On March 17, 1699, a group of French explorers under Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, were making their way up the Mississippi River from New Orleans when they spotted a red pole on a high bluff overlooking the river. The pole marked the boundary between the hunting grounds of the Houma and the Bayagoula Indians, and the Frenchmen christened it le baton rouge.
The name Baton Rouge has survived, despite several attempts to change it, and today it designates the capital of a state whose people, by 1812, had lived under four flags—French, English, Spanish, and American. Despite its tiny size, the settlement at Baton Rouge was a strategic outpost on the Mississippi River, and a number of fierce contests were waged for its control. In fact, the only battle of the American Revolution fought in Louisiana took place at Baton Rouge in 1779.
In A History of Baton Rouge Rose Meyers has gathered, evaluated, and set down the stories, legends, facts, and circumstances of the founding of Baton Rouge; its troubled history under the colonial governments of France, England, and Spain; and its eventual entry into the Union in 1812. Featured in the book are portraits of early civil and military leaders and maps dating back to the French colonial period.
Rose Meyers is Head Librarian at the Downtown Branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.
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