Chapter 38: The Battle Ends
Momentarily the attack faltered. The Iroquois were astonished at the damage the kegs inflicted. They hesitated; some broke for their fort. Others, seeing the blood of their brothers, the broken bodies, the severed hands, and limbs -- gathered their courage, pushed fear down into their guts and responded with a cry of rage and frustration. They threw themselves in desperate determination at the barricade.
Dollard and Jurie were preparing another keg, their fourth.
"These are using up powder fast," said Jurie, "but they're working."
"A few more of these and it might be over," agreed Dollard. "They can't take many more dead.
"One, two, three...now!" they shouted together.
The keg swung up and over the barricade but at the top of the arc, just as it began to fall, an Iroquois catapulted himself up over the dead, up above the spikes of the palisade. The Iroquois brave and the keg met in mid-air. The Indian fell backward, and the force of the impact knocked the keg back into the barricade.
Dollard saw the keg come back at him. He thought that if he could catch it he might hurl it back over the prongs of the barricade but even as he wished for this he knew it couldn't happen. The other men were out of position, and the keg hit the earth with a thump and exploded. Robert Jurie shouted to them, but it was too late.
Dollard des Ormeaux, Simon Grenet and two Hurons died instantly. None of them had a chance to say a prayer. Death came to them as it did to so many during this week: suddenly and without warning.
Rene Doussin and Jean Lecompte were wounded, the upper part of their bodies badly burned. Robert Jurie lay writhing on the ground, his stomach blown open by the exploding keg.
The explosion staggered the barricade defenders. They turned to see what had happened, but the smoke was so thick they could not see each other. When the smoke abated a little some of them ran to their comrades' assistance but as they did the Iroquois gained many of the loopholes and began firing into the center of the allies. Others hacked at the slender wooden posts with their hatchets, screaming insults, and curses trying to break in.
Mituvemeg ignored all this. Calmly, he looked to his left. As he did an Onondaga leaped from the top of the barricade straight down at him. Mituvemeg had time only to whip his musket up above his head. It caught the brave in the groin, and he screamed as Mituveneg side-stepped and simultaneously slammed his musket butt into the temple of his enemy.
The Algonquin beside Mituvemeg was caught by two Onondagas who had also jumped from the top of the barricade. The Algonquin wrestled with one brave, swung his arm, and his hatchet hit his attacker's shoulder, opening a bloody gash. But the second Onondaga threw his weight behind his knife-hand and plunged it into the back of the Algonquin who choked and slipped to the ground.
More Onondagas had jumped over the barricade at the ninth and tenth loopholes, and still more were firing into the barricade from the loopholes themselves.
Muskets were useless now as the roaring Iroquois spilled into the barricade.
The allies were shouting encouragement and warnings to each other, but gradually each became drawn into hand-to-hand combat.
Forges was in the middle of the enemy attack at the seventh loophole. He had been alternately firing and reloading, but now it was impossible to take precious time to reload.
The Iroquois were trying to come over the top of the barricade. Forges used a Huron hatchet to fend them off, swinging at any enemy whose head appeared over the top. He and others near him were doing the same and trying to fire through the loopholes to prevent the Iroquois from climbing. They were helped by the difficulty the enemy had in clambering over their own dead and wounded. The screams of the wounded as they were stepped, on mixed with the war cries of the healthy contributed to the noise of the firing and the shouting of orders and warnings and requests for assistance. Forges fought on.
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THE BATTLE OF THE LONG SAULTHistorical Fiction
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