In printing the following documents an attempt has been made to bring together the papers relating directly to the actual occupation of Fort de Chartres
Eidington to — (?) October 17, 1765.
Copy, letter from Lieut. James Eidington of the 42d (or Royal Highland) regiment, one of the four officers who with a hundred of that regiment took possession of Fort Chartres, dated Fort Chartres, 17th October, 1765.
I wrote you from Fort Pitt before I left that place, giving an account of the long journey I was about to undertake; we left the above post August 24th and did not arrive here till the 9th instant; and we have found the distance to answer the French account which is Five
202Hundred Leagues. The Passage was pleasant enough, until we came to the Mississippi, but after that it became immensely fatiguing from the rapidity of the Stream.
I believe I mentioned to you the great chance there was of our being cut off from the Capriciousness of the Savages, and their not being accustomed to the English, and from the great Regard they have always shown to the French, who have no doubt used every Method to prevent the English getting Possession of the Illinois country; from whence I may almost say one-third of the Fur Trade of North America centers, but as good luck would have it we passed the numerous Nations of Indians, and even came here in the most critical Season of the Year, and when all the Savages was out a Hunting, and have got Peaceable Possession of one of the pretyest Stone Fort I ever saw, though that is indeed saying all of it, for we neither found Ammunition nor any other Stores, that are usually expected in such a place, and if everything of the necessary kind can't be got before the Spring which is the great time of the Indians to come to trade, and should they take anything in their heads the Garrison must be left to their mercy, and what can One hundred men do without Provisions against three or four thousand Indians, but this is only the worst side of things, and now for the Inhabitants and Country, etc.
The French have dispersed themselves through the Country in several small villages, and have several small Forts, that is to say at the Chief of their towns, they, however, withdrew their Troops from all the above posts, except Fort Chartres, where they had a Captain & another Officer and about forty men, with a Commissary and some other Petty Officers; the French Troops we relieved here might be called anything else but Soldiers, in short I defy the best drol or comick to represent them at Drury Lane.
Monsieur Saint Ange who is the French Commandant removed his Garrison to the other side of the Mississippi, where the French Merchants have built several Towns, and either has or is to remove to the Spanish Side. Their reason is too plain to need any explanation and can be with no other view than that of depriving us of the chief benefit of our new Country, namely the Indian Trade.
The above will no doubt be a Bone of Future Contention, and of course business for us.
The Merchants and Inhabitants make us pay an immoderate price for everything we have occasion for, and as the English Merchants have not yet arrived nor can they now until the Spring, it will be attended with a great expence. They have indeed but little here, for they are doing us a vast favor when they let us have a Gallon of French Brandy at twenty Shillings Sterling, and as the price is not as yet regulated, the Eatables is in proportion.
The only thing we solace ourselves with is that of being relieved, which we hope very soon. The 34th Regiment
The Country here is indeed very fine and praiseworthy and capable of raising anything, but it is much too flat to be healthy, for it is not uncommon for Plains of two or three hundred miles on a Stretch, all of which is well stocked with Buffalo, and all sorts of Game.
As I think there is now a great chance of this never coming to your hand, I have not been so particular or exact as I otherwise would, and must refer you to my next when I shall have it more in my power.