Barnard Shipp.

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

. (page 49 of 75)
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 49 of 75)
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arms and managing their horses, in order to see in what they were
defective, and to make use of it against them at the proper time and
place. The general, who was informed of that, forbid the deputies
of the hostile caciques to come to the camp at night ; but these
prohibitions were useless. Therefore, Silvestre, who knew the
order of the general and the disobedience of the barbarians, being
one night on guard at the gate of Aminoia, and seeing by the light
of the moon two Indians very spruce, who were crossing the ditch
upon a tree which served for a bridge, let them advance to him ; and
as he was on daty, he struck in the face with his sword the first
who crossed the wicket of the gate without asking his permission.
From the blow, the barbarian fell to the ground ; but he immediately
arose, seized his bow, and took to flight with all his might. Sil-
vestre did not wish to finish him, because he believed that that was
sufficient to make the Indians cautious. The companion of the


wounded man, wbo had heard the blow, also took to flight, repassed
the bridge, regained his boat, crossed the river, and gave the alarm
everywhere. lu the mean while, the wounded man, bis face full of
blood, leaped into the river, crossed it by swimming, and called to
his comrades. The barbarians, who were on the other side of the
river, and who heard him, ran to him and took him out. The next
day, at sunrise, four of the principal Indians came, on the part of
the leagued caciques, to complain to the general that his men were
breaking the peace; that they had grossly abused one of the most
distinguished Indians of the country ; and that they begged him
that he would do justice for this insolence, because the person was
mortally wounded. About noon, four others repaired to the camp,
where, after having made their complaints, they said that the
wounded man was dying ; and at sunset there came four more, who
said that their companion was dead, and demanded that they should
put to death the Spaniard who had caused it. The general each
time replied to the envoys that, desiring peace, he had not com-
manded what liad been done ; but that the soldier who had wounded
their man had not acted contrary to his duty; so that if, to please
them, he should wish to punish him, his captains would never con-
sent to it, because the Indian ought not to have entered without
speaking to the sentinel, nor the caciques to have sent him, contrary
to the prohibition, at an unreasonable hour ; that, therefore, since
in that it was their fault, it was necessarj"- to forget all thdt had
passed, and to do business hereafter in the proper order, so as to
deprive both sides of every pretext for a rupture.

The envoys returned home very much dissatisfied with tliis answer,
and endeavored, but in vain, to induce the caciques to avenge in-
stantly the insolence of the Spaniards ; for the caciques agreed to
still dissemble for some time, and to carefully seek the means to
execute their design. Yet among the troops tliere were captains
who supported the complaints of the Indians ; that it was necessary
to punish Silvestre ; that he had acted indiscreetly ; and that his
conduct would give occasion to the caciques to mutiny and to take
arms against the Spaniards. If these remarks, which jealousy in-
spired in some of the officers, had not been stopped by the more
wise, they would, without doubt, have produced mischievous effects.




During these things, the Spaniards worked vigorously at the
brigantines, and were assisted by the captain-general of Anilco,
without whom they would never have been able to accomplish their
design. Those who were not employed on the vessels sought pro-
visions for their companions ; and, as they were then in Lent, they
went fishing in the Ohucagua. They made for that purpose hooks,
which, after having baited, the}' attached to long cords, and threw
them at dusk into the river. In the morning they drew them out,
and ordinarily found on tiiem such large fishes that there were
some of them whose heads alone weighed forty pounds, from fifteen
to sixteen ounces; so that our men had at Aminoia everything in
abundance. In the mean time, Quigaltanqui and the allied caciques
each raised troops upon his lands, and they jirepared to put thirty
or forty thousand men in the field, with the idea of slaying all the
■Spaniards, or of burning the timber which they had collected for
the caravels. They believed that, in preventing them from leaving
the country, they would make perpetual war upon them, and would
so much tiie more easily exterminate them, as our men were few,
had but few horses, and had lost a very brave and experienced
captain. The barbarians, animated by these considerations, im-
patientlj' expected the day which they had appointed for the attack,
and which, in fact, was very near, as they learned through the
envoys, who, finding themselves alone with the Indian women who
served the Spanish officers, told them that they might be patient,
and that very soon they would deliver them from the servitude in
which the Spanish thieves held them ; that they were going to cut
their throats and put their heads upon lances at the entrances of
the temples, and hang their bodies on the highest trees to be a prey
for birds. No sooner had the Indian women learned that than they
went and disclosed it to their masters. The troops were imme-
diately informed of it ; and they were so much the more easily con-
vinced that the barbarians were ready to attack them as, during the
night, they heard some noise on the other side of the river, and saw
fires here and there in the vicinity. They, therefore, prepared to
bravely defend themselves ; but, by good luck, in the mean time the
Chucagua happened to overflow. It began about the tenth of March,


of the year 1543. It gradually filled all Its bed, and immediately
after it impetuously spread itself over its border, then through the
country, which was immediately inundated, because there were
neither mountains nor hills. And the day of Palm Sunday, which
was that year the 18th of March, that the Spaniards celebrated the
triumph of Jesus Christ at Jerusalem, the waters violently entered
through the gates of Aminoia, so that, two days after that, they
could not go through the streets except in boats. This overflow
did not appear in all its extent until the twentieth of April.
They then had the pleasure to see that that which but lately was A
vast country,. had become, neai-ly all at once, a vast sea; for the
water covered more than twenty leagues of the. adjacent lands,
where were seen only a few of the highest trees'; and that made our
men remember the prediction of the old Indian woman at their
entrance into Aminoia.



Because of the inundations of the Chucagua, the Indians who m
habit both sides of this river, place themselves, as much as possible,
upon eminences, and build their houses in this manner. They erect,
in the form of a square, enough large posts in the shape of pillars,
upon which they place ma,ny beams which take place of floors. Then
they make the house which they surround with galleries, where they
lay up their provisions and furniture. Thus they protect themselves
from the inundations, which probably occur on account of the rains
and snows of the preceding year.

During the overflow they embarked for the town of Anilco, which
is twenty leagues from Aminoia, twenty soldiers and some Indian
rowers in four boats tied two and two, for fear lest they might upset
them in passing over the trees which were in the water. They had
orders to request the cacique to send to the general cordage, pitch,
and old mantles for the brigantines ; and were commanded by Sil-
vestre, to whom, as will be seen directly, the cacique had a short
time since been obliged, and it was, therefore, on this account that
they dispatched him. When the subjects of Guachoia, with the
assistance of the Spaniards, ravaged the town of Anilco, Silvestre
took an Indian of twelve or thirteen years of age, who was the son
of the cacique, led him with him through the province of Herdsmen,


and brought him back into the province of Aminoia. So that the
cacique Anilco learned that his son, whom he sought so long, was
with the troops. He, therefore, immediately sent to demand him ;
and Silvestre, through kindness, restored him- to him, in considera-
tion of what he had done for the Spaniards.

Silvestre and his companions safely arrived at the town of Anilco,
and found that the Chucagua had overflowed much farther, and that
it had inundated, on that side, more than twenty-flve leagues of land.
Our men being arrived, they gave notice of it to the cacique, who
called his lieutenant-general, and commanded him to show by his
reception the affection which they bore the Spaniards, and to furnish
them what they demanded on account of Silvestre, who had gener-
ously restored to him his son. Afterwards he commanded them to
send for Silvestre only, and he went out of his house to receive him.
There, after having embraced him and thanked him for the obliga-
tions under which he had placed him, he conducted him into his apart-
ment, and was not willing that he should leave it until his compan-
ions should be ready to return home. For Anilco, to whom his son
served as interpi-eter, inquired of the Spanish captain the adventures
of the troops since their entrance into the country. But when he
had learned the details of it, he made known to Silvestre the afflic-
tion he suffered from the cruelties of Guachoia to his ancestors who
were in the grave ; that very soon this coward would not be assisted
by any one, and that then they would see to resenting the indigni-
ties which he had committed. Anilco, by that, showed that the
affection which he manifested for our men was founded only in the
fear that, should they remain longer in the country, they might again
assist Guachoia, and prevent him from avenging the injuries he had
received. For this reason, and with the view of hastening their de-
parture, Anilco commanded to be given them, promptly, everything;
and to furnish them a boat, with several Indians, who should con-
duct them safely to where they should wish to go. When every-
thing was ready, he embraced Silvestre, and requested him to assure
the general of his friendship, and that nothing should happen of
which he would not inform him. Silvestre immediately resumed the
route to Aminoia ; where, as SQon as he had arrived, he rendered an
account of his journey to Moscoso.




The overflow lasted forty days ; (Juring which time the Spaniards
retired upon certain elevated places, where they worked on their
vessels. But as they lacked charcoal to forge the iron works, they
made some by cutting off the tops of the trees which appeared out
of the water. Francisco and Garcia Ozorio, distinguished cavaliers,
signalized themselves on this occasion, as well by their skill as the
pains they took to forge and to calk ; for they applied themselves
to it with resolution, and their example alone excited the others to
imitate them.

Whilst the water covered the countrj', the people of the leagued
caciques -did not appear; for as soon as they saw the overflow they
returned in haste to their homes to save what they had left there.
However, Quigaltanqui, and the other lords, the better to conceal
their evil designs, did not cease to send always to the general; who,
without showing that he suspected them, took care to keep upon his

About the .end of April the water diminished by degrees, and was
as long in falling as it had been in rising. Tor on the twentieth of
May they could not yet go through Aminoia except bare-footed, be-
cause of the water and mud that were in the streets. But at the
end of the month the river retired within its bed ; and the leagued
caciques recommenced the campaign, resolved to execute promptly
their design. In the mean time, the captain of Anilco, who had
notice of it, came to the general and disclosed everything to him.
That on a certain day, which was near, all the caciques in detail
would send persons to him ; that each envoy would speak to him in
such a way and make him such a present ; that some would arrive
in the morning, others about noon, and the last towards the even-
ing ; that this would last four entire days ; that they would finish
by assembling their troops, and. that at the same time they would
attack ; that their design was to exterminate all the Spaniards, or
at least to burn their vessels, in order that they might not be able
to leave the country^ and that they might put them wretchedly to
death by degrees. He added that, in order to avoid that, he, on the
part of his cacique, offered to them himself and eight tliousand
choice men, by the assistance of which they might easily resist their


enemies ; that even should they desire to retire upon his land, he
would receive them there with pleasure ; that they would be there
perfectly safe ; and, moreover, that they would not dare to come
there to attack them ; that they might take their measures deliber-
ately for to think maturely on the course they ought to pursue.
Moscoso replied to the Indian captain, that he was obliged to his
cacique for the offers which he made him ; but that, for fear that
in the future he might be hated by his neighbors for having openly
assisted him, he declined the assistance which he wished to give him ;
that, besides, as he was upon the point of leaving for Mexico, he
thanked him, with all his heart, for the retreat which he offered him ;
that for this reason also he did not wish to engage in a battle,
although he might expect everything from the Indians who would
aid him, and especially from their commander whose valor was
known to him ; that, moreover, neither he nor the other Spaniards
would forget the obligations they owed to* the cacique ; and that
even the King of Spain, the first of Christian princes, to whom
thej' would relate the good services which he had rendered them,
would never forget it, and would recompense him for so many favors
if some day the Spaniards should return to his country. Then the
Indian captain took leave of Moscoso, who bravely prepared for
everything that might happen.



At the beginning of June of the year 1543, the envoys of the
hostile caciques came to the quarters at the same time, in the same
order, and with the same presents as the captain of Anilco had in-
dicated. Therefore they were arrested by the order of the general,
.who commanded them to be separated and to be interrogated upon
the subject of the conspiracy. They frankly avowed what was tak-
ing place and the measures they were to take in order to accomplish
their design. The general, upon their confession and without waiting
until they all should have arrived, immediately caused to be cut off
the right hand of thirty whom they held. These poor people endured
their pains with so much patience that no sooner had one of them
had his hand cut off than another presented his upon the block, which
drew the compassion of everybody. This punishment broke the
league. The enemy believed that the Spaniards, being informed of


the enterprise, would hold themselves upon their guard.- Thereforey
each cacique returned to his province, very sorry not to have ex-
ecuted their design. But as they were all resolved to endeavor to
succeed by some other means, and as they found themselves stronger
by water than by land, they agreed to assemble troops and boats in
order to attack the Spaniards when they should descend the river.
In the mean while, Moscoso- and his oflScers, seeing that they were
going to be continually harassed, hastened more and more their
work, finished seven brigantines ; but because they 'had not nails to
fasten together the deck, they covered them only at the two ends,
and put planks in the middle without fastening them, from where
they had but to raise one of them in order to bail the brigantines.
Then they collected provisions, and requeste(| of Guachoia and
Anilco corn, fruits, and other things of that sort. They killed some
hogs of those which they preserved for food, and reserved only a
dozen and a half of them in case they should settle at some place
near the sea. They gave to each of the caciques, their friends, two
of these animals, a male and a female. They salted those which
they had killed for themselves, and made use of their fat, in the
place of oil, to soften tlie rosin with which they calked their vessels.
Besides that, they furnished themselves with small- boats to carry
thirty horses that remained. The}' had them tied two and two, in
order that the horses might have their fore feet in one and their
hind feet in the other. Each brigantine had also, at the stern, one
of these boats which served for a tender. Carmona relates here,
that of fifty horses which remained to the Spaniards, they tied to
stakes about twenty of them that could no longer be of any service ;
that they opened their veins and let them bleed to death ; that to
preserve their flesh they dried it in the sun ; that the day of Saint
John the Baptist, they launched the brigantines, embarked: the
horses and equipage, and furnished their vessels with planks and
skins to protect themselves from arrows ; that then they appointed
the captains -who were to command the vessels, and concerned
themselves no further except to embark after having taken leave of
Guachoia and recommended him to live in peace with Anilco.







Moscoso embarked in the first caravel ; Alvarado and Mosquera
in the second; Aniasco and Viedma in the third; Gasman and
Gaitan commanded the fourth ; Tinoco and Cardeniosa the fifth ;
Calderon and Francisco Ozorio the sixth ; and Vega and Garcia the
seventh. Each caravel had seven oars to the bench, and there were in
each, two captains, in order that if one was obliged to land to oppose
-the enemy the other might remain in the vessel to give the necessary-
orders There embarked under the directions of these famous cap-
tains about three hundred and fifty men of more than a thousand
who had entered Florida, and some thirty Indians, men and women,
of eight hundred whom they had led from the different countries,
into the province of Herdsmen. As these poor people were far from
their country, and as they had a singular attachment for the Span-
iards, they would never quit them, showing that they would rather
die with thern than live away from the place of their birth. The
Spaniards, therefore, took them with them in the belief that, after
having derived very good service from them it would be ungrateful
to abandon them. And thej' started with all their sails and oars
the evening of the festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. But it
was an unfortunate day for them, for, leaving Florida, they lost the
fruits of all their labors. All rowed except the captains who took
care to relieve them hourly, and coasted during a night and a day,
all the province of Guachoia without the enemy having come to
harass them ; so that they imagined that, in consideration of the
cacique of this country who loved them, thej"^ had not attacked
them ; or that the barbarians, judging of the success of their enter-
prise by the course of the moon, had observed that then they should

464 HISTORY or Florida.

not fight. But the second day their fleet appeared in the morning.
It consisted of more than a thousand boats, the largest and the best
that had been seen in Florida. Therefore I shall say something of it
after I have spoken of the boats and rafts which the Indians make
use of to cros? rivers.



The people of the New World, who live on islands, or in places
near the sea, make their boats large or small according to the con-
venience of the wood they have. Tliey seek the largest trees that
they can find ; they hollow them in the form of a trough, and make
their boats all of one piece ; for they have not yet the faculty to
fasten planks together with nails, nor to make sails. They also do
not know how to forge, nor to calk; so that, in places- where they
do not find trees fit for boats, as on all the coast of Peru, the
Indians make rafts of a ve»y light wood which is found in the
neighboring provinces of Quito, and which they bring from there on
the most navigable rivers of the country. These rafts are composed
of five beams, tied to each other, the longest of which is in the
middle ; the others gi-adually diminish, in order the better to cut
the water. I remember to have passed, in the times of the incas,
upon these kinds of rafts, which were then in use. The Indians
make, also, others of them in this manner: They take a quantity of
reeds, which they very firmly tie together, and which they raise in
front in the form of a prow, the better to cut the water. Then they
enlarge it by degrees, and in such a manner that they easily place
in it a man or an}' other burden; and when they cross any rapid
river they lay down jn the raft the person whom they cross, and
advise him to hold fast to the cords, and, above all things, not to
open his eyes. I was yet very j'oung when one day I passed, in
this manner, an extremely rapid river ; but when the Indian who
managed the raft advised me to close my eyes, such a fright seized
me that, had the heavens fallen or the earth opened, I could not
liave been more frightened. However, when I had a little recovered,
and felt that we were very near the middle of the river, I could not
resist the temptation to look. I therefore raised myself ever so
little and looked at the water; but it seemed to me that I was
falling from the clouds, because the rapidity of the water and the
swiftness with which the raft cleaved the river had made my head


dizzy to such a degree that I closed my ej'es and acknowledged
that not ■without reason they had advised passengers not to open
them. A single Indian governed the raft. He placed himself &aX
upon his belly at tlie end of the stem, with a leg on each side, and
rowed with his hands and feet, and let himself go with the current
even to the other side. The inliabitants of Peru, moreover, malie
rafts of a different construction from these. They tie together
several gourds in a square from four to five feet long, more or less,
according as they have business for them ; and put in front of this
assemblage a kind of poitrel, where, as soon as the boatman has
put his head, he leaps into the water and swiins with his charge to
the other bank of the river or gulf which he crosses ; also, if it is
necessary, he has men who push behind. But when the rivers are
full of rocks, when they have neither entry nor exit, and are so rapid
tliat they cannot cross them with rafts, the Indians pass from one
side of the river to the other a large cable, which tliey attach to
rocks or to trees. This cable passes through a great basket, to
which there is a wooden handle. This basket glides along the, cable,
and can easily hold three or four persons. It has a cord to each
side, with wliich they draw it to either side. But because the cable
is long and swags in the middle, thej' let the basket go gently as far
as that; then, as the cable ascends gradually, they quickly draw it
with all their strength. Tliere are persons at the crossings of rivers
who have orders for that; and the travellers themselves who get
into the basket often take the cable with their own hands and assist
themselves to cross. I remembei", at the age of ten years, to have
crossed a river two or three times in . these sorts of baskets ; and
tliat they carried me along the road upon their shoulders. They

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 49 of 75)