MOUET DE LANGLADE, CHARLES-MICHEL, fur-trader, officer in the colonial regular troops, and Indian department employee; baptized 9 May 1729 at Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.), son of Augustin Mouet de Langlade, a prominent trader, and Domitilde, sister of Nissowaquet; m. 12 Aug. 1754 at Michilimackinac Charlotte-Ambroisine, daughter of René Bourassa, dit La Ronde, and they had two daughters; he also had a son Charles by an earlier liaison with an Ottawa woman; d. during the winter of 1800–1 at La Baye (Green Bay, Wis.).
Throughout his long active career Charles-Michel Mouet de Langlade was known for his influence with the Indians. His authority derived from his relationship to Nissowaquet, an important chief, from his personal qualities, and from an incident during his childhood. As a ten-year-old boy he had accompanied Nissowaquet on a successful attack against the Chickasaws. The Ottawas, who had twice previously been defeated, decided that a special protecting spirit must dwell with him.
By 1750 Langlade was a cadet in the colonial regulars. His first recorded military exploit occurred in 1752 at Pickawillany (Piqua, Ohio). The British and the French were in bitter competition for control of the Ohio valley and its native population. When Pierre-Joseph Céloron* de Blainville was unable to persuade the Miamis under Memeskia (La Demoiselle) to move from Pickawillany, which was within the British sphere of influence, Langlade was sent there with a force of perhaps 300 Indians and French. Attacking on 21 June when most of the Miamis were away hunting, Langlade forced the remaining few and the British traders present to surrender. Memeskia was boiled and eaten. Governor Duquesne wrote of Langlade: “He is acknowledged here to be very brave, to have much influence on the minds of the Indians, and to be very zealous when ordered to do anything.”
Promoted ensign on 15 March 1755, Langlade was active in the Seven Years’ War. He claimed to have planned the ambush that led to Jean-Daniel Dumas’s defeat of Edward Braddock near Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh, Pa) in 1755. In August 1756 he and his Indian followers returned to Fort Duquesne as scouts. They remained in the east during the winter and on 21 Jan. 1757 were part of a force which successfully ambushed Robert Rogers and his rangers near Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.). Langlade was by this time an ensign on half pay. While serving under Montcalm* during the siege of Fort William Henry (also known as Fort George, now Lake George, N.Y.) that summer, he was instrumental in capturing a British flotilla. In September 1757 Governor Vaudreuil [Rigaud] made him second in command at Michilimackinac. Langlade was present at the siege of Quebec two years later. If the reinforcements he had requested of Lévis had arrived in time, he and his Indians might have destroyed the detachment Wolfe* took to reconnoitre up the Montmorency River on 26 July. Instead, both sides withdrew after a brief skirmish. In 1760 Langlade came from Michilimackinac to Montreal, where he learned he had been promoted lieutenant on half pay. Ordered to leave the city just before its surrender, he returned to Michilimackinac where he held command until the British arrived in September 1761.
Langlade’s time had not, however, been exclusively taken up by military service. In October 1755 he had been ordered by the commandant at Michilimackinac to establish a trading post at the mouth of the Grand River (Grand Haven, Mich.) and to use it to help maintain control of the Ottawas and Potawatomis along the western shore of Lake Michigan. Langlade continued to do his winter trading at this site through 1790, having as many as 15 men working for him.
Like many residents of Michilimackinac, Langlade appears to have adjusted to British rule with little difficulty. When in 1763 he heard rumours of an Ojibwa uprising he warned the commandant, George Etherington. Etherington did not listen, however, and the Ojibwas under Madjeckewiss* seized the fort. Langlade, at great risk to his life, rescued Etherington and William Leslye from the stake where they were to be sacrificed. He has been criticized for refusing refuge in his home to Alexander Henry* the elder. Langlade was unwilling to hazard the safety of his family but he did see to it that Henry was saved, and with his help and that of his Ottawa relatives the survivors of the attack were eventually taken to Montreal. Langlade took command of the fort until the British presence was reasserted the next year. He then moved his permanent home to La Baye, where his father was already living.
Early in the American revolution Governor Guy Carleton* referred to Langlade, by then a captain in the Indian department, as “a man I have had every reason to be very much satisfied with and who from his influence among the Indians of that district may be very much use.” After bringing Indians to help defend Montreal in 1776 Langlade, with Luc de La Corne, joined Burgoyne in the summer of 1777. Although many of Burgoyne’s Indians left, Langlade and his Ottawa followers stayed until the attack on Bennington (Vt). When Langlade returned to the west from Montreal in the fall of 1778 he was called upon to gather an Indian force to assist Henry Hamilton against rebel sympathizers at Vincennes (Ind.). Unsuccessful in the fall because the Indians had gone to their winter hunting grounds, Langlade collected a force in the spring. The Indians refused to move, however, when they heard that Hamilton had been captured by George Rogers Clark. Clark sent an agent, Daniel-Maurice Godefroy de Linctot, to destroy Langlade’s influence with the Indians but Langlade and his nephew, Charles Gautier de Verville, used generous gifts to maintain their support. In 1780 Langlade took an Indian force into the Illinois country to assist in the attack on Spanish St Louis (Mo.) but was chased back to Lake Michigan by Linctot’s horsemen [see Wahpasha*].
After the war Langlade continued to serve in the Indian department. He received goods that Gautier had embezzled from the British storehouse on Mackinac Island, but although Gautier was discovered and dismissed from his post as storekeeper and interpreter in 1793 Langlade retained his position. He remained active until his death and enjoyed telling about 99 battles in which he had participated. A companion, recalling Langlade’s actions, said he “never saw so perfectly cool and fearless a man on the field of battle.”
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