LETTER OF CALLIERES DE CHASTEAUVILAINT, October 12, 1687

I have received two letters from Canada, one from Monsieur de Denonville of June 24, written while he was on the march against the Iroquois, and another from Quebec, dated July 18, from an officer lately returned from the army. The latter informs me that our people hoped to have arrived at Sonontouan July 15, and that they had without a fight captured about 200 Iroquois. Fortunately the Seneca had not yet been warned of their approach.

A party of Englishmen who, at the instigation of Colonel Dongan, governor of New York and an inveterate enemy of the French, stirred up the Seneca against us, went off to the number of ninety in three parties of thirty men each. The first two had set out to possess themselves of the post of Michillimackinac, and the third to the Illinois in order to seduce them from us. However, Messieurs de Tonti, la Forest, du Luth, and la Durantaye, marching to join Monsieur de Denonville, had captured the first two parties of sixty men and had brought them to the said Sieur de Denonville, who sent them to Quebec as prisoners along with the Iroquois who had accompanied them.1 A French deserter who was with them he had shot. The thirty others having learned that the Illinois would give them an ill reception are now retracing their steps.

The governor-general informs me that they have experienced the greatest difficulties in ascending the rapids, but that they hope to encounter less in defeating the enemy. His little army is composed of 2,000 Frenchmen--one half of them being regulars and the rest habitants, and about 1,500 Indian allies whose number will be increased on the march, My brother has been performing the duties of lieutenant general and has had the care of all the details incident to the march. His fatigue has been so great that he has been ill of jaundice at Fort Frontenac. They have there two large flat-bottomed boats for crossing Lake Ontario. These boats each mount a brass cannon in battery and numerous swivel guns, which will facilitate the descent of the troops, and they say that it will require a thousand men in the water up to their waists in order to bring the boats and canoes to land at Sonontouan while their guns fire on the Iroquois in the event that they oppose the descent which should be made at the mouth of the river of the Seneca, which is still seven leagues from their village. It will be necessary to cover these seven leagues afoot through the woods in order to destroy them in their villages. I see from these two letters that there has not yet been an engagement, as you may see from the word sent back, and the 200 Iroquois taken were captured, as I have told you, by the army on the march. They are not all fit to be sent to the galleys as there are many women and children, and only sixty are being sent to France for service in the galleys, including one war chief of the Mohawk nation who is a notorious spy.2

There was no news at Quebec up to July 18 of Monsieur de la Salle, which is a very bad omen for him. He is a great loss. I beg of you to impart this information to Monsieur the Abbé Bernou,3 as it is a matter concerning his department, and beg him to send me the supplement through you, that is to say, what he may have learned further.

I have not as yet received any letters from my brother. Father Lamberville, the Jesuit, has, fortunately for him, made his escape from among the Iroquois. He would surely have gone into the pot notwithstanding the fact that they have found the flesh of the black-robes quite tasteless.4 Our people were much concerned for this poor father, who cleverly hoodwinked the Iroquois with hopes of peace.