View All Available Formats & Editions


Europe's expansion into the New World during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries was a story of power alignment and cultural transmission as well as dramatic individual effort. Spain had her conquistadores, France her coureurs de bois, and England her sea dogs. Isolated from the authority of home governments, tempted by the abundance of gold, fur, and fish in the New World, these adventurers so vital to national policies of expansion developed their own personal creeds of conquest and colonization. Their individual exploits not only represent a humanistic theme essential in Europe's movement westward but heighten the analyses of cultural institutions of the era. It is within such a multidisciplinary light that one can experience the Gulf Coast adventures of Pierre LeMoyne d'Iberville.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817305390
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 02/28/1991
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Pierre LeMoyne d'Iberville, born in Canada about 1661, fought against the English in King William's War. In 1697 Iberville was selected to complete explorations of the Mississippi Valley begun by Jean Cavalier LaSalle, and the journals presented here record his service from 1699 to 1702.

Richebourg Gaillard McWilliams (1901-1986) served as head of the Department of English at Birmingham-Southern College and Professor of English at the University of South Alabama. He was a recognized scholar both in history and the French language.

Tennant S. McWilliams is Dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The First Voyage
to the Mississippi


* * *


* * *

I am taking Leoganne as my point of departure. I sailed from there on December 31, 1698, at nine o'clock at night.

    The first day of the year 1699 we are at noon at north latitude 19º12' and longitude 301º. I am about 10 leagues west of Leoganne, 2 leagues out from land, and 1 1/2 leagues off Gouenave.

    January 2nd, 1699. At noon I am at 18º30' north and 301º14' longitude. About six o'clock at night we are 2 1/2 leagues off Nypés, where I have a smack buying fowls for the sick. I sent it from Leoganne for that purpose on December 28th. Immediately after noon, I sent my Biscayan to notify the smack to come out of the harbor and catch up with me. The wind is north, blowing directly into this cove, where the seas are quite heavy and where one should by no means run the risk of anchoring ships unless there is great need. The smack being unable to get underway, I remained under sail all night, along with the Marain and the other smack, 3 leagues out from this haven. The François sailed on, and we no longer could see it at eight o'clock in the morning. My smack and my Biscayan have caught up with me, bringing 138 fowls, which cost twenty-five livres. They were unable to get more. We are becalmed. On all our ships we have a great many sick, several men being sick of the plague.

    The 3rd. At noon we are at 18º40' and 301º2 longitude. I am some 4 leagues off the island, to the west of the Caymite[s] These two islands are each at least 2 leagues long, 1 1/2 leagues from each other, and, apparently, half a league from the big island of St. Domingue. We are finding nothing but calms. Along the land we see a ship sailing east and, 6 leagues north, a vessel sailing west-southwest, at six o'clock at night. We observe that it is the François, clearing before the north wind, about which people have much to say in this region.

    January 4, 1699. At noon I am at 19º north latitude and 300º30' longitude. Cape St. Nicolas lies 18 leagues northeast by north of us and Cape Dame Marie to the southwest by south. We can see the east end of the island of Cuba, to the east, or at least see high land. From the end of this island to the north-northwest, for more than 15 leagues from here, all the land that I can see of these islands is quite mountainous and, apparently, wretched country. The wind is in the northeast—light wind. The François has caught up with us again. We find that the currents are bearing us to the north very fast. Le Vasseur, the master of the big smack, is quite sick, and so is a man by the name of Bourjois, a Canadian. On my ship I have two others badly sick of the plague, and fully ten, besides, sick of fever.

    The 5th. In these twenty-four hours I find that I have sailed west 3º50' and north 14 leagues 5'; consequently, I ought to be at latitude 19º23' and 299º44' longitude. The wind has been in the northeast and east. Light wind. We are running 3 leagues off the island of Cuba. That land appears to be mountainous and arid all along.

    The 6th. At noon I found, by my corrected course, that I had sailed west 8º and north 35 leagues; therefore, I should be at latitude 19º30' and longitude 297º57'. At ten o'clock in the morning we were 3 leagues south of Santiaugue, which I find to be at 19º40' north. We could make out quite clearly the towers on the walls defending the entrance to the harbor, which is a small river, at the mouth of which ships anchor. The town is a league farther inland on the bank of the river. This place seems to be a flat country extending for about 4 leagues along the sea and 2 leagues inland, as far as the mountains. The copper mountains are some 4 leagues west of Santiaugue. They are the highest in the vicinity. It is said that they are quite productive and are about 3 leagues from the sea.

    January 7th. My corrected course gives me by dead reckoning latitude 19º45' and longitude 296º30'. We are 4 leagues off the island. The land is, all along, quite elevated and mountainous. The coast runs always west, and no point at all juts outward, as far as I can tell. The wind has been east-northeast. Yesterday evening we saw three ships 3 leagues west of us, sailing south as if bound for Jamaica.

    The 8th. At noon I find that during these twenty-four hours I have sailed west 18 leagues, by my reckoning, which gives me by dead reckoning latitude 19º37' and longitude 295º35'. In taking the altitude of the sun, using the land 2 leagues from me as the horizon, I got 19º17'. Cape Cruz lies 3 leagues to the northwest of me. It is low land, on a level with the water, and one can see it from the deck from 3 leagues out. A ship is visible, anchored to the west of the land, about 1 league off shore. On all the charts Cape Cruz is shown at 19º50' at most or 19º45', and I find it at only 19º30' at most, so that the south coast of the island of Cuba is shown to be at least 15' farther north than it is. The distance from Santiaugue to this Cape Cruz I calculate to be only 50 to 55 leagues, the direction being west and west by south. I do not, by any means, find that all these lands are shown in their true longitude; therefore, I am going to take Cape Cruz as my point of departure and my meridian.

    The 9th. By my corrected course, beginning with the meridian of Cape Cruz, and by my latitude at noon, 19º18', I find that I have sailed 34 leagues west-southwest and that I am, therefore, at latitude 19º and am 1º46' west of Cape Cruz. At two in the afternoon we sighted Little Cayman from the main-top, about 6 leagues west-northwest of us; therefore, by my reckoning, I shall find the south coast at 19º8' and the east end 2º4' west of Cape Cruz. This island is believed to be at 19º30' north. I do not know what to believe, for Cape Cruz is believed to be 25' farther north than it is. Sailing from 3 leagues off Cape Cruz, steering west by south, I passed 2 1/2 leagues to the south of this island; and M. de Chasteaumorand, to whom I have just spoken, asking him what bearing he would give it, told me that this island bore 15 leagues west-southwest of them, and we have found it 5 or 6 leagues to the west-northwest. Whereupon he told me that the currents had carried them south, which I doubt. I have found my reckoning accurate in locating this island farther south in proportion to other lands. M. de Grafes, who has had experience with those charts, assures me that he has taken an altitude from above it giving 19º30' north, and tells me besides that this island lies 40 leagues west by south of Cape Cruz. This gave me a bearing 24' farther south than Cape Cruz. This is a contradiction and cannot be so, for Cape Cruz is no more than 19º25' or 30' at most. He assures me that he has noticed that the currents ordinarily run west-northwest, which, on this course, can make a difference of 2 or 3 leagues farther north if one runs this course with a fair wind, especially since the currents are inconstant and unknown.

    The 10th. At noon my corrected course gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 19º55' and 3º16' west of Cape Cruz. The wind is south-southwest and southwest with fog.

    The 11th. At noon I found that during these twenty-four hours I ran 17 1/2 leagues west by south, which gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 19º45' and 4º12' west of my meridian. The wind has shifted from southwest to west and northwest. We took two reefs in our topsails. This morning I hoisted my Biscayan aboard. I have it on one side and my other longboat on the other; the middle of the ship is clear.

    The 12th. At noon my corrected course for these twenty-four hours gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 20º4' and longitude 4º55' west of Cape Cruz. These twenty-four hours the wind has shifted from north to north-northeast, the weather being overcast as it is in Canada during autumn. We feel a little cold—enough to put on woolen jackets in place of linen.

    From the 12th to the 13th. At noon I have found that I have run northwest 2º30' and 28 1/3 leagues north; therefore, I am at latitude 21º, and 6º west of my meridian. The wind has been north-northeast, a rather fresh gale.

    The 14th. At noon my corrected course gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 21º20' and longitude 6º15' west of Cape Cruz. At noon I am 1 1/2 leagues east-southeast of Cape Corriente," where I took the attitude: 21º18'. To a depth of 1 league back from the shore, this coast is so low—without high ground from Philippe Bay to Cape Corriente—that, from the sea, it can be seen from the deck no farther out than 3 1/2 leagues at most. One league east of Cape Corriente stands a quite noticeable hook of white sand. From the cape to this sandy hook the coast lies east and west; and from this hook to Philippe Bay the coast runs about 12 leagues northeast by east. Cape Corriente is a low point on which is visible a mound of bleak stones piled on top of one another, rising 12 or 15 feet, upon which stands a cross. Here a lookout stays in time of war. The seashore is a barren, rocky country, with few trees, but trees are visible 1 league inland.

    From Cape Corriente the coast runs north-northwest for 1 league and north-northeast for 2 1/2 leagues, forming a bay; and the land runs west-southwest to within 2 leagues of Cape San Antonio. It appears to me that one has to run only some 10 or 11 leagues west and west by south from Cape Corriente to get to Cape San Antonio. We passed the night without making headway with a fair wind from the east-northeast, the pilot of the François keeping close to the land and I 10 leagues out.

    The 15th. From noon till eight o'clock last night I was 1 league to the south of Cape San Antonio, at latitude 21º30' and longitude 6º45' west of Cape Cruz. All night we lay to, the François expecting to double this cape. At seven o'clock in the morning Cape San Antonio lay 1 league east of us. Coming from Cape Corriente, one can run close to this cape, half a league out, and less, as far as 1 league from Colorado Point, off which there are shoals 1 league and 1 1/4 leagues out, which one can come close to by sounding. From Cape San Antonio to Colorado Point the coast keeps turning from north by west to north by east for the 2 1/2 leagues from one to the other. All these lands are low. There is no danger. Leaving Cape San Antonio at night, steering a course north by west, you clear Colorado Point, that is, the reefs, if you are afraid to steer a north-northwesterly course. At noon I am at latitude by observation 21º57' and longitude 5' west of Cape San Antonio, which I am taking as my meridian of departure. The cape lies 9 leagues south by east of me. One league south of the cape I took a sounding of 150 fathoms, no bottom. The wind has been east-northeast. I find Cape San Antonio at 21º30' north, and on all charts it is marked 22º.

    The 16th. I am at latitude 23'58' and longitude 30' west of the cape. The wind has been in the east and northeast, light wind, calm. Every day the sun is bright and the weather clear. I have observed the variation at sunset and sunrise, which I find to be no more than 1º northwest.

    Saturday, January 17, 1699. My corrected course gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 23'50' north and 36' west of Cape San Antonio. The wind has been southeast to south, light wind and calm.

    The 18th. My corrected course gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 24º56' and 59' west of Cape San Antonio. The wind has been south-southwest, fine weather, light wind. I took a sounding and found no bottom at 215 fathoms of water. My corrected course, from the 18th to the 19th, at noon, gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 25º54' and 1º25' west of Cape San Antonio. The wind has been south and southwest, light wind, bright sunshine, a few clouds. I took a sounding—no bottom at 213 fathoms.

    My corrected course, from the 19th to the 20th, gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 26º34' and 1º42' west—from Cape San Antonio, 2º15' west. The wind has varied from east to west, through the south, with mist, rain, thunder, and lightning. A rather fresh gale has been blowing, particularly from the west-southwest, so that I could carry no more than the main topsail and the two courses.

    January 22, 1699. My corrected course gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 28º38' north and 2º18' west of Cape San Antonio. At midnight the wind from the west fell. The seas were quite heavy from the southwest and west. We saw some big gulls, white and gray, and the sea was covered with small Portuguese men-of-war. A light fog came on out of the southwest and west, covering all the sky, and the wind freshened from the southeast, light wind. At 200 fathoms of line we found no bottom.

    The 23rd. At noon my corrected course gives me, by dead reckoning, and observation, 29º25' north and longitude 2º20' west of Cape San Antonio. At eight o'clock last night, at 29º, I took a sounding and found bottom at 170 fathoms, at 6 feet per fathom. The wind in the south, foggy, I hove to and drifted north for 2 leagues and then north-northeast. I found only 108 fathoms, bottom of black mud. At daybreak we got underway, the wind northwest and north. I steered north-northeast and east-northeast, taking soundings hourly. Within the course of 1 1/4 leagues to the east-northeast, the depth diminished from 100 fathoms to 15 fathoms. Down to 70 fathoms the bottom is mud, and from 70 up to 40 sand and mud, and down to 28 pure fine sand mixed with grains of all colors. At four-thirty in the afternoon I sighted land to the northeast, 8 leagues from me. Upon dropping anchor, I hailed the Marain and told them to run on toward the land till sunset. They told me that they had sighted a point running west-northwest and east-southeast. They took a sounding and got 28 fathoms of water, at 5 feet to the fathom. I anchored in 28 fathoms of water at latitude 29º33' north and 2º12' west of Cape San Antonio. After nightfall, I observed fires northwest by north, 20 leagues inland. I believe it is prairies that the Indians are burning off at this season for the buffalo hunt. We caught three reds and two sharks.

    January 24, 1699. At noon I am at latitude 30º north and 2º18'. The land appears to me to be 2 1/2 leagues north, ranging east and west as far as one can see. This morning at daybreak we got underway. The Marain bore up to the west-northwest for 3 leagues toward the little smack; it had not been able to overtake us. I crowded on sail to the north-northwest to go and find the land, the wind being east-northeast. I ran north-northwest for 9 leagues. I sighted land from the masthead at a distance of 5 leagues and am in 18 fathoms of water, 6 feet [to the fathom]. At noon in 17 fathoms, the bottom of sand, gravel, and ooze. At first sight of these lands one sees sand dunes, which look very white. To the north of me a medium-sized river is visible. For 3 leagues I have run along the coast, 1 1/2 leagues out, in 8 fathoms of water. The wind was from the offing. The seashore appears to be covered with rather tall trees, behind which there are prairies. The fire we saw last night is north of me, fully 10 leagues inland. At four o'clock in the afternoon I see two big columns of smoke 3 leagues east and about 3 leagues inland. At sunset I anchored directly south by east of Cape Blanc, 1 1/2 leagues out, in 11 fathoms, gray sand, quite fine. The other ships and the smacks are 1 league farther out, where they were becalmed. My Biscayan went on half a league shoreward from me. I had a cannon shot fired to attract the Indians to the seashore, so that I can see them tomorrow if I do not have a fair wind to sail west.

    January 25, 1699. My corrected course gives me, by dead reckoning, latitude 30º9' north and 2º40' west of Cape San Antonio. This morning at daybreak we got underway. I sent the Sieur Desourdys with my Biscayan to take soundings in the mouth of the river at Cape du Sable or Cape Blanc. I had brought the ship to within one-third of a league, in 28 fathoms. It has looked to me like a mouth 200 yards wide, obstructed by two reefs on which there is 3 feet of water. The inside looks like a big bay or salt lake that extends 2 or 3 leagues east-northeast and 2 leagues west, being separated from the sea by a strip of land that is nothing but sand dunes with trees on them, to all appearances joined to the mainland. Two and a half leagues [west] of the mouth, I again saw a kind of lake separated from the sea by sand dunes 100 to 200 yards wide, with shrubby trees upon them, particularly a few low pines. From these dunes to the mainland, the lake is perhaps 2 leagues wide. For 4 leagues I ran on along these dunes, 1 league out in 9 fathoms of water, and night caught me. I anchored in 9 fathoms. This coast shows very good soundings: 10 and 11 fathoms 1 1/2 leagues out; 9 at 1 league out; 8 at one-third of a league; 7 at half a league; 5 at one-quarter of a league. The mainland, which I see beyond this lake, looks very fine, quite level, covered with tall trees, the ground elevated enough to be visible from the deck 6 leagues out. The wind has been east. Toward the afternoon the weather changed and became foggy. In many places these sand dunes can easily be seen from the deck 4 leagues out. During heavy winds from the south-southeast and the southwest, when the seas are heavy, they pass over these sand dunes. We are seeing numbers of gulls along the shore.

    January 26, 1699. 1 am, at noon, at latitude 30º7' and 2º50' west of Cape San Antonio. It was foggy all night; we could not get underway till seven o'clock in the morning. Although it was foggy, I hugged the land, one-third of a league out in 8 fathoms, the two smacks and the Biscayan going in advance and between us and the land. At nine o'clock we sighted two ships anchored on this lake and saw the mouth of a river. When the fog thickened until we could not see one another, I had the ship brought to anchor. At three o'clock in the afternoon it lifted, and we saw a flag ashore that looks white to us. A longboat came out to identify us, and several cannon shots were fired on shore. Because the weather was foggy, we could not send anyone to the shore. The distance from this river to the one at Cape Blanc must be 10 to 11 leagues, east and west.

    The 27th. In the morning I sent my longboat ashore with M. de Lescalète to see what people had occupied the place and tell them that we had need of wood and water and that we wanted to go in and be sheltered from squalls from the south and be in a safe place while awaiting our wood and water. He found them to be Spaniards who had come from Vera Cruz three months earlier to establish themselves at this harbor, which they call Pensacola; they had acted upon information they had that people were to come there from Europe. They number some three hundred men, who are busy erecting their buildings. So far, they have no more fortification than a square palisade the height of a man, at 1 league from the mouth of the river, on the left side. The commandant wrote M. de Chasteaumorand that he would have wood and water provided for him and that he could come inside to get shelter from the wind without entering the port, as he was forbidden to let any foreign nation come there, and that he was sending M. de Chasteaumorand a pilot in case he was obliged to come in. M. de Chasteaumorand answered that night through the commandant's major, who had come on board his ship, and thanked him for his courtesies, and told him that he would be obliged to come in to take shelter from the bad weather.

    The 28th. In the morning we went and took soundings in the entrance, M. de Surgère and I. The François's rowboat went, too, with M. de Grafes. We found this entrance to be quite good: the least water we found was 21 and 22 feet over a shoal extending a cable's length, beyond which one does not find less than 32 to 33 feet of water. Here one can anchor sheltered from bad weather, out of the range of a twelve-pound cannon at the fort. To get into this harbor coming from the east, you must follow the shoreline in 25 to 30 feet of water until you have the fort to the north and north by east; then you are to look for some sand bars over which you always see waves breaking. They are on the point on the port side as you come in. Approach them to within half a cable's length, where you will find 22 feet of water. Run north-northeast until you have gone past the bars. Here you can anchor in safety, in 30 and 35 feet of water, getting the fort from the northeast as far around as the north-northwest. You can get past the fort by partly doubling Croix Point to starboard when entering, where there is a bar, on which there is no more than 18 feet of water, whereas in the channel there is 25 feet. This river is fully a league wide at its mouth, and the channel is one-third of a league, [safe] for bringing in a ship of 14-foot draft. From the fort to Croix Point, half a league. This Croix Point is the sandy point of that tongue of land, or barrier island, I found, which extends from a point 8 leagues from here as far as the mouth of this harbor, or bay, which appears to go back 3 leagues inland. The water in it is salty. Two or three small rivers empty into this lake. The water is salty everywhere in this bay, from which few currents flow out.

    After we had come back to our ships about noon and had got the Marain, the Badine, and the two smacks underway to go in, M. de Chasteaumorand sent for us to inform us that the commandant had written him that he could not let him go in and that he would have wood and water brought to him. After making several protests about our desire to go in in order to have ourselves in a sheltered place and to obtain fresh provisions for our crews, we made the decision to go out and look for another harbor.

    The 29th. All day there has been a calm, with mist.

    The 30th. In the morning—wind in the east, light wind, almost calm—we got underway and steered a west-southwesterly course for 9 1/2 leagues, up until six o'clock in the evening; therefore, I am at latitude 29º58' north and longitude 3º50' west of Cape San Antonio. Sailing from a point 1 1/4 leagues off Pensacola, in 7 fathoms of water, and setting the course west by south and west-southwest, I found all along 8 to 9 fathoms. At noon, 5 leagues out from Pensacola, I found a shoal. Always keeping the same course, at 1 1/4 leagues off shore, at 30º6' north, where I find 3 1/3 fathoms, I steered southwest for 4 cable-lengths and again found the depth of 9 fathoms. I went west again until I got 6 fathoms, and from there I kept on the west-southwest course. Toward evening, 9 leagues out from Pensacola, I was forced to steer southwest by west and south-southwest to get into 6 fathoms; and at six o'clock in the evening I dropped anchor in 7 1/3 fathoms, fully 2 leagues off shore. I notice that, when I steered southwest by south, I repeatedly found the same depth, 5 1/2 fathoms for 1 league; when steering south for 2 cable-lengths, I found 7 1/3 fathoms. The weather was misty. From a distance I could not sight land to the west. I think I am not far from La Mobilla. We are seeing a number of ospreys and black porpoises.

    The 31st. We got underway about six o'clock in the morning, the weather a little overcast, wind in the southeast. We ran west-southwest for 3 1/2 leagues; therefore, I am at latitude 29º54' and 4º4' west of Cape San Antonio. At noon I dropped anchor in 45 feet of water, approximately [2 leagues] south-southeast of the east point of the mouth of La Mobilla. One league southeast of where I am lying at anchor, coming from 10 fathoms on a northwest course, I found 9, 8, and 7 fathoms over a distance of one-quarter of a league, and 9, 8, and 8 fathoms, of 6 feet to the fathom, bottom of sand, mud, and gravel.

    I sent M. de Lescalète to shore in the Biscayan and my brother and M. Dejourdys in the big smack and Vilautré in the little one, with the two feluccas to sound the entrance to this bay where we are anchored. We find a current coming out of it which sets to the south at an eighth of a league per hour. M. de Chasteaumorand sent to my ship for me three cows, which he had got at St. Domingue, and twelve sacks of corn. The three other cows have died.

    February 1st. The longboat and the feluccas returned to the ship. M. de Lescalète sounded a part of the channel, finding 5 fathoms 1 league from shore. He passed over a bar, on which he found only 2 fathoms. The bad weather prevented him from sounding this channel better. He thinks there may be a pass. Toward evening I went ashore with M. de Sauvole and my brother De Bienville in my longboat. The François's rowboat came, too. We slept ashore.

    The 2nd. It rained for a part of the night and up till nine o'clock in the morning, when the rain stopped. We went and sounded the channel, wind in the southeast. About two o'clock in the afternoon, it started raining again, very hard, with a quite brisk gale and such fog that we could not see our ships. I took soundings as far as that bank with the depth of 2 fathoms, following the reef from the east, where I put up a stake. Because my sailors were too tired to row out to the ships, I went on to the land and spent the night, on an island 4 leagues in circuit. Here we had much trouble in making a fire, my crews were so exhausted. The François's rowboat reached the ships.

    The 3rd. I remained on the island, which I am naming Massacre because we found on it, at the southwest end, a spot where more than sixty men or women had been slain. We found the heads and the rest of the remains along with some of their household belongings. As none of these have yet rotted, it appears that this occurred no more than three or four years ago.

    Last night there was a heavy wind from the southeast, which at four o'clock in the morning shifted to the west-northwest, heavy wind and heavy seas. As we were unable to go to our ship, four of my Canadians went hunting and killed eighteen bustards, several ducks, and one raccoon. And in the Biscayan, I crossed over to the point on the mainland, which is 3 1/2 leagues north by west of this island. I followed the shore for 4 leagues, running north by east. Here I went ashore and climbed to the top of a white oak, and I observed that the land

The Holocaust Odyssey of DANIEL BENNAHMIAS, Sonderkommando


The University of Alabama Press

Copyright © 1993 The University of Alabama Press. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Pierre LeMoyne d'Iberville and the Competition for Empire
Iberville's Gulf Journals17
First Voyage to the Mississippi The Journal of the Badine19
Second Voyage to the Mississippi The Journal of the
Third Voyage to the Mississippi The Journal of the

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews