ARNAUD (Darnaud, Darnault), JEAN-CHARLES D’, officer in the colonial regular troops; b. c. 1706 in France, youngest son of a lieutenant-commander in the navy; d. sometime after 1752 in France.
When at the early age of 16 Jean-Charles d’Arnaud arrived in Canada in 1722 as an ensign, the governor, Vaudreuil [Rigaud*], thought him sensible, spirited, and likely to make a good officer. Events bore out his judgement. Although a resident of Quebec, Arnaud spent many years in various western posts where he served competently and won the confidence of the Indians despite his short stature. After an apprenticeship as second in command at Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ont.) in 1727 and 1728, he was stationed at Detroit in 1731. At this time the wars of the Fox Indians were jeopardizing the French alliances with the western tribes. The French were apprehensive about any contact between the Foxes and these tribes, and Arnaud persuaded the Hurons, allies of the French, to kill their Fox prisoners rather than keep them as slaves. For this diplomatic coup Arnaud received warm praise from Governor Charles de Beauharnois, who appointed him in 1732 commander of the post among the Miamis on the Maumee River (probably at or near present-day Fort Wayne, Ind.). It was likely also an important factor in his promotion to lieutenant the following year.
A smallpox epidemic in 1732 decimated the Miamis and their relatives, the Weas (Ouiatanons) and the Piankeshaws, causing most of them to disperse. The few that remained departed in 1733 to settle at Rivière Blanche (possibly the Scioto River, Ohio) nearer the English. The French were alarmed, but by 1734 Arnaud and a fellow officer, Nicolas-Joseph de Noyelles de Fleurimont, had persuaded the scattered remnants of the Miami tribe to reunite at their old village, thus averting the collapse of an important alliance.
Immediately after, Arnaud led a force of French and Indians to put down an insurrection which had broken out in the Wea village over a dispute with a French trader, but the disturbance subsided before he reached the scene. Fearing the consequences of a general uprising against the French should the Weas receive support from their neighbours, Arnaud called off his detachment. Governor Beauharnois firmly supported his conciliatory behaviour as the only practical policy in view of the threat posed by the Fox and Chickasaw disturbances.
Arnaud’s father was an old comrade of Beauharnois in the navy, so it is not surprising that the son enjoyed the governor’s protection and praise while serving in Canada. His appointments to western posts were notable favours and Arnaud took full advantage of them by forming a company in 1733 to exploit the Indian trade at the Miami post.
The minister of Marine, Maurepas, allowed Arnaud to make three trips to France, each for two years, in 1733, 1738, and 1742, to look after family affairs in Brittany and Provence. The voyage of 1738 was apparently undertaken to marry the daughter of a M. Cugnet, probably Louise-Charlotte, daughter of François-Étienne Cugnet, but she fell seriously ill and there was no marriage.
Beginning in 1740 Arnaud commanded for two years at Fort Frontenac, his last major service in Canada. He was made captain on 17 May 1741. Illness prevented him from taking an active part in the War of the Austrian Succession, and was the reason for his retirement as captain on half pay in 1746 with an annual pension of 300 livres and the cross of Saint-Louis. In addition to Beauharnois’s protection, Arnaud enjoyed the constant influence of the Comtesse de Donge at court. It may explain why he alone won his retirement in 1746 while several officers much older, and at least as incapacitated, failed in their requests. He returned to his family’s home in Quimper, France, where he drew his pension regularly for several years. Mme Bégon [Rocbert] found him good company when passing through on her return to France in 1749. He was still alive in January 1752. Thereafter his name disappears from the records.
Jean-Charles d’Arnaud was an able military officer, without great ambition, who appears to have lived comfortably. On first departing for Canada he needed an advance on his salary; thenceforth he neither asked for gratuities from the king nor complained of any financial misery. Unlike many Canadian officers he seems not to have indulged immoderately in speculative commercial ventures, or spent lavishly beyond his means. He was a stranger to the courts and avoided the unhappy lot of many fellow officers who were hounded to their graves by irate creditors.
AN, Col., B, 45, ff.85v–86; 55, f.500v; 64, ff.442, 434–35; 65, f.410; 69, f.79; 72, ff.396–96v; 83, f.263v; C11A, 52, p.169 (PAC transcript); 57, ff.340, 348–50; 59, ff.18–19v, 37–38v; 61, ff.91–92, 299v–300; 64, ff.138–38v; 65, ff.49v–51v; 68, ff.153–55; 69, ff.136–36v; 70, ff.138–40; 74, ff.124–27; 75, ff.189–92; 77, f.296v; 83, ff.1, 124–28; 84, ff.218–21; 120/2, p.120 (PAC transcript); D2C, 18; 47/2, pt.3, p.150; 47/2, pt.4, pp.366, 398; 48/1, pp.3, 47; 222/1, p.14 (PAC transcripts); E, 8; Marine, C1, 161/1, f.20. ANQ, Greffe de Nicolas Boisseau, 29 avril 1740, 21 août 1742. BN, mss, Clairambault, 866, ff.343–444. “Correspondance de Mme Bégon” (Bonnault), APQ Rapport, 1934–35, 79. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 1097. “Recensement de Québec, 1744” (APQ Rapport), 133. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 142-43. Massicotte, “Répertoire des engagements pour l’Ouest,” APQ Rapport, 1929–30, 296–97, 299–300. A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., XV, 110. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. P.-G. Roy, “La famille du légiste François-Joseph Cugnet au Canada,” BRH, XXI (1915), 236. “Le Sieur Darnaud,” BRH, XXXIX (1933), 482. Henri Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec et ses délégués en France,” BRH, XVI (1910), 263–64.