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Calcasieu Historical Preservation Society

Truman Stacey

"Notable Men and Women of SWLA" is result of work compiled by SLHA member Truman Stacey.

A native of Texas,Truman Stacey served in the U.S. Army in World War II, earned bachelor and master degrees from the University of Detroit, and worked on a number of newspapers before serving as editor-in-chief of the Lake Charles American Press from 1961 to 1982, when he became chief information officer for the Catholic Diocese of Lake Charles. 

Stacey wrote the series of articles here to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. These articles appear in numerous newspapers across the state, including the DeQuincy News, the Cameron Pilot, the Teche News, the Welsh Citizen, the American Press, the Ville Platte News, and the Hammond Star.

He is a past president of Southwest Louisiana Historical Association.

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Charles-Phillipe Aubry

Charles-Phillipe Aubry was one of the key figures in the transfer of the colony of Louisiana from France to Spain in 1762. He was also a stalwart soldier of long service to the French Crown.

Born in France about 1720, Aubry was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry in the French Army in December of 1734. He served with distinction in Bavaria, Bohemia and Italy during the War of the Austrian Succession until peace was made in 1748.

He was promoted to captain in 1750 and assigned to Louisiana just in time to fight in the Seven Years War, another of those bitter struggles between the French and the English. This one had been ignited when a 22-year-old Virginia militia officer named George Washington ambushed a French party on the Ohio River in 1754.

Aubry was ordered north to the Illinois country where he assumed command of the French forces concentrated at St. Louis. In the spring of 1757 he led a force of 150 French infantry, 100 Indian allies and three pieces of artillery to found Fort Ascension at the juncture of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. He then led a reconnaissance in force up the Tennessee but encountered no enemy force. In the fall a Cherokee war party attacked the fort but was driven off.

The next year he was at Fort Duquesne, where he distinguished himself in several encounters with the English. From there he was dispatched with a force of 500 to relieve Fort Niagara, under siege by the English. There he found himself badly outnumbered, and the relieving force was routed by 800 English and nearly 1,000 Iroquois braves. Aubry himself and 16 other officers were captured by the Indians and tortured before they were rescued by the British commandant.

He was sent to an English prison in New York, but was exchanged in 1760, and was sent to France. There he received the Cross of the Order of St. Louis for his services, and was returned to Louisiana to command this colony's garrison at New Orleans until the end of the war in 1762. He was selected to accompany Louisiana Governor Jean-Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie when the governor went to Mobile to arrange for the transfer of France's Appalachian lands to the English, according to the terms of the peace treaty.

It was not until they returned to New Orleans that they learned that France had given Louisiana to Spain to prevent the English from taking it, too.
Thereafter the two officials settled down to await the arrival of Spanish officials. They had their own problems, however. It was necessary to make peace with the Choctaw and Alabama tribes, who had fought on the side of the English during the war.

Also, the absence of French officials as well as soldiers during the war years had created what d'Abbadie called "a tendency to flout authority and resort to violence" on the part of the colonists. The news of the transfer of the colony to Spain only aggravated the unruly members of the colony.

D'Abbadie's sudden death on February 4, 1765, was another blow. That left Aubry, whose major desire was to hand the colony over to Spain and return to France, as the chief official and he reluctantly assumed the reins as governor.

His position was an unpleasant one. The economic condition of the colony was perilous. The armed forces were scattered from the western frontier to the Illinois country. At New Orleans he had perhaps 100 men, and many of them were on the eve of retirement. The best he could do was keep things on an even keel until the new Spanish governor arrived.

That day finally dawned in 1766 with the arrival of Louisiana's first Spanish governor, Don Antonio de Ulloa. Unfortunately, for both Louisiana and Spain, he had brought only a tiny military force with him, expecting no trouble. His economic measures outraged the colony's merchants, and only served to increase resentment at a new and unfamiliar government.

It was not long, of course, before resentment blazed into action. Urged on by a few fire brands who were determined to keep the colony French, Ulloa was driven onto a boat, which was then cut adrift, and floated down the river.

Where was Aubry in all of this? He refused to join the conspirators, but he also refused to attempt to use military force to stop them because he could not bring himself to fire on Frenchmen.

Once more the reins of government were in his hand. He waited for the inevitable Spanish reaction. This came in 1769 with the arrival of General Alexandre O'Reilly with 2,000 soldiers and 46 pieces of artillery.

This display of force overawed even the most volatile of the rebels, and O'Reilly took possession without a shot being fired. Aubry was relieved to turn affairs over to O'Reilly and to seek his retirement.

O'Reilly was not long in convincing the colonists that Spain was in Louisiana to stay. Five of the rebel leaders were sent to the firing squad and five others were sent to prison. O'Reilly prudently overlooked the fact that many of the colony's leading merchants supported the rebels. No charges were filed against them.

With the arrival of O'Reilly, Aubry received his wish to resign his French commission and return to France in 1770.

Unfortunately, the ship carrying him to France, the Pere de Familie, foundered off the coast of Bordeaux and Aubry was among those lost. He served France long and well, but his services were never really appreciated by the crown.