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Battles of Chief Pontiac

Battles of Chief Pontiac(1952)


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In the late 1700s, after British troops have driven the French out of the northern American territory, the British hire Hessian soldiers as reinforcements in their war against the Indians. Notoriously brutal Hessian commander von Weber launches surprise raids against Indian villages, ruthlessly killing men, women and children. Near Fort Detroit, Chief Pontiac, a spiritual and tribal leader, declares war against the whites because of the harsh new British rule. British general Jeffrey Amherst, meanwhile, congratulates von Weber on his successful campaign against the Indians. Amherst instructs von Weber, who hates all Indians because he was once captured and tortured by a tribe, to continue until the British can gain control of the Great Lakes region. While they are talking, Ranger Lieutenant Kent McIntire comes in and demands that Amherst put a halt to the butchery. Amherst, however, refuses to rein in von Weber and orders him to take command of Ft. Detroit away from Maj. Gladwin, who is sympathetic to the Indians. While returning to Ft. Detroit through the wilderness, Kent secretly speaks with Winifred Lancaster, the daughter of a British officer recently killed by the Indians, who is among a group of women taken hostage by Pontiac's warrior Hawkbill. Hawkbill captures Kent and takes him to Pontiac, who is Kent's "blood brother." Kent tells Pontiac about the British campaign against his tribe and warns him that Hessian reinforcements are being brought to the fort. Although Pontiac is committed to fighting the whites, he agrees to meet with Gladwin to discuss the possibility of peace. When Hawkbill starts to court Winifred, Kent claims her as his wife, pointing out a gold ring he had secretly given her as proof, and after a makeshift tribal wedding ceremony insisted upon by Pontiac, Winifred is accepted as family. Hawkbill, however, holds a grudge against Kent. Kent reports to Gladwin about his progress with Pontiac, but when von Weber takes over, he refuses to confer with Pontiac and threatens to arrest Gladwin when he insists that von Weber maintain the truce. Instead, von Weber sends a "gift" of clothing and blankets infested with smallpox to Pontiac's tribe, and plans to attack as soon as they are stricken by the illness. Kent revolts against von Weber and is arrested, but Gladwin helps him escape unharmed. At Pontiac's village, Winifred, who previously hated the Indians, has developed a newfound respect for them, and is distraught when her new friends become mortally ill with smallpox. Kent tells Pontiac that the disease is von Weber's doing, and Pontiac suggests that he and Winifred flee before the warriors find out. Kent and Winifred leave after they help boil the blankets and clothing to rid them of the disease. That night, they declare their love for each other and return to the fort after seeing von Weber march out with his troops. When Kent tells Gladwin that Pontiac is massing for war, Gladwin orders him to warn von Weber, who expects to ambush the Indians. Kent does not catch up to von Weber and his troops until after the Indians have made their initial attack. During a pause in the battle, Kent warns von Weber and his men to retreat, but von Weber shoots him. Pontiac and his men slaughter the soldiers and capture von Weber alive. At the Indian village, von Weber is tied to a post and covered in pestilence-ridden blankets, and in time, he becomes ill and dies. Gladwin and Winifred ride to the village bearing a white flag, and Pontiac agrees to consider peace, although the Great Spirit has advised him that all Indians will soon be overwhelmed by the whites. As Gladwin and Pontiac smoke a peace pipe, Winifred runs to embrace the wounded Kent.