Pierre Lemoyne d'Iberville
Captain de Fregate Pierre Lemoyne d'Iberville was the most distinguished Canadian
naval officer of his age. His military career began in 1686, with an expedition against
English settlements in Hudson's Bay. During the winter of 1687-1688, he went to France
and was asked to strengthen the furpost and divert the Indians of Port-Nelson. Back in
James Bay, he organized a fur expedition. In 1690, he took part in Governor Frontenac's
campaign in Quebec, against English settlements to the south.
In the spring of 1696, he received orders from De Frontenac to destroy the English
settlements in Newfoundland. In the spring of 1697, he obtained the fur monopoly in
Hudson's Bay. By request of the Marine Minister, he left to find the mouth of the
Mississippi, in order to set up a French settlement. He reached the river in 1699 and
built Fort Maurepas. Two years later, he built Fort St. Louis in Mobile to protect French
Mississippi's basin against English expansion.
D'Iberville left Louisiana in 1702 and took Guadeloupe from the English in 1706. He died
at Havana on July 9 that same year of fever. D'Iberville is considered one of the
founders of Louisiana.
In the fall of 1696, an expeditionary force of over 400 French regulars, with Indians and
French Canadian auxiliaries, was dispatched to Placentia by the Governor of New
France. This force, under the command of Lemoyne d'Iberville, joined with the Placentia
garrison and the crews of a dozen St. Malo privateers then in harbour for a winter
assault of the English settlements on the Avalon.
This formidable force destroyed all of the English communities on the Southern Shore
without serious opposition, but, marching on St. John's, it was engaged on the Southside
Hills by a group of 84 local men lying in ambush. For over half an hour, the small body of
local residents, outnumbered 5 to 1, fought the French and Indians until half of them had
been killed or disabled. They then withdrew to a small fortification which had been
prepared in the city, where they held out for a further 48 hours. With supplies running
short and intimidated by the threats of Indian torture, the surviving English surrendered
and were shipped home by the French command.
The French moved on and, by February 1697, had returned to Placentia, having
destroyed every settlement on the Avalon Peninsula except Carbonear.
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