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 45 of 75)
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and said that the country whence they came was sterile and very
poorly populated. Upon this report Soto resumed the route to the
town of Casquin, in order, from there, to direct his course towards
the west and to explore its lands, for from Mauvila he had alwaj's
marched directly to the north, in order to place himself at a distance
from the sea. He refreshed himself five days at Casquin, and then
marched four days down the river through a country fertile and
populated, and arrived at the province of Quiguate. The cacique
and his subjects' came to meet him, and received him courteously.
But the next day they begged him to advance as far as the capital,
with the assurance that he would be much better served there. The
general believed what they told him, and continued five days his
journey, descending along the river through places abounding in
provisions, and on the fifth arrived at the capital named Quiguate,
which gives the name to the province. The town was divided into
three quarters. The Spaniards lodged in two, and the Indians in
the third, where was the house of the cacique. Two days after the
arrival of the troops, these barbarians ran away without the cause


of it being known, and returned at the end of a couple of days to
asli pardon for their fault. The cacique excused himself in regard
to it, that he expected to return the same day. But they believed
that he had returned only through fear that the Spaniards, on their
departure, would set fire to the town and to the corn ; for evidently
he had left with a bad intention, since his subjects, during their
flight, caused all the mischief they could. They placed themselves
in ambush and wounded two or three Spaniards. However, the
general, who did not wish to break with the Indians, did not man-
ifest to them any concern about it.

One of the nights while the Spaniards remained at Quiguate, an
aide of the sergeant-major went out at midnight t.o seek the general,
and told him Juan Gaitan, whom he had commanded to patrol
a part of the second watch, had refused to obey, under pretext that
he was the treasurer of the emperor. This disobedience piqued
Soto so much the more as Guitan was one of those who, at
Mauvila, had formed the plan to abandon Florida. Then Soto,
quite enraged, went to the middle of the court of his lodge, which
was elevated, and whence he could easily be heard by the soldiers
who were in the neighborhood. There he said that it was a shame
that they should mutiny every day, and that they would not do
their duty under pretext that they were treasurers of his majesty ;
that besides he could not comprehend these people who desired to
return to Spain or to Mexico, never being able to appear there but
as cowards ; that they knew that, on the point of rendering
themselves masters of a vast and fertile country, they had basely
abandoned him; that, as he could not endure that they should make
them a reproach so injurious, because it would recoil, in part, upon
himself, they therefore must not think of leaving Florida whilst
he lived, because he had resolved either to die there gloriously or
to conquer it completely ; that no one must any longer, under pre-
text of his oflSce, imagine himself exempt from doing that which
should be ordered him, that otherwise he would cut o^ the head of
the first who should disobey. These words, pronounced in an
imperious tone full of resentment, made the mutineers and disafiected
return to their duty, for they knew that the general was strict and
severe, and that after having publicly expressed himself, his menaces
were to be feared.




The Spaniards sojourned six days at Quiguate;(25) tliey left the
seventh, and after marching five days down along the river, which
passes by Casquin, they arrived at the capital of the province of
Colima. The cacique received Soto with the greatest manifesta-
tions of affection ; and this reception rejoiced our men, who were
extremely concerned about what had been told them — tliat the in-
habitants of Colima poisoned their arrows. They despaired of being
able to resist them ; for without using poisoned arrows these bar-
barians were already too strong in battle. But they learned, with
joy, that they did not shoot poisoned arrows, and they esteemed the
more their friendship, which, however, did not last but a very short
time. For, two days after the arrival of the troops, they mutinied
without cause, and retired into the woods with their cacique. After
this retreat, the Spaniards remained another day in the town of
Colima ; whence, when they had collected provisions, they continued
their journey through fertile fields, pleasant forests, easy to pass,
and at the end of four days arrived at the borders of a river, where
the army camped. Afterwards, some soldiers, who went to walk upon
the borders of the river, perceived tliere some sand of an azure color.
One of them took some of it, tasted it, and perceived that it was
salty. He informed his companions of it, and said that he believed
that they could make saltpetre of it ; of which there could be made
very good powder. They, therefore, collected this sand witli this
intention, and endeavored to select only that which appeared azure.
When they had enough of it they threw it into the water ; where, after
having waslied it, they pressed it between their hands in order to
strain it. They then cooked it with a great fire, and converted it
into a pale yellow salt, but very suitable for salting. The Span-
iards, rejoiced at this new discovery, refreshed themselves eight
days at Colima, and made a supply of salt. But there were some
of them who, notwithstanding the entreaties that were made them,
eat so much of it that nine or ten of them died of dropsy. Thus
some lost their lives from having an abundance of salt, and others
for want of it.

After our men had furnished themselves with salt, they left Colima
and marched two days in order to leave the country which they


called the Province de Sel. From there they passed into that
of Tula. They made three days' travel through an unpeopled
country; and about noon on the fourth they camped in a very
pleasant plain at half a league from the capital, where the general
would not go, because thp troops were tired ; but the next day he
took sixty foot soldiers, and a hundred horse, and went to recon-
noitre this town, which was situated in a flat country between two
streams. The inhabitants, who knew nothing of bis coming, armed
themselves when they saw him ; came out against him, and were
assisted by many women, who fought very valiantly. Our men im-
mediately broke the enemy, and drove them even into the town,
where they entered pell-mell. The Gght then grew warm, for the In-
dians and their women fought to desperation,* and all showed that
they preferred death to servitude.

Reinoso, during the melee, entered a house and mounted to an
upper room. There were, in a corner of it, five Indian women, to
whom he made known that he would not do them any injury; but
these women, who saw him alone, sprang with fury upon him ; some
took him by the arms and the legs, some by the neck, and some even
by the privy parts. Reinoso, in order to disembarrass himself,
struggled and shook himself with violence, and kicked so forcibly
that the floor, which was but of cane, gave way ; and as one of his
feet passed through tlie hole, he fell upon the floor, where the In-
dian women treated him cruelly. However, he would not cry for
assistance, in the belief that it would be disgraceful for him when
it should be seen that women had caused him so 'much trouble.

While the Indian women were thus outraging Reinoso, another
Spaniard entered the room below, and because he heard a noise
above, he looked and saw a leg projecting through a hole in the
floor. He took it at first for that of an Indian, because it was
nalied, and raised his sword to cut it ; but in the doubt that it
might be some disaster, he called two soldiers. They mounted to
the room, where, seeing their comrade in a pitiable condition, they
attacked the Indian women, and slew all five of them, because not
one of them would ever stop biting and striking Reinoso. Thus
they saved his life, which he would have very soon lost if he had
not been rescued.

This year, 1591, as I finish the History of Florida, I learn that
Reinoso still lives, and that he is in the kingdom of Leon, where
he was born.

It happened, towards the end of the fight, that Paez, captain of a
•company of crossbow-men, a very poor horseman, attacked an In-
dian, who fled. He first thrust at him with his lance. The Indian


parried it •with a large stick, with which he gave Paez so severe a
blow- upon the face that he broke all his teeth, and, leaving him
completely stunned upon the field, retired witli honor.

Then, as it was already growing late, Soto had the retreat
sounded, and returned to camp, much surprised at the courage of
the Indians, and especially of the Indian women, who fought with
more obstinacy than the men. There remained upon the field many
barbarians; but on the side of our men there were only the
wounded, whom they took to the quarters, and for whom Soto was
very sorry.



The day after the battle the Spaniards entered the capital of
Tula. As they found it abandoned, they lodged there, and towards
evening the general sent out, in different directions, some cavaliers
to scout. They took some Indians who were on watch, but they
were unable to draw any answers from them concerning the things
which they demanded, nor to make them walk, because they threw
themselves upon the ground and let themselves be dragged. De-
spairing, therefore, of leading them to the camp, they killed
them all.

The Spaniards found in the town of Tula many cowhides dressed
with the hair on, and made use of them in the place of bed covers.
They also found there hides undressed and the flesh of beef, with-
out having seen any cattle or discovered whence the barbarians had
brought so many hides.*

The men as well as the women of Tula are very deformed. The}'
have the head extraordinarily long and pointed, and they shape
theirs in this manner from their earliest infancy to the age of nine
or ten years. They also have very ugly faces, because they dis-
figure them with the points of pebbles, and particularly the lips,
which they blacken after having punctured them. Thus they ren-
der theniselves so frightful that one can hardly look upon them
without dread. In addition to this, their minds are even worse
formed than their bodies.

The fourth night that our men were at Tula, the Indians in great
numbers approached it before the break of day, and so silently that
the sentinels did not perceive them until they fell upon them. They
immediately attacked the camp in three places, and entered with so

* Of course these were the rugs, hides, and meat of the buffalo.


much fury and speed the quarters of the crossbow-men, that, with-
out giving them time to prepare their crossbows, they compelled
them to retire in disorder to the post of Gusman. This captain
immediately rushed out and charged the barbarians, who fought
with so much the more ardor, as they thought that the resistance
which Gusman made might deprive them of the victory.

The Indians and Spaniards fought courageously at the other
places, and nothing but shouts were heard everywhere. Besides,
the confusion was so great on account of the darkness, that they
hit as often upon those of their own party as upon those of the
other. Our men, in order to recognize and not wound one another,
gave quickly for watchword Santiago, and the Indians Tula.

The most of these barbarians in place of arrows had sticks from
five to six feet in length, because the Indian who previously, had
broken the teeth of Paez had told them what he had done with a
stick; so that many of his comrades, hoping a like good luck,
armed themselves with sticks, and severely beat with them some
Spaniards. Juan Baeca, one of the halberdiers of the general's
guards, was especially abused ; for two Indians having seized him,
one broke his shield with the first blow of his stick, and the other
discharged such a blow upon his back that he stretched him at his
feet, and they would have beaten him to death but for some sol-
diers who hastened to him. There happened many other accidents
of the same sort, at which, the soldiers afterwards laughed, because
they were only the blows of sticks.

Tlie cavalry, whom the enemy feared, broke their battalions, but
they did not cease to stubbornly contend ; for although the cava-
liers pierced them with many thrusts of their lances and put them
many times in disorder, they courageously resisted until daylight.
But then they retired into a wood adjacent a stream which passed
near the town. The Spaniards were very glad of this retreat, for
the Indians fought to desperation, and ardently desired the defeat
of their enemies. The combat ended with the rising of the sun.
Then our men re-entered the camp to cure the wounded, which were
in very great numbers ; and nevertheless they lost but four men.



After the battle some Spaniards went, according to their custom,
to see the dead and wounded ; and in the mean time Gaspard Caro,
who in the melee had lost a horse, mounted that of one of his friends


to go and hunt his own, which had fled away into the country. Caro
found his horse, and driving him before him, arrived at the battle-
field where he met four foot-soldiers, one of whom, named Salazar,
wished to show his skill in riding, and mounted the horse which
Caro drove. In the meanwhile Juan de Carranca, one of the four
foot-soldiers, called out that he had seen an Indian in the bushes
near them. The cavaliers immediately advanced, the one on one side
and the other on the other, to prevent the barbarian from escaping.
Carranca ran to the place where he had seen him, and was followed
by his companions, of whom one went with haste after him and the
other slowly. The Indian, who saw himself intercepted on all sides,
left the bushes and ran at Carranca with a battle-axe which he had
won in the attack on the arbalisters. This axe was very well sharp-
ened, and had a handle more than half a fathom long. The Indian
took it with both hands and struck so furious a blow upon the shield
of Carranca, that he cut half of it away and wounded his arm to such
a degree that he put him hors de combat. He then rushed upon
another soldier and treated him in the same manner.

Salazar, who was on Caro's horse and who had seen his two com-
rades maltreated, attacked with fury the Indian, who, for fear of the
horse, gained an oak that was there. Salazar pursued him, ap-
proached as near to him as he could, and, with his sword, struck at
him several blows in vain. But as the barbarian saw that he could
not make use of his bow because of the branches, he left the tree,
placed himself to the left of the cavalier, and with his axe discharged
such a blow upon the shoulder of the horse that he cleaved it in
two. In the mean time, Gongalo Silvestre arrived, who followed
at a slow gait in the belief that his companions would easily van-
quish the Indian. When he was near, the barbarian advanced boldly,
directly at him, and discharged at him a blow with all his force ;
but Silvestre avoided it with so much skill that the axe only glanced
upon his shield, and immediately he gave tlie Indian a stroke with
his sword, the blow of which wounded his breast, face, and fore-
head and cut off his left wrist. Then the barbarian, enraged at
having only one hand, threw himself upon his enemy. Silvestre
parried with his shield, and with his sword gave him so powerful a
stroke at the waist that, encountering neither arms nor clothing, it
cut him in two so that he fell dead at his feet.

At the same time Caro arrived, who, sorry to see his horse in the
condition in which he was, led him to the general, and, quite in a
passion, told him that an Indian, with three blows of an axe, had
put hors de combat three Spaniards who prided themselves upon


their skill and courage, and that he would have even taken their
lives but for Silvestre who had gallantly slain their enemy.

The general, and those who accompanied him, admired the hardi-
hood of the Indian and the valor of Silvestre. But as Caro was too
much transported with rage against the three Spaniards, Soto, who
knew their merit, told him that their misfortune was the effect of
chance, which, in war, favored sometiines one and sometimes
another ; that he ought not to be so much enraged at the wound of
his horse, for that was trifling ; that, besides, he, wished to see him
whom Silvestre had killed; and thereupon he went, with many of
his Officers, to the place where was the body of the Indian, whose
valor surprised them anew after having heard, from the wounded,
the particulars of the fight. #




Whilst the Spaniards sojourned at Tula they made divers excurr
sions through the province and found it very populous. They cap-
tured manj' Indian women and many Indians of everj' age. But
they could neither by force or gentleness lead them away, for when
they wished to compel them to follow they threw themselves upon
the ground and only made known that they should leave them or
kill them. Our men, who were provoked at their brutal obstinacy,
slew the men who were capable of fighting and released the women
and children. However, Juan Serrano, through artifice, brought
away an Indian woman ; but she was so savage that if he cautioned
her of her duty she threw at his head the pot, the fire-brands, or
whatever she met with. She would have them either leave her alone
or kill her, and said that she was not born to obey. Wherefore her
master suffered her to do everything according to her fancy. Never-
theless, she ran away, whereat Serrano was very glad.

At the very name of Tula they quiet the children that cry, and
the brutal disposition of the inhabitants of this province causes
them to be feared by their neighbors. Wlien the Spaniards left this
province they carried away a young boy of nine or ten years of
age ; and when, in the towns which they afterwards discovered, and*
yphere they were well received, the children made small companies
to fight one against the other, our men ordered the young Indian of
Tula to choose one or the other of the parties. Those of his troop


immediately took him for their captain, and at the same time he
arranged them in order of battle, and with loud cries attacked the
opposite partj', which he made fly when he happened to cry Tula !
The Spaniards who were present then commanded him to go over
to the side of the vanquished and to charge the conquerors. He
obeyed, and as soon as he began to cry Tula! his enemies fled, so
that on whichever side he placed himself, he always gained the

After the Spaniards had remained twenty days at Tula, on ac-
count of their wounded, they left it, and at the end of two days'
travel they entered the country of TJtiangue, with the resolution of
passing there the winter, which was approaching. They marched
four days through this province, and found the lands of it very
good, but poorly populated, and the inhabitants bold ; for upon the
route they continually harassed the Spaniards by attacks and
alarms every half league. At first, they fired at them, from quite a
distance, a quantity of arrows, and then fled. But, as they fought
in the open field, the cavaliers pursued them and easil}' pierced them
witli their lances. However, without. losing courage, as soon as they
could rally only twenty or twentj^-five men, they returned with loud
cries to fall upon our men, who charged them vigorously. They
also sometimes concealed themselves among the tall grass, the
better to surprise the Spaniards. Nevertheless, nothing availed
them ; they were always beaten. The troops arrived at the capital,
which bears the name of the province, and lodged there, for it was
abandoned. The general dispatched Indians of the country to the
inhabitants of this place, but they would have neither peace nor
alliance with the Spaniards. The people of the province of TJtiangue
are bold, proud, daring, and much better made than those of Tula,
for they have neither the disfigured visage nor the monstrous head.

When Soto and his ofBcers saw that there were provisions in the
town of Utiangue, that it was situated in a fertile plain watered on
both sides by a stream, with pastures around it, and inclosed with
palisades, they resolved to take up their winter-quarters there; for,
besides that it was already the middle of the month of October, of
the year 1541, they did not know whether they should meet else-
where with so much convenience as in this place. Therefore, they
fortified it, and laid in a supply of wood, corn, dried grapes, plums,
and other fruits, which they found in abundance. They also killed,
hunting, many rabbits, stags, and roebucks, with which they re-
galed themselves; and they would not have been better oflF in
Spain, nor more comfortable, than in TJtiangue. It is true that the
winter was severe there, and that it snowed so much that they


remained a month and a half without being able to go out; but the
good fires which they made easily protected them from the cold. ■
Indeed, when I come to consider all these conveniences and the
excellence of the land of Florida, I cannot approve tlie conduct of
the Spaniards, who would not settle there because they found neither
gold nor silver there. But they did not reflect that they did not
meet with any of these metals because the inhabitants of the coun-
try did not give themselves the trouble to search for them, and did
not make any account of them. In fact, they assert that ships
having perished upon the coast, and the Indians having found
purses full of gold, they carried off the purses, with the view that
thej' might be serviceable to them, and left that which was within
them because they did not know the use of its



The cacique, who knew that the Spaniards were making their
winter-quarters at Utiangue, took the resolution to drive them
away. For this purpose, he tried to divert the general with some
men whom he dispatched to him by night, and who assured him
that the cacique would very soon come to the town. But, Tinder
this pretext, they had orders to reconnoitre the troops, in order
that, upon the report which they should make of it, they might
deliberate upon the means of attacking them with safety. The
Spaniards, who did not suspect these Indians, showed them the
horses, the arms, and the guard which they kept in the place. In
the meanwhile, Soto, informed of the design of the barbarians, told
their envoys that they must not enter any more, except by day,
into Utiangue. But, as thej' persisted in coming there by night,
they believed that they ought to teach them by force to obey, since,
in regard to them, gentleness appeared useless. Therefore, Bar-
thelemy d'Argote, who had the order of the general, being one
night on guard at the gate of the town, slew one of their envoys
who wished to enter to speak to the officers. This action was
approved by everybody, and particularly by Soto, for he gave great
praise to Argote, who afterwards passed for a brave soldier ; and
the Indians, who knew that their design was discovered, returned
no more to our people.

During the wintering of the troops at Utiangue, some guarded


the place, and others, vyhen the snows had melted, set out to capture
Indians, because they needed servants. But because, after seven or
eight days of travelling, they returned with but few prisoners, the
general chose two hundred and' fifty men, as many of cavalry as of
Infantrj'^, and advanced twenty leagues into the country as far as
Naguatex, a fertile and populous province. In this country he
surprised, before day, a town where the cacique lived. He took
there a sufficiently large number of men and women, and returned
afterwards to Utiangue, where the rest of the army awaited him,

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 45 of 75)