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Fort Maurepas, later known as Old Biloxi, [1] was developed in colonial French Louisiana (New France)
Louisiana (New France)
in April 1699 along the Gulf of Mexico. (at present-day Ocean Springs, Mississippi).[1][2] Fort Maurepas was designated temporarily as the capital of Louisiana
Louisiana
(New France) in 1719. The capital was being moved from Mobile (in present-day Alabama) up the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
to New Orleans
New Orleans
to protect it from hurricanes. Government buildings in the latter city were still under construction.[1][2] The fort was completed on May 1, 1699[1][2] under direction of French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, who sailed for France on May 4.[1] He appointed his teenage brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville as second in command after the French commandant Sauvolle de la Villantry (c.1671–1701).[1][2] The name Biloxi
Biloxi
in French was spelled Bilocci, in a transliteration of the name of the local Native American tribe. (The military camp was also known in French as Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
to honor Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas).[3] It appeared as "Fort Bilocci" on English maps updated circa the years 1710/1725.[4][5] French Louisiana
Louisiana
(part of New France) was known in French as La Louisiane in colonial times. In modern times it is referred to as La Louisiane française to distinguish it from the modern state of Louisiana
Louisiana
(also "Louisiane" in French).[3] In 1719, the administrative capital of French Louisiana
Louisiana
was moved to Old Biloxi
Biloxi
from Mobile (or Mobille), during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720) against Spain.[2] Due to hurricanes and shifting sand bars blocking harbor waters during the early 18th century, the capital of French Louisiana
Louisiana
was moved from Mobile to Nouveau- Biloxi
Biloxi
(present-day Biloxi), across Biloxi
Biloxi
Bay. However, later in the same year, Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
(at Old Biloxi) burned. It was never reconstructed.[6] Later, during June–August 1722, the capital was moved again, by colonial governor Bienville, from Biloxi
Biloxi
to deeper waters in the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
at a new inland harbor town named La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans), built for the purpose during 1718-1722. In modern times, a replica of Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
was built at the site, then within the town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. It was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
in August 2005, when all coastal areas of Mississippi
Mississippi
were devastated by a storm tide exceeding 30 feet (9 m), with waves even higher.

Contents

1 History

1.1 During Hurricane Katrina

2 Problems in source documents 3 See also 4 Notes 5 References 6 External links

History[edit]

Vieux Biloxi
Biloxi
(Fort Maurepas) on the Biloxi
Biloxi
Coast (site B on the map)

M. d'Iberville originally intended to establish a French colony along the Mississippi
Mississippi
River.[2] However, because of its flooding, he had been unable to find a suitable location during his first voyage of discovery up the Mississippi
Mississippi
in March 1699.[2] He returned from his river journey on April 1, and spent another week in searching the shores adjacent to Ship Island, where the fleet had been anchored. On Tuesday, April 7, 1699, d'Iberville and Surgeres observed "an elevated place that appeared very suitable". This spot was on the northeast shore of Biloxi
Biloxi
Bay. They had found the bay was 7–8 feet (2 m) deep. They decided to construct the fort there, as they "could find no spot more convenient, and our provisions were failing, we could search no longer". On Wednesday, April 8, they commenced to cut away the trees preparatory for construction of the fort. All the men "worked vigorously", and by the end of the month, the fort had been finished. They also carved what is known as the Iberville stone, claiming the site for France. This is now held by the Louisiana
Louisiana
State Museum.[7] The expedition journal reported:[2]

In the meantime, the boats were actively engaged transporting the powder, guns, and ammunition, as well as the live stock, such as bulls, cows, hogs, fowls, turkeys, etc. . . . The fort was made with four bastions, two of them squared logs, from 2-3 feet [1 m] thick, placed one upon the other, with embrasures for port holes, and a ditch all around. The other two bastions were stockaded with heavy timbers which took four men to lift one of them. Twelve guns were mounted. — Historical Jour, of d'Iberville's expedition[2]

The best men were selected to remain at the fort,[2] including detachments of soldiers to place with the Canadians (the French also had a colony in what is now Quebec and along the upper Mississippi River) and workmen, and sailors to serve on the gunboats. Altogether about 100 people were left at Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
while Iberville sailed back to France on May 4, 1699. Those remaining included:[2]

M. de Sauvolle de la Villantry, lieutenant of a company and naval ensign of the frigate Le Marin, was left in command as governor. Bienville, king's lieutenant of the marine guard of the frigate La Badine was next in command. Le Vasseur de Boussouelle, a Canadian, was major. De Bordenac was chaplain, and M. Care was surgeon. Also: two captains, two cannoniers, four sailors, eighteen filibusters, ten mechanics, 6 masons, 13 Canadians, and 20 sub-officers and soldiers who comprised the garrison.[2]

Few of the colonists were experienced with agriculture,[2] and the colony never became self-sustaining. The climate and soil were different than they were familiar with. On the return of d'Iberville to Old Biloxi
Biloxi
in January 1700, he brought with him sixty Canadian immigrants and a large supply of provisions and stores. On this second voyage, he was instructed:

to breed the Buffalo at Biloxi; to seek for pearls; to examine the wild mulberry with the view to silk [silk worms on leaves]; the timber for shipbuilding, and to seek for mines.[2] Expeditions in search of gold, jewels and valuable furs were the main goals of the colonists. They made thorough explorations of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
and the surrounding country.[2]

In 1700, Le Sueur was sent to the upper Mississippi
Mississippi
with 20 men[2] to establish a fort in the Sioux country. His government intended to take over the copper mines of the Sioux Indians in the interests of France. Meanwhile, the French had established forts and settlements in the Illinois country. Learning of the French colony at Old Biloxi, Canadians came by the boatload down the Mississippi
Mississippi
from the upper country (today's Quebec). Fathers Davion and Montigny, accompanied by a few Frenchmen, were th first visitors at the fort, having made the journey downriver in canoes. In May 1700, the settlers were visited by M. Sagan, a traveler from Canada. He carried a request from the French minister to the governor M. de Sauvolle, asking that Sagan be furnished with 24 pirogues and 100 Canadians in order to explore the Missouri River
Missouri River
and its branches, a major tributary of the Mississippi
Mississippi
that has its confluence at what later developed as Saint Louis. During the absence of d'Iberville, his young brother Bienville made further expeditions to try to secure the prosperity of the colony. But the colonists suffered from tropical diseases of the region: many died from yellow fever, including the governor, M. de Sauvolle, who died in the summer of 1700. Bienville became ranking chief in command, and acted as commandant.[2] On September 16, 1700, a party of Choctaw
Choctaw
warriors arrived at Biloxi, asking for French troops to help them fight against the Chickasaw, their traditional enemies among native groups.[2] The Choctaw
Choctaw
during this period had 40 villages, with more than 5,000 warriors. On October 25, 20 Mobile natives arrived at Fort Maurepas. They were said to have about 400 fighting men. On December 18, 1700, a shallop arrived from the Spanish settlement at Pensacola to the east, with the news that d'Iberville and Serigny had reached there with the king's ships, the Renommée of fifty guns, and the Palmier of 44 guns. This was welcome news to the garrison, which had been living for more than 3 months on little more than corn. They had lost more than 60 men due to disease, leaving only 150 persons in the colony. Bienville was ordered to evacuate Biloxi, and move to a settlement on the Mobile River. On January 5, 1701, Bienville departed for the Mobile River, leaving 20 men under the command of M. de Boisbriant as garrison at the fort. At Dauphin Island, Bienville met with his brothers de Serigny and Chateaugue, who had arrived with a detachment of sailors and workmen. They were to build a magazine for storage of goods and provisions which had been brought from France. On the Kith, he commenced to build the Fort Louis de la Mobile, about 12 leagues above the present city of Mobile, on the right bank of the river. It was the official center of the Gulf Coast colony for the next nine years, until the new Fort Conde was built. (Mobile city developed around it.)[2] In 1717, when the channel at Dauphine island (present-day Dauphin Island) had become choked with sand,[6] de l'Épinay and de Bienville decided to make use of the harbor at Ship Island. They ordered a new fort to be constructed on the mainland opposite, selecting a place one league west of Old Biloxi
Biloxi
for a site across Biloxi
Biloxi
Bay. The transport ship Dauphine, commanded by M. Berranger, had arrived with many carpenters and masons. They built the new fort,[6] known as New Biloxi (Nouveau-Biloxi) and also as Fort Louis.[6] In 1719, Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
(at Old Biloxi) was burned; it was never reconstructed by the French.[6] Another fort and magazines were also constructed on Ship Island, in the Gulf of Mexico.[6] During Hurricane Katrina[edit] See also: Effects of Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
in Mississippi A replica of the wooden Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
was built at the historic site in the 20th century and was open to the public. It was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
on August 29, 2005, when coastal Mississippi
Mississippi
was devastated by a storm surge exceeding 30 feet (9 m) plus higher waves. Within a few hours, all coastal towns were flooded more than 90%. Residents who had not evacuated, survived by swimming to treetops or roof lines of taller buildings. A park has since been constructed at the site of the fort. It includes a playground, a splash pad, a stage, a two-story structure with a viewing platform overlooking the beach, public restrooms, and an eco-friendly parking lot. The construction included improvements of pathways along the beach, and to the sailors memorial, crosswalks, and fire pits. It provides access to parking on the opposite side of the Biloxi
Biloxi
Bay Bridge. Problems in source documents[edit]

Blueprint of Fort Maurepas

Historical documents, reports and translated journals about Fort Maurepas sometimes contain conflicting dates, or other details. They were records of what people knew, and their understanding of time and context was limited. Often, such writings compress events to simplify the overall view. In summary, the French claim to La Louisiane (in New France) began at Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
in 1699, moved to Mobile in 1702 (relocated in 1711), and returned to Fort Maurepas
Fort Maurepas
(Old Biloxi) in 1719. The main garrison moved to the fort at (New) Biloxi, then to New Orleans during June–August 1722. Several source documents sometimes state "1723" for the founding of New Orleans
New Orleans
as the capital, but this was in fact its first full-year as capital. The name Alabama
Alabama
(after a Native American tribe) was used by the French colonists as one of the nine military districts of the Province of Louisiana
Louisiana
(in 1752): Biloxi, Natchez, Yazoo, Alabama, Mobile, New Orleans, Illinois, Arkansas and Natchitoches (French names of military districts; all but two were named after local Native American tribes).[6] See also[edit]

New France
New France
portal

Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
- founded in 1702 by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville New Orleans, Louisiana
Louisiana
- founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville for Iberville

Notes[edit]

^ a b c d e f "Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville" (biography), Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907, webpage: CathEnc-7614b: gives dates: 13 Feb. 1699, went to the mainland Biloxi, with fort completion May 1, 1699; sailed for France May 4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Fort Maurepas", Mississippi Genealogy, 2002-2008, webpage: Mgenealogy-maurepas. ^ a b "La Louisiane française" (in French), by Virginie Tanlay, from book Histoire de la Louisiane, webpage: [flfa.free.fr/enquete7.htm flfa-enquete7]: states that Iberville chose "le site de Bilocci" (or Biloxi). ^ "Pas-Kaart Van de Golff van Mexico" (map from Amsterdam/1710), Edge of the Map Incorporated, 2007, webpage: Raremaps-Archive-3176. ^ "A New Map of as much of North & South America" (London/1725), Edge of the Map Incorporated, 2007, webpage: Raremaps-Archive-7278. ^ a b c d e f g "Fort Maurepas", Mississippi
Mississippi
Genealogy, 2002-2008, webpage: Mgenealogy-maurepas. ^ Online Exhibits: The Cabildo: Two Centuries of Louisiana
Louisiana
History, "Colonial Louisiana", Louisiana
Louisiana
State Museum, 2017; accessed 30 May 2017

References[edit]

"Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville" (history), Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II, 1907.

External links[edit]

Catholic Encyclopedia on Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville. Ocean Springs City Parks - includes

.