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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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 29 of 75)
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posture to pierce him with a thrust of his lance. The Indian, quite
astonished, made known that he would re-conduct the Spaniards into
the road. He kept his word, but they were obliged to retrace their



Ortis, going from Muco§o to Harriga, entered into the road which
Gallego had taken, and discovered by the tracks of the Spaniards,
that their guide had misled them through malice. Therefore, to
prevent the alarm which they would give to the town, if they should
arrive there before having spoken to him, he resolved to follow them
with his company. And after having marched some time he dis-
covered Gallego and his companions in a great plain, bordered on
one side by a thick forest. The opinion of the Indians was to im-
mediately gain the woods, because they ran the risk of being badly
treated by the Christians if the}' were not recognized b}' them as


friends before they reached them. Ortis, without heeding this advice,
imagined it was enough to be a Spaniard, and that tiiose of his nation
would not mistake him. However, as he was dressed as an Indian,
with a cap covered with plumes, short drawers, a bow and arrow in
his hand, the affair did not turn out as he had calculated ; for as
soon as the Spaniards saw him accompanied by his men, they in-
creased their steps, quitted their ranks, and, without obeying Gal-
lego, who recalled them, charged upon the barbarians whom Ortis
led, and drove them with thrusts of their lances into the woods.
However, as the Indians did not stand their ground, there was but
one of them wounded by the thrust of a lance in his groin. Tiiis
barbarian, who acted so boldljr, had remained behind w'th Ortis,
whom Nieto pursued vigorously with the thrusts of his lance, which
Ortis parried at first with his bow. But as Nieto, who was ardent
and robust, renewed the attack, Oitis, fearing to succumb, began
to cry Xibilla for Sevilla. He made at the same time with his
bow the sign of the cross, in order that they sliould know that he
was a Christian, because he could not say it in Spanish. He had,
to such a degree, lost the custom of speaking his language, since he
was among the Indians, that he had so forgotten it that lie could
not even pronounce Sevilla, the proper name of the place where he
was born. The same thing has happened to me, for not having found
in Spain any one with whom I could converse in my native tongue,
which is that of Peru, I have lost to such a degree the habit of
speaking it, that, to make myself understood, I cannot speak six or
seven words in succession. 1 had, notwithstanding, formerly known
how to express m^'self in Indian, witii so much grace, that, except
the incas who spoke the best, no others could express themselves
more elegantly than I.

To return to Ortis : when Nieto heard him pronounce "Xibilla,"*
he asked him who he was, and as soon as he replied, Ortis, he took
him by the arm, lifted him upon the croup of his horse, and joyfully
led him to Oallego, who quickly caused to be reassembled his peo-
ple, who had given chase to the Indians. Ortis himself entered into
tiie woods, called his companions, crying with all his strength, that
they could return with all safety. But some frightened fled as far
as the town of MUC090, where they gave information of all that had
happened, and others who were not so much frightened, and had not
wandered so far, came, one after another, out of the woods at the
call of Ortis. They all cursed his bad conduct, so that, but for the
presence of our people, they would have abused him. But to satisfy
themselves in some manner, they flew into a passion at their inju-
ries, which Ortis explained as well as he could to the Spaniards,


who also blamed him, and gave orders that they should take care of
the wounded Indian. In the mean lime he dispatched a man to tlie
cacique Mucogo to extricate him from the trouble inlo which the
fugitives had placed him, and then they all took the route to the



The night was already far advanced when Gallego arrived at the
camp. The general, surprised at so quick a return, imagined gome
great misfortune, but he was immediately reassured at the sight of
Ortis, whom he kindlj' received, and to whom he gave a skirt of
black velvet, of which Ortis could not make use, because he was ac-
customed to go naked. He wore only a shirt, linen drawers, a cap,
and shoes; and remained in tliis condition more than twenty days,
until, by degrees, he recovered the habit of clothing himself. Soto
also gave a favorable reception to the Indians ; and afterward he dis-
patched a person to the cacique to thank him for having sent Ortis
to him. He ordered him to say to him that he felt obliged for the
offer which he had made him, of liis desire to place himself under the
protection of the Spaniards ; and that he accepted it witli joy, in the
name of his master, Charles the Fifth, the first of Christiain princes.

In the mean time tlie Spaniards came to see Ortis, embraced him,
congratulated him upon his arrival, and passed the night in rejoic-
ing. Afterward the general called liim, to learn the peculiarities of
Florida, and the life he had led under the caciques. Ortis told liim
that Harriga had cruelly tortured liim. He showed him the marks
of it, and it was seen that worms had come from tlie wounds which
the fire had made. But that Muco§o had treated himcivillj'. That,
nevertheless, he had not dared to go out of the way, for fear of
being killed by the subjects of Harriga ; so that he had scarcely
any knowledge of the country, and that he knew only that the fur-
ther they advanced into the country, the more fertile it was.

Whilst Ortis was entertaining the general, notice was given that
Mucogo, attended by many Indians, was approaching the camp. In
fact, he was seen almost as soon as he was announced, and they
conducted him to the general, whom lie saluted with respect, as
well as all the officers of the army, according to the rank wliich
each one held, as Ortis made known to him. He returned after-
ward to pay his court to the general, who received him with much
friendship, on account of the kindness which he had had for Ortis.


But MUC090 showed that they were not under obligations to him
for what he had done, because, in his quality of cacique, it was his
duty; that they were to consider it only in that light; and also
that he had sent Ortis only to prevent the troops from laying
waste his lands ; that thus his services were of little importance.
That, however, he rejoiced that his conduct was favorably con-
strued by the general, for whom he had a very special esteem.
That he besought him, by that zeal and magnanimity which is
so natural to the Spaniards, to take him under his protection.
That henceforth he would recognize Charles the Fifth and Her-
nando de Soto as his legitimate lords; that, being their vassal,
he was recompensed beyond his merit, and that for the future he
would serve them witli all his power. Porcallo and the other cap-
tains, surprised at the good sense of tlie cacique, paid him much
honor, and even made presents to him and all his suite.



Two days after the arrival of Mucogo, his mother, who was ab-
sent when he left his home, and who would never have consented
that he should deliver himself into the power of the Spaniards,
visited Soto. She had sadness depicted on her countenance, and
appeared so much agitated by the uneasiness which she had for her
son, that, approaching the general, she besought him to restore to
her MHC050, for fear lest he should be treated as Harriga. That if
he was resolved to go to this extremity, she was ready to die for
her son. The general received her civilly, and replied to her, that,
very far from doing anything unpleasant to Muco§o, he merited
every act of kindness ; that he even wished that they should pay
his mother great respect, on account of so generous a son ; that
for this reason slie should fear nothing and expect everything from
the generosity of the Spaniards. These words reassured a little
the kind mother, and induced her to remain in the camp. But
she had so much distrust, tiiat, eating at the table of the general,
she was afraid lest they should poison her ; so that she would not
taste anything until Ortis had, first of all, tasted it, and assured
her that there was no danger ; which led one of the gentlemen of
the suite to say that he was astonished that she had offered her life
for her son, since she dreaded so much to lose it. This lady, to
whom they explained that, replied that it was true that she dearly
loved her life, but that she loved still more her son ; and that there


was nothing -which she would not give to preserve him ; that in
consideration of this, she besought the general to restore to her the
object of all her affections ; that she desired earnestly' to take him
with her ; that in 6ne word she could not overcome her distrust of
the promises of the Christians.

The general replied to her, that she was at liberty to go ; but as
for her son, he would find some pleasure in remaining among the
Spaniards, of whom the greater part were of his age ; that when he
should wish to return, no one should oppose it; that finally, he
declared that her son would have rather whereof to be pleased than
to complain.

The mother of the cacique left the camp upon this promise ; but
first of all she begged Ortis to remember that her son had obliged
him, and to do the same for him in the danger in which she was leaving
him. The general and all his suite laughed at this distrust ; which
Mucogo turned with so much wit that he contributed to the diver-
sion of the Spaniards ; and to show that he confided in them, he
remained eight more days to converse with Soto and his oflScers.
Sometimes he inquired about the emperor, sometimes about the
ladies, and sometimes about the customs, and the grandees of Spain.
After this he took a suitable pretext for returning, and politely left
the Spaniards. But he returned to see them many times afterward,
and made divers presents to them all.

Mucogo was, at that time, between twenty-six and twenty-seven
years of age ; he had a handsome countenance, a fine form, and an
inexpressible air of grandeur in all his actions, which gained the
love and esteem of those who approached him.



During these affairs, the general ordered everything: for after
they had landed their provisions and munitions at Harriga, the
town nearest to the bay of Espiritu Santo, he sent the largest of his
vessels to Havana, and authorized his wife to dispose of them. He
kept the others to make use of them in time of need, and gave the
command of tliem to Pedro Calderon, a vigilant and experienced
captain. He then tried to win over the cacique, Harriga, in hopes
that he would have no trouble to i)ropitiate the other chiefs of
the country, who had not received any oflfenee from the Spaniards;
that, moreover, it would acquire credit for him among the Indians,


and increase his reputation among those of his own nation. Where-
fore, when he had made some prisoners, he sent them to Harriga with
presents. He sent him word that he ardently wished his good-will,
and that he would give him satisfaction for the outrages that had
been done him. But the cacique only replied that the injuries he
had received would not permit him to listen to any proposition on
the part of the Spaniards. However, the conduct of Soto did not
fail to produce very good effects ; for as the servants of the army
went every day for forage, escorted by thirty or forty soldiers, it
happened, that not being upon their guard, the Indians charged
upon them with loud cries, and put them in disorder, captured a
Spaniard, named Graiales, and retired. In tlie mean time, our
people rallied and dispatched to tlie general, who immediately sent
the cavalr\- after tlie enemy; whom thej' surprised, at the distance
of two leagues, in a place surrounded with reeds. Then, while these
barbarians thought only of rejoicing with their wives and children,
our soldiers entered with fury into this place, frightened them, put
them to flight, and took women and children prisoners. Graiales,
who in the confusion, heard the voices of those of his nation, ran
and placed himself under their protection. He was not immediately
recognized by them, because he was already dressed as an Indian,
but very soon after they recognized him, and returned very joyfully
to the camp with their prisoners. That pleased Soto exceeding! j"^,
who wished to know the details of their encounter. Therefore,
Graiales told him that the Indians had had no design of injuring
the Spaniards, and had drawn their arrows only to frigliten them ;
tliat as they had taken them in disorder it had been easy for them
to have slain a part of tliem ; but that they were contented to make
one prisoner; that, very far from having offered him any injury,
they had treated him civilly; and that, reassuring him by degrees,
they courteously pressed him to eat. The general immediately sent
for his prisoners; and, after having thanked them for the manner
in which they had acted, he sent them back. He also declared to
them that tiiey had nothing to fear from the Spaniards; and he
prayed them that it might be the same on their part in regard to
his people; and that ttiey might live in a good understanding with
each other; that he had not entered their country to draw upon
himself their hate, but their friendship. The general accompanied
these words with some presents, and they returned home well

Some time after that, these same Indians captured two Spaniards;
to whom they left so much liberty that they were enabled to escape.
These people were, without doubt, thus softened, only because of


the courtesies of Soto to their cacique ; and, therefore, there is
nothing which makes a greater impression upon men than the favors
which are politely done them. .



After Soto had been about three weeks in making his prepara-
tions to advance, he commanded Gallego to go with sixt^' lancers
and as many fusileers, into the province of Urribaracuxi. Gallego
left immediately and went to Mucogo, where he was received with
joy by the cacique, who lodged the Spaniards one niglit, and fed
them sumptuously. But the next day when they were ready to
march they asked a guide of him, and Mucogo said to them that
they were too civil a people to take advantage of his friendship in
order to oblige him to do a thing against his honor. That, Urriba-
racuxi being his cousin, he would be blamed by everybody were he
to give them anyone to lead them over his lands ; that, even if this
cacique were not his relation, he ought not to serve them in this
respect, because he would pass for a traitor to his country' ; that
he would rather die than commit a crime so unbecoming a person
of his condition. Ortis, who conducted the Spaniards, replied to
him by the order of Gallego, that they did not wish to abuse his
friendship ; that they requested of him only an' Indian in whom
Urribaracuxi had faith, in order to send to inform him that he should
not dread their coming ; that, even if he would have neither peace
nor alliance, they were ordered not to ravage his province, on ac-
count of the generous Mucogo, of whom the}' were the friends
and relations, and that for the love of him they had not committed
any devastation in the country of the cacique Harriga, their avowed
enem}'. Mucogo replied that he was very much obliged to the
Spaniards, and that, understanding their design, he would give them
a guide such as the}' wished. They then left Mucogo, greatl}' satis-
fled with the cacique, and in four da}'S arrived at the country of
Urribaracuxi, distant about seventeen leagues from the town of
Mucogo. As Urribaracuxi and his subjects had fled away into the
woods, tlie Spaniards dispatched to him their guide, who ofl'ered to
liim their alliance, but after having politely listened to him, he sent
him back without having concluded anything.

During the journey, which is twenty-five leagues from Harriga
to Urribaracuxi, they met with many grape-vines, pine, mulberry,


and other trees like to those in Spain. They also passed through
certain countries where there were marshes, hills and woods, and
very pleasant jalains, of which Gallego made an account, which lie
sent to the general, and informed him that the army could subsist
two or three days about Urribaracuxi. While they go to Soto it is
well to tell what is passing at the camp.



Upon the news that Harriga was in the woods near the camp,
Porcallo resolved, notwithstanding the entreaties of the general, to
go and take this cacique. He therefore left, with cavalry and in-
fantry, in the hope of bringing him back a prisoner, or obliging
him to sue for peace. Harriga, informed of this enterprise, sent
many times to Porcallo to tell him not to go any farther, because
the marshes and other difficulties of the route, which it would be
necessary for him to overcome in order to reach him, would protect
him ; that he gave him this counsel, not through fear, but in ac-
knowledgment of the pleasure they had given him in not ravaging
his lands and maltreating his subjects. Porcallo laughed at this
advice, and believed that the cacique was afraid of him, and that he
could not escape him. Wherefore, he doubled his speed, encour-
aged his soldiers,. and arrived at a marshy place, where, upon the
objections which each one made to entering it, he spurred on, and
by advancing obliged riiany of his men to follow him. But he did
not go very far before his horse fell, so that he found himself encum-
bered beneath him, with his arras, and because they could not goto
him on account of the marsh being too deep, it was only by extra-
ordinary good luck that he did not perish. Thus, when he saw that
he was conquered without a combat, and even without the hope of
taking the cacique, he returned to the quarters in a violent passion,
making reflections upon the pleasures which he enjoyed at Trinidad,
and upon the hardships which the Spaniards were going to suflTer
who were yet but at the commencement of their conquest. Besides,
as he considered that he had acquired enough glory, and that at the
age at which he had arrived he ought not to expose himself so rashly,
he believed that it would be no discredit for him to quit the army,
and leave the honor of the enterprise to young men, who had need
of acquiring a reputation in arms. His misfortune really occupied
him so much that he talked of it to himself, and sometimes with those


who accompanied him. He even pronounced aloud, syllable by syl-
lable, the names of Harriga and Urribaracuxi. He also, sometimes,
transposed the letters. He said Huri, Harri, Siga, Sirij Barracoxa,
Huri, and added that he would give the land to the devil, where the
first words they heard were frightful, that nothing good ought to
be expected from those who bore them ; that each one might work
for his own individual interest, but that in respect to himself for-
tune did not concern him. Porcallo, agitated in this manner, ar-
rived at the camp, where, after having demanded his return to
Trinidad, they gave him a vessel, but before embarking he distrib-
uted his equipage to some soldiers whom he liked. He left to the
troops the provisions and munitions which lie had, and desired that
Saurez de Pigueroa, his natural son, whom he equipped very well,
should accompany Soto in his expedition. Figueroa obeyed with
joy the orders of his father, and let no occasion of distinguishing
liis courage escape, but he liad the misfortune to have his horse
killed and himself wounded by the Indians, and afterwards he
marched on foot and would not receive anything from the general
or any of his captains. This manner of acting displeased Soto,
who urged him, many times, to take from him wherewith to equip
himself. But Figueroa bore it very indignantly, and tliey could
never prevail upon him.



PoBCALLO, in quitting the ai"my, gave marks of imprudence, as
he had given them of ambition, when, to follow the general, he
abandoned his home and his repose. It is thus that in aflfairs of
importance the resolutions that are not prudently taken, disgrace
those who execute them. If Porcallo had maturely con.sidered be-
fore committing himself, he would not liave lost a part of his
wealth and his reputation. But often persons of wealth imagine
that they excel others not less in the qualities of the intellect than
in the advantages of fortune; and convinced of this error, they
take counsel of no one.

.Porcallo had hardly left when the report of Gallego arrived. It
rejoiced the camp, because it gave hopes of the conquest of Florida.
It noticed, among other things, that three leagues beyond Urri-
baracuxi there was a very dangerous marsh. But tliat only served
to encourage the Spaniards, who said that God had given to men


courage and industry as their share to overcome the obstacles which
they should encounter in their designs. Therefore, upon this news,
the general published that they should hold themselves ready to leave
in three days, and sent thirty cavaliers, under the command of
Silvestre, to inform Gallego that he was about to follow him.
However, he left a garrison of forty lancers and eighty fusileers in
the town of Harriga, where, aft-er having established Calderon to
guard the vessels and munitions, he commanded him to keep peace
with his neighbors, cultivate the friendship of Mucogo, and not to
leave the place without his order. The general then left Harriga
with the rest of his troops, and took the route to Mucogo ; and on
the morning of the third day of his march he discovered the town.
The cacique, informed of Ms coming, went out to meet him, received
him with joy, and offered him his house. But for fear of incom-
moding him, the general assured him that he was obliged to pass
on ; and after having recommended to him the garrison at Harriga,
he thanked him for all the favors he had done the Spaniards.
MUC090, kissing his hands with respect, said to him with tears in
his eyes, that he could not express which was the most aflfecting to
him, the satisfaction of having known him, or the pain of seeing
liim depart without being able to follow him. He also begged him to
remember him, and to give his compliments to the principal officers
of the army. On leaving there, the general continued his march as
far as TJrribaracuxi, without having met with anything worthy of
notice ; and he marched always to the northeast. Nevertheless, I
am obliged to say that his route is not so precisely known, but
that some day it may be found that I have failed to trace it right.
It is not because I have not tried to learn the distances of the
country, but I have not been able to get as exact a knowledge of
them as I would wish ; for the Spaniards did not think so much of
learning the situation of places, as of hunting for gold and silver
in Florida.



The general arrived at TJrribaracuxi, where Gallego awaited him,
learned that the cacique was in the woods, and immediatelj' sent
for him to solicit him to make peace with the Spaniards. But as
the barbarian would listen to nothing, Soto sent to examine a great
wide marsh wliich was upon his route. He knew that the bottom


at the borders of it was not good, and that it had such a quantity
of water in the middle that it could not be passed on foot. How-
ever, they searched so well, that at the end of eight days they found
a passage ; where, the general having repaired with the army, he
easily extricated himself from it ; but, because the defile was long,
he spent a day in passing it, and camped at half a league beyond
it, in a great plain. The day following he sent scouts to discover
the road, and they reported that he could not advance, because of
the waters which inundated the country. Upon this news, after
having taken a hundred cavaliers and as many foot soldiers, and
left the rest of the troops under the command of Moscoso, his

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 29 of 75)