Fort Saint-Pierre in Vicksburg is 300 years old in 2019

This aerial plan of Fort St. Pierre and its adjoining French gardens was drawn by Dumont de Montigny in 1721

Archaeological excavations carried out jointly by Harvard University and the Mississippi State Archives and History Department have conclusively revealed a significant French presence in Vicksburg.

Fort St. Pierre, also known as Fort St. Claude, dominated the heights of a hill near the grand village of the Yazoos (also called Yachoux), indigenous people whom Father Antoine Davion of the Quebec seminary of foreign missions had met in 1699 while visiting the region. The construction of Fort St. Pierre was undertaken in 1719 by Sieur de La Boulaye, a lieutenant of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville who was the governor of  Colonial French Louisiana. Around 1720, a tobacco plantation belonging to Pierre Le Blond de La Tour, engineer, and some other associates joined the colony employing about sixty workers. Today, Fort St. Pierre is a national historic landmark of the United States of America, as is Natchez in Mississippi, St. Geneviève in Missouri, Fort de Chartres in Illinois and Fort St. Frédéric in New York State.

The maps of Fort St. Pierre

The only available maps of Fort St. Pierre and its vicinity are those of Jean-François-Benjamin Dumont de Montigny, a historian from Paris who spent more than 18 years in Colonial French Louisiana. He returned to France with his wife and two children in 1738, where he published his historical memoirs on the colony of Louisiana in 1753.

Two images of the small sketch of French Fort St. Pierre among the Yazoos, 1722, on top of the riverbank escarpment. They were kindly provided by the Old Court House Museum.

Judging by the number of buildings outside the fortifications, the small community of Fort St. Pierre, located along the Yazoo River, was less populated than Natchez on the mighty Mississippi. The buildings in two parallel rows on the riverbank housed the workers. Unlike the tobacco plants (small green tufts), the vegetable garden was surrounded by a wooden palisade. Some flat-bottomed boats can be seen on the access ramp to the fort. Although the modern city of Vicksburg was founded in 1811, it proudly traces its history back to Colonial French Louisiana.