12 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI journey up the Pascagoula River. They also encountered a roving band of Bayougoula Indians who lived on the Mississippi River and supplied the Frenchmen with valuable geographic information. The French explorers left Biloxi for the Mississippi River on February 28. They found the big river, and ascended it according to the Bayougoula’s directions. They continued upriver until they reached present day Baton Rouge on March 16. Conversations with friendly natives convinced Iberville there was neither English nor Spanish presence yet on the Mississippi. When supplies began to run low, they decided to return to Biloxi. PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY MISSISSIPPI TERRITORY In 1798, the U.S. Congress created the Mississippi Territory. The Mississippi Territory was a piece of land that stretched from the Mississippi River to the Chattahoochee on the Georgia border and covered almost 100 miles (160 km) north to south. The territory expanded in 1804 and 1812 to span from Tennessee to the Gulf of Mexico. The western part became the state of Mississippi in 1817 and the eastern part became the state of Alabama in 1819.