TISSERANT DE MONCHARVAUX (Montchervaux), JEAN-BAPTISTE-FRANÇOIS, officer in the colonial regular troops; b. 1696 or 1697 in the parish of Saint-Pierre, diocese of Langres, France, to François Tisserant de Moncharvaux and Marie-Louise de Vienne; m. 3 June 1721 at Quebec to Marie-Thérèse L’Archevêque; m. again in 1737 to Marie-Agnès Chassin at Kaskaskia, (Ill.); d. 14 June 1767 in Paris, France.
Jean-Baptiste Tisserant de Moncharvaux entered the army in 1713 and served in Flanders, where he was wounded. In 1716 he came to Canada as a cadet in the colonial regulars and seems to have spent most, if not all, of the next 13 years here, becoming a cornet in the governor’s guards in 1727. He saw action “against English and Indians amid the rigours of winter by land and by water. . . .”
Following his return to France in 1729 he was given a commission in the Louisiana troops. He arrived in New Orleans in March 1731 and was given command at Pointe Coupée (near New Roads, La.). The colony came under a more active administration in July 1731, when it reverted from the Compagnie des Indes to royal government. This change and the appointment of Bienville [Le Moyne] as governor the next summer brought a revived interest in upper Louisiana. Moncharvaux was sent to the Illinois country with Pierre d’Artaguiette d’Itouralde, the new commandant, who early in 1733 put him in charge of a smaller fort just erected at Cahokia (East St. Louis, Ill.). His wife and three sons left Canada to join him but died in a shipwreck on the way.
In late 1735 or early 1736 Moncharvaux received instructions from d’Artaguiette to bring a force of Illinois Indians south to join in an attack against the powerful Chickasaws, a tribe hated by the French because of its friendship with the English. The Illinois were in their winter hunting grounds, and by the time Moncharvaux brought them to Chickasaw country d’Artaguiette had already been defeated. Moncharvaux’s late arrival seems not to have been held against him by the authorities, for in October 1736 he was promoted lieutenant. In 1739 he took part in a more successful French show of force against the Chickasaws. As commandant of a post near the mouth of the Arkansas River in the 1740s he continued to be involved in French manoeuvring against the tribe. He received a captaincy in December 1747.
Having gained the confidence of Pierre de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil, the new governor of Louisiana, Moncharvaux was given command of the 1749 royal convoy, which took goods up the Mississippi to the settlements in the Illinois country. He received the position at a time when the recently arrived financial commissary, Honoré Michel de Villebois de La Rouvillière, was determined to keep a closer watch on expenditures. Michel transmitted to the minister of Marine reports of Moncharvaux’s drunkenness and peculation, but he and Vaudreuil later wrote in the commandant’s defence that the position had traditionally been regarded by officers as a means of supplementing their incomes and that Moncharvaux had been no worse than his predecessors. He had a numerous family and, Vaudreuil noted, his poverty was evidence that he had not engaged in private trade at the posts where he had been stationed.
By late 1751 Moncharvaux was commanding at Kaskaskia; in 1757 he was stationed on the Missouri River, along with his son Jean-Baptiste and four other soldiers. He probably remained in upper Louisiana until 1763 when another officer was sent to replace him at the Arkansas post. Moncharvaux returned to France, perhaps before he learned that the lands for which he had spent a lifetime fighting were being ceded to England and Spain. On the journey he lost most of his goods in two successive shipwrecks. He began receiving a pension of 200 livres a year in 1764, and he attempted to improve his financial situation further by taking his brother to court to regain a share in an inheritance. Early in 1767 he entered the Hôtel-Dieu of Paris, where he died in June.
AN, Marine, C7, 213. Anglo-French boundary disputes, 1749–63 (Pease). Before Lewis and Clark: documents illustrating the history of the Missouri, 1785–1804, ed. A. P. Nasatir (2v., St Louis, Mo., 1952), I, 50. [J.-B. Bossu], Travels in the interior of North America, 1751–1762, trans. and ed. Seymour Feiler (Norman, Okla., 1962), 70–71. Illinois on eve of Seven Years’ War (Pease and Jenison). Mississippi Provincial Archives, 1701–1740, French dominion, ed. Dunbar Rowland and A. G. Sanders (2v., Jackson, 1927–29), I. Old Cahokia: a narrative and documents illustrating the first century of its history, ed. J. F. McDermott (St Louis, Mo., 1949). Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Alvord, Illinois country. Belting, Kaskaskia. Wilfrid Bovey, “Some notes on Arkansas Post and St Philippe in the Mississippi valley,” RSCT, 3rd ser., XXXIII (1939), sect.ii, 29–47. Stanley Faye, “The Arkansas post of Louisiana: French domination,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly (New Orleans), XXVI (1943), 633–721.