King Louis XIV decided the French needed to make a permanent settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi. He sent Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville to establish a colony. Sieur d’Iberville set sail with about 200 colonists in October 1698. After journeying for six months, he and the colonists arrived on the east side of Biloxi Bay. In April 1699, Sieur d’Iberville chose to build Fort Maurepas, the first settlement by the French, at present day Ocean Springs. A replica of the fort has been constructed and is open to visitors. Fort Maurepas reenactments take place here as well as the annual Landing of d’Iberville.
French soldiers, sailors, and laborers along with their
French Canadian associates began building the first French fort along the lower
Mississippi River Valley on April 8, 1699. The men were led by a native of
Canada named Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’ Iberville. Sieur d’Iberville was
operating under the patronage of King Louis XIV of France. The mission was to
locate the mouth of the Mississippi River and built a French colony near the
Mexican Gulf Coast. By doing so King Louis hoped to discourage both Spanish and
English movements into French claimed territory.
The French claim
began after Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle explored the area. In April 1682
La Salle observed the Mississippi River and located its deltaic mouth. He then
claimed the area between the Rocky Mountains and the part of the Alleghenies
that were drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries for France. This area is
known by us as Louisiana named after King Louis XIV. The river, called Colbert
by La Salle, was named in honor of the French Minister of Marine.
Located on the
east side of the Bay of Biloxi, a small fort was built (present day Ocean
Springs, Mississippi). The French Colonial fort was named Fort Maurepas after
the French Minister of the Marine Navy, Jerome Phelpeaux de Maurepas, Comte
Earl de Pontchartrain.
The fort was
designed by Remy Reno. Reno was the draftsman of Sieur Iberville. When building
the fort he utilized the system of military fortification that was developed by
Marshall Vauban, nee Sebastian Le Prestre. The fort, which covered one-half
acre, was constructed of materials available in the area.