RENAUD DUBUISSON, JACQUES-CHARLES, commander in the west, town major of Trois-Rivières; b. in Paris, 1666; d. in Trois-Rivières, 1739.
Dubuisson carne to Canada in 1685–86 and was a cadet until 1696: he became a half-pay ensign in that year and was made lieutenant in 1698. He was assistant town major at Quebec in 1704. In 1707 he was in temporary trouble there, charged with duelling. Rigaud de Vaudreuil absolved him of this charge and in 1709 recommended him for promotion. From this time until his death Dubuisson was consistently praised for his military and administrative work.
In September 1710 Dubuisson was sent to Detroit to act as commandant until Dauphin de La Forest, who was ill, could take command. During the next year Detroit was in a constant state of friction, for Lamothe Cadillac [Laumet], the former commandant, was still at the post and was reluctant to give up his authority and privileges. Vaudreuil complimented Dubuisson on his skill in handling the delicate situation.
In 1712 Dubuisson took part in an attack on the Fox Indians, his most important military operation. Early in the spring the bands of the Fox chiefs Lamyma and Pemoussa joined others of their tribe already settled at Detroit and soon after received some of their allies, the Mascoutens, who were fleeing from a war party of Ottawas and Potawatomis. When the latter arrived they insisted on attacking and Dubuisson, unable to avert the clash and in view of the threatening attitude of the Foxes, decided to support the traditional allies of the French.
They besieged the Fox camp for 19 days. Heavy firing and lack of food caused many Fox deaths. Several councils were held but no peace could be arranged until finally the enemy escaped, going north a few miles to where they were forced to make a final stand. When the Foxes surrendered, most of the male captives were butchered, and Dubuisson reported the total losses as 1,000 enemy, 60 allies, and 1 Frenchman. This victory established Dubuisson’s reputation both at Quebec and among the Indians so that for 20 years he maintained a great deal of influence in the unsettled affairs of the west.
Dubuisson returned to Quebec in the fall of 1712 but, because La Forest was again ill, he continued to command at Detroit until the summer of 1715, when he was replaced by Jacques-Charles de Sabrevois. By then Dubuisson had been promoted captain. In 1716 he was again at Quebec, in garrison, and that autumn he received permission to go to France to settle some private affairs.
In the spring of 1718 Dubuisson, having returned to the colony, was sent by Vaudreuil to the Miamis to convince them to return to their old villages on the St Joseph River (Michigan). The Miamis had moved to get away from the Foxes, but the new location (in what is now Indiana) displeased the French for it was uncomfortably close to British traders, who offered better prices. For the next ten years Dubuisson’s moves are hard to follow. He did manage to persuade the Miamis to move back to their Michigan villages and at one time he commanded “at the post he established among the Miamis and at the one among the Ouyatanons [Weas].” In 1722 François-Marie Bissot de Vinsenne was in charge of the Ouyatanons post, “under the orders of Sieur Dubuisson,” and a memoir of 1723–25 also lists Dubuisson as commander of a Miami post; however, three and perhaps four posts were either known by that name or were in Miami territory.
By 1728 Dubuisson seems to have been at Michilimackinac, for a report of September 1728 blamed Le Marchand de Lignery for poor leadership in an attack on the Foxes, although Dubuisson was said not to have been at fault. In October 1729 Dubuisson became commandant at Michilimackinac and the following summer led a large attack on the Foxes. A memoir of 1730 reported that the expedition was a failure, but Dubuisson felt that though the Foxes were not crushed, they would starve to death before spring. Michilimackinac at this time was the leading western post: “It is to Michilimackinac that the voyageurs from all these places come to sell their furs and to buy corn and canoes. . . .” Testard de Montigny replaced Dubuisson there that autumn. Dubuisson was old, had been wounded three times, and claimed that the fish diet at Michilimackinac had affected his health.
Dubuisson had married Gabrielle Pinet (Desmarest) in 1699; they had five girls and one boy. His wife died in 1715 and on 29 Oct. 1717 he married Louise, daughter of Jacques Bizard* of Montreal. He was appointed town major of Trois-Rivières in April 1733, and in March 1734 he was made a knight of the order of Saint-Louis, an honour which he had long sought. He died at Trois-Rivières on 24 Dec. 1739 and was buried in the chapel of Sainte-Geneviève. Vaudreuil’s comment of 1720 provides a good assessment of Dubuisson’s reputation: “[He] always distinguished himself on every occasion as much against the savages as against the English.”
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