Southwestern Historical Quarterly
LIOTOT AND JALOT, TWO FRENCH SURGEONS OF
Diu. PAT IRELAND NIXON
Disaster and disease, so often the twin spectres of destiny in
the explorer's life, were directly accountable for the failure of
La Salle in his third attempt to explore the mouth of the Mississippi
River and for the ultimate extinction of his colony on the coast
of Texas. Chevalier Robert de La Salle--a man of iron if there ever
was one-set sail from France in July, 1684, in four ships with 300
persons on board. Two months later they touched at Santo Domingo
and this stop is possibly significant in their later medical story.
Father Le Clercq records that "the soldiers and most of the
crew, having plunged into every kind of debauchery and intem-
perance, so common in those parts, were so ruined and contracted
such dangerous disorders that some died in the island, and others
On February 20, 1685, they entered Matagorda Bay, far from
their desired destination. Dissension and disease and death were
with them on shipboard and were with them as they landed. "On
shore," says the engineer Minet, "they were all sick with nausea
and dysentery. Five or six died every day, in consequence of
brackish water and bad food."2 The withering havoc of starvation
and disease followed this ill-fated colony. Parkman relates that
"under the sheds and hovels that shielded them from the sun lay
a score of wretches slowly wasting away with the diseases con-
tracted at St. Domingo."3 Marquis de la Sablonniere seemed to
have paid an excessively severe price for his debauchery at Santo
Domingo, because it is recorded that "he had squandered the little
that belonged to him at St. Domingo, in amusements indignes de
sa Naissance, and in consequence was suffering from diseases which
disabled him from walking."4 Le Clercq states that, about one
1Le Clercq, Father Christian. Account of La Salle's Attempt to Reach
the Mississippi by Sea and of the Establishment of a French Colony in
St. Louis Bay, Paris, 1691. In French's Historical Collections of Louisi-
ana, New York, 1852, Part IV, p. 189.
2Parkman, Francis. La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West,
Boston, 1879, p. 383.
sIbid. p. 393.
4lbid. p. 418.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101111/. Accessed February 11, 2016.