Nicolas

The designated hour was fast approaching and the French soldier who had extended a deadline to the Renard Indians awaited the result of his ultimatum.

He hoped they would surrender and obtain the pardon of the governor which had been promised to them if they laid down their arms. If they did not do so, well, then, it would be another battle. With faith in God and his king, he had fought many battles before and he was not afraid to fight another.

It had been reported in 1712 that the Renards had been destroyed, but recently they had reappeared, more dangerous than ever. Their allies, the Kiapous and the Mascautins, had abandoned them, but they continued to spread terror among their neighbors.

Between May of 1730 and the latter part of August 1733, the fighting had been almost continuous. de St. Ange, his relative and commandant of Fort de Chartres in Illinois, had assembled 400 savages and 100 French to attack the Renards in the fort they had built near Du Rocher on the River St. Joseph in Illinois.

In the latter part of August, Nicolas-Antoine de Villiers arrived with 500 savages and 50 or 60 French. de Noyelles's forces had failed to rout the enemy and the siege lasted 23 days. One night, during the middle of a storm, the Renards had been able to escape. They had been pursued and massacred. In his report on the action, de Villiers had written: "The siege of their fort lasted 23 days, they were reduced to eating leather and. we were scarcely better." When it was all over, de Villiers had sent one of his sons through the inclement weather, to Quebec with the news that the Outagamis had been dealt a mortal blow and 200 had been killed.

Now, de Villiers listened to the faint and familiar sounds of the camp as he waited for the response of the Indians. It would seem that after being defeated so many times, the savages would consider themselves beaten, he thought. But the Renards, as he now knew, had joined with the Sakis and had fled to the bottom of the Bay de Puants.

Yesterday, September 16, 1733, he had summoned the Sakis and told them that the governor would pardon them if they surrendered to Montreal. He told them that by a certain hour, if the Renards had not come to him, he would go to them. So far, the Renards had not budged. He would wait one more hour and then move to attack if they still had not complied with his demands.

During the hour he waited, de Villiers reflected on his life, as soldiers have done since time immemorial, before going into battle. It never occurred to him to wonder what he would do should he leave the military service. It was his life and he had devoted all these years -- 51 of them -- to the king, and he would probably die in that service unless he became too old and feeble for active duty.

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Nicolas-Antoine Coulon de Villiers, the first of his family to come to the New World, was born in Mantes, Brittany, March 20, 1682, Nicolas-Antoine Coulon de Villiers, the first of his family to come to the New World, was born in Mantes, France, March 20, 1682, the son of Raoul-Guillaume Coulon, Sieur de Villiers en Arthies. His father, Sieur Raoul-Guillaume Coulon, was a commandant in the French royal army, and there are records which attest to the fact that the Coulon de Villiers moved in the royal circles. It was not strange that he too, was making the military his life, and that his grown sons were also soldiers.

Nicolas-Antoine thought back to July 13, 1715 when he had been by de Pontchartrain that the king had granted him a lieutenancy on July 1. Although he had never seen the list of promotions, it had been written that "de Villiers, French nephew of Sieur de la Fause, valet of the wardrobe of the King who requests his advancement, is ensign since 1700, (and) is a good soldier."
Around 1725, if memory served him right, he had been named commandant for the king at the post of the River St. Joseph, Michigan. By 1730, Nicolas had another title, Lord de Vercheres added to his name. The domain Francois Jarret de Vercheres had acquired in 1672 was passed to his wife when that Canadian pioneer died Feb. 26, 1700. When Madame Vercheres, nee Marie Perrot, died at the end of September 1728, Angelique, the wife of Nicolas, acquired part of the domain by partition among the heirs.

On April 13, 1732, the president of the Council of the Marine, had written him that the King, in recognition of his services and for his combat conduct in the campaign against the Renards, had placed him in command of a company, and his son, who had fought with him, was being made a second ensign. "Now," he thought, "here we are facing the old enemy again."

With the thought of the Renards came the realization that the fated hour had arrived; de Villiers ended his reverie and beckoned to his son, who was still with him, and to Francois Lefebvre Duplessis-Fabre, the husband of his daughter, Madeleine Coulon. The time had come and he wished them by his side. Leaving the camp, de Villiers and de Repentigny, accompanied by several French, his son and son-in-law included, made their way toward the enemy stronghold.

On a silent signal, the group began to tear down the barrier with no warnings to the Indians -- they had been given their warning earlier, as well as a chance to surrender. A bullet from one of the Indian defenders struck young Coulon de Villiers, killing him on the spot. A volley followed and de Villiers, de Repentigny, Duplessis-Fabre, and several others of the French were killed.

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Some months later, on April 13, 1734, the Council of the Marine granted a pension to Angelique of 300 pounds, a small amount, considering that she was a widow with several young children and that she had already given of her family in the king's army and more would follow.
The pension brought little comfort to her; she was buried at Montreal on Dec. 30, 1734. (Twig by Twig).

Nicolas-Antoine Coulon de Villier and Angelique Jarret de Vercheres were buried in the soil of Canada, but their blood would spread southward through their descendants who would help to define the growth of a new nation -- the United States of America.

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