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 46 of 75)
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and began to fear for him. because it was fourteen days since he
had left. But his return dissipated their fear, and they thought
only of rejoicing and sharing the prisoners.





After five months' sojourn at Utiangue, the general left it at the
beginning of April of the year 1542, and marched towards the capi-
tal of Naguatex, which bears the name of the province. He made in
seven days twenty-two or twenty-three leagues in order to go to
this town, and passed through very good and very populous lands.
Nothing happened to him on the route except that the barbarians
attaclted him at the passes of the woods and streams, but they fled
the moment they opposed them. Our men, therefore, safely arrived
at Naguatex, which they found abandoned, and where they remained
fifteen days, during which time they traversed the whole province
and seized the provisions which they needed with but feeble opposi-
tion from the inhabitants.

The Spaniards had been six days in Naguatex when the cacique
sent to Soto to apologize for not having awaited him at the town in
order to receive him with honor. He also sent him word that he
was so ashamed of his conduct that he dared not visit him at present,
but that as soon as he sliould recover from so ranch confusion, he
would not fail of his duty ; that nevertheless, he would command
his vassals to strictly obey his orders, because he recognized him


as liis sovereign. The general replied that he was obliged to the
cacique for the favor which he did him ; that they might assure
him that he should be very well received, and that he would be
rejoiced to see him. Thereupon the envoys returned, well satisfied
with Soto, and the next day, very early in the morning, there came
others of them who brought with them four of the principal Indians
with more than five hundred servants. They told the general that
they presented to Mm the most important persons of the province
•to serve him, and to be kept as hostages until the arrival of the
cacique. Soto thanked them for this favor, and commanded that
no more Indians should be made prisoners. Nevertheless the cacique
did not come to see him, and they believed that he had sent these
men to the Spaniards only to prevent them from ravaging his lands
and seizing his subjects. In the mean time the principal Indians and
all the others served the troops with ardor, and only aimed im-
plicitly to please them. The general, who knew their zeal, and also
the soldiers who were about to leave, inquired of them concerning
the country of Naguatex, and marched as far as another province
accompanied by many other Indians whom the cacique sent to him
with provisions.



At the end of two leagues, the Spaniards missed Diego Gusman,
a brave cavalier, but a great gamester, who had come to Florida
well equipped with everything. The general immediately ordered
a halt, and the principal Indians* to be arrested until they should
hear from Gusman. There were then made, among the Spaniards,,
inquiries where this cavalier could be, and it was discovered that
the day before that in which they searched for him, they had seen
him at the quarters ; that four days before, he had gambled away
at cards his arms and baggage ; that being excited at playing, he
had lost a very charming Indian girl about eighteen years of age,
who had fallen to his lot when they divided the prisoners of the
province of Naguatex ; that he paid all the rest of what he had lost,
but that in regard to this beauty, he had said to him who had won
her, that in four or five days he would send her to him ; that never-
theless he had broken his promise, and that neither he nor the In-
dian woman appeared any more ; so that they suspected that he
had retired among the barbarians because of the. shame which he

* There were four, according to what follows.


had for having played for his equipage, and lost this young woman
whom he loved ; in fact, they no longer doubted it, when they knew
that the Indian woman was the daughter of the cacique. Therefore,
Soto, who esteemed Gusman, ordered the chief Indians to send for
him in haste ; that otherwise they should believe that they had had
him assassinated ; and that he, in order to punish so black^a crime,
should put to death them, and all their people. These poor Indians,
for fear of losing their lives, sent promptly where they thought they
might learn some news of Gusman ; and their messenger, who went
and returned in a day, reported that he was with the cacique, and
that he had sworn to them that he would never return to the
Spaniards. Thereupon the general replied that he could not give
faith to that, and that assuredly the leading Indians had killed
him. One of them then gravely replied, and said, in a tone quite
unlike that of a prisoner, that he had too much honor to lie ; that in
order to be more certain of that which they had reported to him,
they begged him to set at liberty one of their companions who might
go to the Indians. That they would promise him that his cavalier
should return to the camp with their comrade, or-that he should
declare his final resolution. That he might take only the trouble to
order him, by letter^ to return or reply by a note ; and that he might
judge by that whether the cavalier was living. They added, that^:
if their companion did not return in the manner in which they as-
sured him, the three others would submit to lose their lives ; but that
they had so high an opinion of the prudence of the general, that
they were convinced that he would not carry his resentment against
tue others, but upon them ; and that even he would never consent
that three persons of rank should die for a soldier who had cowardly
deserted without being compelled by any inhabitant of the province.
Soto and his captains agreed to all that the Indian had proposed,
and ordered him to go to Gusman ; and Gallego, who was loved by
this cavalier, to write to him his sentiments concerning the impru-
dence he had committed, and to induce him to return; that they
would restore to him all his equipage ; and that, in one word, he
should never want for anything.

The Indian, at the same time, left with the letter of Gallego, and
the order of the general, who requested the cacique to return to
him his soldier, or that he would vow to destroy everything, and
to kill all the Indians who were in his power. When Gusman had
seen what was commanded him, he wrote his name with charcoal to
make known that he was living ; and desired the envoy to assure
the Spaniards that he would never return to them. And immedi-
ately the cacique replied, that as Gusman was free to remain upon


his lands, he, therefore, would not force him to leave them ; that in
consideration of the favor which he had done him in having brought
bacli to him his daughter, he would always treat him very kindly,
and would conduct himself in the same manner towards the Span-
iards, who should settle in his province ; that, after all, Soto would
never be- praised for putting to death the subjects of a person who
received his people with friendship ; that, nevertheless, he should
speak to him no more on the subject, and that he might do with them
as he pleased. The general, who knew the obstinacy of Gusman,
and that the cacique spoke like a man of honor, determined to con-
tinue on, and to release the principal Indians and the porters when
they all had accompanied him as far as the other province.* How-
ever, it must be agreed that love and gambling blind men greatly,
since they oblige them to abandon themselves to their own enemies.



Our men marched five days through the country of Naguatex,
.and arrived at the province of Guacane, of which the people were
very different from their neighbors. Those of Naguatex were gentle,
civil, and friends of the Spaniards ; and the inhabitants of Guacane,
barbarous, and their sworn enemies. In fact, instead of making an
alliance with them, they showed, on every occasion, that they hated
them, and many times offered them battle. But our men always
declined it, because they had lost more than half their horses, and
because they did not wish to expose the others to the fury of the
enemy. Therefore, in order not to have any occasion for coming to
an engagement with them, they doubled their march, and traversed,
in eight days, the province of Guacane. They saw, in this province,
wooden crosses upon most of the houses ; because those of this pro-
vince had heard of the great things which Nugnez and his compan-
ions had done in the name of Jesus Christ in the regions of Florida,
where they had been whilst they were in the power of the Indians.
Nevertheless, neither Nugnez nor his companions ever penetrated
as far as Guacane, or into many other countries where their repu-
tation was known. But fame had published, from one province to
another, the miracles which they had worked by the power of God

* The Elvas Narrative mentions this as having happened on Mosooso's expe-
dition westward, after the death of Soto.


in favor of the sick whom they cured with the signs of the cross.
Thus the inhabitants of Guacane, astonished at these marvels, im-
agined that by putting crosses upon their houses they would guar-
antee themselves from every danger; and by that we may learn
what facility there is to convert to the faith the people of Florida ;
and that example is more powerful than force and violence to lead
them to virtue.



The general left Guacane with the intention of returning to the
Chucagua by a different route from that which he had taken, and to
make a longer tour, in order to discover other provinces. The
object which he had was, to establish himself in Florida before
diseases and battles should entirely ruin his army. He was, be-
sides, vexed not to have reaped any fruits from the trouble which
he had taken, and was still taking every day, to make new dis-
coveries. Therefore, he ardentlj' desired that Florida, which is vast
and fertile, should be inhabited by the Spaniards, and especially by
those who accompanied him. He was of opinion that if he should
die without commencing his settlement, there could not be assembled
in many years as brave troops as his own. He, therefore, repented
of not having settled himself in the country of Achussi, and wished
to repair the fault which he had made. But as he was far from the
sea, and would lose time in seeking a port, he resolved that upon
his arrival at the Chucagua he would build a town upon the banks
of that river ; that he would build two brigantines, the charge of
which he would give to faithful persons, who would descend the
river as far as the sea, in order to go and inform the inhabitants of
Mexico, Cuba, and other countries, that in Florida they had dis-
covered vast regions abounding in everything. He hoped that, by
this means, the Spaniards would flock there from all parts, and
would bring what was necessary for a colony ; which could easily have
been executed if death had not interrrupted such glorious designs.

The general, on leaving Guacane, traversed seven other coun-
tries to arrive at the Chucagua, and to begin in the spring to settle
himself. But, because they progressed by long journeys, the Span-
iards did not inquire the names of the provinces, of which four
abounded in provisions and were very agreeable, because of the
orchards and streams which they met with there. As for the three


Others, tliey were neither fertile nor pleasant, and it was believed,'
also, that the Indian guides had led the troops through the worst
and least attractive places. The general was very well received
through all this extent of country, so that our men passed very
successfully through these provinces, which were probably at least
one hundred and twenty leagues across. Finally, they arrived at
the frontier of the country of Anilco, and accomplished thirty
leagues, as far as to the capital, which bears the name of the prov-
ince and of the cacique. It is upon the borders of a river wider
than the Guadalquivir, and has about four hundred good houses,
witli a beautiful square in the middle. The dwelling of the cacique
is upon an eminence which commands the town. This lord was, at
the arrival of the troops, in front of this place at the head of a
battalion of fifteen hundred men, the ilite of his subjects. The
Spaniards, who observed the deportment of the Indians, made a
halt to await the soldiers, who followed in the rear, and promptly
arranged themselves in order of battle. In the mean while, Anilco
ordered that the women should retire, and that each one should
save the most valuable things he had, and at the same time our
armj' advanced to attack, but the barbarians fled without shooting
an arrow. Some entered the town, and the greater part crossed
the river in little boats and upon rafts, and a few by swimming,
for they had no intention to flght, but only to arrest the enemy, to
favor those who carried oiff their goods. Our men, when they saw
that the Indians fled, charged upon them and captured a few upon
the banks of the river, and took in the town many, women and
children who had not been able to escape. The general afterwards-
sent to offer peace and his friendship to Anilco, and to request of
him the honor of his good ofHces. But he would not reply^ and
only made with his hand a sign to the envoy that he might retire. <•
The Spaniards lodged in the town, where they remained four days.
In the mean time, they furnished themselves with little boats and
rafts, and crossed the river without having been interrupted by the
Indians. Then they marched four days through unpeopled lands,
and entered the country of Guachoia.



After the crossing of this wilderness, the . first habitation which
the Spaniards found was the capital of Guachoia. It bears the
name of its province, and is upon the banks of the Chucagua [Mis-


sissippi], situated upon two eminences separated by only a level
platform, which serves for the public square of the town, consisting
of three hundred houses, half upon one of these hills and half upon
the other* Tlie house of the cacique is upon the highest of these
two eminences. Our men surprised Guachoia, because those of
Anilco, who were at war with the inhabitants of this town, did not
inform them of the march of the troops. The cacique and his sub-
jects, astonished at the sight of the army, and seeing that they could
not resist, took to flight and retired to the Chucagua, wliich they
crossed in boats, with their women, children, and the best of what
they had. The Spaniards took possession of the town, where they
took lodgings, because there was there a quantity of fruit and corn.

As I have already said that the greater part of the provinces
through which they passed were the enemies of one another, I am
going to relate here in what manner the inhabitants of these divers
countries make war. The Indians of one province do not fight
■those of another through an unruly ambition to seize upon their
t'ountrj', nor raise an army to deliver battle. They onlj' lay am-
buscades for one another, and plunder while fishing and hunting ; in
a word, everywhere where they meet with an advantage. They also
sometimes kill and sometimes take prisoners ; but of those who are
taken, some are exchanged for others, and the rest remain slaves,
the tendons of the instep of one of whose feet thej' cut, in order to
prevent them from escaping. And if, by chance, war suddenly
breaks out, they lay waste the lands of their enemies, set fire to the
towns, and retire. Such is the way in which the inhabitants of
Florida fight, province against province, and become valiant and
bold, because they are perpetually at war, and always under arms
or in practice. But because divisions prevail among them, and
ordinarily the cacique of one countrj"- is embroiled with all his
neighbors, it is certain that the conquest of the whole country will
be on account of it the more easy, and that the discord which they
entertain will some day cause their ruin.

To return to our men. After thej' had refreshed themselves
three days in the town of Guachoia, the cacique, whom they call
from the name of his country, having learned that Anilco had re-
fused to make peace with the Spaniards, wished to profit by the
opportunity which fortune presented to him of avenging himself of
his enemies. He therefore dispatched to the general four of the
principal men of his province, with many porters loaded with fruit

* These eminences, on the west bank of the Mississippi, below the Arkansa,
might now mark the site of Guachoia.


and fish. They entreated Soto to pardon their cacique the error
he had made in not having awaited at Guachoia to receive him
with honor ; that now he acknowledged him for his lord ; and that if he
obtained permission to come in person to assure him of it, he would
repair in four days to tlie quarters. Soto, rejoiced at this news,
charged the envoys to say to their master that he was obliged to
him ; and that, as he particularly esteemed his friendship, he might
give himself the trouble to come and see him when it pleased him,
and that he would be welcomed. The Indians, satisfied with tliis
answer, returned with it to the cacique. During three days that he
deferred repairing to the camp, he sent, each day, seven or eight
persons to pay his compliments to the general; that through them
he might artfully discover whether the Spaniards change their dis-
position, and whether it would be prudent for him to visit them.
But when he knew that they would treat him well, he came about
noon to the quarters, accompanied by his principal subjects, all
decked with plumes, and very gayly dressed, after the fashion of
the country.



When the general learned that Guachoia had arrived in the town,
and that he was comipg to visit him, he left his room to meet him
at the door of the lodge. There he paid his respects to him and all
those who accompanied him ; then he passed with them into a hall,
where he and the cacique, by means of an interpreter, conversed
regarding the neighboring provinces, and all that which might re-
tard or advance the conquest of the country. During which time
the cacique sneezed, and immediately the Indiansof his suite, who
were ranged against the walls of this hall, bowed and extended
their arms ; they also showed their respect to the cacique in several
other ways, and all said politely : " May the sun be with you, en-
lighten, defend, and preserve j-ou." The Spaniards were surprised
that they had as much politeness among barbarians as among the
most polished people, and believed that there were certain customs
which were generally observed by all the world.

Then when ihej had conversed enough, dinner was served, and
the cacique dined with Soto, the Indians standing around them until
the end of the repast. These Indians then went to dine in another
room which they had prepared for them ; and towards evening they
gave an apartment to the cacique, with some men to serve him. The.
others retired to the other side of the river, and returned to pay their


court to their lord, and never failed to do it wliilst tlie Spaniards
sojourned at Guaclioia.

During these affairs the cacique, who was ai'tful, told the general
that he ought to return to the province of Anilco, abounding in
every convenience. That he offered himself to accompany him there
with the greater part of his subjects. That to facilitate the passage
of the river, which bears the name of this country, he promised to
send for more than eighty boats which would descend [ascend] seven
leagues by the Chucagua tothemouthof the Anilco [Arkansa] which
empties into this river. That then they would ascend by the Anilco
as far as the town of the same name.* That in all there would not
be more than twenty leagues ; and that while the vessels descended
and ascended, the rest of the troops might go by land and that they
all would arrive together at their destination. The general suffered
himself to be persuaded, because he wished to know if the province
of Anilco would be convenient for the design which he had. He
wished, besides, to establish himself peaceably between this country
and that of Guachoia, in the belief that this place would be favor-
able to him to wait for the news from Mexico, whither he had re-
solved to send. But Guachoia had very particular views which were
not known. He intended, by the assistance of the Spaniards, to
avenge himself of the cacique Anilco, who, in all of the engagements;
had gained the advantage of him. So that when he had engaged
the general to return to the province of Anilco, he caused to be
brought all the boats which he had promised, and then Soto ordered
Gusman and liis company to embark with four thousand Indians
and many rowers armed with bows and arrows. This captain there-
fore entered into these boats with all these troops, and descended
the river. Immediately the general, with all the other Spaniards,
and Guachoia, with two thousand of his subjects, marched by land
accompanied by a great number of Indian porters, and all arrived
at the same time, in view of the town of Anilco where the cacique
was not at that time. Nevertheless, the inhabitants bravely dis-
puted the passage of the river, but when they saw that it was im-
possible for them to resist longer, they took to flight and abandoned
the place. The subjects of Guachoia entered with fury, pillaged
and ransacked the temple where was the sepulchre of the lords of
the province, with the wealth of Anilco. In tliis temple were the
arms and the ensigns which the subjects of Anilco had won from
their neighbors ; and at the doors were seen, upon lances, the heads
of the most important vassals of Guachoia. But the people of this

* Here it is seen that Garoilasso places the Guachoia ahove the mouth of the
Arkansa ; but it was helow, as is plainly seen in the Elvas Narrative.


cacique took off these heads and quickly put in their places those of
some of tlie subjects of Anilco. They recovered the ensigns, over-
turned the coffins, trod upon the dead in revenge of the outrages which
they had formerly received from them, and slew all without sparing
age or sex. But they principally exercised their cruelty upon the
suckling infants and upon the old men ; they first tore from the
latter their clothes, and shot them to death with arrows which they
generally aimed at the parts which show the difference of the sex.
As for the infants they threw them by the legs into the air, and shot
them to death with their arrows before they fell to the ground.



SoTO, informed of the cruelties w:hich the people of Guachoiadid,
was extremely offended at it, for the design which he had of return-
ing to the province of Anilco was very contrary to this barbarity.
In order, therefore, to arrest the devastation, he had the retreat im-
mediately sounded, cursed the cacique for all the misfortune, and
commanded the interpreters to publish^that,under penalty of death,
none should make a conflagration or maltreat any more the subjects
of the cacique of 4-nilco. Nevertheless, because the general feared
that the vassals of Guachoia might secretly execute all that rage
inspired them to, he left tbe town of Anilco and took his route to
the river, and ordered the Spaniards to make the people of Guachoia
advance in haste, for fear lest they should loiter behind and put to
death their enemies. When he readied the river he embai'ked with
all the troops for the town of Guachoia. But hardly had he pro-
ceeded a quarter of a league when he perceived the town of Anilco
on fire, for the barbarians, who had not dared to burn it after the
prohibition of the general, had maliciously put burning coals to the
corners of the houses, which were only of straw, so that at the

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 46 of 75)