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made to destroy the fort near Detroit. Two villages of the Mascoutens and Ongatagniers had been established and fortified within a pistol shot of the French garrison. The Indians had determined to annihilate the posts and called to aid two large bands to help them. On the 13th of May, 1712, Francois Morgan de Vincennes arrived with seven or eight Frenchmen. That night a Huron came into the fort and announced that the Potawattomie war chief desired to counsel with the French, and would meet them at the old Huron fort. Vincennes went over and was told that six hundred men from the villages upon the St. Jerome (Wabash) would soon arrive and help the garrison. Upon Vincennes' return Duboison, the Commander, at once closed the fort and prepared for a siege. The next day Duboison ascended a bastion and casting his eye toward the woods, saw the army of the natives of the south issuing from it. They were the Illinois, Missouris, Osages and other natives yet more remote. The battle began at once, etc., resulting in a victory for the French and their allies.* This quotation is introduced to show the time M. de Vincennes arrived in Detroit. Now, bear in mind the statement, in his letter of March 7, 1733, when he speaks of his dealing with the Indians twenty years; and, adding that number of years to the year of his arrival in Detroit, 1712, and we have the year 1732 as the time of his advent here.
The French King decided to establish two posts in 1731 one at Illinois and one "at the Ouabache," "to commence July 1, 1731.”+ Let it be remembered that Commander M. de St. Denis, Commandant at Natchitoches, as late as November 30, 1731, deplored the fact that no establishment had been erected up to that time on the Ouabache, and the only evidence to show that a post was commenced that year is the half-yearly allowance made to the officers from July 1 of that year (1731). From the time the edict was issued to the time the same would reach M. de Vincennes, would be probably six months, and then the year 1732 would have been ushered in, but the officers would rightfully draw half-pay for that year, which they did. The allowance for salaries for one-half a year is not positive evidence that Vincennes arrived here in 1731. The presumption is that his orders did not arrive before January 1, 1732. In 1732 the first full year's salary was allowed. Taking into consideration the fact of the little work done on the fort and buildings up to March, 1733, as given in the late published letters of Vincennes in connection with the one given by St. Denis (that no fort had been established in 1731), just stated, the legitimate conclusion to be drawn from them is that the year 1732 is the earliest date of the founding of Vincennes.
* Duboison's Diary, p. 2. t Ind. Hist. Society Publications, p. 297 (1902).
The foregoing facts and arguments set forth about the first European settlement in Indiana ought to be considered sufficient proof as to the period Vincennes was first settled. The French government occupied the country until Canada and the Northwest Territory were ceded to Great Britain at the conclusion of their war, 1763, when it became a bone of contention between the latter government and the federal colonies of North America. It proved to be a point rich in splendid results, and a prize worthy of the most astute diplomacy and consummate strategy and prowess in warfare, and the contention for it culminated, finally, on February 25, 1779, when it passed under the control of the State of Virginia, through the agency of Colonel George Rogers Clark, whose skill and daring had not been surpassed by any military officer in American history. The subject is full of interesting incidents, but to enter upon a more elaborate history would require the presentation of more facts and statistics than would be profitable or interesting to the casual inquirer.
Francois Morgan de Vincennes, military commander, having taken possession of Che-pe-ko-ke late in 1731, or early in 1732, a stockade and two houses were built for defenses against the attack of the Indians, and as a protection to the traders. He remained in command here until 1736, when he was ordered by the French Governor of Detroit to join M. D'Artegette in his campaign against the Chickasaw Nation with a force to be sent from New Orleans; but owing to mishaps, the forces did not form a junction, according to instructions, and the commander made the attack with his own troops and was defeated, captured and burned. For his heroism in the battle he, it was said, was sainted by his church, and the post christened “Post St. Vincennes," and was so called until the simple name of Vincennes was adopted. About the year 1749, the fort's name became that of Fort St. Ange, in honor of the successor of Vincennes in command of the post, he having, it is said, improved the church and placed on it a belfry and bell.
OLONEL GEORGE ROGERS CLARK, having
been sent out by Governor Patrick Henry, of Vir
ginia, with a small army of Virginia and Kentucky volunteers, to capture the outposts of Great Britain in this part of the Northwest Territory, and having succeeded in capturing Kaskaskia, on the Kaskaskia river, her greatest stronghold in 1778, mostly by boldness and strategy, he conceived the idea of making a dash for the seizure of Vincennes, having learned of its weak condition and the friendliness of the citizens of the village through a resident priest of Kaskaskia. To this end he sent there Father Pierre Gibault, the priest, an intelligent gentleman, whom he had found to be friendly to America, to ascertain the obstacles to be overcome in the accomplishment of the scheme. The priest assured him that although secular matters did not pertain to his calling, yet if the Colonel would commit the whole matter to him, there need be no further uneasiness, for he might give them such spiritual advice as would do the business. Accordingly, on July 14, 1778, Father Gibault, with Dr. LaFonte, Civil Magistrate; Captain Leonard Helm, representing the military, and Moses Henry, Interpreter and Envoy, were sent to Vincennes, and the peaceful reduction of the fort was undertaken. Fort Sackville was then garrisoned by the militia under St. Maria Racine. Governor Abbott had gone to
Detroit the month before to assure the military officer there that the rumored demonstrations from the Ohio border must prove
futile. The commissioners of Clark, having arrived at the village, and communicated with the traders and citizens, a meeting was called at the church, the time seeming propitious for a coup d'etat, and on the 6th of August Francis Busseron, the Mayor, to whom the priest had imparted an account of what had occurred in Illinois, and the purpose of the visit to Vincennes, arose in the church, at the close of the services, and in the presence of the detained audience, interrogated the holy Father so skillfully concerning the power of the arms of Virginia and the justice of the cause of the colonies against England that all the assembly were at once inclined to make friends with the new power. “Then,” said Busseron, "why delay? Let us show him that we are his friends, and if Virginia will receive us, let us become her subjects.
La Fonte said that he was authorized to accept their allegiance and to pledge them the whole power of the Confederate Colonies to protect then. Without a word more, a roll of citizenship was displayed and each adult, attaching his name in America's Doom's Day Book,
repeated after the priest a vow of fidelity to republican institutions.
The assembly with great joy, after electing Captain Helm to command, with drum and instruments of music, marched to the fort and received from the wily commander the master keys. In a few hours after the glittering stars and blazing stripes climbed the bastion of Sackville and floated out in the summer air to the astonishment of the
*Busseron was commissioned Captain by Clark, August 16, 1778.