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 61 of 75)
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tliey suspected nothing ; for, after the taking of the fort, they saw
that it was a well on which they were working.

About ten o'clock, the tide being low, he went to cross the river
a little higher up, where he saw a little woods between the river and
the fort, which served to screen him from being seen, as well while
crossing the river as while putting his men in order, and because
the water reached higher than the waist, he commanded the soldiers
to fasten their powder-flasks to their morions, to take their arque-
buse and match in one hand, and their sword in the other.


In crossing the river there was so great a quantity of oysters that
the shoes of the soldiers were cut, and the most of them wounded
in the feet ; for the oysters were the largest, and their shells the
sharpest, considering those we ordinarily see on this side. How-
ever, they were no sooner on the other side of the river than they
resumed their arms, and of themselves prepared for battle. Cap-
tain Gourgue gave twenty soldiers to his lieutenant, and ten sailors
bearing fire-pots and lances a feu, to set fire to the gate, and be-
hind the little wood where they could not be seen he ranged his
men in or<ler of battle ; and, seeing them well disposed and confident,
he conceived there was no need of great exhortation, as the position
in which he was required rather a quick execution than a long ha-
rangue; however he made a short one. "My friends," said he, " I
clearly see tliat your courage increases with the occasion, inasmuch
as I have chosen j^ou for such ; your resolute countenances predict
to me that you will avenge to-day the insult to our country and our
king ;" and showing them the fort, which they could barely distin-
guish through the trees, " There,'' said he, " are the robbers who have
stolen this land from our king; there are the murderers who have
massacred our Frenchmen. Forward ! forward ! let us avenge our
king; let us avenge France; let us prove ourselves Frenchmen;"
and imniedlately he commanded his lieutenant to attack the gate
with his troop, and he with his went against an embankment in the
shape of a platform, very low, which was at the side of the fort
where there was but a small commencement of a ditch. The Span-
iards had but just dined when our men, rushing forward at a rapid
pace, were discovered at two hundred paces from the fort by the
cannonier, who had just mounted upon this terrace, who imme-
diately began to cry out in Spanish, "Arm ! arm ! here are the French,
here are the Frencii," and at the same time discharged at them a
large culverin that was upon the terrace, and fired it twice ; but as
he was about to load it for the third time, Olotoraca, swifter than
any other, and who was not taught to keep his rank, rushed for-
ward, mounted the terrace, which was not high, and pierced him
through with his pike. The Spaniards, having armed themselves
at the cry of the cannonier, rushed out of the fort, either to fight
or to retire to their companions, according to what they should
discover when they should be on the outside. Captain Gourgue, at
their going out, had arrived in the nick of time at the foot of the
platform, and his lieutenant near the gate, and as he mounted the
platform, his lieutenant cried out that the Spaniards fled ; and then
Captain Gourgue returning quickly to the gate, inclosed them be-
tween himself and his lieutenant, so that of sixty that they were,
not one escaped, they were either captured or put to death ; they


took alive as many as they could, by command of Captain Gourgue,
for to treat them as they had treated the French.

The 'first fort was no sooner captured than they went to attack
the second, which was on the other side of the river May, opposite
the first, to assist each other, as it did not cease to fire its cannon
at ns while we were taking the first, and greatly incommoded our
men, who directed against them three pieces of cannon which they
had found in the first fort and the culverin which they had found
on the platform, which was conspicuously marked with the coat of
arms of the late King Henry, by which thej' knew that it had been
captured from the French at the time of the massacre, which still more
enraged our Frenchmen ; and with these four pieces they did not
cease to fire against them, whilst Captain Gourgue, with eighty
arquebusiers, was quickly passing the river in his boat, which they
had just brought there in the nick of time ; with which they went
and landed between the fort and a wood which was close to it;
suspecting, what happened, that the Spaniards would flee into the
woods, that they might be able afterwards to retire to the large fort
which was a league from there.

Scarcely was Captain Gourgue on the other side of the river,
when the savages, not being able to wait till they should bring
back to them the boat to cross, leaped into the water, and, swim-
ming with one arm and holding their bow with the other, covered the
river from one bank to the other. The Spaniards, who were sixty
in number, seeing so great and so determined a multitude, and,
through the astonishment with which they were seized, not distin-
guishing between the French and the savages, thinking to escape
in the woods, went and precipitated themselves among the
French, who fired so severely upon them that tlie greater part of
them were extended upon the ground ; the rest, seeking to flee,
found themselves intercepted by the savages. Thus, not being able
either to fight or to flee, they laid down their arms and implored their
life, which was taken while they begged it.

With great diflQculty Capt. Gourgue could have but fifteen of them
preserved alive, in order to do unto them as they had done unto the
French. After this slaughter, Capt. Gourgue entered the second
fort, from which he caused immediately to be transported all that
he found there, and repassing the river with his prisoners, returned
to the first fort to fortify himself there, not knowing what courage
the others might have, nor in what time he might succeed against
the great fort which was a league from there upon the same river,
on the side where was the second fort. Among the prisoners that
he had, there was an old sergeant from whom he learned the height


of the ramparts of the great fort, and the place where it would be
easiest for him to take it.

These two forts were captured on the eve of Sunday after Easter,
1568. Capt. Gourgue rested Sunda}' and Monday ; arid in the mean
time caused to be made eight ladders, of the height that had been
indicated to him, and a sketch of the whole fort, with which this
old soldier was well acquainted. Besides he had so well provided
for the occasion that all the country was up in arms against the
Spaniards, so that those of the great fort had no means to go out
to discover anything; however, they disguised a Spaniard as an
Indian, and sent him away, Monday, to discover what people they
were, and how many. Capt. Gourgue being about the said fort
with Olotoraca, who always accompanied him, this Spaniard was
recognized by Olotoraca, and at the same time seized ; he sought
to carry out bis design by saying he was one of the soldiers who
guarded the first fort, and not being able to retire to the great
one on account of the multitude of savages, had thus disguised
himself for fear of being slain by them, and preferred to come and
surrender to the mercy of the French, to putting himself in danger
of being killed by the savages ; but when the sergeant, whom thej"-
had sent for immediately, maintained that he was of the guard
of the great fort, and a spy, he confessed that he was sent by the
commander of the great fort to learn who these new-comers were,
and what number of men they had. Capt. Gourgue asked him what
they thought of him at the great fort ; he replied that they had in-
formed the governor that he had two thousand French, at which
the governor and his people were so astonished that they knew not
what to do.

Capt. Gourgue was very glad of this news, and determined to go
and attack them the next day while in this affright ; and in fact this
same day he made all his preparations, appointing those whom he
was to leave to guard the mouth of the river and the fort ; the charge
of which he gave to Capt. Mesmes, his ensign, with fifteen arque-
busiers. On the night following he sent the savages to go in am-
bush in the wood ; part on this side of the river and part on the
other. And the next morning he left with his men, taking with him
the sergeant and the spy tied together, to show him ocularly what
they had told him, and showed him in drawing. On the way Olo-
toraca, nephew of king Satorioua, an exceedingly courageous and
heroic man, who had slain the cannonier at the first fort, said to
Capt. Gourgue, from whom he never separated, that he had served
him well, and had done all that he had promised him ; that he
well knew that he would die in the taking of the great fort, but


that for his life he would not fail to be there ; " and I beg you," said
he, " to give to my wife that which you would give to me if I sur-
vived, in order that she may inter it with me, and that I may be
better welcomed for it when I shall arrive in the land of spirits."
Capt. Gourgue told him that he would rather recompense and honor
him living than dead, and that he hoped to take him back alive and

In the mean time they discovered the fort, and as soon as the
Spaniards saw them they commenced firing upon tliem with two
double culverins that were upon a bastion which commanded all
along the river. Capt. Gourgue quickly gained a ridge covered with
wood ; at the foot of which was the fort, and which extended from
where he had been seen even to very far beyond the fort. And by
means of the .trees, which covered it, he approached as near the fort
as he wished, without the possibility of being seen or hurt. He
stopped at a place from which he could look at his leisure into the
fort ; he had no intention of assaulting it that day, but to scale it
the next morning on the same side of the ridge where the ditch was
not defended, where a part of his men would mount while the others
were fighting those who should defend the ramparts. But it hap-
pened that the Spaniards made a sortie of sixty arquebusiers to
reconnoitre his forces, he saw them even as they were coming out,
and going stooping along the ditch, and immediately commanded
his lieutenant, with twenty arquebusiers, to go the other side, and
place himself between them and the fort ; and when he saw his
lieutenant in the place where he could prevent them from re-entering,
he went straight at them, and commanded his men not to fire until
they should be very near them, and then immediately after having
fired, to draw their swords. When the Spaniards were out of the
ditch ready to ascend the ridge, Capt. Gourgue, with his arque-
busiers, was at the foot ; he fell upon them so close that not a shot
was lost ; many of them were brought to the ground ; then drawing
their swords they engaged those who remained standing, and when
they fled to retire to the fort, there was the lieutenant, who charged
them from the other side, so that there was not one among them that
found means of re-entering the fort, and all were there slain. Those
from within the fort, seeing that in an instant they had lost their
best and bravest men, and believing that those who had made this
defeat were but a small part of a much greater number, despaired
of being able to resist ; and, besides, not being able to hope for any
compromise with those whom they had injured so outrageously,
they abandoned the fort, and went out to escape into the woods,
which was on the other side of the fort, where Capt. Gourgue had


caused to be placed a great number of savages, who immediately
discharged their arrows upon them, and among others there was one-
shot that pierced through the shield of a Spanish captain, and the
arrow entered deep into his bodj^ through the left nipple, and
struck him down dead upon the ground. Capt. Gourgue, who had
seen them go out, and had hastened after them, arrested between the
wood and the fort those who were fleeing from the arrows of the
savages, and there they were all slain and cut in pieces, except those
whom with great difficulty he was able to reserve in order to put to
death as robbers.

In this great fort were found five double culverins,four medium and
other small pieces made of iron and of brass, with eighteen large casks
of powder. They found also many arms, as arquebuses, corselets,
shields, pikes, and others. The next day Captain Gourgue having
loaded two vessels with the artillery, a savage cooking a fish set
fire to a train of powder which the Spaniards had made, and which
no one had yet perceived. The powder took fire, completely blew
up the magazine, and burnt entirely the houses which were of pine
wood. The men were not burnt, because they were all outside here
and there, but all that was within was burnt and lost, so that Cap-
tain Gourgue brought away nothing but the artillery which he had
already put on board.

The Spaniards who had been taken alive in this last fort were led
to the place where they had hung the French. After that Captain
Gourgue had represented to them the injury they had done the king
massacring his subjects and robbing his majesty of the 1-and which
he had conquered, and the fort which he had built there, and that
they should have reflected that so cowardly a treachery, and so de-
testable a cruelty, exercised against so powerful a king and so gen-
erous a people, would not remain unpunished; that he, who was
one of the least gentlemen that the king had in his kingdom, had
undertaken to avenge it at his own cost and expense. Though the
most. Christian king and the most Catholic king had been enemies at
mortal war, still such extreme treachery and cruelty could not be
excused ; but when, on the contrary, their majesties were friends
and so closely allied, there could not be found a name sufficiently
abominable for their crime, and less still a punishment that could
correspond with that crime. But yet, as j-ou cannot endure the
punishment you have merited, it is proper that you should endure
that which an enemy can fairly give you, in order that by your ex-
ample others maj' learn to keep the peace and alliance which you
have so cruelly and wickedly violated. That said, they were hung
to the same trees where they had hung the French, and in place of


the writing which Pedro Menendez had caused to be put there con-
sisting of these words in the Spanish language : "J do this not to
Frenchman, but to Lutherans," Captain Gourgue caused to be
graven on a pine board with a hot iron, " I do this not to Spaniards
nor to sailors,* but to traitors, robbers, and murderers."

Captain Gourgue, having thus finished this execution for which he
had undertaken the voyage, deliberated about returning, and not
having sufficient men to leave some in Florida to hold the forts, he
determined to ruin them, lest the Spaniards, who had other lands
quite close to these, should happen to take possession of them, and
also that they might not be an occasion to draw them there, or that
the savages themselves might not fortify themselves there, and that
by this means the access and entry might be less difficult to the
king, when it should please his majesty to send some of his subjects
there to people it, to whom it would be more easy to build anew
than to take the fortresses which they might find already built, well
secured and well provided against them ; but in order that the
savages might not be ofltended at the forts being destroyed, but,
on the contrarjr, be so well pleased with it that they might them-
selves destroy them, he assembled the kings, and having shown
to them how from the commencement he had kept his promises, and
had avenged them on those who had so cruelly tyrannized over them,
he then fell upon the subject of destroying the forts, employing all
that he could make use of to convince them that all he wished to
do was for their benefit, and in hate of the many cruelties and
crimes that the Spaniards had committed there, at which they lent
so willing an ear, that Captain Gourgue had no sooner finished speak-
ing than they ran directly to the fort, shouting and calling their
subjects after them, where they made such dispatch, that in less
than a day they left not one stone upon another.

After that, they left to return to the two first forts, which were
razed with the same ardor as the first, and they hung there thirty
Spanish prisoners that they had left there, one of whom confessed
having hung five Frenchmen with his own hands, and greatly
blamed himself, saying in his language that God was right, and just,
who had finally brought him to the punishment with which he
threatens the cruel and inhuman.

So there remaining nothing more to do, and Captain Gourgue
wishino' to return to his vessels which he had left at the mouth of
the river Tacatacourou, otherwise called the Seine, at fifteen leagues
from there, he sent by sea, with the artillery, his lieutenant Captain

* "N'y oomme a Marannes."


Casenauve, and he, with eighty arquebusiers and forty sailors bearing
pikes, went back by land, marching his men always in order of bat-
tle at all hazards, on account of the savages whom he would never
trust too much. Wherever they paused they found the road thronged
with the kind people of the country, who came from all parts to meet
him as their liberator, bearing cooked fish and other provisions for
the soldiers, and among others an old woman, who said that now she
was willing to die since she had seen once more the French in

"When ■ Captain Gourgue had arrived at the river Tacatacourou,
where were his vessels, he found that the chief pilot had recalked
his ships, taken in water, and made ready every thing ; so that there
was nothing to do but embark. Therefore, here he took leave of
the kings, and advised them to continue in the devotion which
they had always had for the king of France, who would defend
them against the Spaniards and against all others ; and that, until
his majesty sent there a sufHcient number of men for their protec-
tion and defence, they should hold themselves well upon their guard,
and take care not to be surprised. These good people were the
most grieved in the world, when they saw that Captain Gourgue
would leave them, and began to weep, and even Olotoraca, who had
fought better than they had anticipated. But when he told them
that he would return in twelve moons from that time (for it is thus
that they count) and would bring them many mirrors, hatchets, and
knives, which are the things they like the best, they were immedi-
ately relieved, and said that they would go away to make their
women dance, which, with tLem, is the greatest sign of rejoicing.

After Captain Gourgue had taken leave of the kings, he assem-
bled his people to render thanks to God for the victory which he
had given them, and to beseech Him to be their guide and con-
ductor on their return to France. When they were assembled he
said to them: "My friends, let us return thanks to God for the
good success which He has given to our enterprise ; it is He who
preserved us from the dangers of the storm at Cape Finis Terre,
at the island of Hispaniola, at the island of Cuba, and at the
river Halimacani ; it was He who inclined the hearts of tlie savages
to associate with us ; it was He who blinded the understanding of
the Spaniards so that they were never able to discover our forces,
nor to know how to employ their own. They were four to one, in
strong places, well entrenched, and well provided with artillery,
munitions, arms, and provisions. We had nothing but a just cause,
and yet we have conquered them in an instant. Therefore, it is
not to our forces, but to God only that we owe the victory. Let


US therefore, my friends, thank him, and acknowledge all our lives
the great blessing that He has done us, and beseech Him to con-
tinue always his favor unto us, guiding us on our return, and pre-
serving us from all dangers. Let us beseech Him also that it may
please Him to so dispose the hearts of men that the many dangers
in which we have been placed, and the many labors we have endured
may find grace and favor before our king and before all France, as
we have designed nothing else than the service of our king and the
honor of our country."

After having thanked and prayed to God ; on Monday, the third
day of May (1568), the rendezvous that they are accustomed to
make upon the sea was given, the anchors weighed, and sails set,
and they had the winds so favorable, that in seventeen days they
made a hundred leagues of sea, and afterwards continuing their
voyage arrived at Rochelle Monday the 6th of June. Thus they
took to return only thirty -four days : however, so long a voyage was
not witllout some accidents ; for the patache with eight men in it
was lost ; as also at the taking of the forts, and at the defeat of the
Spaniards in Florida, had perished some gifted gentlemen of good
families, most daring and valiant, as Lautome de Limosin, Biere,
Carrau, and Gaschie, Gascons ; Pons de Xaintonge, and some sol-
diers, all of whom died valiantly, after having performed many
brilliant exploits and deeds of prowess, such as might be expected
from noble and generous souls dedicated to the service of their
prince, and the honor of their country.

On the retui'u, besides the patache being lost, the roberge, in
which was a captain named Deux, lost its way off an island called
La Termude, and did not come until a month after Captain
Gourgue had arrived. Those who were in this ship liked to have
perished ; in tlie first place from a tempest, and afterwards of fam-
ine. For even when Captain Gourgue left, all they had to eat for
twenty days was at the rate of one biscuit a day for every four
men. But God decreed it that Captain Gourgue, at five hundred
leagues from France, should meet a ship of a Biseayan, his friend,
who gave him ten quintals of biscuit, which was an inestimable
benefit and pleasure to them, and this so much the moi-e so, as it
took them nearly as long to make these five hundred leagues as it
had taken tiiem to make nearly all the rest.

After Captain Gourgue had remained some days at Rochelle,
where he received all honor, courtesy, and good treatment from the
citizens, he sailed for Bc^-deaux, where he took the post to go to
M. de Montluc to render to him an account of his voyage. He
learned afterwards that the Spaniards, informed, by some one of


those who had seen him arrive at Rochelle, of what had been done
in Florida, had sent eighteen pataches with a roberge of two
hundred tons to intercept him, and had arrived at the road of
Rochelle the same day that he had left, and, learning that he had
left, had followed him as far as Blaye. Had he been informed of it
in time, he would not, for an}'thing in the world, have refused to
entertain them, and according to their demand, would he have made
them such a reply that they would have had great cause to be con-
tented with it.*

The Catholic king, being afterwards informed that Grourgue could
not easily be taken, offered a great sum of money to him that should
bring him his head; praying, moreover. King Charles to do justice
on him, as the author of so bloody an act contrary to their alliance
and good league of friendship. Insomuch as (Gourgue) coming to
Paris, to present himself unto the king, to signify unto him the
success of his voyage, and the means which he had to subdue this
whole country unto his obedience (wherein he offered to employ his
life and all his goods), he found his entertainment and answer so
contrary to his expectation, that, in fine, he was constrained to hide
himself a long space in the court of Boanne, about the year 15t0;
and, without the assistance of President Marigny, in whose house
he remained certain days, and of the receiver of Vacquieulx, who
always was his faithful friend, he had been in great danger; which

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 61 of 75)