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Introduction.

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.

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

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Hundred 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 we daily expect for that purpose, but should they not arrive in a short time, it will be impossible for them to come till the Spring.

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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.

nts

Notes.

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

2. Chatham MSS., vol. 97 Public Record Office, London. The original draft does not seem to have been preserved. There is nothing in the extract that remains to indicate to whom the letter was written.

3. The 34th Regiment was coming from Mobile under the command of Major Farmar.