Mobile Live Cam

Heartbeat of the destination with an electric cuisine scene


Hosted by:
  • Dauphin's - RSA Trustmark Bank Building
  • 107 St Francis St #3400 - Mobile
  • Alabama 36602 - United States
  • 251-444-0200

Quick Facts about Mobile

In 1519, Alonzo Pineda sailed into Mobile Bay, named it the Bay of the Holy Spirit and mapped the location. This is the first record we have of a European vessel being in Mobile Bay. Mobile is named after the Mauvilla Indians (Mauvilla is the Indian word for paddler), who lived along the banks of Mobile Bay. The name was spelled Mabila by the Spanish and eventually came to be Mobile. (The name Alabama means "brush gatherers" in Choctaw and refers to the Alibamu tribe.) French, English, Spanish, Confederate and American flags have all flown over the city of Mobile since it was first settled in 1702. Mobile is located in Southwest Alabama on Mobile Bay, approximately one-half hour from both the Mississippi and Florida state lines. Mobile encompasses 1,248 square miles.

Mobile: City by the Bay

Tuskaloosa replied that he was not accustomed to serving others but rather that it was for others to serve him. But seeing himself surrounded by armed soldiers, Tuskaloosa suggested that DeSoto accompany him to the chief village of Mobila where all these requests would be supplied.

And so they set out for the great town, Tuskaloosa draped over a European horse with his long legs dragging the ground. They crossed the river at Piachi and Monday, October 18, 1540, St. Luke's Day, the curious caravan came to the ancient town of Mobila, somewhere near the Bay of Mobile.

Mobila was strongly fortified, surrounded by great walls and situated on a beautiful plain. Inside the walls were large, wooden cabins full of concealed Indians. Once inside the walls, Tuskaloosa retired to one of the buildings while DeSoto and his small band of men were left in the piazza to wonder as the army encamped outside of town.

DeSoto's fears were somewhat assuaged when Tuskaloosa returned and ordered his dancing girls to perform, after which he said a feast would be held. During the performance, DeSoto noticed some of the savages slyly putting bundles of bows and arrows among the leaves. When Tuskaloosa left the scene to go back into the main cabin, DeSoto became alarmed. He rose to attention as a few stray arrows sailed into the arena. The uneasiness of the savages caused DeSoto to order one of his chief lieutenants, Baltasar de Gallegos, to recall Tuskaloosa from his cabin to quieten his subjects.

Gallegos advanced toward the cabin and DeSoto noticed the Indians standing guard over the entrance to the city. Gallegos was stopped at the door but then forced his way into the cabin. Another of DeSoto's officers, Luis de Moscoso, walked to the entrance of the cabin when Gallegos did not return. The tension was beginning to mount as Moscoso cried out, "Se'or Gallegos, come out immediately for we can wait for you no longer!"

Presently, Gallegos returned. On the outside he was challenged by one of Tuskaloosa's sons, a tall, brazen savage. Gallegos drew his sword and disabled the arm of the savage with one fell swoop. The fateful blow had been struck! Surrounded from all sides, the Spaniards leaped for their horses and fought their way toward the gate. One of the Christians fell dead, an arrow piercing his spine. But DeSoto and the rest of his men bore down on the savages at the gate, slashing them with their long swords and trampling them with their horses. DeSoto took an arrow in his posterior, but the savages, terrified of the horses, abandoned the gate and the Spaniards escaped. Straggling back to the Spanish camp, DeSoto now had to make a momentous decision. Should he take up his tents and press on to the Gulf or should he return to Mobila to give the wily savages a taste of Christian fortitude?

It took only a moment to decide. No Spaniard of Don Quixote's era would place wisdom above honor. Least of all, the great Castillian Hernando DeSoto. Back to the walls of Mobila rode the six hundred, their banners of the Lord waving in the wind. But the Mobilians were ready for them. They opened the gates and charged the horsemen, seeking to entice the Spaniards to enter the city. Now it was the Spaniards' turn to be cunning. Retreating just enough to lure the Mobilians into the open, they turned on their pursuers and slaughtered them like cattle. Then, taking the care, the full force of the Castillians charged past the main gate and into the heart of the city. Immediately they were attacked from all sides by more savages than they thought existed and a terrible hand to hand combat ensued. The savages, men, women, and children, attacked the Spaniards with spears, hatchets and rocks. And from the roof tops came flocks of firetipped arrows which settled on the just and unjust alike.

In the heat of the battle DeSoto sounded the call to retreat and the Spaniards retired to a nearby pond to refresh themselves. After a while they again took up their lances and charged back into the city. Desperately the Indians attempted to defend Mobila. Now the entire town was aflame and the savages rushed wildly, almost suicidally, at their oppressors. They even charged the horses that they had so greatly feared at the beginning of the battle. But sticks and stones were no match for Spanish armor. Most of the blows were easily warded off. Now and then a perfectly placed arrow would strike a Christian in the eye or the mouth and he would topple off his steed. Hour after hour, the battle raged on. Then gradually the Mobilian resistance began to dwindle. Most of the de fenders now lay motionless on the battleground while some escaped into the forests.

As dusk settled on the burning town, the harsh sounds of battle diminished to an eerie cacophony of groans and whimpers. The Spanish retreated to the plains and what the historian Bancroft has called "the greatest Indian battle ever fought" was over. Mobila lay in ashes.

The next day DeSoto took a dreadful inventory. He counted twenty dead but this was almost superfluous when compared to his other losses. Nearly every Christian had been wounded, many critically. DeSoto, himself, was wounded in such a way that for the next thirty days he felt more disposed to walking than to riding. To top the climax, the bulk of the army's provisions was lost in the fire, including two hundred pounds of pearls with which DeSoto had hoped to entice more men to his settlement at Mobile Bay and more support from the Spanish crown. The original plan had been for DeSoto to traverse the land of Florida in search of riches so that when he made a rendezvous with Maltonado at Mobile Bay, he would have enough gold to found a great colony. Now he must meet his compatriots empty-handed.

Fearing mutiny from his men, DeSoto now made the second of his ill-fated decisions. He must turn around and march back into the wilderness until he found enough riches to salvage his pride and his enterprise. Reluctantly, his disgruntled men followed him to the north to a rendezvous with destiny and death.

Mobila was left behind in ruins. Once a splendid town, it had been the citadel of a tribe whose domain included most of the southern United States. As for Tuskaloosa, no one ever knew his fate. After the holocaust, DeSoto had sought his bones for a prize but the great chief must have escaped into the forests to help save the Mobilians from extinction. If the tribe was nearly decimated, the same was not true for the language. For the Mobile Trade Language became the "lingua franca" of all the southern Indians and remained in use all through the French Colonial period.

Two decades after DeSoto, another Spaniard set his sights on Mobile Bay. Don Tristan De Luna landed somewhere near the bay with 1,500 colonists in 1559. After settling his colony on the coast, De Luna sent an expedition of two hundred men to explore the interior. After a journey of forty leagues, they came to the Alabama River and founded a town called Nanipicana that the Indians told them had been burned by white men years earlier.

Once in Nanipicana, De Luna moved all the remaining colonists from the port to that village. When spring came, a scarcity of food forced De Luna to send a party to the Indian village of Coosa. After three months the party returned to Nanipicana and found in a pot buried under a tree a message saying that De Luna had abandoned Nanipicana for lack of food and resources. He had returned to the coast in the spring of 1561 and there the colonists disbanded and returned to Spain. Tristan de Luna had discovered first-hand what his other Spanish brethren had found before him, that the wilderness of Mobile Bay was a prize as elusive as it was beautiful.

In 1679, a French frigate was attacked and captured by Spanish warships on the Gulf of Mexico. Louis XIV, the grand Monarch of France, immediately ordered three ships to be built to protect French commerce. Informed by his commander in the West Indies of the vulnerability of Havana and Cartege'a, King Louis' ambitions took on a new twist. If he could capture these cities, the remaining Spanish Colonies in the Gulf area would be forced to surrender to France, the ultimate result being the conquest of New Spain.

And so Robert de la Salle was sent down the Mississippi to find a port suitable for harboring ships. But La Salle had other ideas. He wanted to found a colony. After his initial adventure down the great river, La Salle hood winked the King into financing a new expedition to establish a fort on the Gulf. He was able to gain Louis' support by convincing him that the Rio Grande, where the King's eyes were set, and the Mississippi were one and the same river! But La Salle's dream was ended with his murder in 1687, after a fiasco which he, himself, promoted by a long chain of deceptions. Ten years later, the Peace of Ryswick ended the war of the Augsburg League. Spanish fears were thus aroused when it was realized that this treaty now gave Louis XIV some pretext for renewing his designs on the Gulf. Quickly, the Spanish ordered the Viceroy of Mexico to occupy Pensacola Bay. Almost as quickly, the French sent out an expedition under command of Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville. The race for the Gulf was on!

The news had long been out that the best harbor in all the world was Pensacola Bay, a deep, natural port where it was supposed a great river emptied into the Gulf. Accordingly, Iberville set his sights on Pensacola and after a stormy voyage across the Atlantic dropped his anchors in the outer harbor on January 26, 1699. To his dismay Iberville found himself staring at a Spanish flag waving arrogantly over a puny little fort. However, seeing that no great river flowed into that bay, he pulled his anchors and sailed further west. After excursions on Dauphin and Horn Islands, he anchored his big vessels at Ship Island and switched to long boats and canoes in search of a suitable harbor. Rediscovering the Mississippi River, he ascended it for some distance but never found a site to build. He finally decided on the eastern shore of the Bay of Biloxi where he established Fort Maurepas, the first capital of the Louisiana Territory.

Fort Maurepas served as the capital for two years until Iberville could find a spot for a permanent colony. In the meantime, he sent Monsieur Sauvole, his second in command, and his brother, the young Bienville, on scouting expeditions to determine the most strategic location. Bienville found a site on the great river where New Orleans now stands but it was thought to be too marshy. He searched up and down the coast but the site he finally settled on was a long, high expanse of land on the Mobile River known today as Twenty-Seven Mile Bluff. It was a pleasing site, no doubt, and one which commanded a long view of the river in both directions. Back from the steep bluff was a rich, flat plain, ideal for cultivating, and a small creek that emptied into the river. Five leagues up-river lived the Mobile Indians, a pitiful remnant whose ancestors had almost been destroyed by DeSoto. They had been known to the French for some time.

Ever since the first contact with the French, the Indians had been seeking to bring the colony to the Mobile River. For selfish reasons, they needed the colonists for protection against the encroachments of rival tribes such as the Creeks and the Alabamas. And they loved the trinkets that the French lavishly bestowed on them. But the Mobile Indians had something to offer the French. They could show them how to till the soil, how to make their way in the wilderness and more importantly they could aid the French in their plans to trade with the Indians of the interior. In the battle with England for control of North America, commerce with the Indians was to be the prized bone of contention. And the area where the competition would broil most heatedly was the valley of the Alabama-Tombigbee River that emptied into the Mobile. Here the English and the French trader would vie for the good favor of the American savage.

It was a battle that Iberville could foresee with poignant clarity. What more strategic move could be made, then, than to found a colony near the mouth of this coveted river basin? Already, he had secured the port at Dauphin Island. Now that Sauvole and Bienville had given their recommendations, it only remained for Iberville to give the command and the axes would begin to chop.

Laying ill with fever at Pensacola, Iberville made his decision. He dispatched two vessels to Fort Maurepas, a ketch with supplies for the new fort and a launch with eighty workers. Two weeks later, on January 12, 1702, the ketch returned from Maurepas along with a traversier reporting that Bienville had arrived at Dauphin Island with forty men. A few months before, Sauvole had died at Maurepas and Bienville advanced to commandant. Now Iberville ordered his brother to commence operations and Bienville put his carpenters to work. They cleared the land in a matter of days and began construction of the houses and buildings.

Meanwhile, Iberville recovered from his fever and landed at Dauphin Island where he supervised the building of that port. For the next few weeks he was busy directing the transfer of supplies from Maurepas to the new site. Then Iberville arrived at the site himself, where he spent the month of March 1702, in directing the building of the fort. During that month, the fort called Fort Louis de la Louisiane was virtually completed and Iberville, on the last day of March, departed for France, relinquishing personal command of that vast enterprise in the new world that he had begun at Fort Maurepas. Now Fort Louis of the Mobile was the capital of the Louisiana Territory and was to remain such for the next eight years until the transfer down-river to the edge of Mobile Bay in 1710. The man Iberville left in charge was his twenty-two-year-old brother, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville.