BOOK THREE:  French Louisiana


BOOK ONE:      Acadia

BOOK TWO:     The Great Upheaval

BOOK FOUR:   A New Acadia               

BOOK FIVE:     The Bayou State


France in Louisiana:  The Canadians, 1673-1702

French Louisiana was in its beginning more Canadian than "French."  It was claimed for France by a Canadian, named by that same Canadian, explored by Canadians, settled by Canadians, and, during its first dozen years of existence, struggled under two Canadian leaders who happened to be brothers.  Its first governor actually to hold that title was a native of France but had been summoned to the southern colony from Détroit, up in Canada.  Its first missionaries were from Canada, and when its first church parish was established in 1703, its priest answered to the Bishop of Québec, in faraway Canada.  All of its secular priests answered to the Bishop of Québec, in fact, for as long as Louisiana remained a French possession. 

The story of Louisiana, then, begins in Canada, not France.  By 1670, the year that Britain returned Acadia to France, Champlain's Canada had transcended its shaky beginnings.  Québec was secure, as was Montréal, Trois-Rivière, and a dozen other settlements along the great St. Lawrence.  French priests from Québec and Montréal, especially the black-robed Jesuits, had established missions among the Indian tribes of the region as far west as the outlet of Lake Superior at Sault Ste.-Marie and on Baie des Puants, or Green Bay, along the western shore of Lake Michigan.  Coureurs de bois and voyageurs, in uneasy step with the black robes, pushed the fur trade farther and farther into the wilderness, above, below, and even beyond the lakes.  "From the Indians," a great historian writes, "the French heard of a great river to the west."  The Jesuit Relations of 1669-70, repeating what the black-robe missionaries had heard from their native charges, described "a beautiful River, large, wide, deep, and worthy of comparison ... with our great river St. Lawrence."  Champlain and the others had learned long ago that the Fleuve St.-Laurent drained the Great Lakes, but it was not the Northwest Passage to Magellan's Southern Sea.  Was the beautiful river of the Indians a route to the Orient?  Those who had seen the river did not know.  They could describe the upper reaches of the belle rivière, but what lay below, even the direction the river flowed along its lower reaches as well as the location of its mouth, they could not say.01

In 1672, about the time that the Acadians were beginning to settle at Chignecto far to the northeast, the intendant of New France, Jean Talon, with the approbation of Governor-General Frontenac, chose a 26-year-old voyageur to learn the truth about "the river Michissipi," as the belle-rivière was called by the Ottawa.  Louis Jolliet, originally spelled Jollyet but usually spelled Joliet, born at Québec but raised on Île d'Orleans below the city, had attended a Jesuit school at Québec in his youth and had come close to the priesthood before becoming a voyageur.  Jolliet could speak several European languages--French, English, Spanish, Latin--and perhaps several native tongues as well, which stood him in good stead as he pursued the fur trade.  His command of languages, the intendant believed, were excellent qualifications for an explorer.  Jolliet's mission was to determine where the great river flowed--into the Mexican Gulf or into the Mer Vermeille, the French name for the Gulf of California.  If the river flowed into the Vermilion Sea, the French would be able to flank the Spanish in Mexico with a direct route to the markets of the East! 

The intendant informed the young explorer that New France could not spare funds for the voyage, so Jolliet was compelled to form a fur-trading partnership and raise money on his own.  This delayed the voyage of discovery until the following spring.  In the winter of 1672, Jolliet, on orders from the Jesuit superior of New France, took on a partner of a different kind.  Père Jacques Marquette, fluent in half a dozen Indian languages, was eager to spread the One True Faith to more tribes of the region.  In May 1673, Jolliet, with canoes manned by Father Marquette and five other voyageurs, at least four of them his trading partners, followed the Indian route via lake, bay, river, and portage from the Jesuit mission of St.-Ignace at Michilimackinac, on the Straits of Mackinac, to where Rivière Meskousing, the Wisconsin River, flows into the Mississippi at present-day Prairie du Chien.  When they got there it already was mid-June. 

They paddled down the great river for hundreds of miles, following its many turns, passing many tributaries, greeting many tribes, seeing, even experiencing, many natural wonders, traveling not west but south, always south.  Near the mouth of the Arkansas they came upon the Quapaw tribe, who showed them Spanish trade goods.  Jolliet and Marquette were now convinced that the Mississippi flowed into the Mexican Gulf, not the Vermilion Sea.  Though Jolliet had promised Frontenac that "he would see the mouth of the river," and the Quapaw informed him that he and his companions were only 50 leagues from the river's mouth, he knew that the Spanish would not be pleased to see a French exploring party in that country.  So, in late July, they turned their canoes back up river, now fighting the mighty current that had hurried them down.  Following the advice of friendly Indians, they followed a shorter route back to the Great Lakes via the Illinois River and the Chicago Portage and then up Sturgeon Bay to the mission of St.-François-Xavier near Green Bay, which they reached in mid-October.  Marquette resumed his mission work at St.-François-Xavier and later among the Illinois in present-day Michigan. 

After spending the winter at Sault Ste.-Marie, where he carefully compiled his maps and reports and left copies with the Jesuits there, Jolliet headed back to Québec to report to the intendant.  An accident at the St.-Louis rapids on the upper St. Lawrence led to the death of three of his companions, including his Indian slave, and nearly drowned the explorer himself.  His maps and reports were lost to the St. Lawrence, and, later, their copies were consumed in a fire at the Sault Ste.-Marie mission.  Though he did not follow the great river to its mouth, or presume to claim its valley for King Louis XIV, Jolliet's discoveries were valuable to France and inspired others to explore Rivière Colbert, as the French would call the Mississippi.02


Less than a decade later, Jolliet and Marquette's efforts on the Mississippi were brought to fruition by one of the most interesting characters in Canadian--and Louisiana--history.  René-Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, was not a native of New France, but he made his reputation and his fortune there.  Born at Rouen into a wealthy upper bourgeois family, La Salle, as history knows him, spent his youth as a student of the Jesuits and then as a Jesuit noviate.  He yearned to become a missionary, but his superiors did not think he was mature enough to pursue that difficult avocation.  They were especially troubled by the young novice's tendency to become easily bored with his studies.  Frustrated, La Salle had himself released from his priestly vows and left the Jesuit convent at age 24, determined to make his way in the secular world.  His vow of poverty having denied him access to his father's patrimony, La Salle followed a brother and an uncle to New France to seek his fortune there and arrived at Québec in the fall of 1667, only a few months after abandoning his religious studies.  Probably through the influence of his older brother Jean, a Sulpician priest at Montréal, the young bachelor received a seigneurie at Côte St.-Sulpice on Île Montréal.03

Soon bored with his life as a Canadian seigneur, La Salle's youthful desire to become a great explorer took hold of him.  In January 1669, he sold the major part of his seigneurie, for which he had paid nothing to the priests, and kept only the house for his fur-trading interests.  He was determined to explore the distant Ohio River, stories of which he had heard from the Indians.  Perhaps that river, and not the Mississippi, was the way to the Vermilion Sea.  Despite his complete lack of experience as a voyageur, he received permission from Intendant Talon to lead an expedition to the distant river.  None of La Salle's companions, including several Sulpicians, spoke the language of the Iroquois, through whose territory they would pass, nor were any of them, including La Salle himself, competent in cartography or celestial navigation.  La Salle managed to secure the services of a Dutch interpreter, but, sadly, the Dutchman could speak little French.  In nine canoes, the band of misfits set off for Lake Ontario in early July and, after much trial and error, reached the great lake in early August.  The Iroquois, being apprised of the Frenchmen's intentions, invited La Salle and his party to the great Seneca village in present-day western New York, where the wily Indians delayed their further progress towards the land of their enemies.  Finally, an Iroquois wanderer agreed to lead La Salle and his party deeper into the western country, and they followed him and other guides overland to the shores of Lake Erie, which the Indians assured them was a more efficient route to the headwaters of the Ohio.  By then, however, La Salle had fallen ill and become bored with the venture, so he left the Sulpicians to minister to the Ottawa and abandoned his fantasy to explore the Ohio.

Despite his failure, La Salle had powerful friends in France who, throughout the 1670s, touted the young explorer's "discovery" not only of the Ohio but also of the Mississippi!  By then, La Salle had become a champion of the anti-Jesuit party in France and New France.  In 1673, during a dispute between the governor of Montréal and Governor-General Frontenac, La Salle ingratiated himself to the governor-general, who also distrusted the Jesuits.  Back in France in 1674-75, La Salle secured not only a title of nobility for himself and his descendants but also the trading concession at Catararcoui, which he promptly renamed Fort Frontenac.  The post lay on the north shore of Lake Ontario where it fell into the upper St. Lawrence and held every promise of making La Salle a wealthy man.  The post also was perfectly positioned for further exploration of the western country, an ambition La Salle still embraced.03a

But it was not enough.  Hungry for more concessions and preferment, La Salle returned to France in 1677 and lobbied for authorization from the court "to construct, at his own expense, 'two establishments ... one at the entrance to Lake Erie, the other at the exit from the Lac des Illinois (Michigan); to become seigneur of the lands that he might discover and populate. ...,'" as well as the office of governor of the new territory.  Amazingly, La Salle received much of what he sought, including permission "to reconnoitre the western part of North America between New France, Florida, and Mexico" from King Louis XIV himself.04

Evidently the young nobleman envisioned nothing less than a string of French forts from the St. Lawrence through the Great Lakes, on into the Illinois country, and down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico!  By the late 1670s, the English had established colonies along the Atlantic littoral from Maine all the way down to Florida.  From La Salle's forts, the French could project power and influence not only into the western lands to overawe more Indian tribes but also south into Spanish Mexico with its gold and silver mines, and east to the mountains behind the English, hemming them in against the sea.  Compelling economic interests also fueled his scheme.  France--that is to say, La Salle--would dominate the lucrative fur trade not only in the Great Lakes region but also in the Mississippi valley. 

La Salle was back at Québec in September 1678 with craftsmen, seamen, and gentlemen to help him secure his western domain.  Among his new associates was Henri de Tonty, the valorous Neapolitan-turned-French soldier who had lost a hand in combat against the Spanish and who would stay with La Salle to the end.  Later in the year, La Salle and his men became the first Europeans to see Niagara Falls.  By late summer of 1679, La Salle's men, under Tonty's supervision, had constructed a fort, which La Salle called Conti, below the falls, on the east bank of the Niagara near where it flows into Lake Ontario.  Above the falls, on the Lake Erie shore, they constructed a 70-foot, 45-ton galliot, the Griffon, which La Salle and Tonty would use to explore the upper Great Lakes and secure, if they could, an all-water route to the Straits of Mackinac and the entrance to Lake Superior at Sault Ste.-Marie.  To see for themselves if this route was possible, for 20 days, from late August into September, La Salle sailed the Griffon through Lake Erie, past Détroit, into Lake St.-Claire, up Rivière St.-Claire, into Lake Huron, and on to the mission of St.-Ignace at Michilimackinac.  This voyage alone would have secured La Salle's reputation as a significant explorer, but he sailed on through the Straits of Mackinac into Lake Michigan and down its western shore into La Baie des Puants, "the stinking bay."  Ignoring the King's insistence that he not trade with the western tribes who provided beaver pelts for the merchant-priests at Montréal, La Salle filled the Griffon with pelts from the western country and sent the sturdy little ship back to Niagara via Michilimackinac.05

Back at Michilimackinac, La Salle, with 14 men in four canoes, headed south into Lake Michigan and rendezvoused with Tonty at the mouth of the Rivière-des-Miami, on the lower eastern shore of the lake.  Impressed with the site, he ordered the construction of a palisade at the mouth of the river, Fort St.-Joseph, also called Fort Miami, and ordered the Griffon to rendezvous with him there instead of returning to Niagara.  However, word came back from Michilimackinac through Tonty that the Griffon was nowhere to be found.  Determined to lose no momentum in his western explorations, the restless La Salle canoed up the Rivière-des-Miami, portaged to the Kankakee, and followed that stream to the magnificent Rivière Illinois.  He reached the site of present-day Peoria in early January 1680.  No one could accuse him now of lacking knowledge and experience.  The young nobleman was now a voyageur, as good as the best of that hardy breed.  

La Salle asked permission from the Illinois to build a fort on the great river.  He also revealed his plan to build another bark there, which he would use to complete the exploration of the Mississippi River.  Negotiations went well with the Illinois chiefs until a chief from the Mascouten appeared at the village and accused the Frenchman of being an ally of their common enemy, the Iroquois.  The Indians related tales to La Salle and his men about the perils of navigating the great river.  Some of La Salle's men took the Indian tales to heart and deserted the enterprise, but La Salle, aware of Jolliet and Marquette's experience, ignored the warnings and refused to give up his plan to build a fort in the area.  He ordered his men to build a palisade at a prudent distance below the Illinois village and named it Fort Crèvecoeur, which in French means "broken heart."  He left Tonty on the Illinois to survey the location of another fort he hoped to build at Le Rocher, or Starved Rock, farther up, at the head of navigation. 

In late February, La Salle sent another of his lieutenants who would win historical fame, Father Antoine dit Louis Hennepin, a French Recollet priest, to scout the Illinois to its confluence with the Mississippi while he and a small party of men searched for the Griffon.  Back at Fort Miami, La Salle heard nothing of the fate of his vessel.  Determined to return to Niagara, he and his men set out across country and, after a difficult trek, reached Fort Conti in April.  But his difficulties had only begun.  The Niagara fort had burned, and, worse yet, he learned that a ship from France bringing him a large load of goods for his future endeavors had been lost in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  He pressed on to Fort Frontenac, where he arrived in May, completing one of the most amazing journeys in the history of New France.  He returned to Montréal to settle some financial matters and returned to Fort Frontenac, "more in debt than ever."  In July, he received a message from Tonty informing him that the fort on the Illinois had been sacked and then abandoned by the men he had left there.  Moreover, these deserters were coming cross country to finish him, destroying all they could find that belonged to him.  Undaunted, La Salle and some trustworthy associates waited in ambush and captured the miscreants as they approached Fort Frontenac.06

La Salle wasted no time returning to Illinois.  Soon after capturing his errant men, he set out in mid-August with 25 men in canoes and, following an old Indian route to Georgian Bay, appeared at Sault Ste.-Marie in mid-September before moving on to Michilimackinac.  On the way, he inquired about the fate of his Griffon and was convinced by the time he reached the Sault that his precious vessel had been lost in a storm, taking all hands with it.  He was especially anxious to learn the fate of his trusted lieutenant Tonty, who was last heard of in hostile Illinois country.  Hearing no news, he pressed on to Fort Miami and then on to the Illinois River to assess the damage to Fort Crèvecoeur.  Reaching Illinois, he found villages destroyed by the Iroquois.  He searched among the mutilated corpses for his trusty friend but found no trace of Tonty.  At Crèvecoeur, he found more destruction, including the remains of his unfinished bark.  He moved on to the Mississippi, seeing more signs of slaughter on the way but still no trace of Tony.  For the first time he laid eyes on the great river, but he could not remain there.  He retraced his steps to Fort Miami, which he reached in January 1681. 

It had been a maddening year for him, but he did not give up.  He sent a letter to Michilimackinac in case Tony appeared there, and encouraged the remnants of the Miami and Illinois to unite against the Iroquois.  Only by defeating their mutual enemy and returning to their villages could there be peace enough in the western domain for La Salle to pursue his interests there.  Finally, in March, he received word of Tonty.  His single-handed friend had barely survived the Iroquois onslaught the previous autumn.  Failing to dissuade the Iroquois from continuing on the war path, Tonty and the few men he could trust retreated back towards Michilimackinac via the upper Illinois and Lake Michigan, rediscovering the Chicago Portage used by Jolliet and Marquette.  While paddling up the western shore of Lake Michigan towards the Stinking Bay, they wrecked their canoe and nearly starved, but the Potawatomi took them in.  Rejoicing in the survival of his trusted lieutenant, La Salle arranged via messenger to rendezvous at Michilimackinac. 

After his reunion with Tonty at Michilimackinac in June 1681, La Salle hurried back to Montréal, having been summoned there by Governor-General Frontenac.  Determined to return to the dangers of the western country and to assuage his creditors, he drew up a will in August, but his return was delayed.  The new intendant, Jacques Duchesneau, no friend of La Salle, accused him of trading illegally with the Ottawa (which was true enough) and of stirring up the Iroquois against the Illinois (which was pure fabrication).  La Salle was back at Fort Miami in late December, so Frontenac must have deflected the intendant's charges.  La Salle was determined this time to see it through:  he would push on to the mouth of the Mississippi.

And so, with Tonty, 23 other Frenchmen, and 18 Indians, including women and children, La Salle set off for Illinois, reaching Crèvecoeur sometime in January 1682 and the Mississippi in early February. 

La Salle and Tonty had to wait a week for the ice to break on the upper Mississippi, and, in the middle of the month, they headed downriver.  The first night they camped on the right bank of the Mississippi, near the mouth of the Missouri River.  Five days later, they came upon the mouth of the Ohio--the Belle-Rivière which had eluded La Salle a dozen years before.  One of their camps was on the site of the future city of Memphis, where they were delayed for 10 days while searching for a crew member who had become lost while hunting.  While waiting, La Salle ordered the construction of a palisade there, which he called Fort Prud'homme after a luckless gunsmith, Pierre Prud'homme, who they rescued from the river.  In mid-March, they reached the country of the Arkansas, who were alarmed at their approach, but La Salle reassured them that his intentions were peaceful.  They smoked the pipe of peace, after which the Indians supplied the Frenchmen "sumptuously."  The writer goes on:  "La Salle, with all the customary ceremonies, took possession of the territory in the name of the king of France."  The Arkansas also provided them with two guides.07

Later in the month, they reached the mouth of the Arkansas River, where Jolliet and Marquette had turned back nine years before.  "The otter country was now giving way to the crocodile country."  They next camped among the Taensa, whom Tonty described as virtually civilized.  Next came their cousins the Koroa, who lived near their other cousins, the Natchez.  The Koroa welcomed La Salle and his party and said that they were only 10 days from the ocean.  La Salle waited until Easter to push on.  They passed the final bluff fronting the river at the site of today's Baton Rouge and, in early April, briefly explored the natural levee where New Orleans stands today.  The delay almost cost them dearly.  A nearby tribe, the Quinapisa, fired upon them, hurrying the Frenchmen on their way.08 

Finally, on 6 April 1682, they caught sight of the open sea.  For the next few days, they explored the Mississippi's bird-foot delta, and on April 9, "probably near the place now called Venice," they "took solemn possession of Louisiana," that is, La Louisiane, which was the name La Salle bestowed on the entire Mississippi valley.  The historian continues:  "La Salle, clad in scarlet trimmed in gold--where did the splendour of the Great Century not manage to intrude itself!--to the sound of triumphant hymns and salvoes of musketry, erected a cross and a column bearing the arms of His Most Christian Majesty, and buried a copper plate engraved with inscriptions.  In ringing tones he delivered the record of the territories that thus passed under the rule of the French crown.  Finally the document was countersigned by twelve of the persons present."09

Far to the northeast, Acadians from Port-Royal were beginning a new settlement, this time in the Minas Basin. 

After the impressive ceremony, La Salle was forced to make peace with the Quinapisa so that they could secure supplies for their return upriver.  This was, after all, an exploration party.  A French settlement in the area would have to come later.  After securing a supply of maize, which they had to steal from the inhospitable Quinapisa, they began their return voyage in mid-April.  Suspecting that members of that tribe were living among the Koroa, they hurried up to the Taensa village, where they were welcomed as before.  They were back in their canoes in early May.  La Salle pushed ahead to the Arkansas villages, leaving Tonty behind to command the main party.  La Salle had fallen ill and was recuperating at Fort Prud'homme among the Chickasaw when Tonty and the main party arrived there in late May.  La Salle sent Tonty ahead to Fort Miami with instructions to report to Frontenac the details of their discovery.  La Salle was well enough to resume the upriver journey in mid-June and was back at Crèvecoeur in July.  Still convalescing, La Salle did not return to Michilimackinac via Fort Miami and Lake Michigan until September.  Tonty was waiting for him.  La Salle was too frail to return to Québec and sail on to France to report his discoveries, so he remained at Michilimackinac to compile his report and send out dispatches.  Frontenac had been replaced by a new governor-general, Joseph-Antoine Le Febvre de La Barre, so La Salle was not ready to return to the St. Lawrence just yet.  After he recovered his health, he returned, instead, to Illinois, where Tonty had built the fort atop Starved Rock, on the east bank of the river, half way between Crèvecoeur and the Chicago portage.10

Fort St.-Louis-des-Illinois was completed in May 1683.  Only then was La Salle was ready to return to Fort Frontenac.  On his way back to the St. Lawrence, he was accosted by an officer sent out by the new governor-general to return him to Québec to answer more charges against him!  Moreover, La Barre had seized Fort Frontenac on the pretext of abandonment and awarded it to two of his favorites.  La Salle was now persona non grata in the colony; La Barre; De Meulles, the new intendant; La Salle's creditors; and, of course, the Jesuits, were all in league against him.  La Salle, in a fit of paranoia, accused La Barre and the others of plotting to have him murdered and took the first opportunity, with the governor's approbation, to sail back to France. 

No one had extended the reach, the glory, the influence of New France farther into the western country than the sieur de La Salle.  Yet he was not welcomed in Canada, at least not in the established communities along the St. Lawrence.  Tonty and his other trusted associates, who La Barre also ousted from the western forts, remained in New France, waiting for their leader to return, but La Salle would never see them again. 

Nor did La Salle seem to be much welcomed in old France.  He sailed from Québec aboard the ship Saint-Honoré and reached La Rochelle shortly before Christmas of 1683.  The King had written Governor-General La Barre the previous August "that the Sieur de La Salle's discovery is completely useless (and that) such undertakings must in future be prevented."  This convinced La Salle that his days in Canada were numbered.  He had hoped to use his new fort on Rivière Illinois as a base from which to establish a French settlement among the Taensa on the lower Mississippi.  The King's dictum to La Barre made this impossible.  But, luckily for La Salle, his discovery had inspired powerful advocates in France for the creation of a colony from which French forces could invade New Spain and seize the gold and silver mines there.  Abbé Claude Bernou, a favorite at Court, with encouragement from a Spanish nobleman who had deserted his post in Mexico and now worked for France, had concocted a scheme to establish a colony at the mouth of the Rio Bravo, today's Rio Grande, even before word of La Salle's discovery had reached France.  Bernou, evidently with La Salle's assistance, created a map for presentation to the Court that showed the mouth of the Mississippi not where La Salle had found it but 250 leagues farther to the west, closer to the mines of New Mexico!11

Bernou's and La Salles's lies and schemes succeeded at Court.  The King and his Minister of Marine, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Colbert, the Marquis de Seignelay, approved the venture.  To ensure no interference from his minions in New France, the King restored to La Salle control of the western country.  In April 1684, the King ordered La Barre to restore Fort Frontenac to La Salle and then granted La Salle "a commission to command in all the territory lying between Fort Saint-Louis-des-Illinois and New Biscay," Spanish territory in today's northeastern Mexico.  This gave La Salle control not only of the lower Mississippi valley but also the northwestern shore of the Gulf of Mexico.  He would need the concessions as much as the title:  "La Salle received the authority he sought, though he was to pay most of the expenses of the effort from his own fortune."12

La Salle would have his colony on the Mississippi, but not via Canada.  Preparations began promptly at Rochefort for the expedition to the Gulf of Mexico.  Four ships, including a warship, the Joly, would sail with their crews of officers and sailors; 100 soldiers; eight military officers; 40 or so indentured servants, some of them women, some of them children belonging to a married couple, Lucien and Isabelle (Planteau) Talon; six missionaries, including the Recollet Father Zenobius Membré who had served with La Salle and Tonty in Illinois; an engineer; and nine volunteers, including La Salle's older brother Père Jean, two of their nephews, 14-year-old Pierre, son of Louis Meunier, sieur de Previtte, and a bourgeois from Rouen, Henri Joutel, who La Salle would come to trust as much as he had trusted Henri de Tonty.  Unfortunately, La Salle clashed immediately with the captain of the Joly, Taneguy Le Gallois de Beaujeu, who refused to take orders from a landsman, especially one as volatile as the Sieur de La Salle.  It did not help that La Salle refused to impart to his captain the exact location of the planned colony.  Nor did it help that La Salle overloaded the Joly with supplies and settlers, forcing the sailors to sleep on the top deck, in the sun, wind, and rain. 

The flotilla left Rochefort at the end of July 1684, but only two days out the Joly broke its bowsprit.  A return to the Île d'Aix, near Rochefort, delayed departure on an ocean crossing plagued by problems.  From Île d'Aix, the flotilla sailed southwest to Cape Finisterre and then on to the Madeiras, off the coast the coast of North Africa.  When they crossed the Equator, the prickly La Salle refused to take part in the traditional burlesque, which did not endear him to the ship's sailors.  Approaching the Indies, La Salle and dozens of others took sick, so Beaujeu made for French St.-Domingue, the gateway to the Gulf, as swiftly as the Joly's sails allowed.  They landed not at Port-de-Paix, the agreed-upon port on St.-Domingues's north shore, but at Petit-Gouâve, along the southwestern coast, near today's Port-au-Prince.  Soon after landing, La Salle took sick again.  Days later, two of the other ships, the Aimable and the Belle, finally arrived, but the fourth ship, the supply ketch St.-François, failed to appear.  In late October, they learned of the fate of the St.-François--it had been captured by the Spanish.  Not only did the expedition lose most of its supplies, but the Spanish were now aware of La Salle's intent!  La Salle blamed the loss on Captain Beaujeu, which only worsened their relationship. 

Only with the help of the governor of Île de la Tortue were they able to stockpile enough supplies to begin the new settlement.  The expedition left St.-Domingue much diminished in size.  La Salle had lost not only the officers, crew, and passengers aboard the St.-François but also a number of deserters who had jumped ship in St.-Domingue.  Perhaps blaming Beaujeu for this as well, La Salle elected to travel on aboard the smaller ship Aimable, and by late November they were on their way. 

Hugging the south coast of Cuba, Beaujeu managed to elude the Spanish and reach the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of December.  Late that month, they "noticed the white colour of the sea, and the soundings revealed a sea bed of 'fine, greyish and muddy sand,'" a certain sign that they were near the mouth of a great river.  And then La Salle made his fatal mistake.  Instead of trusting his intuition and following the mud, he followed, instead, the faulty Spanish charts and graphs he had taken with him, the advice from learned scholars he had consulted in Paris, and, most ironic of all, his own (inaccurate) calculations of longitude from his triumphal discovery of 1682.  He reasoned that the flotilla had drifted too far eastward, that they were looking at mud from Apalachee Bay, not from the mouth of the Mississippi.  So during the first week of January 1685, amidst heavy fog, he signaled to Beaujeu, farther out to sea, to turn the ships westward, towards "the hypothetical Baie du Saint-Esprit," today's Mobile Bay, beyond which he expected to find the mouth of his great river again.  They landed next at what probably was Atchafalaya Bay, which La Salle was convinced was not the Baie du Saint-Esprit.  Sailing west along what is now the coast of South Louisiana and southeastern Texas, Beaujeu's larger ship had to remain farther out to sea, while the Aimable and the Belle sailed ahead, hugging the sandy coast, searching for signs of the Mississippi.  As the coast turned gradually southward, La Salle soon realized that they had missed the mouth of the great river!13

The two smaller ships were anchored off the southwest tip of Matagorda Island when Beaujeau and the Joly caught up to them.  Needless to say, the commander and the captain "did not lose an admirable opportunity for a quarrel, with mutual accusations of desertion."  They spent the next few days hunting, fishing, and exploring the coast "without managing to acquire any certainty as to the exact place where they had landed."  La Salle was shaken, but he managed to convince himself that they had reached one of the outlets of the Mississippi.  In mid-February, he decided that they would settle on what he called Baie St.-Louis, today's Matagorda Bay.  The channel leading into the bay was too narrow and too shallow to accommodate the larger hull of the Joly.  The Belle, only a bark, managed to negotiate the channel, but the Aimable ran aground, broke apart, and spilled its valuable contents onto the sandy shoal.  Local Indians, alerted to the Frenchmen's presence, tried to make off with as much as they could.  The Frenchmen fired on them, and they fired back, resulting in two Frenchmen killed and two wounded, including La Salle's nephew, Crevel de Moranget, who was wounded.14

In mid-March, Beaujeu could see that his task was complete.  He turned the Joly seaward and headed back to France.  With him were not only his officers and crew but also colonists and volunteers who had their fill of the expedition.  For protection against the Indians they had just abused, La Salle ordered the construction of a shelter from the wreckage of the Aimable.  The site was poorly chosen, and many became sick.  After further exploration of the coast, which turned up no trace of the Mississippi delta, La Salle ordered the construction of a more substantial settlement, on the mainland, along the right bank of Rivière-aux-Boeufs, today's Garcitas Creek, at the head of today's Lavaca Bay, the northwestern arm of Matagorda Bay.  The site of the new settlement, started in May, consisting of eight wood and mud structures without an enclosing palisade but "protected" by eight ship's cannon, also was poorly chosen.  The extra toil, as well as the unhealthiness of the site, caused more sickness among settlers and soldiers.  This, along with La Salle's autocratic leadership, caused morale to plummet despite the arrival of spring.  In La Salle's mind, the Rivière-aux-Boeufs settlement, though much more substantial than the first, was only a temporary arrangement to shelter his colony until he could move it to the Mississippi.15

In late October, leaving Joutel in command at Rivière-aux-Boeufs, La Salle, with his hot-headed nephew, Moranget, now recovered from his arrow wound, and half a dozen of his best men, took a canoe northward along the coast, determined to find a mouth of the Mississippi.  The remaining ship, the Belle, followed their progress as close as it could.  In mid-January 1686, a lone crewman from La Salle's canoe returned to the fort, having become separated from the others because of the callousness of Moranget, who also soon returned to the fort.  La Salle did not return until the end of March, empty-handed, and alone.  All of the men in his canoe had been killed by local Indians, and the Belle also had disappeared.

Without a ship with which to search for the Mississippi delta, the settlement had little chance of survival.  Desperate to find the Mississippi and to seek help from his compatriots at Fort St.-Louis-des-Illinois, in late April La Salle took 20 men, including his brother the priest, and headed up the coast.  Meanwhile, survivors of the Belle, including the teenager Pierre Meunier, appeared at Rivière-aux-Boeufs with a tale of their own.  Their pilot had gotten drunk and run the bark aground.  Only five of them survived the disaster.  Meanwhile, La Salle pushed on, sending exhausted men, including the younger of the two Duhaut brothers, Dominique, back to the fort.  Finally, among the Caddoan Hasinai in what is now East Texas, La Salle traded for five horses, but only eight men, including his brother, still remained in the party.  Too few to continue such a long, perilous journey, La Salle returned to Rivière-aux-Boeufs, where he learned that many of the men he had sent back, including Dominique Duhaut, had not returned.  It took La Salle months to recover from his efforts and from a painful hernia that laid him up until late October.15a 

In January 1687, La Salle, this time with 17 men and boys, including Joutel, started up the coast again, determined to get to the Illinois country.  Only 25 settlers remained at Rivière-aux-Boeufs--seven of them women.  This from the complement of about 180 soldiers and settlers who had chosen to remain with him two years before.  La Salle left Lieutenant Gabriel Minime, sieur de Barbier, who had a young wife and newborn, in command of the settlement.  (Barbier's marriage was the first European marriage in the State of Texas not on the Rio Grande, and Barbier's child, its name and gender lost to history, was the first child of European parentage born in what is now the State of Texas.)

This turned out to be La Salle's final adventure.  He, his brother, the nephew, and the other priest, Father Anastase Douay, used the horses to carry personal baggage as well as "several church ornaments, even a dozen habits."  Not even the wilderness could overcome European class consciousness or La Salle's sense of entitlement.  La Salle at least treated the Indians they encountered more courteously than he did most of his men.  By mid-March, with the help of coastal and inland tribes, he was in contact with the friendly Hasinai.16

La Salle and his party crossed Rivière-aux-Canots, today's Trinity River, 80 miles up the coast, on March 14.  Across the Trinity, La Salle sent on ahead his servant with a Shawnee hunter named Nika and several Frenchmen, including Pierre Duhaut, his surgeon, and teenager Pierre Meunier, to kill bison and dig up provisions that La Salle had buried on his previous venture up the coast.  Two days later, La Salle sent his nephew Moranget and two companions with the horses to bring the provisions back to camp.  When Moranget came upon the hunting party smoking bison meat, he demanded the choicest portions.  This angered several of the men, especially Duhaut, who had never forgiven Moranget for previous slights, nor La Salle for causing the death of his younger bother Dominique.  That night, in league with four accomplishes, including the teenager Jean L'Archevêque, Duhaut axed to death La Salle's servant, the Shawnee, and Moranget, who slept near the fire together.  Pierre Meunier was a witness to, but evidently not a participant in, the murder.

On the morning of 19 March 1687, La Salle was apprised of the treacherous deed.  Never one to retreat from a fight, he hurried to the scene of the murder with the priest, Father Douay, intent on confronting Duhaut and his companions.  Duhaut anticipated the confrontation and hid in tall grass with his musket loaded.  La Salle confronted one of the murderers, Duhaut's servant, and demanded to know the whereabouts of his nephew.  The servant's answer angered the nobleman, who was in the act of striking the impudent fellow when Duhaut fired his musket from ambush, the ball striking La Salle in the head.  Not satisfied with killing the explorer, the conspirators "insulted the corpse," stripped it, "and left it naked in the thicket" for wild animals to devour.  They seized La Salle's personal belongings, including the famous scarlet cloak which had survived so many exigencies.  "Some time later," the historian tells us, "feeling the threat of impending justice, the conspirators, all but two [L'Archevêque and the leader, Duhaut], finished by killing one another off."  There would never be a trial for the murders.  No matter, La Salle was no more.  He was 44 years old when he died in that Texas clearing, still unmarried.  Fleeing the murderers, Routel, Père Cavelier, Père Douay, and their companions left one of the boys who had come with them, Pierre Talon, with the Hasinai, and headed cross country to Fort St.-Louis-des-Illinois, which they reached the following September.17

Meanwhile, in November 1685, the faithful Tonty had heard that La Salle had gone to the Gulf of Mexico.  The following February, having been restored to command of Fort St.-Louis-des-Illinois, he hurried down the Mississippi with 25 Frenchmen and 4 Indians to rendezvous with the explorer.  He reached the river's mouth--again--in April 1686 but found no trace of the colony.  Canoes sent both east and west through the marshes and bayous turned up nothing.  Local Indians did tell him that they "had seen him [La Salle] set sail and proceed southward," perhaps witnesses to La Salle's turn toward the west two Januarys before, perhaps someone else.  Tonty was so determined to find La Salle that he proposed to follow the coast "as far as Menade (Manhattan), and by this means" return to Montréal, but his men were opposed to such a foolhardy venture.  So they headed back upriver.  At the first major village above the mouth of the river, that of the Bayougoula, Tonty left a message addressed to La Salle, dated April 20.  He told the Bayougoula to give it to another Frenchman who would come to them from the sea.18   

Tonty was at Fort St.-Louis-des-Illinois when Jean Cavelier and La Salle's other companions arrived there in September 1687.  Père Jean, determined to collect the furs and money owed to his brother, had insisted that La Salle's death be kept from the world until he could complete the family's business.  Routel and the others complied with the priest's wishes, and they told Tonty that La Salle was still very much alive back at the settlement on the Gulf of Mexico.  Père Jean and his nephew went on to Montréal, which they reached in July 1788, and arrived at La Rochelle in early October, a year and a half after La Salle's death.  The family's business evidently incomplete, the priest waited a few more weeks before revealing the fate of his famous brother and the existence of the hapless colony on the Gulf of Mexico.

Tonty did not learn of La Salle's fate until a trading partner, having gone to the Arkansas country, returned to Fort St.-Louis-des-Illinois in September 1689 and related the sad news.  In December, the old soldier hurried down the Mississippi to the Taensa village and then, with four Frenchmen, a Shawnee, and two slaves, hurried overland via the Natchitoches village on Rivière-Rouge into the pinewoods of East Texas to do what he could for the settlers on Baie St.-Louis.  "He was the only person who lifted a finger to help these unfortunate people, but the ordeal of the journey proved too much for him."  He got as far as the Hasinai before turning back, much too late to save his fellow Frenchmen.19 

Not for several years did Routel, Père Jean, and the other survivors learn the fate of their fellow colonists.  During the Christmas season of 1688-89, not long after Jean Cavelier had returned to France, the Karankawa, who lived near the settlement, massacred the remaining men and women at Rivière-aux-Beoufs.  The Indian women spared the children, including the infant Barbier, but when the men returned to the village, one them killed the infant, sparing only the older children.  Three of the Talon children, two brothers and a sister, were among the children spared.  Rescued by a Spanish expedition two years later, it was Jean-Baptiste Talon who, in the late 1690s, revealed to the world the fate of his fellow colonists on that terrible winter day.

Could La Salle's scheme have worked?  "What if" is not history, but questions must be asked.  What if, when he came upon the milky water off the northern coast of the Gulf, the explorer had trusted his intuition and signaled Captain Beajeu to follow the Aimable to the source of the mud?  What if, having found one of the mouths of the Mississippi, the three ships could have maneuvered around the petrified tree trunks La Salle had seen there two and a half years before?  What if, having reached the main channel of the great river, the flotilla could have made its way up to the Taensa village, near present-day Newellton, Louisiana, or had chosen the site of today's New Orleans or Baton Rouge for the settlement?  La Salle would have had his Mississippi colony, with swift communication to Illinois above and to the Gulf of Mexico below, and, as long as he kept the local Indians happy, every promise of success.  And, knowing La Salle, it would have been only the first of a string of settlements from the lower river up to Illinois.  France would have had its western empire decades before it actually existed.  

But that is not what happened.  Even if the settlers and soldiers at Rivière-aux-Boeufs could have remained friendly with the local Indians, the Spanish would have visited the place in force, as they did in the summer of 1691, when they burned the eight structures erected by the French, buried La Salle's eight cannon with their mismatched balls, and rescued the Talon children from the local Indians.  La Salle's actual settlement, and therefore his plans for a western empire, could not have survived so far away from its base on the Illinois River.20


La Salle was gone, but his vision had worked its way deeply into the minds of his fellow Frenchmen.  Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, became Louis XIV's Minister of Marine in 1690, early in the war against William III and his Grand Alliance, and the year that Port-Royal up in Acadia fell to William Phips.  Pontchartrain had not been in the government when La Salle had secured his colonizing scheme in 1685, but the new minister, in charge of colonies, favored the idea of colonizing the Gulf of Mexico in spite of La Salle's failure there.  It was Pontchartrain, in fact, who, learning of the young man's return to France, ordered the interrogation of Jean-Baptiste Talon about the fate of La Salle's colonists.  Of course, any new adventure in the Gulf of Mexico would have to wait for the end of the war against England, Holland, and their allies.  This came finally in the autumn of 1697--the year that Henri de Tonty's La Salle's Discoveries in America was published in France.20b

In 1698, Pontchartrain chose as leader of the next French effort in the Gulf of Mexico not the redoubtable Tonty, who wanted the job, but a 37-year-old native of Montréal, Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d'Iberville et d'Ardillières.  Pierre's father was a Frenchman, a native of Dieppe, who had made his fortune in Canada.  Charles Le Moyne had come to New France as a teenager in 1641, serving first as an  indentured servant in the Jesuit missions of the Huron country, where he learned a number of native languages and grew to sturdy manhood.  After completing his service, he settled at Ville-Marie, the future Montréal, where he served in the militia during Indian attacks and as interpreter for and emissary to the natives during times of peace.  For his services, he received large grants of land south of Montréal and, in 1668, a title of nobility--sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay.  Most importantly for his future happiness, he married well.  Catherine Thierry gave him 14 children, 3 daughters and 11 sons.  Pierre, baptized at Ville-Marie in July 1661, was the third son.  Charles was, of course, active in the fur trade.  In 1682, he helped form the Compagnie du Nord, which hoped to control the fur trade in the Hudson Bay region.  When Charles died in 1685, at age 59, he was one of the wealthiest men in Canada.21

Pierre's formal education was limited.  He preferred the deck of his father's boat than the classroom.  He evidently showed promise as a seaman at an early age.  In 1683, Pierre met the Sieur de La Salle probably at Montréal after the explorer had returned from his trip down the Mississippi; La Salle shared with the eager young sailor "some useful hints about soundings in the delta."  In that same year, Governor-General La Barre entrusted Pierre, only in his early 20s, with the important task of transporting government dispatches to the king's court.  It is likely that Pierre and La Salle sailed to La Rochelle together aboard the ship Saint-Honoré.  Pierre's fighting career began in 1686 in an expedition to the southern region of Hudson Bay, about the same time that he was accused of seducing and impregnating a young woman back in Canada.  Not even his family's substantial influence, the personal intervention of the governor-general, and his service in James Bay, could save him from the judgment of the colonial council; they found him guilty of the embarrassing offense and ordered him to support his "natural" daughter until she turned 15.  The council, however, did not force him to marry the young woman.  Like his father, when Pierre did choose a wife, he married well.  Marie-Thérèse Pollet de La Combe-Pocatière was the daughter of an officer in the Carignan-Salières regiment, which had come to Canada in the 1660s; her mother was Marie-Anne Juchereau de St.-Denis.  Pierre and Marie-Thérèse married in October 1693 after a long courtship, the ceremony delayed perhaps by Pierre's service in King William's War, which began in 1689.22

It was Pierre's impressive service in the war against England that caught the attention of the King's ministers.  During the long eight-year war, the young Canadian participated in numerous maritime campaigns in Hudson Bay and along the coasts of Maine and Acadia, as well as in overland campaigns in New York and Newfoundland that did great damage to English interests in the region.  During the war, as a reward for his military exploits, Pierre had received a seigneurie on the Baie des Chaleurs, which he promptly sold. 

Iberville, as he became known to history, proved to be a solid choice for commander of the Gulf Coast venture.  He was, from the beginning, enthusiastic about colonizing the lower Mississippi valley as well as denying England access to Canada's backdoor.  No doubt mentioning his conversations with La Salle 15 years earlier, he communicated freely with Pontchartrain's son, Jérôme Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas, who, like his father, not only supported Gulf Coast colonization but also had been tasked with organizing the effort.  It was Maurepas who, in evaluating La Salle's failure in the Gulf, realized that command should be given to an experienced sailor who could find the mouth of the Mississippi and navigate its channel.  Word had reached France that the English, as well as the Spanish, were interested in establishing their own presence on the Gulf of Mexico, so whoever commanded the French force on the lower Mississippi needed to be a battle-tested commander as well.  Hence Maurepas's choice of Iberville, the hero of Hudson Bay.23

After the usual delays, including time for the commander to recuperate from an annoying illness, Iberville's flotilla of four ships--two frigates and two supply vessels--sailed from Brest in late October 1698.  Two days before Iberville sailed, the Marquis Joubert de Châteaumorant, aboard the ship François, 52 guns, escorting the Wesp, which had participated in Iberville's last Hudson Bay campaign, sailed from France with a cargo of munitions for the governor of St.-Domingue, Iberville's first destination.  After his mission at St.-Domingue was complete, the marquis had orders to cruise with the François for a month through the West Indian islands before heading to the Gulf of Mexico.  After finding Iberville's settlement, and keeping in mind that France was still at peace, he would offer assistance against the English or the Spanish if they threatened the Mississippi venture. 

Iberville took personal command of one of the frigates, the Badine, 30 guns, which had been refitted at Rochefort.  The other frigate, the Cheval-Marin, called the Marin, also 30 guns, commanded by the Chevalier Grande de Surgères, had been refitted at Port-Louis, near Lorient.  One reason the expedition suffered so many delays was the need to transform the two supply vessels, the traversiers Précieuse and Biscayenne, into ships that were seaworthy enough to meet Iberville's strict requirements.  With the expedition were several notables, including the chaplain of the Marin, Père Anastase Douay, who had witnessed La Salle's murder; Iberville's 19-year-old brother, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, the eighth of his father's 11 sons; the wealthy poet and soldier Sieur Sauvole de la Villantray, eager for another adventure.  Besides detailed instructions from Maurepas, Pontchartrain, and even the King himself on where to go, what to do, and who would assist him, Iberville received written reports compiled from interviews of La Salle's companions.  Aboard his vessels were Spanish-speaking sailors who could act as interpreters if this flotilla also landed on the Texas coast.  A contingent of Canadians came along to serve as soldiers and colonists.  No women or children accompanied this expedition.24

Most of Iberville's flotilla reached Cap-Français, today's Cap Haitien, St.-Domingue, on the colony's north coast, in the first week of December, after the hurricane season had ended.  One of the traversiers had become separated in a storm off the Madeiras but reached Cap-Français 10 days later.  Châtreaumorant reached Cap-Français a week after Iberville.  Iberville tried to persuade the marquis to forgo his month-long cruise through the islands and accompany him to the Gulf, but the marquis insisted on following his orders.  Meanwhile, the governor of St.-Domingue, Jean-Baptiste du Casse, ordered the replenishing of Iberville's vessels at Léogane, on the south shore of the island.  Iberville secured a pilot, Laurent de Graff, a former Dutch buccaneer, who was knowledgeable of West Indians waters.  De Graff informed Iberville that four English ships had been spotted off Cap-Français, destination unknown.  This persuaded the marquis to modify his orders and to follow Iberville into the Gulf.  Iberville, with the governor's permission, hired a number of St.-Domingue buccaneers as colonists and laborers, but none of them--in fact, no one in the colony--had ever seen the Mississippi. 

The reinforced expedition left Léogane at the end of December and rounded the western tip of Cuba in mid-January.  Far to the north, in Acadia, Pierre Thibodeau, Guillaume Blanchard, and dozens of their fellow Acadians were taking a winter's break from the toil and trouble of constructing three new settlements at the head of the Bay of Fundy.  

After passing Apalachee Bay, where the Florida coast turns from north to west, Iberville's flotilla reached one of the finest harbors along the entire Gulf Coast, Pensacola Bay.  It was the last week of January 1699, three months after the flotilla had sailed from Brest.  What they found in the beautiful bay should not have surprised them--two Spanish vessels riding at anchor.  Iberville sent a lieutenant in a ship's boat to inspect the Spanish vessels under the pretense of asking for wood and water.  The Spanish commander, Andrés de Arriola, whose ships were frigates of 18 and 20 guns apiece, treated the young Frenchman cordially and even allowed him to observe what the Spanish were doing on shore.  There, on a well-positioned site along the north shore of the bay, stood the Presidio Santa María de Galve.  Arriola informed the lieutenant that the post held some 300 men, and the Frenchman could see that they were busy constructing a sturdy stone fort for the presidio, Fort San Carlos de Austria.  The post had been established the year before, while Iberville was preparing to depart for the Indies.  Arrioloa told the lieutenant that his orders would not allow foreign vessels to enter the harbor, but they were welcomed to take shelter in the outer bay.24b 

Iberville continued sailing westward along the unchartered coast, keeping an eye out for English ships, making careful soundings, and never losing sight of the northern shore.  At the end of January, a month out of St.-Domingue, the flotilla anchored off the mouth of a large bay only 50 miles west of Pensacola, the fabled Bahía del Espíritu Santo, today's Mobile Bay.  Iberville was convinced that he was not very far from the mouth of the Mississippi, but he was determined to explore the big bay before him just to be certain he was not already there.  Today's Dauphin Island, at the mouth of the bay, where the party took shelter from rain and storm, was first called Massacre Island for the dozens of human skeletons found there in a sandy Indian burial mound.  The two traversiers, the larger one commanded by Bienville, explored the bay.  Heavy wind and rain made it difficult to sound the entrance to the bay, so they were not able to discover the fine harbor that lies off the eastern end of Massacre Island.  Two feluccas from Châteaumorant's squadron sailed along the mainland, searching for the mouth of the Mississippi.  Iberville and Bienville led a party up along the bay's western shoreline for several leagues northward, approaching the site of today's city of Mobile.  From the vantage point of a tall tree standing beside the bay, Iberville concluded, correctly, that the large, muddy river flowing into the head of the great estuary was not the Mississippi.24a

Back in their vessels, the Le Moynes sailed carefully westward along the south shore of Massacre Island and then came upon a smaller wooded island, which they called Petit-Bois.  They next approached a larger island, named Horn because, the story goes, someone would leave a power horn there.  They could see that these sandy islands, perhaps once connected, formed a barrier for the coast, important in this land of sudden, devastating storms.  It was only February, but a storm was brewing off to the south.  Hurricane season already was upon them!  Iberville turned south, passed a long chain of small islands which he called Chandeleur, after Candelmas, because it was February 2, and then headed back north to the shorter chain of islands he had passed along the coast.  Between the islands and the mainland lay a long stretch of open water, today's Mississippi Sound.  Iberville anchored off the south shore of a smaller island that seemed more substantial than the rest, which they would called Île-des-Vaisseaux, or Ship Island.  He sent Bienville in a boat to find an inlet deep enough to accommodate the larger ships so that they could get inside the barrier islands and find shelter from the approaching storm.  Bienville found a good channel between Ship Island and the t-shaped island next to it, named Cat for all the raccoons they would find there.  The next morning, with Iberville leading in the Badine, the three large ships followed Bienville's channel into the sound, turned east when the soundings allowed it, and dropped anchor in the lee of Ship Island. 

His fleet secure, Iberville was determined to explore the mainland after the weather cleared.  In one of the traversiers, with Père Douay, Bienville, and a small party of Canadians aboard, and a canoe in tow, Iberville sailed across the sound to a spot on the mainland where he had seen a column of smoke the day before.  On the sandy beach he found Indian tracks.  Iberville and his party built a quick shelter and spent the night on the beach.  The next morning, after leaving gifts of two axes, a pipe, and some odds and ends, they followed the tracks, hoping to overtake the Indians, which they did on the shore of a small bay. 

What Iberville did next revealed not only his courage and stamina but also his impressive knowledge of Native Americans.  When the party of Indians, probably from a nearby Biloxi village, spotted Iberville and his men approaching them, they paddled furiously to the other side of the bay, putting water and time between themselves and the Europeans.  "Climbing hastily into the canoe he had brought with him, [Iberville] started off in pursuit and caught up with the savages[sic] just as they drove their boats up on the beach.  Alarmed at the sight of their pursuers, the Indians rushed into the forest abandoning their canoes and property in their haste to escape from those they believed to be Spaniards.  But in their eagerness they had been obliged to leave behind an elderly chief stricken ill with a disease that was beyond cure.  Iberville treated the old man kindly, built him a hut, brought him food, and did everything to win his confidence, while Bienville and two Canadians set out in pursuit of the others."25 

Bienville and his companions returned with several Indians.  Iberville coaxed three of them into coming with him aboard the Badine, leaving Bienville and two Canadians as hostages.  Iberville entertained the Indians royally, giving them a tour of the ship, above and below decks.  He ordered his sailors to fire the ship's cannon to impress and amuse the Indians, who were very much pleased with all they saw and heard.  More importantly, a party of Bayougoula and Mugulasha from the lower Mississippi valley happened to be hunting in the neighborhood, or so they said; they may very well have been in the area to attack the Biloxi or the Mobile.  They heard the cannon fire and rushed to the shore, also much impressed with what they saw across the channel.  Back on the mainland, Iberville accepted their friendly greeting, led them to his tent, now pitched on the shore, and smoked the pipe of peace with them.  In return, the Indians hurried back to their hunting and killed enough game to provide their share for a friendly feast.  During the ceremony, Iberville gave them presents as well as wine and whiskey, which, to the Canadians' amazement, these southern Indians drank in moderation, and thus secured what he hoped would be a lasting alliance with several of the important tribes in the area.

The Indians informed Iberville that he was not far from the Mississippi, which they called Malabouchia.  With his ships anchored safely in the sound, he could now begin the next phase of his expedition--finding the mouths of the Mississippi and exploring upriver for a suitable site on which to locate a future settlement.  Châteaumorant and his François were no longer needed, so, on February 20, Iberville dined with the marquis aboard the Badine and explained his plan of leaving the two smaller frigates with Surgères and pushing on to the Mississippi with the traversiers.  Châteaumorant agreed to leave provisions which the governor back in St.-Domingue had given him and for which Iberville promised payment.  The marquis headed back to Léogane the following day, arriving there the first of April.  He did not cruise the islands, as his orders had dictated, but sailed around to Cap-Français, where he overhauled the leaky François, and on May 10 headed back to France, which he reached six weeks later.  Meanwhile, Iberville and Bienville prepared for their exploration of the Mississippi.  To secure his flank in the direction of Pensacola, Iberville sent two naval ensigns to explore the Pascagoula River to the east.  He left Surgères in command of the expedition's base at the sound; assigned Sieur Sauvole the command of one of the traversiers, with Père Douay and 20 men aboard; and assigned brother Bienville and a like number of Canadians and sailors to accompany him in the other traversier.  

The two vessels headed westward on February 27.  With rain falling steadily, Iberville sailed around to the south side of Ship Island, past Cat Island, and then headed south into Chandeleur Sound, entering the archipelago of small islands at the entrance to Lake Borgne that he had seen a month before.  "For several days the little vessels threaded their way through this maze, beating against head winds or bowled along by following breezes, anchoring at sunset off some island to pass the night."  Everyone aboard kept a sharp eye southward and westward, looking for signs of the mouth of the river.  Until the second day of March the weather was abysmal, including a northerly gale that threw waves above the gunwales and into the tightly stretched tarpaulins rigged around each vessel to keep the sea off the decks.  But the little coasting craft, designed for such labor, pressed on into the waves, sailing southward, steadily southward, into Breton Sound.  Iberville had been determined to stay close in to shore despite the danger of running aground, but the weather forced him to choose "the lesser of the two evils," and he headed out into the open sea.26 

As darkness descended on March 2, Iberville spotted to the southeast what appeared to be a line of rocks projecting from the coast.  Almost dark when he reached them, he spotted a break in the "rocks" that looked wide enough to accommodate the vessels.  Taking a chance, he put the ship about, placed the wind behind him, and slid through the narrow channel into a dozen feet of water--"the first Europeans to enter the Mississippi from the open sea."  The other vessel followed.  Inside the "rocks," there was light enough to detect the milky colored water that La Salle had seen from the Aimable in December 1684.  The whitish water was fresh and did not mix well with the salt water of the Gulf.  At first light, Iberville and his party could see that the "rocks" were "masses of petrified logs and driftwood piled up by the current for generations until, blackened by age and cemented together by fluvial sediment, ... resembled a rocky palisade"--a place the Spanish called Cabo de Lodo, or Cape Mud.  Iberville knew from his reports that La Salle had described such formations during his exploration of the Mississippi delta in April 1682.27 

But was this La Salle's river?  What proof was there that this was indeed Rivière-Colbert, that it was the Mississippi?  Iberville took a latitude reading--28 degrees, 50 minutes.  This, too, suggested to him that he had found the Mississippi, but he would not be satisfied until he had dispelled all doubts about the identity of this river.  On March 3, Shrove Tuesday, they headed upriver to find Iberville's proof.  Two and a half leagues upward, they came upon what appeared to be the river's main channel and could see that it separated into three distinct branches, the middle one as large as the one they had entered--more proof, based on what La Salle had described, of the identity of the river.  As they ascended the main channel, they noticed that the river widened to over a thousand feet above where the channels parted and narrowed to half that width as they continued upward.  Farther up, Iberville, who was in excellent shape for a man in his late 30s, climbed another tall tree and gazed upon a wide, flat landscape of canes and rushes stretching as far as the eye could see.  To attract the attention of local Indians, and perhaps as part of a brief Mardi Gras celebration, Iberville ordered the ships' guns to be fired, but no natives appeared.  He was determined to press on to the Bayougoula village, but all the while keeping a sharp look out for the tribe that had attacked La Salle 17 years earlier.27a 

The wind had died down, so the sailors had to resort to their vessel's sturdy oars, which made little progress against the river's strong current.  Rounding the first prominent bend in the river, they could see off to the east the waters of Lake Borgne, the entrance past which they had sailed a few days before.  But still no Indians.  Provisions were getting low, and the land seemed to offer no supplements to their diet.  There were no fruit trees or berry bushes or wild grains in sight.  Deer and other wild game was scarce, but the Canadians managed to corner and kill a wild steer, perhaps on the site of today's Bayou Terre-aux-Beoufs.28 

Not until March 7 did they spot an Indian.  It was still morning when they came upon a canoe with two natives hurrying back towards the river bank, but the Indians fled into the woods before anyone in the party could give the sign of friendship.  A bit farther up, they came upon five more, who also fled, but one of the natives succumbed to curiosity and was showered with gifts from the Frenchmen in exchange for some beef and fried bear meat.  Satisfied by the friendliness of the Europeans, the Indian summoned his companions from hiding, and they, too, received gifts and signs of friendship.  They belonged to a band associated with the Bayougoula and were in the area to hunt for their village.  Iberville asked them if the Bayougoula and Mugulasha who he had feasted the week before were back in the area.  The Indians said that they were, that they had taken a short cut to their village, which, the Indians said, was five more days travel upriver.  This news discouraged Iberville and the others, who hoped the Bayougoula could replenish their supplies.  Iberville beseeched the Indians to guide them to the Bayougoula village, but the hunters demurred.  They were there to hunt, not to be tour guides for Europeans.  Iberville managed to convince one of them to remain with the party, and the expedition got an early start the following day.  Evidently the spring thaw upriver had already begun, because, when the wind did not cooperate, the sailors had to pull harder than ever against the oars to make headway against the powerful current.  The land, at least, became more interesting.  The canes and rushes gave way to forests, and the river banks, especially at the outside of the turns, rose higher from the river's edge.  Atop these natural levees, formed by hundreds of years of annual spring flooding, they set up camp when they stopped for the night, their fires visible for miles around. 

About a hundred miles above the river's mouth, at the head of a graceful crescent, a village of the Quinapisa stood along the east bank atop a prominent natural levee.  As they rowed up to the village, their Indian guide, perhaps a resident of the place, pointed to a spot that he insisted was a shortcut to where they had told him their ships were anchored.  While the party was resting near the village from their labor at the oars, the Indian led Iberville and some of his men down a well-worn path through the canes and woods to a nearby ridge lying perpendicular to the curve of the natural levee.  Running first northwestward and then turning sharply westward, about two miles or so from the natural levee, the trail ended at the head of a small bayou.  The Indian assured them that this muddy little stream flowed into an arm of the sea.  Being Canadians, Iberville and his men knew instantly what the Indian was showing them:  here was one end of a portage site, like the ones they had used back in Canada and Illinois.29 

Somewhere in the vicinity of the portage site, the party suffered its first mishap.  Two Breton sailors went hunting in the woods and did not return before dark.  Iberville ordered the firing of muskets to attract the attention of the missing sailors.  Night passed and morning came, but the sailors did not return.  Iberville sent parties in all directions to find the missing Frenchmen.  He ordered them not to return to the camping site until they heard a cannon shot.  Meanwhile, the two boats searched up and down the wooded river bank in case the sailors had returned to the water's edge at a distance from the camp.  Late in the afternoon, Iberville ordered a cannon fired, and the search parties returned.  Forced to give the sailors up for lost, they continued upriver, determined to get to the Bayougoula village before their food ran out. 

Farther up, along the east side of the river, "they saw a wide stretch of water in both directions, where there were many water fowl, quite possibly brown pelicans."  The place came to be called Ance-aux-Outardes, or Bustard Bay, and also Lake Outardes.  Next, they passed a small distributary that flowed through a break in the natural levee along the west bank of the river, later called Lafourche, or the Fork.  Finally, on March 13, they approached the landing in front of the Bayougoula village, which lay on the west bank of the river.  As they approached the landing, a Mugulasha chief, serving as an ambassador for the village, where both the Bayougoula and his own people dwelled, greeted them from a canoe paddled by three other warriors.  The chief carried a yard-long calumet, shared the pipe with Iberville and the other expedition leaders, and escorted them up to the village.  Iberville was surprised to see prominently displayed on the path to the village a pipe he had given the Indians whom he had met on the sound, mounted on two forked sticks and guarded by a warrior--a very good sign.  By now, the Frenchmen were famished.  They devoured the "rather unpalatable concoction of sagamité, beans, and Indian corn, cooked in bear grease," which the Indians proffered to them.  Iberville broke out whiskey, which he mixed with water, but even that was strong for Bayougoula taste.  Iberville gave out the usual gifts, and the Indian youth danced for them.30

During the festivities, Iberville and Bienville, who had picked up some of the local dialect, secured the attention of the Bayougoula chief, who was strutting about in a blue coat given to him many years before by Henri Tonty.  The chief related much information to them about the other tribes in the area, including the Acolapissa who lived on another river eight days to the northeast.  Iberville asked about a fork in the lower river that La Salle had mentioned in his account of the 1682 descent and which Father Membré, who had served with La Salle and Tonty in Illinois, had said in his journal they had found on the lower river.  The chief assured him that he knew of no such place, that Tonty, who had come back down river four years after La Salle, mentioned no such fork in the river either. 

This placed Iberville in a quandary.  La Salle's and Father Membré's accounts of the lower fork were well known in France, and Father Hennepin's account of his descent of the river (which had not yet been proven to be false) also mentioned a lower fork.  Among the Bayougoula, Iberville could see that he had stumbled into the middle of a major Indian rivalry.  He feared that the Bayougoula chief was lying about the fork to dissuade him from continuing up to the village of the Houma, who Iberville hoped would be more knowledgeable--and forthright--about the geography of the river above.  The Bayougoula could not keep him from going the village of their enemy, which Iberville was determined to do, but there was something else he had to consider.  Before leaving Ship Island at the end of February, he had given Surgères instructions to wait six weeks, that is, until the middle of April, for his return from the river.  If he or any of his companions did not return by then, Surgères was to take the frigates back to France, which would leave Iberville vulnerable to attacks from the Spanish or, worse, the English.  He had only a month left to complete his survey of the river and get back to the ships in the sound.  He had no idea how far upriver La Salle's fork lay, or if it even existed.  He was determined to avoid any question back home about his having found the Mississippi, so he had little time to dally with the Bayougoula. 

Iberville remained at Bayougoula until the morning of the 16th.  There were more feasts and dancing, more exchanging of gifts, even a tour of the village and its sacred temple.  None of what he saw, either human or material, impressed the haughty Canadian, but, wisely, he hid his true feelings behind a façade of smiles and gestures of amicability.  He was anxious to move up to the Houma village, where he hoped they would be met with more smiles and handshakes.  They took with them a canoe full of Bayougoula guides.  Past a tributary entering the river from the west, which his guides no doubt told him was a gateway to a great inland swamp, they entered another sharp bend in the river that swung them eastward.   When they came upon the mouth of a small distributary that headed eastward through the forest, their guides told them that here was another short cut to where their ships had been anchored--today's Bayou Manchac.  This was not a portage site, the Indians insisted, but an all-water shortcut back to the sea.  It was the route they usually took to and from the seaside hunting grounds where Iberville had found them the month before.

On the 17th, as they moved farther up through the territory of the Bayougoula, Iberville and the others saw atop a bluff on the river's east bank a small village with a painted pole that the Houma had erected as a boundary marker, separating their land from the Bayougoula.  The Indians called the pole and the place where it stood Iti Houma or Istrouma, but the Frenchmen, evidently more fascinated with its color than its name, called the boundary marker baton rouge, or "red stick."  There, Iberville could see for himself what LaSalle and Tonty, coming from the other direction, had seen nearly two decades before, that the site of Baton Rouge marks the first--or last--bluff above the Mississippi delta.  South of the red pole, the only "high" ground along the river were the natural levees atop which they had pitched their shelters.31  

The following day, they sailed past an island in the river, the first they had seen.  Next they observed "one of those topographical peculiarities of the Mississippi formed by the river swinging around in a loop, almost in a circle, in such a way as to bring the banks close together.  In the course of time erosion eats away the banks and the river takes a short cut, forming a new channel, and the erstwhile loops remains by itself separated from the waters of the river in what is known as an ox-bow-cut-off."  They had reached the portage of Pointe-Coupée.  The Indians insisted that they could save a day's journey if they dragged their canoes across the neck of land there.  Iberville ordered it done, sending the traversiers the long way around via the main channel.  But a huge log jam rising 30 feet blocked the trail to a small bayou that led back to the main channel.  Undaunted, the Frenchmen cleared a path through the obstacle wide enough for the canoes, dragged them through and into the bayou, and soon they were back in the river's channel, the traversiers waiting for them.32

On March 20, they reached the landing that led to the Houma village, near modern day Angola.  A Houma delegation was there to greet them.  By now, Iberville had learned that the Houma were a branch of the Choctaw nation who spoke a different language from the Muskogean-speaking Bayougoula and Mugulasha.  But most of what the Bayougoula had told him, he knew, came from the prejudiced mind of an enemy.  No matter, Iberville had to make peace with the powerful Houma and learn from them the geography of the river above where he had no time to go.  Iberville left most of the party at the landing and, with his Bayougoula guides and a few companions, followed the Houma delegation to their village, where they endured the usual Indian hospitality, including a dance by the brightly-painted, scantily-clad youth that lasted three long hours.  After the usual feast, this time only of sagamité, the dancing resumed until midnight. 

Iberville remained at the Houma village the following day, exchanging gifts as well as long speeches and, more importantly, securing a promise of peace between them and the Bayougoula.  The most prized exchange was a generous supply of grain for their return downriver.  And then there was the question of the fork in the river.  The Houma knew nothing of it.  Tonty had stayed with them five days, they said, and also had said nothing of it.  Iberville saw no choice but to continue upriver until he either found the fork or found enough evidence to prove it did not exist.  He remembered that Father Membré's account had placed the site of the fork 15 leagues below the Koroa settlement up on the Yazoo. 

Pushing upriver, he took with him a half a dozen Houma guides as well as a Taensa chief.  With no Houma around, he asked the chief to draw a map of the upper river.  The Taensa complied, but his drawing showed no fork in the river.  It did show a large river flowing in from the west divided into two channels.  The chief also listed the tribes who dwelled at various points on his map, including distances between them.  Iberville took from his baggage a published account of the river's geography based on Father Membré's journal.  He compared the chief's handiwork with the published account, especially the distances, and was chagrined to see that one of his principal sources varied widely from what the Taensa chief had shown him.  If the published accounts were so wrong about the distances, he reasoned, they also could be wrong about the existence of the fork.  Not a single Indian mentioned the fork.  And then a Bayougoula recalled something that Iberville had not heard.  Back at their village was a document that Tonty had left with them years ago to give "to a man who should come there from the sea."  The letter obviously had been left for La Salle during Tonty's 1686 descent.  Now everything came clear to Iberville.  What he was seeing around him, what the Indians had told him, not what he had found in written reports, convinced him that this was La Salle's Rivière Colbert, that for the last three weeks he and his men had been traveling up the Mississippi.33

Convinced that he was exploring the lower Mississippi, Iberville turned back downriver to begin the next phase of his Louisiana venture.  At the landing for the Houma village, there was no one waiting for him.  He had left some of his Bayougoula guides at the village, so he sent Bienville and two Canadians to retrieve them.  Bienville's hasty return to the landing upset the Houma, who feared they had angered the Canadians.  To win the Frenchmen's favor, they staged an elaborate procession down to the landing, where Iberville waited.  Seeing his opportunity, he asked them for more food, which they retrieved for him, and he rewarded them with the usual trinkets.  The next morning, March 23, he and his party began the downriver trek in earnest.33b 

The current, once their enemy, now was their friend.  They did not bother with the Pointe-Coupée portage, but they did stop at the mouth of Bayou Manchac to test that shortcut to the Gulf.  A brief reconnaissance down the bayou revealed water too shallow for the boats.  Leaving them on the river with Sauvole and Bienville to return the way they had come, Iberville joined four of his men and a Mugulasha guide in a canoe and headed down Bayou Manchac, which the French later called Rivière Iberville. 

The Manchac shortcut was a disappointment.  Stretches of water not even deep enough for a canoe, masses of fallen trees, and huge nests of sodden brushwood rendered the lower bayou virtually impassable.  Ten portages the first day and 50 the second day considerably slowed their progress.  On the second day, the Mugulasha guide deserted, the poor Indian frightened off perhaps more by the Canadians' curses than the difficulty of the passage.  Iberville had to choose between returning to the river and catching up to the boats, or pressing ahead into an unchartered wilderness without the benefit of a local guide.  These were sons of Canada!  They pressed on, determined to show the "savages" what Frenchmen could do. 

The gamble paid off.  Bayou Manchac took them into a proper river, wide and peaceful, flanked by marshes as well as cypress swamps.  The Manchac had flowed eastward along its entire length; this river, called the Amite, turned them southeastward.  There were no more portages to slow them, only the question of which branch of the river they should follow.  Game was plentiful, they even fired at a herd of wild cattle in the distance, so food was not a problem.  Alligators, which they had seen in the river and had easily avoided, were in great abundance here. 

After three days of travel, they entered a shallow lake, which Iberville called Maurepas.  He knew from what the Indians had told him that there were two shallow lakes they would have to cross, the second one larger than the first.  They crossed Maurepas swiftly, found its outlet, which they called Pass Manchac, and soon they were on the shore of a much larger lake, which Iberville called Pontchartrain.  They chose to follow the big lake's southern shore, which proved to be the long way around to its outlet.  Having no guide, so they probably did not know it, as they paddled along the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain they passed the mouth of the little bayou the Indian had described to them at the portage site on the beautiful river crescent. 

After two days of effort, they found the big lake's outlet on its far eastern end, its water brackish, its channel deep.  Iberville called it the Rigolets, and soon they were paddling along the shore of Lake Borgne, having returned to the Gulf of Mexico.  They followed the sandy coast eastward, back towards the ships.  On the evening of the 30th, they lit a bonfire at a point of land on which they had stopped to camp, hoping to attract the attention of a lookout aboard one of the frigates.  The next morning, they paddled their canoe across the sound.  Half way across, they met two ship's boats coming to investigate the fire, and soon Iberville stood on the deck of his flagship Badine

He and his Canadians returned to the ships only two hours ahead of Sauvole and Bienville.  Until the little distributary could be cleared of fallen trees and more water from the river diverted into it, Bayou Manchac would be a short cut only in distance, not in time.

Sauvole and Bienville had much to relate about their week-long passage down the river.  From Bayou Manchac, they floated back down to Bayougoula, where, to their utter amazement, they found the two sailors who had gotten lost in the woods two weeks before.  While resting at the village, an incident occurred that soured relations between the Frenchmen and the Indians.  Father Douay had been keeping a journal in his breviary, and he suddenly realized the book and other personal belongings had been stolen.  He blamed one of the Bayougoula guides who had traveled with him in one of the boats and who had shown interest in the little book.  The chief called the people together and asked them to produce the priest's possessions.  No one obliged.  Father Douay lost his dignity and wept like a child about the loss of his precious treasures.  To assuage the priest, the sailors and Canadians searched the Indians' houses, insulting their hosts.  The Bayougoula chief angrily refused to provide the Frenchmen with anymore food.  Sauvole intervened and, with a gift of trinkets, managed to calm the chief and secure enough supplies to allow them to continue downriver.  It was during the search of the Indian dwellings that Bienville found the letter from Tonty to La Salle, as well as a Spanish helmet from the time of De Soto--solid proof that they had found the Mississippi.33a


He had explored the great river to the 31st parallel and was convinced it was the Mississippi.  He had surveyed the coast from the river's mouth east to Mobile Bay.  He had visited two major Indian villages and treated with members of half a dozen local tribes.  Soon the two frigates must return to France for repair and refitting.  Iberville would return with them, not only to report to Pontchartrain and Maurepas, but also to organize a relief expedition that would return to Louisiana the following spring.  But first he had to find a suitable place for the men he would leave behind to maintain French presence on the Mexican Gulf. 

The chosen site had to be defensible.  It had to have ready access to the sound via a channel deep enough to accommodate the traversiers when they were fully loaded.  It had to be close enough to friendly Indians so that the settlers could trade with them for food.  Conferring with Sauvole, Bienville, and Surgères, three possible sites emerged, none on the lower Mississippi.  His exploration of the river had convinced him "to build his settlement on the Gulf coast instead of on the lower Mississippi River.  He thought that the river banks were too low, and the land behind them too swampy.  He was afraid that large ships would not be able to cross the mudbanks and sand bars at the mouth of the river, and he figured that a fort on the coast would let France control the river's mouth while also helping to hold the entire northern Gulf shore."34

The coastal sites that Iberville and the others did consider were Biloxi, Pascagoula, and the Rigolets.  Having passed through the Rigolets only a few days before, Iberville had sounded its channel, and was astonished to find it 36 feet deep.  While he was exploring the Mississippi, Surgères had sent officers to sound the Pascagoula estuary, and they had reported an acceptable depth there.  Iberville took a party of his own to the place but was disappointed with his soundings.  Surgère's officers were not impressed with the channel at Biloxi Bay, but Iberville went there, too.  On the first toss of the lead line at the entrance to the bay, he found a seven-foot channel, deep enough for the traversiers.  He did not consider Mobile Bay as a potential settlement site because no one in his party had yet discovered the deep harbor at the east end of Massacre Island.34a 

Iberville chose Biloxi Bay.  Fort Maurepas, as it came to be called, sited on a bluff at the east end of the bay at present-day Oceans Springs, Mississippi, was the first settlement in French Louisiana.  The site commanded the entrance to Biloxi Bay and lay across the sandy peninsula that jutted from the mainland along the west shore of the bay.  This was not the simple palisade fort common in Illinois and Canadian wilderness.  Iberville insisted on "a regulation affair, square in shape with four bastions, made of oak, with which the region abounded."  The walls and bastions held a dozen guns, most of them trained on the channel.  Iberville was confident that the fort could withstand an attack from Pensacola or from hostile Indians who ventured into the area.  Though France was still at peace with England, one never knew when those troublesome people might suddenly appear, either overland or by sea from Carolina or from their islands in the West Indies.  And then there were the Caribbean pirates, some of them brazen enough to attack a fortified position.35 

Work began on the walls of Fort Maurepas on April 8, but progress was slow.  Iberville chose 70 men and 6 boys to remain at the fort under trusty Sauvole, whose lieutenant would be brother Bienville.  Many of the men who remained were his sturdy Canadians.  Supplies were brought ashore, including livestock from the holds of the frigates, but Iberville insisted that his men clear the sandy soil behind the fort and plant peas and beans to supplement their diet. 

While working on the fort, five Spanish deserters from Pensacola stopped by on their way to Mexico.  They provided Iberville with valuable information on the state of the Spanish settlement.  They had come from Vera Cruz, they said, about 300 of them, mostly slaves and at least 40 convicts whom the Spanish were not reluctant to work to death.  Food ran low, the commander sailed to Havana to secure provisions, and the remainder began to starve.  Many deserted to the Indians, and soon only 50 of them remained in the stone presidio.  The deserters confirmed what Iberville had suspected all along--that Pensacola was founded only to prevent the French from settling on the coast.  After choosing Pensacola as his base of operations, the Spanish commander had not bothered to explore the other bays and inlets, so they had no idea where the French might settle.  If Fort Maurepas could hold out until he could return with reinforcements, the French would maintain the upper hand in this part of the Gulf, which, after all, was the first of Iberville's missions.

In late April, on the eve of his departure, Iberville inspected the fort, including its oaken walls and the placement of the cannon.  He sent parties out to explore the surrounding country, looking out especially for any Indians in the area.  A last-minute inspection of the fort's provisions turned up many articles that had spoiled in the high humidity.  Seeing no choice, Iberville hurried one of the traversiers back to St.-Domingue to obtain supplies from Governor Du Casse.  "Farewells were said and on May 3 the Badine and the Marin raised their anchors and set sail for home."  Other than the usual separations in fog and storm, the voyage back was uneventful.  The Badine dropped anchor at Rochefort on July 2, and the Marin appeared a few days later.36 

Back at Versailles, Iberville encountered the usual Court intrigues, but he remained focused on his missions in Louisiana.  Du Casse of St.-Domingue had communicated his views to Pontchartrain on the Louisiana venture, all of it negative.  Aware of the limited resources in France for support of its existing colonies, including his own, Du Casse saw no reason for another French settlement near the Caribbean Basin.  He emphasized the might of Spain in Mexico and Cuba and the vulnerability of a remote new colony on the lower Mississippi.  Then came word from the new governor-general in Québec that the English and the Dutch were gathering forces not only to establish themselves on the Gulf of Mexico, but also to seize the Illinois from France! 

So what did Louis XIV make of all of this?  His actions spoke volumes.  After evaluating the dispatches from St.-Domingue and Canada, as well as Iberville's report on the Louisiana venture, he gave the Canadian command of a new 560-ton, 46-gun frigate, the Renommée, recently built at Bayonne, and a cargo ship full of fresh provisions to carry back to Biloxi, the King's new outpost on the Gulf of Mexico.  Iberville also would take with him more Canadians, who had been brought to France by another of his brothers, Joseph Le Moyne, sieur de Sérigny et de Loire, the sixth of his father's sons.  Joseph, also a battle-tested seaman, had served under brother Pierre in the Hudson Bay campaigns.  The Canadians would go on to Louisiana with Iberville, but Sérigny, for now, would remain in France.37

Supporting the King's actions were not only Pontchartrain and Maurepas but also the redoubtable Sébastien Le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban, considered to be one of the greatest military minds of his day.  Despite his "continentalism," Vauban was an enthusiast for French colonial expansion, which, to his mind, meant securing what France already possessed.  Vauban insisted that if the colonization of Louisiana was to be pursued in earnest, Biloxi, and any other post Iberville might establish, must be properly fortified, reinforced, and maintained, or the Spanish, the English, even the Dutch, would make short work of it.  The heart of New France had always been Canada, not Acadia or Newfoundland or Hudson Bay.  Securing Louisiana secured the approach to Illinois, which in turn secured the approach to Canada.  The Louisiana venture, and Iberville's role in it, was sanctioned now at the highest levels of royal policy making.38

Iberville responded with a lengthy memoir that extolled not only Louisiana's geography, topography, and climate, but also its grand-strategic value.  As a devoted son of Canada, he was perfectly aware of the importance of the Gulf and the Mississippi to the survival of his native province.  He, too, emphasized the English threat, especially from its Atlantic colonies, to long-term French interests in North America.  Iberville, in fact, had heard that the previous autumn the English had sent a colonizing expedition to North America and could even name the captain who commanded the venture--Captain Lewis Banks, whom Iberville had encountered on Hudson Bay.  Rumor had it that a second expedition waited in the Thames to sail as soon as the first returned.  Among the colonists, supposedly, were French Huguenots who, it was widely believed, would gladly settle in a French colony as long as they were granted freedom of conscience, something the King, and Iberville, were not disposed to do. 

And then there was the King's obsession with finding valuable mineral mines in La Salle's Louisiana.  He reminded Iberville that if such mines were found, they would belong to the Crown.  The King also had heard accounts of mulberry trees growing wild in the region, perhaps the foundation for a silk industry there.  And what about the furry cattle out on the plains, and the accounts of huge deer herds in the Louisiana forests?  Could this wool and deerskin trade do for Louisiana what the beaver fur trade had done for Canada? 

Although he was enthusiastic about returning to Biloxi with his new warship and fresh provisions, and the King and Minister urged him to hurry back to their outpost on the Mexican Gulf, Iberville delayed his departure until October.  There was much to do to guarantee the success of his next expedition, not to mention that his wife and two sons, one of them an infant, were living at Iberville's estate near La Rochelle.  The Renommée would not be the only ship Iberville would take with him.  A 700-ton flute, the Gironde, and two feluccas for use on the Mississippi, also would come along.  Iberville offered command of the Gironde to Surgères, whose rank allowed him to command a larger ship.  Surgères magnanimously accepted command of the fluke, which said much about his character as well as his view of Iberville as a leader.  Another reason for delay was the protection of the Renommée and the Gironde from the marine worms that had nearly ruined the hulls of the Badine and the Marin during their months of exposure to tropical waters.  And then there was the impressive ceremony in which the King conferred on Iberville and Surgères the coveted cross of the Order of St.-Louis.  Iberville was the first native-born Canadian to receive the coveted honor. 

Before sailing, Iberville submitted his plan of action to Maurepas.  He would sail not to St.-Domingue but directly to the Gulf (one wonders if Du Casse's attitude about Louisiana influenced this decision).  After replenishing Fort Maurepas, he would send Bienville with 50 Canadians in the feluccas and canoes up the Mississippi to the mouth of Rivière-Rouge, which they would explore up to the village of the Caddo.  From Caddo, leaving the feluccas behind, Bienville would send detachments as far as the Hasinai in east Texas (these were the Indians who had been so friendly to La Salle and his companions), and then push his main party overland to the Texas coast.  Meanwhile, Iberville would sail to Matagorda Bay, inspect the site of La Salle's ill-fated settlement, and rendezvous there with Bienville.  White waiting for Bienville, Iberville would survey the Texas coast down towards the Rio Brava, being careful not to approach too closely to any Spanish settlements in the area.  Having rendezvoused with Bienville and the Canadians, he would send them with the ships back to Fort Maurepas while he and a small party would return overland to the Caddo village, retrieve the feluccas, drift down the Red and into the Mississippi, sail back to his ships, and return to France. 

With approval of his plan by the King and Minister, Iberville set sail from La Rochelle on October 17.  Aboard his flotilla were a few veterans of his first expedition, but most of the personnel for this second trip had not been to Louisiana.  Three relatives, one of them by blood, the other two by marriage, came along.  One of Iberville's youngest brothers, Antoine Le Moyne, sieur de Châteauguay, only 16 years old, was among them.  Another relative on board was Louis Juchereau de St.-Denis, a 22-year-old kinsman of Iberville's wife.  A cousin, Pierre Du Guay de Boisbriant, who had served with Iberville and Bienville in Acadia and had been in the first expedition to Louisiana, would return as Iberville's aide-major.  The notorious coureur de bois, Pierre-Charles Le Sueur, now 42 years old and France's pre-eminent expert on the Sioux, Chippewa, other tribes in the far western country, also was a relative.  Le Sueur took with him a party of prospectors who would develop any mineral deposits they would find on the Mississippi.  Jesuit Father Paul Du Ru came along to serve as Iberville's chaplain and to take up a mission among the Indians.39

Despite his determination to sail directly to the Gulf, Iberville made for Cap-Français, which he reached on December 11.  Many of the men aboard has fallen ill, some of them before they had left La Rochelle.  Not until 8 January 1700 did Iberville's flotilla anchor at Biloxi Bay.  Sauvole hurried aboard the Renommée and reported what had happened since the previous spring. 

After Iberville's departure in early May, Sauvole had set about preparing the post for the rigors of the coming winter.  This included the construction of a hospital building and removal of trees around the fort to provide open fields of fire.  Meanwhile, a Bayougoula hunting party visited the fort.  The Bayougoula chief offered to lead Bienville to the village of the Acolapissa, who lived up a river that flowed into the Gulf not far from the Rigolets, four days cross country from Biloxi.  In June, Sauvole ordered a more thorough exploration of Mobile Bay and the Pascagoula.  He also sent a patrol to Pensacola to see if the Spanish were still there, and they were.  The patrol sent to Pascagoula ascended the river for seven leagues before they reached the Pascagoula village, which contained about 20 houses.  In August, Sauvole sent Bienville with a party in two canoes to the Rigolets to survey the shores of lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas for suitable settlement sites, and then to explore the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain to find the mouth of the little bayou flowing into the lake that led to the portage site on the lower Mississippi.  Bienville and his Canadians did not disappoint.  They saw for themselves what Iberville had seen--lakes too shallow and shores too marshy for any kind of settlement along them.  And they found what the Indians called Choupicatcha, perhaps today's Bayou Tchoupitoulas, a branch of Bayou St.-Jean, which the Indians assured them would lead on to the Mississippi.  Bienville and some of his men in one of the canoes ascended the little bayou to its narrow upper reaches, lugged the canoe up a natural ridge near the bayou's head, and then hauled it southward through a back swamp to the natural levee above the sweeping river crescent they had passed the year before.  Here was the place where the Indian guide had shown them one end of a portage.  Further exploration of the area revealed that the natural levee at the portage site was "the widest swath of relatively dry land within one hundred miles of the Mississippi's mouth ...."  Most importantly, the portage greatly shortened communication between the lower river and Fort Maurepas.40

From the portage site, Bienville went up to visit the Quinapisa and the Bayougoula.  Back downriver, he explored the "fork of the Chitimacha," which he called Lafourche, or the Fork, before heading back to Biloxi via the river's mouth.  It was on the last leg of the river's descent that Bienville encountered the bête noir of France in North America.  At the head of the sweeping bend below the portage site, Bienville and his Canadians came upon a sight they had long dreaded--a corvette, the Carolina Galley, carrying a dozen guns and flying the red and white flag of England.  In command of the English expedition was an old antagonist, Captain Lewis Banks.  Bienville, as a lad, had confronted this very Englishman in faraway Hudson Bay, and here he was on the lower Mississippi, skulking about in French territory.  Iberville's intelligence had been largely correct:  Banks had crossed from London, wintered in Carolina, sent one of his ships back to England, and, "with a view to establishing himself on the Mississippi," took two ships--the corvette and a larger vessel--around Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico, only a few months after Iberville had established Fort Maurepas!  Banks sailed past the Mississippi, cruised a hundred leagues or so to the west, doubled back to the river's mouth, and, leaving the larger ship in the Gulf's deeper waters, maneuvered the corvette into the river's channel.  Although England and France were still at peace, here was the opportunity for an international incident that could complicate matters between the imperial powers.  The young Frenchman in the canoe informed the Englishman in his warship that France already had possession of the lower river, so he had no business there.  Banks could have destroyed the Canadians with a single broadside and continued on his way.  Instead, he hoisted anchor, turned his vessel about, and drifted slowly down the river, but not before uttering "dire threats that he would return in greater force to found a settlement on the river, which, he said, the English had discovered fifty years before."  Bienville named the spot Détour-des-Anglais, or English Turn, its name to this day.41

Also, Sauvole related to Iberville, the English had appeared in another quarter, this one as troubling as a ship on the lower river.  During Bienville's sojourns on the river, he learned that English traders from Carolina had pushed as far west as the Chickasaw villages, which the French considered to be part of their Louisiana domain.  Iberville vowed to capture the interlopers or drive them away.  Just as troubling, war had broken out between the Bayougoula and the Houma a month after Iberville had returned to France. 

Sauvole had good news and bad news from upriver.  Two missionaries who had been living with the Taensa had visited Biloxi during Iberville's absence, the Louisiana post's first contact via the upper river with Illinois and Canada.  Unfortunately, soon after Iberville's return, word reached him that one of the missionaries, Father François Jollier de Montigny, had been murdered by the Natchez, who lived on the river above the Houma.  In the eyes of the other Indians, this was an act of war.  Tribes in the area who were allied with the Natchez could cut his communication with Illinois.  He had no choice but to go to the Natchez and make peace with that tribe, but he also had to demand that they give him the missionary's killers; it was essential for French dominion in the area "that the murder of a Frenchman should not go unpunished."  He would need all of his skills as a diplomat as well as of a warrior.  Also, war had once again broken out between the Houma and the Bayougoula.42 

Hearing all this, Iberville postponed his region-wide tour of the Red River and the Texas coast, as he had described in his report to Maurepas.  However, he could not forgo an expedition to the Illinois country to search for mines and mulberry trees, as the King had wanted.  But what if Banks had not been bluffing about returning to the Mississippi with a larger force?  The commandant would first have to turn his attention to more pressing problems on the river. 

Iberville's new expedition set out in the middle of January 1700.  Instead of going to the mouth of the river with its troublesome "rocks" and currents, he headed to Lake Pontchartrain with two feluccas and three canoes, searching for mouth of the little bayou that led to the portage site on the lower river.  He found it (Bienville had used it the summer before), but he was not impressed.  The bayou channel was so narrow that only the canoes could get into it.  The head of the bayou was a muddy slough, and the portage was a league in length.  Half of that distance they had to slog through knee-deep mud, until they finally reached the back of the natural levee which they had passed the year before.  Once atop the levee, though, the view of the river was so magnificent that their exertions were all but forgotten.  Iberville set up camp at the site and spent two days surveying the surrounding terrain, even planting some sugar cane he had picked up at Cap-Français in hopes that it would grow to maturity.42a 

Bienville, meanwhile, with the three canoes and 11 men, returned to the Bayougoula village to inform them of the return of Iberville and the ships and to hear the latest news about the area tribes.  He was also tasked with finding a suitable site for a downriver fort.  At Bayougoula, he found a chief from a local tribe who claimed to know the river well.  The chief agreed to help him find a suitable place on which to build a fort near the river's mouth.  Below English Turn, the river turned southward and then southeastward, the banks on both sides lined by illimitable marsh.  The turns here were gentle, the river almost straight in places.  About 17 leagues above the river's mouth, on the left, or east, bank of the channel, the Indian pointed to a natural levee that he assured them would not be inundated even when the river overflowed its banks.  Bienville inspected the spot, sent a canoe back upriver to alert Iberville, and then waited for his brother. 

After his inspection of the land at the portage site, Iberville had returned to the ships via the muddy portage and waited for word from brother Bienville.  Receiving it, he prepared to return to the river, this time via the "rock"-strewn outlet which he had taken exactly a year before.  Sauvole, meanwhile, would remain at Biloxi with the ships.  On February 1, Iberville sailed southward with a traversier and the two feluccas, carrying 80 men this time.  Among them were Father Du Ru, young St.-Denis, and brother Châteauguay.  It took two days to reach the pass via Chandeleur and Breton sounds.  They rendezvoused with Bienville and his party at midnight on the second day.  After Iberville approved the site, everyone at hand--Canadians, sailors, officers, even Father Du Ru--began construction of the fort "which was to stand as mute witness to the French claims of dominion."  Consisting of a two-story blockhouse made of sturdy red cypress, surrounded by a 12-foot-wide moat, Fort de La Boulaye, also called Fort de Mississippi, was Iberville's response to Banks's threat of returning to the river with more Englishmen.  The blockhouse and its armament--four four-pounders and two 18-pounders trained on the channel--would be garrisoned by Iberville's Canadians and commanded by his wife's kinsman, Louis Juchereau de St.-Denis, when Bienville was not there.43 

St.-Denis also was tasked with maintaining a presence at the portage site a dozen leagues upriver, which Iberville planned to use regularly when traveling by canoe.  Later, when Bienville commanded at Fort Maurepas, he coaxed the friendly Biloxi to move to the bayou along the portage "in order to afford the new Fort [de] La Boulaye some measure of native support."  The Quinapisa, now friendly, also lived near enough to offer assistance.43b 

Before leaving Fort Maurepas, Iberville had prepared for another expedition upriver, hoping this time to get as far as Illinois.  While his men were still laboring on the blockhouse, he sent one of the feluccas loaded with provisions to the portage site to meet a party coming from Fort Maurepas via Lake Pontchartrain.  In this second party, led by fellow Canadian and kinsman Pierre du Guay de Boisbriant, Iberville's aide-major, were 10 soldiers, eight Canadians, and mining prospectors under Iberville's other kinsman, Pierre-Charles Le Sueur, who would follow Iberville up to Natchez and beyond.  After replenishing their supplies at the portage site, Du Guay would take the party up to Bayougoula, where they would wait for Iberville.  Iberville also sent a party of six men with axes, under Louis Denys de La Ronde, to a grove full of cedars he had passed along the river; there, Indian style, and probably with help from the Indians, they fashioned a number of dugout canoes, called pirogues, to navigate shallow streams.43a 

Iberville was about to resume his upriver journey when a canoe appeared at the fort that was not part of his expedition.  Henri de Tonty, La Salle's trusted lieutenant, now age 50, stepped out of the canoe and, with his one good hand, greeted Iberville and his officers.  Since his return to the lower river 14 years before searching in vain for La Salle, Tonty had pursued the troubled Canadian fur trade from his base on the Illinois.  When Iberville had received the command of the new Louisiana venture, Tonty had been ordered to co-operate fully.  The previous December, he had guided a party of Jesuits to the mouth of the Arkansas River, where they would establish missions, arriving there around Christmas.  As soon as he could get away, Tonty, with seven Canadians, pressed on--his third descent of the Mississippi--and here he was.  If Iberville had worried about Tonty's attitude towards a venture the Neapolitan had hoped to command, seeing the hearty old fellow dispelled all doubts.  Tonty was there to do his part in maintaining French presence in the Mississippi valley.  Never losing sight of La Salle's vision, he had irked the buyers in Montréal by merely suggesting that the furs from the western country be shipped to France via the Illinois and the Mississippi, not the longer, portage-plagued route back to the lower St. Lawrence.  His arrival at Iberville's fort with a canoe full of Canadians was a fulfillment of La Salle's great scheme.  "The work which La Salle had set out to do twenty years before was at last accomplished."44 


Tonty brought good news from upriver.  Father Montigny, supposedly murdered by the Natchez, was still alive.  Iberville now could treat with that powerful tribe living above the Houma without the stigma of murder hovering above them.  Iberville informed Tonty of his plans to explore the Red River and then move on to Illinois to fulfill the King's wishes.  What better guide could there be than the man who knew more about the western country than anyone alive.  With Tonty's Canadians also coming along, Iberville could leave Du Guay's soldiers at Fort de Mississippi, where the sick roll was growing longer.  

And then the weather turned against them.  By mid-February, ice had formed in the streams, promising to delay any travel upriver.  Iberville left the Sieur de Maltot with 14 men at the fort, including those too ill to travel, and sent Bienville, Châteauguay, La Ronde, Father Du Ru, and a large detachment in a felucca and two wooden pirogues to Bayougoula, where he would rendezvous with them as soon as he could.  The trip up was arduous, and their camp at the Bayougoula landing was nothing more than a vast sea of mud.  On February 17, Iberville started up from the fort with Tonty and his men, the weather still inhospitable.  It took them five days to reach the portage site, where they rendezvoused with Le Sueur and his men.  Iberville, Tonty, and Le Sueur pushed on to the Bayougoula landing, which they reached on February 26, and prepared to enter the village with the proper formality that such occasions demanded. 

After the usual festivities, Iberville gathered his officers together and laid plans for the next expedition.  He sent a messenger to Surgères on the Renommée, instructing him to leave a month's provisions at Fort Maurepas and then hurry back to France with a report of what Iberville had accomplished, and hoped to accomplish, on this second expedition to Louisiana.  St.-Denis, who despite his youth also was proving his worth, Iberville sent ahead with a vanguard of hunters to keep the upriver expedition supplied with fresh meat.  Iberville gave Tonty the assignment of luring two English traders, reported to be upriver with the Chickasaw, into the hands of La Ronde, who would hold them as prisoners.  Bienville, with a hand full of men, would precede the main party to their next stop, the Houma village.  Du Guay would remain at Bayougoula to wait for a squad of his men who had gone down to Fort de La Boulaye to look after a comrade who was enduring emergency surgery. 

Iberville began his expedition in earnest on March 1 with 58 men, total, in the three upriver parties.  He caught up to Bienville on the second day out, and on the morning of the third day reached the Houma landing, where he erected a cross at a nearby portage site.  He instructed the Houma not to remove the sacred symbol and named the place Portage of the Cross.  With too many men to burden the Houma, who were suffering from the effects of a recent malady, he led most of them up and around a long, sharp bend, now today's Raccouri Island, where they would wait at a landing above the mouth of Red River while he and a handpicked few, including six Canadians and six Bayougoula, took the short portage back down to the Houma village to endure the usual festivities.44a 

It was important that he take the Bayougoula along, for, despite the peace that he had brokered the previous March, war had erupted between the two old enemies soon after he had left them.  During a council that followed the festivities, both sides blamed the other for the outbreak of war, but both sides also welcomed Iberville's help in restoring the peace.  The Houma agreed to release Bayougoula prisoners, and the Bayougoula proffered the appropriate gifts to ransom them.44b 

Peace, and the tribal balance of power, was restored on the lower river. 

At the Houma village were warriors from the Little Taensa village, located three days journey to the westward.  The year before, members of this tribe had related to Iberville the wonders of the Red River valley.  Prompted by Iberville, they described the complexity of the river in more detail this time.  Iberville was intrigued.  He asked them to guide him up the river as far as the Caddo villages, but they demurred.  At this season, they explained, there was not enough water in the river for his larger vessels.  Without competent guides, Iberville knew better than to ascend an unchartered river.  They suggested that he go on up to the Big Taensa village and send a party overland to the Caddo villages.  The overland party could see for themselves the wonders of the river. 

From the upper landing near the mouth of Red River, Iberville sent 10 men in a pirogue back to Fort de La Boulaye with equipment he no longer needed and, on March 9, resumed the journey upriver, now entering a part of the river he had not seen.  In two days he reached the village of the Natchez at the site of the present city.  After the usual greeting ceremony, in which the Natchez chief, the Grand Soleil, showed all due respect to the French commander, the chief handed to Iberville a letter from Father Montigny which informed him that he was returning to his post at Taensa after staying among the Natchez.  The missive contained many details about the priest's impressions of the Natchez, his supposed murderers.  Two things impressed the French at Natchez:  the large number of people who lived there (perhaps 3,000), and the quality of the soil in the area, which produced substantial harvests of maize.  To learn more about this important tribe, Iberville left two boys at the village to learn their language and customs.45 

On the morning of March 12, Iberville pushed on in a single canoe with only six men to Taensa, leaving Bienville at Natchez to gather supplies for an overland trek to the Hasinai.  At Taensa landing, which he reached in two days, Iberville left two men to guard the canoe and pushed inland with the others to the Taensa village.  Their guides became lost, so Iberville lost nearly a day getting to the village.  There, to his great joy, he found Father Montigny, alive and ministering to the friendly Taensa.  Father Montigny had built a house and was about to construct a chapel in the village.  Iberville learned from the priest that the Taensa once had been a great nation, but disease had reduced their numbers to only 300 warriors living on the shore of the ox-bow lake.  The tribe had traditionally practiced human sacrifice, not unlike the cultures of ancient Europe, but Montigny thought he had convinced them to halt the practice.  However, their old chief had died recently, and a bolt of lightning had destroyed their stick-and-mud temple, so the village medicine man, to assuage an angry deity, demanded a sacrifice.  In a frenzy of fright, five women surrendered their newborns, which the medicine man flung into a fire.  According to a witness's account, more women would have sacrificed their infant children if the French had not intervened.46 

Through Father Montigny's efforts, Iberville secured a Taensa guide to lead his party overland to the Caddo villages, and from there he would continue to the Hasinai village--a modification of the regional tour he had described to Maurepas.  But Iberville went no farther.  "And now for the first time," his biographer relates, "the commander, who had undergone so many hardships and overcome so many obstacles, found himself incapacitated by a violent pain in the knee--possibly a touch of rheumatism, the result of constant exposure--which prevented him from walking and compelled him to abandon his plans for an overland journey. ..."  Iberville was not yet 39.  He had no choice but to travel as much as possible by water, which meant someone else would have to make the overland exploration.  He sent Du Guay ahead to Fort de La Boulaye and to Fort Maurepas to announce his return.  The overland venture he left to Bienville, who had just turned 20.  Bienville explored the lower Red and Ouachita rivers before returning to Biloxi.47 

Father Montigny accompanied Iberville back to Natchez, where he remained to found a mission.  Just above the Houma village, Iberville met Le Sueur, coming up with his soldiers and mining prospectors.  Iberville gave him a large canoe and a guide for their journey up the river (they ascended the Mississippi all the way up to its confluence with the Minnesota River, near present-day Minneapolis/St.-Paul, and ascended that river through Sioux country in their search for the King's minerals).  Tonty and La Ronde, alerted by Du Guay, were at the Houma village, waiting for Iberville.  La Ronde joined Iberville on his way down to Bayougoula.  Tonty, carrying presents for the Tunica and Chickasaw, continued up to Illinois.  Iberville instructed him to tell the chiefs of those two tribes that the French were now the indisputable power in the region.  They could please the French by ending their war with the Natchez and other neighboring tribes.  If not, Iberville would give firearms to his Indian allies and consider their enemies to be his enemies as well.47a  

On March 16, Iberville returned to Bayougoula, where he met a contingent of Canadian coureurs de bois who had come downriver to trade their beaver pelts; the Louisiana-Illinois trade connection already was bearing fruit.  Father Du Ru remained at Bayougoula to found a mission while Iberville moved on to Fort de La Boulaye, which he reached with brother Châteauguay the following evening, "having covered forty-two leagues in thirty-four hours."  There he met Du Guay.  Iberville was disappointed with the progress on the fort, but he was pleased to see a crop of wheat and peas planted beside a small bayou that flowed behind the site.  Determined to avoid the open-sea route back to Biloxi via the river's mouth, Iberville sent Du Guay with three men into the maze of bayous east of the fort, hoping to find a shortcut to Lake Borgne.  Du Guay and his men, understandably, became lost and were back at the fort three days later.  Iberville, with two companions, went two leagues above the fort where there supposedly was a portage, but the way proved to be impassable, so they returned to the fort.  Back at the fort, Iberville suffered a fever that laid him low for several days.  On March 31, a traversier and a felucca arrived from Ship Island via the river's mouth with provisions in the form of livestock.  The trip had been made in only 36 hours, proving that the all-water route to De La Boulaye could be  faster than the portage at Bayou St.-Jean.48 

The men aboard the relief boats had a strange tale to relate.  While Iberville was still upriver, the Spanish governor at Pensacola, Andrés de Arriola, had appeared at Ship Island with a small fleet of ships, including a 24-gun frigate.  Determined to enforce strict Spanish mercantilist policy, the viceroy of New Spain had ordered him to drive the French away if they represented a private trading company.  Surgères, perhaps having not yet received orders from Iberville to return to France, assured the Spaniard that they were not a private concern, that they were there with the sanction of King Louis XIV.  The governor chided them for seizing territory that belonged to the King of Spain and demanded that they build no new settlements.  With that, the Frenchmen wined and dined the governor, who admitted in his cups that the viceroy maintained the post at Pensacola only because the French were at Biloxi.  And then the governor and his officers continued on their way.  Nine days later, to the astonishment of the Frenchmen on Ship Island, a ship's boat full of Spaniards pulled up to the Renommée, and the governor fell exhausted onto the ship's main deck.  Arriola related that soon after he had left them, a sudden gale came up and drove his ships onto the Chandeleur islands.  The French immediately sent out a rescue party to retrieve the stranded Spaniards.  The French gave them new clothing and fresh provisions and escorted them back to Pensacola.  

Iberville lingered at Fort de La Boulaye for two more weeks, enduring heavy spring rains.  The Indian who had recommended the site had known his business:  though the high water swelled the river and overflowed its banks, the spot on which the blockhouse stood remained above the flood. 

On April 13, La Ronde arrived from Bayougoula.  Iberville, well enough now, turned the fort over to him and continued on to Biloxi.  His trip through the sounds was uneventful, and soon he landed at Fort Maurepas.  Despite his delicate health, he was determined to do what he could to learn more about the surrounding area.  He returned to the Pascagoula to inspect the estuary, hoping to find a channel through the sand bar blocking its entrance, behind which he hoped to anchor his vessels.  For two days, he explored up the river farther than any of his men had gone.  He noted the condition of the banks and the few villages he encountered.  Evidently an epidemic had swept through the valley and devastated the population.  The villages, and the people, were in sorry condition.  When he learned that the Mobile lived three days' journey to the northeast, he sent two men there with an invitation to visit Biloxi. 

On May 18, back at Fort Maurepas, Bienville arrived from the Mississippi with troubling news.  The Bayougoula had turned on their cousins, the Mugulasha, and massacred them.  On the 19th, two missionaries, Father Montigny and Father Antoine Davion, came to Biloxi with several Natchez and Tunica warriors and reported that English traders were stirring up trouble among the Indians on the upper Mississippi.  Iberville was well into his preparations to return to France, so Sauvole, again left in command, would have to deal with these new developments.  Iberville instructed him to continue exploration of the surrounding country, keeping an eye out for natural resources, especially mineral deposits.  St.-Denis would survey the land west of the Mississippi, including the Red River valley, "with a view to locating mines" in the region.  However, the young Canadian must be sure "to acquire land only in the King's name and to send mineral samples to France for analysis."  Though the imperial powers were still at peace, Iberville authorized Sauvole to use force, "if peaceful persuasion had no effect," to repel "nationals of other countries who might cause trouble" in the region.  Bienville, meanwhile, would command on the river, where he, too, was encouraged to continuation exploration and maintain peaceful relations with the Indians.49 

Iberville weighed anchor on 28 May 1700 and steered the Renommée out to sea.   Instead of sailing directly back to La Rochelle, he turned north after clearing the Florida Keys and sailed all the way up to the entrance to New York harbor.  He believed, like many Frenchmen, especially his fellow Canadians, that war with England was imminent.  The next war, they hoped, would break the English stranglehold on North America.  An attack against New York, by land and sea, likely would be part of that cherished dream.  So, in late June, Iberville made careful soundings at Sandy Hook and other points at the harbor's entrance, and, after taking on a New Jersey pilot, sailed through the Narrows and on up to Manhattan, ostensibly to take on water and wood.  England and France were still at peace, but the arrival of a French warship in the heart of the English North America alarmed colonial officials.  Governor Cornbury ordered a barge to shadow the movements of the French vessel.  Rumors spread through Manhattan and the rest of New York colony that King James II, who had been dethroned 11 years before, had given the colony to the King of France!  Was this the beginning of the new French occupation?  Were the Canadians about to attack the place and make New York a part of Canada?  The governor ordered the immediate strengthening of the colony's fortifications, especially the forts protecting New York harbor. 


From New York, Iberville sailed on to La Rochelle, where a recurrence of the fever that had felled him in Louisiana kept him from proceeding on to Versailles.  He did not recover enough to go to Paris until January 1701.  Meanwhile, Maurepas had replaced his father as Minister of Marine, the older Pontchartrain having been promoted to Chancellor of France.  This was all well and good for Iberville, who remained in the good graces of these influential men.  By then, Louis XIV had overseen the placement on the vacant Hapsburg throne of Spain his grandson, Philippe d'Anjou, now Philip V of Spain.  The Bourbon dynasty now ruled much of Europe and most of the Americas as well.  The old Dutchman, William III, still occupied the thrown of England.  The question of the Spanish succession, and its unhappy result, likely would lead Louis XIV's old antagonist to create a new English-Dutch alliance, this time with Hapsburg Austria. 

Another war was imminent.  

Maurepas tasked Iberville with concocting a plan to unite French and Spanish interests in the Gulf of Mexico against English interference there, especially from the Atlantic colonies.  Iberville now must view his Louisiana "creation" in the context of a French-Spanish alliance.  His report was a perceptive analysis of North American geography, both physical and human, as perhaps only a well-educated, well-traveled Canadian could give.  He had no illusions about the extent of English colonization along the Atlantic seaboard.  He was especially troubled by the amazing differences in English and French populations in colonial North America.  He could report to Maurepas that the English colonists could not be confined by the Appalachians to their coastal domains, that they in fact already were extending their commercial interests, if not their settlements, through and around the mountains, west to the Mississippi.  That settlers would follow, he had no doubt, Englishmen so aggressive, so hungry for land, that they would overawe the Indians between the mountains and the great river before moving on to the Spanish domains.  They would be especially dangerous if they could form alliances with the Mississippi valley tribes.  Only a strong French presence in the Mississippi valley, anchored to a stronger presence along the upper Gulf Coast, could hope to contain the English menace from the east of the mountains.  What Spain had already established in the Gulf Coast region--Apalachicola, Pensacola, Matagorda Bay, and a presidio among the Hasinai of East Texas--was not enough to protect the approaches to Mexico.  Iberville had been to two of those places and was unimpressed with the strategic value of any of them.  Not so the new French settlements on the Gulf; thanks to his own efforts, they were well-placed, but they were only a beginning.  Control of the major rivers flowing into the Gulf--the Apalachicola, the Mobile, the Tombigbee, the Pascagoula, the Pearl, as well as the Mississippi--and the Indians who lived on or near them, was essential to maintain control of the vast region between Carolina, Florida, and the Mississippi--that is to say, Louisiana.  With the addition of a fortified settlement at the head of Mobile Bay, coupled with Spanish cession of Pensacola and Apalachicola to the French, the Bourbon allies would be very well positioned to increase their influence throughout the region.  To justify cession, he wrote a stinging critique of the garrison at Pensacola but admitted that the site had such possibilities the English might be tempted to seize it.  Better France than England should control that harbor, too.49a 

The King and his ministers were so impressed by Iberville's reasoning that they sent a copy of the report to Philip V of Spain.  Philip gave the plan to his Junta of War and the Indies, who, true to the spirit of royal bureaucracy, set it aside for future consideration.   Meanwhile, Iberville's star rose higher in French royal circles.  The Canadian now was seen as a statesman as well as a explorer and founder of colonies.  Maurepas welcomed Iberville's advice on all matters pertaining to French colonial interests.  No Canadian of his day was held in higher esteem.  Iberville responded with frequent communications to the Minister, submitting treatise after treatise that revealed not only wide experience but also solid research on the grand-strategic picture of France's place in North America.  He felt comfortable enough with his new status to give advice on where the French should attack the English when the next war broke out, including an overland assault against Boston from French-controlled Maine.  

Iberville also addressed complications that had arisen in French North America as a result of his Louisiana ventures.  His fellow Canadians, especially the merchants of his native Montréal, were up in arms about the Illinois-Mississippi-Gulf Coast route and its effect on the always precarious western fur trade.  Iberville himself had witnessed the arrival of Canadian coureurs de bois in the lower Mississippi villages as well as at Fort Maurepas.  What now was a trickle could become a flood.  The governor-general of New France, Louis-Hector de Callière, former governor of Montréal, requested that Louisiana be placed under his authority so that he could extend his control over the fur trade, still suffering in Canada.  Nothing more could have guaranteed the marginalization of Louisiana.  Despite their concerns about the fur trade, the King and Minister rejected Callière's proposal; Louisiana would remain a royal colony, "governed directly from Versailles."  Though conceived and nurtured by Canadians, Louisiana was safe from Canadian interference, at least for now.50

Iberville now prepared for his third voyage to the Louisiana Gulf Coast.  Imminent war limited ministerial attention, as well as royal resources, to outfit another Gulf Coast expedition.  Nonetheless, there would be one.  In late June 1701, the ministry of Marine published the list of officers who would serve on the Renommée and its consort, the Palmier, being refitted at Rochefort.  Iberville would command the Renommée, with Du Guay as his second in command.  Brother Joseph Le Moyne, sieur de Sérigny et de Loire, like his older brother a distinguished naval commander, was given the Palmier, which he had commanded in Hudson Bay.  (This time five Le Moyne brothers would serve in Louisiana--Bienville, already there, plus Iberville, Sérigny, Châteauguay, and Gabriel d'Assigny, one of the youngest, who signed on to try his luck in the new colony.)  A traversier, the Espérance, under François-Alexandre Robinau de Bécancour, would accompany the flotilla.  Representing the King's financial interests in Louisiana was Nicolas de La Salle, the colony's new commissaire; La Salle, from a prominent Parisian family, was not a Cavelier and thus not a kinsman of the great explorer, but in 1682, as a young man, he had accompanied the Sieur de La Salle and Henri de Tonty on their famous journey to the mouth of the Mississippi.  The new commissary would take his wife and children to Louisiana.  Three other men would bring their wives and children--the colony's first European families.50g 

And then came an annoying delay--the French had not received word from the Spanish about the status of Pensacola.  Iberville's plan of action called for the abandonment of Fort Maurepas, at least as the colony's headquarters, for strengthening Fort de La Boulaye, for building a new post on Mobile Bay from which to treat with the Choctaw and the troublesome Chickasaw, and for rebuilding Pensacola to protect the flank of the new post.  The post at Mobile would be a true colony, with families, marriageable young women for the woodsmen already there, and a proper hospital staffed by Grey Sisters from Rochefort.  The King authorized funds not only for an extensive trade with the Indians, including firearms to be given or sold to them, but also for a new fortification at either Mobile or Pensacola if the Spanish ceded the place.  July turned into August, with still no word from Spain.  Biloxi had been left with only six months of provisions, and that was 15 months ago!  A small resupply had been sent from Rochefort the previous February and was expected to return in August, but there still was no word yet that it had even reached the colony.  Iberville was determined to set sail by the end of August regardless of word from Spain.

He left Rochefort on August 27 and made for St.-Domingue.  Soon after he left, word arrived from the Spanish Junta about their plans for Pensacola.  They regretted to inform their esteemed allies that King Philip would not surrender Pensacola to them.  Not only that, but they were determined to build a new fortress at Pensacola, reinforced from Havana and Veracruz, to overawe any "foreign" challenge to their hegemony in the region.  The Junta registered their regret that the French had built a colony in territory long claimed by Spain.  No matter, the Spanish hoped to cooperate with the usurpers, their new allies, against their common enemy, the English. 

Iberville reached Cap-Français on November 7.  The Palmier, whose refitting had not pleased Iberville, had lost her mainmast in a storm.  At Cap, he met the Enflammé, the ship that had been sent to Louisiana the previous February and only recently had returned from the colony.  Iberville assigned 26-year-old Louis Denys de La Ronde to command the vessel on its return to France.  La Ronde took with him a memoir from Sauvole addressed to Maurepas that detailed the sad state of Fort de La Boulaye and Iberville's dispatches.  Iberville then waited impatiently for repairs to the Palmier.  Mindful of conditions at his outposts, Iberville sent a smack on ahead to De La Boulaye to succor the garrison there.  The smack's captain, Jean-Robert Jousselin de Marigny, also would deliver orders to Sauvole to dismantle the post at Fort Maurepas and move down the coast to Massacre Island at the entrance to Mobile Bay.  To place the new settlement on a solid footing, Iberville took on more provisions at Cap, including livestock.  He was determined that Mobile would become a self-sufficient colony, not dependent on annual resupplies from France or on the local Indians.  Before he left in mid-November, he was disappointed when d'Assigny, not an adventurer like his older brothers, chose to remain at Cap-Français and accept a position on the local council.  Iberville agreed to ask Maurepas to hurry his brother's appointment.  Sadly, the effort proved unnecessary--the young man died in St.-Domingue a few months later, only 20 years of age.50a  

Also before he left, Iberville took care of some personal business.  His share of the fur trade on Hudson Bay, plus his bonuses and salaries from the royal treasury, had made him a wealthy man, and he hoped to become even wealthier.  While waiting at Cap, he entered into a partnership to purchase a large cocoa and sugar plantation in the colony.  Four years later, he would sell the plantation for a profit of nearly 14,000 livres.50b

The 20-day voyage from Cap to Pensacola, his next destination, was pure agony for Iberville.  He had felt a pain in his abdomen back at Cap-Français, but now it was a full blown abscess that required on-board surgery.  His surgeon, Pierre Clavery, did what he could for the commandant, whose suffering must have been unbearable when the Renommée entered the cold, choppy waters of the Gulf.50c

Finally, on December 15, Iberville's fleet arrived at Pensacola.  Evidently having received word from Versailles during his long stay at Cap, he sent an officer ashore to ask permission to anchor inside the harbor.  The commander of the post, still Andrés de Arriola, had gone to Veracruz, but the second in command, Don Francisco de Córcoles y Martínez, sent a pilot to take them through the channel.  When Martínez came aboard the Renommée, Iberville informed him of Philippe d'Anjou's accession to the Spanish throne; they were now Bourbon allies.  Martínez seemed pleased with the news, but he had sad news for the ailing Canadian.  The trusty Sauvole had died at Fort Maurepas.  Fever, which struck others at the settlement, had taken the old adventurer in late August.  Iberville surmised that after Sauvole's death Bienville had moved from Fort de La Boulaye to take command at Biloxi, leaving St.-Denis to command on the Mississippi.  Iberville could not have known that Bienville and many of his men also were sick with whatever had killed Sauvole.50d 

"In a private conference," Iberville informed Martínez of his plan to fortify Mobile Bay.  The proud Spaniard could not have been pleased with the news, but he took it calmly, at first.  Two weeks later, however, after watching the Frenchmen come and go, in late December he protested verbally as well as in writing that Bahía Mobila belonged to Spain.  He beseeched Iberville to wait for a reply from his viceroy before continuing his activities in the bay.  He even asked Iberville to loan him a ship to send a messenger to Veracruz.  Iberville agreed to the loan of a vessel but added that he was duty bound to fortify Mobile.  His orders came from his King, he said, and he had only two months to complete them.  To assuage the Spaniard, he reminded him of how a fort at Mobile would help unite the two nations against their common enemy, England.  He promised to help the Spanish in their common quest to defeat the designs of the Carolina English, who were turning area tribes against them.  No surprise to Iberville, Martínez acquiesced in what the French were doing at Bahía Mobila.50e 

Lingering at Pensacola into January 1702, still recuperating from his surgery, Iberville sent François Desjordy-Moreau de Cabanac in a felucca to Fort Maurepas to hurry Bienville and Marigny's movement to Massacre with what they could salvage from Biloxi.  Iberville instructed Desjordy-Moreau to tell Bienville to build on Massacre a storage warehouse for the King's property, and then sent Sérigny and Châteauguay in a borrowed launch to rendezvous with their brother on the island.  Iberville next prepared a 45-ton ketch, the Dauphine, commanded by Canadian merchant-sailor François Pillet dit Lajeunesse, to follow the brothers to Massacre with 80 hand-picked workers, building materials, and other paraphernalia he had brought from France.  Also aboard the ketch were Commissaire La Salle and his family.  Iberville, still recuperating from his surgery, was forced to remain aboard the Renommée at Pensacola.  On January 12, the Dauphine returned with the news that, after recuperating from his own illness, Bienville had reached Massacre on the 5th with 40 men from Biloxi, rendezvoused with Sérigny, La Salle, and the working party, and was building the storage warehouse.  The stores being unloaded onto Massacre Island were protected from the elements by the three large tents that Iberville had purchased from a Canadian merchant.  Bienville, Sérigny, and an associate, fellow Canadian Charles Levasseur dit Ruessavel, already were on their way upriver, going as far up as the Mobile village.  While they surveyed the terrain along the river for the best possible settlement sites, Châteauguay and the workers at Massacre would finish the warehouse at Massacre.50f 

After reading Bienville's report of the river survey and studying Levasseur's drawings, Iberville chose for the new settlement a bluff rising 21 feet above the water line along the west bank of the Mobile River, 16 leagues (approximately 60 miles) north of Massacre Island, at present-day Twenty-Seven-Mile Bluff.  The place commanded the head of the bay as well as the mouth of a major river that led deep into the interior where thousands of Indians dwelled.  Bienville would guide the working party up to the site, and Sérigny would supervise construction.  The shallow waters of the bay, especially at its entrance, could not accommodate the larger vessels, so Iberville sent Jacques Le Roux of Rochefort, his master ship's carpenter, with mechanics and laborers to build a flat-bottomed pinnace with a shallow enough draft--four and a half feet--to move supplies from the island to the settlement and yet be seaworthy enough to navigate the sounds and even the Gulf.  Levasseur, meanwhile, would oversee the construction of the fort, "an imposing structure of logs about 375 feet square, flanked by four bastions each thirty feet by twelve and each containing a battery of six guns.  Within the enclosure were four buildings used respectively as a chapel, a guardhouse and storehouse combined, a residence for the commander, and a residence for the officers.  Outside the palisade were the barracks, situated 150 feet north of the fort on the riverbank."  It was named Fort Louis-de-la-Louisiane, but it came to be known as Old Mobile.51  

After three years of effort, here was a proper settlement.  Maurepas and De La Boulaye were simply garrisoned outposts.  Fort Louis would be a colony, with residents, not just soldiers, with families and a chapel.  Although the place would be abandoned nine years later and New Mobile would reappear farther downstream, here was a significant new step in the Louisiana venture--a new colony for France in the American wilderness.51d  

Still on his sickbed at Pensacola, Iberville gave Henri de Tonty an important assignment.  He ordered the Neapolitan to gather a small force of voyageurs at Mobile and return to the Chickasaw villages.  To Iberville's dismay, the Chickasaw had chosen to remain staunch allies of the Carolinians.  Tonty was to use his considerable charm, in lieu of gifts, to lure the troublesome tribe, as well as their neighbors the Choctaw, into an alliance with the French.  Mobile was well positioned, Iberville believed, to travel to and from the territories of the largest tribes in the region--the Chickasaw in present-day northern Mississippi, the Choctaw south and east of them, and the Alabama east of the Choctaw at the strategic junction of the Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers.  According to Iberville's grand scheme, in fact, "the pacification and unification of the principal Indian nations" in the region was second in importance only to the creation of the new settlement at Mobile.51b

Meanwhile, at Pensacola, the Spaniards had run dangerously low on supplies.  Martínez, still in charge there, and still waiting for his commander to return with provisions from Veracruz, beseeched Iberville for the loan of a vessel with which to send to Veracruz.  Iberville consented, not only out of a sense of humanity but also out of the hard, cold fact that he could not afford to feed Pensacola as well as Mobile, which must depend on supply ships from France or St.-Domingue before the settlers there could raise enough food of their own.  The traversier Précieuse, which had been sailing Louisiana waters for three years now, was refitted for the benefit of the Spaniards.  Cousin Jean-Sidrac Dugué de Sainte-Thérèse and 16 men would man the craft; one of Martínez's officers would serve as pilot and messenger.  Iberville also gave Martínez 15 barrels of flour to help feed the Pensacola garrison until Sainte-Thérèse returned.51c 

Finally, on February 15, after two longs months of convalescing at Pensacola, Iberville was well enough to take the Palmier, now under Sérigny's brother-in-law Pierre-Jacques Payen de Noyan, to Massacre Island.  After three days of fighting heavy winds, the ship finally dropped anchor in the harbor at the island's eastern end.  Here, weeks before, Sérigny and La Salle had found a flat, sandy bottom with 20 feet of water at low tide, deep enough for the largest vessels, including ships of 40 or 50 guns, and shelter from the area's prevailing winds.  Iberville pronounced it the finest harbor on the entire coast, large enough accommodate up to 30 ships, and called it Port Massacre.  To protect the harbor and the entrance to the bay, Iberville ordered the construction of a fort on the tip of Massacre Island--Pointe-à-Guillory.  The new fort also would protect the King's warehouse, which would store provisions not only for Fort Louis but also for the Mississippi garrison.  Unfortunately, when Iberville reached Massacre, Josselin de Marigny's smack was fast aground on a sandbar near the entrance to the bay.  Two days of hard work and regular high tides could not free the vessel, so Iberville hired François Pillet's ketch, the Dauphine, to transport supplies and passengers to Fort de La Boulaye.  There no longer was a garrison to feed at Biloxi; Ship Island could serve as an anchorage on Mississippi Sound, but Fort Maurepas would be no more.51a 

The Dauphine carried a new priest who had come down the Mississippi, Father Jacques Gravier from Illinois.  Also aboard were Canadian voyageurs interested in establishing a trade connection for their furs and skins.  After the Dauphine departed Massacre, Marigny's smack came unstuck during an unusually high tide, and Iberville sent it to Biloxi to secure the remaining items at Fort Maurepas.  Amazingly, though its construction had been underway for several weeks, Iberville had not seen his new fort on the Mobile.  He attempted to go up in late February, but foul weather turned him back to Massacre.51e 

On his return, Iberville learned that La Salle, a proud, prickly Frenchman, whose job was to oversee the colony's stores, already was alienating some of the officers by interfering with their established commissary arrangements.  Iberville tried to head off more conflict by appointing a garde-magasin, or storekeeper, to run the King's warehouse on Massacre, with orders to issue munitions, provisions, even presents to the Indians, only on written orders signed by the commissaire and the commandant--a "bicephalous administration," typical in French colonies, that would haunt Louisiana for decades to come.52 

On his second attempt to visit Fort Louis, which began on February 28, Iberville informed La Salle, who had taken up temporary residence at the Massacre storehouse, that he could follow with his family when another boat arrived.  Contrary winds delayed Iberville's arrival for several days, but, finally, on March 3, he reached the fort's landing, where he was greeted by his brothers and the other officers.  This would be his new headquarters until he returned to the Renommée.52b

Always the explorer, Iberville ordered a more thorough survey of the Mobile Bay area.  He was interested not only in the waters but also the banks and the surrounding territory.  Bienville, who started out on March 4 with native guides, found many abandoned living sites and even some sacred places.  Among the latter was a small group of islands on which the Indians had erected five plaster figures which they considered to be idols; later, Iberville guessed, wrongly, that they were from the De Soto expedition of the 1540s.  The Indians believed that these figures were sacred and that whoever profaned them would meet a terrible end.  Ever the Renaissance man, Bienville gathered them up to take to the fort to show the others.  The Indians were astonished that he did not suddenly drop dead.  After Bienville returned, Iberville went out to find a fresh water stream that could generate enough power to operate a sawmill and a tannery he hoped to build in the area.  The flat terrain provided no such flow of water, so the sawmill and the tannery remained only ideas.  And, of course, Iberville had to visit the local tribes, including the Mobile and the Tomeh, who lived farther up the Mobile River.  On his way up to and from the villages, he studied the river banks, noting the many abandoned native sites, perhaps a clue that the area once supported a large population.  But he was more interested in the future than in the past, "trying to determine if the bluffs along the river were capable of supporting the plantations he envisioned."52a  

Back at Fort Louis, Iberville oversaw the laying out of the village behind the fort where the officers, administrators, artisans, and voyageurs would soon build their houses.  He also found a letter from Martínez beseeching him for more supplies.  Iberville wasted no time complying with the Spaniard's request.  "The well-being of Fort San Carlo, he knew, would be beneficial to the success of Fort Louis during the early stages."  Moreover, during "... the next few years, supply ships from Veracruz would be coming regularly to Pensacola.  No doubt they would arrive on numerous occasions when Fort Louis was lacking in supplies."  This time Iberville would not give the Spaniards barrels of flour from the Massacre warehouse.  Instead, he sent Desjordy-Moreau upriver to the Tomeh village to purchase maize from the natives and sent a felucca filled with corn on to Pensacola.52c

On Sunday, March 26, having taken a big step towards creating a Pax Gallica in the region, Tonty returned to Fort Louis with several Choctaw and Chickasaw chiefs, as well as chiefs from the nearby Mobile and Tomeh villages.  Iberville welcomed the occasion to impress the leaders of these tribes with the power and wealth of France.  His gifts to them must have made a large dent in the colony's stores:  "Two hundred pounds each of powder, shot, and musket balls, one hundred axes, twelve guns, 150 knives, and a miscellaneous collection of cooking utensils ..." placed at the feet of the awestruck chiefs.  "Never before had these bewildered natives seen such an array, and all was theirs for the taking."  Iberville, with brother Bienville interpreting, addressed the chiefs.  He praised them for the peace that existed between them but warned them about the machinations of the Carolina English, who were not above selling their people into slavery.  He reminded them of how the English weakened the tribes living in their colonies not only with Indian slavery but also with frequent warfare pitting tribe against tribe, until the Indians could no longer defend themselves.  He turned to the Chickasaw chiefs and threatened to arm the other tribes in the region, even their arch-enemies, the Illinois, now allies of the French, if the Chickasaw did not turn away from the English traders.  Changing his tone, he promised to cajole the Illinois into releasing their Chickasaw captives and to broker a peace between the two tribes.  He promised to build between the Chickasaw and Choctaw villages a trading post filled with high-quality goods and promised reasonable prices for their furs and skins.  After smoking the calumet and hearing the chiefs' promises that they would expel the English from their territories, Iberville and the chiefs negotiated prices.53 

The regional Pax Gallica had been sealed. 

After the conference, which Iberville intended to be an annual affair, including exchange of presents, he asked the Choctaw and Chickasaw chiefs to estimate for him the number of their people, including warriors.  He was told that the Chickasaw could send 2,000 men into the field, and the Choctaw an astonishing 3,800, perhaps as many as 4,000.  It would take years, if not decades, if ever, for the French to be able to gather such a force in the region.  Diplomacy, for now and well into the future, would have to take precedence over force.  It was important, then, that Iberville keep his promises.  He sent five Canadians up the Mobile River to build the trading post.  Three of them would continue to Illinois to secure the release of the Chickasaw prisoners.  They would then continue on to the St. Lawrence with letters from Iberville to the vicar general in Québec and the superior of the Jesuits, asking for more missionaries for his tribal allies.  He also sent messages to missionaries already serving the Louisiana tribes, including Father Albert Davion, still among the Tunica, Father Nicolas Foucault with the Arkansas, and Father Jean-François Buisson de St.-Cosme with the Natchez.  They must inform their charges of the new alliance and dissuade them from further conflict.53a 


His work accomplished, Iberville prepared to leave Louisiana for the third time.  He could not know it, but when he bid farewell to the officers and settlers at Mobile on March 27, the founder of Louisiana colony would never see his handiwork again.  With him went brothers Sérigny and Châteauguay; also kinsman Le Sueur, who had come back downriver with a load of green and blue ore he had found in the Sioux country; and Father Paul Du Ru, who had been in the colony since January 1700.  Brother Bienville, who had come to Louisiana in January 1699 and had remained there each time Iberville returned to France, would remain in the colony once again and command at Fort Louis.53b 

On March 31, after waiting several days for a favorable wind, Iberville left Port Massacre and sailed the Palmier back to the Renommée, still anchored at Pensacola, which he reached in a day.  He was chagrined to learn that his traversier, the Précieuse, so important for the Louisiana colonists, had not returned from Veracruz.  As a result, the Pensacola garrison was still short of food.  Moreover, Iberville was anxious to know how the Spanish in Mexico were reacting to his presence on the Gulf.  He also was forced to wait for Pillet's ketch, supposedly carrying a cargo of pelts and skins from the lower Mississippi; he had promised the Canadians to take their goods to France and seek a market for them there.  The Précieuse returned from Veracruz on April 13, but carried only a month's supply of food.  The Dauphine returned from the Mississippi on April 19, laden with furs and skins.  Iberville sent another traversier, the Espérance, under trusted lieutenant Robinau de Bécancour, back to Veracruz to purchase more supplies.53c

Iberville's final task before departing Pensacola was the completion of a long memorandum addressed to Bienville in which he detailed what he wanted his brother to accomplish before he returned the following year.  Determined to placate his Indian allies, Iberville prohibited Indian slavery in the colony.  He instructed Bienville to send Tonty and a party of Canadians to the Tombigbee River, above the Mobile, to construct the trading post he had promised the Choctaw and Chickasaw.  He encouraged Bienville to establish amicable relations with the strategically-located Alibamon, who lived east of the Choctaw.  To assuage an important tribe on the river, Iberville suggested that Bienville abandon Fort de La Boulaye and relocate the downriver post at the portage site, near where a small Biloxi village now stood.  Bienville, with the help of the Spanish, must complete the overland route from Fort Louis to Pensacola to improve communication between the two posts.53e

On April 28, Iberville set sail for Havana, where he hoped to communicate with veteran French naval squadron leader, François-Louis Rousselet de Châteaurenault, about improving trade with Veracruz and other Spanish ports.  Unfortunately, when Iberville reached Havana during the first week of May, Châteaurenault had already moved on to Veracruz.  Iberville lingered at Havana for 10 days, waiting for Châteaurenault to return, but yellow fever broke out in the city, so he wisely turned his ships out to sea.  Following an uneventful crossing, the flotilla reached La Rochelle by late June.53f

A month before Iberville's return to France, England, under its new queen, Anne, had declared war against the Bourbon powers and their continental allies.  After only five years of peace, war had returned to Europe, and it soon would spread to the New World as well.53d 

At Rochefort, Iberville arranged for the resupply of his colony via the ship Loire under the command of Jean-Sidrac Dugué de Ste.-Thérèse.  He also recommended La Sueur for appointment as minister of justice at Mobile.  Iberville arranged to send more colonists to Louisiana, including skilled craftsmen and marriageable women, but, pessimistically, he did not recommend sending a midwife along with them.  Iberville had the temerity to ask permission for the Loire, on its return to France, to transport the produce of his new sugar plantation in St.-Domingue.  The Minister refused.  The King expected the colonists at Mobile to fill the Loire's hold with lumber, skins, and other products of his Louisiana colony, not the commandant's personal goods.  The Loire sailed in March 1703, with only 17 passengers but no maidens aboard, and arrived at Port Massacre the following August, the first resupply of the Louisiana colony not commanded by Iberville himself. 

Iberville now was at the height of his career.  Soon after his return to France in the summer of 1702, the King promoted him from capitaine de frégate to capitaine de vaisseau, or captain of ships-of-the-line, which would ensure for him a major role in the coming war.  No one, not even the governor-general of New France, knew more about North America--its geography, its ethnography, its grand-strategic complexities--than France's new capitaine de vaisseau.  Iberville took full advantage of his heightened esteem by submitting to the King and Minister a bold proposal to shift the balance of power in North America and give France control, once and for all, of the continent's still valuable fur trade.   First, Mobile would become the headquarters of an expanded colony consisting of Louisiana, Illinois, and Ohio country.  New posts would be erected on the Arkansas, Ohio, and Missouri rivers to supplement the post near the mouth of the Mississippi.   New colonists, including families, would be sent not only to Mobile but also to the new upriver posts and even to Indian villages strategically played around the region.  This would discourage the settlers from becoming coureurs de bois and taking up Indian wives.  Once these settlements were established, tribes living near English settlements and those that had fallen under English influence would be moved to the vicinity of Mobile.  Meanwhile, the Illinois would be induced to move down to the Ohio and settle near the mouth of the Wabash.  Le Sueur would lure the Sioux from their prairie villages down to the Des Moines, bringing them deeper into the French orbit.  How would these tribes be motivated to move to new hunting grounds?  The new colony would refuse to trade with them, and they would be forbidden to trade with Canada.  As a result, the western fur trade would flow southward to Mobile, not northward to Canada.  This accomplished, the far northern tribes, the Cree and the Assiniboine, would be enticed to abandon their connections with the English on Hudson Bay and trade with the French from Louisiana.  Iberville, of course, would direct the expanded colony from a large land concession near Mobile, which he proposed to call the Comté d'Iberville.54 

Amazingly, some parts of Iberville's scheme would come to fruition, but not in the foreseeable future.  But the King and Minister were not pleased with the plan.  Not only was much of it impractical, especially the movement of entire tribes from their traditional  homelands, but they refused to grant to one man so much power and influence.  Iberville, clearly, had overstepped his bounds. 

And then his service to France took a different turn.  The new capitaine de vaisseau was needed on another front--the War of the Spanish Succession.  Iberville's fertile mind swirled with new ideas for attacking the English in Europe and North America.  Perhaps consumed by the new war and what it could do for his career, Iberville seemed to lose interest in the Louisiana venture and hinted to the Minister that he might wish to be relieved of his command of the colony.  The Minister and the King paid no attention and ordered him back to Louisiana.  He was expected to set sail with the new resupply in September 1703, this time with the captured Dutch ship Pélican accompanying the Renommée and the Charente

But Iberville's health collapsed again, this time from recurring bouts of malaria.  His condition seemed so critical that his wife and brother Sérigny rushed from La Rochelle to his sickbed in Paris to look after him.  After months of delay, the Pélican, sans its powerful escorts but with 23 maidens and Le Sueur aboard, sailed from Rochefort to La Rochelle and, finally, during the third week of April 1704, headed out to sea.  After an uneventful crossing, the overloaded vessel arrived at Cap-Français in early June.  The ship's commander carried orders for a detour to Havana, which proved to be disastrous.54a 

Iberville, meanwhile, was still confined to his sickbed in Paris.  For the second time he had missed a resupply to Louisiana.  The war ground on, disastrously for France, both in Europe and North America.  Not until August 1705 was the capitaine de vaisseau well enough to join the fray.  He received orders that month to outfit a fleet bound for Martinique, from which he would take on the English in the Caribbean.  He sailed from La Rochelle in January 1706, and that spring his force devastated the small island of Nevis, one of England's most important sugar colonies.  The campaign, though a military triumph for Iberville and his brother Sérigny, proved to be a personal embarrassment.  The brothers and other high-ranking officers were compelled by lack of royal funds to help defray costs for the expedition.  They borrowed heavily, and to recoup their investments and satisfy their creditors, they not only tolerated wanton looting after their men had seized the island, but also incurred "the suspicion of fraudulence" in outfitting the expedition and transporting illicit merchandise in the King's warships.55 

It proved to be the Canadian's greatest, and final, campaign.  After his victory at Nevis, Iberville temporarily disbanded his fleet, sending four ships back to France with the regular troops.  He then sailed to Cap-Français in his flagship, the Juste, before moving on to Léogane, on the other side of St.-Domingue, where he rendezvoused with four of his ships.  Determined to continue his depredations of the English in the region, including an attack on Carolina, he had first to sell French iron he was carrying on his flag ship, so he led his squadron on to Havana.  There, he sent Sérigny in one of the ships to Veracruz to sell more of the booty, and sent another frigate, along with a captured English vessel, to resupply the Louisiana colony.  While waiting for Sérigny to return, Iberville contracted yellow fever, which, considering the state of his health, was a death sentence.  He died aboard his flagship on 9 July 1706, only two weeks shy of his 45th birthday.  After an elaborate funeral attended by Havana's elite, Iberville was laid to rest in the church of San Cristóbal, next to his kinsman, Pierre-Charles Le Sueur, who had died under similar circumstances two years before.56

France in Louisiana:  Bienville in Charge, 1702-13

When Iberville left Mobile in late March 1702, leaving his younger brother in charge of the colony, Bienville was only 22 years old and still unmarried.  His three years in the Louisiana wilderness had shaped him into a woodsman of the first order, and the responsibilities thrust upon him at an early age had transformed him into a distinguished officer of the King.  His natural leadership abilities, reinforced by an amazing stamina, common sense, a gift for languages, and a quiet ferocity, would make him, in time, a worthy successor to his older brother:  "As a colonial administrator he was obviously unqualified by virtue of training or experience.  His family prestige, his predilection to lead, did not nearly begin to compensate for his youth, his small education or his lack of executive skills.  Nor was there any administrative machinery present upon which he could rely.  In these early days, Louisiana had no Conseil superiéur, no legislative body, not even a governor in absentia, in fact.  Iberville, as capitaine de frégate, had merely been the officer in charge of a particular enterprise who, having had to absent himself, had delegated his authority to a subordinate [first Sauvole and now his brother].  Subordinate Bienville was merely a lieutenant du roi faisant les functions de commandant until Iberville's return.  His authority at this time came to him through Iberville whose authority flowed ultimately (though sometimes through indirect channels) from the minister of the marine."57

Bienville would need every skill he did possess to command the Louisiana colony.  His first task was the completion of the walls and redoubts at Fort Louis and the warehouses at Massacre and Dog River.  But he did not neglect the local Indians.  In April, a delegation of Alabama arrived at the fort for their share of presents and to smoke the calumet of peace.  Bienville secured a promise from them not to war against their less numerous neighbors, the Mobile and Little Tomeh. 

Meanwhile, the craftsmen and Canadians began work on their private dwellings behind Fort Louis.  The dangerous drought of the previous year had given way to heavy rains in late winter and early spring, revealing a serious design flaw in the lay out of the settlement's housing lots.  Although the fort itself would "never" flood, "perhaps eighty percent of the private sites were now, and would continue to be, plagued with standing waters from two to eighteen inches during the rainy seasons."  The problem was not the river but the surrounding countryside, which was flat and poorly drained.  When the rains came, the small streams in the area, including the one that ran along the northern edge of the village, invariably ran over their banks.  This forced the residents living closest to the creek to construct their houses atop wooden pilings.  Ironically, the residents who were able to build their houses at ground level were plagued by termites and "wood rot."  Moreover, the residents constructed their houses using the most readily available timber, the younger and smaller pines that blanketed the area.  The magnificent stands of cypress and virgin pine, which would have provided better building material, were, in the first instance, too difficult to get at, and, in the second, too massive for their axes and saws.  Only after years of trial and error would these carpenters and their successors master the characteristics of indigenous species in withstanding the region's weather and insect pests.58

And then, in Commandant Bienville's view, there were pests of the human kind.  By early summer, the Spanish at Pensacola were starving ... again.  Their resupply from Veracruz still had not arrived.  Following his brother's lead, Bienville threw himself into the task of replenishing the Spaniards' food supplies with what he could spare.  Having supervised the opening of the overland route to the Spanish garrison, Bienville was well aware of the limited local resources at Pensacola, where 200 men, many of them servants and convicts, lived on the edge of mass starvation.  Looking at these limited resources--in arable land, in timber, and especially in the dearth of friendly Indian villages near Fort San Carlos--Bienville could take pride at what the French had selected for their principal settlement site.  He had learned from Commandant Martínez that a new viceroy, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva y Enriquez, Duque de Albuquerque, would take office at Veracruz the following autumn.  If Bienville could impress the new viceroy with his generosity towards his Bourbon allies at Pensacola, perhaps he could secure permission to trade with Veracruz, Havana, and St. Augustin, each closer to him than Québec, Rochefort, and even Cap-Français.59

And then there was a young lieutenant whose eagerness to relieve the boredom at his lower Mississippi River post jeopardized the hard-won Pax Gallica.   Louis Juchereau de St.-Denis had come to the colony with Iberville in January 1700 and, like Bienville, had remained in Louisiana.  It was St.-Denis who commanded Fort de La Boulaye when Bienville moved to Biloxi and then to Mobile to command the colony when Iberville was away.  In the summer of 1702, St.-Denis, some of his fellow Canadians, a few soldiers from his garrison, and a hand full of Quinapisa, began an unauthorized exploration in the area, seeking a river route to New Spain.  While moving down Bayou Lafourche, they came upon a party of Chitimacha, who attacked them without warning.  Understandably, St.-Denis and his men retaliated and drove off their attackers.  What they did next was the problem.  Instead of letting the miscreants go, they "vigorously pursued the fleeing Chitimacha, managing to capture a number of prisoners whom he [St.-Denis] had ideas of selling into slavery."  Here was a clear violation of Iberville's proscription against Indian enslavement.  When Bienville heard of the incident, he was greatly distressed by the actions of one of his most valued lieutenants.  He upbraided the proud Canadian for antagonizing a previously friendly tribe and raising the specter of Indian slavery.  St.-Denis did not take the censure well and remained estranged from Bienville for a number of years.60

And then there were the missionaries, some of whom proved to be as troublesome as the termites and bored Canadians.  They were an important part of the Pax Gallica.  Without them, it would be difficult to keep the regional tribes securely in the French orbit.  In the beginning, there were never enough of them.  But more troubling was the ancient, medieval rivalry between the missionary orders that they brought to the American wilderness.  In early Louisiana, there were the black robes and the white collars; the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, and priests from the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères, in Paris, who were called Seminary missioners.  Wherever the Church sent missionaries, each order vied for exclusive control of a given region; Louisiana was no exception.  Nor did it help that the Le Moynes were long-time friends of the Jesuits.  Iberville's personal chaplain, after all, had been Father Paul Du Ru, S. J., who, after working among the Indians on the lower river for two years, returned with him to France, leaving only two Jesuits, Fathers Joseph Limoges and Pierre Dongé, in lower Louisiana.   Among the Seminary missioners were Fathers Albert Davion with the Tunica, and Nicolas Foucault, Jean-François Buisson de St.-Cosme, and Balthazar-Michel de Boutteville, working with other tribes along the river.  So which of them would go amongst the larger tribes to extend French influence there? 

Bienville's was still pondering this question when tragedy struck on the Mississippi.  Father Foucault had been working among the Arkansas, doing his best to convert that recalcitrant tribe to the One True Faith.  François Danbourné, an associate of Tonty's, had been sent to Illinois to coax that tribe into releasing their Chickasaw captives.  His mission completed, Danbourné, on his way downriver to report to Bienville, stopped at Arkansas.  Father Foucault, unhappy with his work there, decided to go downriver with Danbourné to consult with Father Davion about going among the Chickasaw.  Danbourné agreed to escort the priest down to Tunica.  Unfortunately, Danbourné and some of his companions got sick on the way down.   At the Koroa village, they hired two warriors to paddle them at least to the mouth of the Yazoo, from where they hoped to be able to go on without any help.  On 29 July 1702, while the party was resting on the river bank after a long day's journey, the two Koroa, determined to make off with the priest's possessions, attacked Danbourné, the two other Canadians, and Father Foucault as they slept, killing all four of them.  The bodies lay there for several days, until Father Davion, coming upriver to visit Foucault, came upon the horrible scene.  Davion hurried downriver, picked up Jesuit Father Limoges at Houma, and they hurried to Mobile to report the murder.  Word of Father Foucault's death sent Father Boutteville hurrying to Mobile.  Only Father St.-Cosme with the Natchez remained with his mission on the lower river.  Davion, Boutteville, and Limoges refused to return to their missions until Bienville chastised the Koroa, who reportedly were boasting about the murder.  Davion was especially vocal in urging the young commandant to attack the errant tribe.  Bienville knew that if he did nothing, the Indians would consider it a sign of weakness, but a failed campaign against an aggressive people would be even more disastrous for the French.  Diplomacy, not force, would have to be employed here, and so Bienville bided his time.  He was happy to see, at least, that the black robes and white collars taking refuge at Mobile managed to get along with one another.  Jesuit Father Dongé was the chaplain there, but he allowed the others, even the Seminary missioners, to use the fort's chapel.60a 

Meanwhile, in France and Rome, leaders of the two orders vied for exclusive jurisdiction in Illinois and lower Louisiana.  The King, the Minister of Marine, and even the Pope chose to step away from the struggle.  They deferred the matter to the Bishop of Québec, Jean-Baptiste de La Croix de Chevrières de St.-Vallier.  In July 1703, Bishop St.-Vallier, still in Paris, created a new parish for Mobile and even named its first pastor--50-year-old Father Henri Rouilleaux de La Vente of Bayeux, who had served as a missionary at Île-de-Bourbon, now Réunion, in the Indian Ocean.  Father La Vente belonged to the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères, so the white collars were emerging triumphant in the struggle for lower Louisiana.  Both Iberville and Bienville, still champions of the Jesuits, were disappointed with the bishop's decision when they learned of it, but Bienville decided to reserve judgment until he could meet the new curé.61

In February 1703, for the first time in two years, the settlers in lower Louisiana, both secular and religious, celebrated Mardi Gras.  There had been no time for it the previous winter when everyone was so busy preparing for the construction of the new fort and village.  That it was celebrated this year was a sign of harmony among the inhabitants at Mobile.  But the harmony did not last.  By spring, food was running low.  The resupply, expected in late winter, had not arrived (they could not know that the relief ship did not sail from Rochefort until March and would not get to them until August).  To preserve the food supply, Bienville sent some of his Canadians to live with the Mobile and Little Tomeh.  In late May, the resupply still not having arrived, Bienville sent Robinau de Bécancour in the Précieuse back to Veracruz, this time to purchase food for Mobile, not Pensacola.  Significantly, much of the money that Bécancour brought to the Mexican port came from the pockets of the colony's residents, not from its administrative funds.62

It was then, during the long, trying wait for the resupply from France, that Bienville was plagued by his most persistent pest--Commissary Nicolas de La Salle.  Bienville, and Iberville before him, looked upon the prickly Frenchman as nothing more than a glorified supply clerk, but La Salle saw his role in the colony's administration as something much more significant.  He considered himself, in rank if not in social stature, the equal of the young commander.  In social stature, he saw himself as eminently superior.  Here, writes a biographer of one of the men, was "the traditional hostility between the gens de plume such as La Salle and the gens d'épée such as Bienville"--not to mention the ancient antagonism between Frenchman and French colonist.  La Salle scarcely hid his utter disdain for the Le Moyne clan and their fellow Canadians.  He insisted that he have a say in every transaction, no matter how seemingly minor, involving the King's storehouses.  Bienville, who had better things to do, wanted nothing more from his commissary than a signature on his written requisitions.  The problem with La Salle had only worsened after garde-magasin Gerard, a Frenchman appointed by Iberville the previous year, died in late February 1703.  Gerard had generally supported La Salle in keeping a tight reign on the King's storehouse.  Bienville, who, unlike La Salle, had power of appointment, designated one of his Canadians, Jacques Lémery, as Gerard's temporary successor.  This infuriated La Salle, who considered Lémery nothing more than a drunken lout.  La Salle also complained about Bienville's maintaining a magasin at the fort for his own personal goods; having no access to the warehouse, the commissary could only wonder which items in that little building belonged to the commander and which belonged to the King.  The lean times of that spring and summer only made things worse for Bienville.  Malcontents blamed him for the colony's problems and formed around La Salle a coterie of critics dissatisfied with the young commander.  Whoever Bienville disciplined, including fellow Canadians, joined La Salle and his confederates against him.  Fathers Davion and Boutteville, who Bienville had chastened for not returning to their missions, also sided with the Frenchman.  Conditions at Mobile became even worse as summer approached.  Canadians from Le Sueur's Fort L'Huillier, in present-day southern Minnesota, had been driven off by a force of Mascouten and sought refuge at Mobile.  Now more fearful than ever of the perfidy of the Indians, Father Davion announced that he would go to Natchez to "rescue" his colleague, Father St.-Cosme  Then there would be no more priests among any of the tribes in lower Louisiana.63 

While waiting for the resupply, Bienville sent hunters to Baie St.-Louis, west of Biloxi, to hunt for game, and dispersed volunteers to Natchez, Bayougoula, and the Biloxi villages to ease pressure on the fort's food supply.  Relief came in early summer not from France but from Pensacola.  Andrés de Arriola had returned after years of absence, and three supply ships followed him from Veracruz.  Arriola notified Bienville that some of the supplies were for Mobile, repayment for what the French had provided.  Bienville sent Boisbriant to fetch the much-needed supplies.  A few weeks later, Robinau de Bécancour returned from Veracruz with the purchased supplies and a letter from the viceroy thanking the French for helping the Spanish against their common enemies, hunger and the English.63a

Meanwhile, the Loire arrived at Cap-Français and then sailed on to Havana, where its captain, Ste.-Thérèse, was given a new command, before sending the ship on to Massacre Island.  The Loire reached Port Massacre in August 1703 with food, munitions, and 17 passengers, but no Iberville.  For the first time since the colony began, the Louisiana commandant had not made his annual visit to the Gulf of Mexico.  Several other colonial shakers and makers Bienville had expected also did not cross on the Loire.  Châteauguay and Le Sueur were supposed to have recruited companies of infantry, as well as more artisans and families, for the colony, but they were not among the passengers.  Bienville was not happy about this, but he did welcome five new craftsmen to the colony:  three brick makers and two amuriers.   The ship's officers passed on the good news of Iberville's promotion and the little they knew about the war against England.  The Loire lingered at Massacre until October and left under a new master, Nicolas Perrot.  Aboard were two of the missionaries, Fathers Limoges, the Jesuit, and Boutteville, the Seminarian.  Now only Fathers Davion and Dongé remained at Mobile.  Perhaps the next resupply would bring more priests, whenever that might be.63b 


Not until late autumn of 1702 had Bienville learned of the outbreak of another war with England, and he learned it not via a ship from France but from the Spanish at Pensacola.  Even before war had broken out in May, the new governor of Carolina, James Moore, had planned an attack against San Agústín on Florida's Atlantic coast, which he and militia Colonel Robert Daniel launched in late October.  The governor of San Agústín, Joseph de Zúniga y Cerda, was begging for assistance not only from Pensacola but also from his allies at Mobile.  In late November, Commandant Martínez at Pensacola sent Ensign Diego de Florencia, recently arrived from San Agústín, on to Mobile.  It was the young ensign who informed Bienville and the residents of Mobile that they, too, were at war with England.  Diego de Florencia noted that the colony at Mobile was larger and in much better condition than the one at Pensacola.  However, influenza had spread from Pensacola to Mobile and had reached epidemic proportions there.  Bienville apologized for not being able to spare any men for the relief of San Agústín, but he did promise to send to Pensacola a cache of materiel, including weapons, powder, and flint, to send on to the beleaguered Spaniards at Castillo de San Marco.  Ignoring Commissary La Salle, who he knew would give him trouble about the loan, he secured signatures from Boisbriant, Levasseur, and Tonty to authorize the disbursement, and then sent the materiel on to Pensacola under Tonty's supervision.  He also promised to send one of his traversiers back to Veracruz to ask the viceroy for more support.64

Happily for the Spanish, as well as the French, San Agústín was relieved by a large force from Havana.  The Carolinians, forced to burn their ships, returned to Charles Towne, but not before burning the village at San Agústín.  Embarrassed by his defeat and aching for vengeance, in late 1703, Moore, with a large force of Yamasee, Tallapoosa, and Carolina militia, laid waste to the Spanish-controlled province of Apalache, between Pensacola and San Agústín, essentially ending Spanish control in the region.  Bienville was properly alarmed by these developments, but he was more concerned about their immediate impact on Mobile.  After the Carolina onslaught, the Choctaw remained quiet, and, more significantly, the Chickasaw seemed still disposed to remain at peace with the French. 

But what about the Alabama, who not only lived closer to Carolina but occupied one of the most strategic points in the entire Gulf Coast region?  The Alibamon, as the French called them, were a new tribal coalition in the region.  Some of them were related to the Cherokee of the eastern mountains; during the 1680s, they had moved westward into present-day northern Alabama to escape rival tribes encouraged to prey on them by Carolina traders.  Other members of the tribe were Muskogean speakers who  had moved into the area to escape the interminable wars between the Chickasaw and the Choctaw.  Still others, the original Alibamon, were Choctaw-speakers who for decades had lived in what is now south central Alabama but whose numbers had been so reduced by war with the Mobilians and that they retreated north to the river junction.  This polyglot people now occupied three villages--Koasati, Culasa, and Tawasa--around the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, at the head of Rivière-des-Alibamons.  Iberville had left Louisiana before he could establish a personal relationship with the tribe.  He suspected that they, like the Chickasaw, were friends of the English traders, but he was confident they could be won over to the French; years later, in fact, Bienville learned from an Alibamon chief that a hand full of his warriors had participated with the English in the siege of San Agústín! 

A delegation of eight Alibamon chiefs came to Mobile in early May 1702, only a few weeks after Iberville had bid farewell to the colony.  Bienville plied them with gifts, though not any firearms, powder, or flint, and secured from them the usual promise to stop making war on their neighbors.  Some 40 of them returned in early October, smoked the calumet of peace, and again promised to live in harmony with the Chickasaw, Pensacola, and Apalache.  In May 1703, the Alibamon returned, this time under the leadership of a chief named Deerfoot.  By then, Mobile was in dire straits, short on food because the annual resupply still had not come, and on weapons and ammunition because of the loan to the Spanish the autumn before.  Deerfoot offered to trade for corn, which his people had enough to spare, he said.  Bienville agreed and sent five Canadians back to the Alibamon villages with Deerfoot and his warriors.  The leader of the Canadians, Jacques-Philippe Matou dit Le Brie, had served in Louisiana since early 1699 and had witnessed the massacre of his family up in Canada, so "he was no stranger to savage behavior...."  The party of Indians and Canadians traveled in three large pirogues and took 20 days to make the journey.  All seemed well until they reached the site of present-day Montgomery, Alabama, not far below Koasti village.  As La Brie and his Canadians rested for the night before entering the village, a party of Alibamon, alerted by the treacherous Deerfoot, fell on the Canadians.  La Brie and two of his companions were killed outright, but two others, savagely wounded, managed to escape in one of the pirogues.  Deerfoot and his warriors, satisfied that the Canadians were mortally wounded, did not pursue them. 

This was a mistake.  After a grueling, pain-ridden journey, the wounded Canadians managed to get back to Mobile by early June.  Only later did Bienville learn of the English machinations behind Deerfoot's treachery--a Carolina official, Thomas Nairne, using a typical carrot-and-stick approach, had visited the Alibamon on the eve of Deerfoot's visit and coaxed them into making war against "these Gallic intruders."  Bienville now had no choice but to launch a punitive expedition against the Alibamon, but not just yet.  They would be waiting for him.  He was low on supplies.  And he had not received permission from the Minister of Marine to launch such an expedition.  He hurried a letter to the minister via a boat to Havana and patiently waited for the resupply that he hoped would soon arrive from France.

The Loire arrived in late August and departed in mid-October, carrying another dispatch from Bienville to the Minister, this time informing him that he would retaliate against the Alibamon.  His provisions replenished, Bienville was now ready to act, with or without permission from higher authority.  By the end of October, he had sent messages to the Mobilians, Pascagoula, Little Tomeh, and Choctaw, asking them to gather at the main Mobilian village by the first week of November "for an event of major importance."  Many of them came, as did 60 soldiers, sailors, and Canadians from the Louisiana garrisons led by St.-Denis and the redoubtable Tonty.  When the Frenchmen arrived at the Mobilian village, the Indians already had begun the boisterous festivities that always preceded a planned campaign.  Bienville became so caught up in the emotion-shaking ceremonies that he allowed the Indians to tattoo figures of snakes across his chest!  Bienville harangued the chiefs and warriors, who responded to his words with great enthusiasm.  After distributing guns and swords and explaining his plan of action, 280 French and Indians took to the warpath.  Only 15 miles above the Mobilian village, they left their pirogues and shallops on the river bank and headed overland towards the Alibamon, 170 miles away. 

The campaign did not go well.  The Mobilians already were having second thoughts about provoking the Alibamon.  No Frenchman or Canadian, not even Tonty, had ever taken the back trails through this country.  Bienville was compelled to depend upon Mobilian guides, whose reliability he questioned as soon as he left their village.  Moreover, the main Mobilian party lagged behind the others, insisting that their slower progress was to protect the line of communication with their village and Fort Louis.  Several days into the overland journey, more and more Frenchmen fell ill, as did the chief of the Little Tomeh, who returned to his village, taking all of his warriors with him.  With more and more Indians deserting the column, Bienville, St.-Denis, and Tonty agreed that if they were ambushed in this unchartered wilderness, there would be no viable defense left for the Louisiana colony.  So they retraced their steps back to Fort Louis, which they reached towards the end of November.

Bienville refused to admit defeat.  On the retreat to Fort Louis, he already was planning a second expedition against the Alibamon, this time with no Indian allies, especially the Mobilians, who he suspected had warned the Alibamon of their approach.  In late December, he selected 48 men, including St.-Denis and Tonty, and, using a survivor of the May massacre as their only guide, headed upriver towards the Alibamon villages.  They passed the main village of the Mobilians in the dead of night and made record time on their journey into enemy territory.  After reaching present-day Selma, they traveled only at night.  By New Year's Eve they came upon an Alibamon hunting party, including women and children, not far from the bluff where they found the grisly remains of the three dead Canadians.  After careful reconnaissance, Bienville wanted to attack during daylight of the 2nd, but St.-Denis and Tonty convinced him to wait until night, Indian fashion.  Bienville waited until dawn of the 3rd, determined to kill all of the Indians, including the women and children.  But the Alibamon warriors were too alert, and the Frenchmen too clumsy.  All of the women and children escaped, covered by the retreating warriors.  When the firing ceased, the Frenchmen found only four Indian casualties, two warriors dead and two of them wounded.  Bienville allowed the wounded Alibamon to return to their villages to spread the word that the French were determined to exchange blood for blood.  One of his sailors had been killed in the initial assault, but Bienville and the others emerged unscathed. 

Bienville and his war party returned to Fort Louis on 11 January 1704, and the young commander promptly notified his allies of what he had done.  The Indians were impressed.  They also remembered what he had promised them back in November.  By the middle of March, Chickasaw warriors were bringing in Alibamon scalps to exchange for guns, powder, and lead.65


The year 1704 brought a special group of colonists to Louisiana, but it also was a year of suffering and death, more so than usual.  Though it had existed for two years now, Fort Louis-de-la-Louisiane was far from self-sufficient, far from being an actual colony.  It was, in fact, nothing more than a glorified outpost, different from Biloxi and De La Boulaye only in size and the number of mouths that had to be fed.  The war against England and its Atlantic colonies promised only to stifle what little progress had been made.  In its fifth year of existence, France's Louisiana venture was not much more than a grand idea poorly realized. 

The resupply of the previous August kept the colony "in good style" until late winter 1704.  In early March, however, Bienville was compelled to send 6,000 pounds of flour to Pensacola to tide the garrison over until their next resupply from Veracruz.  Bienville now had to wonder if maintaining good relations with the Spanish was worth the diminution in his food supply.  But he had no choice:  "The Spanish had cash; the French did not."  And more than once they had shared what little they had with their distressed neighbors at Mobile.  As long as Bienville maintained good relations with Pensacola, trade with Veracruz was open to him.  In late May, in fact, he sent Robinau de Bécancour back to Veracruz in the Précieuse to secure more supplies for Mobile; this time, however, the French could offer no cash to the merchants, only "credit" for having assisted their compatriots at Pensacola.  Not long after Bécancour departed, the Frenchmen still facing starvation, Arriola returned from Veracruz with a large resupply and promptly shared it with his Bourbon neighbors.  There was no question that the new Spanish viceroy, the Duque de Albuquerque, was friendly towards the French, as were Arriola and Martínez at Pensacola, so Bienville had no choice but to remain cordial with his Spanish allies.66

And then tragedy struck again.  The Précieuse did not return to Massacre until late July, two months after it had left for Veracruz.  Aboard were welcomed supplies--the food that Arriola had sent to Mobile two months before had largely been consumed by then--but the crew of the trusty traversier also brought tragic news.  While waiting at the Mexican port for the Spanish merchants and the viceroy's bureaucracy to approve the issuance of supplies to the French on the credit of the King, Bécancour had contracted a tropical fever--the Spanish called it the vómito negro--and died at Veracruz on July 4!  The colony had lost its "most able sea captain," who was only 40 years old when he died.  Not until the second week of August, when the Précieuse finally returned to Mobile, did Bienville and the others learn of the captain's death.66a

Just as dangerous as the chronic shortage of food and the loss of a valuable officer was the continued English threat from Carolina.  In the spring of 1704, the Carolinians were still threatening what was left of the Apalache district, putting more pressure on the Spanish at Pensacola, who in turn appealed to Bienville for help.  He sent more flour but also Tonty to help plan a defense of Pensacola in case the English and their Indian allies attacked it next.  Bienville, through Boisbriant, also shared with Arriola intelligence about the English he had gathered from the Indians.  During the summer, while Bienville was waiting for Bécancour's return, the acting governor at Pensacola, Joseph de Guzmán, sent word that the Carolinians and their Indian allies had attacked the Apalache district again and requested assistance to repel the new invasion.  Not long afterwards, two Choctaw appeared at Mobile with news that four Carolinians had gone to the Chickasaw villages with packhorses full of merchandise to lure the Chickasaw away from the French.  Bienville, skeptical of the report, sent a party of Little Tomeh to see if the report was true.  Bienville could not help blaming Father Davion for this touchy situation; the white collar was still living comfortably at Fort Louis instead of ministering to the Chickasaw or some other tribe, where he could do more good for God and France.67 

At least Bienville and the other colonists could look forward to the next resupply from France.  Certainly Le Sueur would return to them, as well as other trusted officers, and surely more priests.  Word had reached them that the ship also would be carrying a most precious cargo--new wives for many of the bachelors serving in Louisiana.  These would be young women of virtue, selected from the respectable families of Paris by the Bishop of Québec himself.  The Pélican (not the frigate that had fought with Iberville on Hudson Bay, but a 600-ton ship captured from the Dutch and now carrying 58 guns), had set sail from La Rochelle in late April without escort and reached Cap-Français on June 10 and remained there a week.  Aboard were the French maidens, Le Sueur, Châteauguay, and several priests, including Mobile's new curé.  The ship's commander, René-Hervé Guymont Ducoudray, well-known to Bienville, had orders to stop at Havana before sailing on to Mobile.  After scaring off two smaller English warships, the Pélican stopped at the old Spanish port of Baracoa on the eastern tip of Cuba.  At Baracoa, Ducoudray was happy to hear that a rumor they had heard at Cap-Français was entirely false; the English had not taken Fort Louis-de-la-Louisiana; they were only threatening San Agústín again.  The Pélican left Baracoa at the end of June and, with a Spanish pilot, continued on to Havana.  As it sailed along the northern coast of Cuba, high wind and seas nearly capsized the vessel  The Pélican arrived safely at Havana on July 7; the sight of the old port excited both passengers and crew.  For the first time in three months, the maidens, still 23 of them, were allowed to leave the ship.  Their nursing sisters and Father La Vente escorted them to a local convent, the Collegium Virginium, and the Bishop of Cuba personally led them on a tour of his 200-year-old city.  Meanwhile, Ducoudray delivered messages to Spanish officials, took aboard a French prisoner named Artur, and, circumventing Spanish mercantilist policies, attempted to sell some extra flour he was carrying aboard his vessel.  Alert Spanish officials disrupted the exchange, jailing the two Spanish merchants involved, so Ducoudray decided it was time to move on to Mobile.  The Pélican left Havana on July 14, but not before disaster struck.  While in the hot, steamy port, one of the women and some of the officers and crew fell ill.  The sickest of the passengers, Pierre-Charles Le Sueur, was so weakened by his illness that he had to be left behind in port.  When the Pélican reached Port Massacre on July 22 after a brief stop at Pensacola, many more of its passengers and crew were suffering from fever.  Months later, they would learn that back in Havana the gallant Le Sueur had breathed his last on July 17, only 48 years old.68 

Sadly, the Pélican brought an unwelcome passenger to Mobile--yellow fever.  A ship's officer had died on the crossing from Havana, and now more crewmembers as well as soldiers and passengers were dying from the mosquito-borne disease.  One of the maidens, Louise-Françoise Lefevre, died on August 2, the day after the young women and most of the other passengers had reached Fort Louis.  Father Davion officiated at her burial.  After a week, over 20 sufferers had died, most of them young soldiers recently recruited in France, and the settlers were convinced that the malady had passed.  Bienville, meanwhile, found temporary housing for the "Pélican girls" among the more trustworthy settlers and in the empty houses of the Canadians still hunting at Baie St.-Louis or with Bécancour (now dead) at Veracruz.  During the following weeks, most of the girls, now 21 of them, chose their husbands among the eligible bachelors.  After the requisite courtship, document signing, and celebration, Fathers Davion and La Vente married the couples in the roughhewn chapel--13 marriages by August 17, less than three weeks after the young women had reached the settlement.  One of the new grooms was Commissary Nicolas La Salle, a widower for two years, who wed Jeanne-Catherine de Berenhardt, one of the older maidens.  By the end of August, most of the remaining girls had found their suitors, including bachelor Charles Levasseur and widower Henri de Tonty.69

And then the dreaded fever returned.  By the middle of August, those aboard ship who had become sick were either dead, dying, or recovered, but then settlers, none of whom had been sick when the Pélican arrived, began to show signs of the fever--flushed faces, chills, headache, jaundice, muscle ache, back pain, nausea, and, finally, the "black vomit."  Not for another 200 years would humanity understand how yellow fever spreads through a population.  We know now that the native Aedes aegypti females living in the stagnant water in and around the village had bitten infected passengers from the ship, and in two weeks these mosquitoes, also, had become vectors of the disease.  By the end of August, most of the town's residents had been infected.  Among the sickest were two of the young women (now married); Fathers Davion, La Vente, and Huvé (who had just arrived with La Vente); and two indispensible officers, Levasseur and Tonty.  Although there had been more engagements between the maidens and the bachelors, celebrations and weddings had to be postponed until the fever passed ... again.  Ducoudray, who had planned to sail back to France at the end of August, was unable to secure enough healthy men his crew, so he had to postpone the Pélican's departure.70

While yellow fever was ravaging the colonists at Fort Louis, Bienville received visitors from the east.  A Spanish Franciscan and chiefs from two Apalache tribes, the Chato and Talimali, came to confer with Bienville about moving among the French.  The Carolinians and their Indian allies had driven them from their homes.  They retreated westward before the onslaught, seeking refuge at Pensacola, but they could see that the Spanish garrison offered them little protection, nor was the land around the post suitable for them.  So they moved on to the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and were now beseeching the young French commander to provide them land and protection.  "Bienville received the emissaries with mixed emotions.  His difficulties in Mobile were at the present vexing enough.  Moreover, though the storehouse was filled, another supply ship was not expected for nearly a year; certainly he could not arm them all.  Yet it was no small opportunity for the French, a chance for an alliance that Bienville actively sought.  The Apalache were known to be diligent workers and farmers.  The fact that they were already Christian might aid in furthering the gospel among the still-pagan Choctaw, Chickasaw and Tomeh.  Furthermore, since the English were their proven antagonists, in war as well as in religious faith, Bienville could be certain of their continued loyalty."  After consulting with his officers, at least those who were well enough to consult, Bienville agreed to assign lands to the Apalache.  The Chato were sent to the mouth of the Mobile River, at a place called Les Oignonets, or "the onion field."  A small band of Yamachee, former enemies of the Chato but now peaceful, were settled below them.  The Talimali were sent upriver to a site between the Mobilian village and the confluence of the Alibamon and Tombigbee rivers.  Other Talimali remained along the eastern shore of the bay.71

The timing of the Apalache arrival at Mobile could not have been worse for them.  By the first week of September, they, too, were suffering from the fever.  They brought their dying children to the fort to be baptized, taxing the strength and the patience of the three remaining priests, who themselves were suffering from the illness.  Fathers La Vente and Huvé, in fact, were still too sick to minister to anyone, so Father Davion had to perform the sacramental rites.  There also was the language barrier.  No one at Mobile understood the Muskogean dialect of the Apalache.  These Indians knew Spanish, of course, but the French priests, oddly enough, had not mastered that language (these were Seminary priests, not Jesuits).  Among the officers at Mobile, only Châteauguay spoke Spanish fluently.72

The fever also struck nearby tribes long established on the Mobile River.  The Mobilians became sick, but the Tomeh, especially the Little Tomeh, suffered most from the epidemic.  And then, in early September, the fever struck down two of the most illustrious officers at Mobile.  Henry de Tonty died on September 4, and Charles Levasseur passed the following day.  This was devastating to the colony:  "With the passing of Tonti[sic] and Levasseur, Bienville had lost his two most experienced army officers.  Within a period of only sixty days he had lost (not forgetting Bécancour in Veracruz) fully fifty percent of his high-ranking command."73

By late September, the fever had subsided.  Ducoudray, after weeks of delay, was ready to take the Pélican home.  Before he left, the residents of Fort Louis conducted an impressive, and long overdue, ceremony on September 28--the induction of Father Roulleaux de La Vente as first pastor of Mobile's new parish.  Father Dongé, the last of the Jesuits, already had gone down to the Pélican, leaving Seminarian Father Alexandre Huvé to serve as chaplain for the Fort Louis garrison.  The parish church that the Bishop of Québec and Father La Vente had expected to be built for him had not been erected, nor would it be built for several years to come.  Bienville and the remaining high-ranking officers--Boisbriant, Châteauguay, and La Salle--occupied the front benches during the impressive ceremony held in the fort's humble chapel, Father Davion officiating.  Here was another important step for the frontier colony, the induction of its first curé.  Bienville could not know that the settlement's new pastor would become as troublesome a pest as any.74

The rest of the year was relatively uneventful for the survivors at Mobile.  Forty or more of them had died, but the great majority had survived, some of them, like Commander Bienville, seemingly untouched by the fever.  The Pélican finally left during the first week of October, having remained at Massacre Island for two long months.  Doucoudray returned to Havana, where Father Dongé died, but the settlers back at Mobile would not hear of it for weeks.  Two more of the Pélican girls died in autumn, but most of them remained, already contributing substantially to the colony's success.  The colony's midwife died, but she was replaced by another woman, Marie Grissot, who had come on the Pélican.  On October 4, Madeleine Robert, wife of carpenter Jean Le Caën, gave birth to a healthy boy--Jean-François--who was baptized in the chapel the following day--one of the first créoles born in French Louisiana.  Some of the Pélican girls were pregnant and were due to give birth the following spring.  A few days before Christmas, a delegation of Tunica chiefs appeared at Fort Louis.  They were there to coax Father Davion back to his mission among them.  Bienville saw an opportunity to settle an old score.  Two and a half years before, the Koroa, who lived on the river above the Tunica, had murdered Seminarian Father François Foucault, but Bienville did not have the force at the time to chastise the murderous Indians.  He suggested to the Tunica that they strike the Koroa and bring him the heads not only of the two murderers but also of the English traders who encouraged the murders.  Bienville would not only arm the Tunica but also send a force of Canadians under St.-Denis from Fort De La Boulaye to help them defeat the Koroa and their allies, the Yazoo.  Bienville told them that a large force of Canadians was coming downriver soon, and they, too, would help them fight the Koroa.  The Tunica agreed and rejoiced when they were told that Father Davion would join them in a few weeks.75


The new year did not begin well for Commander Bienville.  In January 1705, St.-Denis appeared at Fort Louis, and it was obvious that the proud young Canadian was still smarting over the dressing down Bienville had given him two years before.  But it was Bienville's turn for a dressing down or at least a large dose of reality.  The Tunica chiefs had gone to De La Boulaye after they had left Fort Louis and had apprised St.-Denis of Bienville's scheme to punish the Koroa.  St.-Denis, keenly aware of conditions on the lower river, urged Bienville to cancel the attack.  St.-Denis had learned that the English had nothing to do with the priest's murder, that, in fact, the Koroa themselves were not responsible for it, only the two treacherous warriors from their village who had committed the deed.  St.-Denis informed Bienville that the miscreants already were dead, executed on the order of their own chiefs.  This they had done before Bienville had sent the Arkansas down to attack the Koroa.  Bienville, in other words, had treated an important tribe unjustly.  Seeing his error, Bienville called off the attack, blaming his misjudgment on lack of information about conditions on the river.  St.-Denis promptly returned to De La Boulaye, where the Tunica chiefs were waiting, and told them the order for the attack was revoked.  To assuage them, he brought along their beloved priest, Father Davion; by late February, the troublesome white collar was back at his Tunica mission, where Bienville felt he belonged.  Thanks to St.-Denis's timely intervention, peace returned to the river.76

Such was not the case in the wilderness north of Mobile.  Bienville had not been able to keep his promises to the Chickasaw, and, by early 1705, there were signs that Carolina English traders were back in the Chickasaw villages.  This alarmed the Choctaw, who, though more numerous than their former enemies, would not be able to withstand an onslaught of Chickasaw armed with English weapons.  The Carolinians were hungry for Indian slaves and evidently had coaxed a few Chickasaw warriors to bring in Choctaw captives.  In February, a large delegation of 70 Chickasaw, including women and children, appeared at Fort Louis to beseech the French commander to keep his promises.  They had taken a roundabout route, around the Choctaw villages, to avoid retaliation for the slave raids.  Bienville had not been able to build the fort between the Chickasaw and Choctaw towns, nor did he have any presents to give the Chickasaw, nor a priest to send among them.  He was angry with his superiors in France for not sending him what he needed, but his missives to the minister had gone unanswered, and he had heard nothing from brother Iberville.  Bienville promised the Chickasaw, again, to build the fortified trading post between their villages and the Choctaw, but he refused to let them return to their villages the way they had come.  He ordered his most trusted lieutenant, Aide-major Boisbriant, and 25 Canadians to escort the Chickasaw back to their village through Choctaw territory.  Here was a calculated risk to demonstrate French determination to maintain peace between their allies.  At the main Choctaw village, the grand chief warned Boisbriant of Chickasaw--and English--treachery, insisting that this "band of traitors" had burned to death the French boy St.-Michel three years before.  The Chickasaw denied the terrible rumor and agreed to remain as hostages at the Choctaw village until St.-Michel could be brought there alive.  Boisbriant, unfortunately, agreed to the proposal, which required a long wait among the Choctaw.  The Choctaw chief, in fact, had sent two of his warriors to kill the two Chickasaw couriers who had hurried ahead to retrieve St.-Michel.  At the end of February, the Choctaw chief, knowing that St.-Michel was still alive but not having heard that the couriers were dead, ordered his warriors to turn on the Chickasaw, their French escort be damned.  Boisbriant and his Canadians tried to intervene, but the Choctaw were much too numerous.  Sparing the women and children, they butchered all of the Chickasaw men, including the chief, after a spirited fight.  They also inadvertently wounded Boisbriant in the struggle.  The Choctaw now had their revenge, but at what cost?  Fearful of having alienated the French, the Choctaw chief ordered his warriors to place the seriously wounded Boisbriant on a stretcher and sent 300 of them to escort the aide-major and the Canadians back to Fort Louis.77

Bienville was stunned, but should not have been surprised, by what happened at the Choctaw village.  But what could he do?  The Choctaw, sad to say, were still among his most trusted Indian allies.  They were spurning the English traders, bringing in Alibamon scalps, begging him for a priest to send among to them, and refraining from war against the smaller tribes.  The Chickasaw, on the other hand, seemed willing to return to the English orbit, and perhaps they had murdered the boy.  A war was still on, entering its third year, and Bienville was receiving word from a number of sources that the English were planning an attack in the region.  It was best to keep the Choctaw as allies despite their erratic behavior. 

When the wounded Boisbriant returned to him, Bienville was still waiting word from brother Châteauguay, who, after returning from France aboard the Pélican, had been given command of the trusty Précieuse.  A fire had all but destroyed the Pensacola presidio the previous November, and Châteauguay had used the traversier to bring them aid.  Arriola had asked for the loan of a vessel to notify Veracruz of the disaster, so Châteauguay had taken the Précieuse to the Mexican port in late January.  What choice did Bienville have in these matters?  A well-fed, well-fortified Pensacola was essential for the defense of the Louisiana garrisons, not to mention a large force of Indians allies, including 3,800 to 4,000 Choctaw.78

And then the Spanish tried his patience as well.  Châteauguay returned from Veracruz on March 20 with the happy news that the viceroy had compensated the French for their assistance to Pensacola.  Unfortunately for the Spanish, the Pensacola garrison suffered another destructive fire in February, when Châteauguay was at sea!  Veracruz sent a relief vessel to the stricken post as soon as they could, but significant help did not arrive until late summer, when the Nuestra Senora del Rosario under a vice-admiral arrived at Pensacola with six months supply of food, more arms and ammunition, and, just as importantly, reinforcements in soldiers and artisans.  Before the big ship could return to Veracruz with a shipload of masts, a September hurricane sank it in Pensacola Bay.  Bienville offered the Précieuse to send the vice admiral back to Veracruz to inform the viceroy of the mishap, but the traversier, which had been in the Gulf since early 1699, was in serious need of another overhaul.  Bienville coaxed the Spanish into paying the cost of the repairs, which would be made at Pensacola, and allowing Châteauguay to remain in command of the vessel when it was seaworthy again.  Meanwhile, more of the Apalache, this time the Escambe, appeared at Fort Louis, asking to join their fellow Apalache on the bay.  Here was a first bone of contention between the Bourbon allies.  The Spanish was determined to restore control over the Apalache district, so they were not happy to see "their" Indians going over to the French.  In a report to the minister, Bienville explained why the Apalache preferred to live near the French:  "... the French assisted their allies better than did the Spanish, the French furnishing more arms," Bienville insisted, "in addition to the fact that the natives were not masters of their own wives while among the Spaniards and that among the French they had no fear on that point."  And then there was the question of boundaries between the French and Spanish realms.  More than once the issue had risen between the Le Moynes and the Spanish commanders at Pensacola, first Martínez then Arriola and now Guzmán, who reminded the Frenchmen that a Spaniard named Luna had settled at Bahía Mobila in 1560!  The Spanish reasoned that since a natural boundary was needed between their posts, the Mobile River would do just fine.  The French demurred, insisting that the entire bay, including its eastern shore, was part of French Louisiana.  But more pressing matters had always set the issue aside--until the fall of 1705.79

In September, after the hurricane passed, Châteauguay was returning to Massacre from Pensacola in a borrowed felucca when he came upon a small brigantine that had run aground near Mobile Point, not far from the entrance to the bay.  Châteauguay approached the vessel carefully, not sure if it was English.  Hearing voices calling out in French, he hurried aboard and found a Captain Maurice and 90 men who had survived the recent hurricane.  Their ship, the St.-Antoine, was a privateer out of Martinique heading home from a trip to Veracruz.  Châteauguay and his crew took the survivors aboard the Spanish felucca and hurried them on to Massacre before sending them up to Fort Louis.  Meanwhile, Governor Guzmán, hearing of the wreck, sent 60 men in two boats to salvage what they could from the wreck.  Châteauguay, of course, had the same thing in mind, so after seeing the privateers safe at Massacre, he returned with 25 Canadians to the St.-Antoine.  Encountering the Spanish, the young Canadian refused to allow them to board the stranded vessel.  The Spaniards prudently retreated, and the Canadians loaded their feluccas with considerable plunder, including silver and gold.  Guzmán wisely let the matter rest ... for now.  They repaired the Précieuse as they had promised, and Châteauguay transported the vice-admiral to Veracruz.80

A few weeks after Boisbriant returned wounded to Fort Louis, another delegation of Chickasaw, 10 headmen this time, appeared at the fort.  They had gone to Tunica, where Father Davion had urged them to visit Bienville.  They assured the commander that "despite the recent massacre by the Choctaw they still desired peace."  They were saddened to learn that Bienville and Boisbriant would even question the well-being of the young St.-Michel.  Hearing this, Bienville fully understood the treachery of the Choctaw.  He ordered the Chickasaw to bring St.-Michel to Mobile so that he could use him to chastise the Choctaw chief.  The Chickasaw agreed and returned to their villages, leaving six of the chiefs as security for the life of St.-Michel.81

Soon it was the Choctaws' turn to suffer at the hands of their enemies.  That August, unbeknownst to Bienville and his officers, three Carolina Indian agents met with the chiefs of several related tribes living in the wilderness north of Mobile--the Alibamon, the Coweta, the Kashita, and the Okmulgee, who later would be called collectively the Creek--at Coweta Town.  The English drew up a proclamation, agreed to by the chiefs, declaring that "all of the natives allied to the French as 'enemies to be attacked and annihilated.'"  This was no idle threat.  That autumn, 3,000 warriors from these tribes, spurred on by the English agents, moved against the Choctaw.  Having been warned, the Choctaw abandoned their villages and retreated into the woods while the Alibamon and their allies devastated their homes and crops.  As the Alibamon withdrew, the Choctaw counter attacked, killing several hundred of the enemy.  The Choctaw victory spared Mobile and Pensacola from attack for now, but the Alibamon were still a dangerous presence in the wilderness above the two posts.82

Though no resupply from France appeared in 1705, new settlers, mostly Canadian voyageurs, arrived via the upper Mississippi throughout the year.  In January came Gabriel Philippe de St.-Lambert and his younger brother François-Philippe Philippe de Hautmesnil de Marginy de Mandeville, called Mandeville, both valuable officers, leading a contingent of "renegade Canadians" who had lost their trade concession on the Wabash.  Fifty voyageurs from Illinois came down later in the year and included two former residents of Fort Louis, Pierre Sauton and Joseph Guillet de Bellefeuille.  They praised the value of the Missouri country, where they had traded with Spaniards from Nueva Mexico and also had found mineral deposits.  They gave Bienville samples of what appeared to be copper and some unknown substance, but the commander, having long given up hope of finding valuable mines in Louisiana, was not impressed with what he saw.  Towards the end of summer, a poignant moment occurred when Marguerite Messier, "slender blond wife" of Pierre-Charles Le Sueur and Bienville's kinswoman, reached Mobile with her children, a young son and three daughters, hoping to rendezvous with her husband.  At Kaskaskia on the way downriver in April, Marguerite had lost her brother and one of her daughters, and now she was told that her beloved husband had been dead for over a year!  Aware of the hazards of a return trip to Canada, the grieving widow chose to remain at Fort Louis.  She and her children occupied the house her husband had left her on the Rue de Ruessavel and sent a message back to Montréal requesting a merchant friend there to sell her house and belongings and forward the proceeds to Mobile.83

The settlers at Fort Louis also welcomed new residents of a different kind.  The Pélican girls, now proper wives, began to give birth, the first of them that summer.  One of the newborns, Claude Joussette, would live to a ripe old age, dying at New Orleans in 1781, "having amassed a considerable estate."  Later in life, he would claim to have been the first-born Frenchman in Louisiana, even going to court to "prove" his claim.  In truth, he was not even the first born child at Fort Louis in 1705!  Sadly, but typical for a frontier community, many of the settlement's newborns did not survive the year.84

Newborn infants were not the only casualties of the year.  Fort Louis itself, now three years old, was dying, literally rotting away.  Bienville beseeched the Minister of Marine to provide funds to construct a new fort, this one of brick and stone.  What had eluded Iberville and the others in 1702 was now manifest:  the village site was so poorly located that "after each rain several weeks were required for the standing water to drain."  The only agriculture attempted were house gardens, which barely supplemented the post's food rations.  Commissary La Salle and others complained that the site was too far upriver; La Salle, in fact, wanted the settlement relocated all the way down to Massacre Island.  Bienville refused.  To do so would be a poor reflection on Iberville, Levasseur, and himself.85 

Some of the more ambitious settlers believed that up and down the river were better drained and more fertile sites that were amenable to plantation agriculture.  With the proper means, they could become wealthy by supplying produce not only for Mobile but for the markets at Pensacola, Havana, and Veracruz.  Proper means would include the employment of slave labor, either Indian or, preferably, West African.  Many households at Mobile already employed domestic "slaves" and had done so from the first days of the settlement--young Indians, male and female, from the local tribes whose parents had allowed them to live among the French in a sort of unofficial indentured servitude.  Some of the Indians were employed in outside work, but there were, and never would be, enough of them to sustain a large plantation.  The putative planters were constantly urging Bienville to import Africans from St.-Domingue and Martinique.  The blacks would be purchased, not "borrowed"; they would, in a word, become chattel, essential for the backbreaking work in the fields of a new French socioeconomic elite.  Bienville, like Iberville before him, supported the importation of slaves, but the Minister in France "had considerable reservations," so, until he approved, it would not be done.  Nor was the timing right.  The war and its curtailment of ocean voyages had severely reduced the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  Slaves could more safely be brought in from the West Indies, but where would the colonists find the capital to pay for slaves?  Only a handful of merchants could purchase them outright.  The only alternative would be slave-trading--Indians for blacks, like the Carolinians were doing, the very thing that the French had vowed to end in the Gulf Coast region.  But even if the settlers at Mobile could afford to purchase slaves, could they also afford to buy horses, oxen, and the needed tools?  There were only 13 oxen and a single horse at Mobile in late 1705--not very promising for a plantation economy.  Nor was there a grist mill to grind any grain that the colonists could produce; the millstones were there, brought over from Rochefort on the Loire in 1703, but a mill for them had not been built.  Until then, the colonists would have to grind by hand whatever grain they acquired from Pensacola or Veracruz.  Mostly they subsisted on maize grown by the local Indians, which the new wives from Paris found difficult to stomach.  Three enterprising Canadians moved down to the Oignonets, near the village of the Chato, and "were gamely trying to grow wheat and vegetables" at "the onion field."86

Late in the year, the Chickasaw chiefs returned to Fort Louis with a very much alive St.-Michel in tow.  Boisbriant, especially, was glad to see the young man still alive.  Bienville sent an officer and two Tomeh guides to retrieve the Choctaw chief.  Bienville was determined to re-establish the tribal alliance and put an end to the war between the old enemies.  First one and then several Choctaw chiefs, carrying more Alibamon scalps, appeared at the fort in January.  Choctaw and Chickasaw smoked the calumet again, and Bienville was satisfied that the alliance had been restored, though he insisted that St.-Michel remain at Mobile.86a

Despite this potential triumph, by the end of the year, Bienville seriously considered returning to France.  He was only 25 years old, still a young man, but seven years in the wilderness had taken its toll on his health and spirit.  In France, he could personally beard the Minister about what Louisiana sorely needed.  It had been a year and a half since the Pélican had resupplied the colony.  Prices at Veracruz were exorbitant, even for merchandise of inferior quality.  But even that source of sustenance was in jeopardy.  Earlier in December, on its return voyage from Veracruz, the Précieuse had been caught in a storm and driven upon a sandbar south of Massacre Island.  Châteauguay managed to save the food and merchandise aboard the little ship, but, after seven years of service, the Précieuse was no more.  Only the Espérance, now four years in the colony, remained to transport goods to the colony's two forts and to connect Louisiana to the outside world.87


By the spring of 1706, the colony was in dire straits.  The fort's bastions were so badly rotted that the cannon could not be safely fired.  La Salle resisted any proposal to repair or rebuild the fort, "blaming the Le Moyne brothers for their lack of foresight in locating it 'in the midst of the woods.'"  He insisted on abandoning the site and relocating the settlement to Massacre Island or to the Oignonets.  But the warehouses on Massacre and at Dog River, also four years old, were rotting away, too.  Even worse, for every colonist, the resupply expected the previous summer never arrived.  Soon it would be two long years since the fever-laden Pélican had reached Massacre.  Food was short, prices for everything were exorbitant, especially when purchased from the Spanish, and a crippling poverty permeated the settlement.  Bienville and Châteauguay, though deeply in debt, had cash reserves to make purchases (thanks, no doubt, to Châteauguay's salvage of the St.-Antoine), and skilled craftsmen like carpenter Jacques Le Compte and cooper Pierre Gagné could charge more for their valuable services, but most of the colonists, especially the soldiers, had to subsist on fixed incomes whose value steadily dwindled in the face of high, persistent inflation.  They had no specie--none officially had come to the colony since the Pélican--so nearly everyone was in debt to the King's treasury, a situation made worse by Bienville's policy of easy credit for the colonists.  La Salle complained about the policy, but, having six mouths of his own to feed, he, too, was heavily in debt to the King's accounts.  This only worsened the relationship between the commander and the commissary, a cloud hanging over the colony for four years now.  Moreover, Bienville was forced to purchase food from Pensacola again, throwing out of balance the settlement of accounts he had recently made with Guzmán and his commissary.  Bienville, and now Châteauguay, were determined to return to France to address these serious matters in person.88

The Le Moynes--Iberville, Sérigny, Bienville, and Châteauguay--had long dominated the colony, but Iberville had not returned, Sérigny also was gone, and Châteauguay was at sea most of the time.  Moreover, ever since the Pélican had arrived with its girls from Paris, its young soldiers from Rochefort and La Rochelle, and its two French priests, the Canadians no longer outnumbered the continental French.  In his opposition to Bienville, La Salle could depend on many of his fellow Frenchmen to join him in carping about the Canadians' policies.  And then, in the autumn of 1705, the petty incident of the soldier's blanket pitted Bienville against the commissary's haughty wife, who did not bother to hide her disdain for "this skulking Canadian."  Although the commissary "apologized" for his wife's behavior, he could not forgive the commander's high-handed manner in barring a pregnant Madame La Salle from chapel services.  From this day forward, La Salle was determined to make note of the Canadians' every transgression and pass them on to the highest authority in France.  Not even the absent Iberville, once the commissary's champion, was exempt from La Salle's stinging critiques.  Nor was the commissary averse to exaggeration in describing to the Minister Bienville's supposed malfeasance.  Bienville was just as diligent in reporting La Salle's transgressions.  He complained about the laziness of many of the Frenchmen, especially the women Bishop St.-Vallier had foisted on the colony.89

What was sorely needed was Iberville's return, bringing food, guns, ammunition, presents for the Indians, specie, tools, and hard-working artisans who could build a new grist mill and rebuild a rotting fort.  Bienville had been apprised of his older brother's promotion and his failing health and perhaps other reasons why a resupply was taking so long.  He could have guessed that in the minds of the King and Minister the war was taking precedence over supplies and personnel for distant colonies.  He could not yet know that in January, Iberville and Sérigny, as well as other Le Moyne kinsmen, finally had set sail from La Rochelle with a powerful fleet of a dozen ships, that Iberville's orders, once again changed, were to attack English and Dutch sugar islands in the Caribbean, that in April Iberville and Sérigny had scored a dramatic victory against the English on Nevis and St. Christopher, that they had looked the other way as their men looted the islands and filled the ships' holds with booty.  He could not yet know that they had sailed up to St.-Domingue before moving on to Havana, from which Iberville would launch an offensive against Carolina.  Nor could Bienville know that the original plan was for Sérigny to take the Coventry, a captured 48-gun English frigate, to Massacre Island with the colony's provisions, but that Sérigny had taken the Coventry to Veracruz instead to sell some of the captured booty as well as the "excess" supplies from France.90

To be sure, Iberville had not forgotten "his" Louisiana colony.  From Nevis, he sent a captured English brigantine, the Aventurier, to Mobile to supplement the Espérance as a transport.  At Havana, after removing from the Conventry most of the supplies intended for Mobile, he sent one of his frigates, the 34-gun Aigle, 300 tons, half the size of the Conventry, and a smaller vessel, the Bienvenu, on to Massacre.  Commanding the Aigle was Sérigny's brother-in-law, Pierre-Jacques Payen de Noyan, who had gone to Louisiana with Sérigny in 1702.  Bienville, meanwhile, learning of Iberville's presence in the West Indies, sent Châteauguay to Havana in the Espérance to hurry the supplies along.  With him were the survivors of the Saint-Antoine, who had become a drain on the colony's food supply.  Châteauguay had not returned by early June, so Bienville and the hungry colonists had no choice but to wait.91

By then, conditions at Mobile had gone from bad to worse.  Clear factions had formed in the constant squabbling.  Among La Salle's supporters were many of the women from Paris, who were not coping well with the poverty they were facing in a place they had believed would be a paradise in the wilderness.  Also taking sides in the squabble was the post's curé, Father La Vente.  Bienville, who had been disappointed from the first with the Seminarian's appointment, kept his distance from the pastor for the first year of their acquaintance, but the peace between them did not last.  By the time the conflict between Bienville and La Salle erupted in full force, La Vente clearly had taken sides.  He, in fact, became an even bigger thorn in the commander's side than the prickly commissary and his arrogant wife. 

One of the biggest bones of contention between the commander and the curé was the question of European/native marriage.  La Vente saw such marriages as a means to control the wantonness of the libertine Canadians and to increase the number faithful in the colony.  He encouraged the missionaries in the Indian villages to perform such marriages and to baptize the resulting children.  Bienville, with his eye on social and military order, saw the practice in a very different light.  He was especially concerned about the rootless, undisciplined coureurs de bois, who had taken up with Indian women back in Canada, to the detriment of relations with the Indians tribes there and, especially, to military discipline.  The commander wanted these troublesome fellows to live at the posts, not among the Indians. To be sure, when food was in short supply, which, sadly, occurred much too often, Bienville had no choice but to send the unmarried Canadians to live among the Indians, sometimes as far as Natchez and Taensa.  "It was not a move of which he thought well; it was a matter of simple necessity."  When enough food was acquired, either from France or from the Spanish, Bienville promptly called the Canadians back to their posts.  Sanctioning miscegenation, even in the guise of marriage, threatened control over a volatile element in the colony, something that the commander, and the colony, could ill afford.91b 

The conflict between the commander and the curé only worsened when Jesuit Father Jacques Gravier, an old friend of the Le Moynes who had served in Louisiana from 1700-02, suddenly appeared at the fort.  Wounded grievously in the arm by a Peoria devotee back at his Illinois mission, the 55-year-old Gravier had come to Mobile in hopes of finding a surgeon there who could properly treat his wound.  He was disappointed in the medical care he found at Fort Louis, but remained, at Bienville insistence, to recuperate from the long voyage down.  Bienville appointed Father Gravier as his personal chaplain, which infuriated the Seminarians.  Although Gravier urged Bienville to satisfy La Vente's demands for a parish church, the fussy curé could not have been happy with the result.  The new church, a primitive wooden structure standing on its long-allotted place at the edge of the village, was hastily constructed and measured only 40 feet by 26 feet, slightly larger than the post chapel.  La Vente complained about the small size of his parish seat, to which Bienville responded that the curé had been begging for a larger church, and so he had one.  His dignity assaulted, La Vente refused to hold mass in the structure and was even more incensed when Bienville proposed to appoint Father Gravier as chaplain of the fort.  The heated exchange led to a threat of excommunication for Commander Bienville and interdiction for Jesuit Father Gravier.  A message to the Minister of Marine, dated 28 July 1706, summed up Bienville's feeling towards Father La Vente:  "'I do not believe, Monseigneur,'" the young commander fumed, "'that there could be found a man on the face of this earth more violent, more hot-headed, more two-faced or one who has a blacker soul.'"91a 

And then there were the Indians.  In late January, to fulfill a promise to his allies, Bienville had sent Boisbriant, now fully healed, and St.-Lambert with 50 Canadians on a raid into the Alibamon country.  They stumbled upon an Alibamon war party just below present-day Selma, fought a lively skirmish, killing two warriors and capturing a woman, before the Alibamon retreated.  Having lost the element of surprise, they returned to Fort Louis, their female captive in tow.  "Bienville sold the prisoner to one of the colony's families and the woman went quietly to serve her owners (with whom she remained for many years)."  During the spring, the Choctaw returned to complain about the Chickasaw, who had seemed so eager for peace only a few months before.  A party of Chickasaw had attacked a Choctaw village and carried off 150 captives, who they promptly sold to the English as slaves.  "Bienville could only hang his head in despair:  without missionaries or close surveillance of the villages, it was impossible to place any reliance on the conduct of the natives."  The Choctaw asked for powder and lead to defend themselves, and Bienville gave them what they needed.  He may not have won over the Chickasaw, but the Choctaw remained his most valuable allies.92

Conditions on the lower river were even more troubling and promised only to get worse.  The Chickasaw, Alibamon, and Yazoo, spurred on by the English, attacked not only the Choctaw, who were more than a match for them, but also the Taensa on Lake St.-Joseph, above Natchez, and the Tunica lower down, who took refuge with the nearby Houma.  Unfortunately for the French alliance structure on the lower river, "the Tunica turned upon their hosts and, for unknown reasons, massacred more than half of the Houma tribe.  The Houma survivors evidently fled initially to the banks of Bayou St. John in present-day New Orleans, but by 1709 they had migrated to a new village site near present-day Donaldsonville," a place called Lafourche, or the Fork.  Meanwhile, the Taensa abandoned their village site and moved downriver to Bayougoula, where they were welcomed.  The Taensa did not return the welcome.  As soon as they settled at Bayougoula, "they betrayed the trust of their hosts:  wishing to appropriate the site, they slaughtered a majority of the Bayougoula, then quickly drove the survivors into the forest."  The remnants of the tribe took refuge with the Houma and Quinapisa.  Fearing retaliation not only from those tribes but also from the French, the Taensa decided to move to another site.  Before they left, however, they invited Chitimacha and Yakne Chitto families in the area to join them in a feast.  When only a small number of Chitimacha appeared, the Taensa took them captive, sold them into slavery, and occupied Bayougoula.  This enraged the Chitimacha, who blamed the French for Taensa treachery.  Coureurs de bois, who answered to no one, especially to distant commanders or local missionaries, had been harassing the Indians along the river, murdering, raping, kidnapping, even selling some of the Indians into slavery, all with impunity.  The Chitimacha may have been among the victims of these miscreants.  They certainly remembered their confrontation with St.-Denis four years before, and how Bienville had mistreated the Koroa after the death of the priest from Arkansas.  So they looked for a chance to get their revenge on the arrogant white men who had invaded their country.92b


Finally, on 13 June 1706, the lookouts on Massacre Island spotted two sails on the southeastern horizon.  Payen de Noyan's Aigle and the Bienvenu, now under Châteauguay, had finally arrived.  The colonists were expecting a larger ship to make up for their not having been resupplied for two long years.  The Coventry would have been that ship--at 670 tons, it was 70 tons heavier than the Pélican and 170 tons greater than the Loire--but here was a French-built frigate at least, plus a smaller English vessel.  Payen de Noyan, who had helped found the settlement at Mobile four years before, was chagrined to see the King's warehouse at Massacre in such disrepair.  He also was surprised to see the rest of the island still so bare.  After he dropped anchor at Port Massacre, he hurried a boat up to Fort Louis to apprise the colonists of his arrival.  Among the passengers who disembarked at Massacre was Claude Allemand, a brother of the warehouse keeper at Fort Louis; Claude was there to look after Iberville's personal merchandise, which he hoped to sell for a profit.  Another passenger was 31-year-old Seminarian missioner François Le Maire, whose romantic notions of ministering to Louisiana's natives was shattered by the long, grueling voyage and the sight of the barren island that lay before him.  Another welcomed passenger was Valentin Barraud, the colony's long-awaited chirurgien-major.93 

Payen de Noyan did not begin unloading the Aigle until the day after his arrival.  By then, Bienville had been notified of the ships' arrival and made careful plans for the resupplies' disposal.  Aboard the Aventurier he sent Châteauguay and a load of merchandise to sell to the Spanish, who always had ready cash.  Bienville had a ready response to La Salle's inevitable complaint:  the French were still in debt to the Spanish.  But La Salle suspected it was only an excuse to engage in personal commerce.  Bienville, in fact, had arranged the unloading and redistribution of the goods so cleverly that the commissary quickly lost control of the King's accounts.  Bienville had insisted that La Salle remain at Fort Louis and send an assistant to Massacre.  Some of the goods had been promptly loaded into the Massacre warehouse, some of it was still aboard ship, some of it was sent on to Pensacola, and some of it up to Fort Louis.  Meanwhile, colonists with means already were purchasing the choicest items from whoever was temporarily in control of the goods:  a barrel of brandy, shoes and stockings, linen, clothes, more brandy, more linen, thread, more brandy.  La Salle could not be in four places at once, and transactions were being made without paperwork.  Payen de Noyan handed him two letters, one from Iberville, the other from the minister.  Iberville's instructions were threatening in tone as well as confusing; the absentee commandant's feelings towards his commissary obviously had been poisoned by Bienville's personal letters and official correspondence.  Even more preposterous, the letter from the Minister instructed La Salle, among other things, to "'take great care of the foodstuffs and munitions and to take the necessary measures to have them used according to His Majesty's intentions.'"94

But Commander Bienville also was chagrined by what the paperwork was telling him.  Inspecting the bill of lading Payen de Noyan had given La Salle, Bienville could not reconcile what the document said he should be receiving and what he actually found aboard the two ships.  He knew instantly what his brothers had done with the missing merchandise, and he was not happy about it.  Where were Iberville and Sérigny to explain this to him?  Thanks to their clever machinations, the colony would be in trouble again, long before the next supply, which, as the Minister's instructions hinted, "would be even fewer and farther between."  Bienville had expected more recruits for his two companies of infantry, but only 16 boys, untrained, poorly clad, and very ill, stumbled off the ships.  He had expected several missionaries, two for certain to send among the Choctaw and Chickasaw.  Reading the Minister's instructions, he could see that two priests were supposed to have come, but here was only one.  Father Le Maire informed him that the other Seminarian, a young man of promise, had chosen to remain in France.  Back at Fort Louis, Bienville looked for a silver lining around this cloud of disappointment.  Châteauguay told him that Sérigny was still at Veracruz or somewhere in the Gulf, and Iberville was at Havana.  Perhaps before they headed to the Atlantic to attack the English there, or, more likely, after they had made a successful attack against Carolina or Virginia, they might see fit to send some of the booty to their brothers in Louisiana.95

Bienville decided not to wait for his brothers' largesse.  He ordered Châteauguay to send the Bienvenu back to Havana and purchase more supplies.  Whoever commanded the vessel was authorized also to purchase Negro slaves that Iberville had promised for the more well-to-do colonists.  These blacks would serve as domestics for now, but perhaps soon they would be working in the fields.95a 

Bienville also had to address another problem, this one caused by the misers in France.  Despite La Salle's constant reminders that the Minister of Marine had ordered Bienville to end support of the Canadians at Fort Louis, Bienville decided to retain most of them on the King's rolls for now.  The reason was simple.  The Canadians could live without the colony, but the colony could not survive without them.  "Taken as a whole," Bienville knew, "the Canadians were the colony's most valuable asset and, as far as [he] was concerned, the colony could support them as far as possible."  And without them, Bienville also knew, his base of support at Mobile probably would disappear The few Canadians Bienville removed from the rolls generally had become affluent enough to support themselves without a government subsidy, but some of them complained anyway, becoming potential allies of La Salle and La Vente.96 

Sadly, the Aigle also brought yellow fever to the colony, but this time there were few fatalities.  A victim of the fever, however, was one of Bienville's most important lieutenants.  Canadian Gabriel Philippe de Hautmesnil de St.-Lambert of Montréal had come to the colony from Illinois several years before, and Bienville promptly made him an ensign in one of his infantry companies.  St.-Lambert died of the fever in mid-July, and Bienville chose to replace him with St.-Lambert's younger brother, Mandeville, age 23.  Astonishingly, La Salle protested the appointment:  he demanded that Bienville appoint his son, Nicolas, fils, only 13 years old, to succeed the dead St.-Lambert!  La Salle, who lied about the boy's age, saying he was 16, insisted that Nicolas, fils was bright, fluent in native languages, a competent woodsman, and big for his age.  Bienville refused to change the appointment, and La Salle recorded another complaint against the commander.97

In early August, after two months in port, Payen de Noyan prepared to return to Havana.  He set sail on August 14 with a load of furs brought down from Canada.  Father Gravier was one of his passengers.  Sailing with the Aigle was Châteauguay in the Aventurier, who would retrieve his traversier, the Espérance, still at Havana, and inquire into the delayed return of the BienvenuNo one at Mobile knew of Iberville's fate, which had been sealed the month before.97a 

Before the Aigle sailed, Commissary La Salle hurried down to Port Massacre to give Payen de Noyan his dispatches to the Minister, including a long complaint against Bienville, and to make certain that the Bienvillists did not make off with more of the colony's merchandise to sell for personal gain.  Back at the fort, La Salle penned several more letters of complaint against Bienville and his associates.  By the time he finished them in early October, the Aigle had sailed.  Fearing that Bienville was intercepting the mail, he sent his letters, including duplicates, by every means he could.  La Vente also sent letters of complaint to his superiors in France.  The bureaucrat and the priest were determined to ruin Bienville's career.98

Fate also seemed to set itself against the young Canadian.  Bienville expected Châteauguay's return sometime in September, but even when October came, he had received no word from his younger brother.  Finally, on October 19, Châteauguay reached Massacre with the Aventurier and the Espérance and a very sad story to tell:  Brother Iberville was dead!  He had died in Havana over three months before of the dreaded yellow fever.  Sérigny had not reached Havana from Veracruz until three days after their brother's death.  He found the Espérance and the Bienvenu still in port, watched over by the Spanish.  Most of the Bienvenu's crew had deserted.  This was the vessel he had loaned to Bienville earlier in the summer and which he still considered his property.  Determined to make as much profit as he could out of his sojourn in the West Indies, Sérigny sold the Bienvenu to the Spanish.  Most of Iberville's squadron of 13 ships had returned to France.  Iberville and then his successor, Jacques Lefebvre, had tried to enlist the help of the Spanish at Havana for the attack on Carolina, but the new governor of Havana had died the day before Iberville; is replacement could promise only token assistance, and the viceroy offered no help at all.  Refusing to give up, Lefebvre sailed to San Agústín.  The new governor there, Don Francisco de Córcoles y Martínez, formerly of Pensacola, agreed to help, and Lefebvre and the Spanish attacked Charles Towne harbor on September 9.  The result was a disaster for the French and their allies, including a party of Indians; Lefebvre lost 30 men dead and over 300 captured, along with his 72-gun ship, the Brilliant, in a battle off Holybush Plantation.  Meanwhile, Payen de Noyan and Châteauguay reached Havana in late August.  Only then did they learn of Iberville's death and Sérigny's sale of the Bienvenu.  Châteauguay remained at Havana through September and into October, rounding up crewmembers and purchasing what he could, including a few black domestic servants Iberville had promised to send to the colony.  Before taking the Coventry to St.-Domingue to complete his commercial transactions, Sérigny informed brother Châteauguay that he and Bienville could keep the Aventurier in exchange for the Bienvenu.  Châteauguay departed Havana with his two ships in mid-October, and Payen de Noyan took the Aigle on to Léogane and then to Martinique.99

Bienville and most of the colonists were deeply saddened by the news of Iberville's death.  "Unaware for the most part of Iberville's and Sérigny's fraudulent commerce which had acted to the detriment of the colony, the inhabitants deeply mourned his passing.  Despite his long absence, he had still been considered by the majority of the officers and townfolk as being their chief voice in Europe, who more than any other had been responsible for what concessions were wrung from the purse of the court."  Many of the Canadians had served under the gallant commandant since the beginning of the Louisiana venture, and some of the officers could recall their service with Iberville as far back as Newfoundland and Hudson Bay.  And there were his brothers, cousins, and in-laws, many of them still in the colony.100 

But not everyone mourned Iberville's death.  La Salle, La Vente, and the young Huvé kept their own council of course, but they knew that Bienville was much more vulnerable now without his brother to look after his affairs.  La Vente, in fact, referred to Iberville as Bienville's "'chief and only parton.'"  Earlier in the month, Bienville, long aware of Iberville's diminished interest in the affairs of the colony, had sent a message to the Minister, reminding him "that for seven years I have had the honor of commanding in this colony, and I beg you to grant me the governorship of this land,'" but it would be months before he received a reply.  He could not know that the persistent complaints of his enemies at Mobile were reaching Versailles and Paris, that they were stirring debate among powerful men whose judgment would decide his fate.101


The year 1707, which would be the ninth in Louisiana's history, began on an especially troubling note.  Yet another tragedy had shaken the colony, this time on the lower river. 

Father Jean-François Buisson de St.-Cosme, a Seminary priest serving on the lower river since 1700, was for several years the only missionary in the area who had remained at his post.  In six years of ministering to the Natchez, however, he had, he believed, little to show for his efforts.  More than once he had been forced to use physical violence to protect his person against angry natives, and in all the time he had served in the village he had failed to master the Natchez language.  So, in late November 1706, escorted by three Canadians and a young slave of the Natchez, he journeyed downriver on his way to Mobile to confer with his superior, Curé La Vente.  After two days of travel, the priest and his companions stopped to rest on the west bank of the river near the confluence with Bayou Lafourche.  While they were sleeping, a party of Chitimacha fell upon them and hacked them to death.  Only the Indian slave escaped the massacre and hurried downriver to relate what he had seen.

St.-Denis was entertaining a visitor at Fort de La Boulaye when the Indian appeared there to report the murder of Father St.-Cosme.  Abbé Marc Bergier, long-time missionary at Tamaroa in Illinois and vicar-general of the Bishop of Québec for the Mississippi valley missions, had come down the river a few weeks earlier and spent some time at Natchez with Father St.-Cosme before moving on to Mobile to procure supplies for his missions.  Hearing the Indian's account, St.-Denis placed his men on full alert and sent word of the travesty to Bienviille via the vicar-general.  Abbé Bergier, accompanied by the Indian slave, reached Fort Louis on New Year's Day 1707, and now Bienville had to address another crisis that threatened the entire colony.102

A message he would send to the Minister in France in late February summed up the commander's view of why the Indians in the region did not respect the French, and why the colony was still so vulnerable to Indian depredations:  "All the savages of these lands are thoroughly treacherous," he wrote, reflecting the typical European attitude towards natives in every corner of the New World.  "They have already committed many assassinations and there is reason to  believe they may commit more because of the small fear that they have of the French.  They have such a low opinion of us that recently the Choctaw and Chickasaw chiefs asked me in great seriousness if there were really as many people in France as there were here or whether there were very many more.  I tried to make them see the truth of the matter by striking comparisons, but it was impossible for me to make them understand although I know their language very well.  They retorted that if there were really as many people as I claim, some of them would come here to avenge the deaths of the Frenchmen, 'else you have no courage at all,' they said to me:  'You have been here for six years.  Instead of increasing, you are diminishing.  The strong men are dying and only children come in their places.'"  The Choctaw and Chickasaw chiefs were spending the winter at Fort Louis and were not impressed with what they saw.  Nor had Bienville kept their promises to him:  there still was no trading post between the territories, nor had he given the Choctaw a missionary.103

Bienville's next action was clear:  he would have to use whatever "strong men" he had left in the colony to demonstrate to the "savages" French power and resolve.  But where were those "strong men"?  The chiefs were right:  he had been given nothing but boys to fill the ranks of this companies.  After deaths and desertions, he commanded only 45 soldiers in these two "companies"!  One of the company commanders, François Juchereau de Vaulezard, a kinsman of St.-Denis, refused to leave France.  The other company commander, brother Châteauguay, was the colony's principal navigator and seldom was around to lead his men.  Bienville was forced, again, to rely on the very men he was purging from the King's payroll--his trusty Canadians.104

The punitive expedition began soon after Bienville was apprised of Father St.-Cosme's murder.  In early January, he sent the Espérance with 20 Canadians, guns, and ammunition to St.-Denis at Fort de La Boulaye.  Also aboard were presents for the friendly local tribes--the Biloxi, Houma, Chawasha, Washa, and the remnants of the Bayougoula--to secure an alliance against the Chitimacha.  St.-Denis managed to cobble together a force of 80 warriors, including four from the distant Natchitoches.  He led his 100 men in pirogues to the mouth of Rivière des Chitimacha, today's Bayou Lafourche, and headed down the bayou to the nearest Chitimacha village.  They attacked the suspecting Chitimacha at night, scattering the survivors.  They killed four warriors and captured a number of men, women, and children.  Satisfied, St.-Denis returned to Fort de La Boulaye and sent the captives in shackles, under careful escort, to Bienville.105

Bienville was happy to see that among the captives brought back to Fort Louis in irons was the warrior who had boasted of "having put six arrows" through Father St.-Cosme.  Here was an opportunity to mete out justice and impress the "savages" with French resolve.  "On Bienville's orders, this prisoner was taken to the fort and tied to a stake in the center of the square.  After conferring with his officers, Bienville decided the mode of execution for the confessed murderer:  he was forthwith bludgeoned to death with a heavy stone weapon.  His skull broken, he was then scalped and his body thrown into the river.  'I did not do it,' Bienville later wrote [to the Minister],'without knowing the good effect that it would produce in the villages of the other nations.  It is the custom in all these nations, not only in this province but also of those of Canada to kill as many of the men of their enemies as they have lost on their side; otherwise it is disgraceful among them to speak of reconciliation if they have not got vengeance man for man.'"106

St.-Denis's offensive had been a success in more ways that one.  Not only were Indians in the region taught a valuable lesson, but the Canadians were well-paid for their enterprise, and the colonists at Mobile also secured slaves for their households.  But the enterprise had its costs.  There were no French casualties in the expedition, but the Espérance, on its way back to Mobile, was lost in a squall at Port Massacre.  This left only the Aventurier, in need of a thorough refitting, to resupply and communicate with Fort de La Boulaye, which also was in need of serious repair.  Moreover, Bienville did not have enough men to man the post, especially with a hostile tribe in the vicinity.  So, sometime in the spring, he ordered the abandonment of Iberville's fort and instructed St.-Denis to move up to the portage site.  Bienville planned, as Iberville had wished, to build another fortification there, as soon as he could find the wherewithal to do it.  After tearing down the old fort, St.-Denis and the few Canadians he was allowed to retain moved up to the Biloxi village on Bayou St.-Jean.107

Meanwhile, Abbé Bergier brought a breath of fresh air to the poisoned atmosphere of Fort Louis.  If Father La Vente assumed that the vicar-general would take his side in the dispute with Bienville, he was sorely disappointed.  The abbé was a true ascetic, which greatly impressed the Indians but which chagrined the portly French curé.  Nor was the abbé a fan of interdiction, a priestly power which the curé had not only threatened but had also used against his detractors at Fort Louis.  La Vente had complained of the noise outside of the post chapel when he held mass there during Bienville's Sunday drills.  The commander refused to drill his men at another time or another place, so the curé imposed an interdict on the fort's chapel and returned to the ramshackle parish "church" to conduct holy services.  After a storm destroyed the dilapidated structure, which had "stood" for less than a year, La Vente resorted to holding services in his kitchen!  Needless to say, the inhabitants and the soldiers were most unhappy with this arrangement, made worse by the persistent flooding around La Vente's "rectory," located inconveniently at the edge of town.  Bergier listened patiently to his worldly colleague but could not approve of his actions.  He lifted the interdict on the chapel, coaxing Bienville into restoring the recently-arrived Father Le Maire as post chaplain, and found a house in the middle of the village in which La Vente could conduct holy services; the house would serve as the parish "church" for the rest of the village's existence.108

Abbé Bergier's original purpose in coming to Mobile was to secure supplies for his missions upriver.  By early 1707, however, Bienville had nothing to give.  The resupply of the previous June had long run out.  Bienville prepared to send his remaining ship, the brigantine Aventurier, to Veracruz and asked the abbé to remain until Easter.  Short on sailors, Bienville had to ask his trusty Canadians to man the vessel.  Châteauguay, of course, would command the expedition.  With messages in hand from both Bienville and La Salle to the Spanish viceroy, Châteauguay and his Canadians set sail in late February on what to the young Le Moyne must have been a routine voyage and reached the Mexican port on March 13.  Châteauguay had penned his own letter to the viceroy in hopes of expediting what usually was a long, trying effort in the face of Spanish bureaucracy.  The missives worked, but it was not until the second week of April that Châteauguay could turn his overloaded vessel back towards Port Massacre, which he reached on May 9.  The colony now had provisions for half a year or so.  A boat from Pensacola had resupplied Mobile while he had gone, and Châteauguay was happy to send word to the Spanish benefactors that a large resupply under Governor Arriola was on its way to them.  But Châteauguay had some bad news for his kinsmen and most of his fellow colonists:  Payen de Noyan, who had lived with them the previous summer, had died en route to Martinique aboard the Aigle several months before.109

The sad news notwithstanding, morale in the colony was lifted.  Thanks to Spanish largesse and Châteauguay's efforts, there was plenty of food ... for now.  Though Bienville and most of the colonists hated to see him go, Abbé Bringier headed back to his mission at Tamaroa with two pirogues full of supplies.  Thanks to the abbé's calming effect and the successful resupply, the Le Moynes were popular with the colonists again, no doubt to the annoyance of La Salle and La Vente.  But the curé and the commissary were often too busy to pursue their offensive against the post commander.  Church records reveal that Father La Vente performed at least 22 baptisms in 1707.  He also performed the usual burials and an occasional marriage.  La Salle, meanwhile, had to make certain that all of the supplies from Veracruz and Pensacola were properly recorded, stored, and distributed.110

Although the saintly missionary from Tamaroa smoothed the feathers of the colony's highest officials, a major subject of discord remained:  location of the colony itself.  Now five years old, Fort Louis-de-la-Louisiane was rotting away.  Bienville's solution was to remain at the present location and to rebuild the fort out of brick or stone, otherwise a rebuilt wooden structure also would soon rot away.  La Salle and La Vente, on the other hand, continued to advocate moving the post down to Massacre Island, or at least to the mouth of the Mobile River, at a place called Les Oignonets.  Bienville reminded the Minister of Marine of why the present site had been selected in the first place:  Iberville wanted the fort to serve as protection for the numerous plantations he expected to see established on the river bluffs above and below the fort.  Bienville pointed out the many imagined defects of a site at the mouth of the river:  brackish water, nearby swamps, a general unhealthiness as evidenced by the number of deaths among the Chato living there.  He insisted that "all the habitants" at Mobile much preferred the present location, but his arguments were more defensive than logical.  In this debate, for once, the curé, not the commander, proved to be the champion of reason ... generally.  When he wrote to a superior that the Oignonets was "a spot where a city could be built much taller and larger than Paris," he was engaging in hyperbole of course, but otherwise his logic was solid.  The mouth of the river, he pointed out, was a better location by virtue of its being 26 miles closer to the colony's port off Massacre Island.  With only slight exaggeration, he noted that supplies sometimes took as long as six weeks to be moved from the port to the present location because of the distance and the winding nature of the river.  The Oignonets, he insisted, was naturally protected by the water that lay in front and behind it.  Bienville shrugged off the curé's arguments, admitting only that some day the French might build a city on the lower part of the river to serve as "a warehousing port."  He attempted to mollify Commissary La Salle with compromise.  The storm that had destroyed the parish church also had damaged the fort's chapel.  Bienville suggested that after he rebuilt the chapel, a part of it would be devoted to extending the storage space at the fort.  He also agreed to build not only a new but a larger warehouse at Massacre Island.111

Despite these concessions to La Salle, the conflict between the commander and the commissary continued.  There were heated words and even violence between them, and also emotion-filled correspondence to superiors in France.  The Minister and even the King would have to intervene soon, or their Louisiana colony would descend further into chaos.111a 

The new warehouse at Massacre, though an impressive structure, would have to remain empty for a while.  Bienville's only remaining ship, the English-built Aventurier, did not survive the year.  After Châteauguay brought her back from Veracruz, she lay idle at anchor in Port Massacre, food for marine worms and word borers.  Soon she began to take on water, and then she sank.  Her rigging and equipment were salvaged and stored in the warehouse with the remains of the broken Espérance.  Sadly, the Aventurier "was the last of the vessels at Massacre Island capable of making voyages to Havana, Cap-français or Veracruz."  Until Bienville could secure another seagoing vessel, Mobile's communication with the outside world remained dangerously limited.112

But the worse news, again, came from the east:  the English, according to numerous Indians sources, were planning an attack that summer against Pensacola and Mobile.  Bienville warned the Spanish at Pensacola, who thanked his messenger, but little was done to prepare Fort San Carlos for the coming attack.  The Carolinians and their Indian allies attacked suddenly in mid-August, first burning surrounding villages, ambushing small parties, and then, with at least 300 Indians, assaulting the fort itself.  The temporary governor, Sergeant-major Sébastien de Moscoso, encouraged his hard-pressed Spaniards to fight for their lives.  After several days of bloody fighting, the enemy retreated back into the woods.  Among the dead at Pensacola was a Canadian from Fort Louis who was there to repair the ship San Joseph for Mobile's use.  Other Frenchmen inside the post were wounded in the fight.  During the third week of August, the English and the Indians struck again, this time burning the entire village.  Only the fort and its presidio were left standing, but they, too, lay in ruin.  For the next several months, Indian attacks continued.  All Bienville could do to help was to send a war party of friendly Tawasa and Chato to take more Koasati captives.  Back at Mobile, Bienville interrogated the Alibamon prisoners, who told of an impending attack against Pensacola by land and sea.  Among the attackers would be dozens of English and French Huguenots on horseback.  Bienville was confident that Fort Louis was safe, but he feared for Massacre Island.  He led 80 of his best men and 30 Indians to the island with the dual mission of protecting it from an English assault and hurrying to Pensacola if the Spanish called for help.  In late November, after the English offered Moscoso terms but he refused to surrender, the English and their Indian allies assaulted the fort on three consecutive nights, but the Spaniards repulsed each attack.  The death of an important chief in the third assault demoralized the Indians, and at the end of November the English force retreated.  Bienville reached Pensacola on December 8, but by then the English had returned to Apalachicola.  Moscoso thanked Bienville for his good intentions and for leaving him several Chato scouts to prevent anymore surprises.113

The bloody siege of Pensacola taught the Spaniards a lesson in maintaining friendly relations with surrounding tribes.  Moscoso offered the Chato elaborate bribes to return to Pensacola, but they and the other Apalache refused to leave Mobile; they remembered too well the darker side of living near the Spaniards.  Bienville had heard rumors that in the West Indies and other parts of the Gulf of Mexico the French and Spanish alliance was coming undone.  He was determined to maintain good relations with the Pensacola garrison, though not at the sacrifice of his Indian friends.  He returned to Fort Louis in mid-December, confident that his men and his Indian allies could resist whatever the English threw at them.114


Bienville did not know it yet, but his dispute with La Salle and La Vente, and especially the investigations into the conduct of his brothers Iberville and Sérigny, were bearing bitter fruit for him at Versailles and Paris.  Thanks to his brothers' financial misconduct, his being a Le Moyne was now a liability, not an asset.  Father Gravier, his old ally among the Jesuits, still in France, was doing what he could for him, but it was too little too late.  By the first of May 1707, the Minister of Marine, in his search for Iberville's successor, had already removed Bienville from his list of candidates for Louisiana's next "governor." 

More ominous, the King and Minister were contemplating the abandonment of the colony!  The King requested information "'as to the use it may be for the kingdom' because if it proves itself of little value, he would 'abandon the colony without committing any more resources.'"  The Minister added:  "'only in order to oppose English expansion and stop it, would the King go to the expense of maintaining Mobile.'"  But the colony was not abandoned.  Evidently this original purpose for Louisiana, as well as future plans to box in the British, was enough to keep the venture alive ... for now.114a

The Minister chose as Louisiana's new governor 56-year-old Nicolas Daneau de Muy, a native of Picardy and recent recipient of the Cross of St.-Louis who had served the King well in Canada.  De Muy recently had left Canada and taken his family back to France, where he hoped to secure a higher position.  His timing was right, as were his associations.  He was a champion of neither the Jesuits nor the Seminarians, and, most importantly, he had no ties to any of the Le Moynes.  As soon as the Minister made the choice, the King ordered De Muy, once he reached Louisiana, to launch a thorough investigation into the charges leveled against Bienville by La Salle and La Vente.  Written instructions from both the King and Minister ordered De Muy first to consult with Bienville on conditions in the colony, including an accounting of the colony's finances.  Once the new governor learned all that he could, he was to see that Bienville returned to France on the ship that brought De Muy to Louisiana.  De Muy also was tasked with suppressing the trade in beaver fur from Illinois through Louisiana.  The Minister sent Bienville written instructions repeating what the King had instructed De Muy.  Interestingly, the new governor's original instructions said nothing about sending Commissary La Salle back to France.  In July, the Minister received more complaints from La Salle, which prompted a modification of the King's instructions.  The Minister ordered De Muy to look into the fresh allegations against Bienville and, if he found any evidence of theft or malfeasance, to arrest the young commander and send him back to France.  If De Muy found no evidence of wrongdoing, he was to leave Bienville in Louisiana, though in what capacity the minister did not say.  The Minister also notified De Muy that he would be accompanied by the chief commissary of marine, Jean-Baptiste-Martin Dartaguiette d'Iron, who would audit Commissary La Salle's financial records and help De Muy investigate Bienville.  Only recently appointed, Dartaguiette was even younger than Bienville--age 24 to Bienville's 26.  Dartaguiette would bring along two of his younger brothers, Bernard, age 12 in 1707, and Pierre, who was even younger.115

Then there was the question of Father La Vente.  Complaints from Bienville, Boisbriant, Father Gravier, and others at Mobile painted a dark picture of the curé's conduct.  The Minister of Marine, weighing the evidence, was certain that the priest was a detriment to the colony.  The man who had appointed La Vente, Bishop St.-Vallier, could not be consulted in the matter; he had been captured by the English on his way back to Canada and was still being held in England.  So the Minister had to consult with Abbé Brisacier, head of the Paris Seminary.  The abbé and La Vente's other colleagues defended him passionately, but the Minister, having read too many accounts of the pastor's surly behavior, preferred to have him recalled to France and urged the abbé to find a replacement.  Abbé Briscacier offered the Minister a compromise--the new Louisiana governor would investigate the pastor also, and if he found fault with his conduct, La Vente would be recalled to France.  If exonerated, he would remain at his post.  The Minister agreed to the arrangement, deferring to De Muy's judgment.116

By late summer, two ships were being prepared at Rochefort for the voyage to Louisiana.  The Renommée, Iberville's former flagship, twice had journeyed to Mobile, in 1700 and 1701.  On this voyage, it would be accompanied by a smaller ship, the Indien.  Among the passengers aboard the Renommée was Father Jacques Gravier, S. J., who, despite the painful wound in his elbow, was determined to return to his mission in Illinois.  After the usual delays, the flotilla, including now a merchant ship, the Branche d'Olivier, which carried some of the reinforcements for Fort Louis, finally left Rochefort in late October, but the crossing was not an easy one.  A mid-November storm scattered the vessels, and by the time the Renommée and Indien reached Cap-Français, the merchant ship had not caught up to them.  Dartaguiette coaxed the governor of St.-Domingue into replacing the recruits that may have been lost at sea with soldiers from St.-Domingue.  The flotilla then sailed on to Havana, where the Renommée's captain would make arrangements to pick up merchandise on the return trip to France.117

And then things changed dramatically.  On 25 January 1708, off the coast of Cuba, Governor Nicolas Denau de Muy suddenly fell ill and died aboard the Renommée.  At Havana, everyone looked to the young nobleman for direction.  Dartaguiette studied De Muy's papers, which included letters from King and Minister, and decided that he would follow the dead governor's instructions as well as his own, except in the case of Father La Vente.  Jean-Baptiste Du Casse, former governor of St.-Domingue and now générale des armées navales at Havana, also came into possession of Du Muy's instructions; an ally of the Le Moynes now, Du Casse likely alerted Bienville of what was on the way.  The Renommée left Havana on February 2 and anchored at Port Massacre nine days later.  The Renommée's captain, Henri-Joseph Beaumont d'Eschilais, informed Dartaguiette that he would remain at Mobile only until March 1.  Dartaguiette's, and De Muy's, instructions stated that if Bienville was found guilty of any of the charges against him, he must be arrested and returned to France on the Renommée.  This gave the chief commissary precious little time to conduct his investigation.118

Dartaguiette had to wait two weeks at Massacre before the winds allowed him to sail up to Fort Louis.  Bienville and Châteauguay, who had come down to meet him, escorted the chief commissary up to the fort.  This gave them two more days in the company of the young nobleman.  Dartaguiette agreed to lodge with Châteauguay, whose house was among the largest at Fort Louis, but first he must return to Massacre Island to supervise the unloading.  What he observed there was not theft or malfeasance but incompetence on the part of the warehouse clerk in recording the disposition of the King's property.  Bienville, meanwhile, realizing that his fate was in the hands of the young nobleman, stayed close to Dartaguiette.  He showed him the letter from the Minister detailing the charges against him and offered to refrain from making anymore decisions without the chief commissary's approbation.  Dartaguiette was impressed with Bienville's cooperation and displays of humility.  Back at the fort on February 23, Dartaguiette set himself up in La Salle's office and began his interrogations.  Dartaguiette began with the habitants, as he called them, who seemed least involved in the quarrel between Bienville and La Salle.  Most of the witnesses he called, he could not know, were staunch Bienvillists who praised the young commander's leadership and denied La Salle's scurrilous charges.  Another witness, Father Le Maire, was instrumental in convincing Dartaguiette that Bienville was innocent of one of the most serious charges--intercepting the mail between La Salle and La Vente and their superiors in France.  Two of Bienville's enemies were called to testify, and they were more than happy to traduce their young commander.  Only one of the hostile witnesses, however, offered what seemed to be creditable testimony.  Meanwhile, the Le Moynes made use of Dartaguiette's dining arrangements to tell him their side of the story.  After four days of testimony, Dartaguiette prepared his preliminary report for the Minister of Marine.  He concluded "that the bulk of the charges against Bienville were too vague, too unsubstantiated to warrant an outright statement of guilt."  As to the conflict between Bienville and La Salle, Dartaguiette observed that "Much of the difficulty in the colony ... stemmed from private quarrels between [the two officials] and there was little way to reconcile contentions of this nature."119

Although he was largely exonerated, it was embarrassing to Bienville to be the subject of investigation while he still commanded the colony.  But La Salle must have been even more embarrassed by the chief commissary's report.  Dartaguiette was displeased with the commissary's haphazard recordkeeping and lack of initiative, but, most damning, two of the charges La Salle had made against Bienville proved to be lies.  Nor did it take the young nobleman long to see that La Salle was indeed a prickly fellow, with all of the faults the Le Moynes and many of the habitants attributed to him.120

In the end, both Bienville and La Salle would remain at their posts, with an important modification:  Dartaguiette would remain in Louisiana, where he would serve not only as co-commissary but also as co-commandant, a sort of commissaire-ordonnateur.121

The Renommée was not ready to sail on the first of March.  The unloading had taken much longer than Eschilais had expected.  This gave La Salle extra time to pen more complaints against Bienville.  But La Vente, whose fate had been spared by the death of the new governor, was alarmed by Gravier's return to Louisiana and suspected that the Jesuits were up to something.  Despite the perils of another sea crossing, he would return to France on the Renommée to make his case in person.  Bienville, glad to be rid of the troublesome priest, granted him permission to board the ship, but, after consulting with Gravier and realizing how much damage La Vente could do in Paris, he changed his mind and refused to allow the pastor to abandon his parish.  La Salle, on the other hand, would pursue his vendetta only with ink and paper.122

When Dartaguiette began his inquiries, there were five ordained priests residing at the post--four Seminarians and a Jesuit.  La Vente, irascible as ever, still served as pastor of the village parish.  Father Huvé, still sickly and ineffectual, spent most of his time in the Apalache villages, though he had made few converts there, and returned to the fort only when he needed someone to look after him during his frequent illnesses.  On Abbé Bringier's orders, Father Davion had left his post at Tunica to take charge of provisions for the Mississippi River missions expected to arrive on the next resupply ship.  Father Le Maire, two years in the colony, was still disillusioned with Louisiana; after Father Gravier had left on the Aigle in 1706, Bienville had appointed the young Seminarian as the garrison's chaplain, so he had not yet gone among the Indians.  And then there was the lone Jesuit, recently returned from France.  Father Gravier had failed to stir interest at Paris and Versailles for a return of the Jesuits to the lower Mississippi valley.  His intention had been to return to his mission at Peoria, but, at the urging of Bienville and Châteauguay, he decided to remain at Mobile until the Easter season.  He was determined to keep an eye on the truculent La Vente, who was chagrined to see the old Jesuit at the fort again.  Father Gravier's frère coadjuteur, Brother Guillaume-Richard Fortin, also had come to Mobile on the Renommée; Brother Fortin was exceedingly feeble, a victim of what was called the "quartan fever," but mostly he was a victim of advanced age.  Sadly, since Father St.-Cosme's murder over a year before, only Father Davion was ministering to the Louisiana Indians, and now he, too, was living at the fort.

Father Gravier remained at Mobile through the Easter season, but he never returned to Peoria.  Easter ended on April 8, and then Father Gravier left for Massacre Island, telling none of his fellow priests why he was going there.  Bienville probably knew:  the old Jesuit was hoping to establish a depot for the return of Jesuit missions to the area.  Father La Vente had hoped that "the instrument by which God punishes me," as he referred to the Jesuit, had finally quit the colony, but by the middle of April Father Gravier had returned, showing signs of having contracted a fever.  On the night of April 16, Father La Vente visited Father Gravier in his quarters to comfort him, but the old Jesuit, in his delirium, roundly rebuked him.  The next morning, Father La Vente returned to look after the sickly colleague and found that he had died quietly in the night.  Father La Vente officiated at the Jesuit's funeral, and his eulogy was filled with effusive praise.  The threat of the Jesuits returning to the colony also was laid to rest, at least for now.122a

Meanwhile, on his second day back at the fort, Dartaguiette addressed what the Minister of Marine believed was a major problem in Louisiana:  Bienville's flagrant and persistent violation of orders to remove the Canadians from the King's payroll.  For two years, in spite of these orders, Bienville had kept as many Canadians as he could in the King's employ.  La Salle was aware of these orders and complained mightily about their violation.  Bienville had a compelling reason for maintaining the Canadians on the rolls--the security of the colony itself!  The soldiers the Minister had sent him to fill the infantry companies were only boys, many of whom died before they had the chance to lay down their lives in defense of the colony.  But orders were orders.  With Bienville present, and with his reluctant consent, Dartaguiette assembled all of the Canadians still on the payroll and informed them that as of the first of March they no longer would be supported by the King.  The Canadians protested loudly.  The married ones had wives and even children to support.  The unmarried ones demanded to be allowed to live among the Indians and engage in the skin trade, or they would return to Canada or become coureurs de bois or even defect to Pensacola.  No longer on the King's rolls, they could not be charged with desertion if they quit the colony.  Dartaguiette say immediately why Bienville had ignored the Minister's orders.  Dartaguiette promised that "The king would aid them as much as possible...."  The Canadians retorted that the King had not helped them at all even when they had been on his payroll.  As a war measure, no specie had come on the Aigle or the Renommée for fear of capture; not since the Loire had come to the colony three years before had the Minister sent any specie to pay the officers, soldiers, and Canadians.  Bienville, despite La Salle's objections, had "paid" the Canadians all these years with credit on supplies from the King's storehouse.  Bienville promised to extend them credit, which the Canadians could settle when the Crown sent specie to the colony.123 

And then Bienville, with Dartaguiette's approbation, offered the Canadians a bargain that held promise of enriching the colony as well as the Canadians themselves:  he would issue them axes, mattocks, handsaws, whatever was needed for them to work the soil on grants of land in the colony.  Several Canadians, on their own initiative, already had left Fort Louis, where the soil was barren, and moved to the Oignonets to raise vegetables.  The Canadians were welcomed to move to Massacre Island and work the soil there.  Explorations of the bay had revealed a number of other places fertile enough to support agriculture.124

Most of the Canadians remained in the colony, and many of them embraced the offer to take up land in the area.  Finally, after nine long years of being nothing more than a fortified outpost, Louisiana had the potential to become an actual colony, with real colonists working the land.  Guillaume Boutin and Nicolas Bodin moved to Rivière-aux-Poules, today's Fowl River, along the southwestern shore of the bay between Dog River and Cedar Point.  Two Carrière brothers settled at Bay Minette, east of Mobile Bay.  François Guillory and others, including Jean Roy, moved to Massacre Island, where Guillory took up land on the east end of the island at what became known as Pointe-à-Guillory.  Living on the island next to Port Massacre also would provide opportunities for commerce when ships came to the bay.125

But the most promising land in the colony was not on Mobile Bay.  The Bayou St.-Jean portage had been used as a shortcut to and from the Mississippi for most of the colony's existence.  Bienville and others who had used the portage had noted the quality of the soil in the area.  Soon after Iberville had built Fort de La Boulaye, Bienville had coaxed a band of friendly Biloxi to settle on the bayou as protection for the fort.  Iberville's fort no longer existed, but St.-Denis and a few of his men had been living with the Biloxi to observe movement on the river.  "It was Saint-Denis who first reported to Bienville (and later to Dartaguiette) on the richness of these lands...."  Bienville went so far as to tell Dartaguiette, who had not yet visited the river, that the portage site, as Dartaguiette later reported, was "'the finest in the world for raising crops,'" that it could even be a place "'at which a large settlement could be made to carry on considerable commerce with New Spain and the West Indies.'"  In the spring of 1708, Bienville granted farm lots, 4 arpents wide and 36 arpents deep, where Bayou Tchoupitoulas joined Bayou St.-Jean.  Five Canadians, including Antoine Rivard de La Vigne, François Dugué, Jean-Baptiste Poitié, and Nicolas Delon, took "their few Indians slaves" with them, plus the necessary supplies and tools, and planted a crop of wheat along the bayou, using seed they had brought from Fort Louis.126

As a result of Bienville's leadership and Dartaguiette's wise decision to let him lead, a potential disaster was averted.  At the time, the co-commandants could see only that the volatile Canadians had been saved to the colony for now.  Until a mill could be constructed on one of the streams in the area, a locally-grown wheat industry could not succeed.  And until more marriageable women could be brought to Louisiana, there was little hope of keeping the Canadians there or luring more of them down from Illinois.127

A month before the Renommée arrived, "a small French sailing vessel," its name lost to history, appeared at Port Massacre.  The ship had sailed from Havana and carried a cargo of "tobacco, bacon, and brandy," some of which was purchased by the more prosperous colonists.  Several weeks later, an 80-ton vessel out of Nantes appeared, "bringing more vendibles."  Louisiana now was perceived as a market for French goods.  For years, Bienville had sent traversiers to Veracruz and Havana to engage in questionable commerce, but now legitimate commerce was coming to him.  Massacre was becoming a proper port, connected, at least, to the francophone world.128

But, sadly, it was a port without its own ship.  With the exception, perhaps, of Bienville and Châteauguay, the arrival of the Renommée was welcomed by everyone; the first resupply in nearly two years.  Iberville's old ship brought few soldiers, no women, and only a single priest, but it did bring a plethora of food and provisions, the largest resupply since the Pélican three and a half years before.  And therein lay the problem--there were no more traversiers or feluccas to move the supplies from the ship to the warehouse and then up to Fort Louis.  Every available canoe and pirogue converged on the ship, but this "resulted in heavy fees, as well as losses in time and merchandise"--a prolonged, inefficient, and chaotic transfer.129

The Minister of Marine had anticipated the need for a new vessel at Mobile.  One of the passengers aboard the Renommée was Jacques Le Roux, a shipbuilder--specifically, a second-master constructor--from Rochefort who specialized in building small craft.  Le Roux had come to the colony with Iberville in 1702 and had been ordered to build a flat-bottomed pinnance that was never finished and which had rotted on the ways.  He had returned to Rochefort, but now he was back, tasked with building another flat-bottomed barge, this one of 35 or 40 tons burden, "capable of transporting goods over the sometimes shallow bars between the fort and Massacre Island."  Dartaguiette's contract with Le Roux called for 15 workers, who would be mostly Canadians, and an outlay of 3,000 livres.  The barge would be constructed at the fort, "near the small hospital on the creek just north of town."  Le Roux began construction probably in the late winter, and the barge was ready by the first week of June.  The vessel was "constructed mostly of green oak to ward off the insects and wood borers...."  The final product was between 30 and 35 tons burden, slightly smaller than what the contract had called for, but, most importantly, the barge drew only a foot of water unloaded and only four feet when fully loaded.  It completed its maiden voyage down to Massacre in late summer, and the co-commandants were pleased with the vessel's performance.  They named it the Vierge de Grâce.130

Back at the fort, Commissary La Salle continued his offensive against Bienville.  He was angered by Dartaugiette's obvious support of the Canadian.  And his bitterness towards Canadians in general continued unabated.  He was "especially bitter over Bienville's attempt to establish himself and the Canadians as the only men capable of conducting expeditions or carrying on commerce with the natives," though one suspects that their commercial activities were especially galling to him.  But he had had another reason to question the prowess of the Canadians.  "'The belief is exaggerated that it is imperative to have Canadians here or men who have served in Canada," he complained to the Minister.  "We do not lack interpreters; two of my sons know the Indian languages quite well."  He then went on to tout his own knowledge of the country based on long years of service there.  But most of La Salle's complaints were centered on Bienville's supposed malfeasance, including theft of the King's powder.131 

Bienville would have to ignore for now La Salle's unending complaints and concentrate his attention on a much more dangerous enemy:  the English were on the move again.  The war against England had been lingering for years, having begun only weeks after Fort Louis was settled in the spring of 1702.  In those six years, the English and their Indians allies had attacked the Spanish at San Agústín and Pensacola, but not the French at Mobile.  However, Bienville was hearing from his Indian allies that Mobile was their next target.  Pensacola had been surprised in August 1707 because there were no Indian villages near the post to warn them of the enemy's approach.  Such was not the case at Mobile; no approach to the settlement was unguarded.  Using interior lines, allied Indians, after warning the French, could converge on Fort Louis faster than an enemy approaching along exterior lines.  Moreover, Bienville, now with sufficient supplies and his co-commandants's approval, not only had begun repairs to the fort but also redesigned the structure.  Using 20 Apalache workers because none of the Frenchmen volunteered their services, Bienville began the work in the heat of July.  The bastions were strengthened to hold more cannon, now seven per bastion instead of four, and the rotting curtains were repaired or rebuilt.  Bienville's new plan for the fort, which La Salle opposed but Dartaguiette approved, called for the area within the palisade to be expanded to accommodate 500 to 600 friendly Indians as well as the 300-plus inhabitants, thus increasing the size of Fort Louis by a third.  Theoretically, then, Mobile, thanks to its periphery of Indian villages, could not be surprised, and it soon would be able to withstand a siege, at least long enough for the Choctaw and other friendly tribes to hurry to its assistance.132

The repairs and improvements came none too soon.  That summer, reports were coming in that the English had gathered a force of 2,000 warriors for an attack on Fort Louis.  Bienville doubted the number, but the reports nevertheless "made him uneasy."  Bienville also had learned from his Indian spies that English officials had visited the Chickasaw and Choctaw towns, trying, again, to turn those tribes against the French.  The Englishman who visited the Choctaw was summarily turned away, but his companion went on to the Yazoo, Arkansas, Koroa, Taensa, Natchez, and Tunica villages, trying to stir up trouble among those Mississippi River tribes.  (Bienville knew that if the Englishman valued his scalp, he would stay clear of the Houma, Bayougoula, Biloxi, and Quinapisa on the lower river, though the Chitimacha, still on Bayou Lafourche, would have welcomed a chance to fight the French.)  Canadians who had been living among some of the tribes above the Houma reported that the English planned to attack Mobile the following winter.  A delegation of Chickasaw came to the fort and pledged their loyalty to the French.  Knowing that the English also had visited the Choctaw but uncertain of that tribe's intentions, in late August Bienville assigned Châteauguay the dangerous mission of escorting the Chickasaw back to their villages through Choctaw country.  Châteauguay would take the opportunity to dissuade the Choctaw from following the English.  Bienville had no priests willing to live among the two tribes, so he sent two young Frenchmen to live at their villages "to learn the respective languages and above all to keep [him] informed on the political and commercial activities of each nation."   Happily, Châteauguay and his party of 25 Canadians returned from the mission unscathed.133

By the time Châteauguay returned from Chickasaw, Bienville had received more reports about an impending attack.  By early autumn, the attack had not occurred, but Bienville and Dartaguiette used the alarm "to jolt some of the inhabitants from their lethargy" and push the work on the fort.  By mid-October, Bienville could report to the Minister of Marine that Fort Louis had been rebuilt and expanded and was ready to resist attack.  But the fort's garrison and munitions were not so ready.  At the end of September, the fort's two companies of boys and men numbered only 139 effectives.  And the supply of gunpowder was dangerously low.  Earlier in September, he had sent an envoy to Pensacola to ask for powder, but the Spanish were in no condition to assist him.  Guzmán was still absent in Mexico, and Moscoso still commanded at Fort San Carlos.  Arriola had helped him secure reinforcements (mostly hardened criminals) and the wherewithal to reconstruct the walls of the fort, which Moscoso had completed in February, but most of his men were still sleeping in the open; he did not have the resources to rebuild their burnt out barracks.  In the spring, Moscoso had asked Bienville for needed supplies, and the French had sent him what they could spare.  In early June, yellow fever broke out at Pensacola, and by early September Moscoso had buried 22 of his men, and many of the others were too ill to fight.  Moscoso was in no condition to assist the French the time; he did not have enough powder for his own depleted garrison, which he believed was still under seige.134

Having done what he could with the resources at hand, Bienville refused to just wait for his enemies, or his fellow Frenchmen, to act.  In early October, a vessel from St.-Domingue arrived at Port Massacre in hopes of purchasing Indian slaves for the plantations back at home.  Bienville saw this as an opportunity to communicate with King and Minister.  He coaxed one of his most ambitious, and vain, young officers, François Philippe de Mandeville, to take the merchant ship to Havana, from where he could sail on to France.  There, Mandeville could seek from the Minister compensation for goods he had loaned the Spanish during the siege of the previous summer but which Bienville could not reimburse, and perhaps, on Bienville's and Dartaguiette's recommendation, even receive a deserved promotion.  He would also deliver a message from the co-commandants beseeching the Minister for a quick resupply.  Bienville may have had mixed feelings about sending young Mandeville to France.  Were it not for an imminent threat to the colony, Bienville may very well have sought to communicate with the Minister in person.  At Versailles, he could point out to the Minister that earlier, optimistic evaluations of the colony's self-sustainability were nothing more than dreams, that Louisiana had not yet become self-sufficient no matter how much the Minister wished it so, that Mobile still required assistance from France for even its most basic needs.  He also could make his case for being appointed Louisiana's next governor.  Instead, he remained at Mobile and prepared for the English attack.135

In November, word came down from Illinois that Father Bergier, who had lived at Mobile in the winter and spring of 1707, had died at his mission at Tamaroa the November after he had left Louisiana.  Such depressing news was mitigated only by more births and a few more marriages; the colony's population was growing, slowly but surely.  And, despite its small scale, the planting along the bay continued; one colonist even raised a crop of tobacco, though its marketing was limited by the dearth of ships appearing at Port Massacre.  Despite Dartaguiette's optimism, the Canadians at Bayou St.-Jean had lost their first wheat crop, but they were determined to try plant another one.  As soon as they succeeded, more colonists certainly would follow them to the bayou, or so the co-commandants hoped.  Louisiana would then have its breadbasket and a chance for self-sustainability.  A large wheat crop not only could feed the colony but also provide a surplus for commerce with Pensacola, Veracruz, and Havana.  In late December, Dartaguiette pirogued to Bayou St.-Jean to see the place for himself.  The second crop of wheat appeared to be "'coming along very beautifully,'" he reported, "although the grain had not yet been harvested."  Unfortunately, even if this crop managed to survive, it would be months before the grain could be consumed by the starving colonists.136


For the colonists at Mobile, the winter of 1708-09 was "the most severe they had faced since coming to Louisiana."  Having received no fresh clothing, or even cloth to fashion new garments, for several years, the settlers, soldiers, and even some of the officers literally wore rags that winter.  Hunting was dismal.  None of the food crops had been harvested.  Although Jacques Le Roux had constructed a 12-ton pinnance capable of sailing the Gulf, conditions in the open waters at that time of year forbade a voyage to Havana or Veracruz until winter gave way to spring.137

Spring of 1709--the eleventh for the colony, the eighth at Mobile--came without attack and only a few internal conflicts.  More babies had been born over the winter and most survived, and the dreadful famine would soon be relieved not by a resupply from France but by the harvesting of the wheat crop on Bayou St.-Jean and the vegetable crop down the bay.  Just as importantly, the colony gained a traversier for communication with the outside world.  In May, a sloop arrived at Port Massacre from St.-Domingue, and her master agreed to sell the vessel.  No individual colonist could afford the purchase price, so the co-commandants authorized a pool of officers to raise the funds.  Bienville promptly sent the sloop to Havana to purchase livestock.  He also sent a message to two French naval officers he hoped were still on station at Havana, requesting that they send to him a fresh supply of powder.138

And then, during the first week of May, the enemy finally appeared.  Shots were heard coming from upriver.  Bienville summoned the women and children into the fort and sent a scouting patrol upriver towards the Mobilian village.  The scouts soon returned to report that a large force of hostile Indians had attacked the Mobilian village 13 miles upstream.  Bienville organized a relief force of 60 or 70 soldiers and Canadians and, with Boisbriant and Châteauguay, hurried upriver.  They reached the Mobilian village about noon.  A large force of Alibamon had attacked at dawn.  After burning the cabins and capturing over two dozen women and children, they returned back upriver.  Bienville had warned the Mobilians that an attack would come sometime during the winter, and he had given them all the arms and ammunition he could spare, so they were able to avoid a massacre.  The Mobilians, in fact, had inflicted more casualties on the large attacking force than they themselves suffered, but with the loss of so many women and children they were screaming for revenge.

Bienville faced a hard dilemma.  Boisbriant and Châteauguay reminded him that the protection of Fort Louis was their first priority; they advised him to return to the fort.  But the Mobilians were their closest ally, and to spurn them now would alienate them perhaps permanently and make the fort more vulnerable.  The Alibamon probably were heading for the Little Tomeh village, to the homes of more trusted allies.  He had no choice but to pursue.139

After torturing and burning an Alibamon captive, the French-Indian force hurried upriver in their pirogues.  They met a force of Tomeh and Little Tomeh at the head of the Mobile River and paddled hard to catch the fleeing Alibamon, who still outnumbered them.  With only a few hours head start and so many prisoners filling their pirogues, the Alibamon would not be able to escape to their villages, so what happened next was inevitable.  The following morning, the pursuing party came upon a horrific scene on the right bank of the river.   The Alibamon had abandoned the water and taken to the woods, but not before destroying their pirogues and massacring all of the Mobilian woman and children who had survived the upriver flight.  Though enraged by what he saw, Bienville now had to think of the safety of the fort, so he, Boisbriant, and the Canadians returned to the fort and left Châteauguay and the young soldiers to join the Mobilian and the Tomeh in pursuit of the Alibamon.  A week later, Châteauguay and the soldiers returned to the fort with 34 Alibamon scalps and five prisoners.  After torturing information out of the captives, Bienville, knowing better than to execute them at the fort, turned them over to the Mobilians, who brought them back to their village and roasted them over a slow-burning fire.140

Bienville learned from Châteauguay and the captive Alibamon that the English were planning another attack against the French the following autumn.  An Irishman who had fled from Carolina confirmed the reports, adding that the English had brought cannon to the Alibamon villages, evidence that they intended to attack Fort Louis, not just its allied Indians, and that as many as 40 Carolinians and 2,500 warriors would comprise the attacking party.  Bienville beseeched the Minister for two more companies of soldiers--there were only 70 effectives left at Mobile, he reported, "one-fourth of whom are only children"--and the funds to fortify Massacre Island in case the English attacked from the sea.  But his biggest concern was lack of powder for muskets and cannon, not only at the fort but among his Indian allies.  Stout new walls would do little good if there were no gunpowder to defend them.  Their biggest hope was that the anticipated vegetable and wheat crops, which would be harvested by late summer, could be bartered with the Spanish for a fresh supply of powder.  The fresh wheat also could be taken to Veracruz in the new traversier and exchanged for powder and other necessities.141

But the wheat crop at Bayou St.-Jean failed again!  "Although the wheat grew admirably on the stalk, just before harvest time it fell prey to the extreme heat and heavy humidity, the reddish brown fungus causing it to apparently 'rust' just before reaching maturity."  The same thing had happened the year before, so it was not the fault of the farmers; the climate at the portage site could not support a wheat crop.  Two of the Canadians, Rivard and Poitié, refused to plant a third crop along the bayou; they asked, instead, for land grants farther upriver, at Natchez, which they insisted was "'the finest lands on this continent.'"  Bienville gave them permission to move, but, in 1710, after "an unusually desperate effort," they failed to produce a crop of wheat there, too.  Defeated and dispirited, Rivard and his fellow Canadians returned to Mobile.  "The dream of a breadbasket in lower Louisiana was shattered and the colony was forced to seek success with other crops were they to market food in Pensacola and Veracruz."142

In August, Bienville learned that Pensacola had no powder to spare anyway.  Moreover, there were still hostile Indians lurking about in the woods near Fort San Carlos, and the garrison was again on the verge of starvation, so Governor Guzmán could not help his French allies in any possible way.  Guzmán, in fact, asked to borrow the Vierge de Grâce to send to Veracruz with a message to the viceroy.  Bienville sent Guzmán what extra food he could spare from the Massacre warehouse and would have let the Spaniard keep the ship as well, but Dartaguiette proposed that they send more food to tide them over until the arrival of a resupply from Veracruz.  Sure enough, in late August the viceroy's ship reached Pensacola with several months supply of food and 11,000 pounds of powder.  Hearing this, Bienville breathed a sigh of relief--the powder shortage at Mobile was finally over.  He asked Guzmán for a loan of 1,000 pounds of powder, but the Spaniard, still smarting over Dartaguiette's refusal, informed Bienville that there was no extra powder to lend, that what he did have was only enough to defend his own garrison.  Bienville was stunned by the refusal.  Did it reflect a change in Spanish policy towards their Bourbon allies?  He had detected a coolness in the viceroy's latest communications.  He had not heard anything from the French naval officers he had contacted at Havana.  Were the Spanish interfering with his communications?  As for Guzmán, his refusal to send him powder he considered an act of betrayal.143

By August it had been a year and a half since the last resupply had come from France.  Still desperate for powder, Bienville sent the Vierge de Grâce to St.-Domingue to beg the governor there, François-Joseph Choiseul, baron de Beaupré, for 1,500 pounds of the precious substance.  However, the Vierge de Grâce did not make it to the French colony.  A storm forced the vessel to take refuge at San Carlos de Matanzas, on the northwest coast of Cuba, and then it sailed on to Havana, where its crew secured a small amount of food from a French concessioner and four barrels of powder from the commander of the French fireship, the Nymphe.  The cost of the goods was prohibitive--2,451 livres--but their mission was accomplished.  They also heard the latest news of the world at Havana, including the fate of their sister vessel, the sloop that the officers at Mobile at purchased in May:  an English patrol in the Gulf had captured the sloop on its way to Havana and exiled its crew along the Cuban shore.  The Vierge de Grâce returned safely to Mobile, so Bienville had his powder at least, enough, he hoped, until the long-awaited resupply finally reached Port Massacre.  The news of the sloop's fate must have struck the fort's officers especially hard.  Even more troubling, "the colony was reduced to a single vessel again."144

That problem was solved when, late in the year, a French merchant vessel, the Marguerite, 35-40 tons burden, returned to Mobile from La Rochelle to trade for whatever goods the colony offered.  The vessel was owned by a consortium of Louisianians, including the Chauvin brothers, and had come to Massacre the year before.  Bienville and Dartaguiette saw the vessel's arrival as an opportunity to make up for the loss of the officers' sloop.  They offered to purchase the vessel for the colony's use.  The ship's master, Jean-Baptiste Baudreau dit Graveline, agreed to the sale, for 2,000 livres.  The co-commandants then "chartered [the Marguerite] to the king for fifteen hundred livres" and sent it on to Veracruz.  Graveline took up residence on Massacre Island, with plans of raising vegetables there as well as a herd of cattle.145


The new year--1710, the twelfth for the colony and the eighth for Mobile--brought momentous changes to Louisiana.  Father La Vente's stubbornness over the issue of European/native marriage irked the co-commandant once too often, and, after Bienville complained to Versailles, the Minister of the Marine demanded the priest's recall.  Even more significantly for the future of Louisiana, the Minister finally found a new governor for the troubled colony, and it was not Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.146

Interestingly, the next man who would hold the title of governor of Louisiana was Acadian ... of sorts.  Antoine Laumet, born at Les Lauments, near Caumont, Gascony, in March 1658, was the son of Jean Laumet, "a humble provincial magistrate."  In c1683, in his mid-20s, Antoine emigrated to Acadia and settled at Port-Royal, where, in the late 1680s, he befriended the important colonial official Mathieu de Goutin, who offered Antoine a post at Port-Royal.  While at the Acadian capital, Antoine was a keen observer of the Acadians in the area, especially their farming practices.  Not interested in farming for himself, he soon joined the service of privateer François Guyon, who operated along the New England coast.  During a visit to Beauport, near Québec, the young privateer fell in love with his employer's niece, Marie-Thérèse Guyon, and married her at Québec in June 1687.  Their love may have been genuine, but the groom was a fraud, "claiming in [his] marriage certificate to be son of Jean de la Mothe, seigneur de Cadillac, de Lassaye and de Semontel...."  In July 1688, Governor-General Denonville and Intendant Champigny awarded the putative nobleman a 25-square-mile seigneurie on the coast of Maine, including Mount Desert Island, but evidently Cadillac did not develop the holding.  To the consternation of Acadian governor Meneval, Cadillac engaged, instead, in a shady trading venture with the commandant of the Port-Royal garrison, Sr. Soulègre, and with Cadillac's friend, Mathieu de Goutin.146a 

In May 1690, during King William's War, New England forces under Sir William Phips destroyed Cadillac's habitation at Mount Desert during their expedition against Port-Royal.  Ruined financially, Cadillac took his family to Québec during the summer of 1691 to live near his in-laws.  There and on the rugged Canadian frontier, his fortunes improved considerably.  Meneval had traduced Cadillac to the authorities in Québec, but his friends at Court alerted the governor-general of New France, Louis de Buade, comte de Palluau et de Frontenac, to the "Acadian"'s knowledge of the New England coast, which would be valuable if Frontenac decided to attack Boston or New York.  Frontenac was charmed by the glib Gascon and made him a lieutenant in the regular colonial troops.  In 1692, the war still raging, Cadillac made a reconnaissance of the New England coast with a noted mapmaker and submitted an accurate report of the region's geography.  For this, he was promoted to captain in October 1693.  The following year, Frontenac sent him to command the post at Michilimackinac, from which Cavelier de La Salle and Tonty had launched so many expeditions a dozen years before.  No post in the western country was more important than the stockade at the junction of lakes Huron and Michigan.  That Frontenac awarded command of such a place at such a time to a 35-year-old captain speaks volumes about his faith in Cadillac, as well as the young man's ability to ingratiate himself with men of power and influence.  War with the Iroquois was still raging on the western frontier, so Cadillac's most important mission was to maintain the loyalty of the tribes in the area and to keep them focused on fighting the Five Nations, not among themselves.  By the time he returned to Canada in August 1697, by every measure of military and diplomatic success, Cadillac had failed miserably, yet he retained Frontenac's favor.146b  

But Cadillac's tenure at Michilimackinac was an unqualified success in another realm of endeavor.  When he reached the post in late 1693, he was living only on his captain's pay of 1,080 livres annually.  When he left the post four years later, his wealth had increased exponentially.  The privateer/geographer/infantry officer had discovered his true calling:  commerce; that is to say, illicit commerce, akin to latter-day organized crime.  He sold brandy to the Indians in unlimited quantities at inflated prices, Jesuit protests be damned.  Most impressively, he bilked the region's coureurs de bois, underpaying them for their furs, when he paid them at all, and reselling the pelts at exorbitant prices.  The tough woodsmen knew better than to complain of such treatment at the hands of an officer so much favored by Frontenac.  Cadillac was compelled to return to Canada not because of his failure among the western Indians but because the King's dictum of 21 May 1696 cancelled all of the western fur-trading licenses (the so-called congés) and shut down all of the the western posts, including Michilimackinac--a drastic measure to halt the glut of Canadian furs pouring into France.  When Cadillac returned to Canada in August 1697, he arrived at the head of flotilla of canoes carrying 176,000 pounds of beaver pelts!  A Canadian official said of the young commandant:  "Never has a man amassed so much wealth in so short a time and caused so much talk by the wrongs suffered by the individuals who advance funds to his sort of trading ventures."  The King re-opened three of the western posts in 1697, including Michilimackinac, but refused to lift the restrictions on the western fur trade.  "The sieur de" Cadillac was not interested in returning to the western country if he could not make another fortune in furs.146c

In 1698, the year Frontenac died, Cadillac sailed to France to charm the King and his Minister of Marine into sanctioning a new scheme--the settlement of a strategic choke point between two of the great lakes.  In the late summer of 1679, La Salle and Tonty had sailed the Griffon through détroit, French for strait or channel, between Lake Erie and Lake St.-Claire, before sailing on into Lake Huron.  Cadillac proposed a settlement on the western shore of Détroit--not just another fur-trading post but an actual colony, with the requisite fort and palisade of course, but also houses, a church, and a substantial French population.  Moreover, the western tribes would be pressured to relocate there, where missionaries could convert them to the One True Faith, and they would be safe from the moral degeneracy of the coureurs de bois.  Détroit's strategic position also would prevent the English from moving into the Great Lakes region and, standing at the doorstep to the Iroquois country, could be a staging point from which to attack the Iroquois towns as well as new Dutch and English settlements along the Ohio and other rivers in the region.  Just as importantly, Détroit could become the new center not of the western fur trade but of control of that trade, preventing a glut of the market then threatening the French economy.  The Minister of Marine, Louis, Comte de Pontchartrain, was impressed with the proposal but was wise enough to consult the new governor-general of New France, Louis-Hector de Callière, and the intendant, Jean Bochart de Champigny.  Callière and Champigny were not impressed with the proposal, especially with its naive expectations of Indian cooperation, and Canadians merchants protested loudly that a man like Cadillac should not control such an important point on the Great Lakes trade route.146d 

Cadillac had returned to Canada in the spring of 1699, but, surprised by the strength of his opposition, he hurried back to France the following fall.  Using his substantial power of persuasion, he overcame the Minister's hesitations and returned to Canada triumphant.  He arrived at Détroit in summer of 1701 with his lieutenant, Alphonse de Tonty, the famous "Iron Hand"'s brother, and 100 men.  After the death of Callière in May 1703, Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil became the new governor-general.  A proud member of the real French aristocracy, Vaudreuil soon clashed with the Gascon upstart, who continued to antagonize the Jesuits.  In 1704, Cadillac secured ownership of his post and asked the Minister to make the area around Détroit a separate government.  Vaudreuil could see that Cadillac intended to make himself master of the western county, but the governor-general would have none of it.  Cadillac saw Vaudreuil and the Jesuits as obstacles in his steady climb to greater power and wealth.  Cadillac courted Vaudreuil's most powerful enemies in Québec and even offered a bribe to Vaudreuil himself.  Vaudreuil did his best to convince the Minister of the Gascon's nefarious schemes.146e 

One of Cadillac's most successful schemes was the deal he made with Iberville, first at Biloxi and then at Mobile, to allow furs from his western domain to be shipped to France via Louisiana.  Cadillac also made deals with the Indians, especially the Miami, to force settlers going from Canada to Illinois or Louisiana to go no farther than the fort at Détroit.  His chief failure, however, was losing control of the Indians he had lured to Détroit--the Miami, the Huron, and the Ottawa--who, in June 1706, turned on one another in what was known as the Le Pesant Affair.  Thanks to Cadillac's misrule, the sudden conflict unsettled the Great Lakes frontier and came close to destroying decades of French goodwill among the western tribes.  Vaudreuil convinced the Minister of Marine to investigate the affair, as well as Cadillac's commercial and political schemes at Détroit.  The investigator's report, submitted in November 1708, "was a crushing indictment of Cadillac as a profiteer and of his policy as a menace to French control of the interior."  Like a modern-day organized crime lord, Cadillac controlled an entire community, and almost an entire region, with calculated trickery and intimidation, using Indians as his henchmen.147

This was the man the Minister of Marine appointed governor of Louisiana on 5 May 1710.  Realizing his mistake in supporting Cadillac for so long but unable to admit the mistake, the Minister had his reasons for choosing the man, though none bode well for Louisiana:  "Despite his shortcomings, Cadillac possessed certain traits that interested [the Minister].  Imaginative, persuasive, persistent--who else could better promote private investment in Louisiana?  Disregarding his pervasive reputation as a tyrant, his self-indulgent attitude, was he not a man who got things done?  With far fewer Frenchmen at Detroit than Mobile, did he not already have over three hundred acres under cultivation, in comparison with Bienville's meager achievement?  If he could do nothing more than cajole Mobile's inhabitants into planting, he would have accomplished far more than the Le Moyne brothers had done in a decade."  By "promoting" Cadillac to the governorship of the southern colony, he also could solve the touchy problem with Détroit--that is to say, its very existence.148

The King's instructions to the new governor, seconded by the Minister, contained the usual mandates to promote Catholicism, harmony, and moral conduct among the inhabitants and the natives.  What stood out were the King's insistence that Cadillac "investigate commercial possibilities," especially in cowhides and lead mines, the Mississippi valley and the Gulf Coast region.  Since the war began (it, like Mobile, was in its eighth year) the minister had been searching for an investor, or a company of investors, who would secure a commercial monopoly in Louisiana and relieve the Crown of the expense of sustaining the colony during the long struggle with Britain.  But no one had yet taken the bait.  Perhaps Cadillac was the man to transform Louisiana into the appearance, at least, of a successful commercial enterprise, while at the same time using his powers of persuasion to help reel in a wealthy investor.149

À la De Muy and Dartaguiette, the Minister instructed Cadillac to investigate the charges against Bienville as well as Father La Vente.  There was nothing in the new governor's instructions that would spare the curé from recall; the Minister had concluded that he was a threat to good order and was determined to have him replaced.  As to Bienville's fate, that would depend, again, on the conclusion of yet another investigation into his conduct as colonial commander.  The Minister's instructions to Bienville contained a hint of what was in store for him:  "He [the King] desires that you stay on good terms with this governor and give this your greatest attention in order to deserve the favors His Majesty might grant you when you have vindicated yourself against all the charges that have been leveled against you."  Bienville had celebrated another birthday in February, again in Louisiana; one would suspect that after a dozen years of living and working in the colony, he felt older than his 30 years--much much older.150


Cadillac was appointed in May 1710, but it would be months before he could receive notice of the new appointment, complete his affairs at Détroit, and, following the Minister's instructions, go from there via the Mississippi to his post at Mobile.  Cadillac, of course, did not care for this arrangement.  When he received word of the new assignment, he asked the Minister for permission to return to France.  Evidently the Minister agreed, so now it would take a year or more for the new governor to reach Mobile.  Meanwhile, Bienville and Dartaguiette had to do what they could to keep the colony from starving or succumbing to attack.  About the time that the Minister appointed Cadillac governor, Bienville ordered Châteauguay to prepare for another voyage to Veracruz.151 

Father La Vente, still fuming at Bienville, went about his business, and Commissary La Salle more or less minded his own.  By the spring of 1710, however, the curé had "suffered" enough.  He asked the co-commandants for permission to leave the colony aboard the next vessel arriving at Port Massacre and asked Father Davion to take his place as pastor at Mobile.  Bienville and Dartaguiette granted the curé permission, happy to be rid of the troublesome priest.  The next resupply, now more than a year late, was expected sometime that season.  By mid-June, however, the resupply still had not come, but a bilander from Martinique arrived at Massacre, and Father La Vente chose to take that vessel, instead, for the first leg of his return to France.  The ship departed on June 21, carrying not only the priest but also a message to the Minister in which Bienville took one last opportunity to traduce not only the former curé but also the Paris Seminary from which he had come.  With Father Davion no longer among the Tunica, Bienville informed the Minister, "the Foreign Missions do not have a single missionary in all this country."  Only three priests remained at Mobile--Seminarian Father Davion, who was unhappy with his new role as Mobile's pastor and preferred to return to his Indians, and young Seminarians Huvé and Le Maire, who longed to return to France.152

Another epidemic struck Mobile during the summer, and dysentery struck again in early winter.  Few of the colonists died, but they buried a ghastly number of Indian slaves, especially children.153

And then, in the eyes of the co-commandants, there was that other plague, in human form, that just would not go away.  After his friend La Vente quit the colony, Commissary La Salle stood virtually alone against the hated Bienville, but he did not stand silently.  In May and June he fired off letters to the Minister detailing more complaints against Bienville.  The Minister, having chosen the commander's replacement, was weary of the controversy, but he nonetheless "... believed (or was trying desperately to believe) the worst" about Bienville.  He pushed Dartaguiette to dig farther into Bienville's actions, hoping to learn of new evidence or catch the commander off guard and finally be done with him and his brothers.  By 1710, however, the Minister could see in Dartaguiette's dispatches that Bienville had won him over.  Dartaguiette had found more evidence of Iberville's wrongdoing, but he insisted that La Salle's charges against Bienville had no merit, that the younger Le Moyne "'works without ceasing in order to place this fort in a state of preparedness.'"154

Having lingered in the colony for two and a half years, Dartaguiette asked the Minister for permission to return to France so that he could report to him in person.  The Minister might not welcome what the young nobleman would have to say about Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville:  "If Bienville was a sloven civil administrator, if he were an erratic military leader, if he were contentious, overweening, opportunistic, even a petty thief, did it matter so much under such conditions" as the colony had been enduring?  "He could also be decisive, inventive, even inspirational.  He was, with all his faults, a leader and the man in whom at least a majority of the able-bodied inhabitants still had the most confidence.  More important, he commanded the undying respect of the two most influential groups in lower Louisiana--the Canadians and the Indians."  On the other hand, his chief detractor, Dartaguiette could testify, was little more than a whining, overpaid clerk whose incessant complaints were doing no good for the colony.  Hearing this, the Minister could rest assured that the new governor he had appointed would take up the question of Bienville's competence, and perhaps this investigator would not succumb to the clever Le Moyne's considerable charms.155

No matter, La Salle, like La Vente, had to go.  By the time he had appointed Louisiana's new governor, the Minister had determined, for the sake of the colony, to replace the prickly commissary.  He consulted Michel Bégon, the intendant of New France, for La Salle's replacement.  Evidently Bégon recommended one Sieur Jamin, who would go to Mobile "as a scrivener" aboard the Renommée.  The Minister, again, would defer to Dartaguiette about replacing La Salle with the scrivener.156 

But fate chose another, darker path for the long-suffering commissary.  In early December, La Salle's second wife, Jean-Catherine, died after a short illness, probably of influenza; his first wife, Madeleine, who had come with him to colony in 1702, had died eight years before.  Two years after Madeleine's death, he had lost his five-year-old son François.  Next, he lost his first son by his second wife, and then his only daughter in 1709.  "Yet, for the La Salle children, the worst was not over...."  La Salle himself contracted influenza, could not shake off the malady, and died on December 31, probably in his late 40s.  The Renommée, by then, was on its way to Louisiana, the first resupply in nearly three years.  The ship also was carrying orders for Nicolas de La Salle to return to France with his family and possessions.157

Despite the pitiful sight of La Salle's five orphaned sons, ranging in age from 17 to 2, Bienville must have breathed a sigh of relief each time he contemplated the commissary's death.  No man had done more to deny him promotion, but, in the colony at least, La Salle was the last of his influential enemies to stand in his way.  La Salle's successor as commissary, Christophe Poirier, "would present no special problem."  The three Seminarians, none of whom cared much for him, did not, like La Vente, have powerful friends in France.  Hotheads like René Boyer and Guillaume Boutin he would see to in due time.  Dartaguiette would soon be gone, but he had become not an enemy but a treasured friend.  Ironically, "As the new year began, Bienville could look forward to closer co-operation from his officials than at any time since the spring of 1702.  Perhaps, he hoped, the next ship from France would bring news of a promotion, an increase in salary, a cross of Saint-Louis--perhaps even the governorship itself."158


During the early autumn of 1710, while the colonists at Mobile waited impatiently for a resupply that was more than a year overdue, at Port-Royal in faraway Acadia momentous events were about to change the history of that colony.  On September 24, New English General Francis Nicholson, at the head of 4,000 militiamen, Royal Marines, and Iroquois, sailed into the entrance of Port-Royal basin and landed his forces unopposed the following day.  After a desultory bombardment of the dilapidated old fort in the middle of the Acadian capital, the French governor, Daniel d'Auger de Subercase, asked Nicholson for terms.  Once more the golden Bourbon lilies came fluttering down the old fort's flagstaff, and the red-white-and-blue Union Jack went slowly up the pole as the victorious New Englanders drank to the health of their Queen.  No one could know it, but the fleurs-de-lis would never fly over Port-Royal again.  The conquerors even threw away the old capital's name; now it would be called Annapolis Royal.


As 1710 gave way to 1711 and the colony approached its thirteenth year, Louisiana was worse off than ever.  The promised resupply still had not come and soon would be two years late.  The third Mississippi wheat crop, this one up at Natchez, failed as miserably as the two on Bayou St.-Jean.  Food, clothing, trade goods, all were in short supply.  Dartaguiette was so embarrassed by the rag-tag appearance of the colony's soldiers that he suggested taking a delegation of local chiefs on a boat ride to Havana so that they could see the power and glory of  French and Spanish arms.  What the Indians saw at Fort Louis and Pensacola could only make them pity the hapless white men.  With the continuing shortage of marriageable French women in the colony--only one shipment of them had come, on the Pélican, over half a dozen years before--the single Canadians reverted to their old coureur-des-bois habits, and "libertinism" became the rule, not the exception, in the colony.159

As another new year dawned, the King and the Minister seemed to be so focused on the lingering war against Britain that they had lost all interest in the Gulf Coast colony.  Officials in faraway Canada, even if they could help, probably would not bother.  Nor had supplies come from fellow Frenchmen at St.-Domingue and Martinique, who certainly had to know of Mobile's pressing needs.  Only the Spanish at Havana, Veracruz, and especially Pensacola seemed to care if Mobile lived or died:  "The Carolinians had for the moment driven the two Latin posts into each other's arms."160 

Pensacola, in such pitiful condition three years before, had not only survived but seemed to be thriving.  After the bloody siege of 1707, Spanish officials in Mexico and Cuba awakened to the necessity of sustaining the stricken outpost lest they lose "'the finest natural port on the gulf.'"  Reinforcements, resupplies, and, for the first time, families had revived the Spanish outpost by 1710.  Bienville, remembering all the help he had given Pensacola over the years, expected a helping hand in return.  Ominously, though, Spanish attitude towards the French seemed to have cooled somewhat.  Unlike Arriola, Martínez, and Moscoso, the current governor, Joseph de Guzmán, seemed less inclined to aid the French, though Mobile was in as pitiable a condition now as Pensacola had been a few years before.  Perhaps Guzmán was still embarrassed by the Apalache having abandoned Pensacola and gone over to the French back in 1704, while Guzmán was commanding at Fort San Carlos.  In September 1705, it was Guzmán who had attempted to salvage the French privateer St.-Antoine, driven aground near Massacre Island, but Châteauguay and his Canadians boarded the vessel instead.  It was Guzmán who insisted that the boundary between Mobile and Pensacola lay along the Mobile, not the Perdido, River and who was told by the viceroy to let the matter alone.  Evidently the governor was still fuming over Dartaguiette's refusal to lend him Mobile's only sea-going vessel back in August 1709.  Hoping to smooth relations with his erstwhile allies, Bienville invited Guzmán and his officers to visit Mobile, and the Spaniards complied the following January.  Bienville managed to finesse a supply of gunpowder from the governor, again on credit, and reassured him that he would not stand in the way of the Apalache returning to Pensacola, as long as force was not employed (though he was certain they would not go).  After Guzmán's visit, relations between the allies seemed normal again.  Bienville and Dartaguiette could not know it, but in the same month that the Minister of Marine appointed Cadillac as governor of Louisiana--May 1710--the Spanish court appointed a new viceroy for New Spain, Fernando de Alencastre, Duque de Linarès, and a new governor for Pensacoa, Captain Gregorio de Salinas y Varona.  The viceroy would take his seat at Mexico City in November 1710, but the new Pensacola governor would take years to settle his affairs in Guatemala and move on to his new post.  Most significantly, the appointments signaled a harder line in Spanish royal policy, especially over questions of boundary lines and the enforcement of mercantilist decrees.161

By December 1710, the resupply still had not come, and the co-commandants had to concoct a desperate scheme to feed the colony:  "should a merchant ship arrive from Martinique or Cap-français they would purchase the entire shipload on credit, then attempt to sell or trade the merchandise at Veracruz for supplies for the colony; this is, provided the ship's captain were willing to hire his vessel out for the voyage."  They could not use force, only persuasion, to pull off the scheme.  And, like the angler, they must be patient.162

Their opportunity came in January 1711, when the bilander Profond out of Fort St.-Pierre, Martinique, appeared at Massacre Island.  The ship's captain, Jean Béranger, seeing profit in the proposal, agreed to it, but only if Bienville offered his personal guarantee that he would reimburse the captain and the ship's owner in Martinique if the Veracruz officials seized the cargo.  Bienville, despite all that accusations of profiteering against him, had nothing except his 1,200-piastre annual salary to back up a cargo worth 10,747 livres.  Dartaguiette stepped forward and offered his personal guarantee, not imagining that the Spanish would do such a thing and that his King would not stand behind his own colony.  While some of the wealthier colonists bought small items from the ship's cargo, Bienville and Dartaguiette penned a message to the viceroy detailing their proposal.  Béranger set sail for Veracruz on February 10 and reached the Mexican port on March 4.  The scheme soon unraveled.  Veracruz officials notified the new viceroy of the arrival of the French vessel and Bienville's proposal.  In an oily message filled with soft words and kind sentiments, Linarès informed the French commander that he had no choice but to obey the "specific orders of the King, my master, which I found to absolutely prohibit any commerce in foreign merchandise...."  The viceroy had no choice but to order the Veracruz officials to confiscate the cargo.  Aware, however, of the Louisiana colony's serious predicament, he would order the governor of Veracruz "to send you immediately and by the same ship at least the flour and foodstuffs for which you are asking."  He offered to supply them more food if they needed it and welcomed them to apply to the Courts at Madrid and Paris for restitution of the confiscated merchandise.  He also ordered the governor of Veracruz to send Bienville a small gift "to demonstrate the esteem I hold for your fine qualities and for all that concerns France."163

The officials at Veracruz took their time unloading the confiscated cargo.  When the Profond finally returned to Massacre Island in June, all the colony had to show for their efforts was a hundred barrels of flour.  The resupply still had not arrived, so the colony was not in much better shape than when the Profond had left for Veracruz in late February.  Bienville was anger and perplexed over what the new viceroy had done to them.  Dartaguiette, who had the most the lose in the venture, proclaimed that he was "ruined."  Both sent hard-worded messages to the Minister in France.  Both expressed their astonishment at what they considered nothing less than Spanish perfidy.  But messages were not enough.  Fearing that the resupply ship had been lost or captured (the war against Britain was in its ninth year), Bienville and Dartaguiette resolved to charter a vessel that would take one of them to France to plead to the Minister and King in person.164

They could not know it, but the resupply ship had been neither lost nor captured.  Its gross tardiness was the result of indifference on the part of French officials, high and low, the hopes and schemes of a wealthy French merchant, and the usual bureaucratic delays.  The Minister had not begun preparations for the next resupply until April 1709, more than a year after Dartaguiette and the previous load of provisions had reached Port Massacre.  By then, he had turned the business over to merchant and former privateer Antoine-Alexandre de Rémonville, sieur de Rochebonne.  Now that Iberville was dead and the Le Moynes discredited, Rémonville was scheming to become the new governor of Louisiana, which he believed held "commercial possibilities."  By summer, Rémonville assured the Minister, who notified Bienville, that the Renommée shortly would be on its way.  The report was much too optimistic.  Rémonville soon realized that he could not afford to bear the full expense of the voyage, and the Minister, with the war against Britain still raging, insisted that the Crown had no funds to spare.  Both turned to the merchants of La Rochelle, who saw nothing in it for them.  "The primary objective of the voyage," in the Minister's view, "was to assist an impoverished colony and since most of the supplies aboard ship were destined for that purpose it did not leave a great deal of opportunity for private profit."  But the Minister also was concerned about the drain on the royal treasury.  As the ship was being outfitted, the Minister "haggled over the number of persons to be sent [to] Louisiana with rations, 'the food being too expensive to allow his Majesty to supply a large number,' and ordered the passenger's food cut back from a ration and a half to one ration only."164a

The Renommée still had not sailed by the end of the year; in February 1710, it would be two full years since the colony had been replenished.  Rémonville did what he could to secure partners in the venture, and in May 1710 the Renommée appeared ready to sail.  By then, however, Rémonville's funds had run out--he could not even pay the waiting ship's crew.  This eliminated him as a possible successor to Daneau du Muy, and the Minister appointed Cadillac to the post.  Rémonville, deep in debt, refused to give up and found a partner from Tonnay-Charente would help fund the voyage, or at least provide for the ship's crew.  Rémonville was compelled to hire a new crew, and the Renommée needing a thorough refitting.  To save more expense, Rémonville chose to captain the ship himself, though his experience in oceanic navigation was limited.  The Court provided him with a competent navigator, Maximien Tivas de Gourville, as well as a shipboard council.  More months were devoted to finding officers for the ship as well as passengers, including former inhabitants who wished to return to Mobile.  One of them was François Philippe de Mandeville, whom Bienville and Dartaguiette had sent to France via St.-Domingue in the fall of 1708 to plead the colony's case.  Another passenger would be François Juchereau de Vaulezard, whose company of infantry had been stationed at Mobile for half a dozen years but who had not bothered to go there to command his own men.  Several families would try their luck in the colony, but the number of artisans that Bienville and Dartaguiette had requested would be limited by the Minister's lack of funds to feed them on the voyage.  The outfitting of the Renommée suffered the usual delays, so the vessel was still not ready to sail in the summer of 1710--nearly two and a half years since the last resupply.  In late September, the Minister informed the new intendant of Rochefort, François de Beauharnois de La Chaussaye, Baron de Beauville, that the Renommée was about to sail, but a month later the ship still floated at anchor at La Rochelle.  By then, Vaulezard was refusing to board the vessel; despite his orders, he was determined to remain in France.  Captain Rémonville became ill, and it was discovered that there was not enough room aboard the ship for two dozen new recruits being sent from La Rochelle to Fort Louis.  The Minister urged Intendant Beauharnois to hurry things along.

In early December 1710--only a few months shy of three years since the last resupply--the Renommée finally set sail, accompanied by the merchant ship Agathe.  But only a fraction of the new recruits left La Rochelle, and Juchereau de Vaulezard again had refused to board.  Despite the unconscionable delays in France, Rémonville, a merchant above all else, did not follow the usual route to Cap-Français.  The flotilla stopped in several Spanish mainland ports, including La Coruna, with the usual delays in each of the ports, before crossing the North Atlantic.  Rémonville was a privateer as well as a merchant, master, now, of a powerful French frigate of the "4ème rang."  He captured several prizes on the Atlantic crossing and did not reach the French West Indies until April 1711, more than three years since the last resupply of Mobile.  One of the prizes, the Catherine, he refitted at Fort Royal, Martinique, to sell to the colonists at Mobile.  Meanwhile, the captain fought bitterly with some of his officers and passengers.  Navigator Tivas de Gourville excoriated the captain for the many delays since they had left La Rochelle nearly half a year before.  Through the summer, the Renommée lay at anchor in the port at Fort Royal while the colonists at Mobile waited desperately for her arrival.165


By then, Bienville and Dartaguiette had made a momentous decision that must have sent Nicolas de La Salle spinning in his grave.  

As 1710 gave way to a new year, the Louisiana colony could boast only one successful settlement in its prodigious expanse, and it was not Fort Louis-de-la-Louisiane.  Massacre Island had received its name in 1699 during Iberville's first exploration of the coast.  Nothing was done on the island until early 1702, when the commandant, back from another sojourn in France, decided to abandon Biloxi and build a new fort on the Mobile River.  At first, only a warehouse and a few huts stood on the island, at its eastern end, near what became Port Massacre.  No plans were made at first for the island's settlement, so only a warehouseman and a handful of soldiers occupied the wind-swept place.  The commandant and then the commander understood the island's vulnerability if a full-blown hurricane slammed into that part of the coast.  Port Massacre was essential to the colony's existence, but not the island itself. 

After Fort Louis proved to be a poorly chosen site for agricultural development, some of the colonists relocated to Massacre to try their hand at growing things in the island's sandy soil.  A hamlet soon emerged "near the seashore ..., a long unvaried line of houses" facing a lagoon.  The settlement's pilot, Simon Coussot, lived there with his wife and family, as did Jean Roy, now off the King's payroll, and his family.  They soon were joined by anti-Bienvillists Jacques Allemand and Guillaume Boutin and their families, Boutin having moved down from his habitation at Fowl River.  Each attempted to raise enough poultry and vegetables not only to feed themselves and their families but also to trade with Fort Louis and Pensacola and generate a predictable income to replace what the King had given them.  Still on the island but not living at the village was François Guillory, also a Canadian formerly on the King's payroll.  The most important official living on the island was warehousekeeper François Guyon Des Prés Derbanne, also a former Canadian voyageur.  Derbanne had important family connections back in Canada; he was, in fact, first cousin of Marie-Thérèse Guyon, wife of Antoine la Mothe de Cadillac.  On Massacre, Derbanne took up with his Chitimacha slave, Jeanne de la Grande Terre, and she gave him a bastard son, Jean-Baptiste, whom Father Le Maire agreed to baptize on one of his pastoral visits to the island.  Derbanne later married his Indian concubine, and Jean-Baptiste Derbanne was a bastard no more. 

The most important settler on the island, however, was Canadian-voyageur-turned-merchant Jean-Baptiste Baudreau dit Graveline.  After returning to France, purchasing his own vessel, and taking it twice to Mobile to trade with his former neighbors, he and his partners had sold their Marguerite to Bienville and Dartaguiette.  Graveline then took up residence on the island with his wife Suzanne, who soon gave birth to their son, Jean-Baptiste, fils.  In his investigations of the island's possibilities for commercial development, Graveline had discovered a fine place "less than two miles to the northwest of the warehouse near the edge of a large, logy[sic] inlet (today called Graveline Bay) where the grasslands were abundant."  Here, with a fine bull he had purchased in Havana, he raised cattle as well as vegetables for the regional market.  At the cost of 2,000 livres, he constructed a two-story dwelling in the Canadian style--"'the finest private home in the colony.'"  Graveline's wife, who he had married in La Rochelle between his commercial ventures, was a Huguenot; and not the only one in the colony.  Unlike the other Protestants in Louisiana, however, she did not go about her business unobtrusively.  She refused to hide her religious affiliation and even instructed her servants in the Calvinist faith.  If the Seminarian priests were aware of Suzanne Baudreau's religion, they troubled no one about it; one can only imagine how Jesuits would have treated a loud-mouthed heretic female living in their colony.  Also growing cattle on the island, but on a smaller scale, was Canadian André Renaud and his young son François, who also raised poultry and vegetables.166

By mid-1710, Bienville, Dartaguiette, and Commissary La Salle agreed that Massacre Island had become "a fairly prosperous settlement" and that something needed to be done to protect the inhabitants there.  For years, first Iberville and La Salle, then Bienville, and now Dartaguiette, had lobbied the Minister for funds to construct a proper fort on the island.  The Minister had not trusted Bienville's judgment in the matter, fearing that this Le Moyne, too, as La Salle was warning, also might mishandle royal funds, but now the trusted Dartaguiette was urging the project.  Typical bureaucrat that he was, the Minister deferred the decision to the colony's new governor, who he naively thought would soon be there to settle the matter.  By late summer of 1710, unfortunately, there still was no fort, no cannon, no soldier, protecting Massacre Island.167

And then disaster struck the colony again, this time at the island.  On September 9, a brigantine appeared off shore, flying the French fleurs-de-lis.  The inhabitants gathered together and watched the ship, which soon fired two cannon shots.  The settlers feared that the vessel was in distress, perhaps lodged on a sand bar off Pelican Island, and was signaling for help.  Eventually, two ship's boats made their way to the beach, which they reached in half an hour.  Two Frenchmen stepped ashore and convinced warehouse keeper Derbanne and the lieutenant on duty, Philippe Blondel, to return with them to the ship.  Aboard the vessel, the two officers quickly realized their mistake--this was no French merchantman but a British corsair out of Jamaica under a Huguenot captain who had once visited the island on a merchantman out of Martinique.  The captain held Derbanne and Blondel as hostages while 30 or 40 of his heavily-armed pirates jumped into rowboats and hurried back to shore.  Still possessing the element of surprise, they took Port Massacre without firing a shot; none of the villagers escaped to alert the fort.  The following day, the pirates brought Derbanne and Blondel back to the island because the warehouseman was the only person who knew the location of the warehouse key.  Having herded the inhabitants and the officers into one of the houses, the pirates spent the next two days loading the booty into their rowboats and transporting it back to their ship.  Among the things they took was a supply of 71 barrels of flour that the colony could ill afford to lose.  At the end of the third day, having loaded everything of value that they could find, not only from the warehouse but from the houses and barns, the looters tortured the inhabitants who seemed affluent enough to possess cash or small valuable, and then they set fire to the warehouse, the barns, and all the houses except the one in which the held the captives.  The pirates then hurried back to their boats, satisfied that they had stripped the island bare.  Unfortunately for them, a Canadian voyageur had come to the island to visit his friend, André Renaud, who lived with his son away from the village .  The visitor noticed the flames, hurried to the village, encountered a looter still looking for something to steal, and shot him dead.  The departing pirates heard the shot, paused for a moment, then, suspecting that a relief force had reached the island, rowed like demons back to their ship.  As darkness fell, Blondel sent two men in a canoe to alert the fort (several days' travel away), and the inhabitants hurried back to the beach, hoping to see the brigantine hoist its anchor and sail away.  The following morning, however, the inhabitants noticed that the ship had not departed but had moved to another part of the island, near the homestead of François Guillory.  Some of the islanders had noticed two days before that the looters had shown interest in Graveline's grazing cattle, especially his prized Spanish bull.  The pirates, meanwhile, having realized that one of their men was missing, showed every sign of caution as they maneuvered off the island.  To test whatever force might be waiting for them there, a boatload of pirates rowed to Pointe-â-Guillory, where Graveline, Guillory, and Renaud, whose outlying homes had escaped the pillaging, waited in ambush with Lieutenant Blondel and the visiting Canadian.  When a small party of pirates came ashore, Blondel and the Canadians opened fire from different positions.  The pirates took cover behind their boat, allowing the Canadians to move to other positions before continuing a steady fire.  Fooled into believing that a relief force had reached the island, the Jamaicans hoisted sail and hurried out to sea, leaving their fellows to the mercy of the islanders.168

Graveline's and Renaud's cattle, at least, were safe from the pirates, but the precious contents of the warehouse, the warehouse itself, and most of the island's buildings were a total loss.  Derbanne and the others began immediately to rebuild their dwellings, but now they, too, would be dependent on the colony's meager resources, made even smaller by a single ship from faraway Jamaica.  Every colonist who cared had to be astonished by how easily the Jamaicans had made off with their possessions.  What more could plague these hungry, weary colonists?  Bienville and Dartaguiette could count the ways:  Many of the soldiers, having heard that the English had ordered their Indian allies not to torture or burn Frenchmen, were slipping away from the fort and heading to Carolina.  Even if an inhabitant bothered to plant some food, there was no guarantee it would grow in this accursed place, or that the land on which it was grown belonged to him who grew it, or that the harvest might not be confiscated for the good of the colony.  Some colonists planted maize, but only out of necessity.  It was the rare Frenchman, or even a Canadian, who could stomach the taste of Indian corn.  A rumor had reached Louisiana that the King was searching for a private investor to hand over the colony.  Another rumor insisted that the colony would soon be abandoned.  The most persistent rumor, likely applauded by Commissary La Salle, was that the town would soon be moved to another location.169

And so it happened. 

Bienville fought the idea of moving the fort to another part of the bay from the moment its proponents introduced it.  None of them had the courage to beard Iberville about it during the few weeks he had spent there, but after the commandant's death in July 1704, first La Salle and then La Vente, who cared little for Bienville's leadership, agitated for the move with other disgruntled colonists who saw the place for what it was.  Bienville did not stand in the way when a hand full of Canadians, unhappy with the site, moved to other points along the bay.  In fact, after being forced to remove his Canadians from the King's payroll, he encouraged more such moves, especially to Massacre Island.  The soldiers, however, along with the colony's officials, must remain at the fort, and most of the residents, for reasons of their own, chose to remain there.  Bienville clung tenaciously to his brother's reasoning behind locating the fort so far upriver:  it was closer to the major tribes of the region which the French must win over; and, when the colony reached self-sustainability, it would become the center of a burgeoning plantation economy up and down the Mobile River.  Even after Mother Nature revealed that the site was poorly drained, something Bienville himself had not understood when he, Sérigny, and Levasseur had recommended the place to Iberville, Bienville refused to budge.  The rebuilding of the fort in 1708 with Dartaguiette's approbation was a certain sign that Bienville would not be moved.  But here it was, only two years later, and the fort was rotting away again.  The fort--a fort--would have to be rebuilt.  Advocates of the move, including Dartaguiette, who had never thought much of the site, used this circumstance to recommend a relocation, but Bienville would not be moved.

Then came the attack on Massacre Island in September 1710.  The port there was just as important to the colony as Bienville's upriver fort.  Would the Crown grant the wherewithal to build two forts--the old one upriver, and a new one at Massacre?  Would the Crown send another company of soldiers to man the fort at Massacre?  No wonders a rumor would circulating that the colony might be abandoned.  Look how long it took the Crown to provide the money and manpower to rebuild the old fort, and now the colony needed a second one that would cost even more.  The new year had come, and the expected resupply was now two years late.  What disaster could befall them next?  Could Bienville be moved?

Mother Nature again stepped in and washed away--almost literally--Bienville's arguments for rebuilding his brother's fort.  In April, the spring rains came and continued into May, more rain than the older residents had ever witnessed in the region.  So much rain fell that it kept "... swelling the little creek that ran behind and to the northwest of the fort; the overflowing waters, unable to escape, glutted the low places behind the bluff on which the fort stood.  By the end of the first week in May they had risen even higher than had the waters of 1707 and 1710.  Nearly two-thirds of the houses were completely flooded."  Dartaguiette was appalled by what he witnessed.  "'The waters have risen so greatly this spring, and with so much force,'" he informed the Minister, "'that most of the houses in this village were submerged to the ridgepole in five or six days; this lasted almost a month.'"  The inhabitants complained bitterly, not to Bienville but to Dartaguiette this time.  They knew that the younger co-commandant retained the ear of the older commander.  Perhaps through the sensible Dartaguiette they could convince the stubborn Bienville to abandon this accursed place.170

Bienville finally relented, but not without insisting that he had been considering the move since the flooding of the year before, which had destroyed the pitiful maize crop some of the colonists had planted.  However, he argued, he did not possess the power, nor the permission, to make a momentous decision such as relocating a fort.  Dartaguiette was ready for such an argument.  First, he informed Bienville, he knew the Minister's intent, as found in the discretionary orders given to Daneau du Muy.  Secondly, in the case of emergency it was essential for a leader to use his own discretion in making such decisions.  Bienville, as well as Dartaguiette, possessed that discretion.  The correct decision was clear:  the fort must be moved. 171

The decision made, Bienville's moved immediately to implement the move.  First, the port at Massacre must be fortified, which would be done as soon as the resupply arrived there.  As to the best site for a new town, there was only one wise choice:  the Oignonets at the mouth of the Mobile River.  By mid-May, the co-commandants and a coterie of important officers--Châteauguay, Boisbriant, and Jacques Barbarzant de Pailloux, who had engineering experience --had journeyed down to the new town site to inspect it carefully.  The new site was some eight leagues, or 26 miles, below Fort Louis, "near the vicinity where in 1700[sic] Charles Levasseur had planted his cross."  Their inspection was revealing:  "The land there was sandy, the soil not much different in fertility than the land at the present site.  Moreover, the water was more brackish.  Yet overall it was a site much more desirable for a large town.  Though the small bluff back from the marsh along the riverbank was only half as high as the bluff on which Fort Louis stood, the plateau behind it was broad and expansive, extending several miles into the woods.  What was of greater importance, the new site did not seem likely to suffer from poor drainage and in fact those who were familiar with the area over a long period of time (the Mobilians and the Little Tomeh) had never known it to overflow."172 

The site already was occupied, another testament to its qualities.  A few hundred yards to the north of the chosen town site stood the village of the Chato, an Apalache tribe who Bienville had given permission to settle there in the summer of 1704.  Since their village now would lay too close to the town site, Bienville decided that the trusty Chato should move south to Dog River, their village to stand three quarters of a league above the site of the old warehouse where the river flowed into Mobile Bay.  Another Apalache tribe, the Talimali, who, like the Chato, had been granted permission to live near the French in the summer of 1704, would move from their present site on the river between the Little Tomeh village and Fort Louis to a new site along the south bank of Rivière St.-Martin, today's Chickasaw Creek, just above the new town site.  Bienville had used Talimali labor to rebuild Fort Louis in 1708 and hoped to use them to help construct the new fort at the Oignonets.  Bienville would ask--he could not order--the Mobilians to abandon their ancient village at the fork of the Mobile and Tensas rivers and move downriver to a bluff just north of Fort Louis.172a

The site also was occupied by former residents of Fort Louis.  Three quarters of a league south of where the town would be rebuilt stood a small settlement of Canadians who had moved there in 1706.  The pioneer of the little settlement was Pierre-René Leboeuf, who had come to the colony with Iberville in 1701 and had remained on the King's payroll for five years.  He took with him to the Oignonets his Taensa slave, Marguerite, who soon would be baptized by Father Huvé; a year after her baptism, he would marry her, and a year after that she would give him a son they named Claude.  Leboeuf had been joined by Gilbert Dardenne, with his wife Marguerite Burelle, one of the Pélican girls, and their three children; Claude Parent, a master edge-tool maker from Québec; and Charles Rochon of Québec, a widower, who came there with a son and a man named Marchand in 1708.  Being Canadians, they would not be required to move their homes.  Bienville and Dartaguiette interviewed the Canadians at length to learn what they could about the characteristics of the new site.173

After their inspection, Bienville and Dartaguiette left the site in charge of Barbazant de Pailloux, who would lay out the town as he had been instructed.  The new fort would stand "just back from the edge of the marsh on the first rise of ground.  The town was to be more regularly shaped than the old town.  Except for larger lots given to Bienville and the seminary priests, the new assignments were all practically the same size--approximately 80 by 160 feet, or about the size of some of the smaller lots at the old site...."174

The colonists back at Old Mobile were thrilled by the new development, especially with Bienville's decision that the move be made immediately.  Thanks to the spring floods, there was no crop to abandon; it was too late in the year for a replanting at the new site, so the inhabitants would be able to devote their time to building their new dwellings.  Thanks to the Chato having lived near the new site for so many years, much of it already was cleared.  The new site was not a great distance away, and the movement from the old site would be downriver thankfully.  But therein lay the biggest problem in the move--the means of transportation.  The colony still had its flatboat, with its impressive cargo capacity, but, the French social order being what it was, the flatboat was reserved for the officials and the officers; the other inhabitants would have to provide their own transportation and labor.  They could always move their belongings on the old Indian path down the river, but it was seldom used and required several annoying stream crossings.  The river route always was more efficient if a reliable craft could be secured.  The clever Frenchmen and Canadians soon realized that it would be "more feasible to disassemble their houses, float them down to the new site, then reassemble them there than to fell and hew new timbers."  Some of the inhabitants owned their own canoes and pirogues and put them to good use as soon as they could.  From late May through June and into the heat of July, the inhabitants filled the river with their pirogues and canoes, some, heavily loaded, moving downriver, others, now empty, returning upstream.  By the third week of July "nearly half of the inhabitants had succeeded in transferring their dismantled dwellings," and Bienville could report to the Minister that New Mobile slowly but surely was being built.175

Only the inhabitants moved down to New Mobile in the summer of 1711.  Until a new fort could be built, the soldiers must remain at dilapidated Fort Louis.  The three priests left in the colony, all Seminarians, no longer would be living in one place.  Father Davion would have to follow his congregation to New Mobile, where he purchased an already existing dwelling, part of a duplex, next to Charles Rochon.  Father Huvé would move down to Massacre Island and minister there.  Father Le Maire, still the fort's chaplain, would have to remain at Fort Louis for now.176

Also remaining at the fort was a delegation of some 20 or 30 Chickasaw, who had come down to receive gifts from the French.  The resupply had not yet come, so Bienville and Dartaguiette had nothing to give.  The Chickasaw reminded Bienville that he had not built the fortified trading post he had promised them years ago, nor had he given them any presents for quite some time.  Bienville was perfectly aware of these failings.  He would report to the Minister in October that the French had given to their Indian allies 10,000 livres in presents over the previous ten years, while the English had been able to give their allies 300,000 livres worth of presents!  The Carolina traders were telling the Indians in the region that the French were a dying nation, that they were "merely the remnants of a civilization that the English had already virtually destroyed."  The English then persuaded a village of Chickasaw to attack a Choctaw village, and now Bienville would have to use presents to coax the Choctaw into choosing peace over war.  But none of this could be done until the resupply arrived.  By the end of July, Bienville also was wondering if the rumor about the Renommée's capture was true.  If it was true, it might be many more years before they saw another ship from France, certainly not until the war ended, a war now nine years long.  Such a circumstance could lead to only one conclusion:  abandonment of the Louisiana colony.177

The resupply by then was two and a half years late, so something must be done.  On July 29, Bienville sent Barbazant de Pailloux to Veracruz to finesse what he could from the authorities there.  With luck, the new viceroy would feel compassion for his starving Bourbon allies.  Meanwhile, Bienville worked out a system of precise signals--using gunshots and smoke in an unbroken relay from one point to another along the bay's west shore--to alert New Mobile of either friend or foe arriving at Port Massacre.  If the relay worked, Bienville could be apprised of a vessel's approach in less than an hour.  If the new arrival was foe, he could dispatch a relief force to the island that very day.  If friend, the inhabitants could hurry down to Port Massacre to welcome the ship.178

Finally, in early September, gunshots rang out from the north shore of Massacre Island, 30 miles south of New Mobile, announcing the arrival of a most welcome visitor.  Vincent Alexandre, who owned the first house on the mainland above the island, relayed the message to Nicolas Bodin, who sent the signal to Guillaume Boutin, who alerted the village of Yamasee, who notified the Chato on Dog River, who signaled Charles Rochon, who alerted Claude Parent, and when his shots were heard by the residents of New Mobile, many of them hurried out of their dwellings, which were in various stages of reconstruction, and they cheered and danced happily in the sandy streets.  Officials, including Bienville, and many of the colonists rushed to their boats and paddled furiously down the bay shore to Massacre Island and then along the north shore of the island around to Port Massacre.  There, at anchor, floated the Renommée, at the end of its fourth--and final--voyage to Louisiana.179

Bienville hurried aboard and was greeted by Captain Rémonville, who he likely did not know, and a number of officers he knew quite well.  Mandeville was back, and Canadian Louis Bécart de Granville, who had lived briefly at Old Mobile in 1702.  Engineer Guillaume-Philbert Chevillot, who had come to help with construction of fortifications, was a new face to Bienville.  But where was Vaulezard, and nephew Jacques Le Moyne de Ste.-Hélène, fils, son of one of his older brothers?  Bienville learned that Ste.-Hélène was accompanying the Renommée in a smaller vessel from Martinique, had become separated in a storm, and was feared lost.  As to Vaulezard, he, too, was lost to the colony, so Rémonville offered the services of Bécart de Granville to command Vauzelard's company, to which Bienville consented.180

Elation at seeing brother Iberville's old ship, greeting old friends, and meeting new ones, gave way to disappointment when Bienville was apprised of what the ship had brought.  The resupply was much smaller than he had expected, especially the load of flour.  Much of the merchandise had been damaged from poor packing.  The soldiers' new uniforms were stained with rust from having been carelessly packed in kegs of iron nails.  Most disappointing, Rémonville had brought no specie with which to pay off the Canadians and other inhabitants to whom the King's account owed money.  But there also were things to cheer about.  The captured Catherine would be left with the colony to supplement the Marguerite and Le Roux's flat bottom barge--Bienville now had three ships again, two of them that could sail anywhere in the Gulf.  Rémonville offered the colony flour and other merchandise from his own store of supplies, which Bienville gladly accepted.  The captain also agreed to help finance the building of a church at New Mobile, handing over half of what he had pledged.  Most significantly, the fact that the resupply was here, despite its being two and a half years late, demonstrated that the King and the Minister still cherished the colony.  Here was a sign that the Louisiana experiment would not be abandoned, that Bienville and the others could go on with their efforts of building a new settlement on Mobile Bay.181

While the supplies were being loaded into the rebuilt warehouse on Massacre Island, Barbazant de Pailloux returned from Veracruz with more supplies, mostly much-needed food.  Most of the gunpowder unloaded from the Renommée was destined for Pensacola to repay the Spanish for what they had loaned them, but then nephew Ste.-Hélène arrived after his brush with the storm, and Mobile had a ready supply of powder again.  Bienville gave the Chickasaw chiefs their presents and sent Châteauguay and a handful of men to escort them back home via the Choctaw country, where Châteauguay would explain the move to the new settlement site and do what he could to restore the peace.182

There remained one final task for Bienville to perform before the ship could sail, and it was not a happy one for him.  Dartaguiette had remained in the colony for three and a half years, and in that time, as far as Bienville was concerned, the young nobleman had become not only a friend but also the colony's savior.  Without the young chief commissary of marine, Bienville could not have neutralized the threat to good order posed by La Vente and La Salle as effectively as he did.  Dartaguiette had set the colony's financial records straight and kept them that way.  Bienville could name no one in the colony who did not admire the young nobleman.  When the colony's morale was at its lowest ebb, it was Dartaguiette who had restored confidence in the colony's survival.  More than anyone, he had been responsible for moving the settlement to the mouth of the river, where it had a better chance to thrive.  Before he boarded the Renommée to return to France, Dartaguiette, evidently for the first time, handed to Bienville a copy of Nicolas Daneau de Muy's orders from the Minister, now four years old.  Most of the dead governor's mandates largely had been carried out.  There was, however, one more task that the Minister demanded.  The King had never cared much for the name "Mobile"; it lacked a sense of permanence, so Daneau de Muy had been tasked with renaming the settlement, as well as Massacre Island and Port Massacre.  The two friends decided upon the name "Immobile," first in jest and then as their official proposal.  Renaming the island was easier:  Île Massacre would be called Île Dauphine and Port Massacre Port Dauphine, "both after the new dauphine of France, news of whose recent ascendency had reached Saint-Domingue only shortly before the Renommée left Cap-français for Mobile."  This done, Bienville escorted his friend to Port Dauphine, and, on October 20, Dartaguiette sailed away.183 

Once again, Bienville remained in Louisiana, having come there nearly a dozen years before.  Reading the latest messages from the Minister of Marine, the most recent one dated 2 September 1710, he saw nothing about the appointment of a new governor for the colony, something the Minister had done 16 months before!  Although Rémonville had left La Rochelle seven months after Cadillac had been offered the position, the captain and the others aboard the Renommée had not been apprised of the development.  If Dartaguiette had read of it in his latest dispatches from France, he kept it to himself.  Confident that Dartaguiette's report to the Minister could only help him receive a much-deserved promotion, Bienville could only wait patiently for the King's decision.184 

Bienville and his fellow colonists could not know it but the governor-designee, now back in France, was preparing to work his magic on another powerful patron.  Financier Antoine Crozat, marquis du Châtel, was the Minister's latest hope for relieving the King of his Louisiana burden.  In the months ahead, "Cadillac presented Crozat with memorials which spoke of the gulf colony as a land of immense mineral wealth.  Like the minister of Marine ..., the millionaire entrepreneur could not keep himself from falling under the amazing Gascon's spell."   On 14 September 1712, exactly a year after the Renommée reached Massacre Island, Crozat swallowed the tantalizing bait that the Minister and the governor had dangled before him.  The financier, son of a peasant from Toulouse but now one of the wealthiest men in France, contributed 600,000 to 700,000 livres to a company recently formed "for the development of Louisiana...."  A new chapter was about to be written in the history of the colony, and, again, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, would play a major role in it.185

France in Louisiana:  Bienville and the Company Men, 1713-31

By 1712, the long war with Britain--in its tenth year now--finally was winding to an end.  After months of surreptitious communication, envoys from the contending powers met at Utrecht in Belgium to cobble together another peace.  The first in a series of treaties was signed at the Belgium city in April 1713.  The House of Bourbon retained the throne of Spain.  Britain, the big winner in the long conflict, secured the asciento, long held by Spain, and also French and Spanish territory in the Americas, including peninsula Acadia, which the British called Nova Scotia.  France managed to hang on to Cape Breton Island, off the northeast coast of Nova Scotia, as well as Île St.-Jean, north of Nova Scotia and at the southern end of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  British attacks against San Agústín and Pensacola had been unsuccessful, so Spain kept Florida. 

As for Louisiana, neither the British nor their Indian allies attacked Old or New Mobile or any other French post in the region.  This bode well for French interests in North America:  their policy of containment, first postulated by La Salle in the early 1680s, now could be pursued with vigor.  During the late 1710s, at great expense, the new power in France, Philippe, duc d'Orléans, Regent for the boy King Louis XV, who had succeeded his great-grandfather in 1715, authorized the construction of a fortress at Havre-à-l'Anglois, renamed Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island, renamed Île Royale.  From Louisbourg, a sturdy chain of French fortifications ran from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, with important links at Québec, Trois-Rivières, Montréal, Fort Frontenac, Détroit, Fort St.-Joseph-des-Miami, Michilimackinac, Fort St.-Louis-de-Illinois, Fort Crèvecoeur, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and New Mobile.  Links would soon be added all along the chain, including a new one on the lower Mississippi in 1718.  The Regent and his ministers were dusting off La Salle's old scheme for French dominance of North America, something Iberville also had advocated after founding Louisiana.  "Because this strategic system would restrict the demographically expansive British colonists to the area east of the Appalachians by denying them access to the rivers that permitted trade and travel through the interior of the continent, it held out the promise of rewards beyond America alone.  Once the encirclement was complete, French diplomats reasoned, the British would have to divert so much naval and military strength to protect their colonies that they would be hobbled in Europe."186


By the time the initial Treaty of Utrecht was signed in the spring of 1713, Louisiana was no longer a royal colony.  It now belonged to Antoine Crozat, who received proprietary rights there for 15 years and promised to send two ships a year to "his" colony.  Crozat "saw Louisiana as an investment.  He had been convinced to assume the proprietorship by Cadillac who vaunted the mineral wealth of the region and the potential trade with Spanish colonies, displaying true Gascon eloquence and unabashed mendacity."  In truth, the new governor of Crozat's proprietary colony, as well as the Minister of Marine, had perpetrated on the new proprietor an elaborate fraud.  Had Crozat bothered to send scholar-agents to comb the archives and gather testimony on the real Louisiana since the days of La Salle, the financier may have questioned his investment of 700,000 livres.  After diligent search, Le Seur had found some kind of blue ore near the upper Mississippi, but he discovered no El Dorado on the Minnesota prairie.  No evidence of gold or silver had been found anywhere in Louisiana.  Copper perhaps, but no gold or silver.  In 1708, the French had sent an expedition to the Missouri area in search of mines and found deposits of lead.  More French expeditions searching for precious metals or strategic minerals anywhere near the Spanish domain probably would strain the Bourbon alliance to the breaking point.  As for trade with Mexico, Cuba, and other parts of New Spain, the Spanish Court had not relented in its strict mercantilist policies other than to keep the colonists at Mobile from starving.  Even then, Jean Béranger's experience at Veracruz in March 1711 revealed how tough the Spanish could be if there was any hint of foreign trade at any of their ports.  From before its establishment in 1699, the Spanish had viewed Louisiana as a violation of their long-established territorial claims along the entire Gulf shore.  If La Salle's coastal Texas settlement had survived Indian attack, the Spanish would have ended it soon enough.  They had protested the very presence of Iberville on the Gulf in 1699, and even more so the establishment of fortifications at Biloxi and Old Mobile.  They had tolerated the French presence only because Iberville and the French Court convinced them that their goal was to prevent the hated English from settling in the region.  What would the Spanish now think of a proprietary colony in the midst of their territorial claims, a French colony bent more towards profit than regional defense?187

No matter, the deal was done.  The royal treasury, so depleted by the long continental war, no longer would be burdened by the Louisiana succubus.  To sweeten the deal, Crozat's charter gave him governance not only of lower Louisiana but also of Illinois, which alarmed not only the Spanish but the Canadian colonial hierarchy as well.  Crozat's Company claimed that the Illinois country ran all the way up the Mississippi River as far as Lake Winnipeg!187a 

Having secured not only the governorship but also a proprietor for "his" colony, Cadillac prepared to take his family to New Mobile.  He had naively expected to be Crozat's "principal representative" in the colony, but the Company and the Crown had other plans for Louisiana's administration.  Like Canada, the Gulf Coast colony would continue to function under a "bicephalous administration":  Cadillac would serve as governor and act as a sort of glorified commandant, but there also would be a commissaire-ordonnateur, or authorizing commissioner, not unlike a Canadian intendant, who would administer the colony's finances, supplies, and trade.  Crozat appointed Jean-Baptiste Du Bois Duclos as his ordonnateur.  One of Duclos's functions would be to prevent the governor, or any other colonial official, from enriching himself at the expense of proprietor and King.188 

But what about Bienville, who was still in charge at New Mobile?  Years before, Dartaguiette's investigation had exonerated this Le Moyne of malfeasance and misadministration, so Bienville could not be recalled.  Most importantly, no one knew the colony as well as he did, and, according to Dartaguiette, the Indians respected no one as much as they did Bienville.  So the Minister fashioned a new title for him:  the King's Lieutenant.  He would serve directly under the governor and be responsible for improving relations with the Indians, all the way up into the Illinois country.  

Cadillac and Duclos sailed on the Baron de La Fauche and reached Port Dauphine on 5 June 1713.  The crossing was not a happy one for either of the new officials.  It behooved Cadillac to maintain amicable relations with two men in Louisiana, Duclos and Bienville, but even before he had reached the colony he alienated Crozat's ordonnateur.  During the crossing, Cadillac warned Duclos "that it would be dangerous to quarrel with him because he had a superior mind."  Duclos judged the governor's mind "to be quite mediocre except when his own interests were involved" and noted that Cadillac "was 'very troubled and very restless' and 'the most barefaced liar I had ever seen.'"188a 

Another mishap occurred aboard the Baron de La Fauche, this time a failing of Mme. Cadillac.  "Twelve girls crossed with Cadillac and his wife ..., but improperly supervised by Mme Cadillac, who spent more time quarreling with the officers than watching her wards, the young ladies landed in Louisiana with sadly besmirched reputations.  The Sieur de Richebourg, a colonial captain who crossed on the same ship, a man said to have married two women at the same time and debauched another, seduced some of the girls (some reports say all twelve), as well as Mme Cadillac's maid."  Things only spiraled downward after the ship reached Massacre:  "The worst of it however, was that the poor girls were so unprepossessing, 'si laides et mal faittes,' that after taking one look, the colonial bachelors returned to the words, declaring that all things considered, they preferred Indians.  Du Clos, the ordonnateur who reports this fiasco, suggests that in the future it would behoove recruiters to 'seek looks rather than virtue,' for, he says, the Canadians 'who are all well-built men' are not too 'particular' about the girls' behavior before marriage."188b

As soon as he stepped off the ship at Port Massacre, Cadillac wasted no time alienating Bienville.  The new governor's first impression of New Mobile could not have endeared him to the former commander or to the long-suffering colonists who must now endure his leadership.  "The colony, he informed the Minister, was a 'wretched place' inhabited by 'gallows-birds with no respect for religion and addicted to vice.'"  According to the King's lieutenant, the trouble with the new governor began when the 33-year-old bachelor refused to marry Cadillac's daughter, Marie-Madeleine.  "Thereafter," Bienville complained, Cadillac treated him "like a corporal.  On one occasion the assistant town major paid Bienville a visit to inform him in the governor's name that he was a 'dolt' and a 'fop.'"  Unlike La Salle and La Vente, whom he could overawe with rank and privilege, Bienville was subject to the orders of this strange new administrator.189

Unfortunately for Bienville, Cadillac was tasked with investigating his conduct; the King and Minister evidently had not been satisfied with Dartaguiette's conclusions.  Try as he might, Cadillac could find nothing incriminating against the King's lieutenant, but it did not stop him from humiliating the proud Canadian.  If Cadillac hoped to alienate Bienville farther from the King and Minister, he evidently failed.  In 1714, the Minister awarded Bienville military command of the Mississippi valley from the Ohio down to the Gulf.  This allowed the King's lieutenant to treat with more tribes in the region and ensure the safety of the colony.  Only with the Indians' favor could Louisiana have any chance of surviving much less rewarding the proprietor with a return on his investment.  Unfortunately, the governor "out of spite ... obstructed Bienville's work among the Indian tribes[,] and Louisiana's relations with the native populations sharply deteriorated."190

The most dangerous crisis with the Indians during Cadillac's tenure involved one of the largest tribes along the river.  From early in their presence on the Gulf Coast, the shakers and movers of French Louisiana saw the Natchez (pronounced NOT-chee) as an important pawn in their rivalry with England.  The tribe, first visited by Iberville and Bienville in 1700, occupied a prominent position on the lower Mississippi athwart the primary route of communication with the rest of New France.  Although the Natchez were among the first tribes on the lower river to welcome French missionaries, they refused to give up their old religion.  However, secularists like Bienville were less interested in souls than in natural resources; the French considered the site of the Natchez village to be "'the finest land on this continent.'"  In 1710, after twice failing to produce a wheat crop on Bayou St.-Jean, several Canadians, with permission from Bienville, had taken up land at Natchez, but they failed to produce a wheat crop there, too.191 

In 1713, soon after he reached New Mobile, Cadillac sent the La Loire brothers, Marc-Antoine and Louis-Auguste, with a dozen companions to Natchez to establish a trading post.  In a single stroke, Cadillac reasoned, he could "encourage Crozat's commercial enterprise and ... maintain good contact with the native."  By 1715, the trading venture at Natchez was being used "as a base for bartering with the Indians."  Cadillac evidently coaxed from the Minister permission to build a fort near the trading post, not only to protect the commerce there but also to keep the British away.  Bienville was given the task of building the fort, but he complained to the Minister that the governor "had assigned him only a few raw recruits and had allotted a minimum of supplies for the construction."  Bienville nevertheless made plans to go to Natchez and fulfill the Minister's wishes.192

It was about that time, in the fall of 1715, that Cadillac made his grand tour of the Mississippi up to Illinois.  The governor was determined to find mineral deposits, if not gold or silver, somewhere in the French domain, and why not overawe the tribes along the river while he was at it.  The governor did not bother to invite Bienville to come along, and evidently no other sensible officer was part of the governor's entourage.  Cadillac did find minerals on his tour--a deposit of copper ore in the Illinois country--but his treatment of the Indians was disastrous.  When the tour was finished, news of it "was circulating throughout the colony among both the white and the Indian populace.  Cadillac had apparently insulted all the tribes along the river during his journey northward.  He had quarreled with them, accepted their gifts without giving anything in return and had refused their hospitality.  'All of the nations are talking about it with very great scorn to the shame of the French,'" Bienville lamented to the Minister.  The Natchez were especially insulted by the governor's behavior.  "According to Bienville, when Cadillac had declined to smoke the calumet of peace on passing through the Natchez country, the Indians had been insulted by the Great Chief of the French.  Bienville learned that this refusal to accept the calumet, especially among the leaders, had been interpreted by the Natchez as a gesture of war."  This made them vulnerable to the entreaties of Carolina traders in the region, who were adept at bribing the Indians into turning against the French, even in times of peace.  Word spread through the colony that the Natchez had killed four Canadians traders.  Unmoved by the news, Cadillac insisted that Bienville follow his orders and build the fort at Natchez.193

Bienville set out from New Mobile in March 1716 with only 43 men.  As he was approaching Tunica, he learned that the Natchez had killed another Canadian voyageur--the fifth victim of the tribe's treachery.  Forced, now, to deal with the crisis, Bienville lingered at Tunica to oversee the construction of a supply depot, a guardhouse, and a small prison.  He sent word ahead to the Natchez that he was in the area.  Here was the formidable Bienville, not the inscrutable Cadillac.  Three lower members of the Natchez nobility appeared, offering the calumet of peace.  Bienville refused to smoke the pipe with them and insisted that their chiefs come to him.  Soon, eight Natchez "Suns" appeared at Tunica, replete with impressive retinues.  Bienville refused to smoke the pipe with them, as well, and demanded to know who had slain the Canadians and why.  "Receiving no answer, he had the suns put in chains."  Bienville then sent for the three highest chiefs--Grand Soleil, Serpent-Pique, and Petit Soleil.  When they arrived, he chided them for what his people had done and made the usual threat of uniting all the other tribes in the region against them.  Petit Soleil hurried back to his village and returned with the severed heads of three warriors who he insisted had murdered the Canadians.  Bienville, still unsatisfied, rebuffed the pathetic act of appeasement and threw Petit Soleil into the little prison with the other Suns.  Realizing that the Frenchman would not be moved until they confessed the truth to him, the high Suns revealed that the Canadians were the victims of another power struggle within the tribe, encouraged, if not instigated, by British agents, who awarded hefty bribes.  The guilty chief, White Ground, had fled to the British before Bienville had reached Tunica.  Now satisfied that he had heard the truth, Bienville released Petit Soleil and allowed the two other high Suns to go.  The lesser chiefs he retained as hostages.  On the return trip to Mobile, perhaps as soon as he left Natchez territory, he tomahawked the hostages and continued on his way.194 

When Cadillac heard of the executions, he charged Bienville with committing an atrocity.  More important than the volatile governor's reaction, however, would be the Natchez response to Bienville's brutality.  A student of the incident reminds us:  "If ... the execution of the Natchez, whether in Tunica territory or in the Mobile country, had been poorly received by the tribe, it seems unlikely that the French could have built Fort Rosalie that summer with Natchez assistance."  The new fort, named after a daughter of the Minister of Marine, was finished in August 1716 and stood near the Grand Village of the Natchez, amidst some of the finest farm land in the colony.195


Ironically, another failure of Cadillac's disastrous governorship proved to be his most enduring contribution to the colony.  In 1700, the year that Iberville had built Fort de La Boulaye near the mouth of the Mississippi, brother Bienville had explored the Red River as far up as a huge log jam that blocked further navigation.  In the spring of 1707, Bienville ordered Louis Juchereau de St.-Denis, who commanded the fort, to abandon De La Boulaye and shift the French observation post on the lower Mississippi to the portage site near the head of Bayou St.-Jean.  St.-Denis and a hand full of his Canadians took up residence with the Biloxi who Bienville had moved to Bayou St.-Jean soon after Iberville had built De La Boulaye.  St.-Denis and his Canadians remained at their new station for half a dozen years. 

Soon after he came to the colony, Cadillac was determined to establish a French post in the Louisiana interior to trade with the Indians, especially the friendly Caddo, and, despite mercantilist restrictions, with the Spanish in Texas and Mexico.  In 1714, on orders from Cadillac, St.-Denis led his Canadians up the Red River and sited what became the Poste des Natchitoches on an island in a branch of the river just below the log jam.  From Natchitoches, St.-Denis moved on to Presidio del Norte, now Eagle Pass, Texas, to fulfill the governor's charge.  The Spanish promptly arrested him, took him to Mexico City, and imprisoned him there. 

St.-Denis, however, had ingratiated himself with the Spanish in Texas by wooing and then marrying Manuela Sánchez y Navarro, the step-granddaughter of a Spanish commandant on the lower Rio Grande, in 1715.  This immediately changed his status in the eyes of Spanish authority.  The viceroy, still the Duque de Linarès, sent the young Frenchman to East Texas to help re-establish Spanish missions among the Caddo Indians.  This fit nicely with French commercial plans, and St.-Denis saw his opportunity.  He slipped back to Louisiana, purchased a consignment of goods, and engaged in smuggling to the new missions in Texas.  As a result, the clever Canadian spent more time in Mexican prisons. 

Meanwhile, in 1716, after he had  resolved a conflict with the powerful Natchez on the Mississippi River, Bienville, in his role as the King's lieutenant, ordered the construction of a fort, called St.-Jean-Baptiste, on the site of the Poste des Natchitoches.  Spanish mercantilist policy had long prohibited trade with foreigners, so they did not welcome a new French fort among Indians they hoped to dominate.  In early 1717, the Spanish countered by establishing a mission post, called Los Adaes, also named after local Caddo Indians, near present-day Robiline, some 20 miles southwest of Natchitoches.  Fort St.-Jean-Baptiste at Natchitoches, then, served not only as a trading post from which to win the favor of local Indians but also as a strategic point from which to observe the Spanish in the region.196


By 1716, Crozat and the powers that be in France were thoroughly disillusioned with Cadillac.  In the eyes of the proprietor, the colony was a dismal failure; he, in fact, accused the Gascon of having concealed "Louisiana's real wealth in order to profit from it personally."  Cadillac, not to be outdone, accused Crozat of "breach of contract."  The newly empowered Conseil de la Marine, created by the Regency council under Philippe, duc d'Orléans, who came to power after the death of Louis XIV, ordered Cadillac's recall on 3 March 1716; the Conseil also recalled Duclos.  The disgraced governor was unable, or chose not, to sail from New Mobile until the summer of 1717.  Again, Bienville served as acting governor until Cadillac's successor reached New Mobile.  Bienville hoped, of course, that he would succeed the wily Gascon, but the Conceil, likely prompted by the Minister, chose someone else.197

Jean-Michel, sieur de l'Epinay et de Longueville, born at Fougères, Brittany, was 15 years older than Bienville, who turned 36 in 1716.  L'Epinay had become a naval officer in 1683, when Bienville was still a toddler, and joined the French forces in Canada in 1687.  There, he was promoted to ensign and lieutenant and for a time served as honorary port captain at Québec.  At Rochefort in the early 1700s, he was promoted to lieutenant commander.  As a protégé of Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, comte de Toulouse, duc de Penthiève, who happened to be head of the Conseil de la Marine, L'Epinay secured appointment as Cadillac's successor on 16 March 1716; he was 51 years old.  In October, while waiting to sail to New Mobile, he received the Cross of St.-Louis.  He left France in December and reached New Mobile on 9 March 1717, almost exactly a year after his appointment.  Cadillac did not return to France until the summer of 1717, so one can imagine the awkwardness L'Epinay endured setting up his new regime with his predecessor still around.198

L'Epinay brought good news for Bienville, who doubtless was disappointed by the Breton's elevation.  The previous October, the King had granted his lieutenant in Louisiana the concession of Horn Island in the Mississippi Sound, between Ship Island and Île Petit-Bois.  Bienville had hoped that he would be granted property in Louisiana en seigneurie, but the King had decided that, unlike Canada and Acadia, there would be no seigneurial titles attached to land concessions granted in Louisiana.  Bienville received his grant at Horn Island en roture, which would be typical of concessions in the southern colony.  Bienville also had lobbied the Court to become a chevalier of the Order of St.-Louis, which the Regent ranted to him in September 1717.  As to his title and function under the new governor, Bienville would continue to serve as the King's lieutenant, still in charge of Louisiana's military and Indian affairs.199

L'Epinay's stay at New Mobile was brief and undistinguished.  He soon alienated many colonists by banning the sale of brandy to the Indians, threatening a dependable source of revenue for many inhabitants.  The new governor also quarreled with the colony's commissaire-ordonnateur, Marc-Antoine Hubert, who had come to New Mobile aboard the same vessel.  L'Epinay likely quarreled with the King's lieutenant as well.200

L'Epinay's short-lived tenure did accomplish one thing that had eluded both Iberville and Bienville.  Perhaps as one of its final accomplishments, Crozat's company founded the Poste des Alibamons near the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, just above the Alibamon villages.  To protect the post, in 1717 the Crown approved the construction of Fort Toulouse, named for L'Epinay's patron and the head of the Conseil de la Marine.  The fort was manned by troupes des marines, who suffered from the usual neglect, including hunger, at the hands of indifferent officials.  Influenced by deserters from Mobile, including several sergeants, the garrison  mutinied in late August 1721, during Bienville's tenure as commandant general.  Two thirds of the men overpowered their officers, including the fort's commander, Captain Jean-Baptiste-Louis De Courtel Marchand, who had married a high-status Alibamon, and, with stolen arms and supplies, hurried on their way to the nearest Carolina settlement, but they did not get far.  The French officers, who the men had released on their departure, beseeched the nearby Alibamon to help them stop the mutineers.  A force of 250 warriors caught up with the soldiers only 30 miles from the fort, ambushed them, killed 18 and captured the rest, but not without loss.  The sergeant most responsible for the mutiny was tomahawked on the spot, and the officers escorted the remainder to New Mobile, where they were tried and condemned to life in prison.  Four years later, another group of soldiers at Fort Toulouse deserted to the English, but, eventually, the marines assigned there brought their families to the fort.  As a result, though it remained one of the most isolated outposts in lower Louisiana, it evolved into a small agricultural settlement as well as a trading post and military establishment.200a


Back in France, Crozat begged the Regent and his Conseil to release him from his charter.  Crozat suggested that another company be formed for the colony's development, this one "with 500 shares at 3,000 livres each payable in state notes.  The company would take charge of development, the king [that is, the King's Regent] would keep the responsibility of defense."  In January 1717, the Conseil de la Marine approved the organization of a new company for Louisiana, but Crozat was not relieved of his charter until August 1718.  A monopoly that was to have lasted 15 years had stumbled along for less than five.201

The new company, called originally the Mississippi Company, was renamed Le Compagnie d'Occident, or the Company of the West, in 1717.  The "letters patent" for the joint-stock company's charter were approved by the Conseil de la Marine in August of that year, and the charter was issued on September 6.  The Company's director was John Law, the nation's Controller General.  A native of Scotland and a survivor of small pox, which disfigured an otherwise handsome face, Law was facing a murder charge in London, the result of a duel, when he escaped to Amsterdam in the 1690s.  There, he coaxed the Dutch into forming a national bank based on credit, not specie.  In the following decade, now a published economist stressing the importance of currency and credit over specie, he returned to his native Scotland, where his ideas were rejected.  He then traveled, and gambled his way, across much of Europe, to Flanders, Holland, Germany, Hungary, Venice, Genoa, and France, studying carefully the monetary systems of each of these places.  In the early 1710s, he remained in France to take advantage of an economy wrecked by Louis XIV; among Law's devotees were the duc de Vendôme, the prince de Conti, and, most importantly, Philippe, duc d'Orléans, who became Law's patron.  Soon after assuming power as Regent to the boy King Louis XV, the duc d'Orléans appointed the Scotsman his Controller General.  In May 1716, with the Regent's approval, Law, with his brother William, formed the Banque Générale Privé, France's first national bank, which, again with the Regent's approval, became the Banque Royal in 1718.  Law had been a notorious gambler in his youth and made his fortune not only as an economist and financier but also as a speculator.  His acceptance of the monopoly for Louisiana was simply another opportunity to enhance his considerable fortune as well as his power and influence.202

Law's economic scheme was not only elaborate but impressively modern:  "Louisiana with its vast agricultural and mineral potential was central to the development of Law's system.  Settlers were to brought to exploit the resources which would enrich the Company, the undertaking to be financed, of course, with state notes issued by the bank.  The Company was to enrich the state through trade and the retiring of the public debt; the bank would lend the Company the money it needed, and would issue notes to individuals that they might buy stock in the Company, the entire operation being sustained and fueled by the wealth from Louisiana."  But there was the catch:  convincing investors that Louisiana did have vast agricultural and mineral potential.  Law launched an effective marketing campaign to exaggerate the colony's potential, painting Louisiana as another El Dorado.  To enhance the success of this marketing scheme, the one man who had the temerity to challenge the Company's claims must be silenced immediately.  Former governor Antoine La Mothe de Cadillac, who had called Louisiana "a monstrous confusion," wasted no time protesting "publicly and loudly against the company's fanciful description.  Lest he jeopardize its entire publicity campaign it was deemed prudent to remove him from circulation for a few months."  In late September 1717, less than a month after he and his family returned to France, authorities arrested the ex-governor and his eldest son, Antoine, fils, and shunted them off to the Bastille in Paris, where they remained in close confinement until the following February.203

To govern Law's Louisiana and secure its defense, the Conseil de la Marine abolished the office of governor and created the position of commandant general.  The new commandant general would not be Jean-Michel, sieur de l'Epinay et de Longueville, however; the Conceil recalled L'Epinay in February 1718 and, like the colony's leaders before him, subjected his performance to intense investigation.  Louisiana's new commandant general would be none other than Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, to be assisted for a time by his notorious older brother, Joseph Le Moyne, sieur de Sérigny et de Loire.  Joseph was a dozen years older than Jean-Baptiste and could count on one hand the number of months he had spent in the colony.  Jean-Baptiste, on the other hand, had lived in Louisiana for 18 years, having never returned to France.  He would continue to answer to the Regent's Conceil de la Marine and, after 1723, to Jean-Frédéric, Comte de Maurepas, son of Jérôme Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain The colony also would have a new headquarters:  the directors of Law's Company decreed that New Mobile would give way to New Biloxi, to be built across the bay from where Fort Maurepas once stood.  The commandant would have to cooperate with a commissaire-ordonnateur, who answered to the Company directors.  The Company retained Marc-Antoine Hubert, who had come to the colony with L'Epinay, but sacked him in 1720, after the Company went bankrupt, and replaced him with M. Duvergier.  Also present, with his own pretensions to power, was a company director, Charles Legac, who reached New Mobile in early 1718.204 

A major innovation of the Crozat period, continued under the Law regime, was a Superior Council on which the governor, now the commandant general, and the commissaire-ordonnateur sat as voting members and which was responsible "for the colony's civil affairs of finance, administration, and justice."  The ordonnateur, in fact, oversaw Superior Council sessions as premier conseilleur or first judge.  Originally, the Superior Council exercised largely administrative and judicial functions, but by the mid-1730s, within a decade of its founding, the Council had assumed a quasi-legislative function as well.  As a result, the institution would play a major role in Louisiana politics for decades to come.204b

Someone as proud and independent-minded as Bienville could not have been happy with so many checks on his power and privileges.  But the directors of Law's Company, including Bienville's old friend, Jean-Baptiste-Martin Dartaguiette d'Iron, serving as the Company's Receiver General of Finances, were determined to take advantage of Bienville's vast experience and his proven qualities as a leader. 

The extent of territory to be controlled by Law's Company in New France was neither increased nor reduced from what Louis XIV had granted to Crozat.  The Company of the West could award land concessions from the Perdido River, bordering Spanish Florida, along the wide swatch of coast to Texas, though the boundary between French Louisiana and Spanish Texas, like the boundary between French Mobile and Spanish Pensacola, was still in dispute.  The Company also "possessed" all that territory in the interior of the Gulf Coast region from the Appalachians west to the Mississippi valley.  Its most lucrative possession, of course, was the Mississippi valley itself, stretching as far westward as the headwaters of the Red, Arkansas, Missouri, and Des Moines rivers, as far eastward as the Appalachians, and as far up the great river as its still-undiscovered source, which the Company believed was Lake Winnipeg.  Thus, to the continued consternation of Canadian authorities, Illinois, which the King had granted to Crozat, would remain a part of Louisiana under Law's regime.204c 

Law's Company received from the Regent a monopoly for commerce in Louisiana for 25 years, including control of the lucrative tobacco trade, but his personal involvement in the Company's schemes was short-livedAfter the Company of the West absorbed the Company of Senegal in December 1718 (giving it a monopoly on the West African slave trade), the Company of China and the East Indian Company in 1719, and the Company of St.-Domingue and the Company of Guinea  in September 1720, all with the approval of the Regent and his ministers, it renamed itself the Perpetual Company of the Indies.  At the same time, the Regent awarded Law control of tax collection and the minting of the kingdom's money, granting him, in other words, control of French foreign trade and national finances.  By 1719, Law was able to merge his Company with the Banque Royal, and he focused on eliminating the huge national debt created by Louis XIV.  Meanwhile, Law's marketing campaign for Louisiana was too successful, creating what soon would be called the Mississippi Bubble.  Investors could see the potential for profit in buying and selling shares in the Company of the Indies, and soon wild stock speculation engulfed not only France but also much of Europe.  The French treasury, following Law's economic theories disparaging specie, printed paper currency, backed by shares in Law's Company, to increase the amount of money available for more investment.  A sharp inflation resulted, and the value of the Company's stock plummeted.  The Regent dismissed Law from his ministry in May 1720.  The inevitable crash came soon afterwards.  Law was not the only leader responsible for the financial debacle, but he was a convenient scapegoat for the bursting of the Mississippi Bubble.  Reportedly disguised as a woman, he fled to Belgium in December 1720 and never returned to France.  Meanwhile, the Regent's government reorganized the Company of the Indies, leaving the young King's subjects to pick up the financial pieces.203b


Bienville, once again the real power in Louisiana, was determined to relocate the colonial headquarters to the lower Mississippi, where he was certain the future of the colony lay.  For years he had kept his eye on the portage site that he and brother Iberville had "discovered" in their first exploration of the lower Mississippi.  There, soon after Iberville had built his lower river fort 20 leagues farther down, Bienville had coaxed a band of friendly Biloxi to settle along the little bayou the French called St.-Jean.  After Bienville abandoned his brother's fort in 1707, the only French military presence on the lower river was an unfortified observation post near the Biloxi village.  There, in the spring of 1708, in hopes of creating a breadbasket for the colony, still headquartered at Old Mobile, Bienville had sent five Canadians to Bayou St.-Jean, where they planted two wheat crops.  In 1710, the Canadians abandoned the site and moved up to Natchez.  Once again, only the Biloxi and a few French soldiers occupied the narrow swatch of land between the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain.  Bienville, however, refused to give up on establishing a fortified settlement at the portage site.  

During the 1710s, he had done the next best thing by relocating several friendly Indian tribes to the lower river above and below the Bayou St.-Jean portage, and moving two troublesome tribes away from the portage.  In 1712, he moved the friendly Chawasha from Bayou Lafourche to the west bank 75 miles above the river's mouth, near the bottom of English Turn.  The friendly Washa, kinsmen of the Chawasha, he moved from the Lafourche to a site on the west bank six miles above the Bayou St.-Jean portage in c1715.  A few miles above the Washa stood a village of the Taensa at another portage between the river and Lake Pontchartrain, this one at the head of Bayou La Sueur, which was more than twice as long as Bayou St.-Jean.  However, judging by what the Taensa had done to the Bayougoula in 1706, this tribe was not reliable, so Bienville removed some of them to upper Mobile Bay about the time he moved the Washa from the bayou to the river.  In 1716, he signed a treaty with the Chitimacha, with whom he had been fighting, off and on, since they had murdered a French missionary ten years before.  The treaty stipulated that the Chitimacha would abandon their lands along Bayou Lafourche and retreat to the shores of present-day Grand Lake, at the southern end of the great Atchafalaya swamp--far from any future French settlement along the river, or anywhere else the French cared to settle in the region.  Later in the decade, the Acolapissa, probably after Bienville's urging, moved from their villages on the Pearl River to the lower Mississippi about 35 miles above the Bayou St.-Jean portage and a few miles above the Washa, near where Taensa were still living.  These villages, combined with the friendly Biloxi on Bayou St.-Jean, could help the French oppose anyone who ascended the river or approached the lower river via the portages from Lake Pontchartrain.  From farther upriver, the Houma, still formidable and always reliable, could hurry down and reinforce the other friendly tribes--an impressive defense in depth for what Bienville believed was the most important section of the lower Mississippi.203e

The next post founded on the lower river was even more distant from the Bayou St.-Jean portage than had been Iberville's Fort de La Boulaye.  Interestingly, it was Bienville, then the King's lieutenant for the Crozat regime, who had sited the new garrison.  In the summer of 1716, Indian relations and the dictates of commerce led to the construction of Fort Rosalie.  Nearby stood the grand village of the powerful Natchez.  The soil around Fort Rosalie was fine and well-drained, and the post stood on a bluff above the river's flood plain, so Natchez had wonderful potential for agricultural development.  The site also was at the southern end of a long, well-used trail running northeastward into the Indian country, the Natchez Trace. 

The following year, in September 1717, while Bienville was still serving as the King's lieutenant, a Company of the West official recorded the following directive in a company ledger:  "Resolved to establish, thirty leagues up the river, a burg which should be called Nouvelle Orléans, where landing would be possible from either the river or Lake Pontchartrain."  Here, in other words, was the portage site, so one can see Bienville's influence at work.  During the following March and April, Bienville's men, including a number of convicts, cleared the thick canebrakes covering the natural levee at the south end of the portage and prepared a foundation for a settlement there.  Named for Philippe, duc d'Orléans, nephew of King Louis XIV, regent of the boy king Louis XV, and patron of John Law, New Orleans began as a ramshackle collection of thatched-roofed huts not much more different in appearance from the Quinapisa village that Bienville had visited there two decades before.204a

No matter, Bienville hoped that the ragged little village would become the colony's new headquarters.  While his men were still clearing away the village foundation, the Conseil de la Marine had appointed Bienville commandant general, making him the colony's governor in everything but name.  Such a momentous decision as moving the capital from New Mobile, however, would be made by higher authority, not by a putative governor.  All Bienville could do was advise the decision makers back in France and hope they honored his incomparable experience. 

In April 1718, while his men were clearing off the portage site, the Company directors ordered another new post to be constructed along the lower Mississippi, this one "on the Manchac brook," also called Rivière d'Iberville, a location the Company believed would provide the most direct route for trade between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico.  There, at Bayou Manchac, was a possible alternative for the site of the colony's new capital.  Then death intervened.  Sieur Perrier, the royal engineer who had been assigned to the Bayou Manchac project, died en route to the Mississippi.  His replacement, brigadier of engineers Pierre Le Blond de La Tour, who reached Ship Island aboard the Dromadaire in December 1720, chose what he believed was a better site for the colony's new headquarters.  New Biloxi, which stood across the bay from the site of old Fort Maurepas, lay not on the Mississippi River but on Mississippi Sound.  Bienville's efforts to move his headquarters to New Orleans seemed to have come to naught.  The new post at Biloxi, to be called Fort Louis, designed by Le Blond de La Tour and his assistant engineer, Adrien de Pauger, was supposed to have risen in 1721, but by year's end virtually nothing had been accomplished there.  Only the crude huts of hundreds of immigrants, waiting to be transported to their concessions, occupied the sandy shore at New Biloxi.  In 1722, probably under Bienville's influence, officials of the reorganized Company of the Indies gave up on New Biloxi as the colony's new headquarters.  Bienville took full advantage of the decision and transformed words into action.205 

In March 1721, Bienville sent Pauger to New Orleans to lay out a formal street plan based on his and La Tour's design for the streets at New Biloxi.  Pauger was empowered to destroy any dwellings at New Orleans that did not conform to the engineers' new plan.  To the chagrin of many of the hamlet's original settlers, Pauger followed orders religiously.  In late December 1721, over opposition in favor of Bayou Manchac, Natchez, English Turn, Lake Pontchartrain, Natchitoches, New Biloxi, New Mobile, and even Pensacola, the Company directors chose New Orleans as the new capital of French Louisiana.  Despite a devastating hurricane in September 1722, ever-present disease, more flooding, and frequent desertion, by 1723, Bienville had moved his headquarters from New Mobile to his ragged little "city" on the beautiful crescent.  By 1728, a decade after its founding, New Orleans could boast a population of nearly a thousand souls.206 

Meanwhile, in 1719, Church authorities created a parish at New Orleans--the first in the colony since Old Mobile was given a parish of its own in 1703.  The first recorded pastor at New Orleans, Franciscan Recollet Father Prothais Boyer, like the parish priest at New Mobile, answered to a distant prelate, the Bishop of Québec.  By the spring of 1727, New Orleans had a church of its own, L'Église St.-Louis, a humble frame structure that served the city for nearly four decades.206a 

There was a problem with the location of New Orleans, however, that required the creation of another post on the lower river.  As a recent historian has observed:  "The lower Mississippi presented serious problems for tall sailing vessels.  Besides the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the riverbed, a sandbar in the main pass of the river often had a sounding of only 10-12 feet, while most large ships laden with cargo drew 15-20 feet.  To address these problems, the French built La Balize ('the beacon'), a fort at the mouth of the river's birdfoot delta.  There incoming ships could hire resident pilots or transfer their cargo to barges and smaller craft (called lighters) that would complete the journey to New Orleans."  The fortification at "the beacon" arose on "the small mud island" at the toe-end of East, now North, Pass in 1722, soon after the city became the colony's new capital.  New Orleans lay a hundred miles above Balize, so relatively few large sailing ships risked passage up to the city throughout Louisiana's colonial period.207 


French foreign policy changed dramatically after Louis XIV breathed his last in September 1715.  The Regent, well aware of the opposition of Britain and Spain to Crozat's limited activities in Louisiana, insisted that when Law took over the Mississippi Company he change its name to the Company of the West to cloak the central role of the Gulf Coast colony in his investment scheme.  The Regent, having cobbled together a Triple Alliance of France, Britain, and the Netherlands soon after coming to power, was especially concerned about British reaction to Law's monopoly.  The Triple Alliance already had alienated France from its former Bourbon ally, so Spain's reaction to the Louisiana venture was of lesser concern.  Conditions in Spain also contributed to that kingdom's alienation from France.  Philip V's Italian wife, Elizabeth Farnese, "pursued her dynastic aims, seeking thrones for her sons in Italy."  In 1717, while the Hapsburg emperor fought the Turks on his eastern border, Spanish troops invaded Sardinia, perilously close to French Corsica.  Meanwhile, French agents exposed a Spanish plot to assassinate the Regent.  Britain reacted even more violently to "Hispanic adventurism," declaring war on Spain in December 1718.  France followed suit in January 1719, and the former Bourbon allies were now at each other's throats.208

Commandant Bienville watched these developments with mounting concern.  When war erupted, New Mobile was still his headquarters--perilously close to the Spanish at Pensacola.  However, Bienville's brother Sérigny, returning to Mobile in April 1719, was the first to bring news of the war to the Gulf coast region.  Bienville, having "the advantage of earlier news," sent Sérigny and younger brother Châteauguay with three ships and 150 men to seize Pensacola.  The Spanish soon counter-attacked and drove off the French, capturing and holding Châteauguay.  Sérigny escaped and led a successful defense of Dauphin Island.  By war's end, Bienville had returned and retaken Fort San Carlos, which he had to surrender after peace came.209

The coast was not the only scene of conflict in the region between the erstwhile Bourbon allies.  Philippe Blondel, commander at Poste des Natchitoches, upon hearing of the war in June 1719, sacked the Los Adaes mission, established two years before.  The few Spanish who escaped retreated all the way back to San Antonio in Spanish Texas.  A tenuous peace between France and Spain returned in 1721, after which the Spanish not only re-established the mission at Los Adaes but also erected a fortified outpost, which they called Presidio de Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Los Adaes.210


The war between France and Spain was mercifully short and did not stop the shipment of thousands of new colonists to Louisiana.  Despite the collapse of Law's Company of the Indies in late 1720, its policies of land concessions and, most importantly, emigration, did unleash Louisiana's pent-up potential.  Promising the colony two ships a year, Crozat had sent few new settlers to the Louisiana.  Not so the Company under Law.  The first of the Law settlers, 99 of them, appeared at Port Dauphin aboard three ships, the Neptune, the Dauphine, and the Vigilante, in February 1718, on the same day that Commandant l'Epinay was recalled to France.  Over the next three years, during Bienville's tenure, thousands more came to Port Dauphin and Ship Island:  741 immigrants in 1718; 1,367 more immigrants, plus 450 African slaves, in 1719; 2,576 immigrants and 126 more slaves in 1720; and 360 immigrants and 868 slaves in 1721; a total of 5,044 immigrants and 1,444 slaves, 6,488 souls, to supplement the 350 to 400 inhabitants counted at New Mobile in 1718!203d 

But there was a dark side to the dramatic increase in the colony's population.  Despite Law's success in attracting financial investors, his Company, like Crozat's, failed miserably in luring "respectable" French volunteers to Louisiana.  Undaunted, Law's agents, with the Regent and his ministers looking the other way, put into effect a policy suggested by Crozat and sanctioned by royal decree:  the rounding up salt smugglers, vagabonds, beggars, "libertines," galley slaves, or galèriens, even thieves, murderers, and prostitutes--collectively known as forçats--and packing them off to the distant colony on the Company's crowded ships.  "But ill-prepared for the rough life of the frontier, weakened by the crowded unsanitary conditions during the long crossing, most forced immigrants died from fevers, exhaustion, and privation."  The ultimate forçats, of course, would be African slaves, to be introduced into the colony in substantial numbers for the first time in its history.  The Company was so desperate for settlers that it even proposed sending pirates from Cartagena to man the Louisiana concessions.  Jean-Baptiste-Martin Dartaguiette d'Iron, the only member of the Company's board who had any personal knowledge of Louisiana and whose two younger brothers were serving in the colony, refused to sanction such a ridiculous settlement scheme.  Dartaguiette urged the Company to recruit "farmers whose clearing of virgin land and tilling of the fertile soil would eventually make Louisiana self-sufficient."  These immigrant farmers, mostly foreigners, fared somewhat better than the pitiful forçats, but only after they finally reached their destinations.  Among these foreigners were hundred of German families, some of them Protestants, most of them volunteers, who had come to make a new home for themselves in the Louisiana wilderness.203a 

Those who received the land grants--always en roture, never en seigneurie--were known as concessionaires.  Those who worked the land on these concessions, or who provided skilled labor or special services for the concessionaires, were called engagés, akin to the indentured servants of the British Atlantic colonies.  Engagés, whose passage to Louisiana was paid for by the Company, generally served a contract of three years, after which they were given a small piece of land either within the concession to which they had contracted or at some other place of their choosing, sometimes near relatives or friends.  Along with the land, they also received a cow, four pigs, four sheep, seven hens, one cock, furniture, and cooking utensils.  If the concession to which they were contracted failed before their three-year service ended, their contract usually was abrogated, and they were free to go where they wished.  Some of them returned to France; many remained in Louisiana.  By 1721, a year after the Mississippi Bubble burst, an anonymous memoirist, perhaps a Company official, found 119 concessionaires and 2,462 engagés still living in the colony.  An historian of early Louisiana notes:  "The [concession] tracts were usually stated as being four leagues square, the maximum size that the company allowed; however, few of the colonists knew whether this meant two leagues by two leagues (five miles by five miles) or four leagues by four leagues (ten miles by ten miles).  This was a somewhat moot point and made very little difference since the assignments or contracts had conditions for the loss of lands not cleared in the first three years.  None of the concessions ever developed the manpower to be capable of cleaning either amounts of land."  As a result, "by 1730, most of the land of the concessions returned to the royal domain."203g

During the brief period before the Bubble burst and for a few months thereafter, concessions arose on the Gulf coast at New Biloxi, Old Biloxi (Madame de Mézières), and Pascagoula (Madame de Chaumont); on the river below New Orleans at English Turn (Le Blanc); above New Orleans at Chapitoulas (Bellisle), Cannes Brûlé (Martin Dartaguiette), Taensa (Étienne Demeuves), Bayougoula (Paris Duverny), Baton Rouge (Bernard Dartaguiette, whose settlement came to be called Dironbourg), Pointe Coupée (De Mézières), Tunica (Ste.-Reine), Houma (Marques d'Ancenis), Natchez (a number of them, including Moulins, Cleracs or Cleras, Coly or Kolly, De La Houssaye, Deucher, and Coetlogon), Fort de St.-Pierre at Yazoo (Le Blanc), and Arkansas (Law's personal "duchy"); and in the interior on the Red River above Natchitoches near Caddo (Bernard de La Harpe) and on Black River (Villemont).  The Company recommended that concession owners grow certain crops on their land, for food and for trade:  tobacco, corn, wheat, rice, and indigo.  Board member Dartaguiette insisted that "there was an abundance of mulberry trees and silk worms, needing only hard working men and girls to work at silk-making.  Tobacco, he said, had the potential to rival that grown in Virginia and in the south of France."  He recommended that experts from established tobacco-growing regions be sent to Louisiana "to demonstrate and teach the colonists" how to grow, process, and market the lucrative weed.  Most concession owners remained in France, sending managers to look after their interests and to supervise the engagés, but even under careful management, most of the concessions failed.  A student of early Louisiana notes, with only slight exaggeration:  "Everybody who could, obtained grants of land, almost of duchy proportions.  To this was added a great deal of imagination, but in many cases very little work, so many concessions were abandoned."  However, a few concessions succeeded, some of them impressively, contributing much to the wealth of the colony in more ways than one:203f

The Côte des Allemands, Les Allemands, or German Coast, was appropriately named, but the area where it arose did not begin as a German settlement.  Originally, it was the "temporary" home of the Demeuves Concession, which was French.  The concessionaires and their engagés, about 80 of them, reached Port Dauphin in August 1718 aboard the flûte Marie and two other ships, the Duchesse de Noailles and Victoire, but, typically, there were not enough boats to take them to their grant on the Red River.  As a result, they were forced to remain on Dauphin Island for several more months.  Finally, giving up on transporting them as far as Red River, Company officials allowed them to choose a closer site--33 miles above New Orleans, where an Indian village stood; the site was called Les Chaouachas, after the Chawasha, who Bienville had settled there with some Taensa the decade before.  The village site had the advantage of fields already cleared for the growing of Indian corn.  Another reason for locating the Demeuves Concession there was the existence of another portage between the river and Lake Pontchartrain, this one along what the French called Bayou Le Sueur or Le Sueur River, named after the old prospector from Iberville's day; today's Bayou Trepagnier.  Twice as long as Bayou St.-Jean, but much shorter than the Bayou Manchac/Amite River/Maurepas/Pontchartrain lakes route, above it, Bayou La Sueur flowed northeastward into Lake Pontchartrain, its head waters resting behind the natural levee on the east bank of the Mississippi near present-day Norco.  The Bayou La Sueur portage allowed easier travel from Île Dauphin to the Taensa village than did the long, difficult voyage via the mouth of the river or the short cuts above and below it; this was especially important because, after managers and engagés reached the colony, they were responsible for the cost of  transportation to their own concessions.  The Demeuves managers and their engagés reached the Taensa village site in January 1719.  The Marie brought more engagés for the concession the following September, but over the next year or so the budding enterprise did not do well.  In early 1721, on further examination, "the company probably concluded that the Demeuves concession, with only [manager] Michel Delaire and a few servants residing, was virtually abandoned," so they decided to move dozens of German immigrants, still languishing at New Biloxi, to this well-positioned site on the lower river.  To protect the site, authorities eventually built two small stockades, Fort Allemand, or Poste des Allemands, and Fort Tigougou, at the Bayou Le Sueur portage, the former on the river side, the latter on the lake side.212 

The Germans, recruited in early spring of 1720, numbered close to 4,000 when they reached their port of embarkation.  Beginning in mid-May, at Law's expense (but at the same time that Law was being ousted from the Regent's ministry), agents escorted the Germans--450 families at first--from their homes in Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria, Alsace, and Switzerland, across France to Lorient in Brittany.  Those families who were Lutherans and Calvinists were advised to convert to Catholicism as soon as possible, or their travel through France could be problematic.  Some converted; others did not.  The various "troops," watched closely by Company "conductors" or commissaires, were still making their way across the kingdom in late August.  From the Rhine valley, the Germans followed the Canal de la Marne au Rhin to the Marne, which took them to the Seine, which they followed to Paris, from which they headed south on the ancient road to Orléans.  From that ancient city, they followed the Loire through Tours and Nantes to the port of Paimboeuf, and from there, either by land or sea, they moved on to Lorient, where their "conductors" reported to a certain Rigby, commandant of the Breton port.  While waiting for their ships, some of the families stayed in the nearby towns of Ploemeur and Port-Louis, where, along with Lorient, one can find baptismal, marriage, and burial records for many of them; sadly, burials generated most of these sacramental records.  One student of the German Coast settlement contends that many of the hundreds of Germans who died at Lorient perished from an outbreak of bubonic plague, which struck much of France in 1720 and lasted for two years.  Only five of the Germans converted to Roman Catholicism while they waited for their ships.213

From Lorient, the destination of the long-suffering Germans would be Law's personal "duchy," far up the Mississippi at Arkansas.  However, the first vessel to take some of the families to the colony, the Deux Frères, did not leave Lorient until December 1720, months after the Mississippi Bubble burst and about the time that Law was fleeing from Paris.  His and all the other concessions reverted to the re-organized Company, still determined to send the rest of the Germans to Arkansas.  The Deux Frères reached Louisiana in March 1721; sadly, of the 259 passengers who left Lorient, 225 of them Germans, only 40 survived the voyage!  Other ships that took the Germans from Lorient and other ports to Louisiana were the Portefaix, out of Le Havre, with 330 passengers, most of them German, in June 1721 (among the passengers were Swedish-German officer Karl Friedrich Darensbourg, who brought news of John Law's flight from Paris); the St.-André, with 161 passengers, in September 1721; the Durance, which brought 109 Germans, in October 1721; the Saône, via St.-Domingue, reached Louisiana in late November 1721 with 269 Germans; and the Garonne with 210 Germans, left Lorient in January 1721 but, because of the plague, lingered at Brest until February 1721, losing some of its passengers, reached the waters off St.-Domingue in April, was captured by the pirate ship Gaillarde in the Bay of Samana, rescued by an expedition sent out by the governor of St.-Domingue, arrived at Cap-Français in July, and did not reach Louisiana until early 1722 with only a few Germans still aboard.  The Foudroyant, which arrived with the Deux Frères in March 1721, also may have carried Germans to the colony.  The Charente, out of Lorient, did not go to Louisiana, though some of the Germans on its passenger list did settle in the colony, probably having gone there on other ships.214 

In Louisiana, the German families were dumped on the barren, "rat-infested" shore at New Biloxi, where they were forced to fend for themselves while they awaited passage to Arkansas.  At New Biloxi, 500 more colonists, many of them Germans, died of famine.  The food shortage was so acute that a witness, Antoine Le Page du Pratz, noted:  "The great plenty of oysters, found upon the coast, saved the lives of some of them, although obliged to wage almost up to their thighs for them a gun-shot from the shore.  If this food nourished several of them, it threw numbers into sickness; which was still more heightened by their long time they were obliged to be in the water."  In August 1721, after word arrived that Law's Company was bankrupt and that Law's Concession now belonged to the restructured Company, the concession's new manager, Jacques Levens, who had come to the colony the previous November, set up about a hundred skilled workers, craftsmen, and engagés at the Arkansas site, most, if not all of them, French, but the remnant of the Germans intended for the concession still lingered at Biloxi.  Beginning in late summer or early autumn and continuing into late winter of 1722, agents of the reorganized Company moved the Germans from Biloxi to the river via Lake Pontchartrain and the Bayou Le Sueur portage.  Unable to provide transportation for them the rest of the way to Arkansas, or perhaps respecting the wishes of Commandant General Bienville, who wished to establish more settlements on that part of the river, the Company retained the Germans at the Demeuves Concession, 33 miles above New Orleans, and there the great majority of them remained.217

The original villages of Les Allemands, lying a mile or so back from the natural levee on the west bank of the river, were Marienthal, later called the Old Village; Augsburg; and Wen; another village, Hoffen, was established later.  The settlement's commander, Karl Friedrich Darensbourg, a German bachelor who had lived in Sweden most of his life and had been many times wounded in the Swedish service, came to the colony aboard the Portefaix in June 1721, at age 27; his rank in the Company was "reformed captain" on half pay.  His habitation, named Carlstein, also lay on the west bank of the river.  In March 1722, a Company official counted 330 settlers at Demeuves, evidence that most of Law's German recruits had perished on their long odyssey to the Louisiana wilderness.  In May, they numbered only 247.  They, too, were hit hard by the hurricane of mid-September 1722, which evidently drowned a number of them when a tidal surge from Lac des Allemands, then called Lac Ouachas, south of them, slammed into the villages.  In December, on a tour of the river to evaluate the impact of the September storm, the Company's Inspector General, Bernard Dartaguiette, visited the Coast.  In his report, the Inspector General added this sad observation:  "... there are three little villages of Germans, commanded by Sr. Darensbourg.  They may be about three hundred in number, including women and children.  They are the remnant of that multitude of Germans whom the Company has sent here and who have, for the most part, died of destitution."  Dartaguiette's report must have shaken Commandant General Bienville.  Soon after reading it, he petitioned the Company's Council of Administration for permission to move 12 to 15 of the flooded-out German families to his plantation above the city, where, after working his land, he would cede some of it to them; the Council approved the petition.  A general census in November 1724 counted only 161 settlers in 56 families in the villages on the German Coast, so some of them must have gone up to Bienville's to accept his offer.  One suspects that such a dramatic reduction in numbers during only two years time reveals also the terrible damage done by the storm of 1722 and subsequent flooding.  A freshet in the spring of 1724, the year of the general census, likely had contributed to a number of deaths at Les Allemands.  The plight of the Germans was so dire by 1725 that the parsimonious Company resorted to issuing to some families advancements of rice to prevent starvation.219 

Despite these terrible early years, the German Coast settlement thrived ... eventually.  By 1724, probably because of flooding, the old villages of Marienthal and Augsburg were disappearing, the residents seeking higher ground along the river's natural levee.  After 1724, Germans and Frenchmen also moved across the river to the east bank and established a new settlement, Ance-aux-Outardes, just above the Bayou Le Sueur portage.  Others moved downriver to Cannes Brûlé, also on the east bank.  By 1731, a census counted 394 settlers at Les Allemands, including 115 black slaves; none of the old villages were mentioned, so they probably had been abandoned by then, the inhabitants, no longer engagés but land holders, occupying their own long lots fronting the natural levees.  The community, having found its economic niche as the breadbasket of New Orleans, was growing now by natural increase.  As a recent historian of the community attests:  "The inhabitants of the German villages became farmers on the land, and ... they saved the early colony from starvation by their skill in gardening, animal husbandry, and hunting.  Scattered among the German population were a few Frenchmen, some of whom had come with the Demeuves Concession."220 

The inhabitants of Les Allemands built their first, primitive chapel at Carlstein.  The community was served first by Capuchin Father Philibert de Viauden, who had come to Louisiana with three other members of his order in 1722 and who was assigned to minister to the concessions along the river from Chapitoulas below New Orleans up to Pointe Coupée.  Other Capuchins who served Les Allemands in its earliest days were Capuchin Fathers Mathias de Sedan, Hyacinthe de Verdun, and Philippe de Luxembourg.  As revealed in the census of 1724, not all of the German families were Roman Catholic; of the 58 heads of households counted in the census, 48 were Catholic, 10 were Lutheran, 4 were Calvinist, and 1 was "unknown."  Among the Lutherans was the commandant himself, Karl Friedrich Darensbourg.  The Capuchin superior at New Orleans, Father Raphaël de Luxembourg, "spoke of a promise by Darensbourg to convert," but, the good father lamented, "'I fear that this is only to gain time, but in a little while I shall press him so hard that he will not be able to trifle with me long.'"  Darensbourg did convert, but not until 1729.215

Concessions above the German Coast included Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupée, both visited by Iberville and Bienville on their first exploration of the lower Mississippi.  The concession holder at Baton Rouge was Bernard Dartaguiette, younger brother of Jean-Baptiste-Martin Dartaguiette d'Iron of Old Mobile fame, who was still in France and serving as an influential member on the board of the Company of the Indies, while Bernard served in Louisiana as the colony's Inspector General.  Their youngest brother Pierre also was serving in the colony as an officer.  Soldiers and engagés, as well as supplies, for Bernard's concession came on the ship Profond, which reached Ship Island from La Rochelle in September 1720.  Bernard's concession at Baton Rouge was one of the few that survived, but it did not evolve into a significant settlement.216

Not so the concession at Pointe Coupée.  The first European settlers there, from the Hainaut region of Belgium and France, reached the colony, according to one historian, aboard the Loire, the so-called "Mayflower of Louisiana," in 1720, the year the Bubble burst.  They were taken to the De Mézières Concession near the portage site that Iberville first visited in 1699.  In 1722, a Capuchin missionary, Father Philibert de Viauden, included Pointe Coupée at the northern end of his rounds along the river.  The Pointe Coupée settlement was so successful that Church authorities created a parish there, dedicated to St.-François of Assisi, in 1728, but the settler's did not build a substantial church of their own for another decade.  By 1730, Pointe Coupée had replaced Natchez as the colony's leading tobacco-producing area.211

Fort Rosalie at Natchez became more than a far-flung French garrison protecting passage along the Mississippi.  The soil around the fort was fine and well-drained, and the post stood on a bluff above the Mississippi flood plain.  During the late 1710s, Law's Company allowed settlers from the lower river to move to Fort Rosalie and establish tobacco plantations on Natchez territory.  Recently-arrived African slaves worked the soil and harvested the precious weed under the supervision of tobacco experts brought to the colony from the south of France as well as the French West Indies. 

One of the new concession holders at Natchez in the early 1720s was former ordonnateur Marc-Antoine Hubert, who named his tobacco plantation Ste.-Catherine.  Hubert not only raised tobacco but introduced silk production to the colony.  After Bienville moved Louisiana's headquarters from New Mobile to New Orleans in 1723, Hubert, hoping to make Natchez the new center of the colony, went to France to convince the Company officials to move the capital from New Orleans.  His efforts failed, and he died soon after he returned to Ste.-Catherine.  Another important concessionaire at Natchez was Antoine Le Page du Pratz, a Dutchman of French heritage, who came to Louisiana in 1720 and received a land grant on Bayou St.-Jean before moving up to Natchez.  Le Page du Pratz returned to New Orleans in 1728 to take charge of a Company plantation there.  Back in France, he became one of the most important chroniclers of early Louisiana ethnography, especially of the Natchez.  Another Natchez concessionaire was Jacques Cantrelle of Picardy, who had lived at first on the Arkansas concession.  After it failed, he settled at Natchez, where his wife, Théressé Marquant, served as the settlement's midwife. 

The largest plantations at Natchez were Hubert's Ste.-Catherine, and Terre Blanche, near the Natchez village of Pomme Blanche.  For a dozen years, Fort Rosalie and its satellite plantations led the colony in tobacco production.  But there was a price to pay for the intensive cultivation of an area still occupied by a large, powerful tribe.  In 1722 and again in 1723, during Bienville's last years as commandant, "war" broke out between aggrieved Natchez and belligerent local Frenchmen, but Bienville and the tribe's war chiefs managed to prevent a full-blown conflict.  By mid-decade, however (after Bienville's recall), many Natchez, drawn to the white man's goods, were deeply indebted to local French traders.  At the same time, the French brought Old World diseases that decimated the Indian population.  The tribe's principal chief, the Great Sun, died in 1728, and his successor, the Young Sun, cared little for the French.221 

In spite of its remote location relative to the settlements along the Mississippi, Natchitoches, thanks to intelligent leadership, became an indispensable asset to the colony.  In July 1719, Bienville, reportedly "against his will," appointed Natchitoches's founder, Louis Juchereau de St.-Denis, to succeed Philippe Blondel as commander of Fort St.-Jean-Baptiste.  Ignoring Spanish mercantilist policy and the presence of a substantial Spanish force at Los Adaes, so close to his post, St.-Denis--he with the Spanish wife--restored commercial ties with the missions in East Texas.  After war with Spain ended in the early 1720s, St.-Denis sought a lasting peace in the region between the French and Spanish, something he managed to achieve despite the odds against it.  As a result, the Spanish reduced the size of their garrison at Los Adaes in 1730.  Five years later, dissatisfied with the location of the original post, St.-Denis moved Fort St.-Jean-Baptiste to the west bank of the river, where a Spanish observation post had stood for years.  By then, with its growing population, including many black slaves, Natchitoches had become an important tobacco-producing area as well as a center for regional trade.  Like his old commander Bienville, St.-Denis also was named a Chevalier of the Order of St.-Louis.  He served as commandant at Natchitoches for a quarter century, until his death in June 1744, at age 70.222


The reorganized Company of the Indies wisely retained Bienville as commandant general in 1722, but soon after he moved the headquarters to New Orleans, he was recalled to France "for consultation."  The Company also nullified his land grants along the Mississippi.  One of Bienville's biographers explains the commandant's sudden fall from grace:  "Being of the gens d'épée, this Le Moyne was not attractive to the new commercial managers who were sending out gends de plume and company men to control the colony.  Always tempted to feel a paternal or proprietary right over Louisiana, Bienville was obliged to sail in the summer of 1725 for the mother country he hardly knew; the company judged that 'it was not suitable to its interests' to retain him in office in Louisiana."  The biographer goes on:  "Controller General Charles-Gaspard Dodun, head of the Conseil des Indes, understood the company's position, and explained to Maurepas," the new Minister of Marine, "that Bienville was 'a man of courage and a good officer; (and that) although it would not be good for him to go back as commandant, there is in this position no attack on his honour or honesty, and he could indeed be capable of serving well in all other posts to which you might name him.'"  One can imagine Bienville's frustration as he waited in France for the new Minister of Marine to grant him his next assignment.  Bienville turned 45 in 1725, and he was still a bachelor.  He had spent 26 years--more than half of his life--serving in Louisiana.218 

Bienville's temporary replacement was an old hand in the colony:  Pierre Du Guay, sieur de Boisbriant, who, with Bienville's brother Châteauguay, had served Louisiana so well since the days of Iberville.  It was during Boisbriant's tenure as temporary commandant, on 10 September 1724, that the Company of the Indies read, recorded, and published in New Orleans a Code Noir, or Black Code, for Louisiana, based on the 1685 Code for the West Indies.  "The provisions of the Code were derived from well-established French precedents and practices regulating vagabonds, beggars, apprentices, children and wives, in other words, members of the lower orders or persons unfit to act for themselves.  Neither humanitarian nor racist, the Code reflected the French monarchy's preoccupation with order, centralization, and unity, as well as its belief that the American colonies should be 'New Frances' ... 'a transatlantic France, closely united to the fatherland, with a population enjoying all the rights of Frenchmen.'"  Why was such a Code necessary for Louisiana in 1724?  Five years before, the Company had imported 450 Africans into the colony, 126 more in 1720, and 869 in 1721.  These were not the first Africans to come to Louisiana--Iberville and Bienville had brought a few black slaves from Havana and St.-Domingue to Old Mobile two decades before--but never before had Africans been imported in such numbers.  The Black Code was issued for another compelling reason:  the purging of Jews and Protestants from Louisiana.  No Jews had come to the colony, at least none who had the temerity to proclaim their faith, but among the Germans who had arrived in 1720-21 were dozens of Lutherans and Calvinists.  "The [original] Code [was] in part a religious document, promulgated the same year as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and drawn up with the same intent:  achieving religious unity which was considered indispensable for civil peace."  German Protestants were welcome as engagés and even concessionaires who could help to enrich the colony, but the Capuchin missionaries headquartered in New Orleans were determined to convert them all.  The Black Code was as important as overweening righteousness in their campaign against heresy.226

The Company would have been wise to keep the experienced, level-headed Boisbriant as commandant general, but the board of directors saw fit to recommend someone else.  Bienville's successor was Étienne Boucher de Périer, commissioned in August 1726 in France.  To prepare the way for Périer, the Company directors purged a number of so-called Bienvillists at Mobile and New Orleans.  The new commissaire-ordonnateur would be Jacques de la Chaise, who came to New Orleans in 1725.  Périer reached New Orleans in 1727 and bickered constantly with the new ordonnateur--soon to be the norm in Louisiana government.  Périer also had to deal with a Superior Council coming into its own.223 

Except for the constant bickering with La Chaise and an ill-advised favoritism towards officers who did not deserve it, Périer's administration went smoothly at first.  Then, in Périer's second year as commandant general, the colony was driven to its knees. 

In the summer of 1729, the unpopular and tyrannical commandant at Fort Rosalie, Captain Detchéparre, a favorite of Périer, went looking for land near the fort on which to build his own plantation.  He chose the site of the Grand Village of the Natchez and ordered the Indians to move.  The Natchez, who numbered at least 1,200 in their several villages, demurred.  The captain would not back down, and so the Natchez asked him for a few month's time to bring in their harvest.  The Natchez had occupied the site of the Grand Village for generations, and it had been occupied by other tribes for countless generations before them.  Giving up the site would require the dismantling of the house of their chief, the Young Sun, and, most troubling of all, moving the sacred temple of the Suns, which held the tribe's eternal flame, from the mound on which it stood for as long as they had lived there. 

The proud Natchez had endured enough French intrusion on their tribal grounds.  On November 28, with British encouragement and the help of local African slaves, a large band of warriors turned on the unsuspecting French and killed or captured most of the settlers at Fort Rosalie.  Captain Detchéparre was the first of 144 men, 35 women, and 56 children to die in the attack--approximately 10 percent of Louisiana's European population!  Owing to the distance of the settlement from New Orleans, French retaliation under Commandant Périer was slow and hesitant.  When it came, the Natchez slipped across the river to the western bank and headed north to the Black River.  For two years, the French and their Indian allies, including the Choctaw, Tunica, and Caddo, attacked the Natchez refugees and their Chickasaw benefactors wherever they could find them, and recaptured or killed the Africans who had aided the Indians.  The French showed no mercy to the errant Indians.  In 1731, a combined French and Spanish force under Louis Juchereau de St.-Denis attacked a party of Natchez who had retreated to the Natchitoches area.  St.-Denis sent the survivors, including captured chiefs and their families, under heavy guard to Périer, who promptly shipped them off to Cap-Français, St.-Domingue, where they were sold into slavery.  The tribe's remnants sought refuge among the Chickasaw and eventually with the Alibamons and the Cherokee, now seen as enemies of the French.  Meanwhile, at New Orleans, French authorities suppressed a black slave conspiracy just before it broke out into open rebellion.223a 

But the 1729 attack and the cost of retaliation had taken its toll on the French as well.  Fears of more Indian and African uprisings panicked the population.  The Company of the Indies, seeing no chance of profiting from a colony torn by bloody strife, beseeched the young King, Louis XV, to revoke its charter and reassume administration of the colony.  The King and his ministers complied, and, by the summer of 1731, Louisiana was a royal colony again.  Jacques de la Chaise was removed as commissaire-ordonnateur, Edmé Gatien Salmon replaced him.  The Company retained Périer for now, his title changing from commandant general to royal governor.224 

France in Louisiana:  Bienville and His Royal Successors, 1731-65

Étienne Boucher de Périer did not remain Louisiana's royal governor for long.  Blamed for the 1729 debacle and its costly aftermath, the Minister recalled him to France in 1732.  The young King then summoned Bienville, still languishing in Paris, and ordered him back to Louisiana, not as commandant but finally as governor.  Returning to New Orleans in March 1733 after an absence of nearly eight years, Bienville found the colony "'in a worse state than expected.'"  He soon found himself pleading "repeatedly for troops, munitions, manufactured good, and food supplies."  The pleading would continue for his entire decade-long tenure as governor.225 

Bienville, more than anyone, with his long perspective on the history of the colony, could see the true nature of its relationship with the mother country:  "The founding of Louisiana exemplifies the French crown's undercommitment to overseas Frances.  Having decided it needed to guard an entrance to the Mississippi, just as it needed a fortress to protect the mouth of the St. Lawrence, the French monarchy authorized a strategic outpost.  It never intended to invest more in Louisiana than was strictly necessary to keep it out of English hands."  In other words, in the worldview of the typical Frenchman, King, minister, and subject alike, Louisiana, with its exotic climate, geography, and people, except for its strategic value, was "not worth a straw."  The neglect Bienville had witnessed at Biloxi and Mobile and then at New Orleans would continue under the young King Louis XV, officially crowned at Reims in October 1722, two years before Bienville was recalled to France.  The Regent had died in December 1723, replaced as chief minister by the duc de Bourbon and then by Cardinal Fleury.  Bienville had been in France when Fleury assumed power in 1726.  The cardinal expended much effort in improving life in France, and foreign trade increased exponentially, but, as usual, the Court generally ignored its remaining colonies.  Fleury, when he gave any thought to the colonies, seemed interested only in throwing more money into the fortress at Louisbourg while maintaining the shaky alliance with Britain and pursuing reconciliation with Spain.  Peace, of course, was a good thing, especially for a neglected colony, but in the year that Bienville returned to New Orleans, Louis XV, having married a Polish princess in September 1725, threatened the European peace by intervening in the Polish War of Succession.  The only happy result for France would be the seizure and retention of the duchy of Lorraine, which had been falling under Austrian Hapsburg influence.  Peace would return by late 1738.  Happily, the war of 1733-38 would have no direct impact on Louisiana other than diverting more resources away from the colony.228

Périer, while waiting for a ship to take him back to France, complained about the shabby treatment he endured at the hands of the new governor.  The ousted governor insisted that he had been a friend of the Bienvillists in the past; evidently Bienville and his true associates thought otherwise.  Bienville did, however, approve of Périer's efforts to reconstruct Fort Rosalie, no longer surrounded by tobacco plantations and wide fields of Indian corn. 

The Louisiana of 1733, despite the Court's neglect, was a larger and more complex entity than Bienville had left in 1725.  There actually were fewer settlements in the colony than eight years before, many of the Law-era concessions having failed.  On the coast, Mobile boasted a new fort named Condé, a seven-sided brick structure begun in 1723.  Dauphin Island, with its indispensable port, also was fortified now.  New Biloxi was still there.  Above Mobile, deep in Indian country, Fort Toulouse at the Poste des Alibamons, founded during L'Epinay's tenure as commandant general, still stood at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers.  New Orleans, now 15 years old and the capital of the colony for a decade, boasted a population of 1,300, including 250 black slaves.  Below the city, settlements had arisen at English Turn and Balize, at the river's mouth, which still served as the city's impromptu seaport.  Above New Orleans lay small settlements at Chapitoulas and Cannes Brûlé.  Starting two dozens miles above the city, the most successful Law-era settlement, the German Coast, held a population of over 400, including a hundred or more black slaves.  At the upper edge of the German Coast, on the opposite, or east, side of the river, lay the small settlement of Ance-aux-Outardes, which was both German and French.  No other settlement to speak of clung to the river above the Germans until Pointe Coupée, another Law-era concession, this one French.  Natchez had its rebuilt fort but little else.  On the Red River, Natchitoches, with its trading post and fort, had become a thriving community of tobacco planters.  The Law concession at Arkansas had failed, but the Poste des Arkansas still stood on the Mississippi near the mouth of the Arkansas, which would prove to be a gateway to the great mountains of the west.  The Illinois country, with its post at Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Fort de Chartres, built by Boisbriant for Law's Company in 1720, still belonged to Louisiana, administratively at least.227a 

The ecclesiastical picture also had changed since Bienville had left the colony.  Now, in 1733, serving the religious needs of the residents of lower Louisiana were a series of unprepossessing churches visited by Capuchin priests of the Champagne Province, headquartered at New Orleans.  The city had its St.-Louis parish, created in 1719 and administered now by the Capuchin superior, or vicar general, who still answered to the Bishop of Québec, but the first church had not been dedicated at New Orleans until April 1727.  Only St.-Louis parish could boast a resident pastor.  When the Company had sent the Capuchins to Louisiana in 1723, they had expected them to minister to the Indians as well, but so few were sent that they could not do it.  So, in February 1726, the Company had secured via "treaty" with the Capuchin order the restoration of Jesuit missions among the Indians not only in Illinois but also in lower Louisiana, with the Capuchins retaining the French posts throughout the colony.  One happy result was that priests finally were serving as missionaries among the Chickasaw and Alibamon, tribes long at odds with the French in Louisiana.  The new Jesuit superior for Louisiana, Father Ignatius de Beaubois, a favorite of Bienville's if not of the Bishop of Québec, had established a Jesuit chapel at the order's plantation just above New Orleans, on land once owned by Bienville; the agreement with the Capuchins had stipulated that the Jesuits would perform no religious services at New Orleans, so the chapel was essential for the Jesuit Fathers' daily observances.  Before he had returned to France, Bienville had urged Father de Beaubois to secure nuns for the hospital at New Orleans, and the black robe had succeeded magnificently.  In late July 1727, the colony had been blessed with the arrival at Balize of 10 Ursuline Sisters from their convents at Rouen and several other communities.  The Sisters not only worked at the city hospital but also had opened a school for girls at their house on Chartres Street--the first school of any kind anywhere in the colony.  The Ursulines were the first of many orders of nuns who would come to Louisiana in the following decades.  In the New Orleans area, mission chapels stood downriver at Balize, built in 1722, and upriver at Chapitoulas, built in 1724.  Above Chapitoulas, the chapel at Les Allemands, not much more than a shed, still stood at Carlstein.  Pointe Coupée had received its own parish, dedicated to St.-François, in 1727, but they would not receive a regular pastor for a few more years.  On the Red River at Natchitoches, as they had done before the French sacked their mission in June 1719, Spanish priests from Los Adaes resumed administering the sacraments at the isolated French post in the early 1720s, until Natchitoches could receive a priest of its own.  This was not until 1728, when the Capuchin superior in New Orleans had sent Father Maximin as a missionary to the Red River.  Language barriers notwithstanding, the Franciscans at Los Adaes had continued to serve the French at Natchitoches after Father Maximin had moved on to Natchez in 1729.  A temporary church structure had appeared at the original site of the Poste des Natchitoches in c1730, and another one would be rebuilt on the post's new site later in the decade.  The parish church at Natchitoches, like the one at Pointe Coupée, would be dedicated to St.-François.227 


The colony's relations with the Indians also had changed dramatically, and not for the better, after Bienville's return to France.  "When ... Bienville was reappointed[sic] governor of Louisiana in 1733 he faced a daunting challenge:  the reconstruction of Louisiana in the aftermath of the Natchez uprising.  The Company of the Indies had disavowed the colony; the Indians threatened it at every turn; and the English seemed poised on the brink of total victory in the Anglo-French contest for the allegiance of the Southeastern Indians.  Bienville's herculean task was to repair this dangerous situation and restore Louisiana to it former position as a major power in the region."  Although France and Britain still were a part of the Regent's Triple Alliance with Holland, the English and Huguenots of South Carolina and Georgia, the latter colony founded only the year before Bienville's return, thought nothing of such agreements cobbled together in Europe.  They had their own local issues with the French and Spanish in Louisiana and Florida.  As long as British colonial traders, still seeking deerskins and, especially, Indian slaves, were determined to maintain their hold on the Alibamon and the Chickasaw and were just as determined to lure the Choctaw away from the French, Indian wars by proxy were unavoidable.229

Bienville had been given the governorship by the young King because of the problem with the Indians and the British colonial traders.  The good news for the new governor was that the Natchez were no more--at least, the remnants of the tribe no longer lived on their ancient lands--and their benefactors, the Chickasaw, stung by Périer for harboring them, had sued for peace.  The Chickasaw refused, however, to give up the Natchez, even to Bienville, with whom they had a relationship that went back 30 years.  The Minister of Marine, through Périer and now through Bienville, ordered "the nations of the upper country to harass the Chickasaws from that quarter" until they surrendered the Natchez refugees.  But the Chickasaw were committing a more grievous sin than harboring Natchez fugitives; they were doing all they could to lure their old foes, the Choctaw, into the British orbit as well.  If the British managed to lure the Choctaw away, the result for Louisiana would make the Natchez uprising seem like child's play:  "Despite a long and bitter history of Choctaw-Chickasaw enmity, Bienville knew that such a rapprochement was not impossible to achieve.  Because of Louisiana's tarnished reputation in the eyes of the Indians, and its inability to supply the Indians even a small portion of their needs, the Chickasaws had a reasonable chance to wean from France the one nation in the Southeast, the Choctaws, without which Louisiana could never hope to survive."  Bienville had to meet the Chickasaw threat head on, through peaceful negotiations or otherwise.  Meanwhile, he encouraged the Choctaw and other friendly tribes to attack the Chickasaw whenever they could.230

The only bright spot in the dark picture of French-Chickasaw relations was the presence of a small pro-French party among the tribal chiefs.  Courseac, leader of the Chickasaw peace party, had gone to Fort Toulouse to tell the commander there, one Benoit, that he, Courseac, wanted peace.  The chief agreed that the Natchez should become the slaves of the French for having shed so much French blood.  He informed Commander Benoit that the Natchez who had taken refuge near the Chickasaw town were being used as menials there.  Courseac offered to go to Mobile to report to the governor himself.  Commander Benoit reminded Courseac that until all of the Natchez at Chickasaw were surrendered to the French, there could be no peace with his tribe.  Bienville was not happy with Benoit's performance and reprimanded him "for not demanding the heads of at least some Natchez as a sign of good faith."  Bienville refused to treat with Courseac, though he allowed him to go down to Mobile.  The French governor, with the dignity of his own nation in mind, would treat only with all of the Chickasaw leaders at once so that he could overawe them with eloquence and dire threats.230a

Information arrived that gave the governor a clearer picture of the condition of the defeated Natchez.  He learned from the Tunica "that the Natchez were divided into three groups.  One group, the weakest, was hiding in the deep forests not far from their old fort.  A second group, larger than the first, was staying along the Mississippi near the Yazoo River.  A third party, the most numerous, was living with the Chickasaws, who had allowed the refugees to build their own village just south of the main Chickasaw village."  Bienville learned through military channels that there were about 60 Natchez living among the Chickasaw.  The Minister recommended an attack against the Chickasaw from Illinois, but Bienville was alerted to trouble in that quarter as well as in the country above Mobile.  Old allies of the French, the Illinois and the Miami, were said to be succumbing to British traders because the French could not satisfy their needs.  To resolve this problem, Bienville sent an acquaintance from Old Mobile days and "one of the colony's most able officers," Pierre Dartaguiette, younger brother of Jean-Baptiste-Martin Dartaguiette d'Iron, as major at Illinois. The Alibamon, no longer at war with the French, were quarreling with the Mobilians again, which threatened the peace at Fort Toulouse, located at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, in the heart of Alibamon territory.  At the same time, the Tallapoosa, cousins of the Alibamon and longtime allies of the British, were trying to lure the Choctaw away from the French.231

The Choctaw, those essential allies, were complaining about the dearth of presents they had been receiving from the French--a neglect likely to continue now that Louisiana was a victim, again, of royal parsimony.  Périer, especially with Company largesse, "had accustomed them to his generosity," or at least promises of generosity.  Bienville was determined to do more than promise--he saw no choice but to increase the amount of presents for the Choctaw chiefs, "especially when France's enemies were ready to take up the slack."  Périer also had weakened French ties with the Choctaw by his ill-advised policy of creating new chiefs within the tribe.  Jesuit Father Michel Baudouin, working among the Chickasaw, counted 111 chiefs among the Choctaw, "each with his own party, and every one of them extremely difficult to influence at all."  As a result, the grand chief, "who had little authority at the best of times, was barely able to maintain a semblance of order only because the French would communicate with the nation only through him."  Moreover, each chief demanded his share of presents, which placed a greater burden on French resources to keep them happy.  No matter, the Choctaw, for now, seemed more than happy to join tribes from the north in making war against their old enemy.  Bienville hoped that constant harassment of the Chickasaw might force them to leave their homeland along the river so that "the French would be able to use the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in almost complete safety."232

But would such a strategy be enough to neutralize such a powerful enemy?  The King and Minister agreed with Bienville that volunteer removal would be preferred.  If Bienville could manage to make peace with the Chickasaw, "the terms should be hard."  If Bienville was forced to attack them, forces from Canada as well as lower Louisiana must cooperate in the venture, and it must be done in autumn.  However, until the Illinois could be appeased, an offensive against the Chickasaw was out of the question.  The King approved the construction of a stone edifice to replace the wooden stockade at Fort de Chartes in Illinois as well as young Dartaguiette's appointment to command there, and Bienville had to promise not to attack the Chickasaw until the Illinois had been returned to the French orbit of influence.233

Bienville had to make no such promises in dealing with the remnants of the Natchez.  He had been in France in November 1729 when that tribe had massacred 235 French settlers, including 35 women and 56 children.  Bienville was determined to hunt down every single member of the tribe that he once had befriended.  Learning of the location of the three refugee bands, in the summer of 1733, only a few months after his return, he sent a Sieur Juzant to the woods near Natchez to destroy the remnant there.  Living in constant fear of French retaliation, the Natchez were on constant alert and managed to elude the French, who captured only an old woman too feeble to get away.  She told them that her tribe, once numbering in the thousands, had only 200 warriors left.  In July 1733, Bienville sent the commandant at Fort Rosalie, an officer named Coustilhac, with a small party of soldiers and 20 Ofogoula, to attack the Natchez at Yazoo.  The French and Indians surprised a small Natchez hunting party, killed three warriors, keeping their heads for Bienville, and learned from the captured women that the scattered Natchez, hearing that Bienville had returned, hoped to meet with him at Fort Rosalie or New Orleans to beg for peace.  Needless to say, any Natchez who went to Fort Rosalie or New Orleans to parlay with the French would have ended up on a ship to the West Indies, or worse.234 

The following autumn, Bienville ordered the first major offensive against the Chickasaw who were harboring Natchez.  His goal was to drive the Chickasaw from their villages and destroy their crops so that they could not survive the winter.  The attacking force would consist of a thousand Choctaw led by Bienville's nephew, Jean-Paul Le Sueur, son of the old prospector, and 20 French soldiers.  Unfortunately, so many of the soldiers became ill that only the Choctaw were able to launch the attack.  Bienville postponed the offensive until the French could muster more troops, and then he made the mistake of sending a friendly Choctaw chief, perhaps one of Périer's creations, to a Chickasaw village with an offer for peace while the French and the large force of Choctaw attacked another village.  The friendly chief arrived at the Chickasaw village as planned, after a Carolina trader had arrived with presents for the Chickasaw.  The Choctaw was so enamored of the English goods that he revealed Bienville's plans to the Chickasaw before hurrying back to his own village to tell his people about the plethora of English goods that the Carolina trader had promised them.  Comparing the quality of goods the English offered them, to what they had received from the French, other Choctaw chiefs made peace with the Chickasaw, followed by many of the small coastal tribes.  Now French relations with the regional tribes were shakier than ever!  Worst of all, "The French position relative to the Choctaws had never been so bad."  Needless to say, when the young Le Sueur went among the Choctaw to recruit men for his offensive against the Chickasaw, he met with strong resistance.  Haranguing them about their long friendship with Bienville and all that the governor had done for them, he cowed the older warriors, but the younger ones showed no interest in past relationships.  They pointed out that the English at that very moment had a ship at Mobile trading with the French.  Le Sueur managed to recruit 500 warriors, but so many of them deserted on the way to the Chickasaw villages he had no choice but to call off the attack.235

Bienville was stunned by these developments.  At the annual distribution of the presents at Mobile later that autumn, he met the Choctaw delegation not as a whole, as usual, but in four separate bands two weeks apart.  His excuse for the change was "not to expose the women and children to enemy attacks," but his true motive was to minimize the usual haughty behavior towards him and his officers--treating with smaller groups meant more French control.  He then distributed the presents unevenly, giving more to faithful chiefs and none to those whose loyalty he questioned.  "When less faithful chiefs asked where were their presents, Bienville asked them where were the heads of their enemies?"236

Bienville's ploy worked.  Later in the year, the spurned Choctaw, under the powerful chief Alabama Mingo, brought in 45 Chickasaw scalps--"the heads of their enemies."  Bienville learned from the scalp-takers that the Chickasaw, facing attack from French allies north and south, had abandoned their tradition villages and taken refuge inside palisade forts; the scalp-takers had attacked one of the forts near Chatala.  Playing on Chickasaw pride, the Choctaw had lured many of them from behind their stockade and into an ambush, hence the dozens of fresh scalps for the governor.  Unfortunately for the Choctaw, but fortunately for the French, one of Chief Alabama Mingo's brothers and the son of another grand chief  had fallen in the fight; the Choctaw had no choice now but to take revenge.  One of their chiefs declared to Bienville that he and his warriors would return to Chatala and take many more scalps as well as slaves.  Bienville now had his war by proxy between the two powerful tribes.237

But not all the news was good news.  Bienville learned that the Alibamon had told the Chickasaw that help was on its way, not from the Alibamon, who were still avoiding conflict with the French, but from a large convoy from the British colonies filled with enough "goods, arms, and ammunition sufficient for a large party."  This could mean only one thing--a Chickasaw counter-attack against the Choctaw and perhaps against the French settlements on the river as well.  In the spring of 1734, Bienville learned from another officer who had spent time at the Choctaw village of Tuscaloosa that Carolina traders were back among the Choctaw as well--specifically, at the southern village of Chief Grand Fanimingo, who not only treated with the Carolinians but also agreed to accompany them to the villages of other tribes.  Bienville called in the loyal Choctaw chiefs to prevent further inroads by the British and coaxed a young Yazoo warrior, married to a Choctaw woman, to assassinate Grand Fanimingo.  But there was good news as well.  Some Shawnee from the north, who had moved down into Alibamon country, had attacked a party of Choctaw and Chickasaw, killing 10 of them.  "Such attacks, when successful, usually inspired imitation.  A number of these would help render France's Choctaw allies more vulnerable to their enemies, and thus more 'tractable'" to entreaties from the French.238

Bienville also had to address more mundane matters in the colony's Indian policy, especially the bounty his officers were paying for Chickasaw scalps.  He knew from what he had read in the colony's account books, as well as from the anecdotal evidence he could gather, that Périer and his officers had been paying too much for scalps of every kind.  Bienville urged his officers and Jesuit Father Baudouin, still among the Chickasaw, to discern the number of enemy warriors killed in each foray so that bounties were rewarded for actual damage to Chickasaw fighting strength.239

Bienville's parsimoniousness could not be avoided.  The colony's resources, even for defense, were severely limited.  This was demonstrated in an exchange between the governor and one of his officers, Bernard Dartaguiette, commander at Mobile, during the troubles with the Choctaw in 1734.  Dartaguiette proposed the construction of a fort on the Tombigbee River in Choctaw territory, a promise made to the tribe by Iberville, Bienville, and Dartaguiette's elder brother from the earliest days of the colony.  Bienville demurred.  "Even if the fort were necessary," and Bienville no longer believed that it was, he did not have the funds to build it nor "the men to staff it."240

Bienville soon learned that the younger Dartaguiette had not inherited the qualities of the elder brother.  During the summer of 1734, Bienville learned that Red Shoes, a troublesome chief among the Choctaw, was on his way to Carolina to treat with British colonial authorities!  Bienville ordered Dartaguiette to keep an eye on the situation while organizing a coordinated attack of French soldiers and friendly Choctaw against the Chickasaw villages.  Despite Bienville's note of urgency, Dartaguiette delayed his departure from Mobile to the Choctaw villages.  Meanwhile, most of the Choctaw chiefs spurned the Carolinians and prepared for their grand offensive against the Chickasaw.  Bienville promptly sent a message to Dartaguiette, in whom he seems to have lost trust, to cancel his visit to the Choctaw so as not to alarm them.  Bienville's message arrived too late.  When Dartaguiette reached the Choctaw villages, he mistrusted their friendly greetings.  Convinced that they were about to seal an alliance with the British, he stood up during a grand council and "informed the stunned Choctaw chiefs and notables that the shades of their ancestors had appeared to him in a dream and warned of impending disaster for the Choctaws if they did not hold fast to their true friends the French."  The Choctaw insisted that they were about to attack the Chickasaw, not treat with the British.  They asked Dartaguiette to lead them into battle, but he declined, using the inane excuse that "he had no authority to do this."  He suggested that they turn for leadership to Jean-Paul Le Sueur.  Dartaguiette later informed the Minister of Marine that he declined the command because he was not "sanguine for the expedition's success."

Despite the French officer's dire prediction, the Choctaw gathered a force of 1,000 to 1,200 warriors and followed Le Sueur to the nearest Chickasaw enclosure.  They approached the enemy's camp so closely that they could hear the Chickasaw war songs, which normally would have thrown the Choctaw into a frenzy of vengeance, but instead it unnerved them even further, and they chose to retreat instead of attack.  Le Sueur did his best to lead them into battle, but fear already had taken hold of them.  They dropped their weapons and hurried from the field.  Unable to rally them with promises and curses, Le Sueur and his men decided to attack the Chickasaw on their own.  The Choctaw seized Le Sueur to save him from the spirits, forcing him and his men to join them in their flight, which covered 20 leagues in a single day without stopping for rest.241

Dartaguiette blamed Le Sueur and Father Baudouin for the failed offensive, but Bienville, the old Indian fighter, knew better.  He informed the Minister in a September message that Dartaguiette "had no real plan or policy for governing the Indians, and that he lacked every one of the qualifications necessary for that crucial task."  Unfortunately, this would not be the last time that Bienville would lock horns with this troublesome officer.242

With the Choctaw alliance in shambles again, Bienville beseeched the Minister for reinforcements to his French Marines and to the company of Swiss mercenaries who manned the colony's garrisons.  The Swiss companies, first four and later five, commanded by Colonel François Karrer, were recruited for St.-Domingue, Martinique, and Île Royale in 1719, but these excellent soldiers did not come to Louisiana until 1731, at the end of the Law period.  Many of the men in Karrer's companies were in fact Germans and had been recruited in some of the same provinces as the German settlers who had come to Louisiana in 1721.  When their enlistments ended, Karrer's men, with much encouragement, tended to remain in the colony, especially at Les Allemands, where they often married fellow Germans.  Bienville could see this only as a positive good; without reinforcements for his "regular" units, he would be forced to rely on militia, which he feared "would be difficult and disruptive to the general tranquility of the colony"; former Swiss mercenaries in the militia would be most beneficial to the colony.243

In France, the King and Minister mulled over events in Louisiana, and they were alarmed by what they were hearing.  The King chided Bienville for the failure of the attack against the Chickasaw.  He asked Bienville to choose the best policy to pursue against the troublesome tribe:  a campaign with combined forces of French and Indians, a war by Indian proxy, or a negotiated peace.  Before Bienville could respond, the King decided that the Chickasaw must be destroyed.  Louis XV reasoned that, continental dynastic rivalries being what they were, conditions for peace in Europe could evaporate at any moment, and the long peace with Britain, now 15 years old, also could end suddenly.  If the general peace ended before Bienville could destroy the Chickasaw and the Natchez remnants, the British would have a powerful ally athwart the line of communication between lower Louisiana and Illinois.244 

The Minister's messages to Bienville reflecting the King's decisions were dated 1 December 1734 but could not reach New Orleans until many weeks later.  The harried governor could not have been happy with what the Minister's messages contained:  "Bienville should practice all economy possible in planning the campaign" against the Chickasaw and Natchez, "but at the same time he should make any expenditure necessary to ensure its success.  In another letter of the same date Maurepas informed Bienville that he could not at present procure for him the royal favors that he had requested.  News of the defeat of the Chickasaws, however, would surely result in the royal good will."  What could be clearer:  the Chickasaw must be destroyed.245

That winter, Bienville was given another chance to treat with the Chickasaw.  While he was at Mobile distributing the annual presents to his Indian allies, half a dozen Alibamon appeared at Fort Condé carrying a message from a delegation of Chickasaw chiefs waiting at their village.  The Chickasaw demanded that Bienville allow them to move down to Mobile "to ask for peace."  Bienville sent word back to the Chickasaw that he would receive them only if they brought the heads of the Natchez who lived among them.  When the chiefs said they were willing to do this, Bienville allowed them to come down to Mobile.  Meeting with the governor face-to-face, the chiefs offered one excuse after another for not having brought any Natchez scalps with them.  Seeing that Bienville would not be moved on the issue, they asked for three months time to comply with his wishes, but only if he asked the Choctaw not to attack them during that time.  Knowing that the Choctaw were not ready to take the warpath, Bienville acceded.  He "had good reason to believe the Chickasaw offer to make peace was genuine and sincere.  The Chickasaws had killed few Frenchmen in recent years, yet had been under constant pressure from both north and south, talking peace at all was totally out of character for them.  Their willingness to consider killing the Natchez was further evidence for their humiliation.  The Natchez bolstered Chickasaw fighting strength with badly needed numbers, and the loss of those numbers made the Chickasaws vulnerable to their many enemies.  But if they did not satisfy the French, they knew, the guerilla war being waged against them would not end, and they feared being destroyed through attrition as well.  Either way, they would no longer be a threat to Louisiana.  The declaration of war on the Chickasaws, Bienville knew, would mean vast expenditures which the government could ill afford."246

At the same time, bad news come down from Fort Toulouse.  Benoit, still the commander there, learned that Carolina traders were about to build a warehouse for their goods at a Tallapoosa village "barely one league" from the French fort.  Benoit and eight soldiers, with several Choctaw in tow, ran off the traders, and the warehouse was not erected.  The Alibamon, not wishing to lose favor with Bienville, insisted that they had received only promises from the Englishmen, not merchandise.  If the French promised to "match the English prices" the Alibamon "promised Bienville never to receive the English again."  Bienville refused to make such promises and let the matter rest.247

That summer, trouble broke out on the Mississippi.  A party of Chickasaw attacked a convoy passing through their territory and killed nine of the 11 Frenchmen traveling downriver in a large bateau.  Inquiring into the matter, Bienville was told that the Chickasaw had not intended to kill the Frenchmen.  Their intention was to take hostages until they heard of the safe return of their chiefs who had gone to treat with him at Mobile.  The Chickasaw urged one of the captured Frenchmen to write a letter to Bienville, explaining the Chickasaw's "peaceful" intentions.  They then "ceremoniously washed" the captives "and brought them through all the Chickasaw villages with the white baton, symbol of peace, and both were given fill liberty."248

The incident on the river had one beneficial result for Bienville's plans to destroy the Chickasaw.  One of the captured French soldiers, an alert fellow named Ducorder, provided valuable information about the Chickasaw.  From what he saw, Ducorder estimated that the tribe "could put 450 men in the field against the French, while Bienville could not get even 200 men together from the New Orleans and Mobile garrisons."  He could not depend on a corps of Canadians hard-bitten voyageurs anymore--most, if not all, of them were settlers now.  Only the Choctaw could field enough warriors to stand up to such numbers, but after the fiasco of the previous summer, Bienville had no faith in them.  He learned also that the Chickasaw now had five palisade forts behind which they could take refuge.  Each of their cabins were like little forts, the walls three logs thick, with loopholes from which to fire, the roofs covered with earth instead of combustible thatching.  They might also have a four-bastion fort on the European model!  His only hope for defeating such a well-protected enemy was a substantial reinforcement of Marines from France.  Even if the King and Minister agreed to send him reinforcements, they would not arrive for months, even years.249

Another report from Alibamon country troubled Bienville on a deeper level.  When he heard that the British had created a new colony on the Atlantic seaboard below South Carolina, which he insisted on calling "New Georgia," Bienville dismissed the new polity as no real threat to the French or even the Spanish.  Yet here was a report that more Carolinians, or perhaps Georgians, soon would appear in the Alibamon country, not to trade for deerskin or to build a storage warehouse or even to bargain for captive slaves, but to settle with their families.  These interlopers from the east, he could see more clearly than ever, "would stop at nothing to penetrate French territory."  Here was the writing on the wall for himself and his fellow Frenchmen:  they were facing an enemy so numerous and so aggressive that they could create a new colony on the Spanish frontier while sending more settlers, first a trickle, then a flood, hundreds of miles into the Louisiana wilderness.250

Autumn came again, and Bienville had seen no Natchez heads, not even Natchez scalps, in the eager hands of Chickasaw warriors.  There was no way around it:  the Chickasaw must be destroyed.  He changed his mind about a fort in Choctaw territory and asked permission from the Minister to build, and man, a palisade on the Tombigbee River near the Tuscaloosa.  He could not take the field against the Chickasaw and Natchez without the Choctaw, and a fort in their territory would be an important step in improving relations with those shaky allies.  The result was the construction of Fort Tombecbé in 1736.  Fulfilling the old promise first made by brother Iberville could bring the chiefs around to French insistence that the Choctaw must never make peace with their old enemies, that the Chickasaw must be destroyed.251


A happy feature of Bienville's governorship was his unusual rapport with the ordonnateur, Edmé Gatien Salmon.  Each man's tenure in his respective office nearly coincided:  Salmon from 1731 to 1744, Bienville from 1733 to 1743.  According to one of Bienville's biographers:  "In administration Bienville collaborated for years with Salmon in that 'good understanding' often recommended by the home government to its Louisiana officials," but seldom realized.  "Although the colonial bicephalism brought the two to mutual countercharges by 1740, they were reconciled in early 1742."  The thing that soured their relationship was Bienville's handling of the colony's biggest headache, the Chickasaw.256

By the spring of 1736, Bienville had resolved to fulfill the King's dictum:  the Chickasaw must be destroyed.  He decided to lead an attack against the Chickasaw personally, despite having long passed his prime.  The offensive would take the form of a pincer movement, with a force from Illinois, including several hundred French Marines, Canadians, and Indians, commanded by Pierre Dartaguiette, attacking southward from Fort des Chartes, while Bienville led a larger force north from his base at Mobile via the Tombigbee River.  Bienville's force from Mobile included the Marines who garrisoned Fort Condé and New Orleans, Karrar's Swiss regiment, and colonial militia. The plan called for meeting at the Chickasaw towns at the end of March.  Dartaguiette, hurrying downriver, landed at Chickasaw Bluff near present-day Memphis.  Instead of waiting for promised detachments from other parts of his district, he chose to attack with the force he already possessed.  While on his way to Chickasaw, Dartaguiette received a message from Bienville saying that the governor's larger force would be several weeks delayed but that Dartaguiette should act according to his own judgment.  Withdrawing inside their fortified towns and reinforced cabins, the Chickasaw were more than ready for Dartaguiette's smaller force, which numbered 130 French Marines and Canadians and 366 Indians from several tribes, including the Iroquois, Arkansas, Miami, and Illinois.  On Palm Sunday, March 25, Dartaguiette attacked the seemingly-isolated village of Ogoula Tchetoka, in the northwest suburbs of present-day Tupelo, Mississippi.  The Chickasaw were led by Chief Mingo Ouma, whose warriors bloodily repulsed Dartaguiette's ill-advised attack.  After decimating the invading force from behind their palisades and thick-walled cabins, the Chickasaw counterattacked, driving the French and their allies from the field and capturing their supply train of shot and powder.  Dartaguiette and most of his fellow Frenchmen had fallen in the attack.  Only a determined rearguard action by Iroquois and Arkansas warriors saved the few Frenchmen still able to retreat.  The Chickasaw captured 21 Frenchmen, including Dartaguiette, twice-wounded, and executed 19 of them, including Dartaguiette, by throwing them into a bonfire filled with French dead.  The Chickasaw kept two of the Frenchmen alive as hostages to exchange for one of their other chiefs.  Unaware of Dartaguiette's repulse and enduring the usual delays, Bienville did not reach the newly-built Fort Tombecbé, his base of supply, until April 23, nearly a month after Darguiette's repulse at Ogoula Tchtetoka.  At Fort Tombecbé, Bienville mustered a force of 544 Europeans and 45 Africans and did not resume his "march" up the Tombigbee until May 4.  Farther upriver, Bienville rendezvoused with 600 Choctaw.  By May 22, still unaware of Dartaguiette's defeat, Bienville reached a point 20 miles southeast of the nearest Chickasaw village and established a fortified base camp to protect his supplies and boats.  On May 26, Bienville approached three fortified hill towns, Ackia, Tchoukalaya, and Apeony, in the southern outskirts of modern-day Tupelo, also under Chief Mingo Ouma.  Bienville avoided Apeony, where a Carolina trader's cabin flew the British jack.  Lining up his European and African forces in classic line of battle, with the Choctaw covering his vulnerable flanks, the 56-year-old governor launched a spirited attack against the walls and outlying cabins of Ackia.  None of Bienville's men, not even the Choctaw, came close to breaching the Chickasaw defenses.  Short on ammunition and food and determined to remove his wounded from the battlefield, the chastened governor ordered a retreat back to Mobile.  Only then did he learn of the defeat of Dartaguiette's force and the fate of the Illinois commander.  Dartaguiette's death, especially, was a blow to Bienville and his entire officer corps and led to a permanent rupture between the governor and the dead officer's older brother.  Bernard Dartaguiette wasted no time blaming Bienville for the failure of the expedition and especially for his younger brother's terrible end.257

If Bienville was anything, he was determined:  the Chickasaw must be destroyed.  He asked the Minister to send him a force with which to crush the menacing tribe.  Despite the totality of Bienville's defeat, the King and Minister agreed.  They would send him not only a substantial force of French Marines under an experienced commander, Noüailles d'Aymé, but also a siege train to blast the Chickasaw towns into final, bloody submission.  In October 1736, the Minister ordered D'Aymé's expedition to sail from Rochefort by the following January.  The inevitable delays followed, and the ships were not ready to sail at the appointed time.  Realizing that the reinforcements, if they left France in the middle of winter, would not arrive until the approach of the hot, humid summer, Bienville asked the Minister to reschedule the expedition's arrival until early autumn, when the weather would be ideal for campaigning in the region.  The Minister complied, but more delays pushed departure date into 1737 and forced the Minister to postpone the ships' departure yet again, this time to August 1738.  Meanwhile, the Choctaw resumed their war of attrition against their old enemy, ambushing Chickasaw hunting parties, destroying their fields, stealing their livestock, and waylaying the Carolina and Georgia traders who supplied them with guns and ammunition via the long trading path back to South Carolina.  The Chickasaw also made good use of the time the French were giving them.  Chickasaw defenses, already formidable, were strengthened to withstand the shock of field artillery, and their chiefs coaxed neighboring tribes under the sway of the Carolina traders to give warning of the inevitable French advance from north or south.  Meanwhile, further delay in France kept D'Aymé's expedition in port until January 1739, when it finally set sail from Rochefort for Balize.  Reaching the mouth of the Mississippi on June 1, the most formidable French force ever sent to Louisiana slowly made its way up to New Orleans.258

Bienville also used wisely the time he was given.  After receiving assurance from his engineers that a road could be built through the wilderness to move artillery within range of the enemy's forts, he chose a line of attack not from Mobile via the Tombigbee River but from a point on the Mississippi much closer to Chickasaw.  He ordered the construction of a supply depot on the west bank of the Mississippi at the mouth of the St. Francis River near present-day Helena, Arkansas.  He ordered the construction also of Fort de l'Assomption at the so-called fourth Chickasaw Bluff, also called the Prudhomme Bluffs, on the east bank of the Mississippi near the mouth of Wolf River in what is now the northwestern suburbs of Memphis.  Here La Salle had rested on his voyage of discovery during the winter and spring of 1682, and here would be the rendezvous point for French and Indians forces coming down from Fort des Chartres, now commanded by an officer named De La Buissionière.  Upon hearing that some of the eastern bands of Choctaw had made peace with the Chickasaw and were welcoming Carolina traders, Bienville strengthened his alliance with the western bands as well as the friendly chiefs of the eastern towns.  He looked for new officers to lead his colonial troops, who generally were difficult to govern, and sent these officers among the militia to prepare them for the campaign ahead.259

Three elements of Bienville's attack force reached Fort de l'Assompion in August:  D'Aymé's vanguard of French Marines from New Orleans, De La Buissionière with Illinois militia and 200 Illini warriors from Fort des Chartres, and a force from Canada consisting of northern tribes and a company of cadets led by Bienville's nephew, Charles Le Moyne de Longueil, Baron de Longuiel, son of Bienville's oldest brother, and Captain Pierre-Joseph Céloron de Blainville, a French Canadian officer of Marines.  Bienville's main force, coming up from New Orleans, did not each l'Assomption until November.  With the governor's arrival, the French force numbered 1,200 Europeans and 2,400 Indians, roughly twice the size of the combined expeditions of 1736.  Unfortunately, by the time Bienville reached the rendezvous point, his large force had been reduced by illness and was plagued by short rations, desertion, and discontent among the officers for having to wait idly for so long.  A serious problem was the loss of many of the draft animals from Illinois who had been brought overland to the St. Francis River depot before being moved by boat up to l'Assomption, causing the death of many of them.  Moreover, Bienville soon realized that his engineers, including another nephew, Gilles-Augustin Payen de Noyan, whom Bienville admired, had misled him about the route to the Chickasaw villages.  The route from l'Assomption ran for 120 miles, all of it overland, but the engineers had not seen every part of it.  The trail was feasible for musket-carrying infantry and fleet-footed Indians, but the siege train, essential for destroying the Chickasaw fortifications, would slow the expedition considerably--that is, if more draft animals could be found to move it down the long path though the wilderness.  Bienville ordered the construction of carts and wagons on which to transport the heavy guns.  Meanwhile, he sent out scouts to judge the condition of the path.  They reported back to him that heavy rains and snow had made the low-lying stretches of the "road" impassable.  He then ordered his engineers to blaze a new route, this one via higher ground, which was not completed until January.  Meanwhile, high water on the Mississippi and Wolf rivers inundated the area around poorly-sited Fort de l'Assomption, and high water downriver delayed the passage of supplies up from New Orleans.260 

In mid-January, Bienville's Indian allies insisted that they could attack the Chickasaw without the artillery if they were reinforced by Longueil's Canadians.  Bienville approved the movement, and Captain Céloron took the field with a force of Indians and Canadians.  The Chickasaw, of course, knew they were coming.  The opposing forces fought small skirmishes, and then the Chickasaw sued for peace.  They had been warned not only of Céloron's approaching force but also the arrival of Bienville's siege train at the mouth of Wolf River, and the Choctaw hit-and-run raids against them were taking a heavy toll.  Despite the failure of the French to attack them in force, "... the Chickasaw signed a peace treaty which was, on the face of it, wholly favorable to the French.  Mayatabé, grand chief of the Chickasaw, agreed, in the name of his tribesmen, to kill all the Natchez still among them, to exterminate the few remaining Koroa still hiding out along the banks of the Mississippi, and to sever commercial relations with the English."  To seal the agreement, Mayatabé surrendered some of the Natchez refugees and promised not to harass the Canadians on their return to the Mississippi.261

Most of Bienville's force, still at l'Assomption, waited for the governor's order to launch his grand campaign against the Chickasaw.  But it did not happen.  In February 1740, Bienville held a series of war councils.  After evaluating the weather, the condition of the route to Chickasaw, and the general fitness of his command, he decided that his army could not march "without hazarding the reputation of the king's arms."  Hearing of Céloron's treaty with Mayatabé, the governor declared victory and returned to New Orleans, but not before ordering the abandonment and destruction of "the only post which would have made enforcement of the treaty possible"--the fort at the Prudhomme Bluffs.  One suspects that the Chickasaw never intended to honor the treaty, so Bienville's "victory" was a hollow one.  The troublesome tribe, though less troublesome for a time, remained as strong as ever.262

In truth, Bienville's 1739-40 "campaign" against the Chickasaw was an embarrassing failure.  The expedition cost three times the Crown's annual allocation for the colony.  Nearly half of the French force at Fort de l'Assomption--500 of 1,200--died of disease and exposure before they had a chance to march to the field of battle.  French officers involved in the campaign, especially the engineers, and perhaps with the exception of Noüailles d'Aymé, blamed Bienville and one another for the campaign's failure, and said and did whatever they could to save their military careers.  Complaints about the dearth of supplies at de l'Assomption, as well as the loss of the draft animals and the destruction of a post in which the colony had expended substantial funds, widened a growing riff between the governor and the ordonnateur.  The Chickasaw, undaunted, ignored the treaty they had signed with the French; they continued to trade with the Carolinians and Georgians and clung to their alliance with Britain.263 

Bienville himself engaged in complaint and recrimination against the officers and officials leagued against him, and, being a political creature, he rationalized his failure with carefully chosen words.  He even found an opportunity to chide the Minister, and, inferentially, the King, for neglecting the colony.  "I painfully feel that My Lord will be little satisfied with the success of this enterprise which has caused the king such great expense," he wrote the Minister in May, "but I flatter myself that at the same time he will well observe that I had not failed to take any of the precautions necessary in order to render this campaign as glorious as His Majesty had reason to expect."  He then plunged into the heart of his rationalization:  "... if we have not come out of this affair with all the success we had reason to expect, the honor of the king's armies has not suffered by it.  All the tribes have been impressed by the preparations for our campaign and have felt the superiority of our forces.  They have been witness to the steps that the enemy has taken, on account of fear of us, to obtain peace."  Having addressed his fantastical successes, Bienville then turned to a cold reality, but it, too, had the smell of rationalization:  "The chronic lack of goods had not permitted me to make any overtures to the Chickasaw concerning the removal of the English.  They would not have failed to ask for traders, whom I would not be in a position to furnish them."  Here he was addressing a chronic failure not only of royal but also proprietary policy dating back to the colony's earliest days.264


While he was still at Fort de l'Assomption in February, Bienville had reached his sixtieth year.  He did not wait for the Minister's reply "before deciding that he had had enough.  In June, 1740, Bienville requested leave to return to France.  'The labors, troubles, and difficulties' which accompanied the responsibilities of government had impaired his health."  Moreover, the failed campaign and the storm of recriminations had taken their toll on his spirits.  But the Minister refused the request, at least for now.  He insisted that Bienville remain at New Orleans until he be certain that the treaty he had made with the Chickasaw led to a lingering peace.  Bienville had no choice but to comply with the Minister's wishes and did what he could to place the colony on a solid footing.  In October 1741, he received permission from the Minister to retire to France after his successor was named, but that did not happen for another year.265 

In March 1742, a year and a half after beseeching the Minister to allow him to return to France, Bienville "reflected that 'a sort of fatality (has been) set for some time upon wrecking most of my best-planned projects.'  Learning that he would soon be replaced, he pledged to spend his time smoothing out all he could for his successor who, he hoped, would have better fortune."  But his successor, a fellow Canadians, was not appointed until July 1742 would not arrive until May 1743.266

Meanwhile, yet another war broke out in Europe, ending the Regent's two-decade-long alliance with Britain.  In 1740, Hapsburg Emperor Charles VI had died and was succeeded by his daughter, Maria Theresa.  Sensing an opportunity, King Frederick II, the Great, of Prussia invaded Silesia, precipitating a war with Austria--the War of the Austrian Succession.  France's Cardinal Fleury, now elderly and ailing, could not resist the anti-Austrian element at the Versailles Court.  King Louis XV, who soon would rule without a chief minister, threw France into the war on the side of Prussia.  Maria Theresa found allies in Britain and Holland.  The British colonists called it King George's War after it morphed to North America; this was George II, who had succeeded his German-speaking father, George I, in June 1727, not long after Bienville had been recalled to France.  Like the long, brutal War of the Spanish Succession, which had plagued the infant Louisiana for a dozen years, this new war likely would goad the British colonists, especially the Carolinians, to push their traders, and even their settlers, deeper into territory claimed by the French.  The British colonists would try even harder to turn the Indians against the French, in Louisiana, Illinois, and along the Ohio.  Not only the Chickasaw, still clinging to the British, and the Alibamon, never trustworthy friends of the French, but also the Choctaw, whose friendship could be lost by continued neglect, could threaten the very existence of a colony long neglected by the mother country.  Happily for Bienville, the war did not erupt in North America until months after he had returned to France.267

Bienville's successor, the marquis de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, reached New Orleans on 10 May 1743.  The city, after a quarter century of existence, could hardly have impressed the likes of a French Canadian marquis, but, by 1743, New Orleans had become the head, heart, and soul of Louisiana.  Although immigration, both European and African, had slowed considerably after 1731, the city could boast a population of perhaps two or three thousand when the marquis first laid eyes on it.  The most distinguished resident, of course, was his successor, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, the city's founder.  The retiring governor had become the real father of Louisiana, having devoted four decades of a long, eventful life to the nurturing of his older brother's creation.  Bienville lingered at New Orleans until the following August, conferring with the marquis and the ordonnateur, still Salmon, who had reconciled with Bienville the year before.  Bienville also had to put his personal business in order before he could take the next ship sailing to Rochefort.  Bienville boarded that ship on 17 August 1743, slightly more than a decade after he had returned from France and 44 years after he had first laid eyes on the mighty river he would never see again.268

A life-long bachelor in his early 60s, his once-robust health wrecked by long service in the wilderness, Bienville reached Rochefort on October 19 and retired to a house on the Rue Vivienne in Paris, where he lived comfortably on a pension awarded by the King in recognition of his services.  The former governor also enjoyed "revenues from the municipality of Paris on certificates he had purchased, with a small annuity from the Compagnie des Indes, and with an annuity from the Jesuits for leased acreage adjoining the land he had sold them outside New Orleans."  Bienville does not seem to have returned to his native Canada, having left there in his late teens when he followed brother Iberville to France to prepare for the Louisiana venture.  Bienville died in Paris in 1767, age 87--a year after a Spanish governor arrived at New Orleans to end French rule in Louisiana.269


Pierre-François de Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, was the fourth son of a distinguished leader of New France.  Philippe de Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil, was serving as governor of Montréal and was awarded the Cross of St.-Louis the year his son Pierre was birth at Québec in 1698.  Four and a half years later, in May 1703, Pierre's father became governor-general of New France, an office he held until his death in 1725.  In 1708, at age 10, Pierre became a naval ensign in Canada.  Three years later, he was promoted to lieutenant.  He became a captain at age 17, after serving as a transatlantic courier for his father.  In 1721, the young captain inspected forts in Ontario, so he was familiar with the wilderness.  In 1727, at age 29, Pierre obtained a discharge in order to help settle his late father's estates in France but did not go there; instead, he remained in Canada to participate in a "lackluster punitive campaign against the Fox Indians," whom his father had subdued 11 years before.  After the campaign, Pierre returned to Québec and then sailed on to France.  He was promoted to aide-major in 1728 and to ship's lieutenant in 1730, the year he received the Cross of St.-Louis at age 31.  His political career began in 1733 when he was appointed governor of Trois-Rivière.  After his mother's death in 1740, he obtained a discharge from his duties and returned to France to devote his time to family business.  It was while in France, in July 1742, that he was named as Bienville's successor.  Still a bachelor at age 44, the marquis met a widow 15 years his senior, Charlotte de Fleury des Chambault, while preparing for his departure to Louisiana, but he did not marry her until three years after he had reached New Orleans; she would give him no children.270

Vaudreuil found the colony in shambles.  He was especially appalled by its state of defense.  By the time of his arrival, the War of the Austrian Succession with Britain and Holland was in its third year, but it did not erupt in North America until the spring of 1744.  It would not have taken much of an effort for the British to have captured Mobile or New Orleans from the sea.  The British, instead, chose to attack the French indirectly, through the Chickasaw, the new Creek Confederacy, disaffected Choctaw, and their other allied tribes in the region.  Vaudreuil's "efforts to bolster Franco-Indian alliances," however, "were undermined by [the governor's] conflict" with the colonial ordonnateur, Sébastien-François-Ange Le Normant de Mézy, who replaced Salmon in 1744.  Le Normant, perhaps out of personal pique, or perhaps out of incompetence, "refused to supply Vaudreuil [with] adequate amounts of Indian presents and trade goods," especially for the Choctaw.  Vaudreuil attempted to neutralize dissention among that tribe by placing a bounty on the head of Choctaw chief Soulier Rouge, who insisted on treating with the British, and encouraging friendly Choctaw bands to raid British trading convoys plying the wagon roads from Carolina and Georgia.  Vaudreuil's efforts were perceived as so successful that the Minister of Marine, still Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, Comte de Maurepas, promoted him to captain.  Evidently this allowed Vaudreuil to oust the troublesome Le Normant, whose tenure ended in March 1748.  Le Normant was replaced by commissaire de marine and acting commissaire-ordonnateur Guillaume Le Sénéchal d'Auberville, who served in the latter position until the new ordonnateur, Honoré Michel de La Rouvillière, arrived in May 1749.271

Unfortunately for the settlers on the German Coast, Bienville and Vaudreuil's Indian policies antagonized a dangerous element of the Choctaw nation.  In late February 1748, only weeks before a treaty was signed ending the War of the Austrian Succession, the hostile Choctaw used the Bayou La Sueur portage from Lake Pontchartrain, just upriver from the German villages, to "attack, kidnap, and kill residents of the river area" around Ance-aux-Outardes.  The plantation of François Cheval was hardest hit; the Indians killed him, scalped his wife, Marguerite Colombe, and captured their daughter and a black slave.  "This caused the residents to flee to the west side, where some settled permanently.  Others returned to the east side only after the authorities provided soldiers to protect them."  The Choctaw struck again in early November, killing two of Cheval's sons-in-law, Antoine Boucherant and Antoine Rousseau, who were surprised in their fields.  "After this second attack, the area of the east bank was virtually abandoned for many years."  What had served as a major reason for settling there now was an easy avenue of attack. 271a

Soon after Vaudreuil reached the colony, he had purchased a plantation on Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans.  With a vested interest, now, in the economic prosperity of the colony, he encouraged the production of indigo, which then had a lucrative world market.  He also looked the other way when Louisiana colonists engaged in smuggling with Spanish Florida, which for a time enriched the New Orleans economy, especially among the merchant class.  He crossed a line, however, when, in the late 1740s, he granted a fur trading monopoly on the upper Mississippi to 20 Illinois traders.  The governor-general of New France protested vigorously, and in 1749 the King removed the Ohio River valley from Louisiana jurisdiction.272

Despite a generally successful tenure as Louisiana's governor, the new Minister of Marine, Antoine-Louis Rouillé, comte de Jouy, who had succeeded Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas, in 1749, recalled Vaudreuil to France in June 1752.  He left New Orleans in May 1753, but not until he had familiarized his successor with the colony's administration.  Back in France, the King, evidently impressed with Vaudreuil's performance in Louisiana, rewarded him with the high office his father had held for 22 years.  In January 1755, at age 57, Pierre de Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, was appointed governor-general of New France.273


Vaudreuil's successor, Louis Billouart de Karvaségan, chevalier de Kerlérec, was a career navy officer with no political experience to speak of.  Born at Quimper, France, in June 1704, Kerlérec, a younger son of a nobleman, also turned early to the sea, serving as a volunteer seaman in three campaigns during the brief war with Spain in the late 1710s.  It was the third campaign that brought him to Louisiana in his late teens, but he soon returned to France, where he commissioned a "navy guard" at Rochefort in March 1721.  He sailed aboard the Dromadaire to Ship Island that year, but, again, did not remain in Louisiana.  He left the navy and secured command of the frigate Flore, now an armed merchant vessel, and engaged in the trade between West Africa and the French West Indies.  In 1722, he sailed to Cayenne in South America and to Martinique aboard the Portefaix.  Back in the navy, he was assigned to the naval bureau at Brest until he recovered from a lengthy illness.  In 1729, he patrolled the coast of Malta in the Mediterranean aboard the Amazone.  In 1730, he returned to Louisiana a third time, and this time stayed, to fight in Périer's punitive campaign against the Natchez.  Back at Brest in 1731, he was promoted to ship's ensign.  The following year, he returned to the Mediterranean and fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa.  From 1733-34, he served as aide-major in the naval garrison at Calais.  From 1734-37, he served three tours of duty in French men-of-war and was still in the navy, and still a bachelor, when war broke out with Britain in 1740.  Before word of the conflict reached the Americas, he was severely wounded in the back during an engagement with Royal Navy vessels off the coast of French St.-Domingue.  After he recuperated from his wound, he was promoted to ship's lieutenant in 1741 and served in Atlantic convoy duty for the next several years.  In 1745, he was part of the abortive relief force during the siege of Louisbourg.  The following year, in command of the frigate Neptune, he again fought the British off St.-Domingue and was wounded again, this time in his right foot and in both of his ears.  His vessel sinking, he was forced to surrender.  The British took him to the prisoner-of-war compound at Spithead, where he remained until the end of the war.  Now 44 years old and still unmarried, Kerlérec could look back on a distinguished naval career of 30  years.  In 1750, he was named commander of the frigate Favorite and was promoted to ship's captain the following year.  Though he had held no political office in the many places he had been, in February 1752 King Louis XV and the Minister of Marine appointed Kerlérec as governor of Louisiana.275

When Kerlérec took office in early 1753, the colony's acting ordonnateur, again, was commissaire de marine Guillaume Le Sénéchal d'Auberville.  While serving as acting ordonnateur, d'Auberville died in office in March 1757 and was replaced by commissaire de marine Jean-Baptiste-Claude Bobé-Descloseaux.  A year later, a new commissaire-ordonnateur finally arrived, and, despite the Minister's insistence that he co-operate with the governor, clashed immediately with Kerlérec over the issue of war profiteering, which the governor was attempting to curtail.  Vincent-Gaspard-Pierre de Rochemore, a native of Nîmes, was the son a of marquis.  After studying for the priesthood, which he did not enter, Rochemore served in the Ministry of Marine at the same time that he attended the university at Avignon.  He was 45 years old and married with a family when he reached New Orleans in mid-April 1758.  His opposition to Kerlérec was so bitter and so open that in April 1759 the governor accused him of insubordination; the governor also censured the ordonnateur's wife, whom he considered as troublesome as her husband.  The Minister of Marine, Nicolas-René Berryer, placed Rochemore under the governor's authority, but the ordonnateur ignored the action.  No doubt to the governor's great relief, and certainly as a result of his considerable efforts, the new Minister of Marine, Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul, recalled Rochemore to France in early 1762.276


In July 1754, during his second year as governor, Kerlérec wrote to the Minister of Marine, still Antoine-Louis Rouillé:  "'I have received the families from Lorraine by the Concorde.  They are established 'aux Allemands' and work well."  These new settlers, actually from Alsace, had reached Louisiana aboard the Caméléon, not the Concorde, the previous September.  They had numbered 47 when they left Rochefort in July 1753, so they were a small addition to the colony.  Kerlérec had received notice of their impending arrival and was given the discretion either to keep the group together or scatter them about the colony.  Sensitive to their needs, he chose not only to keep them together but also to settle them near their fellow Germans.  Commandant Darensbourg escorted them to the German Coast, where "Each family was given the ingredients for a homestead, and Governor Kerlérec provided sufficient supplies to sustain them throughout the approaching winter.  Established German families of the neighborhood contributed whatever possible to make life a little easier for the newcomers."  Kerlérec notified the minister in December that the new arrivals were finally settled--on the east bank of the river in what later came to be known as the Second or Upper German Coast.  In February, he visited the German Coast to check up on them and was impressed by what he saw.  He found the Alsatians "to be quite contented, working courageously and ambitiously to house themselves and to prepare the land for sowing.  Already, he noted, they were beginning to sell chickens, eggs, and vegetables in New Orleans."  Soon after their arrival, Kerlérec had given each family 400 livres from the colonial accounts, and was happy to tell the Minister "'I can assure you, my lord, that never has a more worthwhile expense been made, nor one so advantageous to the colony." 

The story of how these Alsatians came to Louisiana tells as much about the France of Louis XV as about these sturdy people.  France gained parts of Alsace in 1648, at the end of the dreadful Thirty Years' War, and acquired the rest of it in 1678, after the War of Devolution.  Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, but he wisely allowed the Protestants in Alsace, a substantial part of the population, to continuing practicing their heretical faith unmolested.  Alsatians, however, were forbidden to leave the province for Germany, Switzerland, Holland, or any other Protestant region.  To do so would be a form a treason, punishment for which was most severe.  Sometime in December 1752, 22 Alsatian Lutherans, ranging in age "from nearly fifty to newlyweds barely twenty and young bachelors in their late teens," chose to defy French authority and flee with their 25 children to Germany.  They were arrested when they attempted to cross the frontier, charged with treason, summarily tried, and awarded the maximum sentence for their crime--branding on the shoulder and life imprisonment aboard the Mediterranean galleys for the men, and life in a French prison for the women.  Most terrible of all, they would lose their children, one of whom was only four months old.  French authorities, however, gave them a chance to escape such a terrible fate:  if they rejected their Lutheran heresy by converting to Roman Catholicism, their sentences would be reduced to exile in Louisiana, and, most importantly, they could keep their children.  The popular view in France, then, long before that time and for years thereafter, was that "life in Louisiana led to the same end, an early death."  No matter, the Alsatians chose to go to the colony, and so they journeyed from Metz, where they had been tried and imprisoned, to Rochefort, the gateway to Louisiana.

Kerlérec's missives to the Minister led to more of these Protestant Alsatians coming to Louisiana, perhaps as many as had come in the first group in September 1753.  Minister Rouillé notified the intendant of Alsace that French authorities were willing to send the relatives of the original exiles to Louisiana.  The intendant contacted the eligible families and was amazed by the response.  Perhaps misunderstanding the official policy, large numbers of Alsatians, most of them unrelated to the original families, offered to go to the colony.  Rouillé held firm to his original offer--only relatives of the exiled Alsatians would be allowed to go, and only after they, too, had abjured their Lutheran heresy and converted to the One True Faith.  In the summer of 1755, however, war broke out between France and Britain in North America, and the Royal Navy promptly imposed a blockade on French ports.  Despite this major obstacle, the kinsmen of the original Alsatian exiles were escorted to Rochefort.  The ship Rochefort sailed from its eponymous port in May 1756 and reached Balize in late June; the number of Alsatians aboard was not recorded.  Four Alsatian families of 20 persons sailed from Rochefort aboard the Jeannette in October, but at the end of the month it was intercepted by the HMS Medway and taken as a prize to Spithead; some, still considering themselves Protestant, chose to remain in England; others returned to France but slipped across the border into Protestant Germany; only a few of the Alsatians who returned to France returned Rochefort for another go at Louisiana.  They departed Rochefort in either August or September 1759, some of them on the Don de Dieu, after the war in North America had wound down considerably.  This time they escaped the Royal Navy, reached Balize that autumn, and finally reunited with their loved ones at Les Allemands.278


Despite their relatively small numbers, the Alsatian immigrants of the 1750s were one of the largest infusions of settlers into the colony since the early days of the Law concessions.  Immigration, both European and African, virtually ceased after Louisiana reverted to a royal control in 1731.  The cessation of civilian emigration from the 1730s made the settlement of retired military personnel a high priority among Louisiana officials.  Most of the military retirees, by virtue of their numbers, were enlisted men of course, but commissioned officers also chose to remain in the colony and became an important element in the creation of a new socio-economic elite in the colony--Louisiana's French Creoles. 

A student of early New Orleans explains the evolution of the Creole social class and its assumption of more influence in the colony's affairs:  "As early as the 1720s French officials were arranging marriages not only with one another's families, but with families of successful planters and longtime Louisiana residents, many of them Canadians.  By the 1730s French officials and ranking military officers were regularly marrying creole daughters.  Members of the first creole generation, most of whose parents had immigrated between 1712 and 1723, began reaching marriageable age in the late 1730s.  Their children, the second creole generation, came of age in the 1750s.  Among the first-generation creoles, metropolitan power married local wealth.  The second generation inherited local versions of both."  The historian goes on:  "The upstart creole oligarchy ... had been fed by a gender imbalance in the founder generation of approximately six men to every European woman.  French nobles committed to a life in Louisiana were willing to marry the daughters of Canadian coureurs de boisThe gender ratio slowly evened out over the French period, but it still encouraged class crossover in marriages, with wealthy creole sons marrying the daughters of blacksmiths and innkeepers.  In the third generation these descendants then married one another.  In the 1750s and 1760s the mixing and crossing of ancien régime divisions began to give way to a new genealogical order.  As in other slave societies, endogamy became increasingly common among families with large slaveholdings in order to keep property within the lineage.  These marriage patterns combined with a practice carried over from France--the inheritance of public office--to help elevate bourgeois creoles to positions of power despite the original metropolitan designs against it.  Although the colony's French Creoles never held the highest offices--those were reserved for the French elite--the Creoles dominated the Superior Council, which, since its creation in the late 1710s, had assumed legislative as well as judicial power in colonial affairs.  Important among those who wielded "metropolitan power" over the colonists were military and naval officers, both French and Canadian.  "Due to a gender imbalance, creole daughters of middling station had opportunities to advance their social standing by marrying the younger sons of major merchants and planters, or French officers, and many took advantage of this."279

A military officer who came to the colony as a young lieutenant in c1732 was an exemplar of this phenomenon.  He was, however, unique among his fellow officers because of his ethnicity; he was a native of Acadia.  His family, to be sure, had not been typical Acadians, nor had they remained in Acadia after the colony became British Nova Scotia in 1713.  From the late 1680s, Mathieu de Goutin, the family's progenitor, was second only to the governor of French Acadia in power and influence; at one time, in fact, de Goutin held four important positions--chief judge of civil and criminal matters, counselor, colonial secretary, and paymaster.  He complained at one point that he had "no set time for drinking and eating, (for) I am more busy on feast days and Sundays than on working days, (because) the settlers use these days to conduct their business when they come to Mass."  One of those settlers was Pierre Thibodeau.  When De Goutin married Jeanne, one of Thibodeau's daughters, the young colonial official established a lasting connection with a significant number of habitants, from Port-Royal all the way around to the upper Fundy settlements.  One Acadian governor complained that it would be difficult for De Goutin to render an objective judgment in many civil and criminal cases "because a third of the settlers are related to his wife."  De Goutin may have been, in fact, the only colonial official that the Acadian habitants trusted to look after their best interests.  His long career in Acadia ended with Britain's final seizure of Port-Royal in 1710.  Although De Goutin was given an important position in the administration of the new French colony, Île Royale, created in 1714, he died shortly after his appointment.  His wife and children--they had 13 of them--remained at the fortress of Louisbourg on Île Royale.  De Goutin's oldest son, François-Marie, also became a colonial official, not only on Île Royale but also on Île St.-Jean, today's Prince Edward Island, and was nearly as highly placed as his father had been at Port-Royal. 

Mathieu De Goutin's youngest son, Joseph de Ville, born at Port-Royal in March 1705, was only five years old when the British captured his birthplace and renamed it Annapolis Royal, and Joseph was only nine years old when his father died at Louisbourg in 1714.  Like his oldest brother François-Marie, Joseph joined the military, and though his career was not as distinguished as his brother's, he nevertheless made a name for himself as an officer of the King's Mousquetaires.  He came to New Orleans in c1732 as a young lieutenant and was promoted to captain five years later.  In 1740, three years after his promotion, Governor Bienville noted that Joseph "serves well," but was "a bit restless."  In July 1747, Captain De Ville, as he was known, married a local Creole girl, Marie-Jeanne, daughter of Jean Caron; she was only in her teens at the time of the marriage; Joseph was 42.  One suspects that the marriage helped cure his restlessness; it also gave him every incentive to remain in Louisiana.  By the early 1750s, he was retired from active duty, serving as a captain in the colonial militia, and "settled (in business)" at New Orleans. 

Joseph fathered at least eight children, including five sons, all born in the city.  His children, like their mother, would have considered themselves Creoles, not Acadians.  Joseph, however, having been raised by an Acadian widow, may have considered himself to be an Acadian as much as a Frenchman.  Joseph de Goutin de Ville was, in fact, the first true Acadian to settle in Louisiana.  He could not have known it, but his choosing to remain at New Orleans and raise a family of his own would help transform the history of his mother's people.274


During the early 1760s, perhaps because of his military service, Joseph de Goutin de Ville secured a land grant along upper Bayou Teche in one of the remotest areas of the colony, but there is no evidence that he or his family ever lived on his concession. 

Thirty years before, when Bienville was still governor, French traders first visited the area where de Goutin secured his land grant.  A student of early Louisiana history describes the prairie region as it must have appeared to the first Europeans who ventured there:  "A most distinctive region is the prairie country of southwestern Louisiana.  The land is comparatively dry and very flat, the grassy surface broken only by islands of trees, woods lining the bayous, and coulees that cut across it.  The prairie is extensive, covering all or portions of eleven [civil] parishes and having a total area about twice that of [the state of] Delaware.  Much of it is underlain by a clay hardpan which contributes to the current agricultural value of the region but may have thwarted development of the soil in aboriginal times."  The historian adds:  "The grasslands have been of little importance as producers of wild game.  The bison that the Atakapa Indians hunted there seasonally for the most part disappeared early.  Europeans later found a few deer and buffalo on the prairie, and other game was limited to waterfowl in ponds and streams."252

From the 1730s and for decades to follow, the shortest route of travel from the river to the prairies required an arduous trip by pirogue through the Atchafalaya Basin.  The traveler could take a much longer northern route via the lower Red River to its confluence with Bayou Boeuf and then follow that stream to the northern prairies.  Or he could reach the prairies via a southern route which led down bayous Lafourche and Terrebonne to the northern edge of the coastal marshes and then overland to the lower Atchafalaya River, which he could follow over to Bayou Teche.  This southern route, however, was complicated not only by its distance and the watery terrain the traveler would have to cross, but also by the Chitimacha, a hostile tribe, who dwelled along the shores of Grand Lake as well as along the lower Teche.  There was little choice, then, but to plunge into the middle of the watery wasteland and discover, by trial and error, a way through the labyrinth of rivers and bayous criss-crossing the continent's largest swamp

The shortest route, ironically, was a circuitous one.  At the head of a bend in the river between Bayougoula and Bayou Manchac, a large bayou named Plaquemine, French for persimmon, flowed eastward from the swamp into the Mississippi.  Traveling up Bayou Plaquemine, first past a prominent sand bar at its junction with the river and then into a muddy channel that led first southwest and then northward before suddenly turning due south, the traveler came upon the mouth of Grand River, which led westward and deeper into the heart of the great swamp to the Atchafalaya River.  Moving northwestward up the Atchafalaya, fighting its strong current every foot of the way, the traveler looked for the confluence of a small bayou, the Courtableau, and followed that stream through the northern edge of the swamp to its confluence with upper Bayou Teche. 

Where Bayou Teche flowed southward from Bayou Courtableau, the traveler stood at the threshold of the entire prairie region.  If he wished to visit the upper prairies, he continued up Bayou Courtableau to Bayou Boeuf.  If he wished to visit the middle or lower prairies, he headed south down Bayou Teche.  At the confluence of the Teche and Bayou Fuselier, he could move up the latter bayou to its confluence with Bayou Bourbeaux, which, via a small tributary, could take him northward via Bayou Belleveu, or, father along Bayou Fuselier, he could travel up Bayou Carencro, which also would lead him a little deeper into the prairie.  To penetrate even farther into the prairies, the traveler could portage from the head of Bayou Bourbeaux to the head of Bayou Wickoff, follow that stream southward to Bayou Plaquemine Brûlé, head southwestward and then westward to its junction with Bayou des Cannes, and then down a little farther to where it meets Bayou Nezpique, where all three bayous formed the Mermentau River.  That stream, deep, wide, bordered by thick swamps and the occasional open prairie, could take him, via several fresh-water/brackish lakes, surrounded by limitless coastal marshes, into a small estuary that emptied into the Gulf of Mexico.  Or, from Bayou Fuselier, he could travel back up Bayou Carencro, and then, not far past the confluence with Bayou Bourbeaux, follow a short portage to the head of Bayou Vermilion, which, becoming a river not much farther down its length, would take him southward into Vermilion Bay, an arm of the Gulf.  Other prairie bayous, from north to south, also flowed eventually to the Gulf of Mexico:  Bayou Queue de Tortue southward into the Mermentau above Lake Arthur; Bayou Tortue northward into the upper Vermilion; and Bayou Petit Anse southward into Vermilion Bay.  Farther out on the prairies, if the traveler wished to trudge a good distance and construct another pirogue when he reached the bank of the stream, he could follow Bayou Lacassine southward into one of the brackish lakes formed by the Mermentau and then follow that river on to the Gulf.  Farther still, he could follow the Calcasieu River, flowing from the pinewoods south of the Red River valley, through several more fresh water/brackish lakes and into the Gulf.  Even farther to the west, the Sabine River flowed southward from pine-covered country through a brackish lake of its own before entering the Gulf.  Here, in the strip of prairie between the Calcasieu and the Sabine, lay the southern-most portion of disputed territory claimed by French Louisiana and Spanish Texas.  Past the lower Sabine, for many more miles, the prairies extended westward and also southward until they reached the edge of the Texas plateau.  map

Much of the vast prairie region was flat and featureless, but here and there were higher and lower places that gave some variety to the monotonous terrain.  The higher places were called coteaux, the lower places marais and coulees.  Coteaux were the natural levees formed by extinct bayous that were part of the ancient Mississippi delta.  The Grand Coteau lay between bayous Bourbeaux and Carencro, along the west bank of Bayou Teche.  A smaller coteau lay a few miles farther north, also west of the Teche.  Marais and coulees were natural depressions in the land, often surrounded by swamps, that once were floodways for nearby rivers or bayous but had not existed long enough to form banks of their own.  The Grand Marais lay out on the prairie between bayous Nezpique and Lacassine and "ran" parallel to the south-flowing streams.  When the rains came, which could be often, the Grand Marais and the smaller coulees filled with cool fresh water and became favorite resting places for the waterfowl flying down from the north on their way to the coastal marshes, only a few dozen miles away.  In these great marshes south of the prairies stood narrow shell ridges, actually fossil beaches, running parallel to the coast; cheniers, they were called, the name derived from the magnificent live oaks growing upon them.  The Grand Chenier ran past the Mermentau only a few miles from where that river flowed into the Gulf.  Petit Chenier lay north of the Grand Chenier and abutted a lower stretch of the Mermentau.  But the most dramatic features of the region, at the southeastern edge of the prairies, could be found along the north shore of Vermilion Bay.  Here stood five prominent elevations, the largest one, east of Bayou Petit Anse, rising dozens of feet above the surrounding terrain. "Standing atop great salt domes, these oak-clad hills were virtual islands" in the marshy prairie, and that is what the early settlers would call them.252a

Living on the prairies east of the Sabine was a single tribe, the Atakapa.  Typically, they called themselves Ishak, "the people," but they are more commonly known by a name ascribed to them by their tribal neighbors.  In the Mobilian trade jargon, used by most of  the tribes of the Gulf Coast region, Atakapa means "man-eater," for the Ishak were among the few tribes north of Mexico who ritually devoured human flesh.  Despite the huge size of their territory, which extended from the upper Bayou Teche west to the Sabine, and from the middle Red River valley south to the Gulf, "Theirs was a dispersed occupation, and sizable areas were left vacant."252b

According to local historian Harry Lewis Griffin:  "At one time [the Atakapa] were very powerful and made themselves feared by all the surrounding tribes of Indians.  Tradition has it that neighboring tribes formed a league for the purpose of resisting their aggressions.  There followed then a war of extermination.  After a few preliminary fights, according to Indian tradition, the forces of the two enemies met in a great battle on a hill about three miles west of the present town of St. Martinville.  There the hated Attakapas were completely overwhelmed and nearly annihilated.  The remnants of the once powerful tribe, now reduced to a harmless condition, were either incorporated into the victorious tribes or allowed to remain unmolested in the land of their former greatness."253   

Griffin's tale probably is the stuff of legend.  In truth, when the French appeared on the prairies in the 1730s, "The Atakapa comprised four sovereign bands, each of which had one or more villages.  Dialectic differences distinguished the two eastern bands, the sunrise people, from the Hikke Ishak, the sunset bands."  The Opelousa, living east of the the headwaters of Bayou Plaquemine Brûlé, were linguistically linked to the Atakapa but considered themselves a separate band; the name Opelousa in the Atakapan language means "black hair" or "black head."  "At one time or another," writes an historian of Louisiana tribes, "the eastern Atakapa bands occupied locations on upper Bayou Teche, on lower Vermilion River, near Plaquemine Brûlé, near Lake Arthur on the Mermentau River, on the western Grand Lake, on lower Bayou Nezpique (Nezpique Prairie), on Bayou Queue de Tortue, and on Lacassine Island.  The two western bands situated themselves along the Calcasieu River and the last Atakapas village was on Indian Lake, now Lake Prien."  On a northeastern extension of the prairies, bordered by Bayou Boeuf, the lower Red River, and the upper Atchafalaya, dwelled the Avoyel, meaning "flint people," a small tribe related to the Natchez whose name became attached to the surrounding prairie.254

From the time of Bienville's governorship, officials in New Orleans attempted to exert control over the prairie region west of the great Basin.  The Atakapa and Opelousa evidently initiated formal contact by appealing "to the colonial government in the early 1730s to send traders into their villages.  In exchange for European merchandise, they offered peltries, bear oil, and even horses.  The [French] crown encouraged Bienville to investigate the prospects for trade with them; rumors that the Atakapas were cannibals had caused only momentary hesitation.  By 1738 French traders were dealing regularly" with the prairie tribes.  In December 1738, two French entrepreneurs, Jean-Joseph Le Kintrek dit Dupont, former jailer at New Orleans, and Joseph Blanpain, established a partnership that created an Indian trading venture in the area, which lasted until 1744.  Le Kintrek is considered to be "the first European settler in the Opelousas post."  The Indian trade proved to be profitable, and other traders followed, including André Masse and Jacques Courtableau.  In 1756, Capuchin missionaries from Pointe Coupée on the river, and even a missionary from Natchitoches, began holding services at Courtableau's plantation near present-day Opelousas, so there likely were other settlers in the area by then.255

Late in Vaudreuil's governorship or early in Kerlérec's term, colonial officials established a new post west of the Atchafalaya Basin, and only then could they begin to make the claim of an established French presence in the prairie region.  In the early 1750s, they established the Poste des Attakapas at present-day St. Martinville as a strategic point from which to control the open prairies on which cattle could be raised to feed the rest of the colony.  Thus, the first "settlers" in the Attakapas region were livestock concessionaires, most of whom did not live on their huge vacheries, or cattle ranches.  They sent drovers, usually slaves and Afro-Creole hirelings, to watch their herds and to drive the cattle to market.  During the late 1750s and into the early 1760s, Joseph de Goutin de Ville and other retired military officers secured land grants in the district.  In November 1760, Gabriel Fuselier de la Clair began purchasing from the Atakapa chiefs huge tracts of land between the upper Teche and the upper Vermilion.  He, too, managed large herds of semi-wild cattle for the New Orleans market.  Édouard Masse, a native of Grenoble, and his partner Jean-Antoine-Bernard Dauterive, a retired French army captain, also became major cattle producers in the district.  Typically, Dauterive lived on the river at Bayougoula on one of his other vacheries, though his major holdings were out on the Attakapas prairie.  Jean-Baptiste Grevemberg, since the early 1750s, also owned a large vacherie in the district, claiming "as his personal fiefdom" the wide stretch of prairie between Fausse Pointe on the lower Teche westward to the lower Vermilion River valley.  By the early 1760s, then, the Attakapas District was inhabited only by drovers, a few settlers, and several bands of Atakapa.255a

Not until 1763 did the French establish the Poste des Opelousas on the prairies north of Attakapas.  The district surrounding the post, also called Opelousas, was even larger than Attakapas, which it bordered along a line running from lower Bayou Courtableau to the confluence of bayous Fuselier and the upper Teche, and then along bayous Carencro and Queue de Tortue down to the Mermentau and on to the Gulf.  To the north, Opelousas ran up to Red River, and stretched westward to the Texas frontier.  During the early 1760s, only a few traders and cattlemen, like Jacques Courtableau, lived in the Opelousas District, a region as uninhabited as Attakapas to the south.277  map


As the Attakapas concessions demonstrate, although French administration of the colony was slowly winding down during the early 1760s, an ambitious colonist with the right credentials could still acquire land in any of the vast empty spaces French Louisiana had to offer.  This included, of course, the prairie region, but there also were places along the lower Mississippi where no white man had dwelled, or where a Law concession from the 1720s had failed to take root.  One such empty place was the stretch of river between the Upper German Coast and the Fork at the confluence with Bayou Lafourche--the upper half of today's St. John the Baptist Parish and the entire length of St. James Parish.  Here, as well as along other stretches of the lower Mississippi, the river had created another kind of raised land area called a crevasse, "a smaller version of the formation of a delta in both size and time ... an overflow at one spot, a break in the old natural bank of a stream at flood stage that occurs in the outside curve of a bend in the river channel.  The speed of the water turning the corner eats away the bank.  The river breaks out of the channel at that point.  Because of the volume of water, loaded with sediments, and the sudden slowing down of the water, the sediments are dropped in a pattern of a circle around the point of the break.  A small channel is formed in the middle that extends into the back swamp area and usually into a lake.  Periodic flow at flood stage through the small break and channel over a period of about 500 years forms a land mass ....  These areas are large tracts of high land jutting into the interior, surrounded by swamp lands."277a 

Various petit tribes, including the Bayougoula, Mugulasha, Quinapisa, Tangipahoa, and Chitimacha, had lived along that stretch of the river above the German Coast, but no Europeans had settled there during the early days of the colony.  In the 1740s, a trading venture existed among the Houma, who had moved to the area around the Fork from their traditional territory above Baton Rouge.  About this time, Joseph Blanpain of Opelousas prairie fame secured land on the river below the Fork on which he could corral cattle he had acquired from Mexico and Texas and had moved across the prairies and down the Red River to sell at New Orleans.  This stretch of the river, then, had an early association with the burgeoning regional cattle industry.  In the autumn of 1753, Alsatian-Germans newly arrived in the colony were settled on the east bank of the river above the already-established German settlers.  In September 1754, Captain André Neau, a French navigator and businessman, secured a land grant on the west bank of the river below the Fork "in the middle of no where," but he probably did not live there.  In c1755, Alsatian-Germans Mathias Frederick and his wife Marie-Anne Bernhardt, moved upriver from the German Coast and settled on the lower part of Captain Neau's grant.  Mathias's brother-in-law, Alsatian-German Étienne Toups, husband of Catherine Bernhardt, followed Mathias to the area.  They may have been the first crop farmers in the area.  In November 1755, Jacques Jacquelin and Louis Ranson received a grant along the west bank of the river just above Captain Neau's concession and near Frederick and Toups; Jacquelin's and Ranson's grant was 40 arpents wide and 40 arpents deep, plenty of room on which to create a vacherie.  In November 1755, at the same time that Jacquelin and Ranson received their grant, François Braquier secured a grant on the west bank just below the two cattlemen; Braquier named his holding Tabiscania, probably after a Bayougoula village in the area; the grant also was known as La Longue Vue des Colapissas, after local Indians noted for their exceptional vision.  In late 1759, more newly-arrived Alsatian-Germans joined their kinsmen on the Upper German Coast.  During the early 1760s, Delise Dupart secured land on both sides of the river near the old Neau grant and, like Jacquelin and Ranson across the river, raised cattle and sheep along the east bank across from Frederick and Toups.  A few other inhabitants, including former German soldier Johan George Steli, had established themselves along this stretch of the river when Jacques Cantrelle and his sons-in-law, Louis-Jacques Judice, married to Cantrelle's daughter Marie-Jeanne, and Nicolas Verret, married to daughter Marie-Marguerite, secured grants along the west bank, above Jacquelin and Braquier, during the early 1760s.277b

Cantrelle was in his 60s when he received his grant and had a long history in the colony.  Son of Claude Cantrelle and Marguerite Eurguin or Turpin of St.-Léger, Picardy, France, Jacques and his wife, Thérèssé Marquant, had come to Louisiana aboard the Profond out of La Rochelle in 1720, having agreed to serve engagés on Law's Arkansas concession.  In 1723, Jacques and his wife were counted at Sotehouy (Arkansas), but the venture failed.  By January 1726, Jacques and Thérèsée had returned to New Orleans, where they lived on Orleans Street.  During the late 1720s, they moved to another Law concession, at Natchez.  Soon after they arrived, in November 1729, the Natchez turned on the settlement and massacred all but 20 Frenchmen.  Cantrelle was one of the lucky survivors; he had been out hunting when the Indians struck; his wife, who had served as the local mid-wife, was not so lucky.  Jacques hurried back to New Orleans, secured a loan, and resettled at Cannes Brûlé, above New Orleans.  Meanwhile, in April 1730, he remarried to Marie-Marguerite Larmusiau (also spelled Larmurian), whose husband had fallen at Natchez.  Cantrelle and his family moved to Gentilly Ridge at New Orleans, where he served as a warden for St.-Louis church. 

The story goes that in July 1763, with age catching up to him, the violence in the city compelled the old Frenchman to move again.  The year before, he and two of his sons-in-law had secured land grants along the west bank of the river at the extreme upper end of the Second German Coast, and his son-in-law Nicolas Verret had just taken his family thereCantrelle named his plantation Cabahannocer, Choctaw for "mallard's roost" and the name of a small bayou that emptied into the river near his concession.  In year's following, the name of Cantrelle's plantation was applied to the stretch of river from his plantation down to the Second German Coast--Côte Cabahannocer--before it became known as the Acadian Coast.277c 

Not long after Nicolas Verret moved to the river above Jacquelin's cow ranch, French-Creole families from Mobile and the Alabama River valley, called Alibamons by their fellow Louisianians, reached New Orleans in January 1764.  In February and March, some of these Creoles secured grants on the west bank of the river above the Upper German settlers.  These Alibamon families, led by recently-discharged soldiers who had served at Fort Toulouse on the Coosa River, bore the names Baudoin, Brignac, Fonteneau, Grenier, Lagrange, Luquet, and Marcelle; their discharge papers were dated September 1763, during their final days at the fort, and their half-pay pensions were dated June 1764.  Some of them moved on to Pointe Coupée and from there to the western prairies, but others remained on the river above the Germans, where there still was plenty of empty land to settle.300  map


Yet another war broke out between France and Britain during the early 1750s, only a few years after the War of the Austrian Succession had ended in 1748.  Unlike the other major conflicts, which began in Europe and spread to the Americas, this one began in North America and spread to Europe.  The first actions of the conflict occurred on Rivière Missaguash, along the frontier between British Nova Scotia and French-controlled Acadia, and between Virginia militia and Canadian forces near the forks of the Ohio, which the French insisted was the northeastern gateway to their Illinois country.  Each of these actions proved indecisive, so, during the early summer of 1755, British and colonial leaders, led by Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts, chose to break the stalemat.  British regulars and colonial militia under British Major-General Edward Braddock, New York militia General Sir William Johnson, and British Colonel Robert Monckton, under the overall command of Braddock, attacked French forces at Fort Duquesne on the upper Ohio, Crown Point on Lake Champlain in upper New York, and Fort Beauséjour along the Missaguash along the Nova Scotia frontier.  Braddock's force was defeated, and the general was killed, at Monongahela.  Johnson, meanwhile, failed to take Crown Point and retreated to Lac du St.-Sacrement, which he renamed Lake George, on the north shore of which he built Fort William Henry.  Monckton captured Fort Beauséjour in late June, so his was the only expedition that succeeded.  This proved to be a disaster for the Acadians of Nova Scotia.  The colony's lieutenant governor, Charles Lawrence, used the excuse of Monckton's having captured Acadians at Beauséjour to rid the province of its thousands of French inhabitants the following autumn.  (One wonders what was Joseph de Goutin de Ville's response when he learned of the suffering of so many of his kinsmen at the hands of the British.)  In the spring of 1756, Britain and France formally declared war on one another.  The Seven Years' War, as it was called in Europe, the French and Indian War in the colonies, proved to be the final conflict between the two imperial rivals in North America.280 

Like the War of the Austrian Succession of the 1740s, the Seven Years' War of the 1750s did not touch lower Louisiana; that is to say, no regular forces of the enemy invaded the lower Mississippi valley or the Gulf coast settlements, nor the French forts on the rivers above Mobile Bay.  Once again, the Gulf region proved to be a backwater for the contending forces.  France was allied with Spain throughout the conflict, so the French on the lower Mississippi and at Biloxi and Mobile had nothing to fear from Florida, Texas, or Mexico.  British colonists in the Carolinas and Georgia left Florida alone, knowing full well that an attack against San Agústín or Pensacola would result in retaliation from Havana and Veracruz.  But the Carolinians and Georgians felt no compunction about urging their Indian allies, especially the Chickasaw and the Creeks, from attacking their enemies in the Gulf coast region.  But even this did not happen.  One reason is because the Creeks, including the Alibamon and Tallapoosa, once hostile to the French, now sought an alliance with their former enemies to counter Cherokee power and influence in the region, assiduously maintained by the British.  Another reason was the war within a war that occurred in the South Carolina backcountry between the British and their former allies, the Cherokee, in the final months of the war.  In order to subdue the thousands of Cherokee menacing their western frontier, the Carolinians called on their Chickasaw allies to join them in attacking the powerful mountain tribe.  With so many Chickasaw warriors employed so far from their villages, the Chickasaw chiefs had to choice but to remain peaceful with the French and their Indian allies, especially the Choctaw, for much of the war.  Meanwhile, the French commander at Fort Toulouse, in the country of the Upper Creek, provided what aid he could to the Cherokee in their fight against the British.281   

Kerlérec was Louisiana's governor throughout the conflict.  He did his best to maintain the colony's Indian alliances, especially with the Choctaw, made difficult by ministerial neglect.  In 1758, in fact, the Choctaw came close to rebellion when Kerlérec could not provide them with their annual presents.  He oversaw the strengthening of the colony's scattered defenses, this, too, made difficult by ministerial neglect.  Nevertheless, in 1760, he ordered French engineer Louis-Antoine Andry to construct new defenses at Pointe Coupée and Natchez above New Orleans.  He encouraged the commander at Fort Toulouse to assist the beleaguered Cherokee.  And he expended much of his energy as a military leader sending officers and militia troops up the Mississippi to reinforce French forces in Illinois and the pays d'en haut, or Upper Country, west of Canada, where much of the fighting occurred.282

One of the officers sent to Illinois was Charles-Philippe Aubry, captain of colonial forces, who had come to Louisiana in 1750 during Vaudreuil's governorship.  Aubry led a party of French raiders against a British post along the Tennessee River in 1757 and fought in the successful defense of Fort Duquesne, at the forks of the Ohio, in September 1758.  Following the evacuation of Fort Duquesne a  month later, Aubry directed the retreating column's rear guard and returned to Illinois.  In 1759, he led a relief expedition to Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario.  En route, Indians friendly to the British attacked and routed his small force, captured Aubry, ritually tortured him, but allowed him to live.  He was held as a prisoner of war in New York until 1760.  Transported to France with other French prisoners, he made his way back to Louisiana, reaching New Orleans in June 1763.283

Except for the debacle in Nova Scotia, the war went well for France in its first few years--the year 1757 was especially disastrous for British arms in North America.  This led to the fall of the British government under the Duke of Devonshire and the rise of William Pitt.  "From 1758 onward, the French would fight to maintain their influence in continental Europe while the British would fight to conquer an empire, a difference in goals that would eventually prove decisive."  The fortress at Louisbourg fell in July of that year, and with it the colony of Île Royale.  Later in the year, the British deported more Acadians, this time from Île Royale and Île St.-Jean to France, and hundreds more of these luckless people perished even on the British transports that made it to European ports.  British General James Wolfe, at the cost of his life, defeated the French at Québec in September 1759.  A British naval squadron captured Restigouche, at the head of the Baie des Chaleurs, in July 1760, and Montréal fell the following September.  Two years later, in September 1762, at Signal Hill near St. John's, Newfoundland, a British force under Colonel William Amherst won the final battle of the war in North America.  But the British triumphed elsewhere in the Americas.  In 1759, British forces captured Guadeloupe.  And in August 1762, not long after Spain had entered the war on the side of the French, the British captured Havana after a month-long siege.284 

In November 1762, the war essentially over, emissaries from Britain, France, and Spain, having gathered in the French capital, signed the preliminary articles of the Treaty of Parish, which were submitted to the respective governments for ratification.  The ratified treaty was signed at Paris on 10 February 1763.  Britain would return to France Belle-Île-en-Mer, off the southern coast of Brittany; Île de Gorée off the coast of West Africa; Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St. Lucia in the French West Indies; and the islands of St.-Pierre and Miquelon off the southern coast of Newfoundland.  But France would cede to Britain most of its possessions in North America, including Canada, the pays d'en haut, the Ohio River valley, and all of its territory east of the Mississippi River, except for the Isle of Orleans, which it would retain.  British vessels, however, were guaranteed free, unobstructed navigation of the Mississippi River along its entire length, even below Bayou Manchac, the northern boundary of the Isle of Orleans.  Spain, for the return of Havana, ceded all of Florida to Britain, so that the British would control not only French Mobile, Biloxi, forts Toulouse and Tombecbé, but also Spanish Pensacola and San Agústín.285

But what was signed at Paris in February 1763 was only the "public" provisions of the Peace of Paris.  Back in November, during the final days of negotiations between the delegates representing the three belligerent powers, the French and Spanish delegates, with the approbation of their respective monarchs, Louis XV and Charles III, signed a secret treaty.  It was called Fontainebleau by the one and San Ildefonso by the other and did not become known outside of the highest governmental circles for more than a year after the Peace of Paris was signed.  The Treaty of Fontainebleau awarded that part of Louisiana not ceded to the British to France's ally, Spain.  Here was compensation for the loss of Florida, which Spain had claimed in 1513 and had colonized in 1565.  The French cession to Spain included not only the west bank of the Mississippi from its still-undiscovered source in the pays d'en haut down to the river's delta, but also the Isle of Orleans.  Here, again, as half a century earlier, a French colony had outlived its usefulness; now, along with the thousands of loyal subjects living there, it could be tossed aside so that other, more profitable colonies could be retained for the enrichment of mother France.  Canada and Île Royale were gone, and with them the grand-strategic vision of La Salle, Iberville's valiant efforts to maintain it, and the Regency's implementation of the North American strategy--the encirclement of the British colonies hugging the Atlantic seaboard, with Louisiana serving, also, as guardian of the backdoor to Canada.  The British had conquered Île Royale, Canada, the Ohio valley, and some of the pays d'en haut, but no redcoat had set foot in any part of Louisiana south of the Ohio valley.  No matter, the treaties of November 1762 and February 1763 were tantamount to a successful British invasion of the colony.  The seals and signatures were affixed to the documents:  French Louisiana would be no more.286


The first hint that a great change was coming to Louisiana was the recall of Governor Kerlérec in November 1762, soon after the secret treaty was signed at Fontainebleau.  Kerlérec did not return to France, however, until the arrival of Jean-Jacques-Blaise d'Abbadie, the putative replacement for Vincent-Gaspard-Pierre de Rochemore, the colony's ousted commissaire-ordonnateur, whose office had been vacant since early 1762.  Commissioned commissaire-ordonnateur in December 1761, d'Abbadie would have reached New Orleans much earlier than he did, but fate dictated otherwise.  Nine days after his ship, the Bien Acquis, left Bordeaux in February 1762, the British captured the vessel and held d'Abbadie as prisoner at Barbados, where he remained for three months.  After his release, he returned to France, but much had changed by then.  He received a new commission, this one naming him Louisiana's director-general, which called for him to serve as both governor and ordonnateur in a transitional government that would cease to exist when the Spanish took control of the colony.287

D'Abbadie, a native of Château d'Audoux, Basses Pyréneés, France, was only 37 years old when he reached Louisiana.  Like Bienville, he was a life-long bachelor.  As a graduate of the College d'Harcourt, he carried impressive academic credentials.  Still, he entered the royal service as a humble clerk in the lumber-receiving department at the royal naval yard at Rochefort, was serving as a royal scribe in the naval comptroller's office by 1743, and was a clerk in the naval repair shop the following year.  During the War of the Austrian Successor, he went to sea, serving on a French man-of-war in the Caribbean in 1745 and in Canadian waters the following year, when he was captured by the British.  He remained as a prisoner of war until the war ended two years later.  Back in France, he returned to the naval bureaucracy, becoming chief clerk of the artillery department in 1751.  Six years later, in 1757, he was promoted to the important office of commissary general in the Naval Office's colonial bureau.  Still commissary general, he sailed with the small French squadron that attempted to relieve Louisbourg in 1758, so, again, he was more than a desk-bound bureaucrat.  His experience as a chief clerk, as well as his shipboard service, earned for him promotion to Louisiana's commissaire-ordonnateur in 1761, and, after that colony no longer needed such an officer, garnered for him promotion as the colony's director-general in 1763.  D'Abbadie's original orders as the colony's ordonnateur charged him with maintaining "good relations between the colony's feuding religious orders, the Capuchins and Jesuits, and to administer efficiently Louisiana's financial, police and judicial affairs."  His new orders as director-general added the complicated task of dismantling "the colony's French garrison" and preparing Louisiana "for occupation by English and Spanish forces pursuant to the terms of the Treaty of Paris...."288

Until d'Abbadie's arrival, the job of acting commissaire-ordonnateur was held by Denis-Nicolas Foucault, a 38-year-old bachelor and native of Québec who had served not only in his native Canada but also at Rochefort and in India before coming to Louisiana, supposedly to flee his many creditors.  Foucault, who had been appointed as naval commissary at Mobile, had left Bordeaux in February 1762 aboard the Medée, which was in the same convoy as the ship on which d'Abbadie sailed.  The Medée, however, eluded capture and reached New Orleans the following April.  Back in France, the new Minister of Marine, the duc de Choiseul, had instructed Foucault to act in d'Abbadie's place in case the ordonnateur's arrival was delayed for any reason.  The Minister also had insisted that Foucault co-operate fully with Governor Kerlérec, and this Foucault was determined to do.  He found the colony's finances in a shambles and the royal warehouse at New Orleans completely empty.  It did not take him long to realize that much of this was the result of Rochemore's corruption and the chronic neglect of the mother country.  The more he looked at the financial and administrative state of the colony, the more he could see that the Minister's recent sacking of Rochemore had saved the colony from even greater injury.  Foucault's drastic measures to restore Louisiana's finances met stiff resistance from Rochemore's partisans, including the ousted ordonnateur's relations.  Following Kerlérec's advice, Foucault gathered around him a coterie of loyal but generally inexperienced officials, including a new comptroller for the colony whom Rochemore had "interdicted."  Unfortunately, the Minister ignored Foucault's repeated requests to send more experienced administrators to Louisiana.  The acting commissary's efforts also were hampered by the fact that his position was more nominal that actual.  He was, in fact, only a "brevetted" commissary; his actual position was that of clerk.  Kerlérec beseeched the Minister to make Foucault a full commissary, but the Minister knew that d'Abbadie would eventually reach Louisiana, so he ignored the governor's suggestion.  "Foucault's lack of authority, therefore, caused him to cling tenaciously to the letter of his instructions, which were identical to those sent originally to D'Abbadie, which were not sufficient to solve Louisiana's short-term financial problems."  Sadly, these unsolved money problems threw Louisiana's economy--its commerce as well as its agriculture--deeper into what today would be called economic depression and led to much suffering among the settlers, the affluent as well as the poor.289

Foucault's dubious position also affected his relationship with the colony's Superior Council.  The ordonnateur not only was the colony's chief financial officer but also its first, or chief, judge in cases brought before the Council.  Governor Kerlérec had removed Rochemore from his role as first judge in 1760 and had been serving in that capacity for two long years.  Kerlérec a naval officer for most of his career, had no experience in, much knowledge of, French law.  In June 1762, he was eager to had the office of first judge to the acting ordonnateur, who also had no knowledge of the law.  As a result, Foucault turned for help to other members of the Council, scions of an institution that, since its creation during the Crozat period half a century before, had gradually but inexorably enhanced its powers and privileges.  "The fledgling commissaire-ordonnateur, therefore, exerted much less influence over his subordinates, who actually controlled the Superior Council, than any other period of French rule"  Foucault depended especially on acting attorney general Charles-Marie de la Lande d'Apremont, which "would profoundly affect the future course of events within the colony."290

During the same month that Foucault assumed the position of first judge in the Superior Council, he impressed Governor Kerléec by saving the alliance with the Choctaw, who for years had protested the dearth of presents they expected from the French at least once a year.  Aboard the ship Foucault had taken to Louisiana, the Medée, was a shipment of goods cobbled together by the Minister of Marine to give to the Indians--the first such shipment to Kerlérec in several years.  Among the goods were blankets, a mainstay of the Indian trade.  Unfortunately, the Bordeaux merchant, François Lavaud, fils, who, despite his reputation as a profiteer, had been chosen by the Minister to provide the goods, had shipped to the colony not the superior woolen comforters known as limbourgs but much the much inferior mazamets, which the Indians considered more appropriate for slaves than for chiefs, warriors, and their families.  As the colony's chief commissary it was Foucault's job to authorize the issue of presents to Indians.  Informed by Kerlérec that the blankets from the Minister were not only of an inferior quality but, if issued, would insult the Indians, the quick-thinking Foucault authorized as presents the shirts the Minister had sent for the colony's French troops, which the Choctaw eagerly accepted.291

Foucault, as acting ordonnateur, was faced with yet another daunting task.  In 1721, during the Law period, the Company had organized Louisiana into nine military districts, each with a commandant and commissary or storekeeper of its own:  New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Alibamons, Natchez, Yazoo, Natchitoches, Arkansas, and Illinois.  After 1721, the Company had created new districts for the German Coast, Pointe Coupee, and Attakapas.  By mid-July 1762, Foucault turned his attention to the administration of these districts, especially to the accounts of the district commissaries and storekeepers, whose positions extended the bicephalous administration of the colony down to the level of the military district.  Foucault did not care for what he found.  In some cases, the commandants had usurped the power of the commissaries or storekeepers and used the contents of the King's storehouses for their own profit.  "Unfortunately for the French administration, the storekeepers were lax, not only in the assertion of their authority, but also in the general supervision of the royal warehouses."  Again, Foucault could see for himself the ill effects of Rochemore's tenure as the colony's ordonnateur.  "Foucault required each storekeeper immediately to take an inventory, to reduce excessive expenditures, and to forward tardy accounts."  If his efforts failed, "it was because of the undermanned bureaucracy in the outposts."  An extreme example of this under-staffing was the Illinois district, where there was neither a functioning commissary nor a storekeeper when Foucault visited Fort des Chartres.  Foucault immediately filled the vacancies with qualified personnel from Mobile and New Orleans.  This reduced the staffs at those places, of course, but it could not be helped.  He could expect no new administrators from France.292

One of Foucault's least pleasant duties was the investigation of the dispute between Governor Kerlérec and Ordonnateur Rochemore--the so called "Louisiana Affair."   Complicating Foucault's work was the fact that Rochemore was still at New Orleans, awaiting a ship to take him and his family back to France.  Foucault found no wrong-doing on the part of the governor.  Not so with the ousted ordonnateur and his associates.  One of the culprits in the "Affair" was Jean-Baptiste Destréhan de Beaupré, the colony's treasurer, who had served in that capacity since 1722  and had been appointed comptroller as well in 1746, during Vaudreuil's governorship.  Foucault discovered that Destréhan "not only had failed to  maintain current account sheets, but also was involved in profiteering schemes during the French and Indian War," but the acting ordonnateur refrained from issuing formal charges against the treasurer for fear of losing an experienced administrator.  Foucault felt no compunction about issuing formal charges against Rochemore himself and several of his other associates, including former acting ordonnateur Jean-Baptiste-Claude Bobé-Descloseaux, who was still in the colony.  Foucault's report to Minister Choiseul contended that "he 'had seen nothing but confusion which (he) could attribute only to the failures of the (officials) and to the disputes that had arisen in the colony.'"  Foucault sent his report to the Minister aboard the Medée, which left New Orleans in late July.  Also aboard were Rochemore, his family, and some of his associates.  Before the ship departed, Rochemore and his associates, knowing they would face serious charges at Court, had asked Foucault for the proceeds, in the form of colonial bills of exchange, from the sale of their Louisiana property.  Foucault refused Rochemore's request but was more generous with the others.  However, Foucault did allow Rochemore to take aboard the vessel a consignment of Campeche wood that the former ordonnateur claimed he owned.293

By the time Jean-Jacques-Blaise d'Abbadie finally reached Louisiana, Foucault, during his 14 months in the colony, and Kerlérec, despite his "lame duck" status, had accomplished much of what the new director-general had been ordered by the Minister to perform.  But, of course, there was more be done in a colony that no longer belonged to France.  New commission in hand, the director-general had left Rochefort in March 1763, reached Balize on June 21, dined with the post commander, Ricard de Villiers, and stepped off the boat at New Orleans after an eight-day voyage upriver He was greeted by Foucault and a delegation from the Superior Council.  Kerlérec may have been there, too.  With d'Abbadie were orders for Foucault, promoting him to the colony's comptroller.  Foucault had proved his worth during his short time in the colony, so he no longer would bear the rank of a mere naval clerk.  His promotion made him second only to d'Abbadie in the colonial administration.  D'Abbadie informed Kerlérec of his orders from the Minister and extended to him the courtesy of retaining "the dignity of his office until his departure in November."  In truth, after June 1763 Kerlérec served "merely as a figurehead whose familiarity with France's Indian allies was necessary to facilitate the transfer" of eastern Louisiana to the British.  Alert colonists must have wondered why another royal governor had not accompanied the new ordonnateur from France, unless this was the colony's new governor.  Neither Kerlérec nor d'Abbadie were at liberty to explain the reason for d'Abbadie's strange new title.  And not even the most knowledgeable Louisianian could have known that the chevalier de Kerlérec, in the colony for a decade, would be the last royal governor of French Louisiana.293a

Accompanying d'Abbadie from Rochefort was an old hand in Louisiana military affairs, whom Kerlérec certainly welcomed.  Charles-Philippe Aubry had come to the colony in 1750, commanded Louisiana troops in the Illinois and Ohio country during the recent war, and, while on a relief expedition to Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario, had been captured in New York by Indians friendly to the British.  After recuperating from ritual torture at the hands of his captors, Aubry had spent time in a New York prison-of-war compound before the British repatriated him to France.  Reaching New Orleans in June 1763, he now was the King's commandant in Louisiana. 

Following the Minister's orders, which seemed more concerned about saving money than protecting Louisiana, d'Abbadie summoned the commanders of the regular units still serving in the colony--the 10 companies of the Angoumois Regiment, the 35 detached companies of French Marines, the artillery company, and the company of the comte d'Hallwyl's, formerly Karrar's, Swiss mercenaries--and, beginning only a few weeks after his arrival, transferred most of them to French St.-Domingue,.  This left d'Abbadie with only four companies of French Marines under Aubry's command "to preserve order" during the difficult months ahead.294

It did not take long for the Minister's parsimonious policies to place the colony in jeopardy.  In May 1763, the month before d'Abbadie reached New Orleans, a huge rebellion broke out in the pays d'en haut against the victorious British.  Named for a chief of the Ottawa who was only one of many native leaders in the revolt, Pontiac's Rebellion eventually involved not only the Ottawa but also the Ojibwa, Potawatomi, Huron, Miami, Weas, Kickapoo, Mascouten, Piankashaw, Delaware (Lenape), Shawnee, Wyandot, Mingo, and Seneca (the only tribe among the Iroquois who rebelled), most of them allies of France in that nation's many wars with Britain.  The natives were especially riled by British General Jeffrey Amherst treating them like a conquered people, which all insisted they were not.  Amherst, having underestimated the attachment of these tribes to the French, had stationed only 500 of his 8,000 North American troops at the forts in the pays d'en hautThe Indians destroyed eight forts, most of them former French posts, killed or captured hundreds of British settlers, and drove even more of them out of the region.  Amherst and his superiors in London blamed the French, of course, for the bloody uprising.  Amherst hurried more troops from Canada to the pays d'en haut and ordered British reinforcements from Mobile to gather at New Orleans and hurry upriver to Fort de Chartres "to sever Pontiac's lines of communications with French Louisiana."  An expedition under Major Arthur Loftus from Mobile gathered at New Orleans in February 1764.  Their navigation of the Mississippi had been guaranteed by the Treaty of Paris, and d'Abbadie and Aubry did not interfere.  Loftus reached Pointe Coupée by March, and he made the mistake of ignoring the habitants there when they warned him "of an impending Indian ambush" farther upriver.  Loftus continued his slow ascent of the river, and, sure enough, as they approached Roche-à-Davion, near present-day Fort Adams, Mississippi, a force of 30 Tunica, Choctaw, Avoyel, and Offogoula, "concealed by the dense foliage along the riverbank" on the east side of the river, opened fire on the British convoy.  Loftus did not resist but promptly retreated to New Orleans and, spurning d'Abbadie's offer of aid, made "malicious accusations to the effect that the director general had ordered the Indians to attack the expedition."  Thus began a long dispute between French officials in French Louisiana and British officers and officials in West Florida.297

D'Abbadie's most galling task, however, was overseeing the transition of eastern Louisiana from French to British control.  Although British representatives had not yet reached Mobile, which they had designated as the capital of British West Florida, d'Abbadie left for Mobile in late October 1763 and remained there until early January 1764.  At Mobile, the director-general treated with the Indians and negotiated with British representatives after they appeared.  "What an assignment," d'Abbadie lamented, "to have to deal with men drunk with their success, who regard themselves as masters of the world."  It was a difficult task for the director-general, but it was especially painful for the hundreds of Frenchmen who had set down roots in the Alibamon districts.  The British, as expected, were insensitive to the plight of their former enemies.  What they offered these Frenchmen in 1763 sounded a lot like what they had offered the Acadians of newly-conquered Nova Scotia half a century before:  "In late October 1763, Major Robert Farmar, the British representative, offered French Mobilians the protection of British law if they remained; but, if they chose to depart for French-occupied Louisiana they would have to dispose of their immovable property within three months, an almost impossible task in view of the prevailing economy."  Despite this onerous restriction, most of the settlers in the original part of Louisiana chose to emigrate to western Louisiana, with the option of continuing on to French St.-Domingue.  Those who went to western Louisiana were called, for a time, Alibamons, there.  D'Abbadie's government would have no choice but to assist them in their resettlement west of the Mississippi.  The French troops left in the area--at forts Condé, Toulouse, and Tombecbé--were ordered to New Orleans, from where most of the ones still on active duty would be sent to St.-Domingue.  The Mobile garrison was evacuated in late October, but evacuating the soldiers and settlers at forts Toulouse and Tombecbé would take more time.  "The English representatives feared the Indians and threatened to jail the French soldiers if they abandoned the posts, or if their Indian friends caused any troubles."  The Indians, of course--especially the Choctaw and some of the Alibamon--did not want the British to occupy the posts.  D'Abbadie, ignoring the British threat, evacuated the upper posts between November and January and sent the soldiers and their families on to New Orleans.  His business at Mobile completed, d'Abbadie, with many of the residents and soldiers, returned to New Orleans aboard the Salomon in early January 1764.  In a letter to the Minister of Marine, dated January 10 from Mobile, d'Abbadie already had in mind what he would do with the Alibamons who chose to remain in western Louisiana.  "'I shall furnish them with boats necessary to transport their goods,'" he assured the Minister. "'I shall grant them lands along the Mississippi River's right bank; and, in accordance with your views, my Lord, regarding new settlements, their land grants will be as near as possible to New Orleans and other existing posts, such as Allemands and Point Coupee."295

Another consequence of the British occupation of eastern Louisiana was disruption of the area's native tribes, many of whom were still loyal to the French.  British officials were naive enough to believe that these Indians would welcome them with open arms, but most of the natives did not.  Like the French Creole settlers in the region, they, too, chose to migrate to western Louisiana.  The Pacana Creek, part of the Alibamon tribe, having left their traditional homeland and moved to the Mobile Bay area when they allied with the French, joined their linguistic kin, the Houma, on the east bank of the Mississippi above the German Coast, a stretch of the lower river still belonging to the French.  Also joining the Houma were small tribes living north and east of Lake Pontchartrain, now British territory--the Acolapissa, Quinapisa, and Tangipahoa.  Another band of Alibamon, from the area near Fort Toulouse, moved to the east bank of the Mississippi just below and across from the Fork, near the Houma and their allied tribes; these Alibamon, also known as Koasati and Coushatta, later moved to the western prairies.  Some of the Taensa who, in c1715, Bienville had moved from the Mississippi valley to the river above Mobile Bay that still bears their name, moved to the west side of the Mississippi across from the Houma et al., while others moved to the west bank of the Red River with some of the Apalache bands, including the Chato, who settled near the rapids at present-day Alexandria.  Other Apalache bands left the Mobile Bay area and moved to the river above New Orleans.  Meanwhile, the Tunica and Ofo moved from the east, or British, side of the river to the west, or French, side above Baton Rouge.  The Biloxi and Pascagoula left their villages along the coast east of Lake Pontchartrain and settled below the Tunica and the Ofo.  With the limited resources at their disposal, d'Abbadie and Foucault could offer little assistance to these loyal Indian allies beyond welcoming them to their new homes in French Louisiana.295a

Back in New Orleans, d'Abbadie received a letter from the King, dated 21 April 1764.  One of the phrases from Louis XV's hand either confirmed what d'Abbadie already had been told, or struck him like a bolt from the blue.  The King expressed the sentiment "that His Catholic Majesty [King Charles III of Spain] will be pleased to give his subjects in Louisiana the marks of protection and good will which only the misfortunes of war have prevented from being more effectual."  Accompanying the King's letter, or perhaps already in d'Abbadie's possession, were the provisions of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, now almost two years old.  In September 1764, d'Abbadie announced to a stunned population, including the now dispossessed Alibamons, the terms of the treaty:  New Orleans and Louisiana west of the Mississippi no longer belonged to France.296

D'Abbadie was determined to restore Louisiana's economy regardless of who actually owned the colony.  French Louisiana had suffered economic depression since the beginning of the Seven Years' War--that is, for nearly a decade--so d'Abbadie "attempted to encourage commerce through reestablishment of the colony's credit and a reaffirmation of the French hegemony over the Mississippi Valley fur trade."  He used government funds, without authorization, to stimulate commerce and agriculture.  He urged the continued production of tobacco and indigo for international trade and encouraged experimentation in growing sugar for an even larger world market.  He "granted a monopoly on the fur trade to Maxent, LaClède and Co., New Orleans merchants," in part to protect the natives still friendly with the French from being exploited by "men dangerous because of their greed and poor conduct," French as well as English.  These measures, especially the fur monopoly, angered local merchants, "who mounted a correspondence campaign to [Minister] Choiseul attacking D'Abbadie's action."298

The stress and strain of office took its toll on the 38-year-old bachelor.  D'Abbadie became ill in January 1765, suffering from, among other things, lead poisoning.  Despite his relatively young age, he died suddenly on 4 February 1765 of apoplexy.  This threw the colony deeper into chaos as d'Abbadie's subordinates attempted to reconstruct the colonial government without direction from the King or Minister.  Aubry, the King's commandant, became the acting governor, and Foucault resumed the post of commissaire-ordonnateur.  The bicephalous government, only briefly suppressed, was now, in its final days, restored to French Louisiana.299 

Shortly after d'Abbadie's passing, Aubry and Foucault welcomed to New Orleans the early arrivals of what soon would become one of the largest mass migrations into the colony.  Without warning, over 600 Acadian exiles from British Nova Scotia, the first of them led by the notorious resistance fighter, Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, reached Balize and, with French permission, slowly ascended the river to the colonial capital.



BOOK ONE         BOOK TWO            BOOK FOUR              BOOK FIVE


01.  Quotations from Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 4. 

02.  Quotations from André Vachon, "Jolliet, Louis," 394, 395, in DCB, 1:393-98.  See also J. Monet, "Marquette, Jacques" in DCB, 1:490-93.  Vachon, p. 394, speculates that 4 of the other voyageurs with Jolliet & Marquette may have been Jacques Largillier, Pierre Moreau, Jean Thiberge or Téberge, & Jean Plattier, all Jolliet's partners.  The identity of the fifth voyageur Vachon does not venture to guess. 

In truth, Jolliet and his party were 700 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi when they turned back at the Quapaw village.  There were no Spanish settlements, not even missions, within hundreds of miles of the place, but he, & probably the Indians, did not know that. 

Jolliet was the only survivor of the accident at the St.-Louis rapids above Montréal.  He married, went into business, explored the southern shore of Hudson Bay & the coast of Labrador, & lived until 1700, when he died at age 55 perhaps on the north shore of the lower St. Lawrence.  Marquette died much earlier, on a trek thru the wilderness between the Illinois River & Mission St.-Ignace, in May 1675 (only 2 1/2 years after the voyage down the Mississippi); he was only 38 years old.  Two years after his death, a party of Kiskakon Indians, who revered him, disinterred his body where it had been buried & transported it back to St..-Ignace, where it was reinterred. 

03.  See Céline Dupré, "Cavelier de La Salle, René-Robert," in DCB, 1:172-84; Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, quote from p. 5. 

03a.  Catararcoui/Cataraqui/Fort Frontenac is the site of present-day Kingston, ON. 

04.  Quotation from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:175. 

05.  For Tonty, also called Tonti, see E. B. Osler, "Tonty, Henri (de)," in DCB, 2:633-36; Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 54-55. 

La Salle's Fort Conti was later called Fort Denonville and, finally, Fort Niagara. 

The Griffin is called both a bark & a galliot.  And the difference is? 

The Stinking Bay is today's Green Bay (any Stinking Bay Packers fans out there?).  The French trading post at the head of Green Bay dated back to 1635 & was an important entrepot for the western fur trade. 

06.  Quotation from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:176.  La Salle sent Father Hennepin down the Illinois to locate the confluence with the Mississippi.  That the good priest then explored the upper reaches of the Mississippi is likely.   His claim to have been the first to travel to the river's mouth is not supported by history. 

07.  Quotation from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:177

08.  Quotation from ibid., 1:178.  Dupré says, on 1:178, that the "Acolapissas" fired on La Salle's downriver party in Apr 1782.  Crouse, Lemoyne d'Iberville, 178, note 23, in describing Iberville's ascent of the lower Mississippi in Mar 1699 but mentioning La Salle's downriver expedition of 1782, also confuses the Colapissa, as he calls them, & the Quinipissas, also Queripasa, noting that their name meant "guardians or sentinels" & concluded that "These Indians served as watchers for hostile parties about Lake Pontchartrain and the coastal lagoons.  Quinipissa," he goes on, "was considered, therefore, more of a generic term than the name of a particular tribe."  Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 50-51, followed here, points out that the Acolapissa, a Muskogean-speaking, Choctaw-related tribe, lived on the lower Pearl River at the time, but that the Quinapisa, also a Muskogean-speaking tribe and perhaps an offshoot of the Acolapissa, lived on the right, or west, bank of the lower Mississippi in 1682.  Kniffen insists that it was the Quinapisa, not the Acolapissa, who fired on La Salle's party as the Frenchmen passed their village, which was located near present-day Hahnville, just upriver and on the opposite bank, from present-day New Orleans. 

09.  Quotation from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:178. 

10.  Starved Rock, & the fort that stood upon it, is near present-day La Salle, IL.  For fully a decade, the priest serving Starved Rock was Jesuit Father Jacques Gravier, who later would serve in Iberville's LA colony.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 252. 

11.  Quotation from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:179.  See also Mathé Allain, "In Search of a Policy, 1701-1731," p. 90, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA

12.  Quotations from ibid., 1:180; & Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 5.  Seignelay was the son of Louis XIV's influential Minister of Finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who had died in 1683. 

13.  Quotations from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:181.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 18-23, provides a detailed review of the early history of Bahía del Espíritu Santo/Baie du Saint-Esprit/Bahía Mobila/Mobile Bay. 

14.  Quotations from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:181.

15.  <>, contains a solid narrative on La Salle's settlement; <>, along with a short narrative, includes maps & photographs of the site of La Salle's settlement in present-day Victoria County, TX.  Hyperlinks from these sites will provide the reader with many more details of what happened in coastal TX after La Salle's death, including the fate of the Talon children, especially Jean-Baptiste.  

15a.  Dupré calls the Hasinai the Cenis.  See also Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 76. 

16.  Quotation from Dupré, "La Salle," 1:182. 

17.  Quotation from ibid., 1:183. 

18.  Quotations from Osler, "Tonty," 2:634.  Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 191, dates Tonty's letter to La Salle, which he left with the Bayougoula, 20 Apr 1685.  I follow Osler here. 

Oubre, Vacherie, 15, relates the story, first told by Dumont de Montigny, of the Iberville expedition of 1699 finding "a bottle hanging on a lone tree on the bank" of the lower Mississippi, that "in the bottle was a map indicating the direction that the former traveler had taken.  This was possibly a message from Tonti who had come downriver searching for La Salle." 

19.  Quotation from Osler, "Tonty," 2:635, who goes on to say that Tonty, "Half-starved and short of ammunition, ... gave up the attempt after penetrating as far as the northwestern part of what is now Houston County, Texas," which likely was the territory of the Hasinai, who had befriended La Salle & his colonists & would have welcomed Tonty. 

20.  For details on the fate of the colony, see the websites listed in note 15, above. 

20b.  For Tonty's publication, more a romanticized memoir concocted by his publisher than an accurate history of the La Salle expeditions, see Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 5; Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 55, who says that the publication embarrassed Tonty. 

21.  See Jean-Jacques Lefebvre, "Le Moyne de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, Charles," in DCB, 1:463; 65; Bernard Pothier, "Le Moyne d'Iberville et D'Ardillières, Pierre," in DCB, 2:390-401. 

22.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 162. 

23.  Iberville's exploits on Hudson Bay, during King William's War, & during his final days in the Caribbean, see Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, passim; & Pothier, "d'Iberville."  Pothier, interestingly, offers no detail on any of Iberville's explorations in LA. 

24.  Traversier is Crouse's term.  His note 17, p. 167, in LeMoyne d'Iberville, describes it as "A small ship used in coastwise trade," hence the need for considerable refitting to make such a ship seaworthy.  Pothier, "d'Iberville," 2:396, says only that Iberville took 4 ships with him to the Indies & into the Gulf in 1698; he names the larger ships but gives no detail about the smaller ones.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 45, uses the term traversier in referring to the Précieux (Précieuse, he calls it), which, amazingly, was still afloat in early 1702 after 3 years of hard use in Louisiana waters.  See ibid., p. 83, note 52. 

For Sauvole, a somewhat mysterious character, see Craig A. Bauer, "Sauvole, M. de," in DLB, 718-19.  The fuller name used here is from Crouse, pp. 164-65, who describes Sauvole as "a wealthy man who had made a reputation for himself as poet and soldier but preferred, as such men occasionally do, a life of adventure and excitement."  He certainly got it in Louisiana. 

Jean-Baptiste was the second of his brothers to bear the honorific Bienville.  His older brother François de Bienville died fighting the Iroquois at Repentigny, near Montréal, in the first months of King Williams' War, when Jean-Baptiste was 10 or 11 years old.  Probably in honor of his older brother, Jean-Baptiste assumed the name.  See Parkman, France & England, 2:210. 

24a.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 23, says that the failure to find the harbor east of Massacre Island is why Iberville ended up choosing Biloxi Bay for his first settlement.  It also was the reason why Iberville did not realize on this first visit to Mobile Bay that he had visited Spain's Bahía del Espíritu Santo. 

See Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, illustrations, for a graphic depiction of "Iberville's Exploration of the Gulf Coast and Lower Mississippi River, February-March 1699."

24b.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 28, note 7, & Illustrations, gives some detail on the fort's design & construction, &, on p. 28, calls Pensacola "the most coveted harbor the Gulf Coast."  

25.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 173. 

26.  Quotations from ibid., p. 176. 

27.  Quotations from C[harles]. E[dwards]. O'Neill, "Le Moyne de Bienville, Jean-Baptiste," in DCB, 3:380; & Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 177.  <> is the source for the name Cape Mud. 

27a.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 108, note 60, says that Bayou Mardi Gras, "on the lower river," was named for the 3 Mar 1699 celebration, the first in Louisiana.  Did they celebrate before or after Iberville climbed the tree? 

28.  The wild steer killed by the expedition's hunters may have been the origin of the name Bayou Terre-aux-Boeufs, a distributary of the Mississippi in present-day St. Bernard Parish, below New Orleans, where Isleños from the Canary Islands settled in the late 1770s. 

29.  Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 180, has the Indian guide take "a package," hurry down a well-worn trail that led off into the woods, & hours later return with a container full of water he assured them he had taken from an arm of the sea.  The Indian explained to them that they were not very far from the head of a small bayou which flowed north into the arm of the sea.   

Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 109, quotes Iberville as saying the Indians who lived at the portage were the "Quinipissas." 

Ibid., pp. 109-110, says that the Indian trail from the head of Bayou St.-Jean, running first east & then southeast to the end of the Esplanade Ridge, located just north of & perpendicular to the natural levee, ran for 2 miles & is today's Bayou Road.  Ibid., p. 107, quotes Iberville as saying that the portage was a league in length, which in 1700 could have been between 3.25 & 4.68 km, or about ... 2 miles.  For depictions of "Bayou St. John Portage, 1700s-2000s," see ibid., illustrations. 

A wonderful description of the St.-Jean portage, from the perspective of 1721, can be found in Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 63.  One suspects that, except for a village of Biloxi, who Bienville had coaxed into the moving to the site in c1700, little had changed along the portage between 1699 & 1721.  Today, the portage is unrecognizable since it runs thru the heart of the City of New Orleans.  Bayou St.-Jean, which still exists, empties into Lake Pontchartrain near the campus of the University of New Orleans. 

30.  Quotations from Oubre, Vacherie, 17; Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 181.  Ibid., p. 180, says that in Mar 1699 the Bayougoula village lay above the mouth of Bayou Plaquemine, but Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 50, followed here, says, "The four to five hundred Bayougoula in 1700 were clustered about a small village on the site of modern Bayou Goula," which is below the mouth of Bayou Plaquemine.  Kniffen et al. also is used here as the standard for the spelling of Indian tribe names in the region. 

Oubre says that "Lake Outardes" is at the entrance to the present-day Bonnet Carré Spillway. 

31.  The name Iti Houma is from Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, 118.  As anyone familiar with the Baton Rouge area knows, Istrouma is the more common Indian spelling &, among other things, is the name of an area on the north side of town, with its eponymous high school.  Go, Indians! 

32.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 184-85.  The first island in the Mississippi encountered by Iberville in late Mar 1699 is today's Profit Island, between Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee. 

33.  Quotation from ibid., p. 187. 

Oubre, Vacherie, 15, relates the story, first told by Dumont de Montigny in his Memoires Historique Sur La Louisiane, of Iberville finding "a bottle hanging on a lone tree on the bank" of the lower Mississippi, that "in the bottle was a map indicating the direction that the former traveler had taken.  This was possibly a message from Tonti who had come downriver searching for La Salle."  If so, this would have immediately solved the puzzle for Iberville about the identity of the river, & he would not have had to agonize over the question for so long. 

33a.  According to Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 25, during the downriver leg of the expedition in Mar 1699, "Father Anastase [Douay's]'s bag containing his breviary, his diary of the voyage and other belongings, was either lost or stolen.  While a search was being made for it among the Indians, Iberville was overjoyed to find a prayerbook, a list of names of the Canadians accompanying LaSalle and a letter from Tonti, also a coat-of-mail from DeSoto's expedition.  Iberville had no doubt at all now that this was the Mississippi River, the River Colbert, which LaSalle had explored."  The trouble with this story is that Iberville, having taken the shortcut at Bayou Manchac, could not have been with the others at Bayougoula at the time.  Still, the story is a good one.  Crouse insists that it was Bienville who found the letter from Tonty.  See p. 191. 

Oubre, Vacherie, 15, citing Dumont de Montigny's Memoires Historique Sur La Louisiane, says that Bienville found at Bayougoula a Spanish helmet from the time of De Soto & "a prayer book that had belonged to a priest with La Salle," as well as Tonty's letter to LaSalle, which mentioned another letter he had left "downriver in the hollow of a tree."  Oubre adds that the letter had been in the hands of the Mugulasha, who now were living with their Bayougoula, that, before they joined the Bayougoula, the Mugulasha had lived along the west bank of the Mississippi near the present-day boundary between St. John the Baptist & St. James parishes. 

33b.  Iberville turned back downriver near what is today called Old River.  See Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, illustrations. 

34.  Quotation from <>, first published by Greg English in the Lafayette (LA) Daily Advertiser, 26 Jan 1999. 

34a.  See note 24a, above.  Ironically, Mobile Bay is where he would relocate the main settlement 3 years later, but only after finding the harbor east of Massacre. 

35.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 193. 

36.  Quotation from ibid., pp. 194-95.  Pother, "d'Iberville," p. 396, says that Iberville left 81 men at Fort Maurepas, but Crouse, p. 194, says "seventy men and six boys," plus Sauvole & Bienville. 

37.  For Sérigny's story, see Bernard Pothier, "Le Moyne de Sérigny et de Loire, Joseph," in DCB, 2:406-08; Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 43-44.

See Higginbotham, p. 15, note 1, for details on the Renommée, which, Higginbotham notes on p. 464, was a vaisseau de 4ème rang, or ship of the 4th range; that is, a frigate. 

38.  For Vauban & Iberville, see Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 197-98.  Pritchard, In Search of Empire, 421, however, emphasizes Vauban's "continentalist" views, that is, favoring European over colonial interests, as the Bourbon kings, including Louis XIV, tended to do. 

On his promotion in 1699 to head the Ministry of Marine after his father, Louis, comte de Maurepas, comte de Pontchartrain, formerly the Minister of Marine, was promoted to Chancellor of France, & Jérôme Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas, also assumed the title of comte de Pontchartrain!  Moreover, Jérôme's son, Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux (b. 1701), also served as Minister of Marine with the title comte de Maurepas! To avoid confusion among the Phélypeaux ministers, this narrative will continue to refer to Jérôme, comte de Maurepas, comte de Pontchartrain (b.1674-d.1747), as Maurepas & then as the Minister, & continue to call his father Louis (d. 1727) Pontchartrain.  Louis's grandson, Jean-Frédéric, who served as Minister of Marine from Aug 1723-Apr 1749, also will be called the Minister. 

John C. Rule, "Jérôme Phélypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain, and the Establishment of Louisiana, 1696-1715," pp. 68-85, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA, includes a brief biography of the Minister. 

39.  For St.-Denis's story, see Ruffin W. Gray, "Juchereau de St.-Denis, Louis," in DLB, 449.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 207, note 13, for why Louis Juchereau de St.-Denis is called St.-Denis, not Juchereau.  De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:8, spells the name St. Denys.  For the career of the controversial Le Sueur, see A. P. Nasatir, "Le Sueur, Pierre Charles," in DCB, 2:427-28.  Du Guay's family name also was spelled Dugué, an indication of how it is pronounced. 

40.  Quotation from Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 63.  In 1699, the Acolapissa lived in 6 villages on the lower Pearl River & on streams flowing into Lake Pontchartrain.  See Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 50-51. 

It probably was during this second exploration of Mobile Bay, ordered by Sauvole, that soundings revealed a sizable anchorage east of Massacre Island.  See note 49a, below. 

41.  Quotations from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 205. 

The French called Bayou Lafourche, among other things, Rivière-des-Chitimacha, though other tribes, including the Cawasha & Washa, lived along its banks in 1700.  Oubre, Vacherie, 7, says that in 1699 Iberville called Bayou Lafourche "the river of the Washas" because members of that tribe had visited him at Biloxi before his upriver exploration. 

Banks's claim that the English had discovered the lower Mississippi in 1649 had no basis in fact.  After Banks's "retreat," they never returned to the river, at least not until December 1814, with terrible consequences for their invading force.  O'Neill, "Le Moyne de Bienville," p. 380, says that the English commander of the corvette was one Bond, but Crouse says it was Lewis Banks.  Was Banks commander of the expedition & still aboard the larger ship at the mouth of the river & Bond in command of the corvette that ventured up the river?  Bienville would have exchanged words with whoever was in command of the smaller vessel. 

Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 19, gives the name of the English vessel. 

Oubre, Vacherie, 16, citing Dumont de Montigny's Memoires Historique Sur La Louisiane, says that Bienville told the Englishman "that the Mississippi River he was searching for was to be found further to the west."  One doubts if an Englishman capable of finding & ascending the great river from its mouth would have been fooled by such a statement, especially if Banks's expedition had already sailed 100 leagues west of the mouth along the South LA coast.  Oubre/Montigny uses the French name Detour aux Anglais.  As the Cajun would say, Comme ci, comme ça

Historian Francis Parkman offers a perspective on the Bienville-Banks encounter that not only is dated (it was first published in 1892) but also reeks of New English hubris:  "The English were, in fact, on the point of taking possession of the mouth of the Mississippi, and were prevented only by the prompt intervention of the rival nation.  If they had succeeded, colonies would have grown up on the Gulf of Mexico after the type of those already planted along the Atlantic:  voluntary immigrants would have brought to a new home their old inheritance of English freedom; would have ruled themselves by laws of their own making, through magistrates of their own choice; would have depended on their own efforts, and not on government help, in the invigorating consciousness that their destinies were in their own hands, and that they themselves, and not others, were to gather the fruits of their toils.  Out of conditions like these would have sprung communities, not brilliant, but healthy, orderly, well rooted in the soil, and of hardy and vigorous growth.  But the principles of absolutism and not those of regulated liberty, were to rule in Louisiana.  The new French colony was to be the child of the Crown.  Cargoes of immigrants, willing or unwilling, were to be shipped by authority to the fever-stricken banks of the Mississippi,--cargoes made up in part of those whom fortune and their defects had sunk to dependence; to whom labor was strange and odious, but who dreamed of gold mines and pearl fisheries, and wealth to be won in the New World and spent in the Old; who wore the shackles of a paternal despotism which they were told to regard as a divine institution; who were at the mercy of military rulers set over them by the King, and agreeing in nothing except in enforcing the mandates of arbitrary power and the withering maxim that the labor of the colonist was due, not to himself, but to his masters...."  See France & England, 2:534-35. 

42.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 206. 

42a.  See Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 107-08. 

43.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 208.  Fort de La Boulaye stood near the present town of Phoenix in Plaquemines Parish, at Poverty Point.  Crouse, p. 208, details the location & construction of what was, as Father Du Ru said, little more than an "idea" of French presence in the region.  The English, Spanish, or Indians never tested the "idea," which probably was a good thing for the French.  The blockhouse took a while to finish, & the site eventually consisted of several detached huts with palm thatch roofs.  No one who saw it while it stood & wrote of it was impressed with the place.  Bienville, who also thought little of it, abandoned the site in 1707, a year after Iberville's death, not because of its location but because he no longer had the ability to sustain a garrison there and because of the hostile Chitimacha living nearby.  No matter, it was the first French "settlement" on the lower Mississippi, predating New Orleans by 18 years. 

Crouse, p. 209, continues:  "To this place the name of La Boulaye was given, though no one seems to know why it was so called.  The word 'boulaie,' we are told, is an old French word for a plot of birch trees, and this may offer a key to the puzzle."  A more recent historian has solved the "puzzle."  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 17, note 5, says that the fort, also called du Mississippi as well as de Mississippi, "was officially named to honor the Inspector General of the Marine, Louis-Hyacinthe Plomier, sieur de La Boulaye.  Plomier, whom Iberville knew personally, was in the West Indies during the years 1699-1700 inspecting French fortifications in the islands." 

43a.  For La Ronde, see Bernard Pothier & Donald J. Horton, "Denys de La Ronde, Louis," in DCB, 3:176-80.  The young sieur, who had served with Iberville in Hudson Bay, turned 25 in 1700 & would go on to fight in Acadia during Queen Anne's War of the early 1700s. 

It may have been about this time that La Sueur discovered another portage from Lake Pontchartrain to the lower river, via today's Bayou Trepagnier, which was originally named after him.  The head of the bayou is near the natural levee on the west bank of the river near today's Norco, St. Charles Parish, & the bayou flows northeastward into the lake.  Bayou Trepagnier is about twice as long as Bayou St.-Jean, but it was a much shorter route than the Bayou Manchac/Amite River/Lake Maurepas/Lake Pontchartrain/Rigolets route from Mississippi Sound to the lower Mississippi that Iberville discovered in 1699.  See Oubre, Vacherie, 17, who insists that La Sueur discovered his portage in 1699, a year before he actually reached LA.  Oubre also adds, pp. 17-18:  "The shortcut [that is, the portage from Lake Pontchartrain to the river at Ance-aux-Outards] was named Bayou Le Sueur on old maps, then later called Bayou Tigougou, and is presently the one named Bayou Trepagnier, with a branch that forked downstream toward present New Sarpy.  It is now part of the LaBranche Wetlands situated downriver from the Bonnet Carré Spillway.  The main bayou was once a branch of the Mississippi River at present Norco (near the Shell Refinery)."  

43b.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 345. 

44.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 210.  Osler, "Tonty, 2:635-36, implies that Tonty wanted to command the LA venture in 1698, which was given to Iberville.  A motivation for Tonty to leave his old base in Illinois & head down to Louisiana likely had been the May 1696 edict of Louis XIV which suppressed many of the congés, or licenses, for the western fur trade, followed by the closure of the principal western posts, to prevent the glut of fur in France that contributed to plummeting prices in Canada.  See Yves F. Zoltvany, "Callière, Louis-Hector de," in DCB, 2:115; Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 55-56, who, on p. 56, offers documentary evidence of Tonty's disappointment at not getting command of the new LA venture.  In light of this evidence, one must be impressed with Tonty's magnanimity in supporting Iberville every way he could.  Sadly, Iberville would not be so kind to the old soldier. 

44a.  Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, 119, says that the Houma were clearly winning the 1699-1700 war against the Bayougoula until:  "The fortunes of this intertribal war changed abruptly in early 1700, when the Houma tribe, which had numbered six to seven hundred persons a year earlier, was decimated by 'an abdominal flux---probably dysentery or cholera."  The continuation of the war with the Bayougoula may have led to the destruction of the Houma, so Iberville, always focused on what was best for the French, "intervened to prevent a major shift in the tribal balance of power." 

44b.  Ibid., says that it was during the Mar 1700 council at the Houma village that the tribal elders allowed Iberville to leave a French boy with them to learn their language & customs, & they also agreed to let Father Du Ru erect a chapel at their village--two ways that the French pulled a tribe closer into their orbit of influence.  For more details on the chapel, see note 48, below.  For identification of the French youth left with the Houma, see note 53, below. 

45.  The Natchez village stood at the site of the present city on the east bank of the river.  Iberville called them Techloel, Theloël, & Thécoel.  See Sayre, "Natchez Ethnohistory Revisited," 410.  See also Patricia D. Woods, "The French and the Natchez Indians in Louisiana:  1700-31," pp. 278-79, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA, which says that the Natchez numbered 3,000 at the time of Iberville's visit.  Woods says the French later learned that the land was so rich at Natchez the tribe produced 2 crops of maize a year & details the first meeting in the spring of 1700.  Woods also is the source for Iberville's leaving the boys at Natchez. 

The city's name is pronounced NAT-chiss, but the tribe's name is pronounced NOT-chee.  They were closely related to the Taensa.  See Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 3. 

46.  The Big Taensa village was near present-day Newellton, Tensas Parish, LA, on today's Lake St. Joseph.  The lake was an ox-bow even then, so the Taensa lived a few miles from the west bank of the river.  See Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 48. 

Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 27, also describes the human sacrifice at the Taensa village in Mar 1700 & hints that this was the reason why Father Montigny left Taensa & moved on to Natchez. 

47.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 215-16.  Tonty had passed thru the Natchitoches village on the Red River in his abortive attempt to reach La Salle's settlement in late 1689.  However, he got there not via the mouth of Red River but overland from the Taensa village on the Mississippi, so he had seen only the upper part of the river.  Crouse, like Dupré, calls the Hasinai the Cenis. 

Bienville evidently explored the Red River as far up as the huge log jam or raft that had been blocking the main channel for years.  Not far below that log jam the French established Natchitoches Post in 1714. 

47a.  Father Montigny did not remain with the Natchez long, for he returned to France with Iberville the following May.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 99, note 34. 

Le Sueur & his men built Fort L'Huillier named for a French chemist, on the Blue Earth River, near present-day Mankato (Lakota for "blue earth") at its confluence with the Minnesota, which was a tributary of the upper Mississippi.  The Blue Earth River was named for a blue clay that Le Sueur found in the area & hoped would be copper (it was not).  The fort stood less than 2 years.  See ibid., p. 111. 

48.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 217.  According to Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 27, the chapel that Father Du Ru ordered built at the Houma village in the spring of 1700, which Baudier describes in detail, "was probably the first building erected as a Catholic house of worship in the lower part of the [Mississppi] valley of which we have documentary evidence."  Baudier, p. 28, goes on to call the chapel that Father Du Ru built at the Bayougoula village that spring "the first Catholic church erected in the confines of the present state of Louisiana," & describes this edifice also in some detail.  So which was the first church in LA?  The Houma at that time lived near present-day Angola, LA, a few miles below the MS line.  Perhaps Baudier thought their village, & the chapel there, stood in present-day MS.  See Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, 119, for the context in which the Houma chapel was built. 

Brasseaux, ibid., says that Jesuit Father de Limoges served the Houma village.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 97, calls the Jesuit Joseph Limoges. 

49.  Quotations from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 220.  It was in Jun 1700 that Sauvole sent an exploring party to the Mobile Bay/Mobile River area.  See note 51, below. 

49a.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 24, says that Iberville had considered relocating his Louisiana settlement to Mobile Bay as early as spring of 1700, which would have been during his second trip to the colony, when he learned from Sauvole that the entrance to the bay contained an anchorage.  Higginbotham details Iberville's reasons for choosing Mobile Bay on pp. 24-25.  See also Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 92. 

50.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 229.  See note 54, below. 

50a.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 16, calls the Enflamée a fireship (note its name) & says that it had been feared lost after suffering "extraordinary delays ... during her voyage on the northern gulf."  Higginbotham does not say who commanded the ship on its voyage from France to Louisiana.  He does say that at Cap-Française "the ship's commander, Denis[sic] de La Ronde, submitted to Iberville a recent report from the commandant of Fort Maurepas, Ensign Sauvole."  But when did La Ronde assume command of the fireship?  Pothier & Horton, "Denys de La Ronde," 3:176, say that La Ronde was with Iberville in LA "in 1699-1700 and 1701, at the specific request of d'Iberville," & that "He [La Ronde] was given his first command in November 1701, when d'Iberville entrusted him with the Enflamée for the return voyage to France."  Iberville first heard of Sauvole's death, which occurred on 22 Aug, from a Spanish officer at Pensacola on 15 Dec, so no one at Cap-Français told him of it.  Did the Enflamée, with La Ronde aboard as a messenger for Sauvole, leave Biloxi before Sauvole's death & take over 2 1/2 months to get to Cap-Français?  Or did the ship reach Cap-Français after an uneventful voyage & linger there for repairs before it made the ocean crossing back to France?  Higginbotham's "extraordinary delays" implies the former circumstance.  Oh, yes, & why would the French have sent a fireship to resupply the Louisiana garrisons? 

Higginbotham calls the vessel that Iberville hurried on to De La Boulaye a "smack," but Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 232, calls this vessel also a "traversier."  I use "smack" here so as not to confuse this vessel with the 2 coasters, or traversiers, that Iberville had brought to the Gulf in 1699. 

Higginbotham, p. 15, gives d'Assigny's age at the time of his death. 

50b.  Ibid., p. 17, names the St.-Domingue partner--René Cochon de Maurepas--& says the profit was 13,000 livres

50c.  Details from ibid., pp. 17-18. 

50d.  Ibid., p. 29, says Martínez gave the date of August 22 for Sauvole's death.  See ibid., 32, for Bienville & the others' illness. 

The website <>, not noted for its accuracy, says Sauvolle[sic] died on 22 Jul 1701, calls him a governor, which he never was, &, most grievously, insists that he was Bienville's brother! 

50e.  Quote from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 29.  Again, Higginbotham is good for details & nuances.  See pp. 30-32. 

50f.  See ibid., pp. 33-34, for details.  Higginbotham, p. 33, note 2, says that Pillet was a native of Paris.  Higginbotham also says that Iberville intended to keep the Renommée at Pensacola, which would require many trips back & forth for the smaller boats to carry the plethora of material still on the flag ship, including the livestock taken on at Cap-Français.  The borrowed launch that the Le Moyne brothers took to Massacre was 1 of 4 small vessels lent to Iberville by Martínez. 

The rendezvous at Massacre on 5 Jan 1702 was the first time Bienville & La Salle met.  Bienville was a few weeks shy of age 22, half La Salle's age.  Higginbotham, p. 36, says their first meeting was cordial. 

Higginbotham, p. 36, says that Bienville left his cousin, aide-major Pierre Dugué de Broisbriant, at Fort Maurepas with the 20 remaining soldiers in the garrison. 

Higginbotham, p. 38, says the Massacre Island warehouse was 50 feet long, 25 feet wide, & 12 feet high "between two sheds--not a monumental structure but a good deal more spacious than either of the two magasins to be built upriver."  See note 52b, below, for mention of another warehouse, this one at the mouth of Dog River.  Was the Dog River warehouse one of the two upriver magasins mentioned by Higginbotham? 

Higginbotham, pp. 40-43, points out the importance of Levasseur dit Ruessavel (his dit is Lavasseur spelled backward!) in selecting the best possible settlement sites.  Levasseur also had been an associate of the explorer La Salle.  It was Levasseur & a party of Canadians who, in Jun 1700, had been sent by Sauvole to explore "rivière des Alibamons," that is, the Mobile River, to treat with the Mobile Indians, & to explore the bay more thoroughly, so no other Frenchman, not even Iberville & Bienville, knew more about the Mobile Bay/Mobile River area than the witty Canadian with the funny dit

Higginbotham, pp. 50, 56, 59-60, mentions another storage house at Dog River but gives no details about its location, constructions, or dimensions other than it stood on a bluff near the mouth of the little river. 

50g.  For the names of some of these first-family members, including La Salle's, see Higginbotham, pp. 72-74. 

For Sérigny, see Carl A. Brasseaux," Serigny et De Loire, Joseph Le Moyne de," in DLB, p. 733. 

51.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 235.  Ibid., p. 234, implies that Iberville had chosen the site of the new settlement by the time he had reached Pensacola.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 25, 37, says otherwise, that even after Bienville reached Massacre Island on 5 Jan 1702, the settlement site had not been chosen.  He goes on to say, p. 39, says that Bienville, with Sérigny & Levasseaur dit Ruessavel, did not go up from Massacre until 11 Jan "to investigate possible locations for building the new establishment...."  Ibid., pp. 44-46, including note 10, points out that the site was not chosen until several days later, after the 3 officers had gone up to the village of the Mobile at the fork of the Mobile & Spanish, now Tensas, rivers; that if the Mobile village had not been so far up, they might have chosen that site for the settlement; that they took along a Mobile chief on their downriver survey; & only then did they choose 2 possible sites on the west bank that seemed suitable--at present-day Twenty-Seven-Mile Bluff & at Twenty-One-Mile Bluff, farther down.  They sent their reports & drawings to Iberville via 2 Canadians.  After reviewing Bienville's report of the survey & Levasseur's drawing, on 17 Jan Iberville picked the site at Twenty-Seven-Mile Bluff, "an order which would later be the cause of unanimous regret," Higginbotham adds on p. 46.  Higginbotham does point out that Iberville had wanted to postpone the decision until he could personally examine the site, but he was still aboard the Renommée at Pensacola recuperating from his surgery; there was no time for a personal examination, so he made the choice from the info. he had been given.  As Bienville's actions, & his report to Iberville, demonstrated, he felt that the approbation of the Mobile chiefs was important to the selection of what the Frenchmen hoped would be a permanent settlement; Iberville, remembering an Indian's role in choosing the site of Fort de La Boulaye, felt that native advice was useless. 

Higginbotham's descriptions of the bluff site & the fort are on pp. 48-50.  He adds in note 20, p. 48:  "Iberville was correct in assuming the bluff would never flood, the river showing at most a tide differential of 12-18 inches.  He failed to take into account, however, the larger area's inability to discharge its rainwater and creek overflow," hence the many regrets about the sight in the months & years ahead.  One must remember that Iberville's miscalculation also was the miscalculation of Bienville, Sérigny, & Levasseur, who had chosen the site & who were doomed to live there. 

Higginbotham, p. 69, says that the pinnace was built at the fort site, not at Massacre, but, he says on p. 347, it was never finished & "had rotted on the ways." 

On p. 50, Higginbotham details the layout of the interior buildings, designed by Bienville, that later would cause him problems with Commissaire La Salle.  Higginbotham notes on pp. 50-51 that the architecture of the fort was strongly influenced by its Canadian designers. 

The first work on the site began on 20 Jan after Bienville et al. received word of Iberville's choice the day before.  See note 51e, below.  Higginbotham, p. 49, says that Fort Louis, "though later described as 'very small' was nevertheless to be slightly larger than Fort Maurepas, capable of containing at least 200-300 people in times of emergency."  What would be dramatically different at Fort Louis would be the construction of a town behind it, which did not happen at Fort Maurepas during its 3 years of existence. 

While Levasseur supervised construction of Fort Louis, Bienville & a party of 5 Canadians blazed an overland trail from the bay to Pensacola to improve communication between the Bourbon settlements.  See Higginbotham, p. 52. 

51a.  For the original discovery of the Massacre Island anchorage by Sauvole, see note 40, above.   Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 39, says that La Salle was the first to urge the construction of a fort at the tip of Massacre Island, recommending at least 12 guns & a garrison of 30 or 40 men to protect the all-important harbor.  He adds:  "It was a recommendation that Bienville was later to regret not having the persistence or wherewithal to see fulfilled." 

After construction began on the fort at Old Mobile, Iberville ordered the destruction of Fort Maurepas at Biloxi, not wishing to leave an unmanned fortification in the area for enemies to use.  He did, however, allow several settlers to remain at Biloxi "to grow food and raise cattle for support of the Île de vaisseaux [Ship Island] in which he still saw possible value as an anchorage point."  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 47,  note 17. 

Among the passengers on Pillet's ketch heading back to Fort de La Boulaye was Jesuit Father Jacques Gravier, who for over a decade had served with Tonty in Illinois & had come down with him in 1700.  Gravier remained in Louisiana for 2 years, helping where he could among the local Indians & only reinforcing Iberville and Bienville's high regard for Jesuit missionaries.  He then returned to his post in Illinois.  Also aboard the ketch was "a large number of Canadian voyageurs (whom Iberville could not economically support at Mobile)...."  See ibid., p. 58, source of quote, & pp. 252-53.  To Bienville's great joy, Gravier would return to Louisiana in early 1706. 

A scholar notes that the creation of a port at Mobile affected the regional smuggling trade.  "Passports would be delivered to ships bound ostensibly for the Mississippi [or Mobile] but actually for Veracruz or another Spanish harbor.  In the eyes of the French Caribbean officials especially, Mobile was valuable as a port of call and as a blind."  See Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 93. 

51b.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 53.  Ibid., pp. 53-54, give the numbers & locations of the 3 tribes.  For a list of the goods that Iberville had stockpiled for the Indians, see ibid., pp. 37-38.  Tonti was not impressed with what Bienville actually gave him.  Ibid., p. 54, says that Tonty's artificial left hand helped endear him to the Indians, who called him "le Bras Coupé" or Brass Hook, & "la Main de Fer," or Iron Hand.  There is no question that Tonty was a favorite among the Indians, hence Iberville's choice of the old soldier for the important mission to the larger tribes. 

Ibid., pp. 54, 56, says that Tonty thought he, not the young Bienville, should have been given command of Fort Louis.  If so, this was not the only time Iberville snubbed Tonty in favor of a relative.  Ibid., p. 56, mentions an earlier incident, the Ohio concession, when Iberville favored an in-law instead of the trusty old soldier. 

Tonty started his mission from Fort Louis on 8 Feb.  For details of his journey, much of it thru territory never visited by a Frenchman, see ibid., 57, 60-68, 72, 75-76.  Tonty felt it essential that he coax the chiefs from both tribes to return with him to Fort Louis, that he delay Iberville's departure from Mobile, & that either Iberville or Bienville, depending on who was in charge when he returned, gather a large cache of presents for the chiefs at Mobile, which would help seal the alliance.  As Higginbotham's narrative shows, it was not an easy mission for "Iron Hand." 

51c.  Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 167, calls the tough little coaster the Precieux.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 46, calls it the Précieuse & says it was ready to sail for Veracruz on 28 Jan.  Ste.-Thérèse was aide-major Pierre Du Guay de Boisbriant's older brother.  The family's name also is spelled Dugué. 

51d.  Iberville had big plans for the new settlement.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 46-47, note 16, adds:  "Iberville's intention to establish settlers along the banks of the Mobile as far up river as what is now Old St. Stephens (in much the same manner as the banks of the St. Lawrench had been settled) was another reason for locating at Courtaud's dock [Twenty-Seven-Mile Bluff].  A site farther down river would have placed the fort too far from the projected plantations, dissuading settlers from venturing great distances from their base of security." 

Higginbotham, pp. 49-50, says of the Fort Louis chapel:  "Against the western curtain, with a small double-doored entrance facing the town, the frame-work of a building to be used as a chapel was begun.  Since no provision had yet been made for a church, nor even a pastor, the chapel, a long narrow building measuring sixty-two by sixteen feet, was to serve as the center of what religious activity would be practiced for the next several years." 

51e.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 58, gives the name of the ketch Iberville sent to the Mississippi. 

Ibid., 58, details Iberville's frustrations with the Canadian voyageurs aboard the ketch:  "Iberville had been highly frustrated by the presence of these voyageurs on the Gulf Coast:  he could use them, but he could not support them; yet he dared not offend them, for they were threatening to take their deerskins and oxhides to the English should Iberville be unable to provide a market for their wares.  In the face of this dilemma, Iberville acted with characteristic diplomacy:  the Canadians could come back to Mobile the following year; in the meantime they would return to the Mississippi to carry on their trapping until Iberville could negotiate viable trade agreements with the authorities in France."  Such were the vagaries of mercantilism, which all imperial powers practiced at the time. 

Ibid., p. 47 says that Bienville, Sérigny, & Levasseur, back at the Mobile village after their survey of the river, did not receive word from Iberville of which site he had chosen until 19 Jan, & that Bienville et al. & a small working party began "brushing" the area at the chosen site on 20 Jan, so that was the day that work on Fort Louis commenced. 

52.  See O'Neill, "Bienville, 3:381, for the term "bicephalous administration"; Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 34-35, for La Salle's career; & ibid., pp. 59, 228, 231, & Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 237, for the initial conflict between La Salle & the fort's officers.  Higginbotham, p. 59, mentions a similar conflict earlier between Sauvole & his scrivener Crassé at Biloxi.  The conflict between Commissaire La Salle & the officers at Fort Louis in 1702 was, in fact, an early round in a long, often bitter struggle between commissaires & commandants/governors during much of French LA's 66-year existence.  See Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 195-96. 

52a.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 71, note 6. 

Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 238, says that Iberville made the survey of the bay area, but Higginbotham, pp. 70-71, says it was Bienville first, followed by Iberville. 

Higginbotham, pp. 70-71, & Crouse, p. 238, point out Iberville's belief that the idols were from the De Soto expedition.  Higginbotham notes, however, that De Soto & his Spaniards never came near the site & concludes that the figurines of a bear, an owl, a man, a woman, & a child probably had been created by Indians "of a much earlier period."  One wonders what happened to the figurines after Iberville took them back to France as curiosities.   

According to Higginbotham, p. 87, note 1, & p. 584, index, the name of the Tomeh is variously spelled Tomé, Tohome, Thomez, Little Tomeh, Grand Tomeh.  Crouse, p. 238, calls them Tohomas.  See Higginbotham, p. 60, for details of the Little Tomeh village. 

52b.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 50, 59-60, mentions a warehouse atop a bluff along the south bank of Dog River (Rivière-au-Chien) at its mouth, where Iberville camped the nite of 28 Feb on his way up to Fort Louis.  The Dog River discharges into Mobile Bay several miles south of today's downtown Mobile, so the warehouse must have stood on the bay just north of today's Bayside, AL, where State Route 163, the Dauphin Island Parkway/Cedar Point Road, crosses the river, about 2/3 of the way up the west side of the bay from Massacre Island.  Was this warehouse built at the same time as the Massacre warehouse?  Ibid., p. 79, says only that Iberville had ordered the warehouse built at the mouth of Dog River, but does not say when. 

52c.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 71. 

For details on the layout of the lots behind Fort Louis, see Higginbotham, pp. 72-74, which includes who would live where & the names of the streets.  Levasseur designed the layout of the town, but Iberville assigned the lots.  Higginbotham also introduces us to the wives of some of the settlers--Louisiana's first European families. 

53.  Quotation from Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 238-39.  "Pax Gallica" is Higginbotham's term.  See Old Mobile, chap. 4.  Tonty's diligent communications with Iberville gave the commandant plenty of time to prepare for the important conference.  See ibid., p. 72.  Higginbotham, pp. 76-77, also details the plethora of gifts that Iberville offered to the native leaders.  The conference took place on 27 Mar, the day after Tonty returned with the chiefs.  Higginbotham, pp. 77-78, offers a vivid interpretation of Iberville's address to the chiefs, especially to the Chickasaw. 

Higginbotham, p. 80, note 38, adds: "The proposed fort [trading post] was to be located in the vicinity where later Fort Tombecbé would be constructed." 

One of the agreements made with the Chickasaw was the imbedding of a French youth, named St.-Michel, son of perhaps ship's captain Jean-Baptiste Legardeur de St.-Michel of Rochefort, among the Chickasaw so that he could learn their language & customs.  The young St.-Michel had been in the colony perhaps since 1699 & already had learned the language of the Houma, who were linguistically kin to the Chickasaw.  See ibid., p. 80.  The imbedding of young men such as St.-Michel among the Indians would become a common practice in French Louisiana. 

53a.  See Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 239-40, for the numbers.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 78-79, also details the number of cabins & warriors among the Chickasaw & Choctaw but adds in note 33, p. 79, "Despite the concerted efforts of Tonti and Iberville, no strictly accurate census was achieved (during these early years)."  No matter, especially when compared to the petit nations along the lower Mississippi & on the Gulf coast, the size of these 2 tribes was impressive.  Iberville was especially taken with the Choctaw, who he described as "'the handsomest men in these lands.  They have the Iroquois style, and the manner of warriors.'"  See ibid.

The Tunica lived on the Mississippi just below the Houma.  Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 3, 5, points out that the Tunica, who were closely related to the Natchez, had been living on the Yazoo River when De Soto came thru the area in the 1540s but had moved down the Mississippi to "the higher eastern wall of the river valley in present-day Mississippi" not because of flooding but because of European diseases that had devastated the western bank of the river valley in what is now northeastern LA. 

Iberville entrusted the letters to the missionaries to Chickasaw & Choctaw couriers.  See Higginbotham, pp. 79-80.  Higginbotham adds in note 37, p. 79:  "The natives, regarding written messages with profound respect, were generally found to be highly trustworthy as postal agents, often risking their lives to see that the letters were delivered." 

Fathers Foucault & St.-Cosme would die as missionaries on the Mississippi during the early 1700s, both murdered by Indians.  See ibid., p. 101, for specifics on Foucault, including the circumstances of his death at the hands of Koroa warriors in Jul 1702. 

53b.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, p. 80, points out that Iberville had been at Fort Louis for only 25 days but in that short time had accomplished all of his missions for this third voyage to Louisiana.  Iberville told Bienville & the others who would remain that he would return the following year.  He could not have known, or even suspected, that something more compelling than his colonial adventure would divert his attention away from Louisiana. 

Oubre, Vacherie, 17, says that La Sueur used his portage, today's Bayou Trepagnier, in the spring of 1701, probably 1702, to transport "a load of four thousand pounds of green and blue ore" from upriver, which would have made the portage quite an ordeal. 

53c.  The Précieuse returned from Veracruz on 13 Apr with only a month's supply of food.  More troubling, authorities in Veracruz were slow in sending a regular resupply to Pensacola, nor did not seem "overly concerned" about the garrison's "dire straits."  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 82-83, which includes the dates that both ships reached Pensacola. 

The Espérance had come to the colony in late 1701 with the Renommée & Palmier.  See ibid., p. 83, note 52. 

See ibid., 148ff, for details on Robinau de Bécancour, whose older brother, Joseph Robinau de Villebon, had served as commander of Acadia from 1691-1700, during King William's War.  Two other brothers, René Robinau de Portneuf & Daniel Robinau de Neuvillette, also had served in Acadia during that war.   

53d.  The new war would be called The War of the Spanish Succession in Europe & Queen Anne's War in North America. 

Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 87, states:  "The War of the Spanish Succession was waged as much over the slave trade as over the throne of Spain."  The monopoly on the West African slave trade to the New World, held by the Spanish literally for centuries, was known as the asciento (Spanish for "contract" or trade agreement"), & England was determined to gain the monopoly, with its huge profits, for itself.   

Bienville at Mobile did not learn of it until autumn, & then not from France but from the Spanish at Pensacola. 

53e.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 83-85.  Ironically, Iberville's prohibition of Indian slavery, & the failure of the French to import African slaves, would limit the amount of food they would be able to grow at Mobile.  See ibid., p. 90. 

Relocating the lower Mississippi fort to the portage site would please the Bayougoula, who thought that De La Boulaye was too far away from their principal village.  One would suspect that an ulterior motive among the Bayougoula was to have a French military presence closer to them in case another war broke out with their old enemies, the Houma. 

53f.  See ibid., p. 85. 

54.  Ibid., pp. 85-86, provides a succinct review of Iberville's accomplishments in LA during his 3 voyages there, as well as the problems still plaguing the colony. 

Zoltvany, "Callière," 2:115-16, is good for the Canadian view--almost entirely negative--of Iberville's efforts in LA & their impact on Canada. 

54a.  For details of the Pélican's long delay in France, see Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 137-42.

55.  The term "suspicion of fraudulence" is from Pothier, "d'Iberville," 2:398.  The official investigations & charges resulting from accusations of fraud & malfeasance, & the resulting law suits, plagued Sérigny & Iberville's widow for years to come.  See ibid., 2:398-99.  Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, as much hagiography as biography, does not mention the charges & their consequences; see his conclusion, pp. 266-67.  Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 238-39, 314-15, is unsparing in its analysis of the Le Moyne brothers' malfeasance, which cannot be doubted, & was not doubted by the King & his ministers. 

56.  Pothier, "d'Iberville," 2:399-401, provides a thorough review of documents, both archival and printed, as well as articles & books, on Iberville's life. 

The Aigle & Bienvenu reached Massacre Island in Jun 1706.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 263.  Ibid., p. 238, gives Payen de Noyan's relationship to Iberville.  Higginbotham points out that the two vessels were not the ones originally intended to resupply Mobile in 1706:  "While investigations were underway in France, Sérigny (on Iberville's instructions) had switched the Coventry's destination from Louisiana to Veracruz.  The Coventry, a ship with over twice the tonnage of the Aigle, transferred her supplies intended for the colony to the smaller ship and took on board some of the booty from the sacking of Nevis and Saint-Christophe."  The ship that Iberville sent to Veracruz after the campaign was the Coventry.  "Overall, to the detriment of the colony and despite the complaints to the Spanish crown of the merchants and royal officers of Veracruz," Higginbotham concludes, "Sérigny was leaving the port with a cargo that would net him and his brother Iberville over a quarter-million livres in profits."  

Iberville's fatal illness was the mosquito-born yellow fever, which often struck Havana.  Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 266, says so, as does Higginbotham, p. 284.  Pothier, "d'Iberville," 2:398, 399, says only that Iberville's death was sudden, & also, along with Higginbotham, is the source for Iberville's going to Havana to sell illicit French iron.   

57.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 95-96.  For a review of Bienville's career, see O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:379-84.  

Iberville's title was commandant, not governor, & Bienville was commander at Biloxi.  He also was acting commandant when his brother was absent, which, after March 1702, proved to be permanent.  Bienville will be called commander here, until given another title. 

58.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 88.  On pp. 88-90, Higginbotham points out the differences between domestic architecture at Old Mobile, based largely on the builder's home regions of France & Canada, & offers details on some of the more elaborate dwellings. 

59.  See ibid., pp. 91-93. 

60.  Quotation from ibid., p. 93.  See also ibid., p. 94.  In describing St.-Denis's movements on Bayou Lafourche, which he calls La Fourche, Higginbotham seems to be confusing the flow of the stream.  The Lafourche, like the Manchac & other bayous in the area, is a distributary, not a tributary, of the Mississippi.  If one begins at the confluence of the bayou and the river, at present-day Donaldsonville, and travels southward, away from the river, one moves downstream, not upstream, for the simple reason that the Lafourche empties some of the Mississippi's flow into the Gulf of Mexico east of Timbalier Bay.  See also ibid., p. 292, where Higginbotham calls Rivière-des-Chitimacha, the French name for Bayou Lafourche, "this small tributary," which it was not. 

Higginbotham says that the Indians who accompanied St.-Denis's party were Colapissa.  They probably were Quinapisa, the closest tribe to Fort de La Boulaye.  See note 08, above. 

St.-Denis was a kinsman of Iberville's wife, so he had no direct kinship with Bienville.  Still, the Le Moyne's & the Juchereaus were allied families in Canada, where they still wielded much influence.  St.-Denis's older brother, Charles, Sieur de Beaumarchais, was especially influential & a scion of the western fur trade.  See John Fortier, "Juchereau de Saint-Denys[sic], Charles," in DCB, 2:305-07. 

For insights on the formidable Chitimacha, see Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 53-55.  Amazingly, despite their stubborn opposition to the French, they are among the few South LA tribes still in existence. 

60a.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 101-04.  Bienville did not attack the Koroa & the Yazoo allies directly, as Father Davion insisted, but coaxed the Arkansas into make war against them.  See ibid., p. 206. 

61.  Ibid., pp. 97-107, offers a detailed review of the missions, & missionaries, of both orders during the first years of the LA colony.  See ibid., pp. 106-07, for Bishop St.-Vallier's elaborate proclamations creating the Mobile parish & assigning its first pastor. 

62.  See ibid., pp. 107-08, for the Mardi Gras celebration.  Higginbotham points out on p. 108, note 60, that "The first Mardi Gras in lower Louisiana was celebrated on Tuesday, March 3, 1699, at which time Mardi Gras Bayou on the lower Mississippi was named." 

See ibid., pp. 108-09, 111, for problems with the resupply. 

63.  Quotation from O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:381.  For details of the conflict between the commander & the commissary, including individuals who sided with La Salle, see Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 109-11. 

For Le Sueur's Minnesota ventures, see ibid., p. 162. 

63a.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 142. 

63b.  Crouse, LeMoyne d'Iberville, 248, says the Loire was commanded by Pierre du Guay, but Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 144, gives the command to Jean-Sidrac Dugué de Ste.-Thérèse.  Higginbotham, p. 144, describes the Loire as a 500-ton flûte built at Brest in 1684.  See ibid., pp. 144-45, for specifics of the ship's voyage & its return. 

64.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 114-16. 

65.  Quotation from ibid., pp. 121, 124, 126.  For details, see ibid., pp. 117-31. 

For those of you familiar with southwestern Louisiana, the Koasati of northern AL are the same tribe now living in Allen Parish just north of Elton, LA.  Today, they are called the Coushatta.  Other Koasati live in TX & OK. 

66.  Quotations from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 145. 

66a.  Quotation from ibid., p. 158.  See ibid., pp. 148, 150-60, for details on Bécancour & the 1704 voyage to Veracruz.  Ibid., p. 180, note 6, points out that Bécancour was the highest paid person at Mobile.  He earned 1,800 livres a year, & Bienville, his "superior," "only" 1,200 livres.  Ibid., p. 185, says that Bienville & the others did not hear of Bécancour's death until after the Précieuse returned from Veracruz on 12 Aug. 

67.  See ibid., pp. 147, 159, 189-92. 

68.  For the Pélican's voyage, see ibid., pp. 137, 161-74.

Le Sueur had received permission from Maurepas to take his wife & children (a son & 4 daughters), then living at Montréal, to LA.  See ibid., p. 163.  He died probably from yellow fever & was buried in at the church of San Cristóbal, where his good friend Iberville would be buried exactly 4 years later.  See ibid., pp. 173-74. 

69.  See ibid., pp. 180-87, including the names of the couples who married or were betrothed in Aug.  La Salle's wife, Madeleine Chartroux, had died soon after arriving in the colony with her husband & children in 1702.  Higginbotham points out, p. 185, that the La Salle-Berenhardt marriage was "prearranged."  The others, evidently, were spontaneous affairs. 

70.  See ibid., pp. 186-87, 189, 199.  Note 23, p. 186, explains the vagaries of yellow fever. 

71.  Quotation from ibid., p. 192.  See also ibid., pp. 191-93, 304.  Les Oignonets is present-day downtown Mobile.  Back in Georgia & Florida, the Yamasee, a multi-ethnic tribe, had been enemies of the Chato & other Apalache, but some of the Yamasee, evidently, did not favor the English or Spanish but preferred to live near the French.   See ibid., pp. 190, 461-62. 

72.  See ibid., pp. 193-94.  The Spanish friars had ministered to the Apalache for so long that the Indians now used Spanish given names such as Antonio Felicano, one of their chiefs who had been tortured & burned by the Carolinians.  André-Joseph Pénigault, one of the Frenchmen at Mobile, described the Apalache language as "a mixture of Spanish and Alabama."  See ibid., p. 194, note 45. 

73.  Quotation from ibid., p. 197.  See also ibid., pp. 194-97.  Higginbotham's eulogy for Tonty is especially moving.  Higginbotham also details Levasseur's last will & testament, which he dictated to clerk-turned-notary Jacques Leméry in his final hours.  See ibid., pp. 195-97. 

Higginbotham, p. 206, points out the devastation wrought by the fever among the hand full of Indian "slaves" living at Mobile & explains the nature of this "slavery," which was more like an unofficial indentured servitude than the Indian & African chattel slavery practiced by the English in Carolina. 

74.  See ibid., pp. 200-01. 

75.  See ibid., pp. 201-07.  The next birth at Mobile, to Angela Orsseau, wife of François Lemay, on October 22, was not so joyful; the infant, a boy, died within a few hours of his birth.  See ibid., p. 205. 

Until the mosquito larvae died during the first frost of Nov, there was a chance that the fever would return, but it did not. 

76.  See ibid, pp. 207-09. 

77.  Quotation from ibid., p. 211.  See also ibid., pp. 209-13. 

78.  See ibid., pp. 213-14

79.  Quotation from ibid., p. 216.  See also ibid., pp. 214-17. 

80.  See ibid., pp. 217-18.

81.  Quotation from ibid., p. 218.  See also ibid., pp. 218-19, 242. 

82.  Quotation from ibid., p. 219.  See also ibid., pp. 219-20.

83.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 220, 221. 

84.  Quotation from ibid., p. 222, note 54.  Bienville blamed Father La Vente for the tragedy, insisting that the priest's habit of baptizing the babies naked during the winter led to many deaths.  One resident blamed Bienville for the death of his infant, blaming the commander for refusing to give the family milk after their child became ill.  See ibid., p. 223. 

85.  Quotation from ibid., p. 224. 

86.  Quotations from pp. 224, 244.  See also ibid., pp. 206, 224-25. 

86a.  See ibid., p. 242. 

87.  See ibid., p. 226. 

88.  See ibid., pp. 227, 243-45.  Bienville was forced to use some of the coinage that his brother had found on the Saint-Antoine to pay the 3,000-livre debt the Spanish came to collect in late Feb.  In other words, he had to use his own "personable" funds to settle the King's account.  See ibid., p. 245. 

89.  Quotation from ibid., p. 230.  See also ibid., pp. 229-37.

90.  See ibid., pp. 237-38.  For the Le Moyne's malfeasance in the Nevis affair, see note 55, above. 

91.  See ibid., pp. 238-39. 

91a.  Quotation from ibid., p. 262.  See ibid., pp. 246-62, for details of the thorny conflict between Bienville/Gravier and La Vente, none of which is flattering to the Seminary priest. 

91b.  Quotation from ibid., p. 400.  See also ibid., pp. 401-03.  The question of European/native marriage would remain a bone of contention between La Vente & Bienville as long as the stubborn curé remained in the colony.  Ibid., p. 401, relates an incident, in 1709, when the undisciplined behavior of a Canadian, Jean La Barre, not only led to his death at the hands of a vengeful female Indian whom he had mistreated, but also to the possibility of Indian reprisal after Bienville, following the "eye-for-an-eye" logic of the frontier, executed the woman, from the Yanagoyochee tribe, by bashing in her head. 

For the Canadians' importance to the protection of the colony, see note 123, below. 

92.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 242, 243.  See also ibid., pp. 176, 240-43; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 43. 

92b.  Quotation from Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, 120; Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 288.  See also ibid., p. 292; Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 72, 77. 

The Taensa, remember, were the "savages" who, as recorded by the French, threw their infants into the fire in Mar 1700.  Kniffen et al., p. 77, say that the Taensa continued to occupy Bayougoula before moving up & across to Bayou Manchac, "possibly because of the good bison hunting reported there but more likely in order to acquire control of the trade route" along what the French called Rivière d'Iberville.  Other Taensa moved down to "a village on the right bank of the Mississippi River about thirty miles above New Orleans," where German settled in the early 1720s. 

Oubre, Vacherie, 7, calls the Yakne Chitto the Yegenchitos.  Kniffen et al. is followed here. 

93.  See ibid., pp. 263-65.  One would suspect that Father Gravier, with his grievous shoulder wound (a flint arrowhead lodged in a bone), was especially happy to see the new surgeon, who proved to be a great disappointment.  See note 127, below. 

94.  Quotation from ibid., p. 266.  See also p. 269. 

95.  Quotation from p. 274.  See also ibid., pp. 267-68. 

95a.  See ibid., pp. 268-69.

96.  Quotation from p. 271.  See also ibid., pp. 270-71.  The problem of supporting the Canadians would haunt the colony for years. 

97.  See ibid., p. 272. 

97a.  See ibid., pp. 274, 283-84.  Iberville died, remember, on 9 Jul.  Payen de Noyan and Châteauguay left Havana for Mobile probably in early Jun, before Iberville had fallen ill.  Bienville sent the Bienvenu to Havana probably in late Jun, but it still had not returned by early Aug, when it was expected & when Payen de Noyan was preparing to go. 

Although he would not admit it, Father Gravier was returning to France to seek competent surgical care for his wounded arm.  He also went there to plead for the return of the Jesuits to Louisiana.  See ibid., pp. 314-16. 

98.  See ibid., pp. 274-83, for details of La Salle's many complaints against Bienville, the Le Moynes, & the Canadians, & La Vente's contributions to the vendetta against Bienville & Gravier. 

99.  See ibid., pp. 284-85, for Iberville's last days.  The commandant died the day after the new governor & captain-general of Havana died, during yet another yellow fever outbreak in the Cuban capital. 

The Coventry took several Mobile colonists from Havana to La Rochelle, so Sérigny must have waited for the Aigle to return to Havana before moving on to St.-Domingue.  See ibid., p. 392. 

See ibid., pp. 285-86, for Lefebvre & the Carolina disaster.  Note that Sérigny was not part of the operation.  One would guess that he was too preoccupied with his commercial activities to resume the fight against the English. 

See ibid., pp. 286-87, for Châteauguay at Havana. 

Noyan de Payen died about the Aigle enroute to Martinique.  See ibid., p. 301. 

100.  Quotation from ibid., pp. 286-87. 

101.  Quotations from ibid., p. 287.  Not only would Bienville have to deal with the petty complaints of his detractors, La Salle & La Vente, but there were also the investigations, some going on for months now, into the actions of his older brothers, Iberville & Sérigny, over the West Indian venture.  See note 55, above

102.  See ibid., pp. 289-90.  Father Bergier had served at Tamaroa, near the confluence of the Illinois & Mississippi rivers, since 1700. 

103.  Quotation from pp. 290-91. 

104.  See ibid., p. 291.

105.  See ibid., pp. 291-92.  The Chawasha, along with the Washa, lived on Bayou Lafourche, near where the Chitimacha & later the Houma settled.  See Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 52-53, 55-56.  The Chawasha would pay dearly for their alliance with the French.  The Washa also were called the Ouacha, meaning unknown, and the Chawasha were called the Chaouacha, meaning "the raccoon place people."  They may have been the Indians who, armed only with spears, attacked the remnants of the De Soto expedition, led by Luis de Moscoso Alvarado, at the mouth of the Mississippi in 1543.  See Oubre, Vacherie, 6-7, who, on p. 7, goes on to say:  "Bienville described the Chawashas and Washas as being nomads, 'wandering here and there in the woods and along the lakes, without law and even without any subordination to their so-called chiefs.'"

Again, Higginbotham has Bayou Lafourche flowing into the Mississippi, not out of it.  See p. 292.  After entering the bayou, St.-Denis's party would have been traveling downstream, not up. 

106.  Quotations from ibid., p. 292.  Devotees of the Old Testament's "eye for an eye," as were the French & the great majority of their fellow Europeans, certainly would have understood the Indian practice well.  See also Woods, "The French and the Natchez," pp. 283-84. 

107.  See ibid., pp. 292-93.  The "fortification" finally built at the portage site would, of course, become today's New Orleans, but it would be nearly a dozen years before Bienville would be able to build anything of substance there. 

Higginbotham, p. 293, says nothing about what was done with the heavy ordnance at De La Boulaye.  Tearing down the fort & transferring the cannon, powder, & shot to Fort Louis was not an easy task & would have taken weeks.  Bienville would not build anything of substance at the portage site for another 11 years. 

Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 6, usually a solid history, states:  "In 1700, a fort had been erected on the Mississippi River about halfway between Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf, but the place chosen was most unsuitable, frequently under water and swarming with mosquitoes.  It was quickly abandoned."  I must beg to differ with my old professor at McNeese State:  The fort itself was not often, if ever, flooded while it stood, & 7 years of existence is not very "quickly" in the context of early LA history.  One would suspect that if Bienville could have maintained a small fleet of coasters--at least 2 of them--& had more men, Fort de La Boulaye, despite the 'skeeters, would have enjoyed an even longer life than it did. 

108.  For the details of Bergier's time at Fort Louis & his role in the brouhaha between La Vente & Bienville, see Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 293-98. 

109.  See ibid., pp. 298-301.  Châteauguay's acquiring the provisions in record time came at a cost to the Spanish in Mexico.  The viceroy received a reprimand, & his fiscal officer, Joseph de Espinosa, was fired for not following exact procedure in processing the resupply. 

110.  See ibid., pp. 300-03. 

111.  Quotations from pp. 304, 305.  La Vente & La Salle's solutions were slightly different from one another.  La Vente wanted to relocate both the French fort & the French village to the Chato village site, which was located at Les Oignonets.  La Salle wanted to move only the French village to Les Oignonets; the fort would be rebuilt on Massacre Island, near the King's warehouse, where he could keep a closer eye on the King's stores. 

The Chato, an Apalache tribe, moved to Les Oignonets in 1704, with Bienville's approbation of course. 

111a.  See ibid., pp. 306-07.  Issues between them ran from accuracy of accounts, accusations of theft & malfeasance, & La Salle's unkind words to Bienville about the death of Iberville. 

112.  Quotation from ibid., p. 306.  See also ibid., p. 305.  Without such a vessel, Bienville could not property maintain a fortified position on the lower Mississippi, hence the abandonment of Fort de La Boulaye. 

113.  Quotation from p. 308.  See also ibid., pp. 307-13.  One source of information came from Koasati (members of the Alibamon tribal group) captured by the Tomeh.  Bienville used "intense interrogation" to extract information from them about English intentions.  Higgonbotham does not specify the interrogation technique, but one can imagine it was not a pleasant experience for the Koasati, who were sworn enemies of the French. 

Without a traversier or brigantine, one would suspect that the French & Indians at Massacre could get to Pensacola either via war canoes hugging the sandy coast and/or overland along the route that Bienville had ordered built between the posts a few years before. 

During the Nov assaults, Moscoso offered his Spanish prisoners their freedom is they fought for him.  Without them, the garrison probably would have fallen. 

114.  See ibid., p. 313.  The English had attacked Pensacola with warriors from the Alibamon and Apalachicola villages. 

114a.  Quotations from Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 90. 

115.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 316-20; Henry C. Bezou, "D'Artaguiette, Martin," in DLB, p. 213.  The Minister of Marine was still Jérôme Phélypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain, formerly known as Comte de Maurepas.  See note 38, above. 

If La Salle believed that additional, more damaging charges against Bienville would get rid of him, he miscalculated.  The original instructions to De Muy ordered him to send Bienville back to France no matter what he found in Louisiana.  The minister's modified instructions, issued after receiving La Salle's additional allegations, gave Bienville a chance to remain in Louisiana if De Muy found no evidence of malfeasance against him.  Moreover, the initial instructions to De Muy did not include Dartaguiette's investigation of La Salle!  Dartaguiette name also is rendered as d'Artguiette

For De Muy's suppression of the beaver trade thru LA, see ibid., p. 393. 

Dartaguiette's younger brothers also were destined to play important roles in LA history.  Bezou, p. 213, hints that only the middle brother, Bernard, came to LA with Jean-Baptiste-Martin & says that at the time, 1708, Bernard "was under fourteen years of age but destined to serve with the troops of the colony and become an inspector general, census taker, and also property holder along with another blood brother, Pierre d'Itouralde d'Artaguiette."  Higginbotham, p. 321, says that Jean-Baptiste-Martin brought both of his younger brothers to Fort Louis & that Bernard was only 12 years old, & Pierre even younger, when they left Bayonne for Rochefort to sail to LA in late 1707.  Oubre, Vacherie, 21-22, agrees with Bezou that brother Pierre came later; Oubre says probably not until Mar 1717.  Higginbotham is followed here. 

116.  See Bezou, "D'Artaguiette," pp. 321-22. 

117.  See ibid., pp. 322-23.  Father Gravier, though he refused to acknowledge it, had gone to France aboard the Aigle in 1706 to seek competent surgical care for his wound, but even in Paris he found no surgeon able to remove the flint arrowhead from his elbow without amputating part of his arm. 

There were no women aboard the Renommée because the King refused to send anymore to Louisiana until the end of the war.  See ibid., p. 365. 

118.  See ibid., pp. 323-24.  Higginbotham says that Du Muys died aboard ship & probably was buried at sea.  The death was sudden, but he does not say what caused it. 

119.  Quotations from ibid., p. 336.  See also ibid., pp. 327-37. 

120.  See ibid., pp. 336-37.  One of the most scurrilous charges was that Bienville burned to death a female captive taken from the Alibamon.  Bienville promptly produced the woman, who was still employed by one of the French families. 

121.  See ibid., p. 337.  Donald J. Lemieux, "Some Legal and Practical Aspects of the Office of Commissaire-Ordonnateur of French Louisiana," pp. 395-407, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in Louisiana, offers a thorough explanation of the office & is especially good at pointing out the difference between an intendant & a commissaire-ordonnateur, which Usner, Lower Miss. Valley Before 1783, translates as "general commissioners."  Others call the office "financial commissioner" or, more literally, "financial commissary."  See, for example, Yves F. Zoltvany, "Laumet, Antoine, dit de Lamothe Cadillac," in DCB, 2:355.

122.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 338-40. 

122a.  Quotation from ibid., p. 354.  See also ibid., pp. 349-54. 

123.  Quotation from ibid., p. 343.  See also ibid., pp. 342-44. 

124.  See ibid., p. 344. 

125.  See ibid., pp. 344-45, 395.  Higginbotham points out, however, that by the following autumn some of the Canadians, even married ones, were reluctant to begin plantations because they could not be certain about the validity of their land grants.  The best that Bienville & Dartaguiette could do was issue contrats des cession, or temporary grants, for small plots of land, until a new governor could make them permanent & issue larger grants.  See ibid., p. 364. 

126.  Quotation from ibid., p. 345.  Where the 5 Canadians planted their wheat is of course today's New Orleans.  Their grants, too, were only temporary.  See note 125, above. 

Usner, Lower Miss. Valley before 1783, 194, details the French distaste for maize, or Indian corn, which doubtlessly was a motivation to grow wheat of their own in lower LA. 

127.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 346, 348.  The Loire had brought mill stones to the colony in 1703, but the craftsman who been brought to build a mill died even before a site could be selected.  No other such craftsman was sent to the colony, not even with De Muy & Dartaguiette, who had been apprised by the Minister of Marine of the colony's need for a mill. 

The desperation among the Canadians for Europeans wives can be demonstrated by reaction to the death of Surgeon Valentin Barraud at Mobile in May 1708.  Barraud had come to the colony from France aboard the Aigle in 1706 & had promptly married Hippolyte Mercier, who gave him a daughter the following January.  According to Higginbotham, the surgeon was an incompetent drunkard, as well as a thief.  "The inhabitants were doubtless not too pained to see the surgeon's passing," Higginbotham tells us, "especially those of the unmarried Canadians who had remained at the fort; for, a young widow, even one with an infant daughter, was a precious commodity in woman-scarce Louisiana."  See ibid., p. 349.  The winner of the cherished widow's hand (her name was Hippolyte Mercier) was Canadian voyageur-turned-merchant Joseph Chauvin dit Léry, who married her in the autumn 1708.  Chauvin, one of several Canadian brothers in LA, served in the garrison at Fort Maurepas before turning to commerce at Mobile, where he became successful enough to remove himself from the King's payroll.  He & Hippolyte would produce a distinguished line of the Chauvin family in LA.  See ibid., p. 366. 

As previously stated, the King refused to send anymore to Louisiana until the end of the war.  See ibid., p. 365. 

128.  Quotation from ibid., p. 346. 

129.  Quotation from ibid., p. 347.  See also ibid., p. 346. 

130.  Quotations from ibid., p. 347.  See also ibid., p. 348.  The original flat-bottom pinnace built by Le Roux in 1702 but never finished also was constructed near the fort.  See ibid., p. 69.  For the 1708 vessel's name, see ibid., p. 388. 

131.  Quotations from ibid., p. 356. 

132.   See ibid., pp. 357-61, 364.  Population figures in ibid., p. 541, show that in 1708 the officers & officials, religious, craftsmen, Canadians & voyageurs, soldiers & sailors, women, children 12 and under, & slaves & domestiques at Old Mobile numbered 339, up from 299 the year before.  La Salle's census in 1708 was taken in Aug & showed that the colony's population had nearly doubled since 1704.  La Salle's 1708 census also counted more livestock in the colony:  40 head of cattle, 50 milch cows,4 bulls, 8 oxen, 1400 pigs, & 2000 chickens.  See ibid., p. 364. 

133.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 357, 359.  See also ibid., pp. 358, 361.

One had only to remember Boisbriant's experience in Feb 1705 to understand the danger of Châteauguay's mission. 

134.  Quotation from ibid., p. 360.  See also ibid., pp. 361-63, 372.  The yellow fever epidemic at Pensacola continued into October, Moscoso having lost 55 men by then. 

135.  See ibid., p. 363.  Ibid,  p. 368, contains a long quote from Bienville's message to the minister, dated 12 Oct 1708, so it probably went via Mandeville.

136.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 346, 373.  See also ibid., pp. 364-67, 370-73. 

137.  Quotation from ibid., p. 373.  See also ibid., pp. 374, 382.

138.  See ibid., pp. 382, 388-89.  It was about this time that Bienville removed the colony's midwife, Marie Grissot, from the King's payroll to give some of her salary to a ship's carpenter & made a life-long enemy of the headstrong woman.  See ibid., pp. 376-80. 

139.  See ibid., pp. 383-84. 

140.  See ibid., pp. 384-85. 

141.  Quotation from ibid., p. 386.  See also ibid., p. 387. 

142.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 387, 423.  For the failure at Natchez, see ibid., p. 423.  Dartaguiette, insisting that wheat was still essential to the survival of the colony, concluded that it would have to be grown upriver and floated down to Mobile.  Needless to say, wheat would grow very well on the prairies surrounding the Illinois, Ohio, & Wabash rivers, which for a time would be part of the Louisiana colony. 

143.  See ibid., p. 388.  See also ibid., p. 389. 

144.  Quotation from ibid., p. 389. 

145.  Quotation from ibid., p. 398.  See also ibid., pp. 397, 442-43.  The Chauvins & Graveline, all Canadians, had served in the colony under Iberville & Bienville before striking out on their own. 

146.  See ibid., pp. 401-06, for La Vente's final days at Mobile &, according to Higginbotham, the real reason why he was sacked by the Minister of Marine. 

146a.  Quotations from Mathé Allain, "Cadillac, Antoine Laumet, dit Antoine de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac," in DLB, 139-40; Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:351.  See also ibid., 2:352; Webster, Acadia, 167-68. 

Webster, p. 167, first published in 1934 & obviously based on superseded scholarship, says Cadillac was born at St.-Nicolas de la Grave on 5 Mar 1658 & calls his father Jean Laumet de la Mothe Cadillac.  Webster adds: "The family, generally known as Le Muth Cadillac, was well-known in this south-western corner of France.  The father had been an affluence Councillor of Parliament in Toulousse.  Antoine was well-educated and entered the French army as a cadet, probably at the age of sixteen.  He served in the regiment of Dampierre and, later, became a lieutenant in the regiment of Clairembault.  He seems to have had some serious disagreement with his father, who did not forgive him, for, on his death, all his property was left to his other children."  Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:351, says that Cadillac's hometown of Le Laumets, near Caumont, is in what became the department of Tarn-et-Garonne, on the upper Garonne, at the northern edge of Gascony, & uses the same birth date as Webster.  Zoltvany says noted historian of New France, W. J. Eccles, describes Cadillac as "one of the worst scoundrels ever to set foot in New France...."  Zolvany adds:  "Boastful, ingenious, quarrelsome, not too scrupulous about adhering to the truth, Antoine Laumet was a true son of Gascony.  He had gone down in history with the impressive noble pedigree he invented for himself, consisting of the title of esquire, a coat of arms, the noble alias of de Lamothe Cadillac, and a father who was a counsellor in the prestigious parlement of Toulouse.  The truth is quite different.  Cadillac's baptismal certificate, preserved in the parish of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave, shows that his father, Jean Laumet, was a humble provincial magistrate, and his mother, Jeanne Péchagut, of bourgeois stock.  Assuming a noble identity was of course a common practice in 17th-century France, but Cadillac may have hoped to gain more by this than merely social prestige.  The thorough manner in which he blurred over his real origins, going so far as to alter the name of his mother to Malenfant on his wedding certificate of 25 June 1687, has led several historians to believe that for some reason or other he wished to make it impossible for anyone to inquire about his real identity."  Although he evidently had been well educated, Zoltvany, 2:352, points out the many contradictions in Cadillac's claims to having served as an officer of the French army. 

Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:352, calls Cadillac's wife's family Guion, but Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 406ff, & Allain, "Cadillac," p. 139, call the family Guyon.  Interestingly, neither Antoine Laumet nor Antoine Le Mothe de Cadillac can be found in Stephen A. White's genealogy of the Acadians to 1714, DGFA-1

Webster, pp. 167-68, says that Cadillac's seigneurie in ME "included a tract of land two leagues in extent, on the sea, at Frenchman's Bay near Megeis (Machias), the river Douaquet (Douaquec), running through it it but not being part of the grant.  Also included in the seigniory was Mount Desert Island and all others near by.  The grant was issued by Governor Denonville and Intendant Champigny, dated July 23, 1688, and confirmed, May 24, 1689.  It is not known how long Cadillac remained on Mount Desert, but that he was again in Port Royal in 1689...," when Meneval complained of his "cabal" with de Goutin (Webster spells it Des Goutins) & Soulagre.  Frenchman's Bay is nowhere near Machias, but it does touch the eastern shore of Mount Desert Island.  Rivière Douaquec was the French name for what the English called the Mount Desert River, today's Union River, which flows into Union River Bay, west of Frenchman's Bay, and also flanks Mount Desert Island.  Webster, p. 167, note 1, details the success of one of Cadillac's granddaughters, Madame Grégoire, in exploiting her grandfather's seigneurie on Mount Desert Island during the late 1780s, after ME had become a part of the United States.  Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:352, says that Cadillac's Acadian seigneurie "of 25 square miles" was on the Douaguek River (Union River, ME), & does not mention Mount Desert Island as part of the grant. 

146b.  See Allain, "Cadillac," p. 140; Webster, Acadia, 168; Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:352-53. 

146c.  See Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:353.

146d.  See ibid., 2:353. 

146e.  See ibid., 2:353-54; Allain, Cadillac," p. 140.  Higginbotham, pp. 396-97, details how a party of Canadians working their way from Montréal to Kaskaskia and then to Mobile were forced to remain at Détroit longer than they intended because of Cadillac's machinations. 

Cadillac cleverly named the fort at Détroit after Minister Pontchartrain.  See Webster, Acadia, 168. 

147.  Quotation from Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:354.  See also ibid., 2:355.  Webster, Acadia, 168, says, "In 1707, he [Cadillac] led a force against the Miamis and brought them to terms," which was a nice way to put it. 

148.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 407.  See also Zolvany, "Laumet," 2:354-55.  Webster, Acadia, 168, says that Cadillac was appointed governor of LA in 1712. 

149.  See Higginbotham, Mobile, 405-08. 

150.  Quotation from ibid., pp. 408-09.  The reader is reminded that Bienville came to Louisiana on the eve of his 19th birthday & that, unlike brothers Iberville, Sérigny, & Châteauguay, in all that time he had never returned to France & had ventured out of the colony only as far as Pensacola & up into the Alibamon country. 

See ibid., pp. 410-11, for Bienville's agonizing message to the Minister, dated 21 Jun 1710, pleading his case for promotion.  This was a reaction to his learning early in the year that the Minister was still looking for a new governor, though, by then, he had chosen Cadillac.  Iberville may have met Cadillac in Canada or France, but Bienville probably had not. 

151.  See ibid., p. 409, who says that Cadillac asked for permission to return to France.  Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:355, implies that Cadillac ignored the Minister's instructions & returned to France without permission. 

Cadillac would not reach Mobile until June 1713, nearly 3 years after his appointment, 2 years after Bienville & Dartauguiette had moved the settlement from Old to New Mobile, & after the King had given the colony to financier Antoine Crozat, which Cadillac had helped secure.  Cadillac thus was appointed as a royal governor but served as a proprietary one. 

152.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 410.  See also ibid., pp. 412-13. 

Bienville was not exactly correct in his complaint against the Seminary priests.  Father Huvé, whose health was always precious, spent more time among the Chato at the Oignonets than he did at Fort Louis.  But Bienville was correct about the rest of Louisiana--in Jun 1710, with Father Davion at Fort Louis, no more missionaries worked among the many river tribes, none with the Mobilians, the Tomeh, & most of the Apalache in the Mobile River/Mobile Bay area, & there never had been any among the Choctaw & Chickasaw.  In a word, in its efforts to minister to the natives of LA, the Seminary of Foreign Missions in Paris failed miserably.  One wonders how the LA missions would have fared if the Le Moynes could have coaxed the King and Minister to award the colony to the Jesuits from the time of Father Du Ru. 

A "bilander," also spelled "billander" & "be'landre," was a small European merchant ship with 2 masts.  "The mainmast was lateen-rigged with a trapezoidal mainsail, but the foremast carried the conventional square course and square topsail.  Displacement was typically under 100 tons. The bilander was short-lived, being replaced by more efficient designs, and few examples exist today."  See Wikipedia. 

La Vente reached France via the West Indies at the end of Jul & was thrilled to hear that Bienville had not been appointed the colony's new governor.  He also would learn that he would not be sent back to the colony, nor would the Seminary bother to replace him.  At La Rochelle, he was able to converse with the captain of the Renommée, which would resupply Mobile again & probably would not reach the colony until in the year.  See Higginbotham, pp. 411-12. 

153.  See ibid., p. 412. 

154.  Quotation from ibid., pp. 415, 417. 

155.  Quotation from ibid., pp. 417-18.  See also ibid., p. 419.  La Salle's original salary as post commissary was 600 livres a year, raised to 800 livres on Iberville's recommendation soon after La Salle reached the colony in 1702.  For a left-handed defense of La Salle, see ibid., pp. 418-19. 

156.  See ibid., pp. 419-20. 

157.  Quotation from ibid., p. 420.  Higginbotham says that La Salle died of influenza, but O'Neill, "La Salle," 2:349, says "he died of the flux."  They are different diseases.  The flu is essentially a respiratory ailment; the flux is an ailment of the digestive tract. 

O'Neill does not give La Salle's birth date, but if he had served in the La Salle expedition of 1682 & was, perhaps, 20 years old then, in Dec 1710 he would have been 48 years old. 

La Salle was buried near his wives & children in the cemetery at Fort Louis on New Year's Day 1711.  The inventory of his possessions revealed that, unlike his enemy, the Sieur de Bienville, the Sieur de La Salle had accumulated few material possessions in his final days.  His survivors included 5 sons, Nicolas, fils, age 17, Simon, age 16, both serving in Vaulezard's Company at Mobile, & 3 younger sons by his second wife, ages 5 to 2.  Dartaguiette was so moved by the sight of the 3 youngest orphans that he beseeched the Minister to extend to them his charity.  See Higginbotham, pp. 420-21. 

158.  Quotations from ibid., p. 421.  In the second quote, Higginbotham is saying that as late as Jan 1711 Bienville was unaware of Cadillac's appointment.  The minister had written Dartaguiette in late May 1710, a few weeks after appointing Cadillac, but the letter evidently was sent to Mobile via the Renommée, which, astonishingly, would not reach Port Massacre until early Sep 1711, only 2 years late.  

159.  See ibid., pp. 422-24, 448-49. 

160.  Quotation from ibid., p. 424. 

161.  Quotation from ibid., p. 425.  See also ibid., pp. 428-33.  See ibid., pp. 425-26, for details of an expedition to the TX Gulf coast by a hand full of Spaniards & Frenchmen from Pensacola & Mobile in 1703 during which the Frenchmen murdered a Spanish officer.  Moreover, Gov. Guzmán probably was still smarting from Dartaguiette's refusal to lend him Mobile's only sea-going vessel back in Aug 1709. 

162.  Quotation from ibid., p. 433. 

163.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 435, 436.  Higginbotham, p. 434, details some of the Profond's cargo:  "...choice Rouen cloth, broad Brittany linen, fine Bayeux thread, 550 pounds of steel, over three and a half tons of flat and square Biscay iron and one cardboard crate of black Pontardement lace."  All of this out of Martinique, not a French port, so one can imagine the contrast in wealth between the West Indian & Gulf Coast colonies. 

No nation enforced its mercantilist policies more diligently than Spain, so Dartaguiette & the other Frenchmen involved in the Profond affair were lucky to have been compensated by a decree from the Spanish king ... in 1716!  See ibid., p. 437, note 39. 

164.  Quotation from ibid., p. 436.  See also ibid., p. 437. 

164a.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 437-38; Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 91. 

165.  See Higginbotham, New Mobile, 438-40.  For the Renommée's rang, or size, see ibid., p. 464. 

166.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 442, 443-44.  See also ibid., pp. 441-45.  Jean-Baptiste Graveline, fils's Protestantism would cause him much grief in his short, tragic life in the colony. 

One scholar notes:  "... had it not been for the vegetables and poultry they [the inhabitants in the Mobile Bay area] sold Pensacola, the Louisiana colonists would rarely have seen any specie."  See Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 93. 

167.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 445. 

168.   See ibid., pp. 445-48.

169.  See ibid., pp. 448-50.

170.  Quotations from ibid., p. 453.  See also ibid., pp. 450-54.

171.  See ibid., p. 454. 

172.  Quotations from ibid., p. 455.  That the original center of the city of Mobile is located at the Oignonets is testimony to the qualities of the site that these Frenchmen chose. 

172a.  Bienville could order the Apalache around because the Mobile Bay area was not their traditional homeland.  They were at their present villages only because Bienville allowed them to go there after they had left Pensacola & moved to the bay.  The Mobilians & Little Tomeh had been living on the Mobile River long before the French arrived, so Bienville could only suggest that they move here or there within their traditional homeland. 

173.  See ibid., pp. 456-57.  Marguerite Burelle had come to the colony aboard the Pélican in 1704 with her parents, two sisters, & a younger brother; the 20 other Pélican girls came without their families. 

174.  Quotation from ibid., p. 458. 

175.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 458, 459.   Higginbotham notes that the old Indian path is, roughly, today's Saint Stephens Road. 

176.  See ibid., pp. 459-60. 

177.  Quotation from ibid., p. 460.  See also ibid., p. 461. 

178.  See ibid., p. 461.  Higginbotham doesn't say, but Bienville probably sent Barbazant de Pailloux to Veracruz in the Marguerite

179.  See ibid., pp. 461-62. 

180.  See ibid., p. 462. 

181.  See ibid., pp. 462-63.

182.  See ibid., pp. 463-64. 

183.  Quotation from ibid., p. 465.  See also ibid., pp. 464-66.  Finally leaving Fort-Royal in mid-summer 1711, the Renommée evidently had sailed from Martinique to Cap-Français to Havana & "after two weeks in Havana, had required 27 days to reach Massacre Island (normally a week's voyage."  See ibid. p. 462, note 66. 

Needless to say, when they heard of it, the King & Minister did not care much for the name "Immobile."  In 1712, the King informed Cadillac that the new name would not do & ordered him to use the name "Fort St.-Louis."  The King, of course, approved the new name for the island, named for his beloved granddaughter-in-law.  So the bay and the settlement retained its original French name, Mobile, which the French evidently had taken from the tribe called here & in Higginbotham the Mobilians to avoid confusion.  See ibid., pp. 465-66, note 77. 

The history of the name "Île Dauphine" is wrapped in tragedy.  Louis XIV's eldest son, Louis the Grand Dauphin, died of smallpox at age 49 on 11 Apr 1711.  This elevated the Grand Dauphins's eldest son, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, husband of Princess Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy, to the title of Dauphin and Marie-Adélaïde to that of Dauphine, for which the island was renamed.  The Dauphine contracted measles and died the following February.  The Dauphin, who actually loved his wife, a rarity in the Bourbon Court, remained at her side during her illness, contracted the disease, and died six days later, age 29.  Both of their young sons also contracted the disease.  The elder son, Louis, Duke of Brittany, died in early March, age 5.  The younger son, Louis, Duke of Anjou, only 2 years old, survived the epidemic.  Three years later, in 1715, Louis, Duke of Anjou, now age 5, became King Louis XV following the death of his great-grandfather, Louis XIV.  See Wikipedia. 

The progression of names for the island is Massacre (1699), Dauphine (1711), & then Dauphin, its present name, though locals were still calling it Massacre well into the 1800s. 

Did Dartaguiette take his younger brothers Bernard & Pierre with him back to France, or did the teenagers remain in LA with Bienvlle?  Jean-Baptiste-Martin would remain in France.  During the late 1710s & 1720s, he would serve as an influential member of the board of directors of the Company of the Indies during the Law regime--"the only board member with first-hand knowledge of Louisiana."  See Bezou, "D'Artaguiette," p. 213.  His younger brothers would serve in the colony during & after the Law period. 

184.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 466.  Ibid, p. 466, note 78, says:  "Bienville acknowledged receipt of Ponchartrain's letters of May 10, 1710 and Sept. 2, 1710 but not of the letter of May 13 ,1710 in which the minister notified him of the appointment of Cadillac.  Bienville's letter, in fact, seems to indicate he had not at this point been officially informed of Cadillac's promotion.  Was Bienville pretending the loss of the minister's May 13 letter or did Pontchartrain actually refrain from sending it, having had second thoughts about the appointment?"   

185.  Quotations from Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:355.  

186.  Quotation from Anderson, Crucible of War, 17.  See also Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 91. 

For La Salle's grand strategic plan for North America, see note 05, above. 

187.  Quotation from ibid., pp. 91-92.  See also ibid., p. 93; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 18

187a.  See ibid., p. 96; Yves F. Zoltvany, "Rigaud de Vaudreuil, Phlippe de," in DCB, 2:572

Still, the new Superior Council created for LA by royal decree in 1712 contained not only the governor, the ordonnateur, & the King's lieutenant as sitting members, but "The new civil administration of Louisiana was linked to that of New France (Canada) by the designation of the lieutenant-general and the intendant of that colony as titular members of the Louisiana Superior Council."  See Micelle, p. 27.  No matter, the distances between Québec & Mobile/New Orleans precluded any real control by Canada of LA, including IL. 

188.  Quotation from Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:355.  Donald J. Lemieux, "Some Legal and Practical Aspects of the Office of Commissaire-Ordonnateur of French Louisiana," pp. 395-407, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA, offers a thorough explanation of the office & is especially good at pointing out the difference between an attendant & a commissaire-ordonnateur.  Allain, "Not Worth a Straw," 88, 91, uses the apt terms "bipolar administrative systems" & "bipolar administration," bringing to mind the mental disorder once known as manic-depression. 

188a.  Quotations from Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:355

188b.  Quotation from Allain, "Not Worth a Straw," 85. 

189.  Quotation from Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:355These words about a long-suffering people long neglected by King & Minister coming  from one of the consummate liars of his age!  One wishes Bienville had kept a diary & recorded his reaction upon hearing that such a man as Cadillac had won the coveted governorship. 

190.  Quotation from ibid.  See also O'Neill, "Bienville," p. 381. 

Crozat's charter, remember, added IL to LA, hence Bienville's huge area of responsibility. 

191.  Quotation from Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 423.  See also Woods, "The French and the Natchez," p. 279, which points out that, though the Natchez welcomed French missionaries, few of them became devout Christians.  Woods details their native faith, centered on a "solar cult."

Although the Canadians failed to grow wheat at Natchez in 1710, the tribe was noted for harvesting 2 crops of maize a year.  See Wood, p. 279. 

192.  Quotations from Woods, "The French and the Natchez," p. 281.  See also ibid., p. 282. 

193.  Quotations from ibid., p. 282.  See Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:355, for Cadillac's discovery of copper in IL. 

194.  Quotation from Woods, "The French and the Natchez," p. 282.  See also ibid., p. 283. 

195.  Quotation from ibid., p. 284.  One wonders how much Cadillac had learned about Indian culture during his time at Michilimackinac (1694-97) & Détroit (1701-10).  Evidently not much.  

Pointing out that Bienville's handling of the Natchez hostages in 1716 was not unprecedented, Woods, p. 283, mentions Bienville's execution at Old Mobile of the Chitimacha warrior who had killed Father St.-Cosme back in 1707.  Commissary La Salle had charged the commander with atrocity then, but the Minister did not punish him. 

Woods goes on to say about Fort Rosalie on p. 284:  "The Indians not only returned much of the merchandise confiscated from the slain voyageurs, but they also agreed in the peace settlement to contribute wood and labor for the military post.  A hastily built installation, a small stake fence protecting the four supply huts within, Fort Rosalie remained in this unimproved condition until 1729, the year of its destruction." 

For depictions of the fort, see Chartrand, The Forts of New France: Great Lakes, Plains, & Gulf Coast, 48-50.  Reproduction of new fort plans are on p. 49.

196.  See Burton & Smith, Colonial Natchitoches, passim; Winston De Ville, "Juchereau de Saint-Denis, Louis," in DCB, 3:317-18; Ruffin W. Gray, "Juchereau de St. Denis, Louis," in DLB, p. 449; Galán, "Los Adaes," 192-93; Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 8. 

Whoever had seen the place in its earliest days probably would have refused to believe that the Poste de Natchitoches would hold a special place in LA history, that today it is the oldest continuously-occupied settlement in the State of LA, predating New Orleans by 4 years.

Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 108, gives Cadillac credit for founding forts Toulouse (near present-day Montgomery, AL) & Tombecbé, on the Tombigbee River, as well as Natchitoches. 

197.  Quotations from Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:355.  See also ibid., 2:356. 

198.  See Brian E. Coutts, "Lepinay, Jean-Michel, seigneur de Lépinay et de Longueville," in DLB, 504. 

The Comte de Toulouse was a legitimized son of Louis XIV and one of his mistresses, the Marquise de Montespan,

199.  See O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:381.  Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 145, explains:  "The design for Louisiana society placed limits on the size, power, and privileges of both the nobility and the third estate (middle and lower classes) in the interest of the crown.  Unlike in Canada, no new seigneurial titles were to be granted with land concessions.  Nor was venality, or the purchase of offices and titles, to be permitted in Louisiana.  This would theoretically limit the merchant and professional class's political influence, as well as their conversion into nobles."  For good measure, Louis XIV also banned lawyers in his Louisiana colony.  Dawdy goes on to say:  "This move was intended to curb litigious activity and forestall legal challenges to crown authority.  Neither objective was realized."  For the institution of venality in France & the notorious Paulette, see Allain, "Not Worth a Straw," 7-8. 

If Bienville had been granted Horn Island with seigneurial title, his new name would have become Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville et Île de la Horn, so it was just as well that he received it en routure.  By 1732, Horn Island was being called Île Bienville, for obvious reasons.  See Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, illustrations. 

200.  See Coutts, "Lepinay," p. 504; Sonya Lipsett, "Hubert, Marc-Antoine," in DLB, 414. 

200a.  See Thomas, Fort Toulouse, passim, for a detailed history of the fort, & pp. 19-20 for the 1721 mutiny.  Older accounts of the mutiny are largely incorrect.  Martin, Louisiana, 144, says that "Twenty-six men, who were in garrison at Fort Toulouse, on the river of the Alibamons, exasperated by hunger and distress, mutinied, and rising against Marchand, marched off with their arms and baggage, in the expectation of finding their way to the back settlements of Carolina.  Villemont, the lieutenant, immediately rode to the village and prevailed on the Indians to go and waylay the deserters; they were overpowered by the savage[sic] assailants, but not without great carnage.  Sixteen were killed, and two only escaped.  The other eight being made prisoners, were brought to Fort Louis [Mobile] and soon after executed."  Gayarré, Louisiana, 281, says that the 26 mutineers "butchered" their captain before setting out for Carolina.  Gayarré adds that the second in command, Villemont, was away from the fort at the time of the mutiny & that it was Villemont who led the Alibamon warriors against the mutineers. 

Acadian genealogist Stanley LeBlanc notes that "Louis Fontenot and others at Ft. Toulouse probably were sent to replace the 26 soldiers."  S. L. to author via email, 8 Jun 2013.  Louis, whose full name was Jean-Louis dit Colin, served as a sergeant, married at Mobile in 1726, and was progenitor of the Fontenot clan who resettled in the Opelousas District in the early 1760s.  See Fontenot Family History.

Oubre, Vacherie, 46, citing Thomas, calls the area around Fort Toulouse Aux Alibamas, says the full name of the fort was Fort Toulouse Des Alibamons, & that it was located "close to the east bank of the Coosa River, at a point where the Coosa and the Tallapossa[sic] approach within five hundred yards of each other.  The fort was four miles above the confluence of the Alabama River ad the Coosa River, now four miles south of present Wetumpka, Alabama, and ten miles north of Montgomery."  Oubre, pp. 46-47, adds:  "The site was 170 miles northeast of Mobile or about five days by rowing a boat.  The location was on an ancient Indian travel route, one of the main travel routes used by the Carolina traders to enter the area.  The traders came from their direction of settlement to the northeast beyond the lands of the Cherokee Indians, a distance of twenty-seven days of travel by packhorse."  Oubre, p. 47, citing Thomas, says that the French Marines at Fort Toulouse tended to number only 20 or 30 under a lieutenant, that most had served at Fort Condé, Mobile, & were among the best soldiers because of the hard duty at the isolated post.  He says that "many Swiss soldiers" also served at Fort Toulouse, but this would have been after 1731, when the Swiss company came to the colony; these Swiss mercenaries were considered to be among the best soldiers in LA.  Oubre points out that many of the soldiers at Fort Toulouse brought their families there & farmed as well as soldiered.  By 1755, at the beginning of the French & Indian War, "about 140 men, women, and children lived in and about the fort, and there were 42 of them in the garrison."  In 1758, there were 160 inhabitants there, so Fort Toulouse had evolved into a small agricultural settlement as well as a trading post & military establishment.  Oubre, citing Thomas, says that "the children of the inhabitants were reared among the savages[sic].  Many of the soldiers were the sons of former soldiers and had been born at the post and were well known to the Indians."  This would have included the Fontenots. 

201.  Quotation from Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 97. 

202.  See ibid.; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 15, 21-22; Wikipedia, "John Law."  Law was born at Edinburg in 1671, so he was only 46 years old when he cobbled together his LA venture in 1717. 

203.  Quotations from Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 97; Zoltvany, "Laumet," 2:356.  See also Robichaux, German Coast Families, 18, 23, 25. 

The charge against Cadillac & his son was making accusations against Law and the Regent.  Webster, Acadia, 168, says that after he returned to France, Cadillac was "made Governor of Castel Sarassin, in Gascony, his native province, where he died, Oct. 16, 1730."  Zoltvany, 2:356, who, unlike Webster, is not a captive of the legend, says that, after Cadillac was rehabilitated at court, he was awarded the Cross of St.-Louis, that he sued for restoration of his seigneurie at Détroit, won a partial settlement, but never returned to Canada, calls the locale of his governorship Castelsarrasin, says that Cadillac purchased the office, gives the death date of 15 Oct 1730, & concludes:  "His last seven years in France are as obscure as the 25 which preceded his coming to America."  Cadillac would have been 72 years old at the time of his death.  For a succinct analysis of the Cadillac myth, see the final paragraph of Zoltvany's fine sketch, which ends:  "Thus, with the passing of time, an individual who had never been anything but a cunning adventurer in search of personal enrichment came to be regarded as one of the great figures of the French régime in America." 

203a.  Quotations from Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 98; Bezou, "D'Artaguiette," p. 213 See also Oubre, Vacherie, 22-24. 

Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 146, says about the forçats & their impact on the colony:  "Shortly after their arrival, colonial administrators complained loudly and clearly that this particular aspect of the social experiment had gone utterly awry.  Of all the many reasons that Louisiana and New Orleans were perceived as disorderly failures, the recruitment, transportation, and colonial careers of its forced immigrants merit top billing.  Although historians have questioned the demographic impact of forçats on Louisiana society, their impact on the colony's reputation remains undisputed." 

James D. Hardy, Jr., "The Transportation of Convicts to Colonial Louisiana," pp. 115-24, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA; & Robichaux, German Coast Families, 19-20, provide details of the French decrees, issued in Nov 1718 & Apr 1719, that rounded up forçats for LA, including the employment of baundeliers, who were paid for each "undesirable" they arrested.  Parisians, of course, were incensed by the practice, with its many cases of abuse, & riots in the city in March & May 1720 led to the murder of "more than twenty" baundeliers.  These riots, & the bursting of the Mississippi Bubble the following Sep, compelled the Regent to halt the practice of sending forçats to LA, hence the reliance on foreign volunteers, especially Germans. 

203b.  Robichaux, German Coast Families, 23-24, details the speculation frenzy, especially in Paris, & its result; Wikipedia, "John Law," concludes: "Law ultimately fled the country disguised as a woman for his own safety. ... Law initially moved to Brussels in impoverished circumstances.  He spent the next few years gambling in Rome, Copenhagen, and Venice but never regained his former prosperity.  Law realised he would never return to France when Orléans [the Regent] died suddenly in 1723 and Law was granted permission to return to London, having received a pardon in 1719.  He lived in London for four years and then moved to Venice where he contracted pneumonia and died a poor man in 1729."  Law wrote his memoirs before he died at age 58. 

203d.  Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 97, gives the immigrant/slave figures.  See also Robichaux, German Coast Families, 3-4, 18.  

Oubre, Vacherie, 21, says that during the 5 years of the Crozat regime, "less than 250 colonists left France to settle in Louisiana"--a pitiful record. 

203e.  See Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, 121; Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 20, 74-75; Oubre, Vacherie, 7-8; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 43-44. 

Oubre, p. 7, says that "Most of the Chawashas were killed in a attack by other Indians in 1715, and then, in an attack by Negro slaves in 1729.  By 1722, some remaining had joined up with the Taensas in a village called Le Chouachas, where they were in disputes with the Collapissas.  The Washas and remaining members of the Chawashas were reported to be living as one tribe at Les Allemands in 1739 and again in 1758."

Oubre, p. 37, says that the Taensa were still living near the Bayou Le Sueur portage in 1721, when the Germans came there.  Evidently Bienville had not moved all of them to Mobile Bay in the mid-1710s.  In 1721, the Indians living near the Bayou Le Sueur portage may have been both Taensa & Chawasha, hence the name La Chouachas. 

Their early removal away from European settlement may be one reason why the Chitimacha are still around today.  Prior to the arrival of the French in 1699, the tribe had lived along lower Bayou Teche (where their small reservation, with its casino, is located today), before moving to the natural levee along Bayou Lafourche.  Oubre, p. 9, states:  "They [the Chitimacha] were defeated and forced to settle on the Mississippi at the head of Bayou Lafourche at the site of present day Donaldsonville.  Later, the tribe moved across the Atchafalaya River to settle at Charenton on Bayou Teche with remnants of other tribes."  This sounds like the tribe's move into the Basin was voluntary.  No other source agrees. 

203f.  Quotations from Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 44; Oubre, Vacherie, 26 See also Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 98; Bezou, "D'Artaguiette," p. 213; Jay Higginbotham, "The Chaumont Concession:  A French Plantation on the Pascagoula," pp. 578-84, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA; Oubre, pp. 24-25; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 3, 18-19. 

Land granted en seigneurie included a title, rendered sieur de, with noble privileges, but a grant en routure included no title or noble privileges.  This was a policy of Louis XIV, continued by Louis XV's Regent, Philippe, duc d'Orléans, & Louis XV, to prevent the creation of a troublesome nobility in LA.  See note 199, above. 

Oubre, p. 26, claims that the most successful concessions were the ones closest to New Orleans.  Exceptions would have been Pointe Coupee & Natchez. 

203g.  Quotation from Oubre, Vacherie, 24.  See also ibid., pp. 25-26. 

204.  See Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 97; Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 195-97. 

According to Oubre, Vacherie, 21, the order appointing Bienville as commandant reached Mobile aboard 3 ships on 9 Feb 1718. 

Sérigny remained in LA only until 1723, the year that Bienville moved the colony's headquarters from New Mobile to New Orleans.  See Brasseaux, "Sérigny et de Loire," p. 733. 

204a.  Quotations from Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 20, 109.  See also ibid., p. 110, which describes Bienville's men  in the spring of 1718 as "...thirty workmen, all convicts; six carpenters and four Canadians...." 

Ibid., pp. 279-80, makes much of the feminizing of the city's name--Nouvelle-Orléans--though the city was named for a man, the duc d'Orléans.

204b.  Quotation from Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 194.  See also ibid., pp. 145, 195-97. 

Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 58, says the Superior Council was founded in 1712, during the Crozat period, "as a temporary 'court of last resort' for Louisiana and made permanent in 1716," during the Law period.  Brasseaux, p. 57, uses the term "quasi-legislative" to describe the Council's function.  Micelle, p. 26, describes the Superior Council as "the institution which developed into the central administrative body of French Louisiana." 

204c.  Needless to say, most of this huge expanse of territory was still a howling wilderness in 1717. 

205.  Quotation from Sternberg, Bayou Manchac, 36.  See also ibid., p. 35.  According to Samuel Wilson, Jr., "Colonial Fortifications and Military Architecture in the Mississippi Valley," pp. 384-85, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA, the original plans for New Orleans were draught up by one Sieur Perrier, who "died en route to Louisiana."  This likely was the engineer who had been tasked to design the settlement at Bayou Manchac--something that was never done.  Wilson says that Perrier also was tasked with the construction of New Orleans and was succeeded by Le Blond de La Tour

Fort Maurepas, remember, had been built by Iberville in 1699 but abandoned in 1702 when he moved the colony's headquarters to Old Mobile.  The site of New Biloxi is today's City of Biloxi.  In this narrative, the site of Fort Maurepas must now be called Old Biloxi.  See Wilson, Jr., pp. 385-86, for short biographies of Le Blond de La Tour & Pauger, & details of their efforts at New Biloxi. 

See Robichaux, German Coast Families, 35, for Le Blonde de La Tour's arrival at Ship Island with his assistants, M. de Boispinel & M. Franquet de Chaville. 

206.  See Wilson, Jr., p. 386; Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 20-22, 211; Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 63-65; Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 9.

Dawdy, p. 63, says that in 1721 Pauger approached New Orleans via Lake Pontchartrain, using the portage site above Bayou St.-Jean.  He was coming to New Orleans from New Biloxi, so this route would have been the shortest & least troublesome for him. 

Ibid., p. 64-65, details Pauger's confrontation with one of the original dwellers, Madame Bonnaud, who cursed & threatened to beat the engineer when he pointed out that her house did not conform to the new street grid.  Shades of things to come!

Robichaux, German Coast Families, 52, offers eyewitness details of the hurricane, which, one contemporary insists, lasted from 11-16 September 1722, the first of so many storms that would devastate the city.  An eyewitness, Father Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix, noted:  "At New Orleans, the church, hospital and thirty houses or log huts were thrown down; all the other edifices were injured."  Ironically, this allowed a thorough rebuilding of the settlement based on the Le Blond de La Tour/Pauger plan. 

Campanella, p. 22, says in 1727 New Orleans's population was 938--729 "whites" "plus 65 enlisted men," 127 black slaves, & 17 Indian slaves. 

206a.  See Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 45, 55-59. 

207.  Quotations from Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 110-11; John Hebron Moore, "The Cypress Lumber Industry of the Lower Mississippi Valley During the Colonial Period," p. 588, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA.  See also Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 123, which says the name Balize probably comes from the Spanish valiza, or "beacon." 

Dawdy, p. 111, reproduces a 1724 drawing by Pauger of the bird foot delta, including the location of Île La Balize & its fortification at the mouth of what the French then called Fleuve St.-Louis

208.  Quotation from Allain, "In Search of a Policy," p. 97. 

209.  Quotation from O'Neill, "Bienville," p. 381.  See also Martin, Louisiana, 280. 

In c1717, Sérigny was "rehabilitated" for his complicity in his brother Iberville's malfeasance in 1706.  For his part in the 1719-21 war with Spain, he was promoted to naval captain and received the Cross of St.-Louis, as did brother Châteauguay.  Sérigny returned to France in Jun 1720, was promoted to governor of Rochefort in 1723 & served in that capacity until his death at age 66 in Sep 1734.  See Brasseaux, "Serigny et de Loire," p. 733. 

210.  See Burton & Smith, Colonial Natchitoches, 8-9.   Blondel had served with Bienville at Mobile & was the officer whom the Jamaican pirates had lured aboard their vessel when they attacked Massacre Island in Sep 1710.  St.-Denis, the founder of Natchitoches, replaced Blondel in Jul 1719, during the short war with Spain. 

211.  Quotation from Usner, Lower Miss. Valley before 1783, 158.  See also Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 119, 132-33; BRDR, 1b:xi-xii; Crouse, Lemoyne d'Iberville, 184-85; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 19; Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 3; Usner, p. 179. 

As this narrative shows, there were many "Mayflowers of Louisiana," to use Usner's designation:  the Renommée, the Enflammé, an earlier Loire, the Pélican, the Aigle, & the Baron de La Fauche, to name only the big ones that came before the Law period began in 1717.  The first ships to reach LA during the Law Period, in Feb 1718, were the Neptune, the Dauphine, & the Vigilante, so the Loire was not even close to being the first one to reach the colony.  Or was the Loire of 1720 the same ship that had come to LA in 1703?  Considering the chances of a sailing vessel of that time surviving 17+ years of service, including much of it war service, as well as the popularity of the name, it probably was a different ship. 

212.  Quotation from Robichaux, German Coast Families, 33.  See also ibid., pp. 1-4, 34, 43-44, 47; Marcel Giraud, trans. & ed. by Glen Conrad, "German Emigration," pp. 136-47, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA; Oubre, Vacherie, 28-29.   

For the movement of the Taensa in the early 1700s, see Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 77, which says that the Taensa moved "to sites in present-day Alabama north of Mobile Bay" "After 1730."  Robichaux, pp. 33, 43, says that Bienville had moved the Taensa from the river to the Mobile Bay area years before the Demeuves concessionaires reached the site in Jan 1719.  However, on ibid., p. 53, Robichaux quotes colonial Inspector General Dartaguiette (of Old Mobile/New Mobile fame) as having "dinner with the Taensas" on the left, or east, bank of the river near the German Coast, which lay on the west bank, in Dec 1722.  Did a remnant of the tribe remain near the portage on the east bank of the river, across from the Germans?  If so, both Kniffen et al. & Robichaux could be correct--perhaps Bienville moved some of the Taensa to above Mobile in the 1710s, & the rest joined their kinsmen there "After 1730," when the increased European presence in the area may have sent them packing. 

The associates for the Demeuves Concession were Jean-Baptiste & Michel Delaire, the managers, & Alexis Robert & Antoine de la Rue, all from Paris, & François Chastang of Nîme.  They sailed aboard the Marie from La Rochelle on 25 May 1718, & reached Port Dauphine on 25 August.  See Robichaux, p. 33.  Inspector General Dartaguiette, quoted on ibid., p. 53, says on a visit to the German Coast in Dec 1722:  "This Delaire [Michel, the younger brother, still living on the east bank of the river near the portage] was the director of a concession which has not succeeded."  Oubre, p. 29, citing Le Gac, gives the respective fates of the Demeuves associates:  Michel Delaire remained at the concession, Jean-Baptise Delaire & François Chastange returned to Parish, & Antoine de la Rue died in New Orleans.  Nothing is said of Alexis Robert.  Oubre says that the concession was named for Étienne Demeuves, a Company director. 

For a rather crude depiction of the Bayou La Sueur/Bayou Trepagnier portage, c1803, see Robichaux, p. 50.  For a detailed description of the portage & the names & locations of the German Coast forts, see Oubre, pp. 17-18, who says that La Sueur used the route in 1699 on his way upriver to explore for minerals.  La Sueur & his prospectors did not come to LA until Jan 1700, so he may have discovered the Bayou Trepagnier portage then.  Were the portage-site forts built in the early 1720s, when the German Coast emerged, or in the late 1740s, following an Indian attack on the area in 1748?  See note 271a, below. 

Evidently the Company paid transportation from France to Louisiana, but not within the colony.  See note 203g, above. 

213.  See Robichaux, German Coast Families, 15-16, 23, 25-231; Oubre, Vacherie, 26.  Robichaux points out on p. 25 that Law's Company's description of the land & its many resources, thru its propaganda pamphlets, not the religious turmoil in their part of Europe, is what drew the Germans to LA. 

Robichaux's contention that the plague may have killed many of the Germans at Lorient can be found at ibid., pp. 30-31. 

214.  See Robichaux, German Coast Families, 34, 37-41; Oubre, Vacherie, 29-34

One secondary source on the German immigrants of 1720-21 is entitled German "Pest Ships."  Oubre, Robichaux, & others also use this term. 

215.  Quotation from Robichaux, German Coast Families, 73.  See also ibid., p. 140; Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 69, 71; Oubre, Vacherie, 43.  Baudier, p. 71, states:  "This first church of the Germans was on the west bank of the river....  The first church which the Germans used was not under the invocation of St. Charles, as was the later church (Little Red Church on the east bank), but was dedicated to St. John.  The German Coast parish was known at first as "La Paroisse de St. Jean des Allemands," and is thus referred to in the registers of the St. Louis Cathedral."  Barbara L. Allen's Introduction in Robichaux, cited above, p. 1, disputes this & says the name St. Jean was never used here.  See also Robichaux, pp. 61-76. 

Oubre, p. 44, citing Glenn R. Conrad's study of the German Coast, says that the Nov 1724 census counted among the Germans 44 families that were Roman Catholic, 7 that were Lutheran, 2 that were Calvinist, & 1 Zwinglian family, & that "Within several years, the non-Catholics were converted."  So Commandant Darenbourg's experience was typical. 

Father Raphaël also complained of Darenbourg's keeping a concubine.  Darenbourg married Marguerite Metzer during the late 1720s.  By the early 1730s, he was considered a hero in the war against the Natchez, & this is probably why he retained his post for so long.  In Oct 1734, Darensbourg also served as notary among the Germans.  Bienville thought highly of him.  King Louis XV awarded him the prestigious Cross of St.-Louis in Aug 1759, but the French authorities never bothered to deliver the actual cross & ribbon to him.  See Robichaux, pp. 73, 140-42. 

216.  See Robichaux, German Coast Families, 35, 53; Bezou, "D'Artaguiette," p. 213, which called Bernard "the first European settler at today's Baton Rouge.  Indeed, for some time, the site of the state's capital was known as Dironbourg."  Bezou says that Pierre also was a concessionaire, but does not say where his concession was located.  Bernard mentioned his "plantation" in a communication to the Minister of Marine in Sep 1734, so the "concession" survived.  See Foret, "War or Peace?," pp. 304, 311. 

Was this the same Profond of earlier LA history?  Also aboard the Profond of Jun-Sep 1720 was Jacques Cantrelle, who took his wife & son to the short-lived Law concession at Arkansas before relocating to Natchez. 

217.  Quotations from Robichaux, German Coast Families, 41-42.  See also ibid., pp. 43-49; Morris S. Arnold, "The Myth of John Law's German Colony on the Arkansas," pp. 148-52, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA; Oubre, Vacherie, 29, 34-36.   

Arnold, pp. 149-50, says that the Law concession at Arkansas was established in Aug 1721 with skilled workmen & craftsmen, not habitants, or farmers, who were expected to come later.  A visitor to Arkansas the following Dec, Father Pierre de Charlevoix, on his way downriver, found the workers but none of the Germans at the Law Concession.  Father Charlevoix marveled at the fertility of the Arkansas site & lamented that there were no farmers there to till the soil.  Bénard de la Harpe, a French officer, visited the Arkansas concession in Mar 1722 & found only 47 workers there.  By then, the surviving Germans were ensconced on the Demeuves Concession far downriver, having never gone up to Arkansas. 

Oubre, pp. 25-26, blames poet/memoirist/explorer Jean-François Dumont de Montigny for the myth that the Germans in LA first settled on Law's Arkansas concession before moving down to the area of the Demeuves Concession.  Oubre concedes, on p. 35, that a few Germans, among the first arrivals, may have gone upriver, to Arkansas but especially to Natchez, where they worked as tobacco experts, but doubts if any of them returned downriver & settled on the German Coast.  On p. 36, he has the Germans engagés moving from Biloxi via Lake Pontchartrain & Bayou Le Sueur to the Demeuves Concession on their way to Arkansas.  Instead of continuing on, they built villages for themselves on the west bank of the river "while waiting transport upriver," but, perhaps at the suggestion of Commandant General Bienville, remained at Demeuves.  There can be no doubt that, in 1721, Bienville would have welcomed more settlements on the river above & below New Orleans, which he intended to make the colony's capital as soon as he could manage it (which he did in 1723).  Bienville had long seen the lower river, not the coastal area, as the future of the colony. 

218.  Quotations from O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:381-82. 

219.  Quotation from Robichaux, German Coast Families, 53; Oubre, Vacherie, 39.  See also ibid., pp. 49, 51-55; Charles S. Buchanan, "D'Arensbourg, Karl Friedrich," in DLB, p. 210; Oubre, pp. 37, 40-41. 

An excellent map of the original German Coast settlements, recently drawn by Norman Marmillion, can be found on the back dust jacket of Merrill, Germans of Louisiana.  It includes a depiction of the shift in the river's channel since the 1720s,

Darensbourg was called Charles as well as Karl.  He was not popular.  As Robichaux, pp. 53-54, 140, points out, there were early complaints by the German settlers against him.  No matter, he kept his position.  Oubre, p. 38, makes Darensbourg the commander of the German Coast in Dec 1722, over a year after the settlement was established.  Oubre speculates that Darensbourg at first served as interpreter & intermediary before Bienville made him commander, & points out that Darensbourg served as commander of the German Coast for decades.  Amazingly, Darenbourg was still serving as civil commandant of the German Coast in the late 1760s, when he was approaching age 70.  See, for example, Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 60.  For Darensbourg's bio., see Robichaux, pp. 133-42.  The commandant was a native of Stettin, Pomerania, now part of Poland, but lived in Stockholm, Sweden, much of his early life & served in the Swedish army from the age of 17, leaving it as a captain, the rank he was given by the directors of Law's Company.  His commission as "reformed captain" of LA troops is dated 9 Jan 1721, Paris, so he held this rank when he reached the colony.  The original spelling of his family name was Arensbourg. 

The number of Germans recruited in their home principalities, the number of them who arrived at Lorient & Port Louis, the number who survived the plague & other ailments to take ship to LA, the number who reached LA, & the number who perished there soon after their arriva., probably will never be known.  See especially Robichaux, cited above; Oubre, Vacherie, 36. 

The Ouachas were the Washa. 

Oubre, p. 18, says the original German Coast settlements on the west bank of the river "is identifiable today [2002] as being the sites of the Union Carbide Chemical Plant and the Waterford Atomic Power Plant, across the river from the Bonnet Carré Spillway's lower levee, with the spillway now utilizing parts of the old Bayou Le Sueur."  On pp. 37-39, he calls Marienthal, Mariedal, & Augsburg, Ausbourg, citing Dartaguiette's census of Mar 1722, suggests their present location, including township & range numbers, but admits:  "There is no way to know definitely which village was which name and where precisely located."  On p. 39, he speculates that Wen, being farther back from the river, may have been completely destroyed by the storm surge of Sep 1722, which he describes in detail, citing Dumont de Montigny & Bernard Dartagueitte, who were witnesses.  Hurricanes were not name back then but identified only by their dates.  He speculates that the hurricane of Sep 1722 may have taken the path of modern-day Hurricane Betsy, which struck the lower Mississippi valley in 1964.  He points out that other concessions & settlements also were smashed by the hurricane. 

One of the family's that took up Bienville's offer in Dec 1722 was Elton Oubre's ancestor, Johannes Jacob, called Jacob, Huber, whose name was rendered in the French records as Jacques Ouvre.  Oubre says that the Germans, including his ancestor, who had gone to Bienville's plantation had returned to the German Coast by 1727.  See ibid., p. 40. 

The freshet of spring 1724 lasted until Jun & ruined the season's planting from Natchez all the way down to the lowest settlement.  After the river waters receded, 6 weeks of rain flooded the region again!  See ibid., p. 41. 

220.  Quotation from Robichaux, German Coast Families, Introduction by Barbara L. Allen, 2.  See also ibid., pp. 55-57; Oubre, Vacherie, 41-44. 

An outarde is a Canada goose.  However, Oubre, p. 17, says that, during Iberville's first exploration of the lower Mississippi in 1699, when he & his party "reached the east side of the river, they saw a wide stretch of water in both directions, where there were many water fowl, quite possibly brown pelicans.  Thus, they named the place Anse Aux Outardes (Bustard Bay).  An anse is a concavity, a rounded, or recessed place, an oxbow bend of the river, and this stretch of river was called Lake Outardes.  This stretch can now be seen by continuing on the River Road at Norco through the Bonnet Carré Spillway.  It coincides roughly with the entrance to the Bonnet Carré Spillway, and one can still see waterfowl resting during their migrations."  See also ibid., p. 18. 

The original German Coast, known later as the Lower German Coast, lay in present-day Jefferson & St. Charles parishes.  The Upper German Coast is today's St. John the Baptist Parish & the lower part of St. James Parish.  Oubre, p. 43, says that the German Coast eventually covered 50 miles along both sides of the river & included "people of several nationalities." 

221.  See Chartrand, The Forts of New France: Great Lakes, Plains, & Gulf Coast, 48-50, reproduction of new fort plans on p. 49; Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xvii, 43, 145-46; Sayre, "Natchez Ethnohistory Revisited."

222.  See Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 34-37, 59-62, 117, 126-29, 146-51, 181-82; Burton & Smith, Colonial Natchitoches, passim; De Ville, "Juchereau de Saint-Denis," 3:317-18; Galán, "Los Adaes," 192-93; Gray, "Juchereau de St.-Denis," p. 449; Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 8; "Timothy Flint's Louisiana [1831]," in Conrad, ed., The Cajuns, 119;

223.  See O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:382. 

223a.  One of the few survivors of the massacre was Frenchman Jacques Cantrelle, whose wife, the settlement's midwife, & their 2 children were among the dead. 

224.  For the attack & its aftermath, see De Ville, "Juchereau de Saint-Denis," 3:318; O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:382; Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 13; Usner, Lower Miss. Valley before 1783, 65-76, 158, 236; Daniel H. Usner, "From African Captivity to American Slavery," pp. 186, 195-96, & Patricia D. Woods, "The French and the Natchez Indians in Louisiana: 1700-1731," pp. 278-95, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA.

In a few decades, some of the Alibamon would merge with other Muskogean tribes into what would be called the Creek Confederacy. 

225.  Quotations from O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:382.  See also Chartrand, The Forts of New France: Great Lakes, Plains, & Gulf Coast, 48-50, reproduction of new fort plans on p. 49. 

Périer was Louisiana's first sitting royal governor.  Cadillac had served as a proprietary governor, & De Muys before him was appointed, but died before he could serve, as royal governor.  Iberville, Sauvole, Bienville, & l'Epinay had not held the title of governor, though as commandant, commander, & commandant general, they were governors in all but name.  Salmon was the first royal ordonnateur.  The ones before him--Duclos, Hubert, Durvergier, & La Chaise--had served as proprietary ordonnateurs.  La Salle, back in Old Mobile days, had been a simple commissary. 

And then there is the old misconception about Bienville's governorships.  My old professor at McNeese State, Joe Gray Taylor, one of the finest historians of the Bayou State, says in his Louisiana, 13, about Bienville's return to LA in 1733:  "Bienville, who had already served as governor three times ... was named governor for a fourth term."  Not exactly.  Bienville had served as temporary commandant or commander during brother Iberville's absence, as acting commandant after his brother's death, as co-commandant with Dartaguiette, as the King's lieutenant under the Crozat regime, & as commandant general under the Law regime, but not until 1733 did he ever serve as governor.  His "fourth term" actually was his only term in that elevated office.  Many other excellent scholars also call Bienville a governor when he was not.  See, for example, De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:12; Michael J. Foret, "War or Peace?  Louisiana, the Choctaw, and the Chickasaws, 1733-1735," pp. 296, 309, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA.

226.  Quotations from Mathé Allain, "Africans, Slaves, Slavery, and Manumissions," pp. 174, 175, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA.  See also ibid., pp. 176-82; Allain, "Not Worth a Straw," 79. 

Robichaux, German Coast Families, 73, speculates that the religious provisions of the Code may have motivated the conversion of Karl Friederich Darensbourg, a Swedish Lutheran army officer who came to the colony with a shipload of Germans in June 1721.  Darensbourg was promptly appointed commandant of the German Coast but did not convert to Roman Catholicism until 1729.  How else would he have retained his office well into the 1760s? 

227.  See Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 84, 86-88, 103-04, passim; Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 22; O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:382; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 57.  For a list of the Capuchins & Jesuits serving in the colony in 1729, see Baudier, pp. 119-20. 

In 1732, the year before Bienville returned to LA, the Bishop of Quebec, Louis-François Duplessis de Mornay, had refused to make a Jesuit, Father de Beaubois, his vicar general in LA but chose, instead, Capuchin Father Raphaël de Luxembourg, which placed the Capuchins over their rivals.  By 1739, when Bienville was still governor, there were 2 vicars-general in LA, a Capuchin & a Jesuit.  Two years later, in 1741, a new Bishop of Québec, Henri-Marie Dubreuil de Pontbriand, appointed a Jesuit as his vicar-general in LA.  See Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 16. 

227a.  The original Fort de Chartres, on the east bank of the river between Cahokia & Kaskakia, near present-day Prairie du Rocher, IL, was a wooden palisade with 2 log bastions built for Law's Company in 1718-20 by Pierre Dugué de Boisbriant & a contingent of troops sent up from the lower Mississippi.  It was built to protect the Company's mining interests in the area, perhaps the copper deposits discovered by Cadillac several years before, & to overawe the local Indians, especially the Fox.  Construction of a second fort, away from the river's floodplain, began in 1725.  It, too, was a wooden structure, this time with 4 corner bastions.  By 1742, the second structure was in disrepair.  Five years later, the garrison abandoned the fort & moved south to Kaskaskia.  Though authorities in New Orleans wanted to rebuild a third fort, this one of stone, at Kaskaskia, the site chosen was near the original site & was built between 1753-56 & added to during the following years, until the French abandoned the area east of the river.  See Wikipedia, "Fort de Chartres."

228.  Quotation from Allain, "Not Worth a Straw," 90-91.  See also Wikipedia, "Louis XV." 

229.  Quotation from Foret, "War or Peace?," p. 296.

230.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 296, 297.

230a.  See ibid., p. 299.  Benoit did not remain long at Fort Toulouse.  In late 1733 or early 1734, he was sacked for becoming involved with an English trader & replaced by "Sieur Develle."  See ibid., p. 300. 

231.  Quotations from ibid., p. 298.  See also ibid., p. 300.  Pierre, whose full name was Pierre Dartaguiette d'Iron d'Itouralde, was the youngest brother of Bienville's old friend, Jean-Baptiste-Martin Dartaguiette d'Iron, & had gone to Old Mobile with his older brothers Jean-Baptiste-Martin & Bernard in 1708.  See Higginbotham, Old Mobile, 321.  Bernard also served as an officer in LA during Bienville's time as governor. 

232.  Quotations from Foret, "War or Peace?," pp. 298, 299.  Father Baudouin had been among the Chickasaw at least since 1729 & evidently was the first priest to minister to that tribe.  See Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 119-20.  During the early 1730s, Father Baudouin served as a "spy" for Governor Bienville. 

233.  Quotation from Foret, "War or Peace?," p. 299.  See also ibid., p. 300.  Despite the King's approval of building stone works at Fort de Chartes in 1733, the fort remained a wooden structure until 1753.  See note 227a, above.  So much for royal promises that required a serious expenditure of funds. 

234.  See ibid., p. 300. 

235.  Quotation from ibid., p. 301.  See also ibid., p. 300. 

236.  See ibid., p. 301. 

237.  See ibid., pp. 301-02.   

238.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 302-03. 

239.  See ibid., p. 303. 

240.  Quote from ibid., p. 304.  Oubre, Vacherie, 22, says that Bernard Dartaguiette served at New Orleans from 1717 to 1728, when he became commander at Mobile. 

241.  Quotation from Foret, "War or Peace?," p. 304.  See also ibid., pp. 305-06.  Bernard Dartaguiette was a veteran of the war against the Natchez in 1729-31, so his failing as an officer was not lack of experience but probably lack of character.  See Oubre, Vacherie, 22. 

242.  See Foret, "War or Peace?," p. 305. 

243.  Quotation from ibid., p. 305.  See also David Hardcastle, "Swiss Mercenary Soldiers in the Service of France in Louisiana," pp. 368-77, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA; Oubre, Vacherie, 44; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 25-26, 28-29, 57-58, 92. 

After Karrer died in 1751, the Swiss contingent in LA was called Hallwyl's regiment, after its new commander.  See Hardcastle, p. 369. 

As ibid., pp. 374-75, points out, Swiss as well as French soldiers, including officers, were encouraged to remain in the colony after their terms of service ended.  The author's paternal ancestor, Johan George Stahlin, later Stelly, from Albershausen, Wurttemberg, was a "Swiss" mercenary who came to LA in the late 1730s or 1740s to serve in Karrer's regiment.  After his enlistment ended, Johan George settled on the German Coast, where, typically, he took a German wife, Christine Edelmayer, in Jul 1743.  See Robichaux, German Coast Families, 57-58, 329-32.  Descendants of the couple eventually left the German Coast & resettled on the Opelousas prairie. 

244.  See Foret, "War or Peace?," p. 307. 

245.  Quotation from ibid.

246.  Quotations from ibid. 

247.  Quotations from ibid.  See also ibid., p. 308. 

248.  Quotation from ibid., p. 308.  According to Foret, Bienville in fact blamed French officers for the attack on the river.  Some of them--Foret gives no names--formed a trading partnership for profit.  Moving upriver, their vessel stopped at Arkansas Post, where it was supposed to take on 1,700 pounds of gunpowder for Pierre Dartaguiette's Fort des Chartres.  Instead, they filled their vessel with trade goods, & Dartaguiette did not get his powder.  He sent down a bateau full of 11 French soldiers to retrieve the powder at Arkansas, & it was this vessel that the Chickasaw attacked to secure French hostages.  One wonders if one of the officer/partners was Dartaguiette's brother, Bernard. 

249.  Quotation from ibid.  See also ibid., p. 309. 

250.  Quotation from  ibid., p. 309.  Georgia, the last of Britain's colonies along the Atlantic littoral, was founded by General James Oglethorpe in 1732. 

251.  See ibid. 

252.  Quotations from Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 19.  See also ibid., p. 20. 

The author is proud to say that he is a native of the prairie region, specially that part of it the French called Grand Marais. 

252a.  Quotation from ibid., p. 21.  See also Oubre, Vacherie, 5. 

252b.  Quotation from Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, p. 44.  The dictionary and therefore the standard spelling of the Indian name is Atakapa, but it is more commonly spelled Attakapas.  Other spellings are Atacapas and Attacapas.  (The name, professor, is pronounced ah-TACK-ah-paw.)  Kniffen et al. goes on to say that "Cannibalism was indeed practiced among these people but was limited to the eating of portions of slain enemies."  So pass the sauce! 

253.  Quotation from Griffin, Attakapas Country, 5. 

Patricia D. Woods, "The French and the Natchez Indians in Louisiana: 1700-1731," p. 292, note 18, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA, says:  "in 1703 or 1704, the Natchez and the Houmas had warred on the Attakapas, a tribe which had killed some Frenchmen."  Wasn't this the Chitimacha? 

254.  Quotations from Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 46.  See also ibid., pp. 7, 49, 75. 

255.  Quotation from Usner, Lower Miss. Valley before 1783, 100.  Oubre, Vacherie, 42, says that Le Kintereck dit Dupont, as he calls him, lived on the east bank of the river just above New Orleans. 

Winston De Ville discourages the use of é in André Masse's family name.  See De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:42. 

255a.  Quotation from Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 92.  See ibid., pp. 74-75, for the importance of the Attakapas District & its cattle after France ceded eastern LA to Britain in 1763. 

See ibid., p. 75, note 116, for a short bio. of Édouard Massé, which says that "In 1765, when Dauterive was given a concession to Prairie Vermilion, on the west bank of the Teche, Massé petitioned the Spanish government of Texas for permission to relocated at the presidio of San Agustín de Ahumada (present-day Liberty, Texas), ostensibly to free his slaves, but probably to engage in contraband trade with the Spaniards and Indians of eastern Texas.  His request was rejected and he died in Louisiana sometime before 1774." 

Griffin, Attakapas Country, 21-22, claims that the Poste des Attakapas was not created until 1768, & by the Spanish, not the French.  Griffin implies that the name St. Martinville existed before "Postes des Attakapas," as he calls it. 

Another historian avers that "no government was in place at Attakapas until about 1770," when Spanish Gov. O'Reilly appointed a commandant for the prairie districts.  See De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:39. 

256.  Quotation from O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:382. 

257.  See ibid., 3:383; Wikipedia, "Chickasaw Campaign of 1736."  Bienville was 56 years old in 1736, well past his prime. 

Karrar's Swiss companies earned special praise for their valor in the campaign.  See Hardcastle, "Swiss Mercenary Soldiers in Louisiana," p. 370. 

Bernard Dartaguiette left LA in 1742 & served as King's lieutenant in French St.-Domingue, where he died at Cap-Français.  See Oubre, Vacherie, 22. 

258.  See Michael J. Foret, "The Failure of Administration:  The Chickasaw Campaign of 1739-1740," p. 314, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA; Wikipedia, "Chickasaw Campaign of 1739." 

259.  See Foret, "Failure of Administration," p. 314; O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:383; Wikipedia, "Chickasaw Campaign of 1739." 

260.  See Foret, "Failure of Administration," pp. 314, 317; André Lachance, "Le Moyne de Longueil, Charles, Baron de Longueil," in DCB, 3:384-85; O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:382, 383; Wikipedia, "Chickasaw Campaign of 1739." 

261.  Quote from Foret, "Failure of Administration," p.315.  See also O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:383. 

262.  Quotation from ibid.  See also ibid., p. 317; Wikipedia, "Chickasaw Campaign of 1739."  The French would never conquer the Chickasaw.  Not until a century later, in the 1830s, was the tribe "defeated," & not by the French but by the Americans.  Forced to abandon their homeland by the United States government, they were escorted to the Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma, where their descendants can be found today.  

263.  See Wikipedia, "Chickasaw Campaign of 1739."  For the recriminations among the French officers, as well as the riff between Bienville & Salmon, see Foret, "Failure of Administration," pp. 313-21. 

264.  Quotations from "Failure of Administration," pp. 317-18. 

265.  Quotation from ibid., p. 318.  See also O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:383. 

266.  Quotation from O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:383.  See also Carl A. Brasseaux, "Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Pierre de Rigaud, marquis de," p. 807, in DLB, p. 807. 

267.  See Wikipedia, "War of the Austrian Succession." 

268.  See Brasseaux, "Vaudreuil de Cavagnial," p. 807; O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:383. 

269.  Quotation from O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:383.  See also ibid., 3:384, which points out that, although Bienville's funeral was at St.-Eustache in Paris, his gravesite has been lost.  O'Neill notes, amazingly, that Bienville "even had to wait two centuries for New Orleans, the largest city he founded, to erect a splendid statue in honor of the father of Louisiana."  O'Neill's reference to the "largest city he founded" hints that Bienville founded more than one city.  Today's Mobile, called New Mobile in this narrative, the third largest city in the State of Alabama and that state's only saltwater port, also was founded by Bienville, 16 years before he founded New Orleans. 

The Spanish governor in 1766 was, of course, Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Guiral, whose control of Louisiana during his brief tenure as governor was anything but firm. 

270.  See Brasseaux, "Vaudreuil de Cavagnial," p. 807; Zoltvany, "Rigaud de Vaudreuil," 2:566-67, 574. 

271.  Quotation from Brasseaux, "Vaudreuil de Cavagnial," pp. 807, 808.  See also Fontaine Martin, "D'Auberville, Vincent Guillaume Le Sénéchal," in DLB, p. 213-14. 

Michel died in office in Dec 1752. 

A commissaire de marine was essentially an assistant to the commissaire-ordonnateur & served as second judge in the Superior Council.  

271a.  Quotations from Oubre, Vacherie, 18, 59.  See also ibid., pp. 42, 58. 

The Choctaw sold Cheval's daughter to a Carolina trader. 

The Treat of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in Apr 1748, ending 8 years of war in Europe & nearly 4 years of conflict in North America. 

Vaudreuil's solution for the vulnerability to attack at Ance-aux-Outards was to establish an Indian village there, the warriors "to serve as scouts to prevent another surprise attack on the Germans."  See ibid., p. 59.  What tribe was this?  Was it at this time that the 2 forts were built on either side of the Bayou La Sueur portage, or had they been built earlier & allowed to fall into neglect by 1748?  See note 212, above. 

272.  See Brasseaux, "Vaudreuil de Cavagnial," p. 808. 

273.  See ibid.  No one could know it, but Vaudreuil would be the last governor-general of New France.  Soon after his appointment, the final French & Indian War broke out between France & Britain.  Vaudreuil remained in power until September 1760, when Montréal fell, ending French control of Canada.  The British returned him to France, where he spent several months in the Bastille--March to May 1762--a scapegoat for the loss of Canada.  An inquiry the following year exonerated him, he sold his Canadian seigneuries to a cousin, retired to his ancestral estate near Rouen, & died in Paris in August 1778, age 79.  See Wikipedia, "Pierre de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal." 

274.  Quotations from Eric R. Krause, "Goutin, François-Marie," in DCB, 3:264-65; Bernard Pothier, "Goutin, Mathieu de," in DCB, 2:257-58; White, DGFA-1 English, 155-56 See also Conrad, Attakapas Domesday Book, 35, 47-48; De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:14; Faragher, A Great & Noble Scheme, 430; Griffiths, From Migrant to Acadian, 179; NOAR, vols. 1, 2, 4; White, DGFA-1, 756-59, 1508-09; Stephen A. White, "The First Acadian in Louisiana: Joseph De Goutin de Ville," in <>. 

White would have us believe that Joseph reached LA in c1746.  De Ville, citing a primary source, & Gov. Bienville at that, says c1732, followed here. 

Joseph's mother did not remarry & died at Louisbourg on 7 Apr 1741, age about 69.  See White, DGFA-1, 1509.  At the time of her death, Joseph had been serving in LA for about 9 years & was a captain.  One wonders how long it took for him to learn of his mother's death?  Joseph's oldest brother François-Marie, born probably at Port-Royal in c1690 & thus 15 years Joseph's senior, was head of the Île Royale council in 1733, about the time that Joseph reached LA.  Appointed to an important post on Île St.-Jean in Aug 1749--one of his tasks was to "promote settlement by the Acadians"--François-Marie served on the island until his death from illness in Nov 1751, in his early 60s.  See Krause, cited above. 

Joseph's marriage record is not in NOAR.  However, the baptismal record of Marie-Grégoire DEVILLE DE GOUTIN, dated 7 Jun 1750, in ibid., 1:81 (SLC, B2, 187), calls the girl's parents Joseph [DE VILLE DE GOUTIN] & Marie-Jeanne CARON.  Marie-Grégoire's godfather was Jean-Grégoire VOLANT [VOLENS], "commanding captain of a Swiss company of the KARNE regiment," so Joseph, probably retired by now, evidently was still close to his fellow officers. 

275.  See Carl A. Brasseaux, "Kerlerec, Louis Billouart de," in DLB, p. 461. 

276.  See ibid.; Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 14-15, 17; Jane B. Chaillot, "Rochemore, Vincent Gaspard Pierre de," in DLB, p. 691; Joy J. Jackson, "Bobe-Descloseaux, Jean-Baptiste-Claude," in DLB, p. 81; Martin, "D'Auberville," p. 214. 

In 1760, Kerlérec became first judge on the colony's Superior Council, a position generally held by the ordonnateur.  See Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 59. 

Investigations into the short but furious clash between Kerlérec & Rochemore, called "The Louisiana Affair," lasted for years in France, even after Spain took power in LA, & did not end until Rochemore's death in 1769.  Kerlérec had little time to celebrate his "victory"; he died in 1770. 

277.  Quotations from Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 172; Craig A. Bauer, "Le Kintrek, Jean-Joseph dit Dupont," in DLB, p. 501; See also Baudier, pp. 159, 171, 227; Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 94, 93, 95, 97-100, 205-06; De Ville, Opelousas History, 21, 22; De Ville, Opelousas Post Census, 1771, 9, 10, 15; Frederick, "In Defense of Crown & Colony," 397, 413-14; Hebert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A: Introductory Notes, 653, 2-A:63, 85-86, 203, 248, 311, 352, 394, 469-70, 619, 879; Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of La., 46, 75; Pittman, European Settlements, 36; Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 126-28 (note that the Bertrand listed on p. 126 & the 2 Doucets on p. 127 were not Acadians but French Creoles), 345-65; Appendix for a list of Acadian individuals & families at Opelousas, 1765; map.

Professor Carl Brasseaux says that the original Opelousas post was "located along Bayou Teche below present-day Port Barre," east of the present city of Opelousas, but local historian Winston De Ville says the post was at today's Washington, on Bayou Courtableau, pronounced car-TOB-luh by the locals, north of the present city.  Roger Baudier's study of the Catholic Church in Louisiana insists that the original post "was located where the present Church of St. Landry and the Academy of the Immaculate Conception stand," on the eastern edge of the present city, but this is where the second post stood.  

277a.  Quotation from Oubre, Vacherie, 4.

277b.  Quotation from ibid., p. 61.  See also ibid., pp. 7, 46, 58-59, 62-63, 81-82; Penny Doyle Barras, "Verret, Nicolas," in DLB, p. 810; Bourgeois, Cabanocey, passim; Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, 122.  The map in Oubre, p. 60, is most helpful in sorting out the location of the old grants in present-day St. James Parish. 

Matthias Frederick & Marie-Anne Bernhardt married on the German Coast in Jan 1754, so they have moved upriver to present-day St. James Parish as early as the mid-1750s.  Étienne Toups & Catherine Bernhardt married on the German Coast in Apr 1754.  See Oubre, p. 46, who mentions the move to "the Edgard area to a tract of land just below the Old Vacherie Road, in present St. James Parish, where they became the earliest settlers in the area of the then highest point of the Second [Upper] German Coast," but gives no dates. 

Oubre, p. 64, says that Cantrelle secured his land grant on the Upper German Coast in 1762.  Can one assume that his sons-in-law received their Upper German Coast grants at the same time? 

277c.  See Bourgeois, Cabanocey, passim; BRDR, 2:173; De Ville, Acadian Coast, 1779, 8, Introduction by Kathleen M. Stagg; De Ville, St. James Census, 1777, Introduction by Eileen L. Behrman; Robichaux, German Coast Families, 128-29; Oubre, Vacherie, 59, 63-65. 

Oubre, p. 63, says of Cantrelle:  "Some historians have written that Jacques Cantrelle, a Frenchman living at New Orleans, was sent by the authorities in New Orleans to be the first commandant of the Acadians, that a church was built on his land, that this was named for his patron saint, and that the name of the church became in time the name of the parish.  Much of this inaccurate information tends to give Jacques Cantrelle a more significant, active role in the establishment of the parish and church than he actually deserves."  He then points to Bourgeois's study as the source for much of this misinformation &, on p. 64, details Cantrelle's life & his movement to the Upper German Coast. 

Oubre, p. 64, says that Cantrelle & his first wife had no children & that he was hunting at the time of the Natchez massacre of Nov 1729.  Bourgeois, pp. 7-8, says he & his wife hid in their corn crib during the massacre & that she was killed before he could make his escape in a pirogue. 

The Jul 1763 story is from Bourgeois, p. 8, which says Cantrelle & his sons-in-law owned plantations, with slaves, on the Upper German Coast "prior to 1763," but Cantrelle did not move to his plantation until "some time between October 7, 1764 and April 4, 1765."  Oubre, pp. 64-65, says that Cantrelle did not move to his land grant on the Upper German Coast until 1765-66 & that he went there to live near his daughters, who already were there with their husbands, Nicolas Verret having gone in 1763 (he & his family were counted there in Sep 1763) & Louis Judice in 1765.  The first Acadians arrived in present-day St. James Parish in Apr 1764 & early 1765. 

The name of Cantrelle's plantation has various appellations, including Cabanocé, Cabannocé, Cabahannocer, Cabahan-noces, Cabanocey, Cabonnous, Kaba-anoce, and Kabahannosse

278.  Quotations from Glenn R. Conrad, "Alsatian Emigration to Louisiana, 1753-1759," pp. 163, 165, 168, in Conrad, ed., The French Experience in LA.  See also ibid., p. 170; Oubre, Vacherie, 44-46.  One of the Alsatian couples who came to LA in 1753, Philippe Conrad and his wife Christine Beauviz, evidently were the late Glenn Conrad's paternal ancestors.  They brought a son to the colony. 

279.  Quotations from Dawdy, Devil's Empire, 182, 184-85. 

280.  See Anderson, Crucible of War, chaps. 3-10. 

281.  Ibid., an 862-page study of the Seven Years' War, published in 2001, mentions Louisiana only tangentially.  Anderson's huge narrative reveals no military action whatever in Lower Louisiana or Spanish West Florida during the entire war.  These provinces, however, would figure prominently in the treaty negotiations at Paris in late 1762 & early 1763.  See also Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 27. 

For the Cherokee War of 1760-61, see ibid., chap. 47.  For the relationship of Fort Toulouse to the Creek country & the Cherokee War, see ibid., p. xxii, map 3. 

282.  For Andry's efforts on the river, see Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 33, note 64. 

For the extent of the pays d'en haut, which included Illinois & the Ohio River valley, see ibid., p. xxii, map 3.  See also Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 27, including note 36. 

283.  See Carl A. Brasseaux, "Aubry, Charles-Philippe," in DLB, pp. 22-23; Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 42, in which Aubry says of his experience in NY:  "Unfortunately, however, I lost everything at Niagara.  There, I was captured by the Indians and received wounds which will affect me for the rest of my life."  

284.  Quotation from Anderson, Crucible of War, 240.  See also ibid., passim; Wikipedia, "Seven Years' War."

285.  See Anderson, Crucible of War, 505-06. 

286.  See ibid.  Oubre, Vacherie, 48, insists, with justification:  "Having been defeated on all fronts, France could no longer continue the war with England and its allies.  It could no longer afford to support overseas colonies, particularly the Louisiana colony which had always been an unprofitable drain on the treasury.  The Louisiana colony had always been viewed by many French officials as being only useful to guard the back door into Canada.  Now that Canada was lost, Louisiana was no longer useful."  France could afford to retain overseas colonies--profitable ones like Guadeloupe & Martinique. 

287.  See Carl A. Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie, Jean-Jacques-Blaise," in DLB, p. 207; Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 21, 32

288.  Quotations from Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207. 

289.  Quotation from Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 25.  See also ibid., pp. 20-24, which details the financial crisis & Foucault's futile efforts to solve it; Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207. 

290.  Quotations from Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 26. 

291.  See ibid., p. 27. 

292.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 28-29.  Ibid., p. 28, note 41, says that Foucault dealt with 9 districts in mid-Jul 1762--New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Alibamons, Natchez, Yazoo, Natchitoches, Arkansas, & Illinois--& goes on to say that, "Of these [9 districts created in 1721], New Orleans, Mobile, and Illinois were the most important."  One has to ask about the other districts in LA that surely existed then--German Coast, Pointe Coupee, Attakapas, & Opelousas.  Were these military districts as well, or some other kind of district?  The Treaty of Paris of February 1763 removed 5 of those districts from French jurisdiction--Biloxi, Mobile, Alibamons, Natchez, & Yazoo--and reduced one of them in size with the loss of territory east of the Mississippi--Illinois.  New Orleans, Natchitoches, the German Coast, Arkansas, Attakapas, & Opelousas, all located west of the Mississippi, were unaffected by the treaty's provisions.  The Spanish would retain the French districts, including several new ones created by Ulloa in 1766-68, when O'Reilly formally established control over the colony in Aug 1769. 

Foucault & Kerlérec's requests for new administrators were made months before the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau was signed, transferring the colony from France to Spain, so the French Crown already was washing its hands of the Gulf coast colony. 

293.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 29-30.  See also ibid., pp. 31-32; R. Lee Woodward, Jr., & Jessica Fearrington Travis, "Destrehan de Beaupre, Jean-Baptiste," in DLB, p. 241. 

Destréhan, son of a King's treasurer, had come to LA in 1722 during the Law period.  According to Woodward, Jr., & Travis, he was "Responsible for construction of the Harvey Canal on the west bank of the Mississippi River, completed in 1739, that gave New Orleans access to the Gulf of Mexico"--that is to say, another access to the Gulf of Mexico.  Destréhan was a widow in 1762.  Woodward, Jr., & Travis say nothing of Foucault's investigation & Destréhan's war profiteering, so their short biography leans more towards hagiography. 

For more on the "Louisiana Affair," see note 276, above. 

Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 30-31, makes the interesting observation that commissaire-ordonnateurs, who controlled colonial commerce, could not hold a dispatch ship such as the Medée in port for more than 20 days.  The Medée had reached New Orleans in Apr 1762 but remained until the following Jul--much longer than 20 days. 

293a.  Quotation from ibid., p. 36; see also ibid., p. 21; Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207.  One suspects that d'Abbadie himself had not been made aware of the secret treaty of Nov 1762, nor had Kerlérec, who was recalled to France to answer charges being made against him by the troublesome Rochemore.  Kerlérec left New Orleans in mid-Nov 1763, while d'Abbadie was at Mobile. 

For details of Foucault's role as the colony's comptroller, see Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 36-37.  As comptroller, Foucault would serve as the second judge on the Superior Council.  Among other things, he was charged with helping the Crown suppress the Jesuits in LA in an attempt to end religious discord there.  See ibid., pp. 37-39. 

294.  Quotation from ibid., p. 32.  See also ibid., p. 40; Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207. 

295.  Quotations from Oubre, Vacherie, 48-49; Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 39.  See also ibid., p. 36; Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207; Oubre, pp. 16, 46-49

Oubre, p. 16, calls them "Alabamons."  Comme ci, comme ça.  One wonders if any of them had in mind settling in the prairie districts of western LA before they left Mobile & the upper forts or if they chose to go there after they saw their new lands along the river. 

295a.  See Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 83-84; Oubre, Vacherie, 8-9.  A map on p. 86 of Kniffen et al., labeled "The Immigrant Tribes after 1764," is helpful for these Indian migrations & shows tribal movements into LA as late as the 1880s. 

296.  Quotation from Wikipedia, "Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762)."  See also Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 39; Oubre, Vacherie, 77. 

This stunned population included not only whites but also native tribes who only recently had left their traditional or adopted homelands to settle among the French.  One can imagine the chagrin of the Apalache bands who, decades before, had fled from not only the English but also the Spanish.  Now they would be subject to the rule of a nation they had learned to fear. 

297.  Quotations from ibid., pp. 40-41.  See also Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207; Wikipedia, "Pontiac's War." 

The pays d'en haut, remember, was the Upper Country & consisted of the Ohio River valley, Illinois, & the huge area encompassing the Great Lakes & the country west of lakes Superior & Michigan, all of which had been governed by France until Feb 1763. 

298.  Quotations from Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 41.  See also Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207. 

The sugar experimentation failed, but, needless to say, Louisianians did not give up on the crop. 

299.  See Brasseaux, Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 41, 42; Brasseaux, "D'Abbadie," p. 207. 

300.  See Oubre, Vacherie, 49, 58. 

[top of page-Book Three]

BOOK ONE:      Acadia

BOOK TWO:     The Great Upheaval

BOOK FOUR:   A New Acadia               

BOOK FIVE:     The Bayou State

Copyright (c) 2001-13  Steven A. Cormier