Barnard Shipp.

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

. (page 60 of 75)
Online LibraryBarnard ShippThe history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 → online text (page 60 of 75)
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who were more than a million. That is how they have converted
the Indians to the Christian faith, of which they boast so much. In
this island, which is also held by the Spaniards, Capt. Gourgue was
not permitted to take even water ; but he took it by force. He
found himself there in very great danger, the sea being agitated by
a terrible storm, and the land being to him a still greater enemy ;
for the Spaniards are enraged as soon as they see a Frenchman in
the Indies, although a hundred Spains could not furnish sufficient
men to hold the hundredth part of aland so extensiveand spacious ;
nevertheless the Spaniards conceive that this new world was created
solely for them, and that it becomes no man living to tread, or even
to breathe there except themselves alone ; however, Capt. Gourgue
was forced to remain there until the storm had abated, being con-
fident that he could more easily defend himself against the Span-
lards than the winds and tempests.

The sea having become calm, Capt. Gourgue left there and went
to land at Cape St. Nicolas, where he calked bis ship, which had
sprung a leak in the storm, by which there happened the loss of all
the bread within, because it was wet, and the rest that was in this
ship, with the ship itself, like to have been lost. But it arriveil iu
season at Cape St. Nicolas, where it was so well repaired that no
defect ever afterward happened to it. This loss of bread was to
Capt. Gourgue and his company an inestimable injury, for it was
necessary to retrench the provisions one-half, and he who before ate
two biscuits per day now took but one. The isles by which they
were obliged to pass afterwards were held by the Spaniards; as
the island of Cuba, which they found the first after having left St.
Nicolas, in which the Spaniards would never give provisions for
the linens of Rouen, nor for anything else, which Capt. Gourgue
had brought for this purpose in case his provisions should fail him.
They would not even permit him to take in water, but he took it in
spite of them. About this island there arose the most violent and
impetuous wind that they had j^et experienced, but it lasted only
six hours. But had it lasted longer all would have been over with
him, for it would have cast them upon the coast, where their ships
would have perished together with themselves.

The cape St. Anthonj', at the end of the island of Cuba, where
they landed very soon after the tempest had passed, is about two
hundred leagues from Florida. Here Capt. Gourgue, having assem-
bled all bis men, declared to them what till then he had kept to him-



self, how he had undertaken this voyage to go to Florida to avenge
upon tlie Spaniards the insult which they had given to the king and
to all France; he excused himself that he had not communicated
his enterprise to them sooner; he disclosed to them the means by
which he hoped to succeed in his designs ; he exhorted and begged
them to follow them with as good courage as he had hoped of them
when he chose them from among many as the most fit for such an
execution. He put before them the treachery and cruelty of those
■who had massacred the French, and the disgrace that such a wicked
and base deed should have remained so long unpunished. He sug-
gested to them the honor and happiness that would redound to thfem
from so brilliant a deed ; in brief, he animated them so well that,
although at the commencement they might have found the thing
almost impossible, on account of the few men that he had, and this
coast being the most dangerous of all the Indies ; nevertheless they
promised not to abandon him, and to die with him ; the soldiers be-
came so ardent that they could not even wait for the full moon to
cross the Bahama Channel, which is very dangerous; and the pilots
and sailors, who were cool at the commencement, were very soon
inspired with this ardor of the soldiers. The moon then being full,
tliey entered the Bahama Channel, and very soon after discovered

When the Spaniards who were in the forts [at the mouth of the
river St. John] saw-tlie ships of Captain Gourgue, they saluted
them with the dischargfe of two cannons, thinking they were Span-
iards. Captain Gourgue, to keep them in their error, returned the
salute, and pretending to go elsewhere passed beyond them until
night came, and he had lost sight of Florida. When night had
come he changed his course, and came and landed at fifteen leagues
from the fort, where the Spaniards could discover nothing, in front
of a river which the savages call Tacatacourou, which is also the
name of the king of the country ; the French had given it the name
of Seine, because it resembled our Seine.

As soon as day came. Captain Gourgue beheld the beach covered
with savages, armed with their bows and arrows to hinder him
from landing, thinking that he was a Spaniard. Captain Gourgue,
who had easily anticipated this, had also bethought himself to act
in such a way that he should be assisted by them, and therefore he
made every sign of friendship, and sent to them his trumpeter,

* The achievement of Gourgue could not be duly appreciated without a
knowledge of the obstacles he had to overcome to accomplish it, while the
whole discloses the chivalric and heroic character of the man.


who was well known to them, and knew how to sj)eak their lan-
guage well, having conversed with them when the French were
there when they built the fort there. As soon as they recognized
the trumpeter they began to dance, which is the ordinary sign of
joy among them, and asked him wherefore he had delayed so long
to return to them. He replied that he had not had time to return
sooner; "but I have now arrived in safety," he said, "and there
are the French, who have come here to renew their friendship with
you, and have brought you the things from France that you most
need, and which you like the best." They then began to dance
more than before, and their greatest king, named Satorioua, sent
with the trumpeter one of his people to Captain Gourgne to
present him a buck and to inquire further into the cause of his
coming. Captain Gourgue replied to the messenger that he thanked
King Satorioua, and assured him that what the trumpeter had told
him was true, that he had come there hut to associate with him and
the other kings, and to give them some beautiful things that were
made in France, of which moreover they had need. He would say
nothing more of his expedition, until he had seen whether there
were any Spaniards among them, and ascertained the disposition of
the savages and learn how all would turn out. The savages, after
having heard this reply, took to dancing more tlian before, and
soon after sent to Captain Gourgue to say to him that they were
going away to inform all the kings of it, tlie relations and allies of
Satorioua; that they would be with them the next day at that place
to associate with the French, in which they would not fail; so
they went away for that day. Now, during all this coming and go-
ing. Captain Gourgue sent his pilot to sound the entrance of the
river, and learned that it was easy, wherefore he entered the river
to treat more conveniently with the Indians.

The next day he saw at the same place the great King Satorioua,
the kings Tacata<3ourou, Halimacani, Atore, Harpaha, Helmacape,
Helicopile, Monloua, and others ; all relations and allies of Satorioua.
When they had arrived they sent to request Captain Gourgue to
land, which he did, accompanied by his soldiers bearing their arque-
buses. .When the kings saw the French coming armed, they were
somewhat frightened, and sent to Captain Gourgue to inquire why
he came to them armed, seeing that they wished to associate with
him. He replied that he saw them with their arms, and that he
brought his. Immediately they commanded their subjects to lay
aside their bows and arrows, to make them into large bundles and
take them home ; and Captain Gourgue made his men lay aside
their arquebuses and retain their swords, and thus he went to


visit Satorioua,"wlio came to meet him and made him sit at his right
hand, upon a wooden seat covered with moss, which he had made
for him like to his own. When they both were seated, two of the
most ancient among them came and pulled up the brambles and
every herb that was before them ; and after having well cleaned the
place, they all sat upon the ground round about. And when Cap-
tain Gourgue wished to speak, the king Satorioua (who is not fash-
ioned to the civility on this side) preceded him, saying to him that,
since the Spaniards had taken the fort built by the French, Florida
had never had one happy day ; and that the Spaniards had made
war upon them continually, had chased them from their houses, cut
their corn, violated their women, ravished their daughters, slain
their children ; and j'et he and the other kings had suffered these
evils because of the friendship they had contracted for the French,
by whom the land had first been inhabited ; however, they had
never ceased to love the French for the good treatment they had
received from them when they commanded here. That after the
massacre which the Spaniards had made of the French, they had
found a boy that had fled away into woods, which he had ever
since nourished as his own child; that the Spaniards had done
everything possible to slay him, but that he had always kept him
to restore him some day to the French when they should return to
Florida, "and since you are here (he said to Captain Gourgue), take
him. I give him to you."

Captain Gourgue, rejoiced to find the Indians so well disposed to
execute his design, and also that Satorioua himself was the first to
enter into the affair of the Spaniards, thanked him very kindly for
the great affection he had for the French, and particularly for hav-
ing preserved the young man, begged him always to persevere in
this kind regard, suggesting to him the greatness and goodness of
the king of France. As to the Spaniards, that the time was ap-
proaching when they would be punished for thS injuries they had
committed, as well against the Indians as against the French, and
if the kings and their subjects had been maltreated through hate
of the French, that they also would be avenged by the French
themselves. " How 1" said Satorioua, starting with joy, " would j^ou
really make war upon the Spaniards ?" " And what do j^ou think
of it?" said Captain Gourgue, concealing his feelings and his enter-
prise, in order to elicit Satorioua's in regard to himself. "It
is time now to avenge the injuries they have done to our nation;
but I had proposed for the present only to renew our fi'iendship
with you, and to see what is passing on this side, in order to return
immediately afterwards against them with such forces as I should


find necessary ; however, when I learn the great evils they have
done 3'ou and do you every day, I have compassion on you, and the
inclination moves me to attack them without waiting longer, in
order to deliver you from their oppression rather now than here-
aftet." " Oh !" said Satorioua, " the great blessing you would do
us! how happy we should be!" All the others cried out the same.
" I think," said Captain Gourgue, " you would willingly be of the
party, and would not wish that the French should have all the
honor of delivering you from the tyranny of the Spaniards." " Yes,"
said Satorioua, " we and all our subjects will go with you, and will
die together with you if it is necessary." The other kings also
made a similar reply.

Captain ijfourgiie, who had found what he was seeking, praised
and thanked them greatlj', and to strike while the iron was hot* he
said: "But consider, if we would make war upon them, it should be
done immediately. In what time could you have your people assem-
bled ready to march ?" " In three days," said Satorioua, " we and our
people can come here to leave with you." "In the mean time," said
Captain Gourgue, "you will give orders that all shall be kept secret,
so that the Spaniards may not get wind of it." " Do not concern your-
self about that," said the king, " we owe them a greater grudge than
you." Captain Gourgue, seeing that the foundation of his enterprise
was sufficiently well and fortunately laid, thought tliat he ought
not longer to withliold from these kind people that which he wished
to give them ; and began to divide among tliem what he had brought
expressly for this purpose, as knives, daggers, hatchets, scissors,
pins, needles, purses, mirrors, little bells, and beads, and other like
things. And, after he had distributed them to all, according as he
judged of the rank and merit of each one, he said to Satorioua and
the other kings, " Tell me if there is anything else that 3'ou wish, do
not withhold it." They, although more .than content with what
they already had, however, seeing the good intentions of Captain
Gourgue, replied that they would each like to have one of his shirts,
which they requested, not to dress themselves with, except some-
times through great oddity, but to have them interred with them at
their death, as they do all the fine things they have been able to col-
lect during their lives. Captain Gourgue immediately gave one to
each of the kings, and added also, all that he happened to have
which he thought might be agreeable to them. King Satorioua, who
had two strings of grains of gold about his neck, gave one of them
to Captain Gourgue. The other kings gave him deer-skins dressed
in the manner of the country.

* So this phrase was in use in France in 1568.


While the savages amused themselves with these presents, Captain
Grourgue, who thought of nothing else than accomplishing his enter-
prise, and was not willing to lose a minute of time, interrogated the
young Frenchman that Satorioua had given him, and learned from
him that the Spaniards might be about four hundred in number and
that they had built two small forts at the entrance of the river May^
besides the great fort which the French had built on the same river
a league above. This young man was a native of Havre-de-Grace,
sixteen years of age, and. named Pierre Debre, who, by his intelli-
gence, and his familiarity with the two languages, was very useful
to Captain Grourgue on this voyage, on the return from which he
was restored to his parents.

Captain Gourgue, deliberating about sending to reconnoitre the
forts, said to Satorioua ; " In three daj's, as you tell me , you will have
returned here with your subjects. In the same time can also return
those whom I shall send to reconnoitre the enemy, but to guide
them some one of your faithful and reliable men is needed." Sato-
rioua immediately gave him his nephew named Olotoraca, a strong,
valiant, and loyal man, under the guidance of whom a gentleman
named Estampes, with two others, left to reconnoitre the forts. After
that; Captain .Gourgue asked hostages of Satorioua for those whom
he was about to send away, which were delivered to him as soon
as demanded. " I will let you have my only son," said Satorioua,
" and of my wives the one I love the most, in order that you may
know that we are neither liars nor traitors, as are those Spaniards,
who always deceive us, and never do what they promise us." Cap-
tain Gourgue was very glad that his affairs progressed so well, and
to send away the savages so that they might return the sooner, he
said to them, "These miscreants have done much evil to you, but we
will call them to an account this time, and in order that we may be
the better able to capture them, I beg you not to delay more than
three days, as you have told me, and carefully to keep the affair
secret;" which Satorioua and all the others promised to do, and upon
that they went away to their homes, dancing and leaping with joy,
and Captain Gourgue retired to his ships with his hostages. The
son of the king was entirely naked, as all the other men are. The
wife of the king was dressed with moss, and about eighteen years of
age. They were three daj'S on the vessels of Captain Gourgue,
awaiting until the men should return from reconnoitring the forts;
and, in three days from that time, nearly at the same hour, there
were on the one side M. Estampes, who made his report of what he
had seen, and on the other the kings with a great number of their
subjects well armed with bows and arrows, all ready to march.


Before leaving there the savages made a beverage called by them
cassive, -which they are accustomed to take at all times, and when
they go to fight in places where there is danger. This beverage,
made of a certain plant, and drank quite hot, keeps them from being
hungry and thirsty for twenty-four hours. They presented it first
to Captain Gourgue, who pretended to drink it and swallowed none
of it ; then Satorioua partook of it, and after him all the others, each
one according to his rank. That done with many ceremonies, tiiey
all, raising their hands, swore they would do their dutj' and flght
bravely, and would never abandon Captain Gourgue.

Before this was finished the greater part of the day had passed,
nevertheless they did not fail to leave the same day ; and the
savages said that they would travel all night, asking Captain
Gourgue to have them put on the other side of the river Tacata-
courou, with his vessels: for the place where the Spaniards were
was on that side of the river.*

Captain Gourgue, seeing them thus resolved, appointed a place,
according to what he could judge from the report they had made him,
for all to meet together: which was at the mouth of a river named
by them Halimacani, and by the French, who had inhabited the
country, Somme; then he had them all put on the other side of the
river, except Olotoraca, the nephew of the king, whom he retained
with him for a guide, and who never afterwards abandoned him.
And, because his bow had never been brought back to him after ij;
was carried to the village with the others, he asked for arms, when
he was given a pike, which he well knew how to make use of against
the Spaniards. When the savages had crossed the river. Captain
Gourgue began tci exhort his men, representing to them the good
disposition of the savages, and the ardor with which they marched
against the Spaniards, assuring himself that they would do so much
the better, as their training and education and their government and
religion were better than those of these poor savages; and when he
wished to proceed thdy began to cry out: "Let us go! let us go!"
as those who would have wislied to be there already, and who were
all determined to die there. Then Captain Gourgue, witli all his
soldiers and sixty sailors, departed by sea in two boats, which he
had besides the three ships, the keeping of which, with the rest of
the ships, he left with Frangois Lague Bourdelois, the owner and
master of his ship, a man as fully experienced in marine affairs as
anj' of this time, recommending him to have them well calked, and to
have the whole ready for them to return in as soon as God should

* But fifteen leagues away on the river May : nine leagues from Taoatacourou
or Seine to Halimacani or Somme ; four from Somme to Sarabay, and two from
Sarabay to the river May.


give them success ; " and, if God wills (said he) that I should die in
SO righteous a pursuit, I leave you all that I have here, and beseech
you to conduct and take back my soldiers to France, as I confide in
you," and, saying that, he delivered to him the keys of his trunks
and all that he had there. This affected very much the hearts of
all, and especially of the sailors who remained to guard the vessels,
who could not restrain their tears ; and this departure was full of
tenderness to hear so many adieus on both sides, and so many
charges and recommendations, on the part of those who were going
away, to their parents and friends, and to their wives and relations,
in case they should not return. On leaving their country they did
not think of going to Florida, as has been said, and yet in the midst
of all that, you would have admired the joy of these men ; who,
although they expected to go to an almost certain death, neverthe-
less had no fear, except that tliey might not arrive there in sufficient
time for the honor which they hoped to have as the only reward for
so glorious a deed.

When they reached the mouth of the river Halimacani, where
the savages awaited them, which was about the break of day, the
wind from the northeast began to blow so strong, that they came
near being lost ; and that caused such a delay that the savages
coLild not cross the river that day; however, about eight o'clock
in the morning. Captain Grourgue crossed it, with great difficulty,
and, leaving one of his boats to assist them in crossing, took his
route by land to go and await them at the river Sarabay, which was
four leagues from there. But the route was found so bad, there
was so much water, and so many marshes to cross, as well as forests
to traverse, that thej' were from eight o'clock in the morning to five
o'clock in the afternoon in making these four leagues: Captain
Gourgue having always his main armor upon Jiis back, and they
found nothing to eat all day, except some roots of the wild palm
tree, by which means they were so tired and hungry that they could
do nothing more.

When tliey arrived at the river Sarabay they found there waiting
for them three Indian chiefs, who each led a hundred men. Now
from this river SarabayHo the place where the first two forts were
might be about two leagues. Captain Gourgue, who saw that the
success of his plan depended upon diligence and celerity, although
he had nothing to eat the whole day, for the sailors had not yet
brought the boat in which they had put the provisions on leaving
the river Tacatacourou, nevertheless he left with ten of his arque-
busiers and his guide to go and reconnoitre the first fort, in order to
attack it the next morning ; the route was found as bad and as


difficult as tlie other, tlie niglit was cloudy and dark ; a little river
that was adjoining the fort, swollen, because the tide began to rise,
could not be crossed, so that Captain Gourgue was obliged to return
to the river Sarabay to his people, tired with travelling, and more
sad for not having accomplished anything. One of the kings, named
Hilicopile, seeing them return all pensive, asked the interpreter:
'■What is the matter with your king ?" The interpreter replied that
he was grieved that he had not been able to reconnoitre the fort.
Hilicopile said to him : " I will lead him along the sea where he will
find neither mud nor marsh, but the route is longer." Captain
Gourgue, learning this, resolved that he would go there immediately
by this way, accompanied by Hilicopile ; he left with all his men,
and sent the two other chiefs thi-ough the woods to be in the morn-
ing at the crossing of the little river adjoining the first fort, which
he had not been able to cross ; he hastened his men, and marched with
great speed, in order to be there at the break of day, before they
should be discovered. And thus, as the day began to break, he
arrived at this river, which was enlarged and high, because the tide
had risen; nevertheless he had the ford sounded by some of his
sailors, who found that it could not be forded ; at which he was very
much grieved, for the time had already arrived to surprise the
Spaniards, who were still sleeping; however, he determined to
retire into the woods close adjoining the river, and there await until
the tide should fall, and then all go immediately to attack them.
Scarcely were they yet in the woods when it began to rain so hard
that thej' were thoroughly wet, and the soldiers had great difficulty
to keep their fire. Day having broke, Captain Gourgue examined
the fort at his leisure from where he was, and having looked well at
both sides he understood tlie whole; he noticed that there was only
the commencement of a ditch ; however he was confirmed in the
resolution he had made on entering the woods, to assault it as soon
as he could cross the river. In the mean time he saw the Spaniards
who were working in the fort, which made him doubt somewhat
whether his arrival had been discovered, but the event showed that

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 60 of 75)