Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DOUTRELEAU, M., clergyman, born in France about 1700. He was a missionary among the Illinois Indians, and in December 1729, was compelled to go to New Orleans on business connected with his mission. He debarked at the mouth of the Yazoo in order to say mass. and while he was making preparations, a party of Indians approached the canoe and said they were Yazoos, friends of the French. Ignorant of the state of the country, the French were off their guard, and the only two that had their guns loaded fired at a flock of birds that flew past just as the missionary was beginning mass. This prevented them from reloading, all which was carefully observed by the Indians, and, although pagans, they knelt down behind the French. Just as Doutreleau intoned the Kyrie, the Indians fired, wounding him in both arms and killing one of his companions. Believing that he was now to die, he knelt and awaited the deathblow. The Indians did not rush on him, however, as he expected, but fired three times more at him, and missed him. Regarding this as a divine interposition in his favor, he wrapped up the sacred vessels and ran for the canoe. His two companions, believing him dead, had put off; but he waded and swam out to them. and as he was climbing into the boat, turning to see if he was pursued, he received a charge of duck shot in the mouth. They now began their flight down the River, Father Doutrelean steering.
The Indians pursued them for more than an hour, and kept up an incessant fire, but without effect. At last, frightened by an old musket, which he kept pointing at them, they gave up the chase. As they drew near Natchez, several volleys were fired at them. The same occurred at the Tensas, where a canoe pursued them unsuccessfully. While they were passing the Tonicas, a boat put out after them, manned by their own countrymen. They were then brought to the little French army that was marching against the Natchez, which had halted among the Tonicas. Here they were attended to, and after a night's rest they proceeded to New Orleans. Father Doutreleau accomplished a journey of over a thousand miles through a hostile country. The officers of the French army admired his bravery, asked him to remain as their chaplain, and he accompanied them in this capacity on an expedition ; but on their return he begged to go back among the Illinois Indians. He left New Orleans on 16 April 1730.
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