Painting of the French surrender of Fort Pontchartain du Detroit to English.
On Nov. 29, 1760, the French surrendered Michigan to the British after only three-score years of rule.
Captain Francoise-Marie Picote, Sieur de Bellestre, officially surrendered Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit and Michigan to the British after English Major Robert Rogers arrived with more than 200 soldiers in 19 bateaux and whale-boats. Rogers bore a letter of capitulation from Marquis du Vaudreuil, the last French Governor of Canada, who had surrendered Montreal on September 8, 1760. Rogers had also sent a messenger in advance of his party bearing letters spelling out the terms of capitulation.
Waiting on the south shore a half-mile below the town, Rogers gave Bellestre until four o’clock in the afternoon to surrender. After reviewing the various letters outlining the terms of surrender, Bellestre wisely decided to vacate the fort peacefully and allowed the English soldiers to take possession around noon.
After taking possession of the fort, Rogers summoned the Canadian (that is, French-Canadian) militia, disarmed them, and ordered them to take an oath of allegiance. Some did so on November 30th and the rest on December 1st. The militia consisted of every able-bodied man between 16 and 60. The loss of guns was a great hardship since most depending on hunting for food and money (furs were used to barter for goods since money was so scarce). Later these regulations were eased, guns returned, and the French militia captains were recommissioned.
Under escort, the 35 French soldiers departed Detroit on December 2nd, headed toward Fort Pitt, and eventually Philadelphia where they would disembark for France. Messengers were also sent to other outlying French forts informing them of the turn of events.
Many of the letters sent back and forth survive to this day and are available in the Windsor Border Region compilation listed below. It also includes journal entries from a George Croghan.
François-Marie Picoté de Belestre Wikipeda Entry.
The Windsor Border Region: Canada’s Southernmost Frontier (A collection of documents). Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1960, p lxxvi.