I may have mentioned this before, but increasingly I feel that if I ever have the time and opportunity to write a book, my first effort will be a biography of Col. Henry Bouquet, the Swiss-born professional soldier who became Colonel of the 60th Regiment, the “Royal American” and an expert in bush-fighting, and who played such a prominent part in suppressing Pontiac’s Rebellion.

I get this urge every time I come across Bouquet in my readings in Parkman, because his combination of bravery and competence fascinates me.   Also because, as far as I know, there is no good biography or history of him out there.

Unfortunately, to the extent that anyone remembers him at all, Bouquet is mostly known these days for a series of letters exchanged between himself and Sir Jeffrey Amherst in the summah of 1763, at the start of Pontiac’s Rebellion, in which Amherst wonders whether the Indians couldn’t be wiped out with small-pox through a “gift” of infected blankets and Bouquet says that it sounds like a good idea.  (There’s no evidence that this idea was ever actually implemented.) 

Of course, such biological warfare is repugnant and the mere discussion of it makes one pause.  On the other hand, Amherst was writing just after having received the news of most of the British frontier outposts having been wiped out and their garrisons massacred, often through treachery.  Bouquet, in turn, was in Carlisle, on the Pennsylvania front, and was watching the survivors of the Indian terror war against settler families come streaming in, many wounded, orphaned or widowed, all destitute and panicked.  So perhaps there is a certain heat of passion discount that must be applied to these ventings.

At any rate,  I’ve had this idea for several years now and that’s usually an indication to me that there may be something in it.   Who would buy the movie rights?

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