Fort St. Claude

Governor Bienville sent a detachment of thirty men in 1718, to establish a fort among the Yasous. The fort was constructed on an elevated situation about 10 miles from the mouth of the Yazoo river. It was on the left bank of the river, and only a short distance from the village of the Yasous Indians. Writing of this fort in 1721, Father Charlevoix says: “I was obliged to go up it (the Yazoo river) three leagues to get to the fort, which I found all in mourning for the death of M. Bizart, who commanded here. He had chosen a bad situation for his fort, and he was preparing, when he died, to remove it a league higher in a very fine meadow, where the air is more healthy, and where there is a village of Yasous, mixed with Curoas and Osogoulas ( with) at most two hundred men fit to bear arms. We live pretty well with them, but do not put too much confidence in them, on account of the connections which the Yasous have always had with the English. The fort and the land belong to a society composed of M. le Blanc, Secretary of State, M. le Compte de Belle-Isle, M. le Marquis d’Asfeld, and M. le Blond, brigadier engineer. The last is in the colony with the title of director general of the company. I can see no reason why they chose the river of the Yasous for the place of their grant. There was certainly choice of better land, and a better situation. It is true, that it is of importance to secure this river, the source of which is not far from Carolina ; but a fort with a good garrison, to keep under the Yasous, who are allies to the Chicachas, would be sufficient for that purpose. It is not the way to settle a colony on a solid foundation, to be always on their guard against the savages who are neighbors of the English.” The fort and settlement at this point were destroyed by the Yasous and Curoas, (the Osagoulas were absent on the chase, and did not participate) on December 12, 1729. They were incited thereto by their allies, the Natchez, who had just engaged in the dreadful massacre of the French in the Natchez district. The commander of the post, M. de Codere, had fallen a victim to the fury of the Natchez, while there on a visit, and the little garrison of only 17 men was under the command of the Chevalier des Roches. They were surprised and all were murdered. The good Father Souel had been treacherously slain the day before, and they adopted the resolution, says Father Petit in his Journal “of putting a finishing stroke to their crime by the destruction of the whole French post. “Since the Black Chief is dead” said they, “it is the same as if all the French were dead – let us not spare any.”

Fort Stephens, a post-hamlet in the northern part of Lauderdale county, about 16 miles from Meridian. Population in 1900, 35. Fort St. Stephens. This was originally a fortification made by the Spaniards after their conquest of West Florida in 1781, located on the Tombigbee river, at the head of sloop navigation, a little north of east of the present town of Bucatunna, Miss. The fort was built about 1789. and, says the author of “Colonial Mobile,” ” the earthwork can still be distinctly traced, and Collot represented the fort as a formidable work.” It was a severe blow to the Spaniards to find this fort on the American side of the line of demarcation in 1798. It was surrendered to Lieut. John McClary, who marched there from Natchez with a small body of soldiers, in May, 1799. The United States troops did not garrison the fort, but constructed a new one near the line, called’ Fort Stoddert. St. Stephens survived however as a town, and was the seat of the government trading house for the Choctaw Indians, established by Joseph Chambers in 1803. His successor, George S. Gaines, continued to trade at this place for many, years. It was the center of American influence with the Choctaws.

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Source: Encyclopedia of Mississippi History, by Dunbar Rowland.

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