1764 Montresor


John Montresor [1736-1799] was a British Engineer who became the Chief Engineer of America. He was ordered in 1764 to construct a series of redoubts before the arrival of troops under Major General Bradstreet who was on his way to a peace treaty with the Indians. In Detroit Montresor undertook a variety of projects for the betterment of the fort.


[August] 27th. Wind at S.W. The whole of the Troops arrived this day at Detroit being the 19th day from Fort Erie & encamped above the Town on the N side. Gave in to Col Bradstreet a return of the stores, Tools & Materials belonging to the Engineers Branch both what were in this place & brought here intended for the Expedition. Received orders to examine what Houses were vacant & what were reparable in the Fort, for covering the Troops for the Garrison to left here the 17th, but found them far short of Sufficient room without cantoning them. Found on my arrival a great deficiency in my spades, Shovels, what with the Navy for Ballast &c the Troops for Gardening &c. On our arrival near the Fort we were saluted from thence & the vessels which was returned from our Gun Boats. Observed one of the Schooners at the river mouth on her way to Niagara - 47 Miles this day.

28th. I went up the River Rouge 4 miles below the Town on the west side of the River (with a covering Party from the Light Infantry) for a proper situation for Wintering the vessels occasionly which after reconnitering and sounding the River I fixed on & made a design for a Work & naval store-houses. Approved of. Made out a proposition of Stores & Tools for Missillimakinack to be put in the Boats with the Troops destined there. Was ordered to make a Design & estimate for Barracks for 400 Men to be constructed within the Fort which was completed this Day with Plans & Sections. Indian Presents, Expense known at l38,000 Sterling, delivered to them by Sir Wm Johnson at the Congress held at Niagara this year. Winds at west, very hot.

29th. Winds at S.W. & very hot. Received orders to make a Design for a Wharf & Pier to this place for securing vessels & for the better loading & unloading them with an Estimate for the same. Wrote to the Assistant Engineer Commanding at Niagara for an additional supply of Tools & materials carrying on the work here. This day the Inhabitants took the Oaths of allegiance and fidelity to his Brittanic Majesty. Also was raised one Captain, 3 subalterns & 100 Men of the settlements to proceed with the Detachment of the 17th to reestablish the Missillimackinack. Council held with the Indians.

30th. Wrote to the Chief Engineer for more materials for Building the Barracks &c. Ordered for Missillimackinack 8 large Boats and 2 French Batteaux, the whole to carry 14 Barrels of Provisions each total 140 Barrels. Sailed this day for Niagara the Schooner Victory with Col Gladwin on board. The Fort Saluted, returned from the Vessel. Contracts made with the Inhabitants to furnish the quantity of materials necessary for building the Barracks here. Commissions given to the Officers of this settlement going to Missillimackinack. Arrived some Indians from the Misconis River bring accounts that Wassing & the rest of the Chiefs would be here as by promise the 3d of September. Already transported in the vessel this season from hence Remittances of the Traders 1200 packs of Peltrys 1000 of which Beaver & 500 Packs still remaining unsold in the settlement. Begun cutting Timber on Island Cochon for two scows for bringing of Stone & other materials 70 feet in length by 18 in Breadth, to carry 25 Tons. West winds at S S Wt and excessive heat. Only 280 men of this Settlement at present in it, capable of carrying arms.

31st. Decamped & marched in & took possession of the Garrison of Detroit the 17th Regt and relieved the old Garrison being detachments from the 17th Royal Americans & 80th Regiments. Only 80 men of the new Raised troops of this place could be conveniently mustered, to proceed to morrow with the Detachment, I intended to establish at Michillimackinack. This day arrived a Batteaux of Mohawks belonging to our army who escorted & carryed Provisions for the officers & party sent to the Illinois by way of the Miamis. They presented a Belt sent by Pondiac to Col Bradstreet & the 6 Nations of Iroquois. Applied to Col Bradstreet to make a chart of the mouth of the River Huron to show the sounding on the bar & properest Channel for the Vessels to pass through in her way to the upper Lakes. The party with Col Putnam consisting of 200 narrow ax men cutting Timber for Barracks on Isle au Cochon still remain at work. The Belt brought from Pondiac was cut to pieces in Council this day & thrown piecemeal in the river by the 6 Nations and the Speech that was to accompany it entirely rejected. Gave directions for cutting Timber for 2 Skows for carrying Stone from Isle la Pierre to the Fort. All parties of Artificers &c employed by the Crown being Inhabitants have their allowances of Provisions. Wind at S Wt. A working party from Encampment of 60 men for making Saw Pitts near the Fort.

September 1st. Went up the River above Isle au Cochon with Col Bradstreet with a carrying party from the Light Infantry. This morning proceeded the Detachment, under the Command of Capt Howard (17th Regt) for the reestablishment of the Post at Missillimackinack. A fair wind & fresh at S.W. Sent a party of Charcoal Burners to Isle au Cochon, also a Party to make a Raft for to transport some Square Timber to the Fort for the Barrels &c Contracted for this morning. Fixed on the places for Provision Stores for 3000 Barrels of Provisions. The new Powder Magazine in the Flag Bastion near completed, being 21 Feet in length breadth & heighth, calculated for 400 Barrels. Powder at present here 200 Barrels. Extreme heat & the season dry. The 80th Regt sickly - the camp in general subjected to fevers, agues & Fluxes. Carpenters employed in repairing the Boats. An Examination made of the Boxes of ammunition, cartridges & only one in 12 found serviceable. Each containing 1200 owing (as reported) to the Boats Leaking.

2nd September. This afternoon arrived from the Miamis 55 Ottawas of Pondiac Band to make peace & that the Jibbeways & Powtwettamies were following & would be here to morrow. A kind of Citadel proposed by Stockading the area of the Barracks & Parade & approved of. The wind N N N. Wt. An artillery Store House fixed on & delivered over to that branch. Remark. 850 Indians of different nations, had assembled at the Castle called Roche de but on the Miamis River to oppose us, had we made any attempt that way.

3rd. This day set a General Court martial. Went out this afternoon by Land with Col Bradstreet below the Powtowotamy village covering party from the 80th Light Infantry. Contracted with some of the Inhabitants for Pine Logs for Boards for the Barracks, to be transported hence from the Piniere the opposite side of Lake Saint Clair.

4th. Sent a party of 50 men and 2 long Boats to Raft some Timber for the Barracks three miles below the Huron Village. Set again the General Court Martial. Continued the Carpenters repairing the Boats & completing the Powder Magazine. Wind at S.S.W. Gave in Proposals to Col Bradstreet for procuring a grant of land & settling families thereon for the better supplying the Garrison of Detroit & its Dependancies with Provisions, forage &c to prevent for the future his Majesty's Troops being drove to those distresses & exigensies as of late, particularly last year. Arrived this afternoon the Jibbeways all young Warriors with Wassong their chief. All current paper money made by the Merchants & others called in to prevent further Impositions. Some Coenawagas proposed returning to their castle. Commanding Officer of the York Regimt tried this Day for contempt of Colonel Bradstreet's orders.

5th. Sat this day the Indian Council. Present, the Jibbeways, Shawanese, Hurons, of Sandusky & the 5 Nations of Scioto, with all the several nations of friendly Indians with the Army. The Hurons of this place not present, sent work, our "Decision was theirs." The Powtewattamies not yet arrived. The Jibbeways & Ottawas responsible for their agreeing to the terms of Peace proposed, concluded & ratified on the present occasion. Pondiac declined appearing here, till his pardon should be granted. Continued sitting the General Court Martial on a Prisoner tried for Rebellion. Wind at E. N.Et. The weather on the change, the season commencing airish and chilly, particularly the mornings. This day Pondiac was forgiven in council, who is at present two days march above the castle on the Miamis River called la Roche de But with a party of 60 more savages.

6th. The Ottawas & Jibbeways incapable of attending the Council to sign the Articles of Peace agreed on, through Excess of liquor. Wind at N Et . The Camp pretty healthy in general. Remarked that of the late Garrison that was relieved only one man died for 4 years. Arrived this evening Ninnevah & 58 young Warriors from the Powtawattamies; also Pondiac's own band of Ottawas. Came to an anchor below the Isle aux Dindes the Sloop & two Schooners from Niagara loaded with 1100 Barrels of Provisions. Parties employed in hawling up the Timber rafted down from the Fort.

7th. This morning the Treaty of Peace was ratified in Council signed & sealed. Came down from Isle au Cochon Colonel Putnam and the party of Provincials that have been employed there cutting of Timber for carrying on the works here. Proposed by Col Bradstreet for Officers to apply for Grants of Land here, for the advantage of the Crown & this new Colony. For either the Government must dispossess the present Inhabitants of their lands & entirely remove them from hence or support this feeble colony with a numerous body of English sufficient to cultivate the vacant lands in this streight & subordinate the savages who are powerful in this neighbourhood. Wind at N Et. Artificers continued as before. Arrived the Dispatches from on board the vessels. Letters received from Capt Morris dated from les Praries de Mascoutins.

8th. Sent to the Piniere above Lake St Clair to cut Timber of Pine for the Wharf. Wind at N.E. Proposed, the whole to set off from hence for Sandusky in 3 days. Remark, up that river was the Rendezvous proposed where Col Bradstreet should intrench till the arrival of the Troops under the Command of Col Bouquet. The artificers continued as before. Marked out the Barracks on the Parade in the S.W. end of the Fort. This day a Placard was given out for an open & free Trade as before with the Savages as the Peace was Concluded. Arrived several of the Powttawatamies from St Joseph, Westenong, La Saline &c &c.

9th. Came to anchor opposite the Fort, the Sloops & 2 Schooners. Went over to the Huron Village & 4 miles below it with a covering party of Light Infantry of the 55th to procure materials for carrying on the work here. Set off from hence An Officer of the 80th and some Mohawks to Sandusky with some provisions in case the prisoners from the Plains of Scioto should be arrived there. Arrived 10 Birch Canoes with a large Party of Messassagues and Wabbogomigats their Chief of Toronto with 158 of that tribe. Weighed anchor this Evening, the Gladwin Schooner & Sailed for Missillimackinack for her loading of Provisions on board. The Schooner for Missillimackinack came to an anchor to the South of Isle aux Cochon. Continued the Artificers as before.

10th. Thirty of the 55th Regt Draughted into the 17th. A Council held with the Messessgues. The Gladwin weighed & sailed into Lake St Clair. Rafted down a quantity of Plank & Boards. Continued the artificers as before. Parties employed in unloading the Vessels. This morning before day arrived the Schooner Victory loaded with Provisions. Wind at S Et with a gentle Shower of Rain, none having fallen here for 3 weeks past. Made a demand for artificers from the Troops to remain here to carry on the works begun on and proposed at this place. Approved of.

11th. Arrived the Chief of the Jibbeways from the Bay of Saguinau on Lake Huron. Came in 2 Huron Chiefs from the village of Sandusky. Artificers employed as before, repairing the Boats. Sawing of Boards & Planks, making of Shingles, completing the Powder Magazine &c. The several Indians of the Upper Nations gradually diminish in their numbers, retiring to their Castles. Rafted down more boards & Plank for the Barracks. Wind at N. Wt blowing fresh, the weather wet & cold. Made several contracts for materials as Timber, Shingles, Boards, Planks, Charcoal, Lime, Sand and Stone

12th. Orders for loading the several Boats with 4 Barrels of Flour and 4 of Pork. Party employed in unloading the vessels. Wind at N Et. Received orders from Col Bradstreet to make out a small proportion of these for building a Fort at Sandusky if the Indians on our arrival there dont comply with the articles agreed to on the 12 August last, with regard to the Terms of Peace. The weather rather cold. Artificers Continued on the Several works & Services as before. Several rockets fired this evening to amuse the Savages.

13th. Arrived a Batteau with an Express from Niagara, with an Officer of the 46th and 13 men, advice from Sandusky that the Indians to the number of 800 Warriors had assembled there to oppose our troops from disembarking as proposed instead of ratifying the treaty. Accounts came in that several canoes were arrived at St Josephs from the Illinois with Ammunition, Clothing &c for the Indians to continue the war against us. Artificers employed as before. Orders issued for the Troops to decamp & embark to morrow morning for Sandusky. Wind at S.Wt. Two Hurons quarrelling this night in our Camp, the one Tomahawked the other. Four men of the Canadian Battalion of Volunteers deserted this night.

14th. At 8 o'clock this morning the whole Embarked; saluted by the Guns from the Fort & the 3 vessels. Returned by our Gun Boats.

From: THE MONTRESOR JOURNALS edited and annotated by G. D. Scull. Collections of the New York Historical Society for the year 1881. NY: Printed for the Society, 1882: 284-292.

See Also:

Dictionary of Canadian Biography 4: 552-553

Marshall, Douglas W. The British Engineers in America, 1755-1783. Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 1973 51 (207): 155-163.

Poesch, Jessie. A British Officer and his "New York" Cottage: An American Vernacular Brought to England. American Art Journal 1988 20 (4): 74-97.

Reibel, Daniel B. A Kind of Citadel: 1764-1805. Michigan History 1963 47 (1): 47-71.