Monday, July 20, 2015


#1: On Saturday, January 31, 1699,  Pierre LeMoyne Ecuyer,Seigneur d'Iberville and his men, sailing on three ships carrying a total of 110 cannon, occupied present-day Dauphin Island on an expedition sponsored by King Louis XIV of France to fortify the mouth of the Mississippi River in order to prevent other nations from entering the river. Iberville named this place Massacre Island due to the bones from about sixty human skeletons he found heaped on the island.

#2: On Tuesday, September 9, 1710,Jamaican pirates, outfitted with a ship mounted with cannon, approached the mouth of Pelican Bay flying a French flag. The pirates fired their signal gun and the villagers welcomed what they thought to be a long awaited supply ship from overseas.

Without firing a shot, the little port, housing about 20 families and the King’s warehouses, was at the mercy of a pirate crew. For two days the crew made life miserable for the village and stole everything that wasn’t nailed down before they burned down all the buildings in town. The pirates loaded their ship with thousands of furs and hides which the French had gathered from all over the province of Louisiana and had stored in Massacre Island’s warehouses.

#3: Later, during the same month of September, 1710, the pirates decided to return to the island to rustle up a shipload of the villagers’ cattle and to collect a live specimen of a buffalo for the pirate captain but the islanders fought them off during their attempt to make a second landing. No casualties were reported to be a consequence of this attempted second invasion by the Jamaican pirates.

#4:On Saturday, May 13, 1719, a French naval attack on Pensacola embarked from Dauphin Island and approached Pensacola Bay the evening of the same day.  The French naval force consisted of a squadron of at least three large company ships from France carrying over 600 officers, soldiers and volunteers commanded by Serigny and Larcebault. Bienville commanded the rest of the naval force of 80 men on three skiffs along with some supply barges and initiated the invasion by taking over the Spanish battery located on Santa Rosa Island near present-day Ft. Pickens without firing a shot.  The company ships were then free to enter Pensacola Bay and by firing their sixty naval cannon into town for three hours, they silenced the 29 cannon in Pensacola’s Spanish Fort San Carlos.

#5: On Friday, August 4, 1719, a Spanish fleet  carrying over 1300 troops and consisting of two captured French ships, a Spanish flagship and nine two-masted coastal schooners forced the French surrender of Pensacola and the French lost their ships anchored in the harbor that were filled with John Law’s Company of the West’s supplies.The French retreat from Pensacola led the French back to Dauphin Island and required them to reinforce Dauphin Island’s defenses.

#6:  On Sunday, August 13, 1719, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis brought 50 Pascagoula Indians to Dauphin Island on . By August 20, the French had assembled between 200 to 400 Indians between Mobile and Dauphin Island and these natives represented “the backbone of the French defensive forces.”

The Spanish fleet was limited to privateers who sailed from Pensacola on 9 two-masted coastal schooners and two brigantines. The Spanish sent the French on Dauphin Island a message that demanded unconditional surrender and made some violent threats. The French on shore showed their contempt for the Spanish privateers and decided to “make a gallant defense.” 
After their bluff failed, the Spanish decided to put off a full frontal assault upon the improvised French fortress hastily constructed on the shore near an inlet the French called Trou du Major. The Spanish decided to impose a naval blockade and began to capture all ships bringing supplies to the island. For over two weeks the Spanish privateers continued their blockade on the mouth of Mobile Bay and executed raids on the warehouses and farms in the area. During a raid on a Mon Luis Island farm, the French and their Indian allies captured  18 French deserters who were fighting for the Spanish. One of the deserters was condemned to a public hanging on Dauphin Island which served as a strong lesson in civic responsibility for the islanders and the other 17 were turned over to the Indians so they could be dragged to Mobile to be tortured and killed. 
 When a large French fleet carrying 2000 troops arrived at Dauphin Island on September 1, the few Spanish vessels still maintaining the blockade retreated back to Pensacola.

#7:  On Tuesday September 5, 1719, a French squadron under the command of Commodore Desnos de Champmeslin consisting of the flagship Hercule and twelve smaller ships sailed from Dauphin Island to Pensacola while Bienville marched one hundred troops and almost 500 Indians overland. On September 16, the French fleet was anchored off Pensacola while Bienville and his Indians prepared to attack. On the morning of September 17, Bienville’s Indians and the Canadians began their attack upon Fort San Carlos as the French fleet battled the Spanish ships anchored in the bay. The Spanish commander had “had no stomach for a fight with Indians” and so he surrendered to Champmeslin. The French had lost six men; the Spaniards, a hundred. Bienville also captured  47 French deserters fighting for the Spanish.  Twelve of these men were condemned to be hanged from the yardarm of a French ship anchored in Pensacola harbor and the other 35 were sentenced to serve ten years as galley slaves for the Company of the West.
Spain’s long-awaited naval expedition to drive the French out of Louisiana was finally launched in 1720 before news of peace had arrived. It accomplished nothing because Commander Francisco Cornejo “promptly ran his ships aground on the Campeche Banks in a violent storm.”
France continued to hold Pensacola while flying Spanish flags so they could capture Spanish supply ships that took the bait. Finally, on November 26, 1722, the French “destroyed the fort and town and returned the site to the Spaniards in conformity with the peace treaty in Europe.”

#8: On Sunday, October 9, 1763, British Major Farmar , commanding a convoy of six troop transports and a warship carrying three regiments dropped anchor off Dauphin Island with orders to occupy French Louisiana east of the Mississippi River as well as Spanish Pensacola. Farmar had earlier received an official French authorization for the commander of Fort Conde' in Mobile to surrender the fort.

Dauphin Island at the time mainly served as "a sea-girt cattle pen" for Frenchmen living in Mobile while the only residents were a French sergeant's guard and a harbor pilot, both of whom would soon leave the island.

 For over a week after arriving at Mobile Bay, Farmar had his men sounding the channel and setting out buoys to guide three of the smaller troop transports over the bar. The 32 gun frigate, H.M.S. Stag, and a larger troop transport sailed over to Ship Island to find safe anchorage. Earlier in October, while Farmar had been in Pensacola, two French pilots from the mouth of Mobile Bay had arrived and warned him that they doubted whether the large British ships could clear the bar at Mobile.
The problems Major Farmar encountered entering Mobile Bay emphasized his dependency upon the French pilot who resided on Dauphin Island and was needed to navigate any large vessel intending to enter Mobile Bay. Only one month after taking possession of Mobile Bay, Farmar wrote ".....A corporal and six men I have sent to the Island Dauphin to be assisting the Pilot in going off to ships, as the bar is very dangerous, and there are no inhabitants upon the island."

#9: On Monday, May 1, 1769,  Major Farmar violently evicted Lieutenant Governor Montforte Brown's employees from Dauphin Island.

#10: February 10, 1780, Spanish Governor of Bernardo de Galvez led a fleet of warships and troop transports into Mobile Bay to begin the SIEGE OF FORT CHARLOTTE.

#11: In early 1781, the British launch an offensive from Pensacola to take Dauphin Island but fail.
#12:  In May of 1781, the Spanish under Galvez launch an invasion from Mobile Bay and take Pensacola from the British.

#13: In July of 1812,  Troops under General Ferdinand Claiborne raised the American flag on Isla Delphina(Dauphin Island) and ordered the Spanish guard on the island “to withdraw or be regarded as prisoners of war.” The pilot was ordered not to aid Spanish or British vessels. The Spanish guard remained on Dauphin Island.

#14: In April of 1813,the U.S. under the command of General James Wilkinson capture Dauphin Island.

#15: In September of 1814, the British based on Dauphin Island unsuccessfully attack Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point.

#16: In February of 1815, the entire British Expeditionary Force regroups on Dauphin Island and launched a siege upon Fort Bowyer. The U.S. troops in Fort Bowyer surrender.

#17: On January 18, 1861, the militia of the Republic of Alabama seize Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island from U.S. troops.

#18 In February of 1864, The U.S. Navy ships performed a two-week-long bombardment of Fort Powell @ Grant's Pass which included landings in the area of the west point of Dauphin Island.

#19: In August of 1864,  U.S. troops forced the surrender of Confederate States of America forces which occupied Fort Gaines and Dauphin Island.

#20: In March of 1865, the 32,000 man U.S. invasion of Baldwin County began with the movement of Federal troops across the Mobile Bay from Dauphin Island.    

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