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This webpage reproduces an appendix to
Early History of Illinois

Sidney Breese

published by E. B. Myers & Company,
Chicago, 1884

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p273  C

Petition of the Chevalier de Tonty
to the Count de Pontchartrain, Minister of Marine.1

Monseigneur. — Henry de Tonty humbly represents to your highness, that he entered the military service as a cadet, and was employed in that capacity in the years 1668 and 1669, and that he afterward served as midshipman four years, at Marseilles and Toulon, made seven campaigns, that is, four on board ships of war, and three in the galleys. While at Messina he was made a captain and in the interval lieutenant of the first company of a regiment of horse. When the enemy attacked the post of Libisso his right hand was shot away by a grenade and he was taken prisoner and conducted to Metasse, where he was detained six months, and then exchanged for the sons of the governor of that place. He then went to France to obtain some favor of his majesty, and the king granted him three hundred livres. He returned to the service in Sicily, made the campaign as a volunteer in the galleys, and when the troops were discharged, being unable to obtain employment he solicited at court on account of the general peace, he decided, in 1678, to join  p274 the late Monsieur de la Salle, in order to accompany him in the discoveries of Mexico, during which, until 1682, he was the only officer who did not abandon him.

These discoveries being finished, he remained in 1683 commandant of Fort St. Louis of the Illinois; and in 1684 he was there attacked by two hundred Iroquois, whom he repulsed with great loss on their side. During the same year, he repaired to Quebec under the orders of M. de la Barre. In 1685, he returned to the Illinois, according to the orders which he received from the court, and from M. de la Salle, as a captain of foot in a marine detachment and governor of Fort St. Louis. In 1686 he went with forty men in canoes, at his own expense, as far as the Gulf of Mexico, to seek for M. de la Salle. Not being able to find him there, he returned to Montreal, and put himself under the orders of Monsieur Denonville to engage in the war with the Iroquois.

At the head of a band of Indians, in 1687, he proceeded two hundred leagues by land, and as far in canoes, and joined the army, when, with these Indians and a company of Canadians, he forced the ambuscade of the Tsonnonthouans. The campaign being over, he returned to the Illinois, whence he departed in 1689, to go in search of the remains of M. de la Salle's colony; but being deserted by his men, and unable to execute his design, he was compelled to relinquish it when he had arrived within seven days' march of the Spaniards. Ten months were spent in going and returning. As he now finds himself without employment, he prays that in consideration  p275 of his voyages and heavy expenses, and considering, also, that during his service of seven years as captain, he has not received any pay, your highness will be pleased to obtain for him from his majesty a company, with which he may continue his services in this country, where he has not ceased to harass the Iroquois by enlisting the Illinois against them in his majesty's cause.

And he will continue his prayers for the health of your highness.

Henry de Tonty.

Nothing can be more true than the account given by Sieur de Tonty in this petition; and should his majesty reinstate the seven companies which have been disbanded in this country, there will be justice in granting one of them to him, or some other recompense for the services which he has rendered, and which he is now returning to render at Fort St. Louis of the Illinois.


The Editor's Note:

1 "This paper is translated from the original, deposited in the archives of the Marine Department at Paris. It is without date, but was probably written at Quebec in the year 1690. Frontenac was at that time governor-general of Canadas.ºSparks.

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Page updated: 11 Sep 16