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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were cordially received by the general and his men, who afterwards
were ordered to retire at some distance to the rear and scatter them-
selves among the bushes so as not to be seen by the French. One of
the Frenchmen said that he was a captain, and that four galleons had
been lost in the recent storm, together with several smaller vessels
belonging to the king of France ; and some of the people who had
escaped wished to be assisted with boats to take them to a fort
twenty leagues distant. The general then asked him, "Are they
Catholics or Lutherans ?" He replied, " We are all Lutherans." He
then said, " Gentlemen, your fort has been taken, and all the people

* Grajales, except the three lines in brackets, which is from Solis de las

t In this account of Solis de las Meras, he mentions two parties ; the first of
208 men, all of whom surrendered ; the second df 350, of whom only 150 would
surrender, of which latter number Captain Ribault is mentioned as one. The
chaplain, Grajales, mentions only the first surrender, in which were the ten or
twelve Catholics that he saved, but he does not give the number that sur-


in it put to death except the women and children under fifteen years
of age ; and if you wish to be certain of it, there are some soldiers
here who can tell you all about the capture. 1 have two French
soldiers Roman Catholics wlio were captured at the foi't, and will
send for them if you will take a seat here, and you can question
them " They replied, " We are satisfied with your statement," and
begged as a favor that he would give them some ships to take them
back to France. The general said that he had no ships to spare,
but he would do so willingly if he liad some to spare if they were
Catliolies; that he had recently sent one to Fort St. Matteo (Fort
Caroline) to bring the artillery, one to St. Domingo with the women
and children he had captured, and one with dispatches to Spain.
The Frenchman then begged the general to let his people remain
with him until he could furnish them with ships and provisions to
take tliem back to Francp, as there was then no war between the
two nations, and the kings of France and Spain were friends and
brothers. TJie general replied that this was true, but that as thtjy
were Lutherans he looked upon them as enemies, and would wage
war against them "with fire and sword, whether on sea or land, for
the king, as I have come here to establish the Holy Roman Catholic
faith in Florida. But if you will surrender yourselves and arms
and trust to m^J- mercy, you may do so, and I will act towards you
as God may prompt me : otherwise do as j'ou please, for I will not
make any terms or treaties with j'OU." One of the Frenchmen then
said he would go back and consult with his people what was best to
be done, and that within two hours he would return with an answer.
The general then said, ''You can do as you please, and I will remain
here until you return." In two hours he returned and said there
were many noblemen among tliem who would give him fifty thou-
sand ducats if he would spare their lives. He replied, " I am a poor
man, but I would not be guilty of such weakness, nor do I wish to
be thought avaricious, and when I wish to be liberal and merciful, it
must be without reward, nor will I offer any other terms." There-
upon the Frenchman returned to his people, and in less than an hour
after, he came back and said to the-general, that all the Frenchmen
would trust to his mercy and surrender on his terms, and brought
back in his boat all their flags, arquebuses, pistols, swords, bucklers,
helmets, and breastplates.*

* There was but a page left of the chaplain's account, where I terminated it,
and as the remainder of it gives a somewhat different account of this surrender,
I here insert it. " Immediately the general sent him back to his countrymen,
to say they must surrender, and give up their arms, or he would put them all


The general then ordered twenty soldiers into the boats to bring
over the river ten at a time, and not to treat them ill ; he then witli-
drew from the banks of the river, to some bushes behiniS the sand-
hills, where he could not be seen from the boat that was to bring
tiiem over, and when the}' landed he said to the French captain and
the other Frenchmen with him : ''Gentlemen, I have but few men,
and they are not well known to me, and as yon are many and are
at 'liberty, it will be easy for you to revenge yourselv/es upon me for
the people I have put to death when we took your fort ; it is, there-
fore, necessary that you should march with your hands tied behind
your backs, four leagues, where I have my camp ;" to which they
consented, and as they crossed over the Spaniards 'tied their hands
behind their backs, and marched them off in squads of ten until they
amounted to two hundred and eight Frenchmen ; when the general
asked if there were any Roman Catholics among them. Eight of
them said they were Roman Catholics, and he had them put into a
boat and sent to St. Augustine, but the remainder, who were
Lutherans, he ordered, after giving them something to eat, to be
marched to St. Augustine to be put to deatli.

A few days after the general returned to St. Augustine, the same
Indians came to inform him that more Christians Jiad arriviid on
the same side of the river where they found the others. He then
began to surmise that tliey must be Captain Ribault's party whom_
they called the French king's viceroy of Florida; and Menendez set
out with one hundred and fifty soldiers well equipped, and halted at
the same place as before. He scattered his soldiers along the river
bank and behind the sand-hills and bushes ; and as day dawned he
saw a crowd of men with a lighter for the purpose of carrying over

to death. A French gentleman, who was a sergeant, brought hack the reply-
that they would surrender on condition their lives should be spared. After
having parleyed a long time, our brave captain-general answered that he would
make no promises ; that they must surrender unconditionally, and lay down
their arms ; because if he spared their lives, he wanted them to be grateful for
it, and if he put them to death that there should be no cause for complaint.
Seeing that there was nothing else left for them to do, the sergeant returned to
the camp, and soon after he brought all their arms and flags, and gave them up
to the general, and surrendered unconditionally. Finding they were all Lu-
therans, he ordered them all to be put to death, but as I was a priest, and had
bowels of mercy, (!) I begged him to grant me the favor of sparing those whom we
might find to be Christians. He granted it, and I made investigations, and
found ten or twelve of the men Roman Catholics, whom we brought back. All
the others we executed because they were Lutherans and enemies of our Holy
Catholic faith. All this took place on Saturday (St. Michael's Day), Sept. 29th,
1565." Thus ends the chaplain's story.


the men to the other side of the river. But on seeing the Spaniards
they sounded tlieir drums and trumpets and unfurled the royal
standard together with two campaign flags, and upon playing their
fifes and drums showed battle to the Spaniards. The general
ordered his men to sit down and talie their breakfasts, whilst he
walked up and down the shore with his admiral and two oilier
captains, taking no notice of the French. Afterwards the French
hoisted a white flag, to which the general replied, and sounded his
bugle, which he always carried with him, and taking a white hand-
kerchief he waved it in sign of peace. A Frenchman then entered
a canoe and called out to the Spaniards to cross over, bnt he was
answered that he must come where the general was. He replied
that it was difficult to cross over the river, as the current was
strong. . A French sailor then swam across the river and spoke to
the general, who ordered him back to inform Captain Ribault that
if he wished anything he must write to him. The sailor returned
and shortly after brought back with him an officer with a message
from Captain Ribault, viceroy of the king of France, that his fleet
had been wrecked in a storm at sea, and that he had with him about
three hundred and fifty men who were marching to the French fort,
about twenty leagues distant, with a request to furnish him with
two boats to cross the river. The general, sent liim back a message
that he had captured the French fort on the river May and put all
the garrison to death. The officer, making no demonstration of
sorrow at what he said, asked the privilege of sending back one of
the gentlemen with him to Captain Ribault, so as to treat for a
surrender, with a guarantee of safe return. The French gentlemen
departed immediately with this message, and returned within an
hour with the message of Captain Ribault to the general accepting
his guarantee of safety. He then crossed over with eight gentlemen,
whom the general received cordially, for they were all distinguished
persons, and he offered them refreshments with wine and preserves.
Captain Ribault said that he was grateful for so kind a reception,
but their hearts were so sorrowful, on account of hearing of the
death of their companions, that they could not partake of their
hospitality, except to take some wine and preserves. He then said
to the general he might some day find himself in the same situation
that he was in, and hoped that he would treat with him in a friendly
and magnanimous spirit, and furnish him with ships and provisions
to return to France; and urged upon the general the reasonableness
of his request. He replied that he would not change his mind.
Captain Ribault then passed to the other side of the river to consult
with his people, among whom were many noblemen. After several


hours had elapsed, he returned and said to the general, that his
people were of different opinions about the terms of surrender, but
that one-half would surrender, on the terms of his being merciful,
.and pay a ransom of a hundred thousand ducats; and the other
half -would pay still more. The general replied: that, as much as
it grieved him that such a large ransom was offered, which he stood
in need of to effect a settlement in Florida and establish the Holy
Catholic religion there, which had been intrusted to him by the
king of Spain, still he must refuse their offer. Captain Ribault
then, as night was advancing, I'eturned once more to consult with
his people, and in the morning he returned among the Spaniards,
and delivered to the general two royal standards of the king of
France, and the banners of the companies, also a sword, dagger,
pistol, gilt helmet, and a seal, which the admiral Coligny, of France,
had given him to seal dispatches and writs which might be passed.
At the same time he said, that out of three hundred and fifty persons
only one hundred and fifty were willing to surrender on the terms
of Jbeing mercifully treated, and the remainder departed that night
in another direction. Thereupon the general ordered Captain Diego
Flores de Valdez, admiral of the fleet, to bring them over in boats,
ten at a time, and distributed them among the bushes behind the
sand-hills, with their hands tied behind their backs, and afterward
marched them four leagues by land at night, taking witli them
Captain Ribault and his (officers, with their hands tied behind their
backs. Before they set out for St. Augustine the general asked
Captkin Ribault if they were Lutherans or Roman Catholics, and
he replied they were Lutherans, and commenced to sing a psalm :
" Domine memente mei," and after they finished it, he remarked
that "they were made of earth and to earth they must return, and
that twenty years, more or less, were of no consequence." Then the
general ordered all of them to be put to death, except the fifers,
drummers, trumpeters, and four others, who were Catholics, making
in all sixteen persons; and the same night the general returned to
St. Augustine, where some taunted him with being cruel, and others
that he had done right, as tliey would have died of starvation, by
reason of the scarcity of provisions at the fort, or the French, being
more numerous, would have put the Spaniards to death for their

* Solis de las' Meras, brother-in-law of Menendez. Pope Plus V. addressed
a complimentary letter to Pedro Menendez de Aviles, on this occasion, in which
the Holy Father says : "We greatly rejoice that our much beloved dear son in
Christ, Philip II., the most Catholic king, had appointed and honored you by
the government of Florida, making you adelantado of the country ; for we had


Menendez changed the name of Fort Caroline to San Mateo, and
the name of the river May to S,an Mateo. Subsequently he under-
took a voyage to the north, along the coast of .Georgia and South
Carolina, and is supposed to have sailed as far north as Chesapeake
Bay. At St. Helena he built a fort, and afterwards set out on an
expedition to South Florida, and visited the Indian tribes of the
southern provinces.

In 1567 he sent two missionaries, Rogel and Villareal,' to the
Caloosas, and in the following year ten other missionaries arrived.
The majority forked to little profit in the southern provinces, but
Sedeno settled in the island of Guale, sometimes called St. Mary's,
now Amelia. At this period the Spanish settlements consisted of
three colonies : St. Augustine, built south of where it now stands
on St. Nicholas Creek ; San Mateo, on the St. John's River ; and
San Felipe, in the province of Crista or St. Helena, now South

In addition to these there were two missionary stations at Carlos
and Tocobago, on the western coast; one at its southern extremity,
Tegesta ; one in the province of Ais or St. Lucia ; and a fifth
founded by Pardo one hundred and fifty leagues inland at Aixacan,
at the foot of the mountains [Georgia].*

In 1592 twelve Franciscans were sent to Florida, and in less
than two years twenty missionary' houses were established. In ad-
dition, in 1612 thirty -two Franciscans were sent out under Gero-
nimo de Ore by Philip II.

received such accounts of your person, and the excellence of your virtues, your
worth, and dignity were so Satisfactorily spoken of, that we believed, without
doubt, that you would not only fulfil faithfully, and with care and diligence, the
orders and instructions which had been delivered to you by so Catholic a king,
but we also fully trusted that you would, with discretion, do all that was
requisite, and see carried forward the extension of our Holy Catholic faith, and
the gaining of souls to God. . . . Well understand, most noble man, that I
declare to you that a great opportunity is oflFered to you in the carrying out of
these matters, which shall redound, on the one hand, to the service of God, and
on the other, to the increase of the dignity of your king, esteemed of men as
well as loved and rewarded by God. Wherefore we give you our paternal and
Apostolic benediction." This letter is dated August 1, 1569.

On the 22d of August, 1572, was the massacre of St. Bartholomew, in which
70,000 Protestants perished ; so that the massacre of the Huguenots or Lutherans
in Florida on the 29th of September, 1565, was but a prelude to that "scheme,
the most bloody and the most destructive to the repose of mankind that had
ever been suggested by superstition to the human heart." ,

* From a note to Grajales's Memoir in "Historical Collections of Louisiana
and Florida," by B. F. French.


The colony of Pensacola or Santa Maria de Galve on the west,
and St. Augustine, San Mateo, Santa Cruce, and San Marco were
described as scrupulous in their observance of the rites of the
Catholic religion. The Franciscans built school-houses and gave
instruction to the children of the natives ; but at the close of the
seventeenth century the Indian tribes and the English of the north
drove out the colonies, broke up and demolished the work of two
centuries, which accounts for the remains of edifices now to be seen
along the old Spanish highways from St. Augustine to Pensacola.






The news of this cruel massacre* having reached France, the
French were exceedingly exasperated at such base treachery and
such horrible cruelty, and especially when they learned that these
traitors and murderers, instead of being censured and punished in
Spain, were there praised and honored with the greatest estates
and dignities. All the French expected that such an insult to the
king and to the whole French nation would be very soon avenged
by the public authority; but this expectation having been disap-
pointed for the space of three years, they hoped that there might
be found some private person who would undertake this enterprise,
so necessary for the honor and reputation of France. There were
not wanting those who would have greatly desired to have the
praise of achieving such an exploit ; but there were so many and
such great difficulties, that the severity of these disappointed each
one of the pleasure of this glory ; the deed could not be done witli-
out a great expense, both for the construction and equipment of the
ships and for the arms, provisions, and payment of the soldiers and
sailors that would be necessary for it ; few could, and still less
would, make so great an expense; moreover, the result of it, for
many considerations, was very uncertain, hazardous, and perilous;
and what is worse, they saw that tliis enterprise, though even con-
ducted and executed wisely and successfully, could not be exempt
of some calumny. So it was very difficult to find one who would
risk this calumny with the loss of his property and with innu-
merable other inconveniences and dangers. However, Captain
Gourgue, a Gascon gentleman, incited by the zeal which he always
had for the service of his king, in which he had been continually
employed from his youth, as well in France as in Scotland, Pied-
mont, and Italy, according as affairs presented themselves, whether
on sea or on land, disregarding all these difficulties, which he
plainly foresaw, undertook to execute this just vengeance, or die in
the attempt.

* The massacre of the French in Florida by Menendez.


Captain Gourgue then, at the beginning of the year 1567, seeing
that his services were not required on this side, the kingdom being
at peace within and without, and there not being even any appear-
ance of the civil wars which were renewed nine months later, re-
solved to go to Florida, and try if he could avenge the insult done
to the king and to all France. And, although he began to make
his preparations at the beginning of the year, nevertheless he was
not ready to leave until the month of August. It was an execution
which required not only courage and experience, but, as we have
said, also great expense, for which the income of a plain gentleman
was not suflBcient, and least of all of him who all his life had studied
more to acquire honor and fame than to amass the riches of fortune.
Wherefore, finding himself short of this expense, he sold his prop-
erty and borrowed of his friends enougli to build, arm, and equip
two small vessels in the shape of a roberge, and a tender in the
"fashion of a Levant frigate, which, on lack of wind, might be navi-
gated with oars, and would be suitable to enter the mouths of great
rivers, as also to purchase the supply of provisions for one j'ear,
and other things necessary for the soldiers and sailors whom he
intended to take with him. And having done all these things and
well provided for everytliing, he embarked at Bordeaux August 2d,
156t, with the permission of M. de Montluo, lieutenant for the king
in Guyenne [however his passport makes no mention of going to
Florida, but of going to the coast of Benin in Africa, to make war
upon the negroes], and descended the river to Royan, twenty leagues
from Bordeaux, where he made his armament both of soldiers and of
sailors. There were a hundred arquebusiers, all having arquebuses,
and morionson their heads,of whom many were gentlemen, and eighty
mariners, who at need knew how to perform the duty of soldiers; he
also had arms fit for them, as crossbows, pikes, and all sorts of spears.
After the armament was made, Captain Gourgue appointed the
rendezvous customary in such expeditions. But as soon as he was
ready to leave, there arose such a contrary wind that he was com-
pelled to remain eight days at Royan. This wind having abated a
little, he put to sea, but very soon afterwards he was driven back
to Rochelle, and could not even enter the road of Rochelle on ac-
count of the violence of the weather ; he was compelled to retire to
the mouth of the Charente, and to remain there eight days, which
he greatly regretted on account of the consumption of provisions,
and because he feared that his men might take this delay for a bad
omen, and lose the cheerfulness which they had at the beginning.

The 22d of August [1567] the wind having ceased, and the
heavens giving signs of milder weather for the future, he put to sea


and sailed; the weather was scarcely more propitious for him, and
with great difHculty he arrived at Cape Finis Terre, where suddenly
he was assailed by a west wind, which blew for eight days, during
which time he was in great danger of shipwreck, and in the greatest
trouble on account of his people who begged him immediately to
return. The ship in which was his lieutenant went astray, and for
fifteen days they knew not whether it was lost or not. Finally it
reached the place Of rendezvous, which was at the river of Lor, in
Barbary, where Capt. Gourgue was waiting for him, who made his
men rest and refresh themselves here ; they were so worked and so
tired out that they could do nothing more ; he consoled and com-
forted them ill every way that he could conceive, and when he had
well restored and encouraged them, he weighed anchor, and coasting
a part of Africa, he observed the country in passing that he might
be better able to do service for his king if an opportunity should
present itself. And as he sojourned some time at Cape Blanco to
accustom his men to the climate, and by that means preserve their
health, three negro kings (instigated by the Portuguese, who had a
fort ten leagues from there, and who dared not come themselves)
came to attack him. These negroes were twice so well received that
they would not return a third time, and abandoned the port to Capt.
Gourgue, who, however, very soon afterward left tliere, and still
coasting Africa came and landed at Cape Yerd ; thence taking the
route to the Indies he sailed on the high sea, and having crossed the
North Sea, the first place where he landed was at the island called
Dominica, inhabited by savages only, where he remained eight days
on account of the fresh water that is found there.

After which time, pursuing his wanderings, he came to another
island called St. Germain de Porto Rico, which the Spaniards hold.
Leaving there they came to Mona, an island inhabited only by
savages, very fertile and fruitful, where, among other fruits, they
found the finest and best oranges, citrons, and melons, that they
ever ate. The inhabitants are very plain, good people ; their king
came to see the ships of Capt. Gourgue, and passed two nights there;
then he took him on shore to see his gardens, and his houses made
in the form of a cavern, and his fountain, which he called paradise,
in the very deep hollow of a rock, where they descended by steps,
and he said that the water of this spring cured fevers. On leaving
this island the king gave to Capt. Gourgue a great quantity of fruit
in exchange for some linen to make shirts, which Capt. Gourgue
had given him, and of which he had no further use.

On leaving there, he went to coast the main land towards Cape
Belle to discover the country, but the contrary winds drove him


back, and cast them upon the island of Hispaniola, otherwise called
St. Domingo, which is at present inhabited only by Spaniards, after
they have put to death all the Indian natives whom they found there,

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 59 of 75)