trade in the Great Lakes area, was feared. Its garrison was transferred to a new fort built on Mackinac Island, which was nearby and felt to be safer. As it happens, neither the Spanish nor the Americans wished to get involved in such an attack, and they both remained in their positions until the end of the hostilities.