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The City of Detroit
DU LUTH'S POST—FORT PONTCHARTBAIN—FORT LERNOULT—FORT SHELBY-
Although details which concern the various forts which have stood at Detroit have been given throughout the chapters dealing with the early military history of the place, we herewith present a few connected details in brief form.
The first forts in the region about the Great Lakes were established by the French for the purpose of facilitating trade with the Indians, and as a protection against the forays of unfriendly Indian tribes. The presence of a fort was regarded by the red men as evidence that the French were masters of the country. As early as 1671 a fort was built at Michilimackinac, a small garrison was stationed there to protect the traders and friendly Indians, and to prevent the English from opening a traffic with the western tribes.
Du Luth's Post
On June 6, 1686, Marquis de Denonville, governor-general of New France, wrote to Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Luth, former commandant at Michilimackinac and then in charge of Indian affairs on the upper lakes, as follows:
"You will see from the letters which I am writing to M. de la Durantaye that my intention is that you should occupy a post at the Strait of Lake Erie with fifty men, that you should choose a post in an advantageous spot so as to secure this passage to us, to protect our savages who go hunting there, and to serve them as a refuge against the designs of their enemies and ours; you will do nothing and say nothing to the Iroquois unless they venture on any attempt against you and against our allies.
"You will take care that each (of the fifty men) provide himself with provisions sufficient for his subsistence at the said post, when I doubt not you may trade for peltries."
Durantaye was at that time commandant at Michilimackinac. He fitted out Du Luth's expedition according to the governor's instructions, but instead of locating a post "at the Strait of Lake Erie," Du Luth selected a site in what is now St. Clair County, a short distance north of Port Huron, where he established Fort St. Joseph. The following year Durantaye, Du Luth and Tonty, then commandant at Fort St. Louis in the Illinois country, all joined in an expedition against the Iroquois Indians. The expedition proved to be a failure, which left the posts on the lower lakes exposed to Indian attacks, and Fort