Jenks, William L. "Diary of the Siege of Detroit." Michigan History Magazine 12 (July, 1928): 437-42.






HEN Parkman was preparing his material for his Conspiracy of Pontiac, he visited Detroit in 1845 and obtained from Governor Cass a copy of the French manuscript of the Siege of Detroit which covered the period from May 5 to July 31, 1763. This manuscript was anonymous, and Parkman believed it to be the work of a French priest. It now seems, however, reasonably certain that it was the work of Robert Navarre, a prominent Frenchman of the locality.

In addition to this Manuscript, Parkman obtained the statements, taken more than sixty years after the event, of a number of old survivors who have some recollection of the Siege. He also used the statements contained in a few letters written by officers at Detroit and published in the eastern newspapers. These comprised practically all of his Detroit material relating to the Siege, and his work was published in 1851.

Since the work was first published, a considerable amount of new material covering the Siege has come to light; additional letters of Lieut. MacDonald, the Journal and a letter of John Porteous, the letter book of James Sterling, and especially, because of its length and fullness, the Diary of the Siege of Detroit which was published in 1860 by Munsell, of Albany, N. Y., under the editorship of F. B. Hough. This diary covers, the period from May 7, 1763 to June 6, 1765. The introduction says:


"Although the author of the Diary was unknown, we have reason to infer from several allusions to himself and references to other records kept along with it, that he was the secretary of the Commandant and that he was fully in his confidence. The manuscript is all in one handwriting and is written upon about half a dozen sizes of paper which were evidently in loose sheets at the time and have since been bound in one volume.

It was purchased from a Bookseller in London and its former owner had begun to print it, but finding, after getting through thirty--two pages, that the sheets had not been bound up in chronological order, the enterprise was abandoned."

The manuscript was afterwards sold at the Menzies sale in New York on November 17, 1876, for thirty dollars ($30.00) and the present owner of the manuscript is unknown.

By a curious coincidence the French manuscript and the Diary both end abruptly. Apparently, no effort has heretofore been made to ascertain the author of the Diary, but it is certain that the author was Lieut. Jehu Hay, who came to Detroit with Major Gladwin in 1762 and remained there in various capacities during the rest of his life. This is proved partly by comparison with the French manuscript and also by letters written by Hay during the Siege.

The French manuscript, under date of May 13, 1763, after referring to a sortie by Capt. Hopkins, says: "This one (another sortie) was undertaken by Mr. Hay, a lieutenant of the American Troops, who likewise sallied out with thirty men and set fire to some barns and stables behind the fort and then returned at once." The Diary on the same date has an entry: "This afternoon burned several outhouses from behind which they annoyed us."

Under date of May 28 the French manuscript says: "The Commandant ordered a sortie when he saw that the Indians were quiet. This was carried out by Mr. Hay, Officier de Troupe with twenty men for the purpose of destroying the entrenchment." The Diary on the same date has no reference to the action, but on the following date says: "About Fifty


Indians lay in ambush imagining that we would make a sortie as we had done two or three days before to burn some logs they had made as breastwork."

Under date of July 4 the French manuscript says: "The Commandant . . . . . ordered Major Hay, Officer of the Royal Americans, to sally forth with thirty men to level the nightly work of the savages and vagabonds." The Diary on the same date says: "This morning early made a sortie with thirty men to cover a party to bring in some powder and lead that was in Mr. Babies' house after which we destroyed an entrenchment that the Indians had made from which they annoy'd us."

On August 8 the Diary says: "This morning at two o'clock Capt. Hopkins and two subalterns with sixty volunteers went down in boats with an intent to surprise an Indian Caban at the Puttawatamee village. We went down undiscovered to the place we intended to land, and in turning in the boats to the shore, the row galley which was commanded by Lieut. Abbott, being heavy, did not follow so near as could be wished, etc." Evidently the author was the other subaltern.

Under date of October 2 the Diary says: "This morning at ten o'clock Lieut. Brehm, Lieut. Abbott, Ensn. Riggell and myself were sent up the river with four arm'd batteaux, etc."

Lieut. Hay wrote on October 5, 1763, to Col. Henry Bouquet, with whom he evidently was on somewhat familiar terms, and in the letter says: "The second inst. Lieut. Brehm with three other officers (of which number I was one) was sent with four armed batteaux, etc." The language of this letter referring to the event corresponds very closely with the language in the Diary of this date.

The language in the Diary in describing the occurrences of the Siege agrees in general quite closely with the other descriptions found in the French manuscript and letters written by the other officers. Evidently, whatever was known to one was known to all within the Fort, and the knowledge displayed by the author of the Diary of the actions and decisions


of the Commanding Officer, Major Goodwin, was not so peculiar as to raise the presumption that he was the secretary of the Commandant.

Neither the Diary nor the French manuscript mentions the names of the two vessels which played so important a part in the Siege. The manuscript always refers to them as "barques," but distinguishes them in size as large and small. The Diary distinguishes them as schooner and sloop. Parkman names them the "Gladwin" and "Beaver", but in this he was clearly mistaken. The "Gladwin" was not built until the following year. James Sterling in one of his letters calls the schooner "Huron", and John Porteous in his Journal, calls the sloop "Michigan."

The author of the Diary, Jehu Hay, was born in Chester, Pa., and entered the British Army as Ensign in the 60th American Regiment in 1758. On April 27, 1762, he was promoted to Lieutenant and was at Niagara when Major Gladwin was sent during the same year to Detroit and took a part of his regiment and with it Mr. Hay, arriving at Detroit on August 23, 1762. Hay was at Detroit during the entire Siege by Pontiac and remained there until the Fall of 1778, having in the meantime been promoted to Major of Militia.

In May, 1765, Hay applied to Sir William Johnson for a post and speaks of unpaid services to garrison and Indians. On June 10 he wrote to express appreciation of an encouraging letter. In 1766 he was appointed Commissioner of Trade with the Indians (or Commissary) at Detroit.

In March, 1774, General Haldimand of Canada sent Hay to examine and report upon the conditions in the Illinois country. On September 9, 1776, he was appointed deputy or assistant in the Indian service at Detroit still retaining his position in the Army.

In the Fall of 1778, Lieutenant--Governor Henry Hamilton of Detroit determined to recapture Vincennes, which had been taken by the Americans, to punish them and the French in that part of the country for their attitude towards the Eng-


lish, and on October 7, 1778, he left Detroit with a considerable force of soldiers and Indians, taking with him Hay who was now Major of Volunteers. On arriving near Vincennes, Major Hay was sent on to take possession of the Fort, which was then occupied by a single officer, Captain Helm, with one private, who surrendered to Hay on December 17, 1778. The notable recapture of this Fort by George Rogers Clark on February 25, 1779) is well known. Clark, in his account of the capture, speaks of his threat against the Indian partisans, and his application of that threat directly to Major Hay as one of the producing causes of the surrender.

Hay and Hamilton gave their parole to Clark on March 1, 1779, and seven days later, with a few other captives, started for Virginia under charge of a small American force, arriving at the Falls of the Ohio on March 30, and from there they were taken to Chesterfield, Va., arriving May 26. On August 31 Hay was taken to Williamsburg, where Hamilton had been since June 15. There he remained until Aug. 1, 1780, when he was sent back to Chesterfield and placed in jail.

On October 10, 1780, Hay, together with Hamilton, accepted parole and were released, going first to Williamsburg, then to Hampton and then to New York City, where on March 4, 1781, they were exchanged.

Hamilton and Hay were close friends, and as Hamilton had friends of influence in England, they decided to go to England and left on May 27, 1781, arriving at Falmouth on June 21.

The report of Hamilton dated July 6, 1781, which he made first to Lord George Germaine, and then at the suggestion of Germaine, to General Haldimand, governor general of Canada, aroused considerable sympathy for him on account of his troubles and sufferings, and it was decided to promote him from his position at Detroit to Lieutenant--Governor of Canada. This promotion left a vacancy in the position of Lieutenant. Governorship of Detroit, and as Hay was a fellow--sufferer with Hamilton, on April 23, 1782, he was commissioned Lieutenant--Governor and Superintendent of the post at Detroit in place


of Hamilton, and Hay arrived at Quebec the last of June, 1782.

At the time of Hay's appointment, Major DePeyster was in charge at Detroit and General Haldimand had great confidence in him and apparently not very much confidence in Hay as, after hearing of Hay's appointment, Haldimand wrote to Major Powell at Niagara that he could not permit Hay's going to Detroit until arrangements had been made by Sir John Johnson, who was Indian Superintendent, for the management of the department at Detroit. In another letter Haldimand objected to sending Hay to take the place of DePeyster, and it was not until November 2, 1783, that Hay finally was ordered to go to Detroit. He left Montreal and reached Carleton Island November 24, where he was taken sick and a few days later returned to Montreal where he remained until the following summer, when he again left, arriving at Detroit July 12, 1784, for his seat of Governor.

He enjoyed the duties and emoluments of this position for a short time only, as he died at Detroit on August 2, 1785. He had married at Detroit Julie Marie Reaume in 1778, and had one son, John, who survived him.

He remained in England about a year, and probably while there prepared the manuscript of the diary as it is published, but for some reason he failed to complete it and left the manuscript in London when he returned to America.

Marshall Davies Lloyd