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Birding on Dauphin Island

Historic Fort Gaines

POA - Property
Owners' Association

Sand Island Light

Shell Mounds

Town of Dauphin Island-Municipal Government

Dauphin Island, AL
Archive of Historical Data, Books, Maps
And Other Materials

Excerpt from the book
"Dauphin Island AL:
French Possession 1699-1763"

by Jo Myrtle Kennedy

"A Fort Is Planned - 1713"

Cadillac's description of Dauphin Island in 1713 tells us that the island was six leagues long (about 18 miles), wooded with pines for about one league, scarcely one quarter league in width. For five leagues west there was nothing but a sandbank and white shifting sand, to the north a border of woods of various trees.
There were sixteen settlers, both married and unmarried, whose houses were built on sand that the wind carried along like dust.

In the same report he expressed fear that someday a hurricane might overrun the island and sandbanks and most likely close the harbor with shifting sand.

However, he also thought it would be a good idea "to make a small entrenchment or little fort at the point called Guillory, with a good battery of six pieces of cannon of eight pound cannonballs. By means of these fortifications the island and port seem to me to be impregnable. I estimate that these fortifications would cost a great deal. One would have to be a shrewd engineer to fix the expense accurately because of the few workmen that there are, the high price of their wages, the little work that is done and because of the excessive and the uncertainty of the weather, almost always stormy, that interrupts the work, the wood that rots quickly and last hardly at all unless it is protected. Stone is found only four or five leagues from the island. Lime is easy to make with oyster shells. One finds as many as he wishes. It would be necessary to transport this stone with large flatboats. An attempt has been made to make some bricks but as the earth is not at all suitable and as the rains are frequent they grew soft, and so if one fortifies with brick or wood, it is work to be done over every five years."

"My opinion would be to fortify with limestone and mortar. There is another difficulty in determining whether one could make a good foundation. I think one could, by means of shells, by burning them to make a cement out of them with lime. Experience shows that it, united with sand, that the wall made of it seems good and firm".

On conditions in the colony, Cadillac wrote to Marine Minister Ponchartrain, "They are reduced to utmost wretchedness. In that condition can one perform one's service in an unhealthy country, without bread, without wine, without meat, and without clothes? They are given at present a ration of flour but without meat. One cannot live on dry bread and do guard duty all night and day, that is what wears these young men out and causes so much disease among them.

Cadillac goes on to blame the deplorable conditions on Bienville's inability as governor, yet he ignored the fact that it was Bienville who pressed consistently for agricultural projects that would provide both life-sustaining food and surplus for export.

Ducos joined in thecomplaints to Count Ponchartrain that twelve of the girls who had recently arrived from France were too ugly and badly formed to attract husbands and would be left on hand to become prostitutes for lack of other provision. Ducos also accused Cadillac of appropriating for his own use the presents sent for the Indians.

Fort Gaines Sand Island Light House Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island Dauphin Island History Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium

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