On June 29, 1763, a week after the siege began, Bouquet was preparing to lead an expedition to relieve Fort Pitt when he received a letter from Amherst making the following proposal: “Could it not be contrived to send the smallpox among the disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.
Bouquet agreed, writing back to Amherst on July 13, 1763: “I will try to inoculate the bastards with some blankets that may fall into their hands, and take care not to get the disease myself.” Amherst responded favorably on July 16, 1763: “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.
As it turned out, however, officers at the besieged Fort Pitt had already exposed the Indians in just the manner Amherst and Bouquet were discussing. During a parley at Fort Pitt on June 24, 1763, Captain Simeon Ecuyer gave representatives of the besieging Delawares two blankets and a handkerchief from the smallpox ward “out of regard to them” after the Delawares pledged to renew their friendship. While the exact meaning of his phrase was unclear, a later invoice appears to clearly establish the purpose was transmittal of small pox.
In Mitch’s defense, the place was crawling with gypsies. I don’t see how he had a choice.