The Iroquois stormed out of their palisade like dervishes running toward the barricade. Painted clubs and muskets waving, they followed the braves who wore the make-shift armor. Screeching and yelling insults and threats, they ran toward the barricade. They looked as if they would suffocate it by sheer weight of numbers.
“Here they come!” yelled Dollard. “Fire on command!… Aim… fire!”
Twenty-two muskets cracked; thirteen Iroquois fell dead, four more were wounded.
Three guns had misfired, and two missed their targets.
The riflemen had already automatically moved back, and the men two steps back jumped to the loopholes.
Ten muskets fired and seven Iroquois fell. At this range and with so many attackers it was difficult to miss. Three guns had misfired.
“Fire at will! Make your shots count!”
The Iroquois came on. They had lost twenty braves in half a minute, but the places of the dead were taken immediately by eager men.
Some of the Iroquois reached the barricade. They could do no harm unless the loopholes were clear, and these were all manned by the Hurons, French and Algonquins. The Mohawks could not shoot through the barricade, the earth was too thick. Some started to climb the barricade walls but were shot in the stomach as they passed the loopholes. Others, who had reached the barricade, crouched low at its base, under the loopholes. They and began hacking away with their hatchets at the dead branches, roots, stumps and stockade shafts that gave the barricade its meager strength.
Dollard, seeing him, called to Robert Jurie.
“Robert, get some pistols. We’ll make bombs.”
Robert Jurie, Nicholas Josselin and Roland Hebert rapidly broke pistols, filled the muzzles with powder, inserted fuses, lit them, and threw the small bombs just over the barricade so that they exploded among the Mohawks.
The explosions sent shards of steel, shot and burning powder into their midst. They were dismantling more pistols when trouble came at the tenth loophole on the right side –Mituvemeg’s position.
An Algonquin was hit in the shoulder. Jacques Brassier, the back-up man behind the tenth and eleventh position, moved in. Immediately he was hit in the neck by a bullet. He sank to his knees, surprised, and stayed there, holding his neck as if praying. Brassier had a strange, unbelieving expression on his face as the blood poured out of the hole in his neck. Kneeling in stillness, he looked like a grotesque fountain. The blood was falling in a short arc, spilling dreadfully on Mituvemeg’s white polar bear cape. Mituvemag, trying to regain the loophole, could not get around Brassier fast enough. An Onondaga pushed his musket through the unmanned loophole and fired. His shot went across the semi-circle of the enclosure and buried itself in a Huron’s back.
Mituvemeg pushed Brassier’ paling body aside and fired his musket through the loophole. His shot missed the Indian, who had withdrawn, but he hit a second man in the chest. Another Onondaga appeared at the loophole. Mituvemeg drew his pistol from inside his shirt and fired point-blank into his enemy’s face. The Onondaga’s head exploded, spewing brains, blood, and teeth. Mituvemeg’s face was covered in the dead man’s blood, and it was impossible to distinguish the blood marks now from his war paint.
The rear-guard man from between loopholes eight and nine–Christophe Augier–raced over and took up a place at the tenth loophole, allowing Mituvemeg time to reload.
Robert Jurie, seeing that the grenades were having some effect at the brunt of the attack, sent Rejean Tiblement over to the tenth loophole to reinforce it.
Dollard remembered the rock. He turned and looked up but to his surprise there was no one there. He turned back to the attack again, and immediately an arrow slammed into the ground behind him. He cursed, turned again and saw that a Mohawk had arrived on the rock just seconds after he had last looked.
A Huron, reloading at the fourth loophole also saw the incident. He raised his musket and fired, and the Mohawk bowman pitched over and bounced down the rock surface. Annahotaha, watching the incident, instructed the Huron marksman to keep his eye on the rock after that.
The men at the wall were still firing. The break at number two had been recovered, and the small bombs were working, but Jurie was worried.
“We brought forty pistols, Dollard, but we never counted on close fighting. Let’s use the musketoons,” he yelled.
“All right!” screamed Dollard.
Robert Jurie got help in loading the musketoons from Jean Lecompte and Robin. Smaller versions of the muskets, the musketoons looked like blunderbusses. Stuffed with powder and with fuses they exploded, killing or wounding five or six attackers when dropped over the barricade wall.
Suddenly, at loophole three the Iroquois made another break-through. Smoke from the explosion of a powder-packed gun rose into the eyes of the Hurons, who had to turn their heads away.
What wind there was aided the Iroquois, pushing the smoke northwest toward the barricade.
Two Mohawks stepping on the bodies of their comrades gained the loophole. One fired a musket, killing a Huron who never saw it coming. The other Iroquois held only a hatchet. He was screaming with rage, but he was powerless to do anything except hack at the barricade around the hole. This action gave the second, temporarily-blinded, Huron a moment to regain his sight. He drew his knife, swung his arm out, and the Mohawk’s face split apart; the blade crossed his left eye, nose, and cheek, and he dropped away in agony.
Instantly, another Onondaga was at the loophole. He fired and his bullet found the Huron’s shoulder. Another one fired across the compound and struck Rejean Tiblemont in the back of the head. Tiblement felt a searing pain in his brain and then he felt nothing.
Robert Jurie and Dollard had moved to the third loophole. They pulled the wooden stopper on a small keg of powder, fashioned a fuse, inserted it and, on a count of three, hurled it over the barricade. The explosion was muffled by the screams of the Iroquois who couldn’t get out of its way. Nine Iroquois flow up briefly, like startled partridge, before falling lifelessly to the earth.
Annahotaha was at the third hole. He fired. An Onondaga took the bullet in the groin and howled with pain. Annahotaha stepped back and turned to reload when a sharp pain went swiftly through his chest. The air went out of him as if he had been rammed in the stomach. He began to breath out hard and fast. It was as if his lungs were manufacturing air and expelling it at the same time as the blood left his body. He turned to see where the shot had come from. High on the rock were two enemies, one with a bow and the other reloading his musket. Instinctively, Annahotaha looked for the Huron he had instructed to watch the rock. He found him lying a few feet away, face down, with an arrow in his back. Annahotaha turned to the rock, raised his gun with difficulty to his waist, but he could lift it no further.
Dollard and Robert Jurie were with him by now. Together they fired, and the Mohawks on the rock fell. Dollard and Jurie reached for Annahotaha.
“I am a dead man, comrades. Return to the fighting – do not stay with me. I ask only one thing. As soon as I die, put my head in the fire. I do not want my scalp to go to those vipers.”
He closed his eyes, and the Huron chief passed from his time.
Dollard and Robert Jurie pulled Annahotaha to the fire several steps behind them. They looked at each other fearfully.
“Is he dead?”
“I don’t know,” said Dollard. He withdrew his pistol, held it to Annahotaha’s great heart and pulled the trigger. Annahotaha’s body lifted slightly as if had been tickled, then hit the earth again and was motionless.
Dollard and Jurie each took one of the dead chief’s arms and, walking on either side of the fire, pulled his head into the flames. The chief’s black hair caught instantly, the red and white flames crackling through it like a fuse, wrapping the strong head in a halo of fire.
Dollard watched for a moment and shook his head silently. Robert Jurie hit him on the arm.
“Come on, for God’s sake!”
The old Huron, Louis Taondechoren, had moved to the third loophole when Annahotaha fell, and he and another Huron made a successful reinforcement at that station. Dollard looked around the barricade. There were now at least eight dead. Eight that he could see.
“Another keg, Robert.”
They took a second powder keg and after making a fuse, took it to the sixth and seventh loopholes where the Iroquois were thickest.
The Mohawks were climbing on the bodies of their dead, ferociously pulling themselves up the barricade, only to be knocked back or shot full in the face by the desperate French.
The second keg was ready. Swinging it, lighted fuse burning, the pair hurled it.
“One, two, three, go!”
It swept up in an arc, skimmed easily over the barricade and fell on the horrified Iroquois. It dropped first on the back of a brave, rolled down his body and the momentum carried it a few feet further into the midst of a crowd of attackers. They tried to escape it — one of them did — but it caught most of the group, and it burst upon them like a shock wave of stored fury. The braves who died felt nothing. The wounded were cut and bleeding, their bodies opened by the blast, and they were suffering.
Dollard and Jurie prepared two more of these bombs and threw them over to the right and left of the first and each had the same effect: the enormous roar of the explosion, the wretched effect on the attackers. The noise was frightening. The tumult from the wailing victims mixed with the horror and anguish of their fellows came right after the detonation. First the blast, then, for an instant, silence, then the sound of people in hell.
The allies were hanging on.