Chickasaw Campaign, 1736–40

Editor: Michael Spilling and Consultant Editor: Chris McNab

American Battles and Campaigns – The Chickasaw Campaign

The Chickasaw Campaign was a long and bloody affair. The French and allied Choctaws had defeated the Chickasaws, Natchez and their British allies in the Natchez Rebellion of 1729. The French, lacking resources to maintain their extensive claims in the Mississippi drainage, did not authorize the Choctaws to launch a surprise attack against the Chickasaws in 1734. A French gunpowder convoy opened fire upon encountering a large force of Natchez and Chickasaw, prisoners and the gunpowder ending up in the Indians’ hands. Abandoning diplomatic settlement, Louisiana governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville ordered the construction of Fort Tombeché in Alabama and employed mercenaries in invasions of the Chickasaws’ lands.

Chickasaw Campaign

Battle of Ackia, 26 May 1736. Image is in the public domain via

Warfare with the Chickasaws by both the French and Choctaws proved difficult, because of both the Chickasaw’s acquisition and skilled use of European muskets and their tradition of living in hilltop forts of considerable defensive strength.

The Chickasaws also proved adept at throwing French grenades back at the Europeans in the gap between ignition and detonation. Pierre d’Artaguette led a force of French and Indian allies into ambush attacking the Chickasaw village of Ogoula Tchetoka, with the Chickasaws burning the survivors. Meanwhile, Bienville, with a European-style column, assaulted a prepared Chickasaw position at Ackia (modern Tupelo). Efforts to employ siege equipment proved futile, and the French scorned the advice of the Choctaws witnessing their attack. The resulting disaster infuriated the Choctaws, who became increasingly disaffected at French ineptitude and disdainful of them as allies. The French withdrew, Bienville leaving his governorship in 1740. They then supplied their Choctaw allies with weaponry while securing passage for their Mississippi trade from the Chickasaws. French prestige among the Indians and, consequently, influence, entered into irreversible decline.

Dr. Chris McNab is the editor of AMERICAN BATTLES & CAMPAIGNS: A Chronicle, from 1622-Present and is an experienced specialist in wilderness and urban survival techniques. He has published over 20 books including: How to Survive Anything, Anywhere — an encyclopedia of military and civilian survival techniques for all environments — Special Forces Endurance Techniques, First Aid Survival Manual, and The Handbook of Urban Survival. In his home country of Wales, UK, Chris provides instruction on wilderness hunting techniques and he is also an experienced martial arts instructor.

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