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This book had its genesis in the Texas Historical Commission’s 1995 discovery in Matagorda Bay, along the Texas coast, of the wreck of La Belle, the last of four vessels that La Salle brought to America on his final mission. Artifacts salvaged from the ship shed new light on the efforts of La Salle and his two hundred colonists to establish the first European settlement between Florida and Mexico, a settlement that has been erroneously labeled Fort-Saint-Louis.
As history provided the clues that led to this archaeological discovery, so archaeology now fills in the blanks of history, raising a host of new questions about the ill-starred colony. Weddle marshals the evidence to answer those questions, reframing the old picture of one of France’s premier American explorers in the light of new discovery and setting the record straight.
Weddle’s exhaustive research has resulted in a work not limited to La Salle’s final misadventures in Texas. Rather, he chronicles the explorer’s activities throughout his travels in North America, drawing on several unpublished sources to provide a more accurate picture of La Salle, both as private individual and as legendary explorer.
|List of Illustrations||IX|
|Part 1||The Price of Glory|
|1.||Navio Quebrado: Derelict at San Bernard||3|
|2.||"Our Wise Commander": On the Path to Glory||21|
|3.||"A Step from Madness": The Wreck of Ships and Dreams||40|
|4.||Seeds of Confusion: The River of Mystery||65|
|Part 2||A New Direction|
|5.||The Pawn Game: In the Hands of the Schemers||83|
|6.||Storm Flags: Forecast of Failure||104|
|7.||The Parting Gun: A Farewell to France||119|
|8.||Voyage of Destiny: The Hidden River||135|
|Part 3||The Lost Colony|
|9.||Unhappy Landing: Shipwreck and Savagery||157|
|10.||The Hostile Shore: "A Curse upon Our Labors,"||179|
|11.||The Fort That Never Was: "Saint-Louis of Texas,"||196|
|12.||Fatal Journey: Vengeance and Reprisal||214|
|13.||Legacy of Deceit: The Bitter Fruit||235|
|Postscript: In the Backwash of Dreams||254|