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55  9 And the Spanish Settle the Manchac ALTHOUGH THE BRITISH had assumed control of West Florida immediately after receiving it from France in 763,the Spanish were slow to take possession of the Isle of Orleans.This delay occurred in part because they lacked sufficient troops to assign to the new colony, but during the interim, the French population of New Orleans grew hopeful that Spanish rule might never need come to the Isle of Orleans. The appointment of Charles-Philippe Aubry as acting governor and agent for the Spanish only fanned their optimism. SAN GABRIEL, THE FIRST SPANISH SETTLEMENT This situation inevitably made matters difficult for Antonio de Ulloa when he arrived in March 766 to assume his duties as governor . Ulloa moved deliberately, retaining Aubry while he took time to examine his new colony’s status, which he discovered was in dreadful condition. Most buildings needed repair and few defensive posts existed to protect Spanish interests, including at Bayou Manchac just across the channel from the British Fort Bute. Ulloa dispatched soldiers to build a modest four-gun stockade at Manchac since, unlike the British, he had no need to utilize the WINDING THROUGH TIME 56 bayou for trade. He did, however, need to attract settlers to populate the area. The first arrived in July 767. Fifty Acadian families (French citizens expelled from Nova Scotia) were sent to Fort San Gabriel de Manchac. Recently attracted to New Orleans from Maryland, the 20 men, women, and children were sent pioneering by the Spanish government, given land grants, food rations, tools, seeds, and ammunition (“one gun, twelve gun flints, three pounds of powder, and bayonets” for each family). In exchange, they would confront the English across the bayou, fend off Indian raids as necessary, and cope with mosquitoes, malaria, and flooding. The community grew slightly in the suceeding months. By the time the fort was dedicated in January 768, two companies of soldiers had joined the Acadians and, during the following year, a group of German immigrants arrived to settle there as well. Although Ulloa initiated policies to strengthen the colony’s economy, the Creoles of New Orleans grew increasingly resentful. In 768, they rebelled and, having few troops to protect himself, the governor was forced to flee the Louisiana territory. Such was the ignominious beginning of Spanish rule. Aubry was appointed once again to serve as the colony’s leader until Ulloa’s replacement, Lieutenant General Don Alejandro O’Reilly, arrived. O’Reilly, an Irish-born Spanish resident with long service in the Spanish army, made his appearance in New Orleans in 769 with an impressive show of force. He brought with him two thousand soldiers, an array of artillery, and a determination to bring the rebellious colony into line. The new governor gave amnesty to most of the known rebels who had forced Ulloa’s ouster but had several of the ringleaders tried and executed. He implemented other firm measures meant to establish his authority and ordered all inhabitants of Spanish Louisiana to take an oath of allegiance to Spain or leave the province. 57 When O’Reilly departed, the Spanish crown was firmly in control of its Louisiana territory. Luis de Unzaga, O’Reilly’s successor, decided that Spain required a greater show of strength at Manchac. An appraisal of the fort in 774 had reported it“worse than 770,”merely a stockade and a small collection of useless cannons. So in 775, Unzaga ordered the fort rebuilt and strengthened. He ordered a site thirty-six feet from the bluff of the Mississippi River, protected by “a rampart of cypress stakes and semi-bulwarks,” to include a house, kitchen, latrine, and henhouse for the commander; a kitchen and latrine for the troops; an ammunition storage area; and a chapel.  The stability of the tiny Spanish community at Manchac depended not only on the fort but also on retaining the settlers. Governor O’Reilly had promised them a church of their own—a strategic decision to encourage the Catholic populace to feel allegiance to their parish and to the Spanish province. The church parish of San Gabriel extended from the fort at Bayou Manchac down the Mississippi River to the boundary of Ascension ,an older church parish.The San Gabriel church itself would not be located hard by the fort but on natural high ground slightly downriver where the government laid out eighty-five land grants. By 772, residents had framed up twenty-seven...


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