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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the ease of Narvaez, I left the city, having taken all the precautions
in my power to go in person, in order that, if they or any one pf
them should arrive, they might meet me before any one else, as I
could better avert the danger.

"Thus I departed with one hundred and twenty horse, three liun-
dred foot, and some artillery, besides about forty thousand warriora,
natives of this city and its vicinity; and when I had arrived within
the limits of tlie country, full twenty-five leagues before reaching
the port, in a large settlement called Ayntuscotaclan, I encountered
on the road a large force of the enemy, and engaged with them ; but,
on account of the great number of our allies, who came to our
assistance, and the level ground, well suited for the movements of
cavalry, the battle did not last long, although several of my horses
and men were wounded, and some of our allies killed; the enemy
suffered most, great numbers of them being killed, and their whole
force routed. I remained there, in the town, two or three days, both
to cure the wounded, and to receive the people who came to acknowl-
edge themselves vassals of your majesty. They followed me to the
port, and rendered us every service in their power. In no part of
the route did I again encounter an enemy; but on the other hand,
as I proceeded along the road, the inhabitants came out to beg my
pardon for their past offences, and to offer professions of allegiance
to your highness.

" Having arrived at the harbor and river, I took up my quarters
in a town five leagnes from the sea, called Chila, which had been
depopulated and burnt, in consequence of the defeat of the captain
and people of Francisco de Garay at that place. From tlience I
sent messengers to the other side of the river, and to the lakes, on
all of which were situated lai-ge towns, proclaiming to the inhabi-
tants they need entertain no fears that 1 would make them suffer for
the past, for I well knew that it was in consequence of the ill-treat-


ment they had received from our people that they had risen against
them, for which they deserved no blame. Nevertheless none of them
would come in, but they abused the messengers and killed some of
them ; and, as on the other side of the river there was fresh water
from which we obtained our supplies, they posted themselves there,
and fell upon those who went for the water. Thus I remained for
more than fifteen days, thinking I could bring them over by
kind acts^ and with the hope that, seeing the good treatment of
those who came in, they might be induced to follow their example ;
but they had so much confidence in the security afforded by their
lakes, on which they abode, that none of them would come. When
I discovered that nothing was gained in this way, I began to seek a
remedj'' ; besides the canoes that we had there from the beginning,
we took others, and by means of them landed horses and men on the
other side of the river during the night, without being observed by
the enemy. I passed over myself, leaving the camp carefully
guarded ; and, as soon as we were discovered, a large body of the
enemy came up and attacked us with greater vigor and boldness
than I have ever witnessed since I have been in this country ; they
killed two horses, and wounded more than ten others so badly that
they were unable to go. By the aid of our Lord, however, we suc-
ceeded in routing them, and pursued them about a league, when
many of their number perished. With about thirty horse that re-
mained to me, and a hundred foot, I still continued advancing, and
at night lodged in a town three leagues from my camp, which was
deserted by its inhabitants. In the temple of this place several
articles were found that belonged to the party of Francisco de
Garay, who were killed by the natives.

" The next day I advanced along tlie coast of a lake to find a pas-
sage to the other side, where we saw inhabitants and towns ; but we
spent the whole day without discovering any end to the lake, or
place where we could cross it. About the hour of vespers we came
in sight of a handsome town, and proceeded toward it ; it was situ-
ated on the shore of the lake, and when we arrived at the place it
was ali'eady evening, and no inhabitants were seen. But to insure
our safety, I ordered ten horsemen to enter the town by the road
to the right, while, I with ten others took the other course leading
down towards the lake; the remaining ten were to bring up the
rear guard, and had not yet arrived. On entering the place there
appeared to be a great number of people concealed in ambush
within the houses, in order to take us by surprise, who attacked us
with such spirit that they killed a horse, and wounded almost all
the others, besides many Spaniards. They fought with great me-


thod, and the battle lasted a long time ; although repulsed three or
four times, they formed again each time, and kneeling upon the
ground in a circle, without speaking or uttering any sound waited
for us to come up, when they poured into us a shower of arrows
which flew so thick that had we not been protected by armor not one
of us w;ould have escaped unhurt. At length it pleased our Lord that
some of the enemy, who were nearest to the stream that flowed into
the lake along which I. had marched all day, threw themselves into
the water, when others behind them also began to run towards the
stream, and thus a general rout took place,, though, they only fled to
the other side of the river. Thus we remained until night closed in,
they on one side and we on the other side of the river, which was
too deep for us to cross in pursuit of them, ^ough we were not
sorry to have them pass it. So we returned to the town, which was
about a sling's throw from the river, where we remained that night
as well guarded as possible, and consumed the horse the enemy had
killed, havipg no other provisions. The next day, as the inhabitants
did not appear, we took a road that led to three or four towns, in
which no people were found, nor anything else except some store-
rooms for wine, containing a goodly number of jars of that beverage.
Dnring that day we fell in with none of the inhabitants, and slept
in the country, where we found some fields of maize, with which our
men and horses, were somewhat refreshed, and in this manner I pro-
ceeded for two or three days, seeing no one, although we passecj
several towns, until overcome by the want of food (having had during
all this time but fifty pounds of bread amongst us all) we returned
to the camp, where I found our people in good condition, not having
encountered the enemy during our absence. It immediately oc-
curred to me that all the inhabitants of this quarter had gone to that
part of the lake which I had been unable to cross. I therefore at
night embarked some men and horses in canoes to go in that direc-
tion, while the bowmen and musketeers went up the lake, and the
rest of the people proceeded by land. In this manner the combined
force attacked a large town, in which many of the enemy were sur-
prised and slain ; in consequence of which, finding there was no
safety for them, although surrounded with water, being still liable
to unexpected assaults, they began to sue for peace; and thus in about
twenty days the whole, countrj"- was subdued, and the inhabitants
submitted themselves as vassals of your majesty.

"As. soon as peace had been established, I commissioned several
persons to visit every pai't of this region, and to bring me a report
of the towns and inhabitants ; when this was done, I sought for the
best location that I could find, where I planted a town, with the


name of Santistevan del Puerto. In addition to tliose who desired
to remain tliere to inliabit the town, I transferred to the place the
inhabitants of several villages, and having appointed alcaldes and
regidores, I left there my lieutenant as captain, together with tliirty
horse and one hundred foot, and also a shallop and fishing boat,
that had been sent to me from Vera Cruz, to enable them to
provide themselves with supplies. ■ A servant of mine had sent to
me from the same place a ship loaded with meat, bread, wine, oil,
vinegar, and other things, which was wholly lost ; and three of the
crew yet remained on a small island in the sea, five leagues from
land ; for when I afterward sent a brigantine, they were found alive,
having sustained themselves bj' feeding upon sea-wolves (seals) and
a fruit which they called figs.*

" I assure your majestj'' that this expedition cost me alone more
than thirty thousand pesos of gold, as can be made to appear to
your majesty by the rendition of the accounts ; and it cost my
companions as much more for horses, provisions, arms, and horse-
shoes, the latter being worth at that time their weight in gold, and
twice their weight in silver. But when we consider that so great nn
extent of country was reduced to your majesty's service, it appeared
to us a happy result, even should a greater expense have been in-
curred ; because, besides placing those Indians under the imperial
sway of your majesty, a ship had afterwards arrived there with
many people on board, and a great supply of provisions, and
dischai'ged her cargo, which they could not have done under other
circumstances ; for if peace had not been established, not a soul
could have escaped. Such had been the fate of another ship,
whose company were all massacred ; and we had found the faces of
the Spaniards fiayed in their temples; that is to say, their skins
preserved in such a maimer that many of them could be recog-
nized.f Even when the adelantado Francisco de Garay arrived in
this country neither himself nor any who came with him would
have escaped alive ; for, being compelled by stress of weather to
land thirty leagues below (north) the river Panuco, where they lost
some of their ships, and all were driven ashore in distress, they
would have perished if the people on the coast had not been at
peace with us, who took pains to conduct them to a Spanish town.
Thus it is of no slight advantage to have this land in the enjoy-
ment of peace."!

* " Probably the nopal or Indian fig, the fruit of a species of cactus."
t Csesar de Leon mentions the same custom among Indians not far from
Antiocha, in New Granada, South America.
t Cortes's fourth letter.


After this, when Garay had learned the great good fortune
that had attended Cortes, he resolved to fit out as extensive
an armament as he possibly could, and to take command of it him-
self. He accordingly fitted out a small fleet, consisting of eleven
ships and two brigantines, on board of which there were one hun-
dred and thirty horse, and eight hundred and forty foot, most of
the latter being armed with muskets and crossbows.* As he was a
man of great wealth, he spared no expense in fitting out this splen-
did armament. Witii this fleet Garay left the island of Jamaica in
the month of June, of the year 1523, and thence sailed into the
harbor of Xagua, in the island of Cuba, where he learned that
Cortes had already subdued the whole province of Panuco ; that he
had founded a colony there, and that he had petitioned the emperor
to unite the government of this province with that of New Spain,
and appoint him viceroy. This greatly disheartened Garay ; how-
ever, he weighed anchor and sailed in the direction of Panuco. He
encountered very boisterous weather, so that he was driven too far
north, off the mouth of the river Palmas (Santander), which he
entered with his fleet on the day of Santiago de Compostella.
Here he sent on shore several of his officers, with a small detach-
ment of troops, who returned with so bad an account of the
country that Garay determined to leave this place, and go in search
of the river Panuco. He now disembarked the whole of Ms men
and horses, and gave the command of the fleet to an officer named
Grijalva, whom he ordered to sail as close as possible to the shore,
while he marcbed with his troops along the coast. The first two
days he passed over a desolate and swampy country; he then
crossed a river and arrived in a township almost deserted of its
inhabitants. He then marched round a large morass, and visited
several townships, everywhere meeting with the kindest reception
from the inhabitants. On the fourth day they arrived at a very
broad river, which they had no other means of crossing but by
canoes which were furnished them. The horses swam across, each
rider in a canoe leading his horse by the bridle ; five, however, were
unfortunately drowned. They then encountered another formidable
morass, which they passed with great difficulty, and so reached the
province of Panuco. But here he found scarcely any provisions.
To all this misery was added, that the fleet, on board of which
there was abundance of food, had not arrived in the harbor, nor
had any tidings of it been received. A Spaniard who had been
obliged, on account of some misdemeanor, to leave the town of

* See pag« 60, Cortes's statement of the forces of Garay.


Santisteban del Puerto, informed Garay's men that there was a town
not far off, and a country wonderfully fertile. This excited the
men so much that they began to stroll about the country in small
bands, plundering every place they came to, and taking the route
to Mexico.

Garay, therefore, dispatched a letter to Cortes' commandant at
Santisteban, who replied that Garay was at liberty to march his
troops into the town of Santisteban, and he would render him every
assistance in his power. His reply was perfectly satisfactory to
Garay, who thereupon marched his troops close up to the town of
Santisteban. In the mean time the fleet, after having lost two ves-
sels in a heavy storm, came to anchor in the mouth of the harbor,
and was summoned by Vallejo, the commandant of Santisteban, to
run in, or otherwise he should be obliged to treat them as pirates;
to which the captains replied, that it was no business of his where
they anchored their vessels.

In this posture of affairs the partisans of Cortes were carrying
on secret negotiations with the troops, and particularly with the
captains of the vessels, whicli resulted in the surrender of the ves-
sels and forces of Garay to Vallejo.*

The continuation of Cortes' account of Panueo: —

" On my way from the province of Panueo, there met me at a
city called Tuzapan two Spaniards, whom, together with several
natives of the city of Teraixtitan, and others of the province of
Soconusco (which is on the upper part of the coast of the South
Sea, towards where Pedrarias Davila, a governor of your highness,
resides), I had sent to certain cities, of which I had long heard,
called Utlatlan and Guatemala, distant two hundred leagues from
this great city of Teraixtitan, and seventy leagues beyond the
province of Soconusco. "With these Spaniards came about a hun-
dred natives of those cities, by the command of their caciques,
offering themselves as vassals and subjects of your imperial high- ,
ness, whom I received in your royal name ; and I assured them tliat
so long as they proved true to their professions, they would be well
treated and favored by me and those associated with me. I gave
them presents for themselves and their lords, and I determined to
send with them two other Spaniards in order to make the necessary
provisions for their journey. Since tlien I have been informed by
some Spaniards whom I have in the province of Soconusco, that
those cities, with their provinces, and another called Chicapan, in
their neighborhood, no longer entertain the loyal disposition they at

* Diaz.


first manifested, but, have even annoyed some towns of Soconnsco,
because they are friendly to us. On the other liand, however, tlfe
Christians write that they have sent messengers to them, and that
they disclaim those acts, which they say were committed by others ;
and in order to ascertain the truth of the matter, I have dispatched
Pedro de Alvarado with more than eighty horse and two hundred
foot, amongst whom are many bowmen, musketeers, and four pieces
of artillery'', with an abundance of munitions and powder. At the
same time I have fitted out a naval armament, under the command
of one Cristobal D'Olid, who came over from Cuba with me, to
coast along the North Sea, and establish a colony at the point or
cape Hibueras [Honduras], .sixty leagues from the Bay of Ascen-
sion, which is to the windward of what they call Yucatan, and on
the coast above Terra Firma, towards Darien.

" While these two captains were on the point of setting forth on
their respective routes, a messenger arrived from Santistevan del
PuertoJ the town I had settled on the river Panuco, who brought
me advices from the alcaldes of that place, that the adClantado
Francisco de Garay had arrived at that river with a force consisting
of one hundred and twenty horses, four hundred foot^ and much ar-
tillery, and that he bore the title of governor of the country, as lie
had informed the natives, by means of an interpreter he brought
with him, to whom he had announced his intention to avenge the
wrongs they had suffered from me in the past war, declaring to
them that they should go with him to drive out the Spaniards I
had posted there, and any others I should send ; in all which he
said he would aid them, and many other scandalous things, which
had produced some distui-bance amongst the natives.* They added
that, in confirmation of my suspicions of a confederacy between
him and the admiral [Diego Columbus] and Diego Velasquez, a
ship had arrived in the. river, a few da}'s after, from the island of
Cuba, in which came certain friends and servants of Diego Velas-
quez, and a servant of the bishop of Burgosf (the latter being said
to have been appointed factor of Yucatan), nearly the whole party
consisting of servants and relatives of Diego Velasquez, and ser-
vants of the admiral. As soon as this intelligence reached me,
although I was suffering from an injury to my arm, occasioned by a
fall from a horse, and kept my bed, I determined to go' and meet

* Though Diaz mentions much the same, yet it has the appearance of exag-
geration ; but, if true, it exalts so much the more the magnanimous conduct of
Cortes to Garay when the latter was overwhelmed with misfortunes.

t Fonseca, the evil genius of Christopher Columbus and Cortes, and a char-
acter of the type of Pedrarias.


him, in order to prevent any disturbance, and I immediately sent
forward Pedro de Alvarado, with all the force prepared for his in-
tended expedition, proposing to set out myself in two days. When
my bed and everything were already on the road, and had reached
a place ten leagues- from this city, where I was to go the next day
to sleep, there arrived a messensjer from the town of Yera Cruz
about midnight, who brought me letters, received by a ship arrived
from Spain, containing an order, signed with the royal name of
your majesty, commanding the said Francisco de Garay to desist
from any interference on that river where I had established a colon}',
as 3'our majesty's service was promoted by my holding it in j'our
royal name. On the reception of tliisorder my journey was at an
end, which was not a little advantage to my health, as I had not
slept for sixty days (six days?) and suflei-ed much pain. Had I
gone at that time my life wonld have been in danger ; but I did not
regard this, esteeming it better to die on that journey than, by sav-
ing my life, to be the cause of great scandal and sedition, and of the
loss of many lives, which would be much noised about. 1 immedi-
ately dispatched Diego D'Ocampo, alcalde mayor, with the order,
to follow after Pedro de Alvarado, for whom I gave him a letter
directing him by no means to approach the place where the adelan-
tado's people were, lest it should give rise to some disturbnnce. I
also directed the alcalde maj'or to notify the adelantado of the
order and immediately inform me of his answer.

"The alcalde mayor departed with the greatest possible haste, and
reached the province of Guastecas, through which Pedro de Alvarado
had passed, who had already gone into the interior of the country.
As soon as Pedro de Alvarado heard of the arrival of the alcalde
mayor, and that I had remained at home, he informed him that a
captain of Francisco de Garay, named Gonzalo D'Ovalle, was rav-
aging the towns of the province with twenty-two horse, and creating
some disturbance amongst the people; that he had placed scouts
along the I'oad where Alvarado would have occasion to pass, which
led the latter to believe that D'Ovalle meant to attack him ; and in
consequence thereof Alvarado had placed his troops in the best
order, until he arrived at a place called Laxas, where he found
D'Ovalle, with his men, with whom he had at once obtained an in-
terview, when he told him that he was acquainted with his move-
ments, which had excited" his surprise ; since the intention of the
governor and his captains neither was, nor had been, to attack them
or do them any injury, but rather to favor them, and provide what-
ever their necessities might require ; that, since this was so, in order
that they might feel secure, and no offence be offered on one side or


the other, he begged it as a favor that the arms and liorses of his
men should be deposited with him until matters were finally settled.
Whereupon Gonzalo D'Ovalle disclaimed what had been alleged
concerning his movements, but professed a willingness to do as was
proposed ; so the two captains and most of their men came together
without any feelings of hostility, or distrust, and shared with one
another their food and means of enjoyment. As soon as the alcalde
mayor knew this, he sent a secretary of mine, that he had taken
with him, named Francisco d'Orduna, to the place where the cap-
tains Pedro de Alvarado and Gonzalo d'Ovalle were encamped, with
an order to take up the deposit and restore the arms and horses to
each one, informing them that it was my intention to assist and be-
friend them in every way their necessities might require, without
giving any uneasiness or disturbing the country by our dissensions.
At the same time the alcalde mayor sent another order to Alvarado,
bidding him grant them every indulgence, and not to interfere in
anyway with their affairs, or cause them any trouble, with which he
accordingly complied.

" At this time the ships of the adelantado lay at the mouth of the
river Panueo, near the sea, in an offensive attitude towards the in-
habitants of the town of Santislevan, which I had built there ; but
it was three leagues up the river to the place where the ships that
arrived at the port were accustomed to anchor. On this account
Pedro de Vallejo, my lieutenant in the town, in order to guard
against any danger from the ships, required their captains and mas-
ters to ascend to the harbor, and anchor there in a peaceable man-
-ner, without disturbing the country ; at the same time directing that
if they had any orders from your majesty to enter or settle the
country, or of any other purport, they should exhibit them, and
promising to obey them, when exhibited, in relation to whatever
your majesty should command. To this requisition those oflBcers
gave a formal answer, the conclusion was that they refused to do
what was required by the lieutenant. The latter, therefore, issued
a second order of a similar character, directed to the same oflScers,
to which a penalty was added ; to this they replied as before. Thus
they remained with their ships for more than two months at the mouth
of the river, giving rise to difficulties among the Spaniards who re-
sided there, as well as among the natives. At length one Castro-
mocho, master of one of the ships, and Martin de San Juan Guipus-
ciiano, master of another, sent jirivately their messengers to the
lieutenant, informing him that thej' desired peace, and would obey
the commands of the magistrate ; tliey wished, therefore, the lieu-
tenant to come on board the two ships, where thej' would receive


liim and comply with Iiis orders ; adding that they would find means
to induce the other ships to adopt the same course. The lieutenant,

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 7 of 75)