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 56 of 75)
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themselves to pass therein to France ; the rest, being better advised,
said that it would be far better to build a fair ship upon the keel of
the galiot which I had caused to be made. Then 1 inquired of my
shipwrights in what time they could make this ship ready. They
assured the whole company that, being furnished with all things
necessary, they wonld make it ready by the 8th of August. I im-
mediately disposed of- the time to work upon it, and charged my
lieutenant to cause timber necessary for the finishing of both the
vessels to be brought. There remained now but to collect victuals
to sustain us while our work endured. To this end I embarked,
making up the thirtieth, in my great bark to make a voyage dt forty
or fifty leagues. During our voj^age we lived on nothing but a
certain round grain, little and black, and the roots of palmettos,
which we got by the river-sides; wherein afterwe had sailed a long
time in vain, I was compelled to return unto the fort where the
soldiers, weary of working, because of the extreme famine, assembled
and declared unto me, it was expedient, for the saving of their lives,
to seize one of the kings of the county, assuring themselves that one
being taken, his subjects would not suffer our men to want victuals.
' Therefore, after I had resolved with them to seize TTtina, who was
most able to help ,us to collect victuals, I departed with fifty of my
best soldiers in two barks,' and arrived in the dominions of Utina, ,
distant from our fori about forty or fifty leagues, and going ashore
we dre'w near his village situated six great leagues from the river,
where we took him prisoner. They, therefore, brought me fish in
their little boats, and their meal of mast ; thej', also, made their
drink, which they call cassine, wliich they sent to Utina and me.

Now, although I held their king prisoner, yet I could not get any
great quantity of victuals for the present. In the mean time 1 was
not able, with the same store of victuals which I had, so well to
proportion out the work upon the ships which we built to return to
France, but that in the end we were constrained to endure extreme
famine, which continued among us all the month of May.

We had almost passed through the month of May when two sub-
jects of TJtina came to me, who showed me that by this time the corn
was ripe in the greatest part of their quarters. Wherefore I caused
the two barks to be forthwith made ready, wherein I sailed to Patica,
a place distant from his village eight or nine leagues, where I found
nobody. His father-in-law and his wife came presently towards our
barks, and brought bread, which they gave my soldiers. They held
me there three days, and in the mean while did all they could to


take me, which I discovered and stood upon iny.giiard. Wherefore
they sent to inform me, that as yet tliey could not help me to
victuals, and that the corn was not yet ripe. Thus I was constrained
to return and carry back Utina to the fort, where I had much ado
to save him from the rage of my soldiers.

I went to divers places and continued so doing fifteen days, when
Utina again besought me to send him to his village, assuring me that
his subjects would give me victuals. I undertook this voyage with
the two barks furnished as before. At our coming unto the little
river we found his subjects there with some quantity of bread, beans,
and fish to give my soldiers. But, returning to their former prac-
tice, they sought all means to entrap me ; but after they saw the
little means they had to annoy me they returned to entreaties, and
offered that, if I would give tliem their king with certain of my sol-
diers, they would conduct them unto the village, and that the subjects
seeing him would be more wiilling to give us victuals; which, how-
ever, I would not do until thej' had first given me two men in pledge,
with charge that by the next day they should bring me victuals.

Four daj's were spent in these conferences. Mjr lieutenant then
departed with his troop and came to the small rioer whereinlo we
were accustomed to enter, to approach as near as we could unto the
village of Utina, being six leagues from thence. There he went on
shore, and drew towards the great house that was the king's, where
the chief men of the country were assembled, who caused very great
store of victuals to be brought; in doing whereof they spent three
or four days, in which time they gathered men together to attack
us in our retreat And that whicli much more increased the suspi-
cion of war was that, as my messengers departed from Utina, they
heard the voice of one of my men, who during the voyage had always
been among the Indians. This poor fellow cried out amain,
two Indians would have carried him into the woods to cut his
throat, whereupon he was rescued.

These admonitions being well understood,. after mature delibera-
tion, M. de Ottigni resolved to retire the 2Vth of July, wherefore
he set his men in order and delivered to each of them a sack full of
corn, and then marched towards his boats. There is at the com-
ing forth of the village a great alley, about three or four hundred
paces long, which is covered on both sides with great trees; my
lieutenant disposed his men in this alley, and' set them in such
order as they desired to march ; for he was well assured that if
there were any ambush it would be at the coming out of the trees.
Therefore he caused M. de Arlac, my ensign, to march in advance
with eight arquebusiers, to discover if there were any danger ; be-


sides lie comraanded one of my sergeants and corporals to march
on the outside of the alley with four arquebusiers, while he con-
ducted the rest of his company through it. Now as he suspected,
so it fell out ; for Arlac met with two or three hundred Indians at
the end of the alley, who saluted us with an infinite number of
arrows. Howbeit they were so well sustained in the first assault
which my ensign gave them, that those who fell down dead did
somewhat abate the choler of those who remained alive. This done
my lieutenant hastened to gain ground.

After he bad marched about four hundred paces he was charged
afresh by a new troop of savages, who were in number about three
hundred, which assailed him before, while the rest of the former
set upon him behind. This second assault was so valiantl}' sus-
tained, that I may justly say that M. Ottigni discharged his duty
as well as it was possible for a good captain to do ; for he had
to deal with such kind of men as knew well how to fight. Their
manner in this fight was, that when two hundred had shot, they
retired and gave place to the rest that were behind. This conflict
lasted from nine o'clock in the morning until night. And if Ottigni
had not bethought himself to cause his men to break the arrows
which they found in the way, and so deprive the Indians of the
means to begin again, without all doubt he would have had very
much more to do; for by this means, deprived of arrows, they
were obliged to retire. My lieutenant having come unto his boats,
reviewed his company and found two men missing, who were
killed. He moreover found twenty-two of them wounded, whom
with much ado he caused to be brought into the boats. All the
corn that he found among his company amounted to but two men's
burden ; for as soon as the conflict began every man was obliged to
leave his sack to use his weapons.

Afterward I thonglit upon new means to obtain victuals, as well
for our return to France as for the time until our embarking. I
was inforrned by certain men of our company who usually went out
hunting into the woods, that in the milage of Saraurahi, situated
on the other side of the river and two leagues distant from the fort,
and in the village of Emola there were fields wherein the corn was
very forward, and in great abundance. Wherefore I caused my
boats to be made ready, and sent ray sergeant thither with certain
soldiers, who used such diligence that (soon) we had good store of
corn. I sent also to the river which the Indians call Iracana,
named by Captain Ribault jSomme, where Captain Vasseur and my
sergeant arrived with two boats, and found a great assembly of the
lords of the country, who were there assembled to make merry; ber


cause that in this place are the fairest maids and women of the vil-
lages. Whereupon, after they had made our men good cheer, the
boats were forthwith laden with corn.

Now finding ourselves by this means suflSciently furnished with
victuals, we each, in his place, began to work with such diligence as
the desire to see our native country might move us, but because
two of our carpenters were killed by the Indians, the master car-
penter, John de Hais, a very worthy man in his vocation, came and
told me that on account of the want of men he was not able to
finish the ship in the time he promised me, which declaration made
such a mutiny among my soldiers, that he hardly escaped being
killed. Howbeit, I appeased them as well as I could, and de-
termined to work no more upon the ship, but to content myself with
repairing the brigantine which I had. So we began to beat down
all the houses that were without the fort, and caused coal to be
made of the timber thereof; likewise the soldiers beat down the
palisade which was toward the river-side, nor was I ever able to
keep them from doing it. In the mean while there was none of us
to whom it was not an extreme grief to leave a country where we
had endured such great travails to discover that which we were
obliged to forsake through the default of our own countrymen.
As each of us was much tormented in mind with these and such
like reflections, the third of August as I walked upon a little hill I
descried four sails at sea. I immediately sent one of the men that
were with me, to inform those of the fort thereof, who were so glad
at this news that one would have thought them out of their wits, to
see them laugh and leap for joy.

After these ships had anchored, we descried that they sent one of
their boats to land, whereupon I caused one of mine to be armed,
with diligence, to send to meet them, and to ascertain who they
were. In the mean time, fearing lest they were Spaniards, I put
my soldiers in order, awaiting the return of Captain Vasseur and
my lieutenant, who were gone to meet them. They brought me
word that they were Englishmen; and they had in their company
a man whose name was Martinez Antinas, of Dieppe, who at that
time was in their service, and who on belialf of their general,
John Hawkins, came to request me that I would suffer them
to take fresh water, whereof they stood in need, signifying unto
me that they had been more than fifteen days on the coast to
get some. He brought unto me from tiie general two flagons
of wine and bread made of wheat ; for seven months I had never
tasted wine; nevertheless, it was all divided among the greatest
part of my soldiers. This Antinas had guided the Englishmen


unto our coast wherewith he was acquainted ; for in the year 1562
he came thither with me, and therefore the general sent him to me.
After I had granted his request, the general the next day caused ,
one of his small ships to enter the river, and came to see me in a
great shij^-boat, accompanied by gentlemen honorably apparalled,
yet unarmed. He sent for great stores of bread and wine to dis-
tribute thereof to everj'- one. On my part 1 made him the best
cheer I could, and caused certain sheep and poultry to be killed,
which until this time I liad carefully preserved, hoping to store the
country withal ; for notwithstanding all the necessities and sickness
that happened unto me,'l would not suffer so much as one chicken
to be killed, by which means in a short time I had gathered to-
gether about a hundred pullets. Near three days passed while the
English general remained with me, during which time the Indians
came in to me from all parts, and asked me whether he were my
brother. I told them he was, and signified to them that he had
come to see me, and aid me with so great store of victuals that
thenceforth I should have no need to take anything of them.

Tlie general immediately understood the desire and urgent occa-
sion I had to return to France, whereupon he offered to transport
me and all my company home, whereunto, notwithstanding I would
not agree, being in doubt upon what occasion he made so large an
offer, for I knew not how the case stood between the French and the
English, and although he promised me on his faith to put me on
land in France before he would touch England, yet I stood in doubt,
lest he would attempt something in Florida in the name of his
queen, wherefore I flatly refused his oflTer; whereupon there arose a
great mutiny among my soldiers, who'said that I sought to destroy
them all, and that the brigantine, whereof I spoke before, was not'
sufficient to transport them. The bruit and mutiny increased more
and more, for after that the general had returned to his ships, he
told certain gentlemen and soldiers who went to see him, partly to
make good cheer with him, that he greatly doubted that we should
be able to pass safely in those vessels which he had, and that in case
we should undertake the same, we should, no doubt, be in great
jeopardy; notwithstanding, if I were so contented, he would trans-
port part of my men in his ships, and that he would leave me a
small ship to transport the rest.* The soldiers were no sooner
come home but they made known the offer to their companions, who

* Laudonniere had his brigantine nearly ready, but this was not sufficient to
transport them all, though, with the vessel to be left by the admiral, it might
be sufficient to transport those that did not leave on the English fleet.


agreed that in case I would not accept the same, they would embark
with him, and forsake me. Tiiey therefore came to my chamber
and signified their intention, whereunto I promised to answer within
an hour after. Meanwhile I assembled the principal members of
iny company, who, after I had disclosed the business to them, an-
swered with one voice that I ought not to refuse this offer. After
sundry debatings I gave ray advice that we ought to deliver him the
price of the ship which he was to leave us, and that for my part I
was content to give him the silver which I had gathered in the
country. Whereupon it was determined that I sliould keep the
silver for fear lest the queen of England (Elizabeth), seeing the
same, should the rather be encouraged to set footing there, as before
she had desired, and that seeing we were resolved to depart, it was
far better to give him our artillery. This point being thus con-
cluded, I went to the English general, accompanied by my lieuten-
ant, Capt. Verdier, Trenchant tlie pilot, and my sergeant, all men
of experience in such aflairs, and knowing sufficiently how to make
such a bargain. We therefore took a view of the ship which the
general would sell, who was content to abide by my own men's
judgment, who esteemed it worth seven hundred crowns, whereof
we agreed very friendly. Wherefore I delivered him in earnest of
the sum, two bastards, two minions, one thousand of iron, and one
thousand of powder. This bai'gain thus made, he considered the
need wherein we were, having for all our sustenance but corn and
water, and being moved ^with pity, he offered to relieve me with
twenty barrels of meal, six pipes of beans, one hogshead of salt, and
a hundred of wax to make candles. Moreover, forasmuch as he
saw my soldiers go barefoot, he offered me, besides fifty pairs of
shoes which I accepted, and agreed on the price with him, and gave
a bill of mine hand for the same, for which until tliis present I am
indebted to him. He did more than this ; for particularlj', he be-
stowed upon myself a great jar of oil, ajar of vinegar, a barrel of
olives, and a great quantity of rice, and a barrel of white biscuit ;
besides he gave divers presents to the principal ofHcers of my com-
pany according to their qualities, so that I may say we received as
many courtesies of the general as it was possible to receive of any
man living, wherein doubtless he hath won the reputation of a good
and charitable man, deserving to be esteemed as much of us all as
if he had saved all our lives. Immediately after his departure, I
spared no pains to hasten my men to make biscuits of the flour
which he had left me, and to hoop my casks to take in water need-
ful for our voyage. The 15th of August, 1565, the biscuit, the
greatest part of the water, and all the soldiers' stuflf were brought


aboard, so tliat from that day forward we did nothing but stay for
a good wind to drive us unto France.

On the 28th of August the tide and wind served well to start, at
which time Captain Vasseur, who commanded one of the ships, and
Captain Verdier, who was chief of the other, now ready to go
forth, began to descry certain sails at sea, whereof they informed
me with diligence ; whereupon I commanded a boat to be armed,
to go forth in good order, to descry and learn what they were. I
sent also to the sentinels whom I caused to he kept on a small knoll,
to cause certain men to climb up to the top of the highest trees, the
better to discover them. They descried the great boat of the ships,
which as yet they could not perfectly discern, whieli, as far as they
could- judge, seemed to chase my boat, which by this time had
passed the bar of the river, so that we could not possibly judge
whether they were enemies who would have carried her away with
them; for it was too great a view to judge the truth thereof.
My boat come unto its ship about two o'clock in the afternoon, and
sent me no news all that day. The next morning about eight or
nine o'clock I saw seven boats, among which my own was one, full
of soldiers, enter the river, everj- man having his arquebuse in his
hand, and a morion on his head, who moved in order of battle
along the cliffs where my sentinels were, to whom they would make
no kind of answer notwithstanding all the demands that were made
them, insomuch that one of my soldiers was constrained to shoot at
them, without, however, doing them any hurt by reason of the dis-
tance. The report thereof being made to me, I placed each of my
men in his quarter, with full deliberation to defend ourselves if they
had been enemies, likewise I caused two small field-pieces which I
had left me to be trimmed in sucli sort that, if approaching the
fort, they had not cried out that it was Captain Ribault, I had not
failed to discharge the same upon them.

Aftei-ward I understood that the cause why they entered in this
manner proceeded from the false reports that had been made to my
lord admiral by those who had returned to France in the first ships;
for they had put it into his head that I had played the lord and
the king, and that I would hardly suffer that any other should enter
there to govern.

Being therefore informed that it was Captain Ribault, I went
forth to meet him. I caused him to be welcomed with the artillery
and musketry, whereunto he answered with his. Afterward, having
come ashore, I took him to my lodging, rejoicing not a little, be-
cause in his Company I knew a good number of my friends, whom
I entertained in the best manner that I was able. Howbeit I mar-


veiled not a little when they began to utter nnto me : " My captain,
we praise God that we have found you alive, and chiefly because
we know that the reports which have been made of you are false."
These speeches moved me so that I would needs know more;
wherefore having accosted Captain Ribanlt, and both of us going
aside out of the fort, he signified to me the charge which he had,
praying me not to return to France, but stay with him, myself
and my company. Whereupon I replied I could not nor ought to
accept his offer ; that I could not receive a greater comfort than
the news which he brought rae to return to France. I prayed him
very heartily to deliver me the letters which ray lord admiral* had
written to me, which he performed. The contents of these letters
were these : вАФ

" Captain Laudonniere, because some of those who iiave returned
from Florida speak indifferently of the country, the king desireth
your presence, to the end that according to }'our trial he may re-
solve to bestow great cost thereon or wholly to leave it ; and there-
fore I send Captain John Ribault to be governor there, to whom
you shall deliver whatsoever you have in charge, and inform him of
all things you have discovered."

And in a postscript of the letter was this : " Think not that whereas
I send for j^ou it is for any evil opinion or mistrust that I iiave of
you, but that it is for your good and for your credit; and assure
yourself that during my life j'ou shall find me j-our good master."

Now, after I had a long discourse with Captain Ribault, Captain
La Grange accosted me, and told me of an infinite number of false
reports which had been made of me to my great hindrance.

The next day the Indians came in from all parts to know what
people these were ; to whom I signified that this was he who in the
year 1562 arrived in this country and erected the pillar which stood
at the entry of the river. Some of them knew him ; for in truth he
was easy to be known by reason of the great beard which he wore.
He received many presents of those who were of the villages near
adjoining, among whom there were some whom he had not yet for- ,
gotten. I advised them that he was sent thither by the king of
France to remain in my place, and that I was sent for.

About the time of these conferences, comings, and goings, of the
kings of the country, being weakened bj' my former travel, and
fallen into melancholy upon the false reports that had been made of
me, I fell into a great continual fever, which held me eight or nine

* Gaspard de Coligny, of Chastillon, Admiral of France, assassinated on the
day of St. Bartliolomew, August 24, 1572.


days, during which time Capt. Ribault caused his victuals to be
brought on shore, and stowed the most part thereof in the house
which m3- lieutenant had built about two hundred paces without the
fort; which he did that they might be the better defended from the
weather, and likewise that the flour might be nearer the bake-house,
which I had built in that place the better to avoid the danger of fire.
After Capt. Ribault had brought up three of his small ships into
the river, which was the 4th of September (1565), six great Span-
ish ships arrived in the road, where four of our great ships re-
mained, which cast anchor, assuring our men of good amity. They
asked how the chief captains of tlie enterprise did, and called them
all by their names and surnames. It could not be otherwise than
that these men, before they left Spain, must have been iiiformed of
the expedition, and of those who were to execute the same. About
tlie bVe.<ik of day they began to move toward our men ; but our men,
who trusted them never a bit, had hoisted their sails by night, cut
their cables,' left their anchors, and set sail. Tiie Spaniards seeing
themselves discovered sent them certain vollej's of their great ord-
nance, made sail after them, and chased them all day long, but our
men got away from them toward the sea. And the Spaniards, see-
ing they could not reach them, because the French ships were better
sailers than theirs, and also because they would not leave the coast,
turned back and went on shore in the river Seloy, which we call the
river of Dolphins,* eight or ten leagues distant from the place where
we were. Our men, therefore, finding themselves better ofsailthan
they were, followed them' to see what they did, which, after they had
done, thej' returned to the river May, where Capt. Ribault, having
descried tliem, embarked himself in a great boat to learn what news
they had. Being at the entrance of the river he met with the boat
of Capt. Consel's ship, wherein was a good number of men, who
related to hira all the Spaniard's doings ; and how the great ship,,
the Trinity, had kept the sea, and that she had not returned with
them. They told him, moreover, that they had seen three Spanish
ships enter into the river of Dolphins, and the other three remained

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 56 of 75)