Plan of the Natchez Fort, Blockaded by the French on January 20, 1731, and Destroyed on the 25th of Said Month


This plan by an unknown author shows the site of the Natchez siege of January 1731, which had its origins in disputes between the Natchez and the French colonists over land. The Compagnie d’Occident (Company of the West) had established several tobacco plantations in the environs of Fort Rosalie (close to present-day Natchez, Mississippi), near several Indian villages. On November 28, 1729, the Natchez staged an uprising, the principal cause of which was the attempt by a French commander to relocate an Indian village in order to establish a new plantation. The Indians killed more than 200 French soldiers and colonists, while taking prisoner 50 women and children as well as at least 150 African slaves, many of whom sought to win their freedom by siding with the Indians. Fearing a general Indian uprising, the French responded by systematically attacking the Natchez and destroying their villages. This campaign culminated at the site shown on the map. Forces under Governor Étienne Périer blockaded the Natchez stronghold on January 20, 1731, and destroyed it five days later. Some 450 women and children and 40 warriors were captured. Périer sent the captives to New Orleans, where many died; the rest were sold as slaves in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). Only about 200 Natchez managed to escape, finding refuge among the Chickasaws. Following this conflict, the Natchez were scattered and all but ceased to exist as a nation. Surviving members of the tribe settled among the Creeks, Chickasaws, and eventually the Cherokees. The map shows the roads taken by Périer’s forces, the Natchez village and fort, the organization of the blockade, and the route taken by those Indians who managed to escape during the night. Scale is indicated in toises, an old French unit of measurement; one toise equals about 1.95 meters. The site of the siege is on swampy terrain located some six kilometers north of the present-day village of Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

Last updated: November 4, 2015