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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, October 18, 1765.

Extract of a letter from Capt. Sterling commanding a detachment of the 42d Regiment at Fort Chartres in the Ilinois country; to His Excel'y Gen. Gage. Dated Fort Chartres, Oct. 18th, 1765.

"I have the honor to acquaint your Excellency of my arrival at this Port, with the Detachment under my Command, on the 9th Inst., after having been Forty-Seven Days on the Way, the lowness of the Ohio made the Navigation extremely difficult & tedious and tho' I made the utmost Expedition, it was not in my Power to do it sooner. I met a French Trader about Forty Miles below the Oubčche with Two Boats loaded & Thirty Men and the Shawanese Chief who Lieut. Fraser mentioned in His Letter to have come to the Ilinois with a Talk from Mr. d'Aubry. He is very much in the French Interest, & did everything in His Power to dissuade the few Indians that accompanied the Party from Fort Pitt, from proceeding and to intimidate us, he had likewise persuaded the French to fire on the party which they had agreed to do, if they had not found it too strong, this I was assured of by an Indian who was with them and run away, when they had taken the resolution, as he would not be present when the English were struck. Finding the French in this Disposition I thought it necessary to send Lieut. Rumsey by Land with two Indians and two of the French who undertook to conduct him to Fort Chartres, from Fort Massiac, with a Letter to Mr. St. Ange to acquaint Him of my approach, and likewise that he might send Me notice in case the Indians were ill-disposed. By some accident they lost their way, and Lieut. Rumsey did not get there for Ten Days, so that with the diligence we used in getting up the Mississippi, the Detachment was within a League of the Village of Caskaskia before they had the least intelligence of our approach, which alarmed both the Savages and Inhabitants prodigiously. The former, after having consulted, agreed to meet us, with their Pipes of Peace, which they did next day, but no sooner saw our Numbers but they began to be very insolent, & I am much convinced that our coming so unexpectedly was the luckiest thing that could have happened, for tho' Mr. Croghan wrote that he had met and concluded a Peace at Ouiatonons with the Ilinois Chiefs, I am very well assured that not one of the Chiefs of the Nations living here were there. I arrived next day at Fort Chartres with my whole Detachment and


took possession of it. Mr. St. Ange had received Orders from Mr. d'Aubrie so soon as he had delivered up this Country to the British Troops, to go with His Garrison to the other side of the River, but as he expected to be relieved by Major Farmer, whose approach he would have to have some notice of, he was quite unprepared to go away immediately, therefore beg'd some little time, which I could not refuse him, as I imagined it could not be of any hurt to His Majesty's Service, being in possession of all the Posts and Country of the Ilinois. The Fort of Caskaskias having been abandoned by the French since the Treaty of Peace, it is almost in ruins, one face of it having fallen down, which prevented my sending a Detachment there, and indeed my party is so small and the Indians so numerous, so easily assembled and So insolent that I thought it for His Majesty's Service not to divide my little Force. The Indians have not been accustomed to have Troops among them since the Peace, so that they have been quite Masters here, and treated the Inhabitants as they thought proper, which has drove several of them to the other side of the River, were there is two Villages, one opposite to Caskaskias, settled about fourteen Years ago, called St. Genevieve, and has about Twenty-five familys, the other about Twenty Leagues higher up, called St. Louis, & has Forty families. It is established since the Cession of this Country to the English by those who either did not like to be under our Government or were frightened for the Indians; I order'e a Detachment and went myself to Caskaskias to have Your Excelcy's Proclamation read, and to make the Inhabitants take the oath of Fidelity, the whole presented a Memorial praying for Nine Months to settle their Affairs and to determine themselves whither they would continue under the British Government, before they should be obliged to take the Oath, which I flatly refused them and they seemed resolved to go over immediately. As I imagined it would be a very great detriment to this Colony to have it depopulated, I at last agreed to grant them to the first of March, they taking an oath of fidelity to His Majesy during their residence under His Government, which they all consented to and took, and I suppose will be the terms the rest of the Inhabitants will stay on, as this is the principal Village, not one yet having given in their Names to go away. I hope Your Excellency will approve of what I have done, as it was what I judged for the best, I intend sending an Officer to Cauho, it being the next considerable village, the Prairiech Rocher, and St. Phillip having only a few Inhabitants, the Village of this place is quite depopulated, the River having run away with half of it, and every one is of Opinion that it will carry away the Fort next Spring, it having carried off more of the Land betwixt it and the Fort last year, than what remains, which is a great pity, as it is one of the best constructed Forts against the Indians in America, and able to contain 200 Men. Mr. St. Ang's Troops consist of One Officer and Twenty men, who are all here, and I expect He will be ready to leave this in a few days and I shall take care that no French Soldiers continue in this Country, there is numbers of reduced Officers, but as they have no pay & are commenced Traders, I allowed them the same terms as the Inhabitants, I found no judges nor any police, I have


made some few Regulations with regard to that, I have not been able to get an exact account yet of the Numbers of Inhabitants, but shall transmit that or any thing else I may learn by the first Opportunity.

"I beg leave to represent to Your Excellency the disagreeable Situation I am in here without an Agent or Interpreter for the Indians, or Merchandize for Presents to them which they all expect. I brought a few things from Fort Pitt, but they were neither sufficient nor proper, and I have been obliged to take up some Goods from the French Merchants at a Dear rate. Your Excellency in Your Instructions to Me supposed that Mr. Croghan would be here, but I learn from Detroit that he is gone down to our Colonies, Numbers of the Indians have already come in to receive presents, and I've been obliged to put them off with some small things, and Promises of more in the spring when there will be great Numbers of them on that Account, and to sell Skins, it is therefore of the greatest Consequences that Major Farmer should be here before they assemble as a respectable Body of Troops will keep them in Awe, and they would not have it in their power to obstruct His Passage. I have received a good deal of assistance from Mr. St. Ange in quieting the Indians, and I am convinced he has had no hand in the Commotions the French may have been stirring up with Indians, to the contrary he saved Mr. Croghan's Life when they had determined to burn him, by sending an Express with two Belts to the Savages, for which I have seen Mr. Croghan's Letter of thanks.

"Mr. St. Ange hesitated a good while before he delivered up the amunition and Artillery Stores. As he said His positive Orders were, to give up the Fort with Ten Pieces of Cannon, however he has agreed. Your Excellency will see by the Inventory I have the honor to send you how little Value they are of, and how small a quantity of Powder he had. When I left Fort Pitt Colonel Reid did not think it necessary I should have much Ammunition with me, as I should find it here, therefore gave me little more than Sixty Pounds, I have therefore applied to the Merchants, and they have agreed to spare me a little with the Proviso that I take goods likewise, they put it out of my power of laying my Hands upon it, as thy Transported it to the other side.

"I have just now received a Petition to be transmitted to Your Excellency from the Inhabitants of Caskaskias, which they insist I should, as it was in hopes of your granting them that, that made them accept of the terms I allowed them.

"I likewise send enclosed the Verbal process of the cession of the Fort & the Inventory of the Artillery, Stores of every kind, signed by Mr. St. Ange and me, and likewise by the French Commissary and Lieut. Rumsey, who I appointed to act as Commissary, there is a Declaration added that all the Stores belonging to His Most Christian Majesty at the time of our taking possession has been delivered up. Mr. St. Ange just now put a Protest in my Hands against my taking the Powder, etc. which is contrary to His Instructions, & when I expostulated with him about it. He told Me it was only to exculpate Him in case He should be found fault with, by disobeying His orders.



Extract of a letter from Captain Sterling commanding a detachment of the 42nd Regiment at Fort Chartres, in the Illinois country, to His Excellency General Gage.

Dated Fort Chartres, October 18th, 1765,

In Major Gen. Gage's of the 16th Jan'y, 1765, giving account of his taking Possession of the Illinois country & of the situation of affairs there.



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

2. Public Record office. America and West Indies, vol. 122. Transcripts of the two Sterling letters and the memorial are to be found in the Bancroft collection, Lenox library. The extracts are all we have preserved of the Sterling correspondence.

3. Illinois was frequently spelled with one l.