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 40 of 75)
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cacique and the countrJ^ To go there, he descended along the many
streams which pass by Guachoula, and wiiich unite at some dis-
tance from there and make a river so powerful, that, in the province
of Iciaha, distant about thirty leagues from the other, it is larger
than the Guadalquivir, which passes bj^ Seville.

The capital of Iciaha is at the point of an island of more than
five leagues. The cacique, on the arrival of the general, left this
village, and received him with every appearance of great joy. The


Indians "who accompanied him did the same thing in regai'd to the
other Spaniards, and they ferried them over In boats and upon rafts,
which they held read\' to render them tliis service. Afterwards
they lodged them in their houses, and regaled them the best they
could, and tried by every means to show to them their good-will.
The general inquired, according to his custom, what in particular
was found in that country ; and the cacique told him that at thirty
leagues from the capital, there were mines of the yellow metal of
which he inquired, and that, if he wished to send people there, he
would have them safely conducted there and back. Villabos and
Silvera offered to make the journey. Soto consented to it, and they
■ left immediately, on foot, with Indian guides.*




The next day the cacique visited the general, and gave him a
string of pearls of about two fathoms. This present had, without
doubt, passed for beautiful, if the pearls had not been pierced ; for
they were all alike, and large as Alberts. Soto, in acknowledgment
of this favor, gave him some pieces of velvet and cloth which were
particularly esteemed by the Indians ; of whom he inquired where
they fished for pearls. He replied that it was in his province ;
that in the temple of the town of Iciaha, where his ancestors were
buried, there was a great quantity of them, and that they might
help themselves at their discretion. The general replied tiiat he was
obliged to him, but that he would not carrj' away anything from the
temple, and that he had received his present only in order not to
displease him ; that his design was only to know in what manner
they extracted the pearls from the shells. The cacique replied that
he would have, them fished for all the night ; and that the next
morning at eight o'clock he should have the satisfaction he wished.
He, therefore, immediately commanded them to send four boats to
fish for pearls, with orders to return in the morning: In the mean
time he took care that they should burn a great deal of wood upon
the shore, in order to make there a great bed of live coals, that at

* Dalilonega, or Taloiiioa, as it was originally named by the Indians, is in
Lumpkin County, in the heart of the gold region of Georgia, not far from the
northern boundary of that State. It is probable that the Indians procured
their gold from this region. They " ascended to the sources of a great river"
(Co9a or Chattahooche).


the return of the boats they might put thereupon, the shells, which
would open with the heat. They found, at the opening of the first
shells, ten or twelve pearls of the size of a pea, which they took to
the cacique, and to the general, who was present, and who found
them very beautiful, except that the fire had deprived them of a
part of their lustre.

When the general had seen what he wisbed, he returned to dine;
and immediatel3' after, a soldier entered, who instantly said to
bim that, in eating oysters which the Indians bad caught, his teeth
bad encountered a very beautiful pearl of a very lively color, and
that he begged bim to receive it to send to the governess of Cuba.
Soto politely refused this pearl, and assured the soldier that he was
as obliged to him as if he bad accepted it; and that some day he
would try to acknowledge his kindness, and the honor which he did
his wife ; and that, nevertheless, be was of the opinion, that he pre-
serve bis present to purchase with it horses at Havana. The Span-
iards, who were then with the general, inspected the pearl of this
soldier ; and some of them, who prided themselves upon their knowl-
edge of jewelry, valued it at four hundred ducats ; and as they had
not made use of fire to extract it, it had not lost any of its lustre.(i9)

While the Spaniards sojourned in the capital of Iciaha, a cavalier,
whom they called Louis de Bravo, taking a walk upon the bank near
the river, witb a lance in bis hand, saw a dog passing, and threw
bis lance at bim witb the intention of killing him to eat, for the
want of better meat. But be missed him, and the spear struck the
temple of Juan Mateos, who was fishing with a line, and killed him.
Bravo, who bad not seen bim, and who did not suspect the misfor-
tune, ran to get bis lance, and found that he had pierced tbe bead
of Mateos — the only person of tbe troops who was gray-beaded ;
wherefore they called him their father, and as they had much re-
spect for him, his death sensiblj' affected them.

While these things were passing, those who had gone to explore,
returned at tbe end of ten days, and reported that the mines were
of a very highly colored copper ; that, likely, if they had searched
with care, they might have met witb gold and silver ; that, besides,
the land through which they passed was good for grazing and for
tillage ; that, through the towns which they had passed, they bad
welcomed them ; that even, every night, after having regaled them,,
they sent them two very pretty young girls to sleep with -,(20) that,
nevertheless, they had not touched them, for fear that if tbey bad
taken any liberties with them, the barbarians the next day might
have avenged themselves for it by shooting them witb arrows. But
the Indians, perhaps, made use of them in this manner, with the


idea of better diverting their guests, wliom they saw young and
vigorous ; for if they had wished to Itill them, they could easily have
done so without seeking anjr pretext.




After the return of Silveraand Villabos, the general commanded
that they should hold themselves ready to leave, and they left
. the following day, with the friendship of the Indians of the country.
The troops marched along the island, and at five leagues from
Icialia (where the river of this country unites with that of the
country into which they were entering),* they came to the capital of
Acosta, which bears the name of the province. The cacique received
them at first in a manner very different from that of his neighbor ;
for when they entered Acosta there were more than fifteen hundred
men under arms, all resolute and determined to fight, who did not
disarm during the whole daj^, and who treated the Spaniards with
so much pride and insolence that many times they were ready to
come to blows with them. But the general prevented it, to preserve
the peace they had kept ever since they had left Apalache. They
obeyed ; but they were all night under arms, as well as the savages,
who, the next day, acted with less defiance and more civilitjr. And
the cacique, accompanied by the leading men of the country, came
obliginglj'^ to offer corn ; and our people believed that he was calmed
by the recommendation of the cacique of Iciaha, wlio had sent to
plead in their favor. The general accepted the provisions and paid
for them. The troops immediately^ decamped, and passed the river
in boats and on rafts, delighted that the affair had terminated with-
out battle. From there they entered into the province of Co§a,
the inhabitants of which came to meet them, and received them with
affection. They also furnislied them with provisions, and with
guides to conduct them from one town to another.

Coga is a province of a hundred leagues through. The land is
good and the country is well peopled, for within a single day, with-
out counting the villages on each side of the route, the Spaniards
passed through ten or twelve small villages, the inhabitants of which
gave them provisions, and also those of one place conducted them
to another and introduced them. They accompanied them in this

* The junction of the Etowah and the Oostenaiila, which make the Co9a.

374 HISTORY or Florida.

manner during their march, which was from four to five leagues
per day ; so that, according to the occasion, our people encamped
sometimes in the villages and sometimes in the fields.

While they were marching, the cacique, who held his court at the
other extremity of the province, dispatched each day to congratu-
late the general upon his coming, and to request him to advance
wholly at his leisure; that he was awaiting him at the capital,
where he and all his troops would be well received. The Spaniards,
after twenty-three or twenty-four days of travel, safely arrived at
this town which was called Coga, from the name of tlie chief and
the country. The cacique, on the tidings that they were approach-
ing, advanced a league to meet tiiem, followed by more than a'
thousand men, well formed and gayly dressed with habiliments
of skins, many of which were marten skins which were fragrant.
They mai'ched in order, each rank twenty abreast, witli great plumes
of divers colors upon their heads, which was pleasant to see.

Thus did the subjects of Coga receive the Spaniards and evince
to them the esteem which tliey had for them. Afterwards, they all
came to the capital, and they lodged Soto in one of the houses of
the cacique, made as those of the other chiefs of Florida. The town
of Co§a is upon the borders of a river, and consists of five liundred
houses, of which the chief had one-half vacated to lodge the troops
commodiously. They sojourned about two days in this place, where
tliey received from Coga and his vassals, every mark of sincere




One day, after Coga had dined with Soto, and had been convers-
ing of the conquest of the country and of the manners of the people,
he arose and made his obeisance to him, turning slightly toward the
officers who were present. Then he said to liim, that in considera-
tion of the kindness which the Spaniards had manifested for him,
he begged that, if he sought to establish himself in the country,
lie would prefer the province of Coga to the others. That he had
seen of this province, only the places the least fertile ; but that if it
pleased Jiim to send to examine the whole of it he would find that
its land was very good and the abode very agreeable ; tliat he might
choose the best and most beautiful part ; that he would populate it,
have villages built, and a town where he might hold his court ; that


at least, if he refused this favor, he besought him, since winter was
approaching, to pass it witli him ; that during this time, he might,
at his leisure, inquire into everything and be served with much
affection. The general thanked the cacique for so much friendship,
and replied that he could not settle in the country until he had first
secured some port where he could land the ships of Spain with the
things necessary for a settlement. That when he should see the
time favorable for a settlement, he would heartily accept of his offer,
and that he should not forget it. That nevertheless, he begged him
to always preserve, for him, this good intention, and that very soon
he would return into his province when he would comply with it in
every respect. The cacique, rejoiced at this reply, said to Soto that
he took his words for the pledge of his promise, and that he should
remember them until he should have accomplished it. Coga was then
twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, handsome, intellectual, gen-
tle, wise, so polite that one might have believed him raised among pol-
ished and intelligent people. The Spaniards refreshed themselves
ten or twelve days in the capital of his province, and continued their
journey toward the sea, for as soon as they left Chovala they struck
straight for the coast and turned in the form of a curve, to arrive
at the port of Achussi. The general had thus decided with Maldo-
nado, who was to bring soldiers, cattle, and provisions there.

The cacique accompanied Soto as far as the frontier of tlie prov-
ince, and was followed by many of his soldiers, subjects, and Indiaa
porters. At the end of five days, they arrived in good order at the
town of Talisse, which is the key of the country. This town was
palisaded, invested with very good terraces, and almost surrounded
by a river.(2i) It did not heartily acknowledge the cacique,
because of a neighboring chief, who endeavored to make the people
revolt against him. However, Co9a was not at war with this lord,
but Tuscaluca, it was thus tliat the neighboring chief was called,
was artful, bold, and enterprising, and took pleasure in making mis-
chief. Coga, who, for a long time, knew the design of Tuscaluca,
was very glad to accompany the general as far as Talisse ; not more
to serve him than to intimidate the inhabitants and make them re-
turn to their duty by means of the Spaniards.

Whilst the troops were leaving the town of Co§a, a Christian who
was not a Spaniard, concealed himself in this place that he might
not follow the others, but as he was not of importance, they did not
miss him except at Talisse, where they endeavored to make him
come, but in vain. He sent word to the general that he *ould re-
main with the Indians, and that his captain having quarrelled with
him, he therefore wished never to see him or the Spaniards. There-


upon the general asked the cacique to deliver this deserter to him.
But Coga pleasantlj' replied, that since they all had not wished to
settle npon his lands, it was just that there should remain at least
some one of them, and that he would take very particular care of
him ; that therefore he begged him to pardon him, if lie did not com-
pel his soldier to rejoin the troops. Soto, who then reflected that
he would obtain nothing from the cacique, did not urge him further.
I have forgotten to say that a negro, a very good Christian and a
very good slave, remained sick at Co§a. and that he was recom-
mended to the cacique, who promised to take care of him. These
particulars are of little consequence, but I report them in order
that if some day, they make the conquest of Florida, they may in-
quire of the inhabitants of the country, if they do not remember the
strangers who had established themselves among them.



The general sojourned ten days at Talisse, where he inquired about
the neighboring provinces and the journey he had to make. In the
mean time the son of Tuscaluca visited him. He was a young man,
about eighteen years of age, but so tall that he exceeded in height,
by nearly half of his body, all the Spaniards and all the Indians of
the army. He had in his suite, many important persons, and came,
in the quality of ambassador, to offer'to Soto the friendship of his
father, his person, and bis province. Soto received him also with
much politeness; as much for the personal merit which he seemed to
possess, as for his appearance which had something noble. After-
wards, when the young lord learned that the general wished to
visit Tuscaluca, he told liim that his father was but twelve leagues
from the camp, and that they could go there by two routes ; that
he begged the general to send some soldiers to reconnoitre them,
with orders to go by one and return by the other ; that he would
have them conducted there and brought back in safety, and that
afterwards they could march by the route the most agreeable and
the easiest. Villabos, who expected that the expedition would be
fortunate, offered to go with one of his companions to Tuscaluca,
On his return, the Spaniards bade adieu to Coga and his subjects,
and took the route that Yillabos indicated to them. They crossed
the river Talisse* upon rafts and boats, and at the end of three
days they arrived in view of a little village where Tuscaluca awaited

* Tallapoosa River which with the Co9a forms the Alahama River.


them. Biit -when he learned that they were approaching, he went
to meet them, and stopped upon an eminence, the better to see
them. He was surrounded by a hundred of his principal subjects,
all standing while he was seated upon a wooden chair about two
feet high, without back or arms, and all of one piece. Near to this
chair there was an Indian with an ensign of chamois skin traversed
by three azure bars of the shape of a cavalry ensign. Our people
were surprised at it, for they had not yet seen flags among the

Tuscaluca was forty years of age or tliereabouts, and two feet
higher than those who accompanied him, so that he appeared a giant.
His face, his slioulders, and the rest of his body corresponded with
his height, and he was large in proportion ; a liandsome man, of
proud and noble mien ; the best formed and greatest that they had
yet seen in Florida. While he was awaiting Soto upon the emi-
nence, some Spanish officers proceeded as far as to him without his
deigning to look at them or show them the least civilitj', and he
pretended as though he did not see them. But on the arrival of the
general he arose and made fifteen or twenty steps to receive him.
Soto, on his part, dismounted and embraced him. The}' conversed
togetlier while the soldiers were taking lodgings in the village and
the environs. Afterwards, they went hand in hand to the house
which was prepared for the general, where the cacique took leave of
him and retired.

The array refreshed itself two days in the village, and the third
it left. Tuscaluca, under pretext of friendship and service, wished
to accompany it during its march over his lands. Therefore,
Soto commanded that they should have ready a horse for this
cacique, the same as they had done, until then, for all the other
Indian lords, which I had forgotten to mention. But as Tuscaluca
was large, they liad trouble to find a steed for him. Nevertheless,
when they had searched well, they found a large pack-horse. They
put him thereupon, after liaving given him a scarlet dress, and cap
of the same color, but his feet lacked very little of touching the

The general, rejoiced that they had found wherewith to mount
the cacique, gave his orders to march, and the army made four
leagues each day, and on the third day arrived at the capital, which
is called Tuscaluca, from the name of the lord of the province.
This town is strong because it is in the middle of a peninsula, which
is formed by the river which passes by Talisse, and is much larger
and more rapid at Tuscaluca than at that town.* The nest day they

* It was the Alabama River.


crossed the river ; but because thej' had not rafts enough, they con-
sumed the whole day in crossing, and could not camp but at half a
league from there, in a very pleasant valley. There the Spaniards
missed Villabos and another cavalier, without being able to learn
what had become of them. Onlj' then they suspected that, having
gone astraj-, the Indians had killed them. Villabos, in fact, loved
to leave the camp and" travel over the country, but from this kind
of excursions there ordinarily happened only misfortune.

They began from that time to have a bad opinion of the friend-
ship of Tuscaluca ; and that which confirmed this belief was that,
when the Spaniards manifested to the Indians their astonishment
at the loss of their companions, the barbarians replied, with inso-
lence, that they had not given them to their keeping, and that they
were not obliged to render them an account of them. The general
would not push the affair further for fear of disquieting the cacique ;
and because he believed that Villabos and his companion were
slain, he deferred avenging their death until fortune should furnish
him an opportunity.

The next day Soto sent to Mauvila, which was a league and a half
from the camp, Gon§al Quadrado Charamillo and Diego Vasques,
cavaliers experienced in all kinds of encounters, and ordered them
to reconnoitre the town and await him there.



At the same time that Quadrado and his comrade left, the general
took a hundred horse and as many foot soldiers to go as a vanguard
with him and the cacique, and gave orders to the colonel of cavalry
to promptly follow him. Nevertheless, the rest of the army did not
leave until late, and in the belief that they had nothing to fear, they
scattered themselves here and there to hunt.

The general arrived about eight o'clock in the morning at Mau-
vila, which consisted of eighty houses, in some of which they could
post fifteen hundred men, in others a thousand, and in the smallest
about six hundred. These houses, however, have but one main
room, for the Indians do not make them otherwise, and each main
room is in the form of a hall, with some small chambers. Besides,
as Mauvila is a frontier place, its houses are strong, beautiful, and
indicate sufficiently the power of the cacique. The greater part
also belongs to him, and the rest to the most important of his


subjects. The town of Mauvila is on a very agreeable plain, and
suiTounrled with a very high rampart, palisaded with large pieces
of wood fixed in the earth, with beams across on the outside, and
attached within with strong cords. To the height of the pieces of
wood was plastered with loam mixed with long straw, which filled
the void between the pieces of wood in such a manner tliat it ap-
peared a wall of masonry. There were, every fifty paces, towers
capable of holding eight men, and embrasures four or five feet
from the ground. There were but two gates at Mauvila (one to
the east, the other to the west), and a great square in the middle of
the town, surrounded with the principal houses.(23) Soto arrived
with the cacique at this square. Tuscaluca immediately dis-
mounted, and called Ortis to show him the lodges of the general
and his officers. He told him that the valets and other servants
should take the house nearest to the lodge of the general, and
that the troops should camp outside at the distance of an arrow-
shot, where very good liuts had been made. The general replied
that he must wait until his colonel of cavalry joined him, and
thereupon the cacique entered into a house where was his council
of war. However, the soldiers who had proceeded with the general
remained in the square, and sent their horses out of town until
they had seen the place which was destined for them. In the
meanwhile, Quadrado, who had been to reconnoitre Mauvila, came
to the general. He told him he must beware of the chief, and that
he feared treachery ; that there were, in the houses of the town,
nearly ten thousand warriors, all young men, brave, and well armed,
the flower of the vassals of Tuscaluca and the neighboring chiefs ;
that many lodges were full of arms ; that there were in Mauvila
only 3'oung women who could fight, no children ; and that the in-
habitants were free and nnembairassed ; that, to the distance of a
quarter of a league around the town, thej' had laid waste, which
showed that they intended to fight ; that every morning they went
out into the field and exercised in very good order ; that to this
they should add the death of Villabos and the pride of the bar-
barians ; and that, therefore, he was of opinion that they should
hold themselves upon their guard. The general immediately com-
manded that tiiey should secretly advise those of the men who were
in the town of the treason, in order that thejr might hold themselves
ready in case of alarm, and ordered Quadrado to relate to the colonel
of cavalry what he had seen.

Carmona says the general was received at Mauvila with great
rejoicing, and that at his entry, the Indians, the better to conceal
their evil design, had ordered many women dances which were



pleasant to see, for the Indian women are beautiful and well made.
In fact, that which Moscoso took from Mauvila to Mexico was
found so charming, that the Spanish ladies in that kingdom often
besought him to send her to them that they might see her.

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 40 of 75)