Leif Erikson, c. 970 – c. 1020 First European to set foot in the
Inspired by Bjarni’s tales; “There was now much talk about voyages of discovery. Leif, the son of
Erik the Red, of Brattahlid, went to Bjarne Herjulfson, and bought the ship of
him, and engaged men for it, so that there were thirty-five men in all.” -
They Discover the 3rd island Bjarni spotted and name it Helluland, “land of flat stones” (believed by historians to be Baffin Island).
“Now prepared they their ship, and sailed out into the sea when they were ready, and then found that land first which Bjarne had found last. There sailed they to the land, and cast anchor, and put off boats, and went ashore, and saw there no grass. Great icebergs were over all up the country, but like a plain of flat stones was all from the sea to the mountains, and it appeared to them that this land had no good qualities.
Then said Leif, “We have not done like Bjarne about this land, that we have not been upon it; now will I give the land a name, and call it Helluland.” Then went they on board, and after that sailed out to sea”- Greenlandic Saga
They discover yet
another land and name it Markland, “the land of forests”.
“-and found another
land; they sailed again to the land, and cast anchor, then put off boats and
went on shore. This land was flat, and covered with wood, and white sands were
far around where they went, and the shore was low. Then said Leif, “This land
shall be named after its qualities, and called Markland 2 (woodland.)”.” -
Leif spots a 3rd land (believed by historians to be Labrador)
“They then immediately returned to the ship. Now sailed they thence into
the open sea, with a northeast wind, and were two days at sea before they saw
land, and they sailed thither and came to an island which lay to the eastward
of the land, and went up there, and looked round them in good weather, and
observed that there was dew upon the grass; and it so happened that they
touched the dew with their hands, and raised the fingers to the mouth, and they
thought that they had never before tasted anything so sweet.” - Greenlandic Saga
They Settle in the
4th land (now believed to be modern Newfoundland or the Gulf of Saint Lawrence)
“After that they went
to the ship, and sailed into a sound, which lay between the island and a ness
(promontory), which ran out to the eastward of the land; and then steered
westwards past the ness. It was very shallow at ebb tide, and their ship stood
up, so that it was far to see from the ship to the water.
But so much did they desire to land, that they did not give themselves time to
wait until the water again rose under their ship, but ran at once on shore, at
a place where a river flows out of a lake; but so, soon as the waters rose up
under the ship, then took they boats, and rowed to the ship, and floated it up
to the river, and thence into the lake, and there cast anchor, and brought up
from the ship their skin cots, and made their booths.
After this took they counsel, and formed the resolution of remaining there for
the winter, and built there large houses. There was no want of salmon either in
the river or in the lake, and larger salmon than they had before seen.
The nature of the country was, as they thought, so good that cattle would not
require house feeding in winter, for there came no frost in winter, and little
did the grass wither there. Day and night were more equal than in Greenland or
Iceland, for on the shortest day was the sun above the horizon from half-past
seven in the forenoon till half-past four in the afternoon.”- Greenlandic Saga
Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Leif’s foster father
went missing and upon being found relates to Leif his discovery of a land of
vines and grapes which Leif names, Vineland or Wineland (where they built a
settlement that visitors would name Leifsbúðir, “Leif’s Booths” believed to be
modern L’Anse aux Meadows)
“I have not been
much further off, but still have I something new to tell of; I found vines and
grapes.” “But is that true, my fosterer?” quoth Leif.
“Surely is it true,” replied he, “for I was bred up in a land
where there is no want of either vines or grapes.
"They slept now for the night, but in the morning, Leif said to his
sailors: "We will now set about two things, in that the one day we gather
grapes, and the other day cut vines and fell trees, so from thence will be a
loading for my ship”.
That was the counsel taken, and it is said their
long boat was filled with grapes. Now was a cargo cut down for the ship, and when
the spring came they got ready and sailed away, and Leif gave the land a name
after its qualities, and called it Vinland, or Wineland.” - Greenlandic Saga
L’Ans aux Meadows
After returning to
Greenland, Leif’s tales become known to the people and his brother Thorvald wishes
to explore these lands further, so they set sail back. Upon exploring the land
further they find inhabitants, the Skrælings (“wretched ones”).
“Now when spring began, they beheld one early morning, that a fleet of
hide-canoes was rowing from the south off the headland; so many were they as if
the sea were strewn with pieces of charcoal, and there was also the brandishing
of staves as before from each boat.
Then they held shields up, and a market was
formed between them; and this people in their purchases preferred red cloth; in
exchange they had furs to give, and skins quite grey.
They wished also to buy swords and lances, but Karlsefni and Snorri forbad it.
They offered for the cloth dark hides, and took in exchange a span long of cloth,
and bound it round their heads; and so matters went on for a while. But when
the stock of cloth began to grow small, then they split it asunder, so that it
was not more than a finger’s breadth. The Skrælingar gave for it still quite as
much, or more than before.”– Saga of Erik the Red,
There are two
different accounts on how conflict began
Account #1, Saga of Eric the Red: “Now it came to pass
that a bull, which belonged to Karlsefni’s people, rushed out of the wood and
bellowed loudly at the same time. The Skrælingar, frightened thereat, rushed
away to their canoes, and rowed south along the coast. There was then nothing
seen of them for three weeks together.
When that time was gone by, there was seen approaching from the south a great
crowd of Skrælingar boats, coming down upon them like a stream, the staves this
time being all brandished in the direction opposite to the sun’s motion, and
the Skrælingar were all howling loudly. Then took they and bare red shields to
meet them. They encountered one another and fought, and there was a great
shower of missiles. The Skrælingar had also war-slings, or catapults.
Then Karlsefni and Snorri see that the Skrælingar are bringing up poles, with a
very large ball attached to each, to be compared in size to a sheep’s stomach,
dark in colour; and these flew over Karlsefni’s company towards the land, and
when they came down they struck the ground with a hideous noise. This produced
great terror in Karlsefni and his company, so that their only impulse was to retreat
up the country along the river, because it seemed as if crowds of Skrælingar
were driving at them from all sides.
And they stopped not until they came to certain crags. There they offered them
stern resistance. Freydis came out and saw how they were retreating. She called
out, “Why run you away from such worthless creatures, stout men that ye are,
when, as seems to me likely, you might slaughter them like so many cattle? Let
me but have a weapon, I think I could fight better than any of you.”
They gave no heed to what she said. Freydis endeavoured to accompany them,
still she soon lagged behind, because she was not well; she went after them
into the wood, and the Skrælingar directed their pursuit after her. She came
upon a dead man; Thorbrand, Snorri’s son, with a flat stone fixed in his head;
his sword lay beside him, so she took it up and prepared to defend herself
Then came the Skrælingar upon her. She let down her sark
and struck her breast with the naked sword. At this they were frightened,
rushed off to their boats, and fled away. Karlsefni and the rest came up to her
and praised her zeal. Two of Karlsefni’s men fell, and four of the Skrælingar,
notwithstanding they had overpowered them by superior numbers.
After that, they proceeded to their booths, and began to reflect about the
crowd of men which attacked them upon the land; it appeared to them now that
the one troop will have been that which came in the boats, and the other troop
will have been a delusion of sight.
The Skrælingar also found a dead man, and
his axe lay beside him. One of them struck a stone with it, and broke the axe.
It seemed to them good for nothing, as it did not withstand the stone, and they
threw it down.
[Karlsefni and his company] were now of opinion that though the land might be
choice and good, there would be always war and terror overhanging them, from
those who dwelt there before them. They made ready, therefore, to move away,
with intent to go to their own land.
They sailed forth northwards, and found five Skrælingar in jackets of skin,
sleeping [near the sea], and they had with them a chest, and in it was marrow
of animals mixed with blood; and they considered that these must have been
outlawed. They slew them.”
The Norse settlers
suffer a surprise attack
by swarthy well-armed strangers
- By Roger Payne
Account #2, Greenlandic Saga: “Then went they to the ship, and saw upon the sands within the
promontory three elevations, and went thither, and saw there three skin boats
(canoes), and three men under each. Then divided they their people, and caught
them all, except one, who got away with his boat. They killed the other eight,
and then went back to the cape, and looked round them, and saw some heights
inside of the frith, and supposed that these were dwellings.
After that, so great a drowsiness came upon them that they could not keep
awake, and they all fell asleep. Then came a shout over them, so that they all
awoke. Thus said the shout: “Wake thou! Thorvald! and all thy companions, if
thou wilt preserve life, and return thou to thy ship, with all thy men, and
leave the land without delay.”
rushed out from the interior of the frith an innumerable crowd of skin boats,
and made towards them. Thorvald said then: “We will put out the battle-skreen,
and defend ourselves as well as we can, but fight little against them.” So did
they, and the Skrælings shot at them for a time, but afterwards ran away, each
as fast as he could.
Then asked Thorvald
his men if they had. gotten any wounds; they answered that no one was wounded.
“I have gotten a wound under the arm,” said he, “for an arrow fled between the
edge of the ship and the shield, in under my arm, and here is the arrow, and it
will prove a mortal wound to me.”
In the spring they left to Greenland once again with grapes and vines.
Thorstein Erikson, brother of Leif Ericson and the fallen Thorvald, wished to
retrieve his brother’s body (this Journey would be ended by a fatal sickness)
“Early that winter came sickness amongst Thorstein Erikson’s men, and there
died many of his people”
“Now it was not long before the sickness came also into Thorstein’s house-” - Greenlandic Saga
“Three of Erik the Red’s children visited the North American continent: his
sons Leif and Thorvald, and their sister Freydis.”
For Part 1: Uprising, Rebellion, Insurrection - LINK For Part 2: First Blood - LINK For Part 3: Warpath - LINK
Post Suggested by moonlightramblr: “-anything cool or interesting about Detroit/Michigan-”
Fort Michilimackinac June 2, 1763
Before the Game by Robert Griffing
A group of Ojibwa (Chippewa)
play a game of stickball that the Ojibwa call baaga'adowe (“bump
hips”) outside of the fort since they first arrived in the area. This was to
get the English comfortable with seeing them so close and to throw off any
suspicion of them being a threat.
(Note:Lacrosse was influenced by the Native American game. These include games were played by many tribes throughout the Americas and could include as
many as 1000 people from neighboring villages from sunrise to sunset)
Sketch of the Fort at Michilimackinac by Magra Perkins, 1765
On June 2, 1763 they enact their
plan to take Fort Michillimackinac “-the Chippewas, who live in a plain near this fort, assembled to play ball,
as they had done almost every day since their arrival. They played from
morning till noon; then, throwing their ball close to the gate, and observing
Lieutenant Lesley and me a few paces out of it, they came behind us, seized
and carried us into the woods.
In the meantime, the rest rushed into the
fort, where they found their squaws, whom they had previously planted there,
with their hatchets hid under their blankets, which they took, and in an
instant killed Lieutenant Jamet, and fifteen rank and file, and a trader
named Tracy. They wounded two, and took the rest of the garrison prisoners,
five of whom they have since killed.
Feared by His Opponents by Robert Griffing
They made prisoners all the English traders,
and robbed them of everything they had; but they offered no violence to the
persons or property of any of the Frenchmen.
Captain Etherington next related some particulars of the massacre at Michillimackinac, sufficiently startling, as will soon appear. He spoke in
high terms of the character and conduct of Father Jonois, and requested that Gladwyn would send all the troops he could spare up Lake Huron, that the post might be recaptured from the Indians, and garrisoned afresh.
Gladwyn, being scarcely able to defend himself, could do nothing for the
relief of his brother officer, and the Jesuit set out on his long and
toilsome canoe voyage back to Michillimackinac. The loss of this place was a
very serious misfortune, for, next to Detroit, it was the most important post
on the upper lakes.”- CHAPTER XIII, 1763
The Warriors Game by Robert Griffing Fort
Ligonier: June 2, 1763
“The last important fort on the Road to
Pitt was Ligonier, about one hundred and
fifty miles from Carlisle. It would be necessary to use this post as a
base; but it was beset by Indians and in danger of being captured. Lieutenant
Archibald Blane in charge of it was making a gallant defense against a horde
But Fort Ligonier was in bad condition, ” the wooden stockade and fascine batteries were rotting away”. The Scotsman, Lieutenant Archibald Blane, had a small garrison of about 8 men but was intent on strengthening their position. Locals entered the fort and he quickly assembled a militia of 40 men.
Fort Ligonier, Sketched on the spot - 30th June 1762 - Lt. Archibald Blane Delint, of the Royal Americans”
“The lieutenant’s preparations came
none too soon, for a war part appeared at the edge of the timber on June 2nd and began firing on the
“As the day wore on, the Indians continued their fire and began to work their way toward the cover of buildings that stood near the post’s outer works. To Deny the enemy of cover, Blane sent out a detachment led by his sergeant to set fire to the structures. Foiled by that wise decision, the Indians faded
back into the forest. Upon learning of this incident sometime later, General
Amherst failed to appreciate Blane’s wisdom.”
“I cannot help expressing my surprise, that on the appearance of a few Indians, all out houses should be burnt and destroyed,” the general complained, “for I can see no sort of necessity for
that, on approach of so despicable an enemy as the Indians are, without any kind of war-like implements, but those of ill provided small arms.”
Venango June 16, 1763
The trade center of Fort Venango
was attacked on the 16th of June “In 1763 there was a small garrison here under Lieutenant Gordon. For a time all that was known of the fate was reported by fugitives from Le Boeuf and a soldier named Gray, who had escaped from Presqu’isle.
Seneca Scouts by Robert Griffing
These fugitives had found Venango completely destroyed, and , in the ruins, the blackened bones of the garrison. It was afterwards learned that the attacking Indians were Senecas, and that they had tortured the commandant to
death over a slow fire, after compelling him to write down the reason for the attack. It was threefold:”
(1) the British charged exorbitant prices for powder, shot, and clothing; (2) when Indians were ill-treated by British soldiers they could obtain no redress; (3) contrary to the wishes of the Indians, forts were being built in their
country, an these could mean but one thing—the determination of the invaders
to deprive them of their hunting-grounds.”
Seneca by David Wright
Fort Le Boeuf June 18, 1763
Shia LaBeouf!? Shhh don’t question it
Next, the Seneca attack Fort Le Boeuf (Waterford, Pa) “A few miles inland, south of
Presqu’isle, on the trade-route leading to Fort Pitt, was a rude blockhouse
known as Le Boeuf. This post was at the end of the portage from Lake Erie, on
Alleghany Creek, where the canoe navigation of the Ohio valley began. Here
were stationed Ensign George Price and thirteen men. One June 18 a band of
Indians arrived before Le Boeuf and attacked it with muskets ad fire-arrows.
The building was soon in flames.
As the walls smoked and cracked the savages danced in wild glee before the gate, intending to shoot down the defenders as they came out. But there was a window at the rear of the blockhouse, through which the garrison escaped to the
neighboring forest. When night fell the part became separated. Some of them
reached Fort Venango two days later, only to find it in ruins. Price and seven men laboriously toiled through the forest to Fort Pitt, where they
arrived on June 26. Ultimately, all save two of the garrison of Fort Le Boeuf
reached safety.” “Had detachments of Rogers’s Rangers
garrisoned these posts, or had they been held by such men as the Rocky
Mountain trappers of the present day, wary, skillful, and almost ignorant of
fear, some of them might, perhaps, have been saved; but the soldiers of the
60th Regiment, though many of them were of provincial birth, were not suited
by habits and discipline for this kind of service.”
Fort Presque Isle
Presqu’ Isle stood on the southern shore of Lake Erie, at the site of the
present town of Erie. It was an important post to be commanded by an Ensign,
for it controlled the communication between the lake and Fort Pitt; but the
blockhouse, to which Christie alludes, was supposed to make it impregnable
This blockhouse, a very large and strong one, stood at an
angle of the fort, and was built of massive logs, with the projecting upper story usual in such structures, by means of which a vertical fire could be had upon the heads of assailants, through openings in the projecting part of
the floor, like the machicoulis of a medieval castle. It had also a kind of bastion, from which one or more of its walls could be covered by a flank fire.
The roof was of shingles, and might easily be set on fire; but at the top was a sentry-box or look-out, from which water could be thrown. On one side was the lake, and on the other a small stream which entered it. Unfortunately, the bank of this stream rose in a high steep ridge within forty yards of the blockhouse, thus affording a cover to assailants,
while the bank of the lake offered them similar advantages on another side.”
The Siege of Fort Presque Isle June 19-22, 1763
On the third of June, Christie, then safely ensconced in the fort
which he commanded, had written as follows to his superior officer, Lieutenant
Gordon, at Venango: “This morning Lieutenant Cuyler of Queen’s Company of Rangers came here, and gave me the following melancholy account of his whole
party being cut off by a large body of Indians at the mouth of the Detroit
Here follows the story of Cuyler’s disaster, and Christie closes as follows: “I have sent to Niagara a letter to the Major, desiring some more ammunition and provisions, and have kept six men of Lieutenant Cuyler’s, as I expect a
visit from the hell-hounds. I have ordered everybody here to move into the blockhouse, and shall be ready for them, come when they will.”
“After his visit from Cuyler, Christie, whose garrison now consisted of
twenty-seven men, prepared for a stubborn defense. The doors of the
blockhouse, and the sentry-box at the top, were lined to make them
bullet-proof; the angles of the roof were covered with green turf as a
protection against fire-arrows, and gutters of bark were laid in such a
manner that streams of water could be sent to every part. His expectation of
a “visit from the hell-hounds” proved to be perfectly well founded.
Fort Presque Isle, French 1753
About two hundred of them had left Detroit expressly for this object. At
early dawn on the fifteenth of June, they were first discovered stealthily
crossing the mouth of the little stream, where the bateaux were drawn up, and
crawling under cover of the banks of the lake and of the adjacent saw-pits.
When the sun rose, they showed themselves, and began their customary yelling. Christie, with a very unnecessary reluctance to begin the fray, ordered his men not to fire till the Indians had set the example.
The consequence was, that they were close to the blockhouse before they received the fire of the garrison; and many of them sprang into the ditch, whence, being well sheltered, they fired at the loopholes, and amused themselves by throwing stones and handfuls of gravel, or, what was more to the purpose, fire-balls of pitch. Some got into the fort and sheltered themselves behind the bakery and other buildings, whence they kept up a brisk
fire; while others pulled down a small outhouse of plank, of which they made
a movable breastwork, and approached under cover of it by pushing it before
At the same time, great numbers of them lay close behind the ridges by the stream, keeping up a rattling fire into every loophole, and shooting burning arrows against the roof and sides of the blockhouse. Some were extinguished with water, while many dropped out harmless after burning a small hole. The Indians now rolled logs to the top of the ridges, where they made three
strong breastworks, from behind which they could discharge their shot and
throw their fireworks with greater effect.
Fort Presque Isle, British 1760
Sometimes they would try to dart across the intervening space and shelter themselves with their companions in the ditch, but all who attempted it were killed or wounded. And now the hard-beset little garrison could see them throwing up earth and stones behind the nearest breastwork. Their implacable foes were undermining the blockhouse. There was little time
to reflect on this new danger; for another, more imminent, soon threatened
The barrels of water, always kept in the building, were nearly emptied in extinguishing the frequent fires; and though there was a well close at hand,
in the parade ground, it was death to approach it. The only resource was to
dig a subterranean passage to it. The floor was torn up; and while some of
the men fired their heated muskets from the loopholes, the rest labored
stoutly at this cheerless task. Before it was half finished, the roof was on
fire again, and all the water that remained was poured down to extinguish it.
In a few moments, the cry of fire was again raised, when a soldier, at
imminent risk of his life, tore off the burning shingles and averted the danger.”
“With the fall of
Presqu’isle, Le Boeuf, and Venango, the trade-route between Lake Erie an Fort
Pitt was closed. Save for Detroit, Niagara, and Pitt, not a British fort
remained in the great hinterland; and the soldiers at these three strong
positions could leave shelter of the palisades only at the risk of their lives. Meanwhile, the frontiers of the British settlements, as well as the
forts, were being raided. Homes were burnt and the inmates massacred. Traders were plundered and slain. From the eastern slopes of the Alleghanies to the Mississippi no British life was safe.”
Continued Siege of Fort Detroit “The
condition of the garrison was now extremely critical. The besiegers had recently been reinforced by several bands of Ojibwas, thus increasing their force to more than eight hundred men.[Ottawas, Wyandots, Ojibwas and Pottawatamies]
The troops were worn out with want of sleep, and their daily allowance of
food was reduced to the smallest pittance.”
to all this, their cheerful spirits, which had hitherto sustained them, began
now to give way under the news that reached them of the fall, one after another of the western posts, until it was soon evident to them that they
stood alone in the heart of the wilderness, a mere handful of men, surrounded
by hundreds of implacable and relentless foes. Fortunately,
however, on the twenty-third of June, a schooner arrived from Niagara,
bringing Lieutenant Cuyler and sixty men, together with ample supplies of
provisions and ammunition. This opportune reinforcement renewed the fainting
hopes of the garrison; and now no one spoke of abandoning the fort, but on
the contrary, resolved to await patiently the relief which, as their
situation was known, could not be far distant.” - CHAPTER X,
To be Continued… [If anyone is interested]
Possible Future Posts that stem from this one are: Siege of Fort Pitt (Smallpox): June 22 - August 20, 1763 Battle of Bloody Run: July 31, 1763 Battle of Bushy Run: August 5-6, 1763 Battle of Devil’s Hole: September 14, 1763 Royal Proclamation of 1763: October 7, 1763 Conestoga Massacre: December, 1763
Smithsonian’s Panama debate fueled by zircon dating
via: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
New evidence published in Science by Smithsonian geologists
dates the closure of an ancient seaway at 13 to 15 million years ago and
challenges accepted theories about the rise of the Isthmus of Panama
and its impact on world climate and animal migrations.
A team analyzed zircon grains from rocks representing an ancient
sea and riverbeds in northwestern South America. The team was led by
Camilo Montes, former director of the Panama Geology Project at the
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He is now at the Universidad de
The team’s new date for closure of the Central American Seaway,
from 13 to 15 million years ago, conflicts with the widely accepted 3
million year date for the severing of all connections between the
Atlantic and the Pacific, the result of work done by the Panama
Paleontology Project, directed by emeritus scientists Jeremy B.C.
Jackson and Anthony Coates, also at the Smithsonian Tropical Research
President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro shared a historic handshake Friday night at the Summit of the Americas, currently taking place in Panama City, Panama. It’s expected the two will meet some time on Saturday, the highest level meetings between the two countries in at least 50 years. Obama and Castro were seated at the same table at dinner on Friday, separated by two people, according to the New York Times’ report.
Today, in a speech at the Summit, Obama said that the U.S. would not be “imprisoned by the past,” although the two countries have sharp disagreements. Speaking later, Castro, in an emotional speech, reminded the Summit of what he believed to be a long history of unjust treatment of Cuba by the U.S. before going on to say that Obama was not responsible for past American action. He also called the president an “honest man,” according to the AP.