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ANOM, Colonies C13A 39, fol. 302-3

ANOM, Colonies C13A 39, fol. 302-3

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Published by petitepresse

Duplessis' Account of Conditions in Louisiana, ca 1758

Duplessis' Account of Conditions in Louisiana, ca 1758

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Published by: petitepresse on Feb 15, 2008
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05/08/2014

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Translation © Donald E. Pusch 2008, Some Rights Reserved.This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visithttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA, 94105, USA.
Duplessis [to Minister], Havana, January 25, 1757.
1
A.N., Colonies C
13A
39, fol. 302-3. Duplessisreports his capture by the English and the fact that he had to destroy the dispatches he wascarrying to France for Governor Kerlérec. Per Kerlérec’s instructions, he recounts criticalinformation that was not included in the dispatches for fear of their being captured. He reports, inparticular, the status of the colony’s relations with the Indian nations. At the end of his letter,Duplessis requests that he be given command of one of the detached companies of the Marinein Louisiana. Copy from microfilm provided by The Historic New Orleans Collection, WilliamsResearch Center, New Orleans. Translation by Donald E. Pusch, April 2007.[fol. 302:]Havana, January 25, 1757.Duplicate by the
Pontofique 
Monseigneur,It has been eight years since I was afflicted by a sickness that increases every summer in spiteof the remedies for it that I could take in Louisiana, which put me, with much regret, in absoluteneed of asking for a leave of Monsieur the governor in order to go to France to regain my health,which, not permitting me to wait any longer for a ship of the King, obliged me to pay for passageon the brigantine
Félicité 
going to Cap François,
2
from where I was destined to go to France by asquadron, ship, or frigate of His Majesty. The ship sailed on December 20 last and was takenprize the 22nd at about forty leagues east southeast of the Balize by one named Richar Adou, acorsair from New York commanding the schooner
Marguerite 
. The way in which this corsair gotrid of us to the southeast of the Gardens of the Queen,
3
the loss that I incurred of that which Ihad, all that we have suffered in order for us to come here after having run the risk of losing [our]lives in various ways would make too long a narration to recount here.Independently of the packets [of letters] that were given to me and which, in case of accident, Ihad orders to throw into the sea, as I did, there was an essential and urgent matter that Monsieurthe governor did not dare to trust to paper, in the fear of sudden and unexpected surprise. It isthe situation of the colony, Monseigneur, of which I was charged to speak to you. It was, for thispurpose, communicated to me that which is fitting that I knew in this regard, and as I could stillbe [delayed] a long time and encounter risks before my return, I take an alternative that does notappear to me to pose any danger, which is to have this letter sent by Cádiz. I address it to thegovernor with the prayer that you receive (
tenir 
) it promptly by an appropriate and sure means sothat it cannot fall into enemy hands. Monsieur de Kerlérec, counting on the help that the flûte
Fortune 
should carry to Louisiana,
4
had two good forts built, one on each side of the river aboutsix and a half leagues below New Orleans.
5
These forts are placed advantageously. He had nota cannon to put there, the colony entirely lacking them, as well as cannoneers, powder,cannonballs and that which is necessary for the servicing of artillery.[fol. 302v:]The thirty-six companies that should be of fifty men each are not [even] at twenty-five. Even ofthese [men], there are several old and incapable of service. There are others of them always inthe hospitals. Thus, the garrisons are very weak. Monsieur Kerlérec had the intention to have afort built at Ouabache,
6
which has been impossible for him. I believe, as well, that he will findhimself unable to dispatch, next February, a convoy to the Illinois as he intended, having sentonly a very small one in the month of July last.The arms, munitions, and merchandise for the savages are totally lacking. There were of these,last November, only one piece of
limbour 
7
in the storehouse. Proportionally, the rest werelikewise [diminished]. This article is of very great consequence for conserving our old allies andassuring us of new ones. You know, Monseigneur, that one can count on the savages only to theextent that they receive, in their time, the presents that one is in the habit of giving to them and
 
2that they are able to get, from the traders, that which is necessary for them and their families.The English would perhaps have no difficulty winning them over if they [the Indians] lost hope forthe prompt arrival of that which meets their needs. It would be necessary, at present, to nearlydouble that which is currently sent, considering that which just came about two month ago.The Chaouanons,
8
allied with nearly all the [Indian] nations of the north, were for some years onthe side of the English. They are presently their cruelest enemies. Not content to make war withthem excessively, they undertake to remove from them the best allies remaining. To this end,they went to the Cheraquis, a nation of nearly five thousand warriors, to encourage them toabandon the English and to make war on them as they [the Chaouanons] do. They conductedthemselves so well in these negotiations that they [the Chaouanons] engaged them [theCheraquis] to send with them some delegates to New Orleans, where they came on behalf of thenation to ask peace of the governor, from whom they received quite gracefully the tomahawk(
casse teste 
) for striking the English.
9
The treaty of peace has been made with them only oncondition that the governor-general of Canada would consent to it, [a] formality that was notnecessary to employ because we found ourselves, at that time, in no position to furnish theneeds of so numerous a nation. They, nevertheless, promised to give, incessantly, proof of thefaithfulness that they vowed to the French. This nation can, alone, destroy all the establishmentsof Carolina. In the end, there are not any who are capable, and better suited to cause as muchpain to our enemies, who will not have, so to say, any more savages on their side if they losethose who were the only ones with the Chicachas who raid on the [Mississippi] river. The latterwill not be able, nor dare, to do so any more. The Cheraquis are responsible for preventing them[the Chicachas] from [doing] it, so that French traders can go to their territory (
chez eux 
) safely.This alliance appears to be the greatest consequence. Monsieur the governor informed you of itby a letter that contained the details of it with the respective speeches and promises.The post of the Balize, still situated at southeast pass, which was, in the past, the entrance forships, serves no longer except to provide the pilot a means to respond when cannon [signals] areheard from the sea and to give help when needed. We do not have any signals to distinguish ourships from those of the enemy.
10
A ship that arrives is obliged to send [someone] to bring back apilot from land. Thus, if by some accident, it does not have a
chaloupe 
or
canot 
, it would beobliged[fol. 303:]to return or risk perishing.The
Mariane 
of La Rochelle, [commanded by] Captain Thomas, going to Cap François, wastaken near Samana
11
by the same corsair as we were. The corvette
Fine 
, commanded by SieurSauvage out of Dunkerque, from 11 to 16 June last, suffered the same fate near Bermuda afterhaving completed her mission, which was for Martinique and Saint Domingue. I learned from onenamed Cabicas, who returned from Cap [François] to France on this corvette and who foundhimself still a prisoner on the corsair, that Sieur Sauvage and his crew had been put, five dayslater, on a Dutch ship going to Guernsey, and that one other corvette, commanded by CaptainCardon had been sent at the same time from the same place for Louisiana. It appears that she[the corvette] perished or was captured, since we had from her neither rumor (
vent 
) nor news the20th of last month.The corsair assured us that next spring the English, with some [war] ships and several medium[sized] flat boats, should make an attempt on Louisiana.
12
This could be. It is, nevertheless,permitted to doubt one part of what this man says, since he recited to us several [pieces of] newsthat proved false. Two among others: The first that, since the defeat of General Bradok inCanada,
13
the English troops had won a complete victory and were well on their way to a newsuccess. However, our troops, the Canadians, and the allied savages continue to have entirelythe advantage. The second that, in a combat in the Mediterranean, we had lost several [war]ships, captured as well as sunk to the bottom. A few days ago, there entered into this port an
 
3English frigate of 22 cannons escorting a schooner loaded with Negroes. I heard nothing saidthat had the least corroboration of the boastful remarks of our corsair.I prey you to be completely persuaded, Monseigneur, that I put forward nothing that does notconform to the exact truth and to the verbal instructions that I received from the governor. I ampoorly prepared to render an account to a great minister. Also, I implore His Grandeur to excusethe faults and the very little order that might be encountered in my letter. I had a very strong one[letter] from Monsieur de Kerlérec, by which he brought to your attention that, from seventeenfifty-three, he had asked [command of] a company for me. I think that there will soon be twovacancies. As I have done nothing of discredit, since [that time] or ever, I implore you at thistime, Monseigneur, to have sent to me, when it will be convenient for you, an expectation(
spectative 
) for the first [vacant command]—so that I remain no longer in the situation of beingheld back—which will appear to you especially just, [considering] that Monsieur the governorasked [this favor] for me a long time ago, and that twenty-three years have passed as I serve inLouisiana with all the zeal and exactitude possible.
14
I have the honor to be, with a very deep respect,Monseigneur,your very humble and very obedientservant[Signed:] Duplessis

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