[FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR]. BANYAR, George. Document signed ("Geo Banyar"), containing the sworn deposition of a Canadian merchant, Jean Silvestre, concerning French military dispositions, New York, 26 May 1755. 3 pages, folio, light browning, minor repairs to folds. .
A SPY FOR THE BRITISH? AN INTELLIGENCE REPORT ON FRENCH MILITARY OPERATIONS, JUST BEFORE BRADDOCK'S OFFENSIVE
An extremely interesting deposition revealing critical dispositions and relative strengths of French forts and outposts in the Ohio River Valley and Lakes Erie, Ontario and Champlain, on the eve of Braddock's campaign. In 1754, the French had advanced into western Pennsylvania and established a line of small forts. One, located at the junction of the Monongahela and Ohio was christened Fort Duquesne. Here, in May of 1755, just 3 weeks before Braddock began his ill-fated march against Fort Duquesne, a Canadian spy or informer furnishes important intelligence of the French situation. Silvestre reports: "the French in February last sent 250 Men to the Ohio, who went in Snow shoes; about the 2d. Or 3d. Of April they sent 400 in large Batoes...on the North side of the Lake [Erie]...they sent from Montreal about 300...about 250 wintered at the three French Forts in that Country [Dequesne, LaBoeuf and Venango?]: of all these there are not more than 300 Regulars, the rest being Inhabitants." He adds details on Franch-Indian alliances: "The Men who went in the Winter had two Indian Guides, those who went afterwards had no Indians with them...But that the four (Cahnewage) Indians who brought him up to Oswego [Lake Ontario], told him that the Cahnewages had offered the General [Montcalm?] to go to the Five Nations [Iroquois] to endeavor to bring them over into the French Interest...the General agreed, that the Cahnewages had invited the Abinekies of St. Francis, to go with them on that design."
Silvestre reports on supplies and emphasizes the importance of the fort at Crown Point: "at Quebeck and Montreal they had a sufficient quantity of ammunition, but that the Out Forts were badly supplied...in October last the Governour of Canada sent to Crown Point as many men as would make up that Garrison 300, a Report then prevailing that the English intended to build forts there...That the troops sent thither carried six pieces of cannon 3 & 4 pounders. That about four years ago he was in the Fort at Crown Point which is the best they have in Canada, and is capable of mounting 36 guns, but knows not how many were mounted." Asked to summarize French strength, Silvestre notes that "only one ship of war of 34 guns arrived at Quebeck last year...he thinks there may be about 2100 Regular Troops in Canada...[the citizens are] much oppressed and greatly discontented...the General taking two men out of every house where there are three...the Men the General raises he sends to the Ohio, De Troit [Detroit] and other places." Silvestre concludes that approximately 19,650 men are able to bear arms in Canada.