Barnard Shipp.

The history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 online

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beauty, covered with large and lofty trees. Among these islands
any fleet, however large, might safely ride without fear of tempests
or other dangers. Turning towards the south, at the entrance of
the harbor, on both sides, there are very pleasant hills, and many
streams of clear water, which flow down to the sea. In the midst of
the entrance there is a rock of free-stone,- formed by nature, and
suitable for the construction of any kind of machine or bulwark for
the defence of the harbor.

"Having supplied ourselves with everything necessary, on the 5th
of May we departed from the port, and sailed one hundred and fifty
leagues, keeping so close to the coast as never to lose it from our
sight. The nature of the country appeared much the same as liefore,
but the mountains were a little higher, and all, in appearance, rich
ill minerals. We did not stop to laud, as the weather was very
favorable for pursuing our voyage, and the country presented no
variety. The shore stretched to the east, and fifty leagues beyond,
more to the north, wliere we found a more elevated country, full of
very thick woods of fir trees, cypresses, and the like, indicative of a
cold climate. The people were entirely diff'erent from the others
we had seen, whom we had found kind and gentle, but these were so
rude and barbarous that we were unable, by any signs we could
make, to hold communication with them. They clothe themselves
in the skins of bears, lynxes, seals, and other animals. Their food,
as far as we could judge by several visits to their dwellings, is ob-
tained by hunting and fishing, and certain fruits, which are a sort
of I'oot of spontaneous growth. They have no pulse, and we saw no
signs of cultivation. The land appears sterile and unfit for growing
of fruit or grain of any kind. If we wished at any time to traffic
with them, they came to the seashore and stood ujjon the rocks,
from which they lowered down by a cord, to our boats beneath,
whatever they had to barter, continually crying out to us no"t to
come nearer, and instantly demanding from us that which was to bB
given in exchange. They took from us only knives, fish-hooks, and
sharpened steel. No regard was paid to our courtesies ; when we
had nothing left to exchange with them, the men at our departure
made the most brutal signs of disdain and contempt possible.
Against their will we, with twenty-five men, penetrated two or three
leagues into the interior. When we came to the shore, they shot at
us with their arrows, raising the most horrible cries, and afterwards
fleeing to the woods. In this region we found nothing extraordi-
nary except vast forests, and some metalliferous hills, as we infer
from seeing that many of the people wore copper ear-rings.


"Departing from tlience, we kept along the coast, steering north-
east, and found the country more pleasant and open, free from
■woods ; and distant in the interior we saw lofty mountains,* but
none that extended to the shore. Within fifty leagues wc discov-
ered thirty-two islands, all near the main land, small and of pleas-
ant appearance ; but high and so disposed as to afford excellent
harbors and channels, as we see in the Adriatic Gulf, near lUyria
and Dalmatia. We had no intercourse with the people, but we
judged that they were similar in nature and usages to those we
were last among. AfLer sailing between east and north the distance
of one hundred and fifty leagues more, and finding our provisions
and naval stores nearly exliausted, we took in wood and water and
determined to return to France, having discovered seven hundred
leagues of unknown land.'.'f

Murray says, in regard to this last course : " Another course of
one hundred and thirty miles brought them to the land discovered
by the Bretons, in about 50° north latitude, and which is therefore
Newfoundland. Verazzani's stores being now exhausted, he took
in wood and water, and returned to France. Yerazzani had thus
completed a survey of seven hundred leagues of coast, including
the whole of that of the United States, and a great part of British
America, forming one of tlie most extended ranges of early dis-
coverj-. He returned to France in high hopes and spirits, and laid
before Francis the First plans not only for completing the discovery
of the American coast, but for penetrating into the interior of the
continent, and also for colonizing some part of this vast and fertile
region. That monarch seems to have welcomed the proposal with
his characteristic ardor, since Ramusio speaks of the immense
liberality with which he was disposed to favor it, and from which
the most important results were expected. Verazzani did indeed
set out on another voyage ; but its records are equally brief and
fatal. Ramusio gives neither date nor place, nor country; but
states that, having landed with some of his crew, he was seized by
the savages, killed and devoured in the presence of his companions
on board, who sought in vain to give any assistance. Such was
the fate of one of the most eminent navigators of that age, whom
Forster ranks as similar to Cook, both as to his exploits during
life, and the dreadful mode of his death."J

* Probably the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

t " Early Voyages to America, ' ' by Conway Robinson, member of the
Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society.

i "Historical Account of Travels and Discoveries in North America," by
Hon. Hugh Murray.


Verazzani states that his intention in this voyage [1523] was to
reach Cathay [China] on the extreme coast of. Asia; not doubting
that he could penetrate by some passage to the Eastern Ocean.

The fate of Verazzani is involved in some mystery. If Francis
the First received the letter of Verazzani in any short time after it
was written, it must have been at a time when his thoughts were
wholly occupied by his war with Charles the Fifth. Francis laid
siege to Fawia in 1524, was defeated there the 24th of February,

1525, and after having two horses killed under him, and receiving
himself three wounds,* fell, with his principal oflBcers, into the
hands of the enemy. It was on this occasion that he wrote to his
mother "all is lost except our honor." He was carried to Madrid
and kept in confinement until after the treaty of the 14th January,

1526. It has been suggested that Verazzani on his return to
France, seeing from the condition of his king no chance of further
employment by his government, left its service. Mr. Biddle states
that Verazzani got into communication with Henry the Eighth, and
refers, as a proof of this, to the following statement in an edition of
Hakluyt, published in 1582. "Master John Verarzanus, which had
been thrice on that coast, iu an old excellent map which he gave to
Henry the Eighth, and is yet in the custody of Master Lock, doth
60 lay it out as is to be seen in the map annexed to the end of this
book, being made according to Verarzanus' plat."f

* "L'Histoire de France," printed at Paris in 1773, vol. ii. p. 462.

f "An Account of Discoveries in the West until 1519, and of Voyages to and
along the Atlantic Coast of North America, from 1520 to 1573," by Conway





Narvaez was released by Cortes in the latter part of the year
1523. His estate in Cuba must have required his immediate atten-
tion ; so it must have been soon after settling his affairs in Cuba
that he sailed for Spain, where he obtained of the emperor full power
to conquer all the country from the River de las Palmas (now the
Santander) to the cape of Florida. For this purpose he set out from
the haven of San Luuar de Barrameda on the ITth of June, 1527,
with a fleet consisting of five vessels, wherein were about six hundred
men, besides friars and spiritual people. The principal offlcers were
Alvaro Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, treasurer and alguazil mayor,
Agozino, provost marshal, Alonzo Enriquez, auditor, Alonzo de
Solis, factor, and Pamfilo de Narvaez, adelantado.

The fleet stopped at the port of St. Domingo about forty-flve days
to procure necessaries, during which time more than a hundred and
forty men abandoned it. The rest proceeded to Santiago de Cuba,
where Narvaez obtained men in the place of those who had
deserted him, and also a supply of arms and horses. Here Vasco
Porcallo offering some provisions that he had at Trinidad, a town
one hundred leagues from Santiago, the fleet proceeded thither, but
stopped at a port called Santa Cruz, about halfway, whence Narvaez
sent Captain Pantoja, in one vessel, accompanied by Alvaro Nunez,
in anothei", to get the provisions at Trinidad, while he remained at
Santa Cruz, with the rest of the fleet, to which he had added. a vessel
purchased at St. Domingo.

While the two vessels were in the port of Trinidad, there arose so
tremendous a hurricane tliat the like had scarcely ever been wit-
nessed, even in these climes. The walls and houses continually
falling around them made it impossible to remain in the town with-
out the utmost peril. The inhabitants issued forth seven or eight
linked together, that they might avoid being carried away bj^ the
wind, and they sought refuge in the woods ; but here the trees
falling or torn up by the roots on every side caused equal alarm.


All night they seeraed to hear loud cries, with the sound of flutes,
drums, and trumpets, which doubtless were only the varied voices
of the tempest. In the morning there appeared such a scene of
desolation as they had never before witnessed. The trees lay
strewed on the ground, and everj' leaf and plant was destroyed.
On turning to the sea they beheld a spectacle still more sorrowful,
for, instead of the vessels, only some of their wrecks were seen
floating on the face of the deep. They searched along the coast for
any remains that might have been cast ashore, but found only a
small boat carried to the top of a tree, some clothes torn in pieces,
and the bodies of two men so mangled that they could not be recog-
nized. Seventy persons and twenty horses, that were on board at
the time of the hurricane, went down with the vessels, and of all the
equipage, only about thirty persons, who had gone ashore, survived.
These remained at Trinidad until tiie 5th of November, when Nar-
vaez arrived "with his four vessels. Here he passed the winler,
while Alvaro Nunez, with the vessels and company, went to winter
at Xagua, twelve leagues from Trinidad.

On the 20th of February, 1528, Narvaez arrived at Xagua with a
brigantine bought at Trinidad, and a pilot named Miruelo, whom
he had engaged because of his knowledge of the coast of Florida.
Two days afterwards the governor embarked with four hundred
men and eighty horses in five vessels, one of whicli was a brigantine.
After doubling Cape St. Anthony, the western extremity of the
island of Cuba, and after suffering considerably by tempests in
coasting along the island to Havana, the fleet ran across to the
coast of Florida. In this course they met with dangers not much
inferior to the former, being once in danger of perishing all together
by running on shoals, and at another time bj' a raging tempest.
On the 11th or 12tii of April the fleet anchored at the entrance of a
ba3^, on which was an Indian village. Tiie next day the governor
went to the Indian village, which he found abandoned. In it they
found a house so large that it could contain three hundred persons.
The day after, Narvaez planted the royal standard and took posses-
sion of the country in the name of the emperor. He landed as
many horses as remained alive, being forty-two. On the following
daj' the Indians visited him, and by signs seemed to indicate that
they wished him to leave the countr3\'

The governor afterwards, accompaniad by Alvaro and forty men,
set out to go into tlie interior. Going in a northerly direction they
reached a very large bay ; they passed the night there, and returned
to the vessels the next day. After sending the pilot Miruelo with
the brigantine to gain a particular port (which he said he knew), or


else go to Havana and bring thence a vessel loaded with provisions,
the governor, with the same persons who had been on the previous
expedition, reinforced with some additional soldiers, penetrated
again into the interior. They coasted the bay which tliey had
discovered, and, after making four leagues, took four Indians, who
conducted them to their town a little distance off, at the end of the
bay. Here there was some corn not yet ripe. There was also a
number of boxes, in each of which was a dead body wrapped in
deer-skins. The commissary, supposing these were objects of
idolatry, caused the boxes and bodies to be burnt [though it was
but a pious custom of these Indians thus to preserve the remains
of their relatives]. They also saw here some pieces of painted
cloth and plumes of feathers, but the sight of some gold greatly
excited the avidity of the Spaniards, who became most inquisitive
about it, how and where they got it. The Indians, bj' signs and
words, gave them to understand that, it came from a far-distant
province called Apalache, where they might find great quantities of
it. Taking the Indians for guides, they proceeded ten or twelve
leagues further, when they came to a village of fifteen houses, near
which were large fields of corn fit to be gathered. After halting
two days, they returned to the vessels on the 30th of April.

Miruelo had undertaken to guide the fleet into a secure and com-
modious harbor, instead of which he had brought it into a mere open
road, and now declared himself quite out of his reckoning, and at a
loss whither to steer ; however, the governor decided that the ves-
sels should follow the coast until they found the. port that Miruelo
knew, or any other convenient harbor, and that the troops should
proceed on land in the same direction. On the first of May the
Spaniards — three hundred strong, of whom forty were mounted, set
out. After marching fifteen days, without seeing an Indian or a
house, they at length arrived at a river which they crossed with much
trouble, the current being very strong. On the other side there
were about twelve hundred Indians, to whose houses, about half a
league off, they were conducted. In the neighborhood was a large
quantity of maize ready to be gathered. Tlie Spaniards, fatigued
with marching, and enfeebled by hunger, enjoyed hei-e three days
rest. Then Alvaro Nunez, with Captain Castillo and forty soldiers,
set out to seek a port, but finding themselves impeded by the river,
which they had already crossed, returned. The following day the
" governor ordered Captain Yalenguela with sixty men and six cava-
liers to cross the river and descend it to the sea, and discover a port
if he could. This officer returned, after two days, saying he had ex-
plored the baj' and found it had shallow water and no port.


In answer to the governor's inquiries respecting Apalache, the
Indians informed them that the Apalachens were their enemies, and
that they were ready to aid in whatever might be undertaken against
that people. Narvaez now resolved to push at once into the inte-
rior for Apalache. But Alvaro Nunez opposed this resolution,
urging that thej' should re-embark, and sail on till tliey should find
a secure harbor and a fertile country, from w^hieh, as a base, they
might penetrate into the interior. Only the secretary supported
this opinion; all the rest, dazzled with the hope of wealth, and im-
pressed with the dangers of the sea, cordially seconded the governor's
proposal. Alvaro Nunez still remaining obstinate, Narvaez sarcas-
tically remarked that, since he was so dreadfully alarmed at the idea
of marching into the interior of the country, he might take charge
of the ships, which he deemed a so much safer task. At this the
Castilian pride of Alvaro took fire. He declared that though he
did not expect that they would ever return, but that they would
leave their bones on this savage land, yet he was determined to
share every extremitj' with his countrymen I'ather than expose his
honor to the slightest imputation. The fleet was, therefore, com-
mitted to an officer of the name of Carvallo,* and all preparations
made for the expedition to the interior.

The Spaniards then marched for the province called by the
Indians Apalache, carrying for guides those whom they had taken.
On the I'rth of June they saw an Indian chief, accompanied by
many people, who was made to understand by signs that they were
going to Apalache. He seemed to be an enemy of this nation, and
willing to aid in the expedition. After an exchange of presents,
he left them, and they followed the route he had taken. In the
evening they arrived at a very deep, wide, and rapid river ; not
venturing to pass it upon rafts, they constructed a large canoe for
that_ purpose. A day was spent in crossing. A bold horseman
entering the river was thrown from his horse by the force of the
current and both were drowned. The horse, being found by the
Indians, afforded the Spaniards that night the onl^' hearty meal
they had enjoyed for many days. After a long and fatiguing
march, during which they suffered much from hunger, they at length
arrived near Apalache, on the 25th or 26th of June, 1528.

* Five leagues from the place of embarkation Carvallo perceived a bay
which entered the land seven or eight leagues : it was the same that had been
discovered by those on land ; the place where they saw the boxes with dead
bodies. Three of the ships entered this port. The vessel which returned from
Havana with the brigantine was for a year seeking those on land, and not find-
ing them sailed for New Spain.


The village of Apalacbe contained forty small houses. Narvaez
ordered Alvaro Nunez, with fifty infantry and nine cavalry, to
enter and take possession of it. This he easily did, as all the men
were absent and only women and children in the place. The war-
riors, however, soon appeared, and attacking the Spaniards, dis-
charged a shower of arrows, one of which killed a horse, but not
being able to resist the Spaniards they retreated into the woods.
Two days after they appeared in a pacific mood, and begged the
Spaniards to restore them their wives and children. These were
given up to them ; but the governor retained as a hostage one of
their caciques, who had been the cause of the hostility. It soon
was found that their enmity was in no degree abated; for the next
day thej' attacked so furiously the Spaniards, that they succeeded
in firing some of the houses ; and though again quickly repulsed,
fled with sucli celerity into the woods and marshes, that only one
could be killed. The next day an equally brisk attack was made
with similar result. The Spaniards were greatl3' annoyed, but re-
tained possession of the village twenty-five days, during which they
made three journeys into the interior.

The Spaniards being now convinced that the brilliant wealth
which had allured them into this laborious and perilous expedition
was a mere chimera, they began to feel themselves in an evil pligiit,
for though the Indians could not face them in the field, they
hemmed them closely in, and every man or horse that happened to
straggle from the main body, was overwhelmed with a shower of
arrows. At length they learned that to the south was the country
of Ante, wliich was situated on the sea-coast [on the Bay of St.
Mark] and abounded in corn. They therefore renounced all their
chimeras of gold and conquest, and determined to set out in search
of the coast of Ante.

They commenced their march, and the first day crossed some
lakes without meeting with any Indians. On the second day, while
they were struggling through a swamp, with the water up to their
breasts, the air was suddenly obscured by clouds of arrows, dis-
charged by Indians concealed behind trees and logs, with which the
marsh was filled. With bows eleven or twelve spans long, and thick'
as a man's arms, they discharged arrows to the distance of two
hundred yards with almost unerring precision, and with such force
that they penetrated the thickest armor, and severely wounded both
man and horse.(2) In the fight an arrow struck a Spaniard in the
head, and, notwithstanding his head-piece, made its way almost from
one side to the other. The Indians, when seen, being tall and naked,
and moving with great swiftness, had, in the eyes of the Spaniards,


almost the appearance of supernatural beings. No movement of
attack conld be made until the Spaniards were extricated from tiie
lagoon, and then the ground was so encumbered that the cavalry
could not act, and the Indians, even when dispersed, soon rallied
and renewed the attack. Thus the Spaniards were allowed no rest
till after the Indians' stock of arrows was exhausted. The expedi-
tion then proceeded without further molestation, and finally arrived
at the village of Aute, nine days after their departure from Apa-

The inhabitants of Aute had abandoned the place, but a good
store of corn was found in it. After the Spaniards had rested here
two days, Alvaro Nunez, accompanied by captain Castillo, Andrez
Dorantes, seven cavaliers, and fifty foot soldiers, set out to seek the
sea. They marched till evening, when they came to the banks of a
river, which opened at some distance below into a broad arm of the
sea. They found here a great quantity of oj'sters, with whicii they
regaled themselves. The next day the coast was reconnoitred, and
then the party returned to Aute, where they found the governor
and a third of his men sick, and the rest likely to become so. The
situation was such as to call for the most serious reflection. A
general meeting was called, and every one was asked what he had
to propose. After long deliberation there appeared only one resource
which offered a gleam of hope, and this was to construct boats and
sail along the coast to Panuco. Thej' therefore applied themselves
to the task. One of them out of wooden pipes, and the skins of
wild beasts, contrived to make a pair of bellows, by the operation
of which their stirrups, spurs, and crossbows were converted into
nails, saws, and hatchets. Their shirts cut open and sewed together
made sails, the pine trees afforded tar, the moss of the cypresses served
as oakum, the fibres of certain trees and horse hair formed their
cords. But they were much perplexed for vessels to carry their
fresh water, to supply which defect they flayed their dead horses, and
sewed their skins together into convenient forms, and so used them
for better things, for that purpose. A horse was killed every three
days, and its flesh distributed partly to the working hands, partly
as a dainty to the sick. The construction was commenced with a
single carpenter, but the men set to work with so much ardor that
between the 4th of August and tiie 20th of September they made
five vessels of twenty-two cubits in length.

* Notwitlistanding the distance or time given, there is every appearance that
Apalaohe visited by Narvaez is the same that was visited hyDeSoto, and a
reference to the account of the expedition of the latter will show this very


Accoi'ding to their calculation thej' had made a journey of about
two liundred -and eiglity leagues* from the bay where they first
lauded to Aute. And ia this time about forty men had died of
sickness or liunger, without counting those that had been killed by
the Indians. On the 22d of September, 1528, having prepai'ed for
the voyage, they embarked forty-nine- men in the bark of the
. governor; the contador and the commissary witli alike number in
another; Captains Alonzo de Castillo and Andrez Dorante^ and
forty-eight men ia the tliird ; Captains Telles and Penalosa with
forty-seven men i« the fourth; and Alvai'o Nunez in the last with
the comptroller and forty-nine men. Thus two hundred and fifty
men embarked in these five boats ; but they were so crowded that
they could not turn nor move in them. Not more than a fourth
part of eacli boat was above the water. In this plight they put out,
giving to the bay they left the name Baya de ios Cavallos [the Bay
of Horses], probably from having slaughtered tlieir horses there.

Online LibraryBarnard ShippThe history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 → online text (page 11 of 75)