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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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have been all of the same character.

De Solis,. Garcilasso, Diaz, and Cartier describe Indian forts, which, from
the earliest described to the latest, appear to be nearly all of the same fashion.
When Cortes entered the river Grijalva, about the latter part of March, 1619,
he attacked the town of Tabasco. " It was fortified with a kind of wall, of
which they make use in nearly all the Indies. This wall was composed of the
trunks of trees buried in the ground in the fashion of palisades, and joined in


such a manner that they had openings to shoot their arrows. The inclosure
was of a round figure, without redans, or any other defence, and the extremi-
ties of the two lines, which formed the circle, were contrived in such a way
that one of the lines extended over the other. They left, for the entrance, a
narrow way with many windings, where they erected two or three sentry-boxes
or wooden turrets, which served to lodge their sentinels. This fortification
was sufficient against the efforts of the arms of the New World, where by a
happy ignorance, they did not yet know that which is called the art of war, nor
those machines and ramparts of which malice or necessity had taught the use
toman." (De Solis' " Conquest of Mexico.")

When the Spaniards entered the town of Tabasco, they discovered that the
Indians had intersected the streets with other palisades in the same manner.
In these places they resisted for some moments, but without much effect, be-
cause they were embarrassed by their great number, and those who retreated,
in flying from one entrenchment to another, put in disorder the others who
wished to fight. There was a public square in the centre of the town on which
were three temples [teocalis]. These Indians carried off their wounded and
dead from the field of battle, the same as the Indians of this section of North

Diaz thus describes an Indian fort which was in Guatemala, and in the route
of the Spaniards on their expedition to Honduras : " This town had every ap-
pearance of having been recently built. It was surrounded by a double en-
trenchment, formed of the trunks of large trees, encircled by other huge poles
stuck in perpendicularly. The approaches were secured by a deep fosse, and
they were protected by a double inclosure of a circular form, one of which
was supplied with a regular battlement, small towers, and loop-holes ; the
other was very high, and strongly built of large stones, and was likewise pro-
vided with a battlement. As the other side was covered by the morass, this
place might, in every sense of the word, be called a fortress."

The circular form characterizes the most of the ancient structures found in
the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi. There were in Peru forts similar to
those here first described, and they were built of stone. The Chicasaws in their
Vars with the French used the kind of fort first mentioned.

Note (24), page 401.

"Having recommendations to the inhabitants of Baton Rouge, now (1777)
called New Richmond, more than forty miles higher up the river, one of these
gentlemen, being present at Manchac, gave me a friendly and polite invitation
to accompany him on his return home. A pleasant morning, we set off after
breakfast, well accommodated in a handsome, convenient boat, rowed by three
blacks. Two miles above Manchac we put into shore at Alabama ; this Indian
village is delightfully situated on several swelling green hills, gradually ascend-
ing from the verge of the river ; the people are a remnant of the ancient Ala-
bama nation, who inhabited the east arm of the great Mobile river, which bears
their name to this day, now (1777) possessed by the Creeks or Muscogulges,
who conquered the former. My friend having purchased some baskets and
earthenware, the manufactures of the people, we left the village." (Bartram.)


The Alabama nation must have been very powerful when Soto encountered
them between Chicaca and the Mississippi Kiver, in the now northwestern part
of the State of Mississippi. The Indian manufacture of earthenware here
mentioned is not the latest. Earthenware was almost universally manufactured
by the Indians. It is found almost everywhere throughout America, and the
process of manufacture was the same in North America and South America.

Note (25), page 419.

The accounts of Biedma and the Elvas Narrative agree throughout in the gen-
eral incidents, and in the route of De Soto's expedition to Florida. Biedma's
account is very brief; it is all contained in a dozen octavo pages; the Elvas
Narrative in a hundred and eight pages; Garcillasso's in about two hundred
or two hundred and fifty of the same pages. Biedma is very concise ; the
Elvas Narrative enters into the particulars ; Garcilasso into minutiae, and is

Garcilasso' s account of the principal events and of the main route has, up to
Quiguate, been very nearly the same as the other accounts, but here, from Qui-
guate to TuUa, there is a gap or omission in Richelet's version of the " Con-
quest of Florida," which will now be filled from the accounts of Biedma and
the Elvas Narrative, first showing that Quiguate was on the west side of the
Mississippi River, about two hundred and thirty miles below Memphis, by the
course of the Mississippi Kiver three hundred and forty-one years ago, when
Ue Soto crossed it.

Biedma says, "We remained* at (Pacaha) twenty-six or seven da3's, anxious
to learn if we could take the northern route, and cross to the South Sea. We
then marched northeast. We travelled eight days, through swamps, after which
we met a troop of Indians who lived under movable tents. We next came to
the province of Caluca. Seeing there was no way to reach the South Sea, we
returned towards the north [south], and afterwards] in a southwest direction
to a province called Quiguate, where we found the largest village we had yett
seen in all our travels. It was situated on one of the branches of a great river. ' '

The Elvas Narrative has it thus : ' ' The governor rested forty days in Pa-
caha. From thence he sent thirty horsemen and fifty footmen to the province
of Caluca, to see if he might travel to Chisca, where the Indians said there was
work of gold and copper. They travelled seven days' journey through a desert
and returned. The governor, seeing that toward that part of the country was
poor in maize, demanded of the Indians which way it was most inhabited, and
they said they had notice of a great province, which was called Quiguate, and
that it was toward the south. The cacique of Casqui commanded the bridge
to be repaired, and the governor returned through his country and lodged in a
field near his town. He gave us a guide and men for carriers. The governor

* This was for the return of the expedition to Oaluoi. He then, after mentioning
the object of the delay, goes on to tell of the march to Caluoi and the return,
t Alter returning to Pacaha.


lodged at a town of his^ and the next day at another near a river [St. Francis],
whither he caused canoes to be brought for him to pass over. The governor
took his journey towards Q.uiguate. The 4th of August he came to the town.
The town was the greatest that was seen in Florida. There came an Indian
very well accompanied, saying he was the cacique ; as he went one day abroad
with the governor he leaped into the river, which was a crossbow-shot from the
town, and as soon as he was on the other side, many Indians that were there-
about, making a great cry, began to shout. The governor presently passed
over to them with horsemen and footmen, but they dare not tarry for him.*
Going forward on his way he came to a town, and a little further to a lake
where the horses could not pass. The governor came to the camp. The gov-
ernor came again to Quiguate. As for Quiguate, Casqui, and Pacaha they
were plain countries, flat grounds, and full of good meadows on the rivers,
where the Indians sowed large fields of maize. From Tascaluca to Kio Grande
[Mississippi], or the Great River, is about three hundred leagues ; it is a very
low country, and hath many lakes. From Pacaha to Quiguate may be a hun-
dred leagues, t The governor asked which way the country was most inhabited.
They said that toward the south down the river were great towns and caciques
which commanded great countries and much people. And that toward the
northwest there was a province, near to certain mountains, called Coligoa. The
governor and all the rest thought good to go first to Coligoa. From Quiguate
to Coligoa may be forty leagues. This town of Coligoa stood at the foot of a hill
on the bank of a mean river of the bigness of Oayas, the river that passeth by Es-
tramadura. The governor left the cacique of Quiguate in his town, and an In-
dian, which was his guide, led him through great woods without any way seven
days' journey through a desert, where at every lodging they lodged in lakes and
pools of very shoal water : there was such store offish that they killed them with
cudgels ; and the Indians, which they carried in chains, with the mud troubled
the waters, and the fish came to the top of the waters, and they took as much as
they listed. We then crossed vast plains and high mountains, when suddenly
we came to Coligoa. The Indians of Coligoa had not known of the Christians,
and, when they came so near the town that the Indians saw them, they fled
up a river which passes near the town, and some leaped into it ; but the Chris-
tians went on both sides of the river and took them. AVe inquired here for other
villages, and they directed us to go south and southwest, and w,e should find them.
We travelled five days and came to the province of Palisema. He found much
people, but, by reason of the roughness of the country, he took none save a few
women and children. The town was little, scattering, and had very little

* It is evident, from the context, that thia was not the main branch of the Missis-
sippi. It may have been a shoot that formed an island in the Mississippi, or it may
have been a river or bayou from the lake, that emptied into the Mississippi at Quiguate.
Garcilasso says Soto marched from Capaha, four days down the river, to the province of
Quiguate, and then continned his journey five days, descending along the river, and
the fifth arrived at the capital of Quiguate, which wns separated into three quarters.

f "It is a very low country, and hath many lakes," is more applicable to the Missis-
sippi Eiver country than to the country from Tascaluca to the Rio Grande (from Mont-
gomery to Memphis) to which it refers. There may have been something misplaced
in the printing, writing, or translation.


maize. For which cause the governor speedily departed thence. He came to
another town called Tatalicoya [Tatel Goya]. Here we found a large river [Ar-
kansa] emptying into the Rio Grande [Mississippi]. We were told that if we
were to ascend this river [Arkansa] we should find a large province, called
Cayas. From Tatalicoya are four days' journey to Cayas. We repaired thither
and found it a mountainous country-, and composed of populous villages. This
town was called Tanioo [Cayas appears to be Spanish] ; he pitched his tent in
the best part of it near unto a river. The governor rested a month in the prov-
ince of Gayas ; in which time the horses fattened, and they drank of very hot
water and somewhat brackish. On both sides of the river the country was full
of sown fields, and there was store of maize. The Indians durst not come over
where we were ; and when some of them showed themselves, the soldiers that
saw them called to them ; then the Indians crossed the river and came with
them where the governor was. He asked the [cacique] which way the country
was best inhabited. He answered that the best country thereabout was a prov-
ince toward the south a day and a half journey, which was called TuUa. We
then set out for the province of TuUa, to go into winter quarters. But before
reaching it we had to cross very high mountains. Immediately the governor
departed for TuUa [to see the country], and as soon as he arrived, there [the
Indians severely used him] . The governor determined to return to Cayas before
the Indians had time to gather head ; and presently that evening, going part of
the night to leave Tulla, he lodged by the way, and next day came to Gayas ;
and within three days after he departed towards Tulla with all his company. He
carried the cacique along with him ; and of all his men there was not one found
who understood the speech of Tulla. He stayed three days by the way ; and
the day he came thither, he found the town abandoned. At three days' end
there came an Indian laden with ox [buffaloes] hide. He came weeping with
sobs, aod cast himself down at the governor's feet. After three days the
cacique came, and eighty Indians with him ; and himself and his men came
weeping into the camp after the manner of that country.*

The governor informed himself all the country round about, and understood
that towards the west was a scattering dwelling, and that towards the south-
east were great towns, especially in a province called Autiamque, ten days'
journey from Tulla; which might be about eighty leagues, and that it was a
plentiful country in maize. Thus he took his journey to Autiamque: he trav-
elled five days over rough mountains,! ^"^ came to the town of Guipana,
situated at the foot of very high mountains. J Where no Indians could be taken
for the roughness of the country, and the town being between hills, there was
an ambush laid wherewith they took two Indians, which told them that Auti-
amque was six days' journey from thence, and that there was another pro-
vince, towards the south, eight days' journey oft", called Guahata. But, be-
cause Autiamque was nearer, the governor made his journey that way [east].
In three days he came to a town called Anoixi. Within two days after he

* See Note 27, {a).

t He had travelled from Cayas on the Arkansas River south, over high mountains ;
he now travels southeast from Tullarrecrossing these mountains to reach the Arkansas
River, which he reaches at Ayas, or rather a town in the province of Ayas.

]: Extracts from Rledma and the Elvas Narrative.


came to another town called Catamaya, and lodged in the fields of the town.
The next day they went to the town and took as much maize as they needed.
That day they lodged in a wood, and the next day they came to Autiamque.
Hard by this town passed a river [Arkansas] that came out of the province of
Cayas, and, above and below, it was very well peopled. They stayed in Auti-
amque three months [wintered there] .

Upon Monday, the 6th of March, 1542, the governor departed from Auti-
amque to seek Nilco, which the Indians said was near the great river. The
governor spent ten days in travelling from Autiamque to a province called
Ayays, and came to a town that stood neai- the river [Arkansas] that passeth by
Cayas and Autiamque. There he commanded a barge to be made wherewith
he crossed the river.* When he had crossed the river, he went three days'
journey through a wilderness and a country so low and so full of lakes and evil
ways that he travelled a whole day in water — sometimes knee deep, sometimes
to the stirrup, and sometimes they swam. They came to a town called Tutel-
pinco. There passed by it a lake that entered into the river, which carried a
great stream and force of water. The governor went a whole day along the
lake seeking a passage, but could find none. They made rafts wherewith they
crossed the lake ; they travelled three days, and came to a town in the pro-
vince of Nilco, called Tianto. The governor sent a captain, with horsemen
. and footmen, before to Nilco ; they passed through three or four great towns.
In the town where the cacique resided, which was two leagues from the place
where the governor remained, they found many Indians who, as soon as they
saw the Christians come near them, set the cacique's house on fire and fled
over a lake that passed near the town, through which the horses could not pass.
The next day, being Wednesday the 29th of March, the governor came to
Nilco ; he lodged with all his men in the cacique's town, which stood in a plain
field, which was inhabited for the space of a quarter of a league, and within a
league and a half were other very great towns. This was the best inhabited
country that was seen in Florida, and had most store of maize except Coga
and Apalache.

This river which passed by Nilco was that which passed by Cayas and Auti-
amque, and fell into the Kio Grande, which passed by Pacaha and Aquixo, and
near unto the province of Guachoya, the lord of which came up the river to
make war with him of Nilco. Within a few days the governor determined to
go to Guachoya. As he crossed the river Nilco, there came in canoes the
Indians of Guachoya up the stream, and when they saw him they returned
down the river. The governor (having crossed) sent a captain with fifty men
in six canoes down the river, and went himself by land with the rest. He came
to Guachoya upon Sunday the 1 7th of April ; he lodged in the town of the
cacique, which was inclosed about, and seated a crossbow-shot from the river.

* He now crossed from thb west side to the east side of the Arkansas River. It is not
mentioned where he crossed it from east to west, but it probably was at or near Tatel-
ooya, where he first came to it. Soto made barges to cross wide and deep streams j to
criss some streams he fastened beams together for the men to cross on, and the horses
swam over ; at others he made floating bridges ; and probably large trees were felled
across the narrow, deep streams, in order for the men to cross.



That day came an Indian to the governor from the cacique of Guachoya. The
next day they saw many canoes come up the river, and on the other side of the
Great Kiver they consulted whether they should come or not, and at length
concluded to come, and crossed the river. In them came the cacique of Gua-
choya. The governor asked him whether he had any notice of the sea. He
answered no ; nor of any towns down the river on that side, save that at two
leagues from thence was a town of a subject of his ; and on the other side of
the river, three days' journey from thence down the river, was the province of
Quigalta." A month after this, on the 21st of May, 1 542, Soto died of a fever.
Schoolcraft, in his " Adventures in the Ozark Mountains," has some inter-
esting allusions to Soto, which make plain several facts in regard to him. He
says : " Some of the names of the Indian tribes encountered by him [Soto]
furnish conclusive evidence that the principal tribes of the country, although
they have changed their particular locations since 1542, still [1818] occupy
the region. Thus the Kapahas, who then lived on the Mississippi above the
St. Francis, are identical with the Quappas ; the Cayas with the Kanzas, and
the Quipana with the Pawnees."

" It would be interesting as a point of antiquarian interest, to know where
the old Indian paths were located. The roads in all parts of the country were
based on these. They led to the most practicable fords of rivers'; they
avoided swamps and boggy grounds, and evinced a thorough geographical
knowledge of the conformation of the country.

To travel where De Soto had travelled, and where he had perforjned some
of his heroic feats, had something pleasing, at least in the association. Doubt-
less, had the first occupants of Upper Louisiana been as mindful of historical
reminiscences as they were set on repeating his search for gold and silver
mines, they might have been rewarded by finding some of the straggling bones
of his broken-down Andalusian cavalry. The fragments of broken arms and
trappings were yet, perhaps, concealed by the accumulated rank vegetable soil
of Arkansas and southern Missouri, whence the plow may at no distant day
reveal them."

' ' The elevated lands between Black Eiver and the St. Francis had evi-
dently been the line of march of De Soto when (1541) he set forward from
' Quiguate,' on the St. Francis, towards the ' northwest,' in search of Goligoa.
Any other course between west and southwest would have involved his armies
in the lagoons and the deep and wide channel of Black River, which forms a
barrier for about one hundred and fifty miles towards the south."

"The first Indian village which De Soto reached, after crossing the Missis-
sippi^probably at the ancient Indian crossing at the lower Chickasaw blufis
[Memphis] — and pushing on through the low grounds, was on reaching the
elevations of the St. Francis, immediately west of his point of landing. The
place was called Casquin or Casqui ; a name which will be recognized as bear-
ing a resemblance to one of the Illinois tribes which have long been known
under the name of Kaskaskias."

These quotations interpret some of the Indian names mentioned in the
accounts of De Soto's expedition, which but few would otherwise be able to
understand in their present orthography. They showed that De Soto gener-
ally followed the Indian trails, though sometimes he was misled by his guides.


They give an idea of the location of the lagoons through which, after leaving
Quiguate, he had to travel for several successive days. But Quiguate was on
the Mississippi. " From Pacaha to Quiguate may be a hundred leagues"
(about 230 miles). De Soto crossed the Mississippi some fifteen miles or more
below the mouth of the St. Francis, which mouth is now eighty miles below
Memphis. Le Harpe mentions that a coat of mail was found (1699), among
the Bayagoulas, which the Indians said had once belonged to De Soto. But
it is more probable that it was the armor of some one of those who were de-
feated and drowned in descending the Mississippi ; or even of the unfortunate
Guzman, who is said to have been taken alive in that affair. The Bayagoulas,
with whom the armor was found, lived thirteen leagues below Baton Kouge.

The artificial mounds scattered over the alluvial lands of the lower Missis-
sippi show how populous at one time these lands have been. But besides
these mounds there are other evidences, occasionally found, of large settle-
ments, villages, or towns, such as stone implements and pottery. These,
owing to the inundations of the Mississippi, have no doubt, in most localities^
been buried beneath the soil, or, by the action of the current, been buried in
the beds of the river. The late Colonel George Hancock, an honored citizen
of Kentucky, distinguished by his excellent intellectual qualities and exemplary
virtues, had an interesting cabinet of antiquities, in which were specimens of
ancient pottery, which he found seventeen feet beneath the surface of the
alluvial soil of the Mississippi, where the extent of the remains of broken
pottery indicated a large town. Having heard Colonel Hancock speak of this
buried ancient town, and believing that it might probably be the site of
Quiguate, I wrote to Colonel J. Stoddard Johnston, of Frankford, Kentucky,
with whom I thought Colonel Hancock had left his cabinet, to obtain informa-
' tion in regard to the locality of this buried city, and received a reply from
which I make the following extract : —

"The place at which Colonel Hancock found the relics of which you speak,
was at the mouth of Barney's Bayou, about forty miles below Helena, Arkan-
sas, on the west bank of the Mississippi. There are similar remains found in
all that region. I do not regard that the finding of this pottery, at a point
where the river caved, seventeen feet from the surface, is any proof that there
was once a city which had been sunk. The place might have been, at a recent
period geologically speaking, a creek bottom, and suddenly covered up by
deposit from the river. The making of a cu1>ofl^, or some such local cause,
will sometimes in one overflow lead to a deposit of such depth. Seventeen
miles above the point at which Colonel Hancock found these articles, is what
is known as Old-town landing, and near by is Old-town lake, where I lived
from 1855 to 1859. There are evidences of a large town there for many
miles, with remains found there, everywhere, similar to those found by Colonel
Hancock. The location of the mounds, which are numerous, is upon ground
of a normal level, and no indication of earthquakes. The New Madrid dis-
turbance, the only one of which we have any account or undoubted evidence,

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 71 of 75)