Jean Béranger, a Breton sea captain in service of Governor Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and of the French Company of the Indies, was born at La Rochelle in 1685. Bienville was master of the Neptune in 1716 and sailed up the Mississippi as far as the site of New Orleans before turning back because of dangerous flooding and floating logs. Each year fleets of warships were sent from France to defend Louisiana from Spain. War broke out in early 1719, and Béranger participated in the assault and taking of Pensacola on May 14. The Spaniards counterattacked in August 1719, captured the small French garrison, and took them to Havana as prisoners. Pensacola was recaptured by the French on October 16. Béranger was ordered to take the Spanish prisoners to Havana because the French had insufficient food to feed them. In some manner unattested by documentary sources, Béranger was able to unload the Spanish prisoners at Havana and depart with his ship without being captured by the Spaniards.
When the French found the war was over in May 1720, Bienville ordered Béranger to explore the Bay of St. Bernard and look for a suitable site for colonization. Béranger took an old Spanish ship, renamed St. Joseph, that had been captured at Pensacola for the expedition, and his voyage resulted in the discovery of Aransas Pass, Texas. His description of St. Joseph and Mustang islands, Live Oak Point, and the language and customs of the Karankawa Indians remains the most authentic, definitive published account.