Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville

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Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville.
Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville.

Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, (20 July 1661 – (probably) 9 July 1706), founder of the colony of Louisiana, was born at Ville-Marie, Montreal, Quebec on 16 July 1661. He died at Havana, Cuba on 9 July 1706. He was the third son of Charles Le Moyne, a native of Dieppe in France and lord of Longueuil in Canada, and of Catharine Primot. He is also known as Sieur d’Iberville.

Iberville became a sailor at an early age and served as a volunteer under the Chevalier de Troyes in Hudson Bay. In 1686 he began a brilliant career as soldier and sailor, and took part in many expeditions against the English. Fort Severn, located at the mouth of the Severn River on Hudson Bay was established as a trading post in 1689 by the Hudson's Bay Company. Iberville captured it in 1690. The post, rebuilt in 1759, has been in continuous operation to this day making the community one of the oldest European settlements in Ontario.

In 1695, Iberville was called upon to attack the English stations along the Atlantic coast from Fort William Henry, on the disputed New England-Acadia boundary, to St John’s, the fortified English settlement in Newfoundland. After destroying Fort William Henry in the spring of 1696, Iberville sailed with his three vessels to Placentia (Plaisance), the French capital of Newfoundland. Both English and French fishermen exploited the Grand Banks fishery from their respective settlements on Newfoundland under the sanction of the treaty of 1687, but the purpose of the new French expedition of 1696 was nevertheless to expel the English from Newfoundland. Iberville and his men left Placentia on November 1, 1696 and marched overland to Ferryland, 50 miles south of St John’s. Nine days later, Iberville joined with naval forces and both detachments began the march north to the English capital, which surrendered on November 30, 1696 following a brief siege. After setting fire to St John’s, Iberville’s Canadians almost totally destroyed the English fisheries along the eastern shore of Newfoundland. Small raiding parties terrorized the hamlets hidden away in remote bays and inlets, burning, looting, and taking prisoners. By the end of March 1697, only Bonavista and Carbonear remained in English hands. In four months of raids, Iberville was responsible for the destruction of 36 settlements. The Newfoundland campaign had been the cruelest and most destructive of Iberville’s career.

Iberville sailed for France in 1697 and was chosen by the Minister of Marine to lead an expedition to rediscover the mouth of the Mississippi River and to colonize Louisiana, which the English coveted. Iberville's fleet sailed from Brest on 24 October 1698. On January 25, 1699, Iberville reached Santa Rosa Island in front of Pensacola, founded by the Spanish; he sailed from there to Mobile Bay and explored Massacre Island, later Dauphine. He cast anchor between Cat Island and Ship Island; and on February 13, 1699, he went to the mainland, Biloxi, with his brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. On May 1, 1699, he completed a fort on the north-east side of the Bay of Biloxi, a little to the rear of what is now Ocean Springs. This fort was called Maurepas or Old Biloxi.

In 1706, Iberville captured the Caribbean island of Nevis from the British. He then went to Havana to obtain reinforcements from the Spanish for an attack on the Province of Carolina, but he contracted yellow fever and died at Havana.

The city of D'Iberville, Mississippi is named for him.

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