One event of interest during the Revolutionary war was the capture of the English fort at St. Joseph.

While the American colonies were struggling for their independence, Spain made an attack in the rear, from the lower Mississippi Valley, which it then controlled.

A military expedition was sent from St. Louis across the States of Illinois and Indiana to St. Joseph, Mich., a small post then held by British soldiers.

The post quickly capitulated, and the flag of Castile waved unquestioned for a few days in the wilds of Michigan.

By that act the prairies of Illinois became Spanish possessions, and the command of Lake Michigan fell from British hands to the mercies of the Dons.

This interesting event occurred early in the year 1781.

It had by that time become apparent to the powers of Europe that the American colonies would achieve their independence, and the very important question arose what territory should be transferred to the new' nation born on the wild western continent.

France was still smarting under the loss of Canada, and of the Great Lakes eighteen years earlier.

Spain was yet an aggressive explorer, and both nations indulged hopes of territorial gain when the terms of the American treaty would be arranged.

It was, doubtless, with this aim in view that the little Spanish post at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers received instructions from the King of Spain to acquire some color of title to the fertile lands and the great inland waters lying west of the Alleghany Mountains.

These instructions must have been urgent, for they were carried out in the dead of winter and in the face of great difficulties.

The expedition, which left St. Louis January 2, 1781, consisted of sixty-five militia and sixty Indians.

Of the militia thirty were Spaniards and thirty-five were probably French traders, whose sympathies and interests were then with Spain rather than with England.

The Indians, according to Spanish authorities, were of the nations "Otaguis, Sotu and Putuami."

In the last named may be easily recognized the Pottawatomies, whose children it was, perhaps, who massacred the American soldiers and settlers at Fort Dearborn thirty-one years later.

Don Eugenio Purre had charge of the expedition.

Don Carlos Tayon was second in command, and with them was Don Luis Chevalier, I "a man well versed in the language of the Indians."

This Chevalier was, doubtless, the Louis Chevelier, a French trader who narrowly escaped death when the savages, during Pontiac's war in 1763, captured the English post at St. Joseph and massacred eleven of its fourteen occupants.

He was versed not only in the language of the Indians, but in their weaknesses, and was a master of diplomacy in negotiations with the unlettered tribes.

His services were especially valuable, for the incursion to the lake country was to be made through the hunting grounds of Indians friendly to the English.

Their neutrality must be purchased, for upon that neutrality hinged the success of the expedition.

An inkling of the lavish hand with which this nonintervention was to be purchased is presented in the Spanish official account of the journey.

Each of the militiamen was obliged to carry provisions for his own subsistence, and various merchandises which were necessary to content, in case of need, the barbarous nations through whom they were obliged to cross.

The commander, by seasonable negotiations and precautions, prevented a considerable body of Indians, who were at the devotion of the English from opposing this expedition.

"Not only was there a liberal distribution of gifts among the Indians, but a share of the goods to the captured at the fort was promised in the event of success.'

Two great chiefs, Eluturno and Naquigen," were also members of the expedition.

"The distance from St. Louis to St. Joseph was 220 leagues."

The weather was severe and the party suffered " the greatest inconvenience from cold and hunger."

It is a matter of some surprise that authorities do not agree upon the site of St. Joseph.

La Salle, in 1679, had established a post at the mouth of St. Joseph river, and this location for Fort St. Joseph is given by Parkman, by Dillon's history of Indiana, 1843 edition and by other historians.

Charlevoix, who visited the post in 1721, places it about thirty miles up the river, near the present city of Niles, Mich.

English and French maps also give the interior location.

But whichever site was correct, it commanded lake Michigan for the puny craft that then sailed its stormy waters.

The fort fell without resistance.

There were only a few English soldiers present.

They were perhaps surprised, through the golden sealing of savage lips, until it was too late to receive re-enforcements from Detroit.

True to their promises-for there was a return journey to be made-the spoils of the fort were divided among the Indians who accompanied the expedition, and those through whose lands the Spaniards had marched.

Commandant Purre unfurled the Spanish flag above the fort.

It was the first and last time the gold and crimson banner waved in the region of the Great Lakes. And the time was brief, too.

Fearing an attack from Detroit, Don Purre, after a few days' rest, destroyed all stores that had not been taken by his Indian allies, and began the return trip.

It is conjectured that he took the same route by which he had advanced, crossing the portage from the St. Joseph to the Kankakee perhaps at or near South Bend, Ind., and retreating in a southwesterly course across the State of Illinois.

He took with him the British flag which he had captured at St. Joseph, and presented it with fitting ceremonies to Don Francisco Cruvat, Spanish governor at St. Louis. Franklin and his confreres representing the American colonies at the peace deliberations then progressing at Paris proved equal to the situation. Spain and France were actively seeking to pen up the American colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, and to that end sought the co-operation of Great Britain.

But the latter country judged that her claim upon the western domain between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi river would be better ceded to the colonies than left to the machinations of her European rivals, and quietly negotiated the basis for a treaty with the United States by which center lines through the Great Lakes and through the Mississippi river were made the respective northern and western boundaries of the new nation. And thus, the shadow of Spain was by shrewd diplomacy removed from the prairies of Illinois and from the mastery of Lake Michigan.