One man headed south. Another, north.
Luck–and the bluff of the century–would determine what followed. The nervy encounter became known as the English Turn, and it’s how the story of New Orleans unfolded as it did.
Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, a 19-year-old aristocrat-turned-expeditioner from French Canada, came to the mouth of the Mississippi in 1699 with domination in mind.
Along with his crew, Bienville was the first to reach from the Gulf. It was open land, a blank slate. Those southern stretches of the New World were theirs for the taking. So long as no one else tried to stake their claim.
And, for a while, no one did.
They started small French settlements. Fort Maurepas. Mobile. Bienville had been camped out for months without incident. But in the summer of 1699, heading downriver with his men, Bienville encountered their first threat.