Arriving in America two months before Lafayette, Augustin Mottin de La Balme (1740-1780), as recommended by Benjamin Franklin, was commissioned as Inspector General of American Cavalry in 1777.
After resigning that commission he came west in 1780 with a plan to capture Fort Detroit. He hoped to arouse the French at Vincennes, Kaskaskia, and Ouieatenon to join that attack.
De La Balme left Cahokia and traveled to Vincennes and then on to Ouieatenon gathering men as he went. After a four days ride, he came upon a trade post kept by the Miami Indians and an agitator named Beaubien. He took the horses and destroyed the stores.
He then bivouacked approximately six miles from present day Columbia City, Indiana. It was there where he was surprised by Chief Little Turtle of the Miamis and along with a majority of his force was killed.
La Balme's watch, double barreled gun, apurs, regimentals, and some valuable papers now reside in the British Military Museum.