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 58 of 75)
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highness Philip II., signed with his name. In this letter his
majesty told liim that on Ma3' iiOth some ships had left France, car-
rying seven hundred men and two hundred women. As I have
stated, we learned at St. Johns, of Porto Rico, that our dispatch
boat had been captured. This fact joined to the reflection that our
fleet was much injured bj' the storm, and that of the ten vessels
which left Cadiz, only four remained, besides the one bought at the
last port to transport the horses and troops, — all this made it evi-
dent to our captain-general, that tlie French would likely be waiting
for him near the harbors a little further on ; that is, off Monte Christi,

* Captured by the vessel that the mutineers took from Laudonniere. It is
prohable they made no use of the dispatches, and that they never communicated
them to Laudonniere when they returned to Fort Caroline.

t The pilot Aliminos, with Ponce de Leon, was the first that ever passed
through this Bahama Channel.


Havana, and the Cape of Las Canas,* which lie on the same side,
and precisely in our route to Florida. This was all the more to be
expected, since the French had come in possession of our plan to
unite our forces at Havana. Not wishing to encounter the French,
the general decided to take a northerly course and pursue a new
route through the Bahama Channel, leaving the enemy to the wind-

On Sunday the 20th of August, we saw two islands, called the
Bahama Islands. The shoals that lie between thera are so exten-
sive that the billows are felt far out at sea. The ship purchased at
Porto Rico got aground that day in two and a half fathoms of
water, but she soon got off. Our galley, one of the best ships
afloat, found herself all day in the same position, when suddenly her
keel struck three times violently against the bottom. The sailors
gave themselves up for lost, and the water commenced to pour into
her hold. But as we had a mission to fulfil for Jesus Christ and
his blessed mother, two heavy waves which struck her abaft set her
afloat again, and soon after we found her in deep water, and. at mid-
night we entered the Bahama Channel.

On Monday, August 2t, [1565] while we were near the entrance of
the Bahama Channel, God showed us a, miracle from heaven. About
nine o'clock in the evening a cometf appeared, which showed itself
directly above us, a little eastward, giving so much liglit that it
might have been taken for the sun. It went toward the west, that
is, towards Florida, and its brightness lasted long enough to repeat
two credos. According to the sailors, this was a good omen.

On Tuesday the 28th we had a calm more dead than anything we
had yet experienced while at sea. One thing happened which I re-
gard as miraculous. While we were becalmed none of the pilots knew
where we were; some pretending we were as much as a hundred
leagues from Florida. However, thanks to God, and the prayers of
the Blessed' "Virgin, we soon had the pleasure of seeing land. We
steered in that direction, anchored near a point of land, and found
ourselves actually in Florida, and not very far distant from the
enemy. That very evening our general assembled the pilots on the
galley to discuss what was to be done.

Next day, the 29th (August), at daylight the fleet weighed an-

* Eibault at this time was examining the harbors on the coast of South Caro-
lina and Georgia, while Laudonniere was preparing to leave Fort Caroline for

t It was a meteor, and a hetter'token, for this good priest, for being special ;
a comet would have been a good or a bad omen (Just as people might take it), in
too many places.


chor, and coasted along in search of the enemy, or a harbor favor-
able for embarking. On Mondg,y, August 30th, we were assailed
by bad weatlier, and obliged to anchor. For four days contrarj''
winds continued to blow, or else it was so calm we cpuld not move;
during all of which time w>e i-emained at anchor about a league and
a half from shore. The captain-general, seeing that neither the pilot
nor the two Frenchmen we had taken prisoners, and who belonged
to the French colon}',* could give us any information in regard to the
port, and the coast being so flat that we could recognize«only a few
objects, decided to send ashore fifty arquebusiers with some captains.
They built fires in order to excite the curiositj' of the natives, and
attract them, but none came to see us. Our people than decided to
penetrate the interior, and after having gone four leagues they
arrived at a village of Indians, who kindly received them. The
Frenchmen whom we had with us told us they had been in com-
munication with them for a long time. As soon as the general
had learned the news, he resolved to disembark on Saturday morn-
ing, September 1st, and go among these Indians to got some infor-
mation as to where the French were. One of the Frenchmen of
whom I have spoken understood their language. They told us we
had left the French about five leagues behind us — precisely at the
same spot to which God haJ conducted us when we arrived in sight
of land ; but could not then find them because we had not sent any
one ashore.

On Tuesday, the 4lh, the fleet left the place of which I have been
speaking, and took a nortlierly course, keeping all the time close to the
coast. On Wednesdny, the 6th, two hours before sunset, we saw four
Fi-ench ships at the mouth of a river. When we were two leagues
from them, the first galley (Spanish),joined the rest of the fleet, which
was composed of four other vessels. The general concerted a plan
with the captains and pilots, and ordered the flagship, the San
Pelayo, and a shallop to attack the French flagship, the Trinity,
while the first galley and another shallop would attack the French
galley, both of which vessels were very large and powerful. All
the ships of our fleet put themselves in good position. They fol-
lowed tlie galley, but our general did not fire nor seek to make any
attack on the enemy. He went straight to the French galley and
cast anchor about eight paces from her. The other vessels went to
the windward, and very near the enemy. During the manoeuvres,

* Where the two Frenchmen, who belonged to th^ colony, were captured,
this account does not state, but they were some of the deserters from Fori Caro-
line, who had stolen the boats.


■which lasted until about two hours after sunset, not a word was said
on either side. Never in my life have I kuown such stillness. Our
general inquired of the French galley, which was the vessel nearest
to him, "Whence does this fleet come?" Thej"- answered, "From
France." "What are you doing here ?" asked the general. " This is
the territory of King Philip II. I order you to leave directly ; for
I neither know who j'ou are nor what you want here." The French
commander then replied,,"! am bringing soldiers and supplies to
the fort of the King of France." He then asked the name of,,the
general of our fleet, and was told " Pedro Menendez de Aviles,
Captain-General of the King of Spain, who have come to hang all
Lutherans I flnd here." Our general then asked him the name of his
commander, and he replied, " Lord Gasto." While this was going
on, a longboat was sent from the galley to the flagship. The person
charged with this errand managed to do it so' secretly that we could
not hear what was said ; but we understood the reply of the French
to be, " I am the admiral ;"* which made us think he wished to sur-
render, as they were in such small force. Scarcely had the French
made this reply, when they slipped their cables, spread their sails,
and passed'through our midst.f Our admiral, seeing this, followed
the French commander, and called upon him to lower his sails in the
name of King Philip ; to which he received an impertinent answer.
Immediately our general ordered to be discharged a small culverin,
the ball from which struck the vessel amidship, and I thought she
■yeas going to founder. We gave chase, and some time after he again
called on them to lower their sails. " I would sooner die first than
surrender," replied the French commander.J The order was given
to fire a second shot, which carried off" five or six men ; but as these
miserable devils are very good sailors, they manoeuvred so well that
we could not take one of them ; and notwithstanding all the guns
we fired at them we did not sink one of their ships. We only got
possession of one of their large boats, which was of great service
to us afterwards. During the whole ilight our flagship and the
galley chased the French flagship and galley.

Wednesday morning, September 5th, at sunrise, so great a storm
arose that we feared we should be shipwrecked, and as our vessels

* This account does not conform with that of Laudonniere, nor appear con-
sistent with the conduct and preparation of the Spanish genera,!.

t This took place at dawn : th* French had prepared during the night to do

} Both Laudonniere and Ribault, who had just succeeded him, were, at this
time, in Fort Caroline, so it was some brave French officer who made this reply,
if it was made at all.


were small we did not dare to remain on tlie open sea, so we regained
the shore ; that is three of our vessels anchored about a league and
a half from it. We had double moorings, but the wind was so strong
that one of them broke loose. As our galley was a large vessel,
and busy following up the enemy, she could not come to our assist-
ance ; so we felt ourselves in danger of being attacked. The same
evening about sunset, we perceived a sail afar off, which we sup-
posed was one of our galleys; but as the ship approached we dis-
covered it was the French flagship which we had fired at the night
before. At first we thought she was going to attack us, but she an-
chored between us and the shore, about a league from us. That
night the pilots of our other ships came on board to consult with the
admiral as to what was to be done. The next morning, fully per-
suaded that the storm had made a wreck of our galley, or at least
that she had been driven a hundred leagues out to sea, we decided
that so soon as daylight came we would weigh anchor and withdraw,
in good order to a river which was below the French colonj', and
there disembark and construct a fort, which we would defend until
assistance came to us.

On Thursday, ju§t as day appeared, we sailed toward the vessel
at anchor, and passed very close to her, when we saw another vessel
appear in the open sea. We perceived it was the French galley
.of which we had been in pursuit. Finding ourselves between
these two vessels, we decided to direct ourselves toward the galley,
for the sake of deceiving them, and preventing them from at-
tacking us. This bold manner having succeeded, we sought the
river Seloy (river of Dolphins) and port, where we had the good
fortune to find our galley and another vessel. Two companies of
infantrjr now disembarked ; they were well received by the Indians, ,
who gave them a large house belonging to a chief, and situated near
theshoi'e of the river. Immediately, Captain Patino and Captain
Sau Vincente, both men of talent and energy, ordered an entrench-
ment to be built around this house, with a slope of earth and fascines,
these being the only means of defence possible in that country where
stones are nowhere to be found.

Up to to-day we have disembarked twenty-four pieces of bronze
grins, of different calibres, of which the least weighed fifteen hun-
dred weight. Our fort is at a distance of about fifteen leagues from
that of the enemy. When the general disembarked he was quite
surprised at wiiat had been done.

On Saturday, the 8th, the general landed with many banners
spread, to the sound of trumpets and salutes of artillery. The same
day the general took formal possession of the country, and all the


captains took the oath of allegience to him as their general and
governor of the country. When this ceremony was ended he offered
to do everything in his power for tliem, especially to Captain Patino
for his talents and assiduity in constructing a fort in which to
defend ourselves until the arrival of help from St. Domingo and

The day after our general came unto the fort, he was very much
annoj-ed that his galley and another'vessel were anchored about a
league out at sea, and were not able to enter the harbor on account
of the sand-banks. He felt uneasy and feared the French would
capture or ill-treat them. As soon as this idea took possession of
him, he left to go on board another galley. He gave the order for
three of the boats of tlie ships, which were anchored in the river, to
go and get the food and troops from on board the galley.

The next day our ship went to sea, loaded with provisions and
one hundred men besides, and when about half a league from the
bar it became so Calm that it could not advance at all, so tliey cast
anchor and passed the night in that place. The next morning, as
the tide rose, they weighed anchor, and as dajdight advanced they
found themselves astern of two French vessels that had been watch-
ing them. The enemy prepared immediately to attack us; they were
already quite close upon us, when the wind freshened, blowing
directly towards the channel, so that our galley could take refuge.
The French soon followed us, but as the water is very shallow on
the bar, their large ships could not pass over, and our provisions
and people got safely into port.

On the same evening, after we had landed our troops and provi-
sions, the two vessels sailed away at midnight, without being seen
by the enemy. One went to Spain and the other to Havana. The
next day a great hurricane came up, and was so severe that I think
almost all the French vessels must have been lost, for they were
assailed on the most dangerous part of the coast. Our general, who
was \ery bold in all military matters, and a great enemy of the
French, immediately assembled his captains and planned an expedi-
tion to attack the French settlement and fort on the river. Accord-
ingly, on Monday, September the ITth, he set out with five hundred
men, well provided with firearms and pikes, each soldier carrying
with him a sack of bread and a supply of wine for the journey.
They also took with them, to serve as guides, two Indian chiefs,
who were the implacable enemies of the French.

Since the departure of the troops wc have suffered the worst
weather and the most horrible tempests that I ever saw. Yesterday
evening, Wednesday 19th, we sent from the fort twenty men laden


with provisions — bread, wine, and cheese — but the rain has fallen
in such abundance that I am not sure they have been able to join
the general and his army. I hope God, however, will do all he can
for us, which will enable us to propagate his religion and destroy
the heretics.

In a letter received from the general to-day, the 19th, he wrote:
that the very shallowest of the streams that they forded reached up
to the knees, and that he has passed through very dense forrestsj and
to-morrow, the 20th, he hoped to attack the enemy's fort at day-

On Saturday morning, the 22d, the admiral, at our request, sent
some soldiers to fish ^ that we priests might have something to eat,
it 'b&ing a, fast day. Just as they arrived at the place for Ashing
and were going to throw out their nets, they perceived a man
advancing toward them. He unfurled a white flag, which is a sign,
of peace, when our men surrounded and captured him. He proved
to be a Frenchman, one of our enemies, so they brought him to ouj^
admiral * The man, thinking we were going to Iiang him, shed
tears and appeared to be in great distress. I asked him if he were
a Catholic, and he told me he was, and recited some prayers; so I
consoled him and told him not to fear anything, but to answer with
frankness all questions put to him, which he promised to do. He
said there were about seven hundred men in the fort, of which one-
third were Lutherans, and two priests who preached the Lutheran
doctrines ; and in camp eight or ten Spaniards, three of whom
were found among the Indians, quite naked and painted like the
natives, who had been wrecked on the coast, and as no vessel had
come into the country for a long time, the}' had remained with the
Indians, some of whom had joined the French whose fleet had
arrived twenty days before. ,

On Monday, September 24th, about nine o'clock in the morning,
the admiral came into port with his frigate. An hour after he ar-
rived we saw a ma,n approaching with loud cries: " Victory 1 vic-
tory ! the French fort is ours." As the enterprise we are engaged
in is for the cause of Jesus Christ and His blessed mother, the
Holj' Spirit has enlightened the understanding of our chief, so that
everything has turned to our advantage and resulted in a great
victory. As previously stated, the general set out on Mondaj', the
1 7th of September. They marched until Tuesday evening, when
they arrived within a quarter of a league of the enemy's fort, where

* Menendez was the general and chief in command ; then there was also an
admiral. Menendez had gone to attack Fort Caroline, and the admiral re-
mained probahly with the fleet at Seloy.


tliey remained all niglit, up to their waists in water. When day-
light came, Captains Lopez, Patino, and Martin Ochoa had already
been to examine the fort, but when they went to attack the fort a
greater part of the soldiers were so confused they scarcely knew
what they were about.*

On Thursday morning the general went to inspect the fort.

It appears the enemy did not pei-ceive their approach until the
very moment of the attack, as it was very early in the morning and
had rained in torrents. The greater part of the soldiers were still
in bed. Some arose in their shirts, and others, quite naked, begged
for quarter; but in spiYe o/i/ia^, more than one liundred and forty
were killed. A great Lutheran cosmographer and magician was
found among the dead.f The rest, numbering about three hundred,
scaled the walls, and took refuge either in the foi'est or on their
ships floating on the river, laden with treasures ; so that in an
hour's time the fort was in our possession, without our having lost
a single man or even had one wounded. There were six vessels on
the river at the time. They took one brig and an unfinished
galley, and another vessel, which had just been discharged of a
load of ricli merchandise and sunk. These vessels were placed at
the entrance to the bar, to blockade tlie harbor, as they expected
we, would come by sea. Another laden with wine and merchan-
dise was near the port. She refused to siirrender and spread her
sails, when they fired on her from the fort and sunk her in a place
where neither the vessel nor tlie cargo will be lost. The taking of
this fort gained us many valuable objects, viz.: two hundred pikes,
a hundred and twenty helmets, a quantity of arquebuses and
shields, a quantity of clothing, linen, fine cloths, two hundred tons
of flour, a good many barrels of biscuit, two hundred bushels of
wheat, three horses, four asses and two she-asses, hogs, tallow,
books, furnace, flour-mill, and many other things of little value.
But the greatest advantage is certainly the triumph which our Lord
has granted us which will be the means of the holy Gospel being-
introduced' into this country, a thing necessary to prevent the loss
of many souls.

On Monday, the 24th of September, 1565, at vesper hour, our
general arrived with fifty foot soldiers. He was very tired as well
as those who accompanied him. Our general's zeal for Christianity

* This confusion may have been occasioned by fog, obscurity, or ignora,nce of
the way, throngli woods and marshes, but it is left to conjecture.

t This was La Roguette, who by his art had produced defection among Laud-
onniere's soldiers.


is SO great that all his troubles are but repose for his mind. I am
sure that' no merely human Strength could have supported all that
he has suffered, but the ardent desire which he has to serve our
Lord in destroying the Lutheran heretics, the enemies of our holy
Catholic religion, causes him to be less sensible to the ills he en-

On the 28th, after the arrival of the adelantado at Seloy, some
Indians came to him to inform him that towards the south there
was a French vessel wrecked, and that there were a great many
Christians four leagues distant, who could not pass the. river or
arm of the sea. Immediately our general directed the admiral to
arm a boat, take fifty men, and go down the river to the sea to find
out what was the matter. About two o'clock the general sent for
me, and told me in a very decided tone that he wished to set out,
and that he commanded me and the captains wlio remained at the
fort to accompany him. He said there should be in all twelve men
to go in'the boat, and two of them Indians who would serve as
guides. We set off immediately and descended the river to the sea
in search of the enemy ; and to get there we had to march more
than two leagues through plains covered with brush, often up to
our knees in water, our brave general always leading the march.
When we reached the sea we went about three leagues along the
coast in search of our comrades. It was about ten o'clock at night
when we met them. Not far off we saw the camp fires of our ene-
mies, and our general ordered two of our soldiers to go and recon-
noitre them, concealing themselves in the bushes, and to observe
well the ground where they were encamped, so as to know what
could, be done. About two o'clock the men returned, saying the
enemy was on the other side of the river, and that we could not get
at them. Immediately the general ordered two soldiers and four
sailors to return to where we had left the boats and bring them
down the river so that we might pass over to where the enemy was ;
then he marched his troops forward to the river, and we arrived be-
fore daylight. We concealed ourselves in a hollow between the
sand hills with the Indians who were with us, and after hiding his
soldiers among tlie bushes and trees and when it became light [he
surveyed the country from the top of a tree and saw many people on
the opposite side of the river, with banners flying ; and thinking how
he should prevent them from crossing over he drew so near them
that he could count them] go down to the river to get shell-fish for
food, and soon after we saw a flag hoisted. Our general, who was
observing, all that, said to us : "I intend to change these clothes
for those of a sailor, and take a Frenchman with me (one of those


■whom we had brought with us from Spain) and we will go and talk
with these Frenchmen. Perhaps they are without supplies and
■ would be glad to surrender without fighting." He had scarcely-
finished speaking before he put his plan into execution. As soon
as he had called to them one of them swam towards and spoke to
him ; told him of their having been shipwrecked (in a hurricane)
and the distress they were in, that they had not eaten bread for
eight or ten days.* The general asked him how manj' men were on
the opposite side. He replied, " About two hundred followers of
Captain Ribault, viceroy and captain-general of' Florida for the
king of France [Charles IX.]."

He again asked him, "Are they Roman Catholics or Lutherans?"
He replied : " They are all Lutherans," of which the general had been
previously Informed by the women and children whom he had re-
cently captured at Fort Caroline, together with six cases of Lutheran
books which were afterwards burned. The general then asked him if
he wished to return to his people. He answered, " Yes." " You may
then go back and report to Capt. Ribault that I am. captain-general
for Philip II., king of Spain, and came to find out what your people
are doing here." Tlie Frenchman went back the same day with the
message to Captain Ribault,"}" who sent him back asking an interview
for himself and four officers, and requesting that a boat might be sent
for them, which the general granted, and guaranteed on his honor that
they should not be molested going or coming, and at the same time
ordered a boat to be sent for them. On the boat returning 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 58 of 75)