The French, the origin of Fort Niagara and the coming of the British

In his 'The Life of George Washington, Volume I' Washington Irving narrates the following events of 1750

"Captain Joncaire, a veteran diplomatist of the wilderness, .. had been taken prisoner when quite young by the Iroquois, and adopted into one of their tribes. This was the making of his fortune. He had grown up among them, acquired their language, adapted himself to their habits, and was considered by them as one of themselves. On returning to civilized life he became a prime instrument in the hands of the Canadian government, for managing and cajoling the Indians. Sometimes he was an ambassador to the Iroquois; sometimes a mediator between the jarring tribes; sometimes a leader of their warriors when employed by the French. When in 1728 the Delawares and Shawnees migrated to the banks of the Ohio, Joncaire was the agent who followed them, and prevailed on them to consider themselves under French protection. When the French wanted to get a commanding site for a post on the Iroquois lands, near Niagara, Joncaire was the man to manage it. He craved a situation where he might put up a wigwam, and dwell among his Iroquois brethren. It was granted of course, "for was he not a son of the tribe--was he not one of themselves?" By degrees his wigwam grew into an important trading post; ultimately it became Fort Niagara. Years and years had elapsed; he had grown gray in Indian diplomacy, and was now sent once more to maintain French sovereignty over the valley of the Ohio.

He appeared at Logstown accompanied by another Frenchman, and forty Iroquois warriors. He found an assemblage of the western tribes, feasting and rejoicing, and firing of guns, for George Croghan and Montour the interpreter were there, and had been distributing presents on behalf of the Governor of Pennsylvania.

Joncaire was said to have the wit of a Frenchman, and the eloquence of an Iroquois. He made an animated speech to the chiefs in their own tongue, the gist of which was that their father Onontio (that is to say, the Governor of Canada) desired his children of the Ohio to turn away the Indian traders, and never to deal with them again on pain of his displeasure; so saying, he laid down a wampum belt of uncommon size, by way of emphasis to his message.

For once his eloquence was of no avail; a chief rose indignantly, shook his finger in his face, and stamping on the ground, "This is our land," said he. "What right has Onontio here? The English are our brothers. They shall live among us as long as one of us is alive. We will trade with them, and not with you;" and so saying he rejected the belt of wampum.

The British capture of Fort Niagara

Washington Irving describes the siege and fall of Fort Niagara to the British in his 'The Life of George Washington, Volume I'

"According to the plan of operations for 1759, General Wolfe, who had risen to fame by his gallant conduct in the same affair, was to ascend the St. Lawrence in a fleet of ships of war, with eight thousand men, as soon as the river should be free of ice, and lay siege to Quebec, the capital of Canada. General Amherst, in the mean time, was to advance, as Abercrombie had done, by Lake George, against Ticonderoga and Crown Point; reduce those forts, cross Lake Champlain, push on to the St. Lawrence, and co-operate with Wolfe.

A third expedition, under Brigadier-general Prideaux, aided by Sir William Johnson and his Indian warriors, was to attack Fort Niagara, which controlled the whole country of the Six Nations, and commanded the navigation of the great lakes, and the intercourse between Canada and Louisiana. Having reduced this fort, he was to traverse Lake Ontario, descend the St. Lawrence, capture Montreal, and join his forces with those of Amherst.

The last mentioned expedition was the first executed. General Prideaux embarked at Oswego on the first of July, with a large body of troops, regulars and provincials,--the latter partly from New York. He was accompanied by Sir William Johnson, and his Indian braves of the Mohawk. Landing at an inlet of Lake Ontario, within a few miles of Fort Niagara, he advanced, without being opposed, and proceeded to invest it. The garrison, six hundred strong, made a resolute defence. The siege was carried on by regular approaches, but pressed with vigor. On the 20th of July, Prideaux, in visiting his trenches, was killed by the bursting of a cohorn. Informed by express of this misfortune, General Amherst detached from the main army Brigadier-general Gage, the officer who had led Braddock's advance, to take the command.

In the mean time, the siege had been conducted by Sir William Johnson with courage and sagacity. He was destitute of military science, but had a natural aptness for warfare, especially for the rough kind carried on in the wilderness. Being informed by his scouts that twelve hundred regular troops, drawn from Detroit, Venango, and Presque Isle, and led by D'Aubry, with a number of Indian auxiliaries, were hastening to the rescue, he detached a force of grenadiers and light infantry, with some of his Mohawk warriors, to intercept them. They came in sight of each other on the road, between Niagara Falls and the fort, within the thundering sound of the one, and the distant view of the other. Johnson's "braves" advanced to have a parley with the hostile redskins. The latter received them with a war-whoop, and Frenchman and savage made an impetuous onset. Johnson's regulars and provincials stood their ground firmly, while his red warriors fell on the flanks of the enemy. After a sharp conflict, the French were broken, routed, and pursued through the woods, with great carnage. Among the prisoners taken were seventeen officers. The next day Sir William Johnson sent a trumpet, summoning the garrison to surrender, to spare the effusion of blood, and prevent outrages by the Indians. They had no alternative; were permitted to march out with the honors of war, and were protected by Sir William from his Indian allies. Thus was secured the key to the communication between Lakes Ontario and Erie, and to the vast interior region connected with them. The blow alarmed the French for the safety of Montreal, and De Levi, the second in command of their Canadian forces, hastened up from before Quebec, and took post at the fort of Oswegatchie (now Ogdensburg), to defend the passes of the St. Lawrence.