Fort Maurepas State Park
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.
Backstory and Context
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.