Fort Prudhomme - La Salle's Expedition

La Salle's Expedition

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643–1687) was a French explorer. In February 1682, he started his 5th expedition. La Salle led a party of 54 on a canoe expedition from what is modern Peoria County, Illinois, located on the banks of the Illinois River, to the mouth of the Mississippi River in order to explore the Mississippi River basin. On their trip downriver, the expedition landed their canoes to hunt, when one of their members went missing. The armorer by the name of Pierre Prudhomme was assumed captured by Chickasaw Indians. La Salle decided to stay and search for the missing participant of the expedition.

On top of the Mississippi River bluffs in Tennessee, La Salle's party constructed a stockade fortification. The fort was the first structure built by the French in Tennessee. La Salle named the fortification "Fort Prudhomme", after their lost man. Ten days after his disappearance, the missing member of the expedition found his way back to the camp, unharmed but starving. Prudhomme had lost his way while hunting. The expedition resumed their trip downstream and La Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi River on April 6, 1682. He claimed the entire Mississippi River valley for France, it remained French until 1762.

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