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 51 of 75)
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bows and arrows, and each time they received from them corn. To
requite them for this favor, our men made them a present of deer
skins, and then left this shore without even inquiring the name of
the country, so greatly were they engrossed with the design of
reaching Mexico. They coasted during their voyage, for fear lest
the north wind, which prevails on all this coast, should drive them
into the open sea. However, some stopped sometimes two or three
days to flsh, because there remained nothing to subsist upon but
corn, and others landed from their caravels and weut to seek pro-
visions. They managed in this waj' thirteen days, and made many
leagues without being able to say positively the number ; for they
had not reflected on it, and had thought only of reaching the river
of Palms, which they, believed they were not very far from. This
thought of itself encouraged them to endure their hardships.



The Spaniards had been thirty days at sea when about evening
there arose a north wind, which forced five caravels to approach
nearer to shore. In the mean while, the sky became overcast, the
wind increased, and there arose a furious storm. The caravel of
Gaitan and tliat of Alvarado and Mosquera, which had kept too far
to sea, were dreadfully "battered by the tempest, and like to have
perished, especially the brigantine of Gaitan came nearer being

* Clavlgero in his History of Mexioo says that the gulf throws up bitumen on
the Mexican coast, and that the Indians in parts of Mexico paid a tribute in


wi-ecked by a flaw which spi'ung the mast ; so that these two ves-
sels were in a deplorable condition during the whole night, and
also nearly the whole, of the following day; for about noon they
came near being'submerged ; and then, perceiving the five caravels,
which had gained the mouth of a river, which they ascended, they
endeavored tliree whole hours to reach them; but their efforts were
in vain, the wind was too impetuous, and the danger increased
every moment. Therefore, without persisting further, they went
close to the wind along the coast towards the west, in the hope of
extricating themselves from the danger which threatened them. As
thej' were nearly all naked, and the waves entered tiie brigantines,
they were in great peril of losing their lives. They, therefore,
labored with energy to save themselves. Some folded the sails,
others bailed and managed the caravels, and all that without eating
or resting, so eminent the fear of death appeared to them. Finally,
after having been twenty-six hours agitated in this way, they dis-
covered, yet a little before night, two coasts : the one white, to their
right ; the other very dark, to their left. Then a young man of the
brigantine of Alvarado said that he had sailed to that black coast,
but that he did not know the name of it ; that it was covered with
flint, and extended as far as the vicinity of Vera Cruz ; that, if they
turned their vessel towards this coast, they would all inevitably
perish; that the white coast was of sand, soft and' level, and that
before dark they must land there, for if the wind cast them upoii
the black coast, they must expect nothing less than death. Alva-
rado, at the same time, commanded them to warn the caravel of
Gaitan not to run upon the black coast. But the waves rose so
high tliat the brigantines could scarcely see one another, and they
had difficulty to execute this order. However, as at times the
vessels saw one another, the cai'avel of Alvarado made so many
signs and so manj' shouts that Gaitan conceived what ttiey wished
to make known, and the soldiers upon both sides agreed to land
upon the white coast. Gaitan opposed this design in his caravel,
but those who accompanied him stoutly opposed him, some even
with abuse, and told him that they would never sufler that fifty men
should perish through his obslinacj% Thereupon, some laid their
hands upon their svrords, and others upon the iielm, and bore the
prow of tiie vessel towards the white coast, where, after much labor,
they struck before sunset. As soon as Gaitan knew that the vessel
had touched ground, he leaped from the stern into the water, be-
lieving that on occasions of this kind it was the safest ; but when he
rose to the surface of the water he badly hurt his shoulders against
the rudder. His soldiers did not leave the caravel- when the first


shock of the wave drove it to land. Afterwards, the wave retiring,
left the vessel aground, and at its return it struck it in such a way
that it placed it upon its side. Then the soldiers leaped into the
water, one party lightened the vessel, some took hold of one side,
and others of the other, and they all did their duty so well that, by
the assistance of the waves, they drew it upon the beach. Alvarado
and Mosquera, who had stranded theirs at the distance of two
musket-shots further off, also labored with energy to draw their
brigantine ashore, and they fortunately succeeded. The two cara-
vels each immediately sent to seek the other; but as their men met
half way, they told to each other their adventures, returned and
informed their comrades of them, who, after having thanked God
for having delivered them from peril, dispatched in haste to get
intelligence of Moscoso, concerning whom they were in very great



The Spaniards of the two caravels, being assembled a little before
night, agreed to send to Moscoso to inform him of their adven-
tures, and also to get intelligence of him, and learn the condition
of the five brigantines that accompanied him. But when they
reflected that for twenty-six hours they had not rested, and that in
order to go to the general, thirteen or fourteen leagues must be
travelled that night through a country unknown, and perhaps full
of enemies, they became doubtful about sending any of their com-
rades there. Quadrado Chararailla, full of courage and zeal, seeing
this irresolution offered himself to go there, because he was de-
votedly attached to Moscoso, and promised that he would either be
with him the next day or die ; that if any one would accompany
him well and good, if not, he would go alone. Francisco Mugnos,
animated by this example, said that he was ready to follow Quad-
rado, and that he would sooner lose his life than abandon him. The
captains of the caravels, rejoiced to see the courage of these soldiers,
immediately supplied them with provisions; and these two brave
Spaniards, taking each his sword and shield, left at one o'clock at
night. But as they did not know the road which they ought to
take, they followed, at all hazards, the borders of the sea, in the be-
lief that it was the surest route. In the mean time their compan-
ions returned each to his brigantine, where, after having posted sen-
tinels, and rested all the night, they assembled the next morning.


and chose for captains of companies Silvestre, Antonio de Porras,
and Alonzo Caluete. They sent them each with twenty men, one
towards the south, the other towards the west, and the third to-
wards the north, with orders to try to discover in what country they
were, and not to go too far, in order that they might be able to
succor them in case of necessity. The captains who took the routes
to the north and the south returned to the caravels after having
marched about a league and a half; one with the half of a dish
made of the white clay of Talavera, the other with an earthen por-
ringer, painted as they paint them at Malassa. Therefore, .thej'
were certain that the places of the country which they had discov-
ered, were inhabited by Spaniards, and that the porringer and dish
which they had brought were sure signs of it.«> The party of Sil-
vestre, which struck towards the west, on its return completely con-
firmed this news, as shall now be seen. Silvestre and his company,
being about half a league distant from the sea, and advanced be-
jond a small eminence, discovered a pond of fresh water more than
a league long. As they saw on this pond four boats of Indians who
were fishing, they crept along the water a quarter of a league under
the cover of some trees ; and in the progress, glancing here and
there, they saw, at about three hundred steps, two Indians who were
collecting fruit under a tree which they call guajac [guava]. Im-
mediately they cast themselves upon the ground, some on one side
and others on the other, and dragged themselves so adroitly^upori
their bellies that they surrounded the two barbarians without being
discovered. Then they arose and ran at them. But notwithstand-
ing all their speed one of them escaped, who leaped into the water.
The Spaniards, rejoiced to have the other, returned in haste to the
quarters, fcr fear lest the inhabitants of the country' should assem-
ble and make them release the booty thej* had taken. For besides
the Indian prisoner, they brought away two baskets of the fruit of
the guajac, corn, a Mexican turkey-cock, two Spanish hens, and a
little of the juice of the stalk of the maguey. This tree puts forth
stems nearly like cardoons, and which are very good to eat when
they have been exposed to the sun. The maguey serves the Indians
of New Spain to make hemp, wine, honey, vinegar ; they also make
jelly of it by means of a liquor, very sweet, which the leaves throw
out at a certain season-of the year, and when the}' fall from the
tree. They employ the trunk of the maguej' to build, but only in
• extreme necessity, and when they find no otliei' tree.

To return to our men. When they heard that their prisoner spoke
but tlie word "Brecos," and as tiiey did not understand this word,
they asked him by signs and otlierwise the name of the country;


where they were. The Indian, who understood them by the means
of their gestures, but who could not answer them, repeated in vain
" Brecos," in hope of making them understand that he belonged to a
Spaniard, whose name was Christobal de Brecos. The poor Indian
troubled himself in vain, since omitting the word Christobal he
was intelligible neither to Silvestre nor to his companions ; so that
through vexation, being some time provoked even to abusing him,
they hastened their mnrch in order to rejoin the caravels, where. they
deferred to interrogate him quite at their leisure, and where they
safely returned .



Silvestre and his men found, at their return, their companions
in ecstacy on account of the things which the two other parties had
brought back from their exploration. But the joy increased at the
sight of the booty of Silvesti-e's soldiers. There were in the cara-
vels nothing but caperings and songs. Each was transported with
joy: especially when the surgeon of the troops, who understood the
Mexican language and even spoke it a little, showing a pair of
scissors to the Indian prisoner and asking him to tell him what they
were; the ..barbarian replied, " tiselas" for "tixeras." Our men, who
heard how this Indian tried tp speak Spanish, no longer doubted that
thej' had reached Mexico. So that they all began again to rejoice.
Some embraced the prisoner, and others, Silvestre and his comrades.
They hugged and kissed them, raised them in their arms, and made
everything echo with their applause. But after the first transports,
they asked the barbarian, through the surgeon, the name of the
countfy where they were; and what they called the river which the
general, with the five brigantines, had ascended ? He replied that
the country appertained to Panuco, to which it was ten leagues by
land ; that the general had entered the river which bears the name
of this town, situated twelve leagues from its mouth ; and that
twelve from the place where they were, this river entered the sea ;
that, as for himself, he belonged to Christobal de Brecos, living at
Panuco ; that at a little more than a league from the quarters there
was a cacique who knew how to read and write, having been raised
by a clerg3'man, who taught the Indians the principles of the
Christian doctrine,; that if they desired it he would go for this
cacique, who would speedily come and inform them of everythins'.


The Spaniards, rejoiced at this, increased their attentions to the
Indian ; and, after having made him some presents, sent him for
the cacique, with orders to pay their compliments to him, and to
bring back paper and ink. The barbarian, pleased with the Span-
iards, hastened so much that he returned to the caravels in less than
four hours. The cacique, informed of what had happened upon the
coast of his province, came himself to see our men, followed by eight
of his subjects loaded with Spanish chickens, corn bread, fruit, and
fisli. He took care also to fetch ink and paper ; for he prided him-
self principally upon knowing how to read and write, and he believed
that a great advantage. As soon as he reached the Spaniards he
presented them tlie things which his eight vassals had, and offered
them his hospitality and his services. Our men, to show him their
gratitude, gave him some deer skins. Then they dispatclied an
Indian to the general, with letters in which they related their
adventures, and requested him to send them his orders. In the
mean time the cacique remained with them to inquire the particulars
of their discovery. He took especial pleasure in learning them.
He was really astonished to see our men emaciated, hideous, and
wearied in a pitiable manner ; which showed that during the voyage
they had suffered terribly. Then, when night approached, he very
politely took leave, and returned home. But the next day he
returned ; and during five more days that tiiey refreshed them-
selves upon his lands, he repaired each day to the quarters; and
brought, every time, wherewith to suflQciently feast the Spaniards.



While these things were passing, Quadrado and Mugnos travelled
all night and arrived, late in the morning, at the mouth of the
Panuco, where they learned that the general and the brigantines
were ascending this river. They were so rejoiced at this news that
without resting they continued their journej', and speedily repaired
to the general, who apprehended that the two caravels had been
wrecked. But the arrival of Quadrado dispelled his fear; and the
next day the Indian, whom they had dispatched to him, delivered
to him the letters with wWch he was charged. They gave him
much pleasure, and he replied to what they wrote to him. He sent
orders to the two brigantines to meet him at Panuco, where they
went ill haste to join him, and where they, as well as their com-


panions, were received with great demonstrations of friendship.
Thej' amounted in all to some three hundred men ; but they were
in a deplorable condition, overcome with fatigue, sun-burnt, emaci-
ated, hideous, and covered only with the skins of cows, lions, or
bears, so that they might have almost as soon been taken for beasts
as for men. When thej' had arrived, the governor of Panuco in-
formed the Yiceroy Antonio de Mendoga, who held his court in the
city of Mexico, sixty leagues from Panuco. Mendoga immediately
ordered them to be furnished with provisions, and to be conducted
to him when they should be recruited. In the mean time he sent
them, through the Mexican Soc,iety of Charity, shirts and shoes ;
and medicines and comfits, in case there should be sick among them.
The Spaniards, praising God for this blessing, remained ten or
twelve days at Panuco. But when the greater part liad learned
that the inhabitants subsisted upon only the things which the land
produced ; that many were employed only in planting Spanish mul-
berry trees in the expectation of making silk; that the best off raised
bufa few horses to sell to merchants from abroad ; that they were
all poor, badly lodged, and the country wretched, they began to
regret having abandoned Florida ; of which the land was A'ery
fertile, produced very fine trees, and where they had seen a very
great quantity of furs of martens and many other animals. Their
discontent still increased when they remembered the multitude of
pearls which they had seen, and the hope with which they all had
flattered themselves that each one of them would gain a great pro-
vince in Florida. Thereupon they detested their conduct, — that
they were cowards not to have settled in that country, and to have
come to baselj' beg their bread of wretches ; that it would have
been more profitable and more glorious to have died in Florida
than to live like scoundrels in Mexico. The Spaniards who made
these reflections had advised not to abandon Florida, when they
deliberated about leaving it. Therefore, seeing themselves reduced
to poverty by the faults of their captains who had induced the
troops to come to Mexico, they were excited with rage against
them, and against the others who had supported their sentiments.
Tliey pursued them with their swords, wounding some and killing
a few; so that these officers and their companions dared not show
themselves. The inhabitants of the town, grieved at so great a
disorder, endeavored to appease it, but they cf)uld not succeed, and
the discord increasing more and more, the governor informed Men-
doga of it. He immediately ordered the Spaniards to be sent to
Mexico by tens and twenties ; and those to march together who
were of the same party; which was strictly executed.




The report being spread that the Spaniards who came from
Florida were going to Mexico, the inhabitants of the country, from
every quarter, assembled upon their route. When they saw them
in a deplorable condition, they kindly lodged and entertained them,
even to Mexico. This city, which is one of the largest and best in
the world, received them very well, and there was stiarcely a gen-
tleman who did not show them marks of kindness. Charamillo
especially showed them much attention. He lodged in his house
twenty of them, one of .whom he found to be a relation of his. He
even clothed the whole twenty, and furnished them with linen and
other necessary things. Tlie viceroy also gave them proofs of his
kindness, for he would have them, indifferently, soldiers and oiHc'ers,
eat at his table ; based on this, that all having equally shared the
hardships of the expedition, it was but proper that they all should
have a share in the favors which he did them. This prince did not
content himself with feasting them. He took care to lodge them in
one of his houses, and he had clothes distributed to those who had
need of them ; and, as a provost of Mexico had put two of them in
prison because the}' had fought each other, he had it published,
that henceforth no judge should have cognizance of their differ-
ences. He wished himself to terminate them, because he loved these
poor soldiers. It displeased him that they should have recom-
menced tiieir old quarrels. Nevertheless, notwithstanding his con-
duct, the quarrel broke out again, and there were some of them
killed ; for the greater part, enraged to see the value which thejr
put upon the pearls and furs which they had brought from Florida,
and that they had unfortunately left these things, pursued with
tlieir swords those who had persuaded them to abandon a countrj'
so rich. These fijrs, in fact, were very beautiful, and some of the
inhabitants of Mexico, with pleasure, decked themselves with them,
and lined their garments with them, after having taken out the pitch
with which they were soiled in tlie vessels. Finallj', as the muti-
neers became from day to day more and more insolent, the viceroy
appeased them by the promise that he would undertake with them
a voyage to Florida, since they were so much dissatisfied at having
left it. Mendo9a had, in reality, a design of going to these coun-
tries, on account of the description they had given him of the e.\cel-


lent qualities of the soil. Therefore, in order to support a part of
the oflBcers and soldiers who had returned from Florida, he offered
to some money, to others employment, whilst he should make his
preparations to conquer it. Some accepted the offers of this prince,
and others rejected tliem, resolved to leave speedily for Peru. One
of the latter going one d.ay through the city of Mexico dressed in
very wretched skins, a citizen had pity on him, and told him that if
he wished to serve him he would give him very good wages, and
put him in one of his houses near Mexico, where he would pass an
easy life. The Spaniard proudly replied to him that he made him
the same oflFer ; that he possessed many fine estates in Peru ; that
if he would accompany him there, he would give him one of them
to superintend, when assuredly he would live happy. I relate this
little circumstance to show that a part of the Spaniards thought
only of going to Peru.



On his return from Florida, Silvestre lodged in Mexico with
Salazar. When he was relating to him the particulars of the expe-
dition, the conversation fell upon the misfortune that like to have
happened the first night that they had set sail. Salazar, who knew
by the account of this adventure, that it was Silvestre who had
ordered to fire upon his vessel, esteemed him very much for it ; for
he said that he had acted like a man proficient in war. Salazar
really had so favorable an opinion of Silvestre that he wislied to
know what he had done during the journey ; and he informed him
with pleasure. The viceroy and his son Francisco de Mendoga also
learned with much satisfaction the fertility of the soil of Florida,
the customs of its inhabitants, their laws against adultery, the gen-
erosity of Mucogo, and the deeds of fortitude and courage of the
Indians. They were astonished to hear of the riches of tlie temple
of Talomeco and the quantity of pearls that was there. The con-
duct of the ladj' of Cofaciqui and tiie courtesy of the cacique Coga
delighted them. They were surprised at the account of the battle
of Mauvila, of the fidelity of the lieutenant-general of Anilco, and
of the league- of the ten caciques who had so bravely pursued our
men. They heard, with much admiration, the great deeds which
Hernando de Soto had achieved. But his death, at the time when
he expected to accomplisii his enterprise, sensibly moved them.


And -when they learned that he had determined to send to ask
assistance of them, they blamed Moseoso and his captains for not
having continued his designs. They declared that they would have
speedily assisted them, and that they wonld have led troops even
to the mouth of the Chucagua ; that also, if they would return to
Florida, they were ready to go there with an army ; but, as will be
seen, those who had returned did not wish to accompany them



After our men had recuperated in Mexico, they acted in this
way: Aniasco, Gaitan, Gallego, Gardenioso, Tinoco, Calderon, and
some others returned to Spain. They preferred leading a poor and
peaceful life in their own country to lieing wealthy in America,
where they saw themselves hated by many, where they had en-
dured great hardships, and unfortunately' lost their fortunes. Fig-
neroa returned home to his father; many entered the monastic order,
after the example of Quadrado Charamillo, who chose the order of
St. Francis, where he died, illustrious by his actions of piety. Some
settled in New Spain with Moseoso, who married in Mexico a lady
of rank and of great wealth, who was his relation. Others returned
to Peru, where they served Spain as brave soldiers in the war
which she waged against Giron and Pizarro, and acquired there
riches and reputation. But they could never obtain any district
nor distribution of Indians, which they could easily have had in




To finish the History of Florida there remains only to speak of
Maldouado, who, about the end of February of the year 1540, was
sent to Havana to Bovadilla. Soto, on dispatching him there, or-
dered him to repair the next year to the port of Achussi with Arias;

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 51 of 75)