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Collection Scope and Content Notes

The collection contains the two-page letter with the hand-drawn plan of Fort Duquesne on the verso of the letter, written by Robert Stobo to Colonel James Innes (c. 1700-1759, pressing for an attack of the fort by British colonial and Indian forces. There is also an early manuscript copy of the letter and plan, in addition to a typed transcription of the letter.

Notes: Robert Stobo wrote two letters during his captivity at Fort Duquesne by the French. On the verso of one of those letters, he sketched a detailed plan of the fort. He smuggled both letters out of Fort Duquesne and had them sent to Colonel James Innes (c. 1700-1759), the Commander-in-Chief of colonial forces in the Ohio River Valley. Colonel Innes was headquartered at Fort Cumberland on Will’s Creek during the summer of 1754. An Indian, named Moses, delivered the letter in this collection to Will's Creek, but he did not give it directly to Colonel Innes first, but rather to George Croghan, whom he knew and hoped to receive a reward. Croghan opened the letter himself and proceeded to make several copies.

The letter describes the concerns of the Shanoe (Shawnee) Indians about the alleged imprisonment of two of their "kings and 300 warriors." Stobo communicates the plight of the Shanoe left in the villages who are vulnerable to raids from Cheroquees (Cherokees) and Cotabes. Stobo describes the competing English and French attempts to ally themselves with the Shanoe. At the time of writing, the Shanoe council is deliberating on the matter.

The remainder of the letter describes the number and movement of French troops at Fort Duquesne. On the reverse of the letter is a map of the fort and its environs. The map shows the Ohio and Monongahela rivers with the Allegheny River drawn but not identified by name. A descriptive legend translates letters and numbers depicted on the diagram of the fort revealing the location of arms and embankments. The map indicates a half mile of cornfields and woods beyond the fort. Stobo closes with an optimistic assessment of the British position, stating that one hundred Indians could take the fort by autumn.

According to author Walter R. Borneman, Stobo's letter was found in General Edward Braddock's trunk and returned to Fort Duquesne after the defeat of Braddock by the French and Indians on July 9, 1755 at the Battle of Monongahela. Colonel Innes gave the letter to Braddock when he set off on his engagement. Presumably Braddock carried the orginal letter that Stobo penned since Alberts indicates that the original letter is held at the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec. He mentions that four copies of the letter are known to exist: William Darlington obtained two of them with the remaining two believed to be held in private collections.

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