From Pittsburgh Streets

George T. Fleming. "Tale of French success at the Point: History of Contrecoeur's expedition to the Forks of the Ohio is recalled: Invasion in force: Stories of Ensign Ward's surrender and the building of old Fort Du Quesue [sic]: Historic street names." Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Feb. 14, 1915, fifth section, p. 2. 85897872.

History of Contrecoeur's Expedition to the Forks of the Ohio Is Recalled.
Stories of Ensign Ward's Surrender and the Building of Old Fort Du Quesue [sic].

LAST Sunday's street history story had to do with the French occupation of Western Pennsylvania with mention of the French names handed down in our street nomenclature. Interrelatively corrected [sic] are the names of others not French; of these Washington and Gist have been mentioned. Capts. Stobo and Van Braam serving under Washington, have been reverted to.

The story today will take up in detail the actual facts of the surrender of Ensign Edward Ward. We have, Stobo, Van Braam and Ward street in Pittsburgh.

Recurring to the French names we have one that antedates the building of Fort Duquesne, and that is the name of a traitor to the English—Peter Chartiers—pronounced in the days of his dwelling here Shortee—a half-breed French and Indian. So, too, Henry Montour, loyal, brave and faithful. We have taken his name from the island called for a century Neville island, in the Ohio, and retain it in Montour Juntion [sic], Montour run and the Montour Railroad. Also in Pittsburgh is a well-known alley leading from Sixth avenue to Seventh avenue, formerly called Miltenberger alley, changed on account of the duplication in Miltenberger street, the name coming from a pioneer family in Pittsburgh.

Old Words Sound Good.

Old Miltenberger alley is now Montour way. It is, however, the same width and length and anyone can see at a glance it is an alley, and a few old-timers will regard it as an alley until they quit regarding things, despite the fact that Council by an ordinance passed November 10, 1914, duly approved and recorded, changed the name "alley" on every thoroughfare in Pittsburgh to "way." It is to be desired that our councilmanic friends will forgive us for clinging to the old term. It's a "way" we have.

Henry Montour, the guide, interpreter and friend of the English, has his name thus commemorated obscurely in Pittsburgh. Peter Chartiers, false and reprehensible, lives in geography and has an evil fame. So too Simon Girty, renegade and traitor.

Queer naming this by our forefathers, to pass by the deserving and the true and honor the reprobate and the false. But we have the Montour family firmly fixed inthe [sic] state in Montour county, and the family history is a long and interesting one. It is not designed to go into that history now.

Chartiers a Trader.

Peter Chartiers was a trader first on the Susquehanna and then at Paxtang, then about the site of New Cumberland, coming to the Allegheny as a licensed trader in 1734. He married a Shawanese woman and was a half breed by the same kind of a mother. His history is too long to go into now. He turned out a French spy, endeavored to embroil the Shawanese with their masters, the Iroquois, in 1743, and suspected, fled to the French, was given a French commission and committed numerous depredations. His is a "fine" name to commemorate.

Edward Ward figures somewhat thrilling in our early history, as the subjoined documents prove. The map of the French fort Du Quesne was drawn by Robert Stobo while confined there as a hostage in company with Capt. Van Braam, both retained by Contrecoeur after Washington's enforced surrender at Fort Necessity—his only one, by the way.

In naming the fort Du Quesne M. Contrecoeur honored the French marquis who was then governor-general of New France, succeeding M. de Gallisconiere. Du Anesne [sic]—or as we write it, Duquesne—lives in the name of our Allegheny River front. He was never a Pittsburgher in the sense that Forbes, Bouquet and Ward, or even Washington and Gist, were—in a word M. Du Quesne was never here.

The name is an honor distinctively, a reminder of the years when the lilies of France, ere the tricolor came, floating in the breeze where our three rivers join, significantly betokened the sovereignty of Louis XV of France and as well told of the driving out of the forces and the consequent loss of the sovereignty of George II of Great Britain and his successor and grandson, George III, in 1760, and this last event brought to the head of the administration him whose name we bear—William Pitt.

Ward and His Work.

Edward Ward was left by Capt. William Trent to finish the fort begun at the forks of the Ohio. This was on April 17, 1754. Ward had but 41 men, 33 of them soldiers. This fort was intended as one of the stations of the Ohio Company which had already erected several storehouses to carry on the trade with the Indians.

The region about the Upper Ohio was then only used as a hunting ground by the Mingoes and Shawanese and others and as a highway for parties at war of different Indian nations in their expeditions against each other. By reason of these frequent hostilities between the more northern and southern Indians, the whites were retarded from attempting settlements hereabouts.

Near the "Forks" no attempts were made until the Ohio Company made them; and until after 1758, and not to any extent till the Indians had nearly all left the region, except a few straggling hunters and war parties who came occasionally in search of game, or the whites on whom to wreak their vengeance as it pleased them.

Capt. Trent and Lieut. Frazier absent, Ensign Ward went ahead with his fort building, fearing no foe. However, the French had not abandoned their determination to go down the river in the spring and take possession as they had told Washington in the previous winter while at the French forts.

The French Invasion.

Ward and his little band were not astonished when the swift running Allegheny bore into view one batteau after another until they counted 60. Three hundred canoes followed. It was the French expedition under Contrecoeur of which Ward had warning.

One thousand French and Indians composed the French force; 18 pieces of cannon and an abundance of fire arms was an adequate equipment. Contracoeur [sic] sent the Chevalier Le Mercier to the English commandant with the ultimatum to retreat peaceably or suffer the consequences. Contracoeur [sic] meant business and was prepared to do business.

Le Mercier finds a subordinate in command and only a handful of men. It is an easy conquest. Ward parleys and equivocates; he cannot act in the absence of his superiors. The Half King Tanacharison had prompted this reply, but it was a vain plea.

Ward surrendered, he did the wise thing. He evacuated and took his tools and men away. His retention of these tools was no mean concession. The French were tolerably kind.

Ward and his men arrived at Wells Creek—now the site of Cumberland, Md., on April 25. We have records of Washington's letter to Gov. Dinwiddie announcing the fact thus:

Sir—Capt. Trent's ensign has this day arrived from the fork of the Monongahela, and brings the disagreeable account that the fort, on the 18th instant was surrendered at the summons of Monsieur Contracoeur [sic].

Then follows a long letter giving Dinwiddie much information of events and possibilities.

Governors' Notified.

Washington sent the same letter to Gov. Hamilton of Pennsylvania. He sent also copies of the half king's speech to the governors, complaining how he and his "brothers" had been treated by the French. These letters were delivered to Washington by John Davidson, who was present at Ward's surrender. Davidson, as will be remembered, was Washington's Indian interpreter on his mission to Venango and Le Boeuff [sic].

Ward and his party were a sorry spectacle on arriving at Wills Creek. They had an alarming tale to tell—an ominous tale. Old St. Pierre had given way to Contrecoeur and the letter [sic] was full of zeal. He was no foe to be despised.

The taking of Ward's unfinished fort at the Point was a bloodless act, yet it was the first overt act in the memorable French war, 1754–1758. The French we know retained possession for four years, or until November 24, 1758, when Forbes came.

The summons from Contrecoeur to Ward has been preserved. It is long and quite polite though forceful. He insisted on a precise answer. The summons begins—using that word in a single form—

A summons by order of Contrecoeur, captain of the companies of the detachment of the French Marine, commander-in-chief of his most Christian Majesty's troops, now on the Beautiful River, to the commander of those of the King of Great Britain, at the mouth of the River Monongialo.

Demand Is Made.

Sir—Nothing can surprise me more than to see you attempt a settlement upon the lands of the King, my Master; which obliges me now, Sir, to send you this gentleman, Chevalier Le Mercier, captain of the Bombadiers [sic], commander of the Artillery of Canada, to know of you, Sir, by virtue of what authority you are come to fortify yourself within the dominions of the King, my Master. This action seems so contrary to the last treaty of peace concluded at Aix La Chapelle, between his most Christian Majesty and the King of Great Britain, that I do not know to whom to impute such a usurpation, as it is incontestible [sic] that the lands situated along the Beautiful River belong to his Christian Majesty.

I am informed, sir, that your undertaking has been concerted by none else than by a company who have more in view the advantage of the trade than to endeavor to keep the union of harmony between the crowns of France and Great Britain, although it is as much the interest, sir, of your nation as ours to preserve it.

Let it as it will. Sir, if you come into this place charged with orders, I summon you in the name of the King, my Master by virtue of orders which I got from my General, to retreat peaceably with your troops from off the lands of the King (and not to return or else I find myself obliged to fulfill my duty and compel you to it. I hope, sir, you will not defer an instant and that you will not force me to the last extremity). In that case, sir, you may be persuaded that I will give orders that there shall be no damage done by my detachment.

Note the long parenthetical remark and the break in the logical connection.

Contrecoeur resumes:

No Delay Allowed.

I prevent you, sir, from the trouble of asking me one hour of delay nor to wait for my consent to receive orders from your Governor. He can give none within the dominions of the King, my Master. Those I have received from my general are my laws, so that I cannot depart from them.

If, on the contrary, sir, you have not got orders, I am sorry to tell you that I cannot avoid seizing you, and to confiscate your effects to the use of the Indians, our children, allies and friends; as you are not allowed to carry on a contraband trade. It is for this reason, sir, that we stopped two Englishmen last year, who were trading upon our lands; moreover, the King, my Master, asks nothing but his right; he has not the least intention to trouble the good harmony and friendship which reigns between his Majesty and the King of Great Britain.

The Governor of Canada can give proof of having done his utmost endeavors to maintain the perfect union which reigns between the two friendly princes; as he had learned that the Iroquois and the Nippessingues of the Lake of the two mountains had struck and destroyed an English family towards Carolina, he has barred up that road and forced them to give him a little boy belonging to that family, which was the only one alive, and which Mr. Welrich, a merchant of Montreal, has carried to Boston; and what is more, he has forbid his savages from exercising their accustomed cruelty upon the English and friends.

I could complain bitterly, sir, of the means taken all last winter to instigate the Indians to accept the hatchet, and to strike us, while were striving to maintain the peace.

I am well persuaded, sir, of the polite manner you will receive Monsier [sic] Le Mercier, as well out of regard to his business as his distinction and personal merit. As you have got some Indians with you, sir, I join with M. Le Mercier, an interpreter that he may inform them of my intentions upon that subject.

I am with great regard, sir, your most humble and obedient servant.


Done at our Camp, April 16, 1754.

Conquerer [sic] Is Polite.

This is surely a remarkable document. The conclusion above the signature follows the stilted and usual form—quite the reverse of the truth. Rightly could he have written, "Your conqueror, Contrecoeur."

We must admire M. Contrecoeur. He is polite, straight forward and says what he means in plain language. The great harmony, etc., between the "most Christian kings" was altogether a figure of speech. The lulls between wars were like the time between rounds, giving each combatant an opportunity of a rub-down and to get breath.

Poor Ward, with only a pair of twos, seeing Contracoeur's [sic] royal flush, sadly laid down his hand and up went the fleur-de-lis.

"Harmony between two friendly princes." Yes, now in the year of our Lord 1915, only one prince is the people of La Belle France—so to speak—in loco regis—in place of a sovereign.

Ensign Edward Ward is a deponent, as well as a painstaking letter writer.

Ward's Deposition.

He "deposes and says" as follows:


Ensigns [sic] Ward's Deposition before the Governor and Council, ye 7th of May, 1754.

Rec'd with his Letter, dated ye 10th of May, 1754.

Rec'd July 2,
Read Do.—1754.

MR. EDWARD WARD, Cap't. Trent's Ensign, deposes and makes oath to the following Particulars. That the French first appeared to him at Shannopins town about two miles distant from the Fort, the 17th of April last, that they moved down within a small distance from the Fort, then landed their Canoes, and marched their men in a regular manner a little better than Gun shot of the Fort. That Le Mercier, a French officer sent by Contrecoeur, the Commandant in Chief of the French Troops, came with an Indian Interpeter [sic] called by the Mingoes the Owl, and two Drums, one of which served for Interpeter [sic] between Le Mercier and him. Le Mercier presently delivered him (Ward) the summons by the Interpreter, looked at his watch, which was about two, and gave him an hour to fix his Resolution, telling him he must come to the French Camp with his Determination in writing.

He says that half an Hour of the time allowed him he spent in Council with the Half King, who advised him to acquaint the French he was no Officer of Rank or invested with powers to answer their Demands and requested them to wait the Arrival of the Principal Commander, That at the time of the Summons was delivered to him the Half King received a belt of wampum much to the same purpose.

That he went accompanied by the Half King, Robt. Roberts, a private soldier, and John Davidson, as an Indian Interpreter, that the Half King might understand every word he (Ward) spoke at the French Camp, That he there addressed himself to the Chief Commander, Contrecoeur and expressed himself agreeably to the above mentioned advice of the Half King, That the French Commander told him he should not wait for an answer from any other Person And absolutely insisted on his determining what to do that Instant, or he should immediately take Possession of the Fort by Force. That he (Ward) then observing the number of the French, which he judged to be about a Thousand and considering his own weakness, being but Forty one in all, whereof only Thirty three were soldiers, surrendered the Fort with Liberty obtained to march off with everything belonging Thereto by Twelve O'clock the next day.

Camp Near Fort.

He says that night he was obliged to encamp within 300 yards of the Fort with a Party of the Six Nations who were in company with him, That the French Commander sent for him to supper, and asked many Questions concerning the English Governments, which he told him he could give no answer to, being unacquainted with such affairs, That the French Commander desired some of the Carpenters' Tools, offering any money for them, to which he answered that he loved his King and Country too well to part with any of them And then he retired. That next morning he rec'd the speech of the Half King to the Governor, And proceeded with all his men towards Redstone creek where he arrived in two Days, and from thence he marched to Wills Creek, where he met with Col. Washington and informed him of every particular which had happened, That Col. Washington thought fit to send back one of the Indians to the Half King with a speech and to assure him of the assistance which was marching to him, And by the advice of Council of war dispatched him an express to his Honour with the other Indian and an Interpreter judging him the most proper Person having been appointed by the Half King.

Warned of Coming.

He (Ward) moreover adds that four days before the French came he had an Account of their comeing [sic] and saw a letter that John Davison wrote to Robt. Callender, an Indian Trader to confirm the truth that they were to be down by that time. That the Day following he sent a Copy of Davison's letter to Capt. Trent who was then at Will's Creek, and went directly himself to his lieutenant who lived eight or ten miles up Monongahela from the Fort at a place called Turtle Creek, it was late at night when he got there, accompanied by Roberts, Thomas Davison, Samuel Adsill, and an Indian, and Shewed him the copy of the Letter of which he sent a Copy, the next Day to his Captain. The Lieutenant told him he was well assured the French would be down but said what can we do in the Affair. The morning after he sent for the Halfking, and one of his Chiefs, named Serreneatta, who advised him to build a stockade Fort, that he asked his Lieutenant if he would come down to the Fort, which he answered he had a shilling to loose for a penny, he should gain by his Commission at that time and that he had Business which he could not settle under six days with his Partner; That he (Ward) thereupon Answered that he would immediately go himself and have the stockade Fort built. And that he would hold out to the last extremity before it should be said that the English had retreated like Cowards before the French Forces appeared, and that he knowing the bad consequences of his leaveing [sic] as the rest would have done would give the Indians a very indifferent Opinion of the English ever after. He further says he had no orders from either his Captain, or Lieutenant how to proceed, and had the last Gate of the Stockade Fort erected before the French appeared to him.

Power of French.

That he was credibly informed by an Englishman who attended the French commandant that they had 300 Wooden Canoes, and 60 Battoes, and had four men to each canoe and Battoe, that they had eighteen pieces of Cannon, three of which were nine Pounders. That the Halfking stormed greatly at the French at the time they (Ward's men) were obliged to march out of the Fort, and told them it was he Order'd that Fort and laid the first Log of it himself, but the French paid no Regard to what he said.

Sworn to by the above mentioned Ward before

The Governor in Council the 7th of May 1754.

N. Walthoe, Cl. Con.
(Clerk of Council.)


The Englishman referred to was undoubtedly Thomas Forbes mentioned last week.

Edward Ward's son John served during the Revolution. He was lieutenant in the First, Third and Eighth Regiments Pennsylvania line. We are indebted to our Pittsburgh historian, the late William M. Darlington, for the above facts, in a permanent and accessible form. They reveal one source of history—the best one—a record made at the time or as soon as possible afterward. It is evident all historians have obtained the facts of the historic event from the two papers above.

Edward Ward figures greatly in the land transactions above Fort Pitt previous to the Revolution in conjunction with George Croghan to which reference will be subsequently made in these columns.

So much for the name Ward and the history it recalls. We have Ward street in the Oakland district, also Frazier street.