In 1562, the French challenged Spain’s claim to La Florida by sending Captain Jean Ribault to build a settlement near the Spanish shipping lanes. Ribault landed near present-day Jacksonville then sailed north where he entered a large harbor which he named Port Royal because it was “one of the greatest and fairest havens of the world.” Ribault left men to build Charlesfort on present-day Parris Island while he returned to France for supplies. When war in Europe delayed Ribault’s return, his starving men built a boat and set sail on a harrowing voyage back to France. Charlesfort fell into disrepair and disappeared.
In 1564, the French built Fort La Caroline near Jacksonville. Jean Ribault and his men arrived in 1565 with the Spanish hot on their heels. The Spanish destroyed the fort and killed Ribault and his men ending French efforts to colonize the southeast coast.
In 1995, archaeologists Dr. Stanley South and Dr. Chester DePratter found remnants of Charlesfort under Spanish Fort San Felipe.