History of the Fort de Riviere au Boeuf
1759 Map of Fort
Material taken from "Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier, 1753-1758"
pages 79-97, by William A. Hunter, The Pennsylvania Historical And Museum
Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1960.
From the Air of LeBoeuf Area
of Fort LeBoeuf
Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf, the second French fort in Pennsylvania stood at
the site of the present Waterford, Erie County, and in the state of
Pennsylvania. It took its name from that of the stream, now called LeBoeuf
Creek, on which it stood.87 It was the first fort on
the waters of the upper Ohio, and it and Fort de la Presqu'isle guarded the two
ends of the Presqu'isle portage. Begun in July 1753, it was garrisoned until
August 1759. Contemporary descriptions show it to have been a square fort with
bastions at the corners, similar to the fort at Presqu'isle, but smaller
Barracks and other buildings formed the four sides of the square, and a
guardhouse, a chapel, an infirmary, and the commander's storehouse occupied the
bastions. This fort had only one gate, however, and the outer wall was a
palisade of upright posts, in contrast to the horizontal timbers of Fort de la
Once established at Presqu'isle, the French lost little time in opening the
portage from that place to the waters of the Ohio and in establishing their
second post at the southern end of this portage. Besides these two tasks, they
had also to build boats and to clear the Riviere au Boeuf (French Creek) for
navigation; then they would have to transport a great quantity of supplies over
the portage before the troops could re-embark and descend the Riviere au Boeuf
and the Belle Riviere (the Allegheny or the Ohio) to Chiningue (Logstown), where
they planned to build Fort Duquesne.
When Captain Marin, commander in chief of the Ohio expedition arrived at
Presqu'isle about June 3, 1753, he found Captain Le Mercier making good progress
with the first fort. Shortly thereafter Marin sent two men, Ensign Maray de la
Francois Dubreuil, to examine the ground for the second fort;
finally, not content with this, Marin himself visited the place sometime before
the end of June and selected a spot more advantageously situated, he thought, in
terms of wood and of arable land. Reporting all this to
Governor Duquesne, Marin
also recommended the construction of a storehouse midway on the portage; and he
told moreover of the favorable outcome of his first formal meetings with the
nearby Indian groups.88
The most significant of these Indian conferences was one with the Delaware's
from about Venango. Counted later as the occasion, on which the first of three
formal Indian notices was delivered to the French, this meeting appears to have
taken place at the time of Marin's June visit to the Riviere au Boeuf. According
to Stephen Coffen's deposition,
about one hundred Indians, called by the French the Loos, came to the Fort La
Riviere aux Boeuf, to see what the French were doing, that Monsieur Morang
treated them very kindly, and then asked them to carry down some stores &ca.
to the Belle Riviere on Horseback for Payment. ...89
It is clear from the sequel that these Indians were in fact somewhat
perfunctory in their inquiry concerning French motives and that they responded
readily enough to Marin's show of friendship.
By July 11, Marin was ready to begin construction of the post at Riviere au
Boeuf. "I am going tomorrow," he wrote Contrecoeur at Niagara, "to the end of
the portage, to have ovens and a forge built there and to erect the stockade";
and, anticipating extended or repeated absence on this work, he asked that
letters for himself and Le Mercier be addressed, "In our absence to the officer
commanding at the Fort de la Presquisle."90 Four days
later these officers were back at Presqu'isle,91 but
plans for the second fort were progressing, for Governor Duquesne, replying on
July 22 to Marin's letter of June 27, cautioned him about the manner of
"As forts built piece upon piece take more time than those which are made
with piles driven four feet into the ground, and which have ten or twelve feet
above it, you will please conform to this usual way of building them in the
Upper Country. ..."92
As surviving descriptions show, the Governor's advice was followed.
Actual construction came somewhat later. According to a deposition made
January 10, 1754, by Stephen Coffen, who served with the French in the 1753
campaign and afterward deserted,
As soon as the [first] Fort was finished, they marched Southward, cutting a
Wagon Road through a fine level Country twenty one Miles to the River aux Boeuf
...they fell to Work, cutting Timber Boards &ca for another Fort, while Mr.
Morang ordered Monsieur Bite 93 with Fifty Men to a
Place called by the Indians Ganagarahhare, on the Banks of Belle Riviere, where
the River aux Boeuf empties into it; in the meantime, Morang had Ninety large
Boats or Battoes made to carry down the Baggage and Provisions &ca to the
That this account is generally correct is shown by one of Governor Duquesne's
letters. Reporting on August 20, 1753, to the Minister de Rouille, he said:
Sieur Marin writes me on the 3rd instant, that the fort at Presqu'isle is
entirely finished; that the Portage road, which is six leagues in length, is
also ready for carriages; that the store which was necessary to be built half
way across this Portage is in a condition to receive the supplies, and that the
second fort, which is located at the entrance (entree) of the River au
Boeuf, will be soon completed.95
The Ohio Iroquois leader Scarroyady, who shortly before this had met Marin in
council, on his return to Logstown gave an account on August 7 to William
Scaruneate told us that the French had finished one fort [at Presqu'isle]
...and that they had begun another Fort and Town on a little Lake about three or
four hundred yards wide and about the same distance from the French Creek. The
Fort stands between the Lake and the Creek, and that they were diging a Canal to
let the Lake into the Creek, that by raising a Gate, they might come down with
their canoes at any time. ...Scaruneate told me. ...that the Fort on the big
Lake is very strong. ...The other Fort is only a Pallisadoed Fort and the Town
is to be Pallisaded.96
According to Coffen, "the Fort La Riviere aux Boeufs ...is built of Wood
Stockadoed Triangularwise, and has Two Log Houses in the inside."97 The name Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf seems to make
its first appearance in a letter, undated but apparently written in September,
1753, from Marin to Pean.98
The first officer assigned to command at this place seems to have been
Lieutenant Le Gardeur de Montesson. This officer having expressed to Le Mercier
his willingness to undertake the construction of pirogues, Marin wrote on August
7 accepting this offer and announcing his decision "to assign M. Dumas
immediately to go and take your position and place."99 Subsequent letters indicate that "Montesson's dockyard" lay
on French Creek above the fort. The engineer, Ensign Drouillon, had the
responsibility of erecting the fort and of clearing the creek; and to lighten
this burden Ensign La Chauvignerie was assigned to clear the upper stream so
that Montesson's boats could go down, and Lieutenant Charles Chaussegros de Lery
was ordered by Dumas to clear the channel below the fort.100
Captain Jean-Daniel Dumas commanded at the Riviere au Boeuf less than a
month. In part at least, this was because of Marin's temper, none the better for
a trying assignment and bad health. Coffen, who had served under Marin,
described him as "a Man of a very peevish cholerick Disposition"; and Governor
Duquesne wrote after Marin's death of "his impetuous nature which a mere trifle
could set in motion."101 On August 26, it appears,
Marin received from Dumas a letter which, among other matters, seems to have
spoken of the demands on Ensign Drouillon and to have hinted at dissatisfaction
on the part of some of the officers.
Marin replied the same day in a letter apparently delivered by Lieutenant
Boishebert. In general the reply was routine; but Marin observed somewhat
sharply that "if there are any who are not pleased continue the campaign, you
can assure them, Sir, that upon any request they shall make of me I shall not hesitate to send
them back immediately"; and he asserted he had received from Dumas' post
indian's news of which Dumas himself seemed uninformed. Then, having seen a
letter from Drouillon to Le Mercier, Marin added a postscript scolding Dumas for lack of
On the following day Dumas replied respectfully to these criticisms and then
infuriated Marin by asking to be included among the officers to be sent home. On
August 28, Marin ordered Dumas to turn the command over to Boishebert at once
and informed him that canoes would leave next day for Niagara.103 While this action seems hasty made ill considered, it is
only fair to remember that Marin was working under strain and to add that he
later showed a more conciliatory attitude, assuring Captain Pean, who had
intervened to make up the quarrel, that "I am writing to M. Dumas, and he will
find me disposed to show him friendship; I hope that his repentance will save
Change of command did not change the problems. Montesson's detachment
continued work on the pirogues, and had to go farther afield for suitable trees;
Lieutenant de Lery became sick and had to be replaced. By August 30, Marin
expected to remove from Presqu'isle about ten or twelve days later.105 The move probably was made as planned; and it was from the
Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf that Marin wrote to Pean, still at Niagara, to join
him with the last consignments of men and supplies.l06
This took time; for these troops and goods in their turn had to be shipped to
Presqu'isle and then taken over the portage. A letter written about this time
again gives proof of Marin's waspish disposition. Replying to a letter of
September 14, 1753, from Presqu'isle, Marin wrote:
As you find my instructions binding, Sir, and as that is what prevented you
from executing what M. Pean indicated to you, I advise you, Sir, that up to the
present time he is adjutant general, and that he will indicate nothing to you
except by virtue of the orders I have given him. That is why in the future I ask
you to do everything he indicates to you without making any difficulty; my
letter will serve you as orders.1O7
By September 29, Pean's portaging was done, and he arrived at his destination
to find Marin seriously sick-so sick that Pean wrote at once to Duquesne, who on
October l4 sent orders to Captain Jacques Le Gardeur, sieur de Saint-Pierre, to
replace Marin as commander if necessary.1O8 To Marin,
Duquesne wrote that Saint-Pierre was "To assist you in every way until your
Pean reported that by September 29 "the troops of the detachment were in the
most miserable situation. Sickness had caused a considerable part of them to
perish; several days, the soldiers had been buried four at a time."110 Nevertheless, Pean planned to advance down the Ohio about
October 10 or 12 with l80 pirogues and a force reduced to 900 men. With this
force he was to establish Fort Duquesne at Chiningue and then, with 800 men, to
descend the Ohio, leaving Marin -or his successor-to maintain the new
forts.ll1 In theory, at least, the burden of Pean's
responsibilities were lightened somewhat by receipt of a letter of October l4 in
which the Governor informed him that the proposed forts at Venango and Scioto
were to be dropped from the plans.112
Then a worse blow fell: Ensign Drouillon, the engineer, reported the Riviere
au Boeuf too low to float boats to the Ohio. Dismayed and half- incredulous,
Marin and Pean sent Lieutenants Carqueville and Portneuf-Becancour to make
further investigation; but their report confirmed that of Drouillon. Despairing
of finishing the campaign this year, Marin decided to winter his fit troops at
Riviere au Boeuf, Presqu'isle, and Niagara and to send Pean back with the
disabled men. In a report to the Governor he presented the reasons for his
decision. Suspicion that Marin had used "the lack of water in the Riviere au
Boeuf as an excuse for resting his detachment"113 was
allayed when the Governor reviewed the contingent sent back with Pean and saw
"the pitiable state to which it has been reduced by the excessive labor of the
portages and sleeping in the open for almost three months."114
When Pean left the Riviere au Boeuf, Marin's health had improved somewhat,
but he suffered a relapse thereafter and died on October 29, 1753. He was buried
in the cemetery at the fort. Saint-Pierre, designated to succeed to the command
on the Ohio, had not arrived from "the Western Sea" (Lake Superior) ; so Captain
Repentigny took temporary command of the army. "Present at his interment,"
reports the official register, were "Monsieur Repentigny, commander of the
above-mentioned army and captain of infantry; Messieurs du Muys, Lieutenant of
infantry; Benois, lieutenant of infantry; de Simblim, major at the
above-mentioned fort; Laforce, keeper of stores."115
Since Repentigny seems to have been at Presqu'isle, it is uncertain what
officer was in charge at the Riviere au Boeuf during November; and few incidents
pertaining to the fort can be assigned to this time. George Washington's journal
reveals that a party of seven "French Indians," who on October 26 attacked the
home of Thomas Cooper on the South Branch of Potomac and carried off his
eleven-year-old son, returned this way while "Capt. Riparti" was in
command.l16 One of Governor Duquesne's later letters
asserts that ''as early as the month of November, 1753, Sieur de la Chauvignerie
with thirty men was detached from the fort of the Riviere au Boeuf to go and
establish himself at Chinengue, a village of the Cha8anons."117 Neither of these matters is of high importance, however,
since it is known that La Chauvignerie did not actually go to Chiningue until
Saint-Pierre, the new commander on the Ohio, arrived at Fort de la Riviere au
Boeuf on December 3, 1753-and at once requested Governor Duquesne to replace him
on the plea that "a trip which was as long as it was difficult" had so affected
his health that he could not continue his services.118 Accordingly, Duquesne on December 25 ordered Captain
Claude-Pierre Pecaudy, sieur de Contrecoeur, then at Niagara, to "leave for the
Riviere au Boeuf, immediately on receiving this order, where he will take over
the command not only of that fort but also the one at Presqu'isle and of the
garrisons dependent on it. 119
Only a few days after Saint-Pierre's arrival at Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf,
Major George Washington appeared there on December 11 to deliver Governor
Dinwiddie's message demanding by what authority the French had established
themselves on Virginia territory. Accompanying Washington and his white
companions was another embassy, composed of four Ohio Iroquois (three chiefs and
a younger hunter) , and an officer and three soldiers who had escorted them from
In the council held next day, Saint-Pierre was assisted by his second-
in-command and by Captain Repentigny, who had been summoned from Presqu'isle and
who, Washington says, "understood a little English." Saint-Pierre treated
Washington courteously and made a very favorable impression on him:
This Commander is a Knight of the military Order of St. Lewis, and
named Legardeur de St. Piere. He is an elderly Gentleman, and has much
the Air of a Soldier; he was sent over to take the Command, immediately upon the
Death of the late General, and arrived here about seven Days before me.120
Saint-Pierre's reply to Dinwiddie, dated December 15, was simple and direct.
Any dispute over land must be settled by those who had authority to do so; as
commander, Saint-Pierre would obey the orders of his general-that is, of
Governor Duquesne-to whom he would forward Dinwiddie's letter.
Saint-Pierre received the Indian embassy on December 14. The three chiefs-the
Half King Tanaghrisson, Jeskakake, and Kaghswaghtaniunt -had come to break off
relations with the French by returning the wampum "speech belt" which Marin had
given Scarroyady in July. Saint-Pierre declined to accept this belt and, in
contrast with Marin's brusque treatment of Tanaghrisson in September, attempted
to win the Indians with liquor and gifts.
Unofficially, Washington and his companions looked about the French post; and
his journal supplies under date of December 13, 1753, the most detailed
description of this fort:
The chief Officers retired, to hold a Council of War, which gave me an
Opportunity of taking the Dimensions of the Fort, making what Observations I
could. It is situated on the South, or West Fork of French Creek, near
the Water, and is almost surrounded by the Creek, and a small Branch of it which
forms a Kind of an lsland; four Houses compose the Sides; the Bastions are made
of Piles driven into the Ground, and about 12 Feet above and sharp at Top, with
Port-Holes cut for Cannon and Loop-Holes for the small Arms to fire through;
there are eight 6 lb. Pieces mounted, two in each Bastion, and one Piece of four
Pound before the Gate; in the Bastions are a Guard-House, Chapel, Doctor's
Lodging, and the Commander's private Store, round which are laid Plat-Forms for
the Cannon and Men to stand on: There are several Barracks without the Fort, for
the Soldiers Dwelling, covered, some with Bark, and some with Boards, and made
chiefly of Loggs: There are also several other Houses, such as Stables, Smiths
I could get no certain Account of the Number of Men here; but according to
the best Judgment I could form, there are an Hundred exclusive of Officers, of
which there are many. I also gave Orders to the People that were with me, to
take an ; exact Account of the Canoes that were haled up to convey 1 their
Forces down in the Spring, which they did, and told 50 .1 of Birch Bark, and 170
of Pine, besides many others that were ) block'd out, in Readiness to
On December 16, both delegations Washington's and the Half King's, left by
boat for Venango on their return home. Six days later, on December 22,
Saint-Pierre forwarded Dinwiddie's letter to Governor Duquesne, who received it
in the last days of January, 1754.122
Writing on January 27 to Contrecoeur, who, though named commander on the
Ohio, was still at Niagara, Duquesne gave him formal orders to "enter the Belle
Riviere area with the detachment he commands, to march toward Chinengue where he
will have a fort built of which he shall have command as well as of all the
Belle Riviere, its portage, and the forts which are dependent on it. The letter
contained more detailed instructions: Contrecoeur was to enter the Ohio with a
force of six hundred men, and was authorized to erect Fort Duquesne at a river
[the Monongahela] six leagues this side of Chinengue" if he saw fit. In a
postscript dated January 30, Duquesne commented on Dinwiddie's letter, which he
had just received. 123
Contrecoeur had to wait the opening of travel before moving from Niagara to
Presqu'isle (by the beginning of March) and across the portage.124 About the middle of March he arrived at Fort de la Riviere
au Boeuf and relieved Saint-Pierre.125 Le Mercier,
who had led the vanguard of the troops from Montreal, joined Contrecoeur on
March 20;126 by March 29 Contrecoeur had gone down
the Riviere au Boeuf, and Le Mercier was about to follow with the rear
guard.127 Shortly thereafter, beginning about Easter
(April 14) , additional detachments under Captain Pean and others set out from
Montreal to rendezvous at Chautauqua.
According to the Governor's instructions of January 27, Contrecoeur was to
leave "at Fort de la Presquisle only eighteen men, and twelve at that of Riviere
au Boeuf, officers included."128 The officer left in
command at Riviere au Boeuf was Lieutenant Paul Le Borgne, who, however, like
Lieutenant Courtmanche at Presqu'isle, asked to be relieved. Writing to
Contrecoeur on May 22, Duquesne told him:
I inform you that it is Sieur de St. Blin du Verger who is going to command
this fort [Riviere au BoeuŁ] and Sieur Douville the one of Presquisle, both
under your orders, since those two commanders urgently requested me to relieve
them; and I did not hesitate to grant their request because of their lack of
fitness, with which they acquainted me, for the detachments which are necessary
in that place.129
However, Ensign Duverger de Saint-Blin, who received the Governor's orders on
June 16, 1754, was then with the detachments at Chautauqua;130
and orders given by Duquesne on June 29 were addressed to Le Borgne
at Riviere au BoeuŁ, who was directed to maintain the fort and the portage, to
keep in touch with Courtemanche at Presqu'isle, and, if he discovered any
English, to seize them.131 Filling Saint-Blin's place
temporarily, Ensign Rigauville des Bergeres left Chautauqua July 5 and appears
to have taken command two days later.132 Saint-Blin
himself finally left for his new post on July 22, probably arriving two or three
A description of Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf about this time is provided by
Thomas Forbes, who served with a French detachment that set out from Montreal at
We were 8 days employed in unloading our Canoes here [at Presqu'isle] &
carrying the Provisions to Fort Boeuff, which is about 6 Leagues from Fort
Prisquille at the head of Buffaloe River.
This Fort was composed of four Houses built by way of Bastions & the
intermediate Space stockaded; Lt St Blain was posted here with 20 Men; here we
found three large Batteaus, & between 200 or 300 Canoes which we freighted
with Provisions & proceeded down the Buffalo river, which flows into the
Ohio at about 20 Leagues (as I conceive) distance from Fort au Boeuff, this
River was small & at some places very shallow; so that we towed the Canoes
sometimes wading, & sometimes taking ropes to the Shore a great part of the
The great concern at this fort was of course the portage. On July 1 the
Governor wrote Contrecoeur that " 1 am dispatching Sieur Repentigny, who is a
distinguished officer, to the aid of your nephew [Pean] at Chatakoin, and from
there he will go to the Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf, where he will remain until
he has sent your supplies. Upon his arrival, that officer will tell you about
the orders I am giving him."135 The assignment was in
fact to build a permanent road over the portage. Pean, who had been sick at
Chautauqua, wrote from that place on July II that he must go to Presqu'isle .'to
have a new road built over the portage, which is completely ruined";136 and on July 15, the day after his arrival at that place,
he reported: "I am going to have the entire three leagues of bad road in this
portage paved with wood. I do not believe it possible to do it otherwise without
always having to do it over again. That will be a lengthy piece of work but it
will be durable."137
In preparation for this work, Pean had Lieutenant Joseph-Gaspard Chaussegros
de Lery come from Chautauqua on July 19, 1754, and sent him five days later to
make a survey of the route. De Lery found the Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf "very
small," and concluded that it could have been placed "41 /2 arpents less
distant" (45 perches, of 18 feet each) .He computed the whole distance at 53/4
leagues (of 84 arpents each) , 1 arpent, 1 perch, 8 feet. Returning next
day, it took De Lery sixteen hours to return to Presqu'isle, "so bad was the
road, though I was on horseback and urged my horse. I recognized that the ground
had no solid base, but by means of the bridges being built it will be passable
for a time." On July 30 De Lery left with Pean's party for Detroit.138
Repentigny continued with the road building itself, which he seems to have
completed on schedule in September. In high hopes, Duquesne wrote Contrecoeur on
August 14 that "We can now bid farewell to the Chatak8en portage, if we succeed,
as I hope, in making the new road permanent, as Sieurs pearl and Repentigny
assured me"; and he spoke of "the road of the Riviere au Boeuf, which one can
now travel along as easily as one goes from Montreal to La Prairie"! 139
In July the Governor had advised Contrecoeur to maintain garrisons of one
hundred men each at the Riviere au Boeuf and Presqu'isle;140
but in his letter of August 14 he noted a change of plan:
I am ordering Sieur de Repentigny to leave 75 men at each fort and to bring
the rest back to Montreal when he has finished the road. My first plan actually
was to leave 200 men for their garrison, but since it is not possible that we
have to fear an attack from the English during the winter, and as in case they
planned one in the spring, it would be easy for me to move first, I prefer
saving the food of 50 men. ., ,141
A tabulation of the garrisons that wintered on the Belle Riviere in 1754-1755
lists for Fort de la Riviere-au Boeuf one officer (no doubt Ensign Saint-Blin) ,
two cadets, and eighty-five militia and soldiers; so the actual strength lay
between the two figures proposed by the Governor .142
As has been noted in the account of Fort de la Presqu'isle, the year 1755 was
marked by the effort to reinforce Fort Duquesne to withstand the expected attack
by English forces under General Braddock; and it became the chief responsibility
of Lieutenant Benoist at Presqu'isle and Ensign Saint-Blin at Riviere au Boeuf
to dispatch the men and supplies forwarded from Niagara by Lieutenant Boucher de
Laperiere and commanded by Captain Lienard de Beaujeu, who had been designated
to succeed Contrecoeur in the command of Fort Duquesne.
Following the Battle of the Monongahela on July 9, a French victory in which
Braddock was mortally wounded and Beaujeu was killed, the excess French troups
returned toward Canada. Appended to a letter of August 14, Saint-Blin listed the
detachments which then had returned to Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf:
July 27 M. de Ligneris arrived here
August 2 MM. de Courtemanche, Montigny, Longueuil arrived
……..6 M. de Lery arrived
……. 7 M. Raimbault arrived
……..9 M. Normanville arrived 12 M. Landrieve arrived
and the 14 M. de Saint-Ours with his gentlemen143
With the construction of Fort Machault at Venango in 1756, Fort de la Riviere
au Boeuf declined somewhat in relative importance. This may help account for the
fact of Saint-Blin's release from the post for part of this year. This officer
himself says merely that "I left there in: the course of 1756 to go to war. At
the end of the year, M. de Vaudreuil recalled me to my fort, where I continued
my services, under the orders of M. de Ligneris, commander at Fort Duquesne. I
remained until 1759. ..."144 Who commanded in his
absence is not known. Quite possibly Saint-Blin served at Fort Duquesne in 1756
with the scouting and raiding parties that were so active at that period. The
nature of these operations is adequately indicated by a report made by Governor
, Vaudreuil on July 12, 1757:
M. Du Verger St. Blin took two scalps, and himself captured a prisoner near
Fort Cumberland. A party of savages from Kanaouagen [Conewango], who were to
join M. de St. Blin, took another trail to go and attack another fort; and on
their return, encountered a party of English and savages. They killed one,
wounded another, and took a third prisoner. These savages had taken many English
and Cataba scalps, but were obliged to abandon them, as they were unable to
withstand the superior force of the enemy.145
Several documents of about this time contain descriptions of this post.
General Montcalm's aide, De Bougainville, included one in his 1757 Memoire
sur l'etat de la Nouvelle-France:
Fort de la Riviere-au-Baeuf. The Fort de la Riviere-au-Boeuf, a square
fort, palisaded, situated thirty leagues from Fort Machault, on the river whose
name it bears. This river is very navigable in spring, fall, and often even in
winter; in summer the water there is very low, it is necessary to tow in many
This post is an essential supply post for Fort Duquesne, but it should be
rebuilt and protected against attack. The commander there has a thousand francs,
the garrison is more or less strong; this post is not a place of trade,
especially since the establishment is new.146
In another passage De Bougainville refers to this post as "Fort de la
Riviere-au-Boeuf or Fort Royal";147 but this latter
name does not appear in other documents.
A reference of a very different kind appears in the interrogation of John
Hocktattler [Hochstetler] who, taken prisoner in Berks County about the end of
September, 1757, was brought by his Indian captors to Venango. Escaping later,
he was questioned, apparently by another, German, on May 29, 1758, about his
route from Venango:
Q: How do you proceded further[?]
A: Up the French Creek 3 Days traveling on Battoes at the end of it whe came
to a fort built in the same Manner as the other [Fort Machault], and Garrisond,
with 25 Menn, from there the French Creek a Road to Presque Isle; wich is a Days
Journey from it Distant.148
At almost the same time this captive was at French Creek, the son of
Lieutenant La Chauvignerie, commandant at Fort Machault, became separated from
his Indian companions on a raid east of the Susquehanna, and on October 12 he
surrendered at Fort Henry in Berks County. Questioned at Philadelphia on October
26, the younger La Chauvignerie gave this description of Fort de la Riviere au
That the next Fort to Machault is the Fort on the River O Boeufs, which is
said to be forty Leagues above Machault, but having traveled it often believes
it is not so much, being only two Days and an half Journey by Land and five or
Six Days by Water; that the River is very shallow there, and the Country flat
and pleasant; that the Fort there is very strong, pallisadoed round, has a
Glacis with a dry Ditch three Foot deep; that he knows not the Number of Cannon,
says they are Swivels and under a Dozen, is commanded by his Uncle Monsr Du
Virge [Duverger de Saint-Blin] who is an Ensign of Foot; that there is no
Captain or other Officer above an Ensign there, and the Reason of no higher
Officer being there is that the Commandant of those Forts purchases a Commission
for it and undertakes and has the Benefit of transporting the Provisions and
other Necessaries. 149
During the summer of 1758 when the English were marching on Fort Duquesne,
Saint-Blin continued his activities in the field. Details are lacking, but
Governor Vaudreuil's report of July 28 notes in general terms: "Several parties
sent out by M. Duverger St. Blin, commander at the Riviere au Boeuf, were
successful enough. Some took scalps, and others prisoners."150
With the French retreat from Fort Duquesne to Fort Machault toward the end of
November of this year and the establishment of an English garrison at
Pittsburgh, the area about Riviere au Boeuf became more liable to annoyance by
scouting parties and spies. In February, 1759, a wagoner at Fort Machault was
carried off by a Pennsylvania officer and a party of Delaware Indians from Fort
Augusta.151 In March a Delaware Indian came here,
spying for Colonel Hugh Mercer, who commanded at Pittsburgh. Both men gave
information, which may serve as examples of the data sought and given in these
According to the wagoner (identified as "Martin Whoolly a Canadian"), "From
thence [Presqu'isle] to Fort Beauf at the head of the River Beauf is about Six
Leagues a good Waggon Road and well Bridged where Swampy, no Cannon mounted at
this Fort-From thence to the Mouth of the River is about forty Leagues.
On March 17, three days before the wagoner gave his information, the Indian
spy Captain Bull had made a longer report at Pittsburgh. Having visited
Presqu'isle about March 7,
Bull left that Place telling the French that he was going to Wioming to see
his Father; and got to La Beef that Night, the fort is of the same Shape but
very Small, The Bastions, Stockaids, and [sic] joined by Houses for the
Curtains, the Logs mostly rotten; Platforms are erected in the Bastions, and
Loop holes properly Cut. One Gun is Mounted on One of the Bastions and Points
down the River. Only One Gate, and that fronting this Way or the Side Opposite
the Creek. The Magazine is on the Right of the Gate going in, part of it Sunk in
the Ground, and above is some Casks of Powder to Serve the Indians.-here are two
Officers a Store Keeper a Clerk a Priest and One Hundred and Fifty Soldiers the
Men not Employed, at La Beef are Twenty four Battoes, One of them Made Lately
and One of them repaired lately; One Le Sambrow is the Commanding Officer; They
have a Larger Stock of Provisions here than at Prisque Isle.153
Reference in this report to a priest (Captain Bull also reported a priest at
Presqu'isle, but not at Fort Machault) recalls the clerical history of this
post. Two Recollect priests, Friar Gabriel Anheuser and Friar Denys Baron, had
accompanied Marin's expedition in 1753; and the earliest entries in the
surviving portions of the register are signed by one or both as chaplains of the
party. Entries dated August 20 at "camp de la Riviere aux beufs" and of
September 6 are by Friar Gabriel; but entries dated September 16 and afterward
are signed by Friar Denys as chaplain of the fort. In the record of Captain
Marin's burial on October 29 appears the first reference to the fort chapel,
sous le titre de St. Pierre (dedicated to Saint Peter) .In the following
year Friar Denys became chaplain at Fort Duquesne and was probably succeeded by
Friar Luc Collet, also a Recollect, who on July 30, 1755, signed the register
as."chaplain at Presqu'isle and Riviere aux Boeufs." Whether Friar Luc was still
officiating here in 1759 is unknown.154
In effect, the story of this fort's last days has been told in the account of
Fort de la Presqu'isle. In the spring of 1759, however, Saint-Blin (Captain
Bull's "Sambrow") scored one of the last French successes against the English in
this region. Of this incident Saint-Blin himself later wrote:
The year of the capture of Niagara, I attacked, at the head of forty Indians,
a convoy escorted by two hundred English: I defeated them, forced them to
abandon their wagons and pro- visions; and, the distance from any French fort
not permitting me to make use of my booty, I burned it; this frustrated the
English plan to take the three dependent French forts of the Belle Riviere; I
was wounded in this action. ..,155
Details and corrections can be supplied from other sources. Captain Pouchot
at Niagara reported that
On the 17th June, some Onondagas arrived with scalps taken by a party of the
Five Nations in the direction of Loyal- Anon, from a convoy of sixteen wagons
laden with provisions for the enemy, and escorted by one hundred men, of whom
twenty-seven were killed, three taken prisoners, and the remainder dispersed in
the woods. The wagons were burned and eighty-four horses were captured. This
party was under the orders of M. St. Blin. ...156
From English sources, finally, it is learned that the attack took place, on
May 23 about three miles east of Fort Ligonier and was made on, a party of one
hundred Virginians commanded by Captain Thomas Bullitt. Lieutenant Colonel
Thomas Lloyd, in command at the fort, sent out two hundred men who arrived after
Saint-Blin had left, but in time to extinguish the wagons and save a large part
of the supplies.157
Saint-Blin's claim, in the account previously quoted, that his blow
"frustrated the English plan to take the three dependent French forts of the
Belle Riviere" is unwarranted. Colonel Mercer at Pittsburgh had made an
unsuccessful attempt to attack these forts in March, 158
but they were doomed by the surrender of Niagara on July 25. As
Saint-Blin wrote, "I was obliged to evacuate my fort, in consequence of the
capture of that of Niagara; a loss which occasioned the fall in a short time of
all the posts of the Belle Riviere."159
At Pittsburgh on August 16 a Delaware Indian who had been at Venango reported
"that as soon as letters were brought to that Post of the fall of Niagara, the
Garrison set fire to the fort, and upon their arrival at Le Beuff &
Priscile, both these were demolished in the same, "Manner";160
and the approximate date of this destruction is set by another report
that the French had left Venango on or about August 6.161 Saint-Blin himself served afterward in the defense of
Montreal, whose surrender on September 8, 1760, brought to an end the war in
Two British officers from Pittsburgh, Captain William Patterson and
Lieutenant Thomas Hutchins, who in October, 1759, explored the route to
Presqu'isle, reported that on October 17 .'We went thro' a Pine Swamp two-Miles
to Le Beauf Fort, where we found it in Ruins, and the Remains of 27 Battoes that
had been set on fire. The Fort is Situate on a Rising Piece of Ground, the Land
Poor & Gravilley."162 Despite the destruction at
Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf, Hutchins was able from the ruins to draw up a map
which, surviving in manuscript, is one of the best guides to the appearance of
85.Vaudreuil to the Minister of the Marine, June 24, 1760,
Wilderness Chronicles, 167; also translated in NYCD, X, 1093-94.
86 Tanguay (ed.) Dictionnaire genealogique, VII, 10: "il etait,
le 13 Oct. 1759, au Detroit."
87. The French regarded LeBoeuf Creek as the head of the stream now
call French Creek, called by them Riviere au (x) Boeuf (s) The name French Creek
appears under date of August 7, 1753, in William Trent's journal (History
Bouquet,25) and in John Fraser's letter of August 27 (CR, V. 659)
Washington who used the name in his journal of 1753-1754, may have learned it
from Fraser .
88. Duquesne to Marin, July 10, 1753, replying to letters of June 20-27,
ASQ, V-V, 5:62:6.
89. PR, M, 306; printed in CR, VI, II. The statement that the
meeting took place at the fort is of course anachronistic, for the fort was not
built there until later.
90. Marin to Contrecoeur, Fort de la Presqu'isle, ASQ, V-V.l: 64.
91. Id to id., Fort de la Presqu'isle, July 15, ibid.,
92. Ibid., 5:62:8.
93. Seemingly Pierre-Louis Boucher de Niverville, sieur de Montizambert,
the Boucher being interpreted as bouchlfe, mouthful or bite. Coffen
evidently had an imperfect knowledge of French, and his representation of names
and events is imprecise.
94. PR. M, 306; printed in CR, VI, 11.
95. NYCD, X, 256; reprinted in PA2, VI, 162-63 (1877 ed.)
and in Wilderness Chronicles, 51.
96. Trent's journal, History of Bouquet, 25-27.
97. Colfen deposition, PR, M, ~O6; printed in CR,
ASQ, V-V, 4:~79k; copy in 5; 61:12b; "Upon your arrival I count on your coming
to the Fort de la Riviere au Boeuf, so that we shall confer there." The date is
indicated also by references to the reconciliation with Dumas.
100. Marin to [Montesson], ibid.; id. to Dumas,
August 26, 1753, and Dumas to Marin. August 27, Papiers Contrecoeur, 42-43,
46-47. For Charles Chaussegros de Lery, see BRH, XL (19~4), 585. The editor of
Papiers Contrecoeur, 46, n.3, credits the elder brother joseph-Gaspard with this
101. Duquesne to Contrecoeur, December 24, 1753, Papiers
102. Ibid. 42-43.
103. Dumas to
Marin. Camp de la Riviere au Boeuf. Ibid. 46-48; Marin to Dumas, ASQ, V-V,
4:379b (copy in 5:61:9b); id., to Boishebert, ibid., 4:379n (copy in 5:61:10b).
104. Ibid. 4:379k; copy in 5:61: 12b. Undated but evidently
written in early September 1753.
105. Marin 10 (Boisheherll.
AlI~lISI 30. 1753. Papiers Contrecoeur, 51 (where. how- ever, the recipient is
identified as Contrecoeur)
106. ASQ. V-V. 4:379k.
107. Marin to [ ], n. d., ibid., 4:379t; copy in 5:61:13b.
108. Pean Memoir, 33.
109. 0ctober 14, 1753,Papiers Contrecoeur, 74.
110. Pean Memoir, 33.
111. Duquesne to the Minister of the Marine, November 2, 1753,
Wilderness Chronicles, 58-60.
112. Pean Memoir, 34.
113. Duquesne to Saint-Pierre, December 25, 1753, Papiers
114.Id. to the Minister of the Marine, November 29,1753, Wilderness Chronicles, 60.
115. Lambing (ed.), Baptismal Register of Fort Duquesne, 40-43. English translation also appears in Frank H. Severance, An Old Frontier of France, II, 23-24.
116. Journal of Major George Washington, 9, 18. For reports of the Indian attack, see Pennsylvania Gazette, December 27, 1753; February 26, 1754.
117. Duquesne to the Minister of the Marine, October 12,1754, Wilderness Chronicles, 82-83; the French text is quoted in Papiers Contrecoeur, 79, n. 4. Duquesne is
attempting to represent the French "fort" at Chiningue as antedating the English
post begun by Trent in March. 1754.
118. Duquesne to Saint-Pierre, December 25, 1753, Papiers Contrecoeur, 87-88.
119. Duquesne orders to Contrecoeur, ASQ, V-V, 3:179. Duquesne's orders of the same
date to Saint-Pierre are in Papiers Contrecoeur, 89.
120. Journal of Major George Washington, 16.
122. Duquesne to Saint-Pierre. January 30, 1754, Papiers Contrecoeur, 98.
123. Id. to Contrecoeur, ibid. 92-96: orders,
124. Bigot to Contrecoeur, March 2, 1754, ASQ. V-V, 4:341.
125.. Id. to id., April 15. 1754. acknowledging letter of
March 15. Papiers Conttrecoeur, 113; Contrecoeur to Madame Contrecoeur. Fort de
la Riviere au Boeuf, March 19, ibid. 110-11.
126. Duquesne to
Contrecoeur, April 15. 1754. ibid., 114.
127. Id. to id., May 9, 1754, ibid., 123.
128. 1bid., 93.
129. 1bid., 129.
130. Dery journal, RAPQ, 1927-1928, p. 366.
131. Papiers Contrecoeur, 205-207
132. De Lery journal. RAPQ, 1927-1928, p. 372. Saint-Blin's copy of Le Borgne's orders was made July 7, Papiers Contrecoeur, 207. On July 10 Le Borgne was at Chatakoin.
133. De Lery journal, RAPQ, 1927-1928, pp. 383, 385.
134. Maryland Historical Magazine, IV (1909) , 274.
135. Papiers Contrecoeur, 208.
136. Pean to
Contrecoeur, ibid., 210.
137. Id. to id., ibid., 215.
138. De Ury Journal, RAPQ, 1927-1928, pp.
139. Papiers Contrecoeur, 246.
of July 18 and 25, ibid., 219, 223.
141. Ibid., 246.
142. Wilderness Chronicles, 65.
143. Saint-Blin to Contrecoeur, Papiers Contrecoeur, 417.
144. Memoire pour le sieur Duverger de Saint-Blin ..., 4.
145. Vaudreuil to the Minister of the Marine. Wilderness Chronicles, 99; there is another translation in NYCD, X, 580.84. Montcalm Journal, 201, seems to refer to the same incident as reported in a letter of April 15, 1757. Here, however, the officer's name appears, perhaps in consequence of a misreading, as Saint.Clair Duverger.
146. RAPQ, 192J-1924, p. 48; compare the translation in PMHB, LVI (1932) , 62.
147. RAPQ, 192J-1924, p. 54.
148. Wilderness Chronicles, 120.
149. PPC; printed in PAl, Ill, 305. and in Wilderness Chronicles, 116.
150. Vaudreuil to the Minister of the Marine. ibid., 113.
151. ld. to id., March 5, 1759, ibid., 138; Pennsylvania Gazette, Apri15, 1759.
152. Amherst Papers, PRO 273, WO 34/33. f. 16 (Library of Congress copies) . "Martin Woolley" and young La Chauvignerie were later exchanged under a flag of
truce of April 28, 1759. Register of Flaggs of Truce &c. in Papers of the
Provincial Secretary. Public Records Division.
153. PR, Q, 442; printed in CR, VlII, 312-13. For another copy, see Coi. Bouquet Papers, Ser. 21644, Vol. I, 86; printed also in Wilderness Chronicles, 152.
154. Lambing (ed.), Baptismal Register of Fort Duquesne.
155. Memoire pour le sieur Duverger de Saint-Blin ..., 4-5. ,
156. Pouchot Memoir, I. 156.
157. Thomas Lloyd to John Stanwix, May 25, 1759. Col. Bouquet Papers"., Ser. 21644. Vol. I, 149.
158. Pennsylvania Gazette, May 3. 1759. See also. Roll of the Men Killed in the Battoe 28th March, 1759. PA5, I. 275.
159. .Memoire pour le sieur Duverger de Saint-Blin ..., 4.
160. Hugh Mercer to Henry Bouquet, August 16, 1759, Col. Bouquet Papers, Ser. 21655, p.80
161. Intelligence enclosed with Hugh Mercer to Governor Denny, August 13, 1759, CR, VIII, 395.
162. Col. Bouquet Papers, Ser. 21644, Pt II, 168.
163. General Thomas Hutchins Papers, 1759-88, II, 52, Historical Society of Pennsylvania