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Contributed by Clarence E. Carter, University of Illinois.

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 and the Illinois country. Although France definitely gave up her claims to the region west of the Alleghany Mountains in 1763, the British were unable to relieve the French garrison in the Illinois region until 1765. This was due to the breaking out of the great Indian rebellion in 1763, which effectually blocked all the roads to the west. Unsuccessful attempts were made in 1764 to reach Fort de Chartres by way of the Mississippi river. The pacification of the Indian nations, however, seemed to be the first consideration. This was accomplished by 1765 and in the summer of that year General Gage sent orders to Fort Pitt directing Captain Sterling, with a detachment of the 42d Regiment, to proceed down the Ohio river to the Illinois country. The papers here presented relate the story of the occupation and the events immediately following. Although search has been made in the Public Record Office and in the British Museum as well as in our own depositories, I have been unable to find any other documents relating directly to the event. There are, however, numerous references to the occupation scattered throughout the Gage and Johnson correspondence.


Sterling to Gage, December 15, 1765.

Extract of a letter from Captain Sterling of His Majesty's 42nd Regt. of Foot to His Excellency, Major General, Honorable Thos. Gage, Commander-in-Chief in North America.

"Mons" St. Ange withdrew on the 23 with all the French Troops in this Country to a Village called St. Louis on the Spanish side, opposite to Caho, having Orders to that purpose from Monsr. Aubrey, he had no Soldiers in any of the Posts except this, a reduced Officer acted as Commandant at Caskaskias, and another at Caho, they have both left this side likewise."


"The only Judges here was one LeFevre who was Judge, King's Commissary, and Garde du Magazin, and another who acted as Procureur du Roi; All Causes were tried before them, and their Sentence confirmed or revised by the Council at N. Orleans, in case of appeal, the Commandant decided all small disputes, yet every complaint was addressed to him, and he ordered the Judge to try them; Those Two are gone to the Spanish side being continued in their employments there. I was therefore obliged to appoint one Mr. La Grange to decide all disputes that might arise amongst the Inhabitants. According to the Laws and Customs of the Country, with liberty to Appeal to me, in case they were not satisfied with his decision; I first consulted the principal of them, if he was agreeable to them which they all told me he was, however if I may take the Liberty to give my Opinion, it will be necessary that Judges be sent here to administer Justice, as Mr. La Grange knowledge of the Law is not sufficient to fill that employment as it ought to be. The Captains of Militia have the same power as in Canada. The Inhabitants Complain very much for want of Priests, there is but one now remains, the rest either having died or gone away, and he stays on the other side, he was formerly a Jesuit and would have been sent away likewise if the Caskaskias Indians, to whom he was Priest, had not insisted on his staying which the French allowed him to do upon his renouncing Jesuitism, and turning Sulpitien, this Priest might be of great use to us, if he was brought over to this side, which I make no doubt might be effectuated, provided his former appointments were allowed him, which were 600 Livres pr Ann; from the King as Priest to the Indians."

I am not able to get an exact account of the number of the Inhabitants as there is always a number of them at N. Orleans, trading with the Indians or Hunting which they go to as regularly as the Savages, the Village of Caskaskias has about Fifty Familys and at Caho about Forty, those of Prairie du Rocher, Fort Chartres, and St. Philip are almost totally abandoned; This Settlement has been declining since the Commencement of the War, and when it was ceded to us, many Familys went away for fear of the English, and want of Troops to protect them from the Indians; they have formed a settlement since the Peace opposite to Caho called St. Louis where there is now about fifty Familys, and they have another opposite to Caskaskias, which has been settled Thirty years ago, Called St. Genevieve about the same number of Familys, to these two Places they have retired; Mr. Neon who commanded before Mr. St. Ange was very active in enticing the Inhabitants of this side, to go over to the other. I wrote your Excellency that few or none had given in their names to go away which made me hope they intended staying, but I have found since that, that was only a blind, for many of them drove off their Cattle in the night & carried off their Effects & grain which I did everything in my power to prevent, but as I was not in Condition to send party's to the two Ferry's of Caho & Caskaskias, considering the disposition of the Indians, a good deal of cattle & some grain has been carried off,


and if the gentlest methods are not used with those that stay, who are the best, we shall lose them too; There will be a necessity of building a Fort at Caskaskias, the former one being ruinous, ill situated and no water, and likewise one at Caho, as these are the places opposite to the Spanish Settlements, and where the Ferrys are, besides in all probability, the Mississippi will carry away this Fort by the month of June, it is at Caskaskias where they raise all the Grain for supplying the Troops; the Country is very level and clear of woods, with the finest Meadow I ever saw, in which we have advantage over the Spaniards, who have not room enough to form one good Settlement on the banks of the Mississippi, but they have the advantage of the Salt Springs & Lead Mines with which this Colony is supplied, on their side, none of those has yet been found out here" —

"I have enquired into the affair of the Jesuits, and find that they were dispossest and their Estates and Goods sold by an Order from the Council at N. Orleans, for the behoof of the King their Houses, Lands and goods here, were sold for a hundred & some odd thousand Livres, besides about Fifty Negros that were sent down to Orleans, and there sold; they carried away the Papers of sale so that I could not get an exact account, but so far I have learned from the person who was employed in the sale. I have likewise learned that a Priest at Caho named Forget who was of the Mission Etranger of the Sulpitien, who was the only remaining in the Country, did sell since the Peace all the effects of that Order in this Country to the amount of about thirty thousand Livres with the consent of the then Governor who was Mr. Neon tho' several Inhabitants objected against it, and ordered it to be remitted to the Superior in France. He likewise gave three Negros their liberty. As I did not know what your Excellency's Sentiments might be, I ordered the person who bought them to make no further payments, till your Orders should arrive, he having agreed to remit annually so much till the whole should be paid."

"I have not been able to find that the French King had any possessions in this Country except the Ground the Forts stand on, as no lands were ever bought from the Indians, who claim the whole as their property; As to their numbers, the Caskaskias Indians, who live within half a League of that Village, are about a Hundred & fifty Worriors; the Metchis & Peory as live one mile from this Fort, the former having forty the latter about two Hundred and fifty Warriors; The Caho's are about Forty likewise, — These Indians I am informed intend all going to the other side to live; The Caskaskias Indians told me in a Council they held before Mr. St. Ange, and me that, that was their intention, the French Emissarys have spared no pains to debauch the Indians & Inhabitants to leave us & a report they have spread that all the French Officers, are to be continued by the Spaniards & the Government of the other side to be entirely French, has contributed not a little to it" —



Extract of a Letter from Captain Stirling to His Excellcy General Gage. Dated Illinois 15th December 1765.

In Major Genl Gage's of the 28th March 1766.

Containing Particulars with regard to the Settlements on the opposite Shore.

Inclosure 2 in No. 10.



1. The French name of the fort was Port de Chartres. The British officers are probably responsible for the dropping of the "de".

2. Public Record Office, America and West Indies. Vol. 122.

3. This was Joseph Labuxiere. See Illinois Historical Collections, II, 625, n. 16.

4. See Illinois Historical Collections, II. 499-509; Thwaites Jesuit Relations, LXXI, 37.