The principal rivers are: the Mississippi on the western border, and its tributaries, the Yazoo and the Big Black; the Pearl and Pascagoula, which drain much of the southern portion of the state and flow into the Gulf; and the Tombigbee, which drains most of the north-eastern portion.
The Pontotoc ridge separates the drainage system of the Mississippi from that of the Tombigbee; extending from the northeastern part of the state southward, this ridge divides in Choctaw county, the eastern branch separating the drainage basin in the Pascagoula from that of the Pearl, and the western branch separating the drainage basin of the Pearl from that of the Big Black and the Mississippi.
Hernando de Soto and a body of Spanish adventurers crossed the Tombigbee river, in December 1540, near the present city of Columbus, marched through the north part of the state, and reached the Mississippi river near Memphis in 1541.
In the Coastal Plain are the Tombigbee in the W., the Alabama (formed by the Coosa and Tallapoosa) in the W.
The Tombigbee and Alabama unite near the S.W.
The Black Warrior is a considerable stream which joins the Tombigbee from the E.
The harbour of Mobile was formed by the drowning of the lower part of the valley of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers as a result of the sinking of the land here, such sinking having occurred on other parts of the Gulf coast.
It is possible that a member of Panfilo de Narvaez's expedition of 1528 entered what is now southern Alabama, but the first fully authenticated visit was that of Hernando de Soto, who made an arduous but fruitless journey along the Coosa, Alabama and Tombigbee rivers in 1539.
Later, on account of the intrigues of the English traders with the Indians, the French as a means of defence established the military posts of Fort Toulouse, near the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, and Fort Tombecbe on the Tombigbee river.
In 1817 the Mississippi Territory was divided; the western portion became the state of Mississippi, and the eastern the territory of Alabama, with St Stephens, on the Tombigbee river, as the temporary seat of government.
When the outbreak of the second war with Great Britain in 1812 gave the Creeks assurance of British aid they rose in arms, massacred several hundred settlers who had taken refuge in Fort Mims, near the junction of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers, and in a short time no white family in the Creek country was safe outside a palisade.
From Mobile, it unites with the Tombigbee to form the Mobile and Tensas rivers, which discharge into Mobile Bay.
Bank of the Tombigbee river, at the head of steam navigation, 150.