Narrative of de Soto’s Expedition

An Electronic Edition · Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdes (1478-1557), Rodrigo Ranjel (16th century)

Original Source: "A NARRATIVE OF DE SOTO'S EXPEDITION BASED ON THE DIARY OF RODRIGO RANJEL HIS PRIVATE SECRETARY BY GONZALO FERNANDEZ DE OVIEDO Y VALDES." In Edward Gaylord Bourne, ed. Narratives of the career of Hernando de Soto. Trans. Edward Gaylord Bourne. New York, ALLERTON BOOK CO., 1922

Copyright 2003. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided

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LET not the reader marvel that the historian goes over in
exact detail the day’s marches and rivers and crossings that this Commander and
Governor Hernando de Soto encountered in these provinces and regions of the
north, because among those gentlemen who were with the army all the time there
was one named Rodrigo Ranjel, of whom mention has been made and will be made in
the future, who served in this army and who, desiring to keep in mind what he
saw and the course of his life, wrote down day by day at the end of his
labours, every thing which happened, like a wise man, and also as a diversion,
and also because every Christian ought to do so, to be able to confess, and to
recall to memory his faults, especially those who are engaged in war; and also
because those who have toiled and endured such heavy labours find comfort
afterwards, as eyewitnesses, in sharing their experiences with their friends,
and in giving an account of themselves as they ought to. And so this Rodrigo
Ranjel, after all these things had happened, which have been and shall be
narrated, came to this city of Santo Domingo, in the Island of Española and
gave an account to the royal audiencia of all these things, and it asked him
and charged him that he should tell me in writing and give an account of
everything in order that, as chronicler of their Majesties of these histories
of the Indies, there might be gathered together and included in them this
conquest and discovery in the North, that it might be known; since so many
novelties and strange matters would be a delight for the judicious reader and a
warning to many who are likely to lose their lives in these Indies following a
governor who thus has control over the lives of others, as is apparent by these
studies and writings of mine. 1.



THE Emperor, our lord, appointed as his Governor and Captain
General of the Island of Cuba and of the Province of Ponce de Leon, Hernando de
Soto, who was one of the soldiers of the Governor Pedrarias de Avila, of whom
in the history of Terra-Firma there has been frequent mention, since he was one
of the pioneers in those parts and was in the lead in the capture of Atabaliba
when he was one of those who obtained a large share of the spoils. He brought
so much to Spain that it was reported that he found himself in Castile with
over one hundred thousand pesos de oro, where for his services and merits, he
was very well received by the Emperor, our lord; and he made him Knight of the
Order of St. James and bestowed other honours and made him Governor and
Captain-General, as has been related. 2.

And while he was in Castile he married one of the daughters
of the Governor Pedrarias Dávila, whose name was Doña Isabel de Bovadilla, and,
who, like her mother, was a woman both good and great and truly noble in mind
and bearing. With her De Soto went to the island of Cuba where he arrived in
the month of [June] in the year 1539. And after he had viewed the island and
its settlements, and made the provision needful for its well being and for the
preservation of the land, he gave orders to arm and to pass over to the
mainland to conquer and settle and reduce to peaceful life those provinces
which his Majesty had bestowed upon him; and in this enterprise the events took
place which will be narrated in the following chapters. 3.



ON Sunday, May 18, 1539, the Governor Hernando de Soto
departed from the City of Havana with a noble fleet of nine vessels, five
ships, two caravels and two brigantines; and on May 25, which was Whitsuntide,
land was seen on the northern coast of Florida; and the fleet came to anchor
two leagues from shore in four fathoms of water or less; and the Governor went
on board a brigantine to view the land, and with him a gentleman named Johan de
Añasco and the chief pilot of the fleet whose name was Alonso Martin, to
discover what land it was, for they were in doubt as to the port and where to
find it; and not recognizing it, seeing that night was approaching, they wished
to return to the ships, but the wind did not suffer them for it was contrary;
therefore they cast anchor near the land and went on shore, where they came
upon traces of many Indians and one of the large cabins that are seen in the
Indies and other small ones. Later they were told that it was the village of
Oçita. 4.

The Governor and those with him were in no small peril,
since they were few and without arms; and no less was the distress of those
left in ships to see their General in such an evil case, for they could neither
succour nor assist him if there were need. In fact, to take such great care,
was really heedlessness and excessive zeal, or a lack of prudence on the part
of the Governor; for such work belongs to other persons and not to him who has
to govern and rule the army, and it is enough to send a captain of lower rank
for such a reconnoissance and the protection of the pilot who has to go to
examine the coast. And the ships there were in sore travail and the whole fleet
too, in which there were 570 men, not counting the sailors; including them the
number was fully 700. The next morning, Monday, the brigantine was far to the
leeward of the ships and labouring to come up to them and was no wise able to.
Seeing this, Baltasar de Gallegos shouted to the Admiral’s ship that the
Lieutenant-General, who was a knight named Vasco Porcallo, should go and see
what had best be done and, when he heard him not, to bring aid to the Governor
he ordered a large caravel to weigh anchor in which that gentleman went as
captain, and which put out in the direction where the brigantine appeared; and
although the Governor regretted it, yet it was well done since it was in his
service and to succour his person. Finally the caravel came up to the
brigantine, much to the satisfaction of the Governor. 5.

In the meantime the harbour was recognized and the other
brigantine stationed in the channel as sign for the ships, and the Governor’s
brigantine approached to station the caravel also in the channel of the
harbour; and he ordered that it should take a position on one side of the
channel and the brigantine on the other so that the ships might pass between
them. This they now began to do under sail, for they were four or five leagues
off. The Governor had to be there to show them the way, because the chief pilot
was in the brigantine and because there were many shallows. In spite of all
their pains two of the ships scraped bottom, but, as it was sandy, they
received no damage. This day there were hard words between the Governor and
Johan de Añasco, who came as the King’s auditor, but the Governor restrained
his feelings and was patient. 6.

The ships entered the harbour constantly sounding the lead,
and sometimes they scraped bottom, but, as it was mud, they passed on. This
took up five days, during which they did not land except that some men went
ashore and brought water and forage for the horses. Finally, since the ships
with their loads could not, on account of the shoals, proceed to where the
village lay, they anchored about. four leagues farther back. 7.

On Friday, May 30, they began to put the horses ashore. The
place where they disembarked was due north of the Island of Tortuga, which is
in the mouth of the Bahama channel. The chief of this land was named Oçita, and
it is ten leagues west of the Bay of Johan Ponce. 8.

As soon as some of the horses were on shore, General Vasco
Porcallo de Figueroa and Johan de Añasco and Francisco Osorio rode off to see
something of the country; and they lighted upon ten Indians with bows and
arrows who, in their turn, were coming as warriors to get a look at these
Christian guests and to learn what manner of folk they were, and they shot two
horses and the Spaniards slew two Indians and put the rest to flight. 9.

There were in that expedition two hundred and forty-three
horses. Of these nineteen or twenty died on the sea, but all the rest were put
ashore. The General and some foot soldiers went in the brigantines to see the
village; and a gentleman named Gomez Arias returned in one of them and gave a
good report of the country and likewise told us how the people had gone away.

On Trinity Sunday, June I, 1539, this army marched by land
toward the village, taking as guides four Indians that Johan de Añasco had
captured when in search of the harbour; and they lost their bearings somewhat,
either because the Christians failed to understand the Indians or because the
latter did not tell the truth. Thereupon the Governor went ahead with some
horsemen, but since they were unfamiliar with the land they wearied the horses
following deer and floundering in the streams and swamps for twelve leagues
till they found themselves opposite the village on the other side of the
roadstead of the harbour, which they could not pass around. And that night worn
out they slept scattered about and not at all in order for war. During all that
week the ships gradually approached the village, being unloaded little by
little with boats, and in that way they took ashore all the clothes and
provisions which they carried 11.

Some paths were found, but no one knew or was able to
guess which to take to find the natives of the country The four Indians
understood very little, and then only by signs, and it was not easy to guard
them as they had no fetters Tuesday, June 3, the Governor took possession of
the country in the name of their Majesties, with all the formalities that are
required, and despatched one of the Indians to persuade and allure the
neighbouring chiefs with peace That same night two of the three Indians that
remained ran away, and it was only by great good luck that all three did not
get away, which gave the Christians much concern. 12.

On Wednesday the Governor sent Captain Baltasar de
Gallegos with the Indian that was left to look for some people or a village or
a house Toward sunset, being off their road, because the Indian, who was the
guide, led them wandering and confused, it pleased God that they descried at a
distance some twenty Indians painted with a kind of red ointment that the
Indians put on when they go to war or wish to make a fine appearance. They wore
many feathers and had their bows and arrows And when the Christians ran at them
the Indians fled to a hill, and one of them came forth into the path lifting up
his voice and saying, “Sirs, for the love of God and of Holy Mary, slay not me;
I am a Christian like yourselves and was born in Seville, and my name is Johan
Ortiz.” 13.

The delight of the Christians was very great in God’s
having given them a tongue and a guide, of which, at that time, they were in
great need; and, with every one very much elated, Baltasar de Gallegos and all
the Indians who came with him, returned that night very late to the camp; and
the Spaniards of the army were greatly wrought up, believing it was something
else, and seized their arms; but seeing what it was, great was the joy that
they felt, for they believed that by means of that interpreter they could
accomplish much more Without loss of time, on the Saturday following, the
Governor resolved to go with that Johan Ortiz, interpreter, to the chief that
had held him who was called Mocoço, to make peace and to induce him to make
friends with the Christians And he awaited them in his village with his
Indians, his wives and his sons, not one missing,–and he made complaint to the
Governor of the chiefs Orriygua, Neguarete, Capaloey, and Anita, all four of
whom are chiefs of this coast, saying that their threatened him because he
accepted our friendship and saw fit to give up this Christian as an interpreter
to the Christians The Governor made this same interpreter to say that he should
have no fear of these chiefs or of others, since he would protect him; and that
all the Christians and many more that were to come soon would be his friends
and help him and show him favour against his enemies. 14.

That same day Captain Johan Ruiz Lobillo went up into the
country with about forty foot soldiers and came upon some huts, but were able
to take only two Indian women. To rescue them, nine Indians followed him,
shooting at him for three leagues; and they slew one Christian and wounded
three or four, yet without his being able to do them any harm, although he had
arquebusiers and crossbow-men, because these Indians are as agile and as good
fighters as can be found among all the nations of the world. 15.



This Governor was much given to the sport of slaying
Indians, from the time that he went on military expeditions with the Governor
Pedrarias Dávila in the provinces of Castilla del Oro and of Nicaragua; and
likewise he was in Peru and present at the capture of that great Prince
Atabalipa, where he was enriched He was one of the richest that returned to
Spain because he brought to Seville, and put in safe keeping there, upwards of
one hundred thousand pesos of gold; and he decided to return to the Indies to
lose them with his life and to continue the employment, blood-stained in the
past, which he had followed in the countries I mention. 16.

So then, continuing his conquest, he ordered General Vasco
Porcallo de Figueroa to go to Oçita because it was reported that people had
come together there; and this captain having gone there, he found the people
departed and he burned the village and threw an Indian, which he had for a
guide, to the dogs The reader is to understand that aperrear (to throw to the
dogs), is to have the dogs eat him, or kill him, tearing the Indian in pieces],
since the Conquistadores in the Indies have always used to carry Irish
greyhounds and very bold, savage dogs It is for this reason that reference was
made above to the chase of Indians In this way this Indian guide was killed
because he lied and guided badly. 17.

While Vasco Porcallo was doing what has been related, the
Governor despatched another Indian as a messenger to the chief Orriparacogi,
and he did not return because an Indian woman told him not to, and for this
reason she u as thrown to the dogs There were among those in this army divers
opinions whether it would be well to settle there or not, because the soil
seemed to be barren, and such in fact is its repute For this reason the
Governor resolved to send Captain Baltasar de Gallegos to Orriparagi with
eighty horse and one hundred foot, and he set out on Friday, June 20. 18.

And the Governor likewise sent Johan de Añasco in the
ship’s boats along the shore with some foot soldiers to disperse a gathering of
the Indians, or to see and hear what was up He found them on an island, where
he had a fray with them and killed with the small cannons that he carried nine
of ten Indians and, they in turn, shot or cut down as many or more (Christians
And since he could not dislodge them from the island he sent for help, and the
messenger was a hidalgo named Johan de Vega, and he asked for horsemen to take
possession of the mainland at the place where they were likely to come away;
since With the force that he had and with the increase he expected to land and
fight the Indians. 19.

The Governor sent Vasco Porcallo with forty horse and some
foot, but when this reinforcement arrived the Indians had gone; and the
Spaniards, not to have come in vain, raided the land and captured some women
whom they took to the camp Vasco Porcallo, upon his return from this raid, had
something of a clash with the Governor (which is concealed in this narrative) 5
nor was the historian able, on account o certain considerations to find any one
who could inform him what he said to him And it was accepted as a good
settlement that Vasco Porcallo should return to Cuba to look after the affairs
of the government there, and to provide the Governor and his army when it
should be necessary with what they might have need of. The departure of this
cavalier was regretted by many since he was a friend of good men and did much
for them 20.

The Governor had ordered Baltasar de Gallegos even though
he found no good land, that he should write good news to encourage the men;
and, although it was not his nature to lie since he was a man of truth, yet to
obey the order of his superior and not to dismay the men, he always wrote two
letters of different tenor, one truthful, and the other of falsehoods, yet
falsehoods so skilfully framed with equivocal words that they could be
understood one way or the other because they required it; and in regard to
this, he said that the true letter would have more force to exculpate himself
than the false one evil to harm him. And so the Governor did not show the true
letters, but announced beforehand that what he did not show was very secret
information which later on would be made clear for the great advantage of all.
The ambiguous and deceptive letters he showed and made such declarations as
seemed best to him 21.

Those letters, although they promised no particular thing,
gave hopes and hints that stirred their desires to go forward and emerge from
doubts to certainty; wherefore as the sins of mankind are the reason that
falsehood sometimes finds reception and credit, all became united and of one
mind and requested the invasion of the land, which was just what the Governor
was contriving; and those that were ordered to stay behind with Captain
Calderon were heavy in spirit, and there were of them forty horse and sixty
foot left in guard of the village and the stuff and the harbour and of the
brigantines and boats that were left, for all the ships had been despatched to
Havana. 22.

The Governor, gratified at this agreement set out from the
village and harbour of Spiritu Sancto (so called from the day when the Governor
and his fleet arrived ) This departure took place on Tuesday, July 15, 1539,
and that night they bivouacked on the river of Mocoço, and they took with them
a large drove of pigs which had been brought over in the fleet to meet any
emergency They made two bridges where the army crossed the river The next day
they were at the lake of the Rabbit, and they gave it this name because a
rabbit suddenly started up in the camp and frightened all the horses, which ran
back over a league, not one remaining; and all the Christians scattered to
recover the loose horses; and if there had been any Indians around, even a few,
they would have had the Spaniards at their mercy and, in return for their lack
of caution, a shameful ending of the war would have been prepared for them.

The horses having been recovered, the next day they
reached St John’s Lake, and the next day under a grievous sun they came to a
plain, and the soldiers arrived much exhausted and a steward of the Governor’s,
who was named Prado, died of thirst; and many of the foot soldiers were hard
pressed, and others must needs have followed the steward if they had not been
helped with the horses. The next day they came to the plain of Guaçoco, and the
soldiers went into the corn fields and gathered the green corn with which they
cheered themselves not a little, for it was the first they had seen in that
country. 24.

The next day, early, they came to Luca, a little village,
and there Baltasar de Gallegos came to meet the Governor. The Monday following,
July 21, they were joined by the soldiers that Baltasar de Gallegos had, and
the Governor sent a messenger to Urriparacoxi, but no reply was received; and
on Wednesday; July 23, the Governor set out with his army and came to Vicela
and went beyond it to sleep On Thursday they slept at another village called
Tocaste which was on a large lake And this same day the Governor went on with
some horsemen along the road to Ocale because he had great reports of the
riches he expected to find there And when he saw the roads broad he thought he
had his hands already on the spoil and ordered one of his knights, named
Rodrigo Ranjel, because, besides being a good soldier and a man of worth, he
had a good horse, to return to the camp for more soldiers to accompany him; and
this esquire did so, although not without misgiving of what might happen, since
for the Governor to stay with only ten horsemen seemed to him too few; and he
sent that gentleman alone and through a land of enemies and bad trails and
where, if any found him, he must die or rush through, if he was not to return
without response; and since he felt ashamed to ask for company he bowed his
head and obeyed But I do not praise him for that determination since, indeed,
in matters that are necessary and obvious, it is allowable that with reason one
should submit to the prince who provides in order that he may be well served
and his orders best carried into effect. What befell this messenger horseman on
that day he did not wish to say, because what he said would be about himself.
Suffice it to say that he well proved his resolution to be a brave man, and
that he fell upon Indians enough that were on the trail of the Governor and got
through. When he arrived at headquarters the Master of the Camp gave him
fourteen horse with w which the number with the Governor was increased to
twenty-six. 25.

The next day, Friday, they moved the headquarters along
the trail of the Governor, and on the road they came up with two horsemen whom
the Governor had sent to the master of the camp, who was a knight named Luis de
Moscoso, to order him not to move, and they returned to where they started from
to sleep, because they had a brush which is the same as a skirmish, with the
Indians who killed a horse belonging to Carlos Enriquez, the husband of the
Governor’s neice, a native of Xerez de Badajoz, and wounded some Christians.
And there was much suffering from hunger so that they ate the ears of corn with
the cobs or wood (which is cassi) on which the grains grow. 26.

The next day, Saturday, the Governor found the roads
broader and the aspect of the country fine, and he sent back two horsemen for
thirty others and gave orders for the camp to follow him. And the Master of the
Camp sent Nuño de Tovar with thirty horse and moved the headquarters as the
Governor had ordered. The Governor, with the twenty-six horse that were with
him, on St. Anne’s day reached the river or swamp of Cale. The current was
strong and broad and they crossed it with great difficulty, and where there was
no need of a bridge they waded through the water up to their necks, with
clothes and saddles on their heads, a distance of more than three cross-bow
shots. The thirty horsemen that Nuño de Tovar took had crossed the following
Sunday and the current carried off one horse which was drowned. Seeing that,
the rest crossed with ropes just as those had done who were with the Governor.

These soldiers and the Governor came to the first village
of Ocale, which was called Uqueten, where they took two Indians. Next the
Governor sent back some of the horsemen with mules, that had been brought from
Cuba, loaded with corn and other provisions for those that were behind, since
he had come upon an abundance. This succour came in good time for they found
them in that swamp eating herbs and roots roasted and others boiled without
salt, and what was worse, Without knowing what they were. They were cheered by
the arrival of the food and their hunger and need gave it a relish and flavour
most acceptable. From this refreshment their energies revived and strength took
the place of weakness, and on the following Tuesday, the last of those lagging
behind arrived at the Governor’s camp. But some soldiers who had strayed had
been wounded, and a crossbow-man named Mendoça had been slain. The camp was now
at Ocale, a village in a good region for corn, and there, while they were sent
to Acuera for provisions, the Indians, on two occasions, killed three soldiers
of the Governor’s guard and wounded others, and killed a horse; and all that
through bad arrangements, since these Indians, although they are archers and
have strong bows and are skilful and sure marksmen, yet their arrows have no
poison, nor do they know what it is. 28.



ON August 11, the Governor set forth from Ocale with fifty
horse and one hundred foot in search of Apalache, since it was reputed to be
populous; and Luis de Moscoso remained behind with the remainder of the camp
until it should appear how the advance section got on. That night they slept at
Itaraholata, a fine village with plenty of corn. There an Indian crowded up to
Captain Maldonado and badly wounded his horse and he would have snatched his
lance from his hands, had not the Governor by chance come up, although
Maldonado was a good knight and one of the most valiant in that army; but the
Indians of that land are very warlike and wild and strong. 29.

The next day they were at Potano, and the next, Wednesday,
they reached Utinamocharra, and from there they went to the village of Bad
Peace. This name was given to it because when Johan de Añasco had captured on
the way thirty persons belonging to that chief, he, in order that they might be
surrendered, sent to say that he wished to make peace, and sent in his stead to
treat, a vagabond, who was believed to be the chief himself, and his people
were given to him. The sequel was that this Indian, escaping from the
Christians another day, took refuge among the mass of Indians which were in a
dense wood; and a blooded Irish greyhound which came up at the call, went in
among the Indians, and, although he passed by many, he seized no one in the
crowd except that fugitive; him he took by the fleshy part of the arm in such a
way that the Indian was thrown and they took him. 30.

The next day the Christians arrived at a fair-sized
village where they found much food and many small chestnuts dried and very
delicious, wild chestnuts; but the trees that bear them are only two palms high
and they grow in prickly burrs. There are other chestnuts in the land which the
Spaniards saw and ate, which are like those of Spain, and grow on as tall
chestnut trees; and the trees themselves are big and with the same leaf and
burrs or pods, and the nuts are rich and of very good flavour. This army went
from there to a stream which they named Discords, and the reason therefor he
desired to conceal who prepared this narrative, because as a man of worth, he
did not purpose to relate the faults or weaknesses of his friends. 31.

On that day they built a bridge of pines which abound
there, and the next, Sunday, they crossed that stream with as much or more toil
than was the case with the Ocale. The next day, Monday, they arrived at
Aguacaleyquen, and Rodrigo Ranjel and Villalobos, two gentlemen, equestrians,
yet gentlemen (I say equestrians because there were cavalry in that army)
captured an Indian man and an Indian woman in a corn field; and she showed
where the corn was hidden, and the Indian man took Captain Baltasar de Gallegos
where he captured seventeen persons, among them the daughter of the chief, in
order that it might impel her father to make peace; but he would have liked to
free her without it, if his deceptions and shrewdness had not been less than
those of these conquerors. 32.

On August 22, a great multitude of Indians appeared, and
the Governor, seeing the land proved to be more populous and better supplied
with provisions, sent eight horse in all haste to summon the Master of the
Camp, Luis de Moscoso, to join him with all the force; and the Master of the
Camp, took no small pains to comply with this order and arrived where the
Governor was on September 4, and all rejoiced to be united once more, because,
as they held the chief captive, there was alarm lest the Indians should make
haste to get together, which was not far wrong, as presently appeared. 33.

On September 9 they all departed in a body from
Aguacaleyquen, taking with them the chief and his daughter, and an Indian of
rank named Guatutima as guide, because he professed to know much of the country
beyond and gave abundant information. And they made a bridge of pines to cross
the river of Aguacaleyquen, and reached a small village for the night. The next
day, Friday, they were at Uriutina, a village of pleasant aspect and abundant
food, and there was in it a very large cabin with a large open court in the
middle. The population there was considerable. When they left Aguacaleyquen
messengers were coming and going from Uçachile, a great chief, playing upon a
flute for ceremony. On Friday, September 12, these Christians came to a village
which they named Many Waters, because it rained so much that they could not go
on either Saturday or Sunday; the Monday following, the 15th, they proceeded
and came upon a very bad swamp and all the way was very toilsome, and they
slept at Napituca, which is a very pleasant village, in a pretty spot, with
plenty of food. 34.

There the Indians employed all their deceptions and
devices to recover the chief of Aguacaleyquen, and the affair reached a point
that put the Governor in great peril; but their deceptions and tricks were seen
through, and he played them a greater one in this fashion. Seven chiefs from
the vicinity came together, and sent to say to the Governor that they were
subjects of Uçachile, and that by his order and of their own will, they wished
to be friends of the Christians and to help them against Apalache, a mighty
province hostile to Uçachile and to themselves, and that they had come to him
persuaded and requested by Aguacaleyquen (the chief that the Christians had in
captivity), and that they were afraid to enter the camp and to be detained;
therefore, let the Governor bring Aguacaleyquen with him and go with them to a
large plain that was there to negotiate this business. Their dealings were
understood, and the message accepted and the Governor went forth to speak with
them; but he gave command to the Christians to arm and to mount their horses
and at the sound of the trumpet to rush upon the Indians. And having gone to
the plain with only his guard and a saddle to sit upon, and accompanied by the
chief of Aguacalcyquen, hardly was the Governor seated and the discourse begun,
than he saw himself suddenly surrounded with Indians with bows and arrows. From
many directions countless others were coming, and immediately the peril was
obvious, which the Governor anticipated; and before the trumpet sounded the
Master of the Camp, Luis de Moscoso, struck the legs of his horse, shouting
“Come on, Knights, Sanctiago, Sanctiago, at them!” And so in a jiffy the
cavalry were thrusting many Indians with their lances; and their stratagem was
of no use to them and enabled our men to get the start of them in the fighting;
yet notwithstanding that they fought like men of great spirit and they killed
the Governor’s horse and also that of a gentleman named Sagredo, and they
wounded others. And after the fighting had lasted a considerable time, the
Indians took flight and sought refuge in two ponds, and the Spaniards
surrounded one, but tire other they could not, and they held that enclosure,
watching all the night and until morning when the Indians surrendered, and they
took out from there three hundred Indians and five or six chiefs among them.

Uriutina remained to the last and would not go out until
some Indians of Uçachile swam in to him and pulled him out, and as he came out
he asked for a messenger for his country. When the messenger was brought before
him, he said: “Look you, go to my people and tell them that they take no
thought of me; that I have done as a brave man and lord what there was to do,
and struggled and fought like a man until I was left alone and if I took refuge
in this pond, it was not to escape death, or to avoid dying as befits me, but
to encourage those that were there and had not surrendered; and that, when they
surrendered, I did not give myself up until these Indians of Uçachile, which
are of our nation, asked me to, saying that it would be best for all.
Wherefore, what I enjoin upon them and ask is, that they do not, out of regard
for me or for any one else, have anything to do with these Christians who are
devils and will prove mightier than they; and that they may be assured that as
for me, if I have to die, it will be as a brave man.” 36.

All of this was immediately reported and declared to the
Governor by Johan Ortiz, the interpreter, that Christian who was found in the
land, as the history has related. The Indians that were taken in the manner
described were carried and put in a wigwam with their hands tied behind their
backs; and the Governor went among them to recognize the chiefs, encouraging
them in order to induce them to peace and harmony; and he had them released
that they might be treated better than the common Indians. One of those chiefs,
as they untied him, while the Governor was standing by, threw back his arm and
gave the Governor such a tremendous blow that he bathed his teeth in blood and
made him spit up much. For this reason they bound him and the others to stakes
and shot them with arrows. Other Indians did many other deeds which cannot be
fully described, as the historian said, who was present. Wherefore, the
Governor seeing that the Christians with so few Indians and without arms were
so hard pressed, not being less so himself, spoke as follows: “Would to God
that those lords of the Council were here to see what it is to serve his
majesty in this country!” And it is because they do know it, says the
Chronicler, that they have ordered the tyrannies and cruelties to cease, and
that the pacification of the Indians shall be carried on in a better way, in
order that God our Lord and his Imperial Majesty may be better served, and the
consciences of the conquerors be more at peace, and the natives of the country
no longer maltreated. 37.

Tuesday, September 23, the Governor and his army departed
from Napituca and came to the river of the Deer. This name was given to it
because there the messengers from Uçachile brought thither some deer, of which
there are many fine ones in that land; and across this river they made a bridge
of three great pine-trees in length and four in breadth. These pines are well
proportioned and as tall as the tallest in Spain. After the whole army had
finished crossing this river, which was on the 25th of this month, they passed
on the same day two small villages and one very large one, Which was called
Apalu, and they came by nightfall to Uçachile. In all these villages they found
the people gone, and some captains went out to forage and brought in many
Indians. They left Uçachile on the following Monday, the 29th, and having
passed by a high mountain, they came at nightfall to a pine wood. And a young
fellow named Cadena went back without permission for a sword, and the Governor
was going to have him hanged for both offences; and by the intervention of kind
persons he escaped. Another day, on Tuesday, the 30th of September, they came
to Agile, subject to Apalache and some women were captured; and they are of
such stuff that one woman took a young fellow named Herrera, who staid alone
with her and behind his companions, and seized him by his private parts and had
him worn out and at her mercy; and perhaps, if other Christians had not come by
who rescued him the Indian woman would have killed him. He had not wanted to
have to do with her in a carnal way, but she wanted to get free and run away.

On Wednesday, the first of October, the Governor Hernando
de Soto, started from Agile and came with his soldiers to the river or swamp of
Ivitachuco, and they made a bridge; and in the high swamp grass on the other
side there was an ambuscade of Indians, and they shot three Christians with
arrows. They finished crossing this swamp on the Friday following at noon and a
horse was drowned there. At nightfall they reached Ivitachuco and found the
village in flames, for the Indians had set fire to it. Sunday, October 1, they
came to Calahuchi, and two Indians and one Indian woman were taken and a large
amount of dried venison. There the guide whom they had ran away. The next day
they went on, taking for a guide an old Indian who led them at random, and an
Indian woman took them to Iviahica, and they found all the people gone. And the
next day two captains went on further and found all the people gone. 39.

Johan de Añasco started out from that village and eight
leagues from it he found the port where Pamphilo de Narvaez had set sail in the
vessels which he made. He recognized it by the headpieces of the horses and the
place where the forge was set up and the mangers and the mortars that they used
to grind corn and by the crosses cut in the trees. 40.

They spent the winter there, and remained until the 4th of
March, 1540, in which time many notable things befell them with the Indians,
who are the bravest of men and whose great courage and boldness the discerning
reader may imagine from what follows. For example, two Indians once rushed out
against eight men on horseback; twice they set the village on fire; and with
ambuscades they repeatedly killed many Christians, and although the Spaniards
pursued them and burned them they were never willing to make peace. If their
hands and noses were cut off they made no more account of it than if each one
of them had been a Mucius Scaevola of Rome. Not one of them, for fear of death,
denied that he belonged to Apalache; and when they were taken and were asked
from whence they were they replied proudly: “From whence am I? I am an Indian
of Apalache.” And they gave one to understand that they would be insulted if
they were thought to be of any other tribe than the Apalaches. 41.

The Governor decided to go further inland, because an
Indian lad gave great reports of what there was in the interior; and he sent
Johan de Añasco with thirty horse for Captain Calderon and the soldiers left in
the harbour; and they burned the supplies which they left and the village; and
Captain Calderon came by land with all the soldiers, and Johan de Añasco came
by sea with the brigantines and boats to the harbour of Apalache. 42.

On Saturday, November 19, Johan de Añasco arrived at the
harbour and immediately Maldonado was despatched along shore with the
brigantines to discover a harbour to the west. At the same time Captain
Calderon arrived with all his force, less two men and seven horses, that the
Indians killed on the way. Maldonado discovered an excellent harbour and
brought an Indian from the province adjacent to this coast which was called
Achuse, and he brought a good blanket of sable fur. They had seen others in
Apalache but none like that. Captain Maldonado was sent to Havana and left
Apalache the 26th of February, 1540, with the instructions and command of the
Governor that he should return to the port that he had discovered and to that
coast where the Governor expected to arrive. The Province of Apalache is very
fertile and abundantly provided with supplies with much corn, kidney beans,
pumpkins, various fruits, much venison, many varieties of birds and excellent
fishing near the sea; and it is a pleasant country, though there are swamps,
but these have a hard sandy bottom. 43.



THE departure from Iviahica in search of Capachequi began
on Wednesday, March 3, 1540, and by night the Governor came to the river
Guacuca; and departing from there they came to the river Capachequi, where they
arrived early the following Friday; and they made a canoe or barge to cross it.
And the river w as so broad that Christopher Mosquera, who was the best
thrower? was not able to throw across it with a stone. And they took the chains
in which they were bringing the Indians, and with some “S” hooks of iron,
fastened them together and made one chain of them all. They fastened one end of
the chain to one bank and the other to another in order to take over the barge,
and the current was so strong that the chain broke twice. Seeing this, they
fastened many ropes together and made of them two, and they fastened one to the
stem and the other to the bow and drawing the barge first one way and then the
other, they got the people and the baggage across. To get the horses over they
made long ropes and tied them about their necks and although the current
carried them down, by pulling on the ropes they drew them over, yet with much
toil and some were half drowned. 44.

On Wednesday, March 9, the whole force finished crossing
the river Capachequi and went on to sleep in a pine wood. The next day,
Thursday, they came to the first village of Capachequi, which contained an
abundance of supplies. They passed through much undergrowth or land closely
covered with bushes, and then came by nightfall to another village further
along where they struck a bad swamp close to the village with a strong current,
before they arrived. And they crossed a great stretch of water up to the girths
and saddlepads of the horses; and it was not possible for all the force to get
across that day, on account of the hard passage. And there a hundred soldiers
with swords and bucklers strayed off, and as many Indians beset them and killed
one of them and would have killed all if they had not been rescued. 45.

On the 17th of March they left Capachequi and at nightfall
came to White Spring. This was a very beautiful spring with a large flow of
good water and containing fish. The next day they came at nightfall to the
river Toa where they made two bridges; and the horse belonging to Lorenzo
Suarez, son of Vasco Porcallo was drowned., On the following Sunday, March 21,
they came to cross the river Toa, and they twice made a bridge of pines and the
strong current broke them. 46.

Another bridge was made with timbers criss-crossed in a
way suggested to them by a gentleman named Nuño de Tovar, at which everybody
laughed; but it was true what he said, and after it was made they passed over
very well by that means; and Monday all the force got across and came by
nightfall to a pine wood, although separated into many sections and in bad
order. On Tuesday morning they arrived early at Toa, a large village, and the
Governor wanted to go on further, but they would not suffer him. On Wednesday,
the 24th, the Governor went off at midnight in secret with about forty horse,
knights and gentlemen and some others, who for various reasons had not wished
to be under another captain. And they went on all that day until night, when
they came to a bad passage of water quite deep. Although it was night, they got
over it, and that day they went twelve leagues. And the next day, in the
morning, which was Holy Thursday, they arrived at the settlement of Chisi and
they crossed a branch of a big river, very broad, wading and a good part of it
swimming. And they came to a village, which was on an island in this river,
where they captured some people and found some provisions; and, as it was a
perilous place, before canoes should appear, they turned to go back the way
they came; but first they breakfasted on some fowl of the country, which are
called guanaxas and some strips of venison which they found placed upon a
framework of sticks, as for roasting on a gridiron. And though it was Holy
Thursday there was no one so strict a Christian that he scrupled to eat flesh;
and there the lad Perico, whom they brought from Apalache as a guide, took
them, and they passed on to other villages and to a bad passage through a swamp
where some horses nearly got drowned. The horses swam with their saddles, while
their masters crossed on a beam stretched over the channel, and in so crossing,
one Benito Fernandez, a Portuguese, fell off the log and was drowned. This day
they came to a village where some principal Indians appeared as messengers from
Ichisi; and one of them addressed the Governor and said three words, one after
the other, in this manner– “Who are you, what do you want, where are you going
?” And they brought presents of skins, the blankets of the country, which were
the first gifts as a sign of peace. All of this took place on Holy Thursday and
on the Day of the Incarnation. To the questions of the Indian the Governor
replied that he was a captain of the great King of Spain; that in his name he
had come to make known to them the holy faith of Christ; that they should
acknowledge him and be saved and yield obedience to the Apostolic Church of
Rome and to the Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of God, who lived there; And that in
temporal affairs they should acknowledge for king and lord the Emperor, King of
Castile, our Lord, as his vassals; and that they would treat them well in every
thing and that he would maintain toward them peace and justice just the same as
towards all his Christian vassals. 47.

Monday, March 29, they went from there to Ichisi; and it
rained very hard and a small stream rose so much that if they had not made
great haste in crossing all the army would have been in danger. This day Indian
men and women came forth to receive them, and the women were clothed in white
and made a fine appearance; and they gave the Christians corn cakes and some
bunches of young onions just like those of Castile, as big as the end of the
thumb and larger. And from now on, this food was of great assistance to them
and they ate the onions with the cakes roasted and boiled and raw, and they
were a great refreshment, for they are very good. The white clothing, with
which the Indian women were clothed, were mantles, apparently of homespun linen
and some of them were very thin. They make the thread of them from the bark of
the mulberry tree, not the outside, but the intermediate layers; and they know
how to make use of it and to spin it, and to dress it as well and to weave it.
They make very fine mantles, and they wear one from the girdle down and another
fastened on one side with the end over the shoulders like those Bohemians, or
gypsies, who wander sometimes through Spain; and the thread is of such a
quality that one who was there assured me that he saw the women spin it from
that mulberry bark and make it as good as the best thread from Portugal that
women can get in Spain for their work, and finer and somewhat like it and
stronger. The mulberry trees are quite like those of Spain, just as tall and
larger, but the leaf is softer and better for silk, and the mulberries are
better eating and larger than those of Spain, and they were very frequently of
great advantage to the Spaniards for food. 48.

That day they came to a village of a chief, a subject of
Ichisi, a small village with abundant food; and he gave of what he had with
good will. They rested there Tuesday and on Wednesday the last of March the
Governor set out with his army and came to Great River, where they took many
canoes, in which they crossed easily and came to the village of the lord, who
was one-eyed and he gave them much food and fifteen Indians as porters. As he
was the first that came to them in peace they did not wish to burden him
overmuch. They were there Thursday, the first of April, and they set up in the
mound of the village a cross and interpreted to them the holiness of the cross,
and they received it and worshipped it devoutly to all appearance. On Friday,
April 2, the army departed from that place and slept in the open country. On
the next day they came to a considerable stream and found deserted cabins, and
there messengers came from Altamaha and took them to a village where they found
an abundance of food; and a messenger came from Altamaha with a present and the
next day they brought many canoes and the army crossed very comfortably. And
from there the Governor sent to call the chief Camumo, and they told him that
he always ate and slept and went about armed; that he never laid aside his arms
because he was on the borders of another chief named Cofitachequi, his enemy;
and that he would not come without them and the Governor replied and said that
he might come as he pleased; and he came, and the Governor gave him a large
plume adorned with silver. And the chief took it very gladly and said to the
Governor: “You are from Heaven, and this plume of yours which you have given
me, I can eat with it; I shall go to war with it; I shall sleep with my wife
with it” and the Governor said, yes, he could do all that. And this Camumo and
the others were subjects of a great chief whose name was Ocute. And the chief
with the plume asked the Governor to whom he should give tribute in the future,
whether to the Governor or to Ocute; and the Governor suspected that this
question was put with cunning; and he replied that he regarded Ocute as a
brother and that he should pay his tribute to Ocute until the Governor ordered
otherwise. 49.

From there he sent messengers to summon Ocute, and he came
thither; and the Governor gave him a cap of yellow satin and a shirt and a
plume; and he set up a cross there in Altamaha and it was well received. The
next day, Thursday, April 8, the Governor departed from that place with his
army and took with him Ocute, and they passed the night in some cabins; and
Friday he came to the village of Ocute; and the Governor was angry with him and
he trembled with fear. Soon a large number of Indians came with supplies and
offered as many Indians as porters as the Christians needed; and a cross was
set up and they received it very devoutly to all appearances and worshipped it
on their knees as they saw the Christians do. Monday, April 12, they departed
from Acute and reached Cofaqui and the leading men came with gifts. This chief
Cofaqui was an old man, with a full beard, and his nephew governed for him.
Hither came the chief Tatofa and another principal Indian; and they gave their
present, both food and tamemes, all that they had need of. And in that language
tameme means the same as carrier. Thursday, the 15th of this month, Perico, who
was the Indian lad whom they took for a guide from Apalache, began to lose his
bearings because he no longer knew anything of the country. And he made believe
that he was possessed of the devil, and he knew how to act the part so well
that the Christians believed it was real, and a priest whom they brought with
them named Friar John, the Evangelist, said it was so. The upshot of it was
that they had to take guides that Tatofa gave them to go to Cofitachequi
through a desert country some nine or ten days’ march. 50.

I have wondered many times at the venturesomeness,
stubbornness, and persistency or firmness, to use a better word for the way
these baffled conquerors kept on from one toil to another, and then to another
still greater; from one danger to many others, here losing one companion, there
three and again still more, going from bad to worse without learning by
experience. Oh, wonderful God I that they should have been so blinded and dazed
by a greed so uncertain and by such vain discourses as Hernando de Soto was
able to utter to those deluded soldiers, whom he brought to a land where he had
never been, nor put foot into, and where three other leaders, more experienced
than he, had ruined themselves: Johan Ponce, Garay, and Pamphilo de Narvaez,
any one of whom had more experience than he in the affairs of the Indies, and
inspired more confidence than he; for he neither in the islands nor in the
mainland of the north had knowledge except of the government of Pedrarias, in
Castilla del Oro and Nicaragua, and in Peru, which was quite another sort of
embroilment with Indians. He thought that that experience in the South was
sufficient to show him what to do in the North, and he was deceived as the
history will tell. Let us return now to the narrative and the march of this
captain or Governor, whom I knew very well, and with whom I talked and
associated, as well as with the other three mentioned above, and with the
Lawyer Ayllón. 51.

On Friday, the 16th of the month, this Governor and his
army spent the night by a small stream on the way to Cofitachequi; and the next
day they crossed a very large river, divided into two branches, wider than a
long shot from an arquebuse. And the fords were very bad, with many flat
stones, and the water came up to the stirrups and in places to the saddlepads.
The current was very strong and none of the horsemen dared to take a foot
soldier on the croup. The foot soldiers crossed the river further up where it
was deeper in this way. They made a line of thirty or forty men tied together
and so they crossed over supporting each other; and although some were in much
danger, it pleased God that none was drowned, for the horsemen helped them with
their horses and gave them the butt of the lance or the tail of the horse, and
in that way they all got out and passed the night on a hill. That day they lost
many pigs of those which they had brought tame from Cuba, as they were carried
down by the current. 52.

The next day, Sunday, they came to another hill or grove
to stop, and the next day, Monday, they marched without any trial and crossed
another very large river. Tuesday they passed the night beside a small stream
and Wednesday reached another very large river and hard to cross which was
divided into two streams which were very difficult to enter and worse to get
out of. The Christians now were without provisions and with great labour they
crossed this river and reached some huts of fishermen or hunters. And the
Indians whom they carried had now lost their bearings and no longer knew the
way; nor did the Spaniards know it, or in what direction they should go; and
among them were divers opinions. Some said they should turn back; others said
they ought to go on in a different direction; and the Governor proposed, as he
always had done, that it was best to go on, without knowing, either himself or
they, what they were aiming at or whither they were wanderings And being at a
loss in this labyrinth, on Friday, the 23d of April, the Governor sent to fools
for roads or villages in the following manner: Baltasar de Gallegos was to go
up the river northwest, and Johan de Añasco was to go along the river
southeast, each With ten horsemen and rations of ten days. And on that day
other captains returned from searching and they had found nothing. And on
Saturday the Governor sent Johan Ruiz Lobillo with four horsemen to the north,
with ten days’ rations, and he ordered that some of the grown pigs in the army
should be slaughtered, and they gave as rations to each man a scant pound of
flesh and with it herbs and blite that they gathered. And so as best they could
they supplied their needs, not without great struggle and toil, the horses
without any food; they and their masters dying of hunger; with no trail,
drenched with continual rain, the rivers always rising and narrowing the land,
and without hope of villages or knowledge where to find them, lamenting and
calling on God for mercy. And our Lord did bring the succour in the following
manner. That Sunday, April 25, Johan de Añasco came with news that he had found
a village and food, and he greatly cheered the soldiers, and he brought an
interpreter and guide. And so they stopped the rations of flesh and each one
helped himself out as he could with unknown herbs and blite that the flesh
might be left for a reserve. 53.

And the Governor decided immediately to set out, and
writing some letters and putting them in some pumpkins he buried them in a
secret place and wrote on a tall tree some directions where to find them. And
so they set out with Johan de Añasco on Monday, April 26. That day the
Governor, with some of the horse, although a few, reached the village which was
called Hymahi; and the army remained two leagues behind, the horses exhausted.
There was found in the village a barbacoa covered with corn and more than
thirty bushels of pinol prepared, which is parched corn. And the next day the
main force arrived and rations of corn and pinol were distributed. And there
was no end of mulberries, because there were many trees and it was their
season; and this was a great help. And likewise there were found in the plains
some berries such as in Italy grow on vines close to the ground and are like
madroños, [strawberries] very savoury, palatable, and fragrant and they also
grow abundantly in Galicia. In the Kingdom of the Naples this fruit is called
fraoles [strawberries] and it is a finer delicate fruit and highly thought of.
And besides those, they found there along the trails countless roses growing
wild like those in Spain; and although they have not so many leaves since they
are in the woods they are none the less fragrant and finer and sweeter. This
village they named Succour. 54.

The next day Captain Alonso Romo came who likewise had
been out reconnoitring, and he brought four or five Indians, and not one would
show any knowledge of his lord’s village or discover it, although they burnt
one of them alive before the others, and all suffered that martyrdom for not
revealing it. The next day Wednesday, Baltasar de Gallegos came with an Indian
woman add news of a populated region. The next day Lobillo returned with news
of trails, and he had left behind two companions lost; and the Governor rated
him soundly and without suffering him to rest or to eat made him go back to
look for them under pain of death, if he brought them not back. And that was a
better order and a better deed and judgment than burning alive the Indian that
Alonso Romo brought for not consenting to reveal his lord; for to such a one as
him the Romans set up a memorable statue in the Forum; and to Christians no
such cruelty is allowable toward any one and especially toward an Indian who
was ready to die to be loyal to his country and to his lord. But later on the
account was squared. 55.



Let us return to the sequel and continuation of what we
have in hand and are here narrating. Friday the last day of April the Governor
took some horse, those that were most refreshed, and the Indian woman that
Baltasar de Gallegos brought for a guide, and went along the road to
Cofitachequi, and spent the night near a large, deep river; and he sent on
Johan de Añasco with some horsemen to secure some interpreters and canoes for
crossing the river, and he got some. The next day the Governor came to the
crossing opposite the village, and the chief Indians came with gifts and the
woman chief, lady of that land whom Indians of rank bore on their shoulders
with much respect, in a litter covered with delicate white linen. And she
crossed in the canoes and spoke to the Governor quite gracefully and at her
ease. She was a young girl of fine bearing; and she took off a string of pearls
which she wore on her neck, and put it on the Governor as a necklace to show
her favour and to gain his good will. And all the army crossed over in canoes
and they received many presents of skins well tanned and blankets, all very
good; and countless strips of venison and dry wafers, and an abundance of very
good salt. All the Indians went clothed down to their feet with very fine skins
well dressed, and blankets of the country, and blankets of sable fur and others
of the skin of wild cats which gave out a strong smell. The people are very
clean and polite and naturally well conditioned. 56.

Monday, May 3, all the rest of the force came up; but all
were not able to get across until the next day, Tuesday, nor then without the
cost and loss of seven horses that were drowned, from among the fattest and
strongest ones which struggled against the current. 57.

The thin ones that let themselves go with the stream got
across better. On Friday, May 7, Baltasar de Gallegos, with the most of the
soldiers of the army, arrived at Ilapi to eat seven barbacoas of corn, that
they said were there stored for the woman chief. That same day the Governor and
Rodrigo Ranjel entered the mosque and oratory of this heathen people, and
opening some burying places they found some bodies of men fastened on a
barbacoa. The breasts, belly, necks and arms and legs full of pearls; and as
they were taking them off Ranjel saw something green like an emerald of good
quality and he showed it to the Governor and was rejoiced and he ordered him to
look out of the enclosure and to have Johan de Añasco called, the treasurer of
their majesties; and Ranjel said to him: “My lord, let us not call any one. It
may be that there is a precious stone or jewel?” The Governor replied, somewhat
angry, and said:” Even if there should be one, are we to steal it?” When Johan
de Añasco came they took out this emerald and it was glass, and after it many
beads of glass and rosaries with their crosses. They also found Biscayan axes
of iron from which they recognized that they were in the government or
territory where the lawyer Lucas Vazquez de Ayllón came to his ruin. They took
away from there some two hundred pounds of pearls; and when the woman chief saw
that the Christians set much store by them, she said:” Do you hold that of
much account? Go to Talimeco, my village, and you will find so many that your
horses cannot carry them.” The Governor replied: “Let them stay there; to whom
God gives a gift, may St. Peter bless it.” And there the matter dropped. It was
believed that he planned to take that place for himself, since it was the best
that they saw and with the land in the best condition, although there did not
appear to be much people or corn, nor did they delay to look for it there. Some
things were done there as in Spain, which the Indians must have been taught by
the followers of the lawyer Lucas Vazquez de Ayllón; since they make hose and
moccasins and leggings with ties of white leather, although the leggings are
black, and with fringes or edging of coloured leather as they would have done
in Spain. In the mosque, or house of worship, of Talimeco there were
breastplates like corselets and head-pieces made of rawhide, the hair stripped
off; and also very good shields. This Talimeco was a village holding extensive
sway; and this house of worship was on a high mound and much revered. The
caney, or house of the chief, was very large, high and broad, all decorated
above and below with very fine handsome mats, arranges so skilfully that all
these mats appeared to be a single one; and, marvellous as it seems, there was
not a cabin that was not covered with mats. This people has many very fine
fields and a pretty stream and a hill covered with walnuts, oak-trees, pines,
live oaks, and groves of liquidamber, and many cedars. In this river, Alaminos,
a native of Cuba (although a Spaniard), was said to have found a trace of gold,
and rumour of this spread abroad among the Spaniards in the army, and from this
it was believed that it was a land of gold and that good mines would be found
there. 58.

Wednesday, May 13 the Governor went on from Cofitachequi,
and in two days came to the territory of Chalaque; but they were not able to
come upon the village of the chief, nor was there an Indian that would reveal
it. And they bivouacked in a pine wood, whither many Indian men-and women began
to come in peace with presents and gifts; and they were there on Whitsuntide,
and from there the Governor sent a letter to Baltasar de Gallegos with some
Indians to the barbacoas where, as has been said above, they had gone to eat
the corn, requesting him to come on behind the Governor. On Monday, the 17th of
this month, they departed thence, and spent the night at a mountain; and on
Tuesday they came to Guaquili, and Indians came forth in peace and gave them
corn, although little, and many fowls roasted on a barbacoa, and a few little
dogs which were good eating. These are dogs of a small size that do not bark;
and they breed them in their homes for food. Likewise they gave them tamemes,
which are Indians to carry their burdens. On Wednesday, the next day, they came
to a region full of reeds, and Thursday to a small plain where one of the
horses died, and some of the foot soldiers who had been with Paltasar de
Gallegos came up to inform the Governor that he would come soon. The next day,
Friday, they were at Xuala, which is a village in a plain between two rivers,
and the chief was so prosperous that he gave the Christians whatever they
asked–tamemes, corn, dogs, petacas, and as much as he had. Petacas are baskets
covered with leather and likewise ready to be so covered with their lids, for
carrying clothes or whatever they want to. And on Saturday Baltasar de Gallegos
came there with many sick and lame who must needs be restored whole,
particularly in view of the mountain ranges before them. In that Xuala region
it seemed that there were more indications that there were gold mines than in
all the country they had traversed and viewed in that northern region. 59.

Tuesday, May 25, they left Xuala, and on that day went
over a very high range6 and at nightfall they encamped at a little mountain;
and the next day, Wednesday, in a plain where they suffered from severe cold,
although it was the 26th of May. There they crossed the river, wading up to
their shins, by which later they were to depart in the brigantines they had
made. This, when it reaches the sea, the chart indicates to be the Rio del
Spiritu Santo (River of the Holy Spirit), which, according to the maps of the
geographer Alonso de Chaves, empties into a great bay; and the mouth of this
river, where the water is salt, is in 31 degrees north of the equator. 60.

Returning to my narrative, from this place where, as was
said, they waded across the river, the woman chief of Cofitachequi, whom they
carried with them in return for the good treatment which they had received from
her, escaped and that day there remained behind, it was supposed intentionally,
Alendoca de Montanjes and Alaminos of Cuba. And since Alonso Romo kept that day
the rearguard and left them, the Governor made him return for them, and they
waited for them one day. When they arrived, the Governor wished to hang them.
In that region of Xalaque was left a comrade whose name was Rodriquez, a native
of Peñafiel; and also an Indian slave boy from Cuba, who knew Spanish, and
belonged to a gentleman named Villegas; and there was also left a slave
belonging to Don Carlos, a Berber, well versed in Spanish; and also Gomez, a
negro belonging to Vasco Gonçalez who spoke good Spanish. That Rodriguez was
the first, and the rest deserted further on from Xalaque. The next day they
passed the night in an oak grove, and the day following along a large scream,
which they crossed many tines. The next day messengers of peace appeared and
they arrived early at Guasili, and they gave them many tamemes, many little
dates and corn; and since this was a fine stopping place, the soldiers
afterwards in throwing dice called out “the house of Guasuli,” or, a good
throw. 61.

Monday, which was the last day of May, the Governor left
Guasili and came with his army to an oak wood along the river; and the next day
they crossed by Canasoga, and at night they slept in the open country.
Wednesday they slept near a swamp, and that day they ate an enormous amount of
mulberries. The next day, Thursday, they went along a large stream near the
river which they had crossed in the plain where the woman chief went off. It
was now very large. The next day, Friday, they came to a pine wood on the
stream, where appeared peaceful Indians from Chiaha and brought corn. The next
day, Saturday, in the morning the Spaniards crossed one arm of the river, which
was very broad, and went into Chiaha, which is on an island in the same river.

It was Saturday, the 5th of June, that they entered
Chiaha, and since all the way from Xuala had been mountainous and the horses
were tired and thin, and the Christians were also themselves worn out, it
seemed best to tarry there and rest themselves; and they were given an
abundance of corn, of which there was plenty of good quality, and they were
also given an abundance of corn cakes [Mazamorras], and no end of oil from
walnuts and acorns, which they knew how to extract very well, which was very
good and contributed much to their diet. Yet some say that the oil from nuts
produces flatulence. However, it is very delicious. The Indians spent fifteen
days with the Christians in peace, and they played with them, and likewise
among themselves. They swam with the Christians and helped them very much in
every way. They ran away afterwards on Saturday, the Path of the month, for
something that the Governor asked of them; and, in short, it was because he
asked for women. The next day in the morning the Governor sent to call the
chief and he came immediately; and the next day the Governor took him off with
him to make his people come back, and the result was they came back. In the
land of this Chiaha was where the Spaniards first found fenced villages. Chiaha
gave them five hundred carriers, and they consented to leave off collars and
chains. 63.

Monday, June 28, the Governor and his soldiers departed
from Chiaha, and, passing through five or six villages, they spent the night in
a pine grove near a village. There they had much labour in crossing a river
which flowed with a strong current, and they make a bridge or support of the
horses in the following manner, so that the foot soldiers should not be
endangered, and it was this way: They put the horses in the river in line, head
and tail, and they were as steady as they could be, and on each one his master,
and they received the force of the stream, and on the lower side, where the
water was not so violent, the foot soldiers forded, holding on to the tails and
stirrups, breast-pieces, and manes, one after the other. And in this way the
whole army got across very well. 64.

The next day, Tuesday, they passed through a village and
took corn and went beyond to sleep in the open country. Wednesday they passed
over a river and through a village and again over the river and slept in the
open country. On Thursday the chief of Coste came out to receive them in peace,
and took the Christians to sleep in a village of his; and he was offended
because some soldiers provisioned themselves from, or, rather, robbed him of,
some barbacoas of corn against his will. The next day, Thursday, on the road
leading toward the principal village of Coste, he stole away and gave the
Spaniards the slip and armed his people. Friday, the 2d of July, the Governor
arrived at Coste. This village was on an island in the river, which there flows
large, swift, and hard to enter. 65.

And the Christians crossed the first branch with no danger
to any of the soldiers, yet it was no small venture, and the Governor entered
into the village careless and unarmed, with some followers unarmed. And when
the soldiers, as they were used to do, began to climb upon the barbacoas, in an
instant the Indians began to take up clubs and seize their bows and arrows and
to go to the open square. 66.

The Governor commanded that all should be patient and
endure for the evident peril in which they were, and that no one should put his
hand on his arms; and he began to rate his soldiers and, dissembling, to give
them some blows with a cudgel; and he cajoled the chief, and said to him that
he did not wish the Christians to make him any trouble; and they would like to
go out to the open part of the island to encamp. And the chief and his men went
with him; and when they were at some distance from the village in an open
place, the Governor ordered his soldiers to lay hands on the chief and ten or
twelve of the principal Indians, and to put them in chains and collars; and he
threatened them, and said that he would burn them all because they had laid
hands on the Christians. From this place, Coste, the Governor sent two soldiers
to view the province of Chisca, which was reputed very rich, toward the north,
and they brought good news. There in Coste they found in the trunk of a tree as
good honey and even better than could be had in Spain. 67.

In that river were found some mussels that they gathered
to eat, and some pearls. And they were the first these Christians saw in fresh
water, although they are to be found in many parts of this land. 68.

Friday, July: 9, the commander and his army departed from
Coste and crossed the other branch of the river and passed the night on its
banks. And on the other side was Tali, and since the river flows near it and is
large, they were not able to cross it. And the Indians, believing that they
would cross, sent canoes and in them their wives and sons and clothes from the
other side, away from the Christians; but they were all taken suddenly, and as
they were going with the current, the Governor forced them all to turn back,
which was the reason that this chief came in peace and took them across to the
other side in his canoes, and gave the Christians what they had need of. And he
did this also in his own land as they passed through it afterwards, and they
were there Saturday and were given carriers and they set out Sunday and passed
the night in the open country. 69.

Monday they crossed a river and slept in the open country.
Tuesday they crossed another river and Wednesday another large river and slept
at Tasqui. During all the days of their march from Tali the chief of Tali had
corn and mazamorras and cooked beans and every thing that could be brought from
his villages bordering the way. Thursday they passed another small village, and
then other villages, and Friday the Governor entered Coça. 70.

This chief is a powerful one and a ruler of a wide
territory, one of the best and most abundant that they found in Florida. And
the chief came out to receive the Governor in a litter covered with the white
mantles of the country, and the litter was borne on the shoulders of sixty or
seventy of his principal subjects, with no plebeian or common Indian among
them; and those that bore him took turns by relays with great ceremonies after
their manner. 71.

There were in Coça many plums like the early ones of
Seville, very good; both they and the trees were like those of Spain. There
were also some wild apples like those called canavales in Extremadura, small in
size. They remained there in Coça some days, in which the Indians went off and
left their chief in the power of the Christians with some principal men, and
the Spaniards went out to round them up, and they took many, and they put them
in iron collars and chains. And verily, according to the testimony of
eye-witnesses, it was a grievous thing to see. But God failed not to remember
every evil deed, nor were they left unpunished, as this history will tell. 72.

On Friday, August 20, the Governor and his people left
Coça, and there stayed behind a Christian named Feryada, a Levantine; and they
slept the next night beyond Talimachusy, and the next day in a heavy rain they
went to Itaba, a large village along a fine river, and there they bought some
Indian women, which were given them in exchange for looking glasses and knives.

Monday, August 30, the Governor left Itaba, and came by
nightfall to an oak wood; and the next day they were at Ulibahali, a very fine
village close to a large river. And there were many Indians lying in wait for
them planning to rescue the chief of Coça from the Christians because they were
his subjects, and in order that the land should not rise in revolt nor refuse
them supplies they took him with them, and they entered the village very
cautiously. 74.

And the chief of Coça ordered the Indians to lay aside
their arms, and it was done; and they gave them carriers and twenty Indian
women and were peaceful. A gentleman of Salamanca named Mancano left them
there, and it was not known whether he did so of his own will or whether he
lost his way, as he kept by himself walking alone and melancholy. He had asked
the other soldiers to leave him to himself before they missed him. This was not
known for certain but it was reported in the camp after he was gone. A negro,
who spoke Spanish and who belonged to Captain Johan Ruiz Lobillo, was also
missing. His name was Johan Biscayan. The day that they left this village they
ate many grapes as good as those grown in the vineyards of Spain. In Coça and
further back they had eaten very good ones, but these of Ulibahali were the
best. From this village of Ulibahali the Spaniards and their Governor departed
on Thursday, September 2, and they passed the night at a small village near the
river, and there they waited a day for Lobillo, who had gone back without
permission to look for his negro. On his return the Governor rated him soundly.
Sunday, they went on and spent the night in the open country, and the next day,
Monday, they came to Tuasi, where they were given carriers and thirty-two
Indian women. Monday, the 13th of September, the Governor departed thence, and
they slept in the open country. Tuesday they made another day’s march and again
spent the night in open country, but Wednesday they came to an old village that
had two fences and good towers, and these walls are after this fashion: They
drive many thick stakes tall and straight close to one another. These are then
interlaced with long withes, and then overlaid with clay within and without.
They make loopholes at intervals and they make their towers and turrets
separated by the curtain and parts of the wall as seems best. And at a distance
it looks like a fine wall or rampart and such stockades re very strong. 75.

The next day, Thursday, they slept at a new village close
by a river, where the Spaniards rested the following day. On the next day,
Saturday, they were at Talisi and they found the chief and his people gone.
This village is extensive and abounding in corn and near a large river. And
there a messenger came to them from Tascaluça, a powerful lord and one much
feared in that land. And soon one of his sons appeared and the Governor ordered
his men to mount and the horsemen to charge and the trumpets to be blown (more
to inspire fear than to make merry at their reception). And when those Indians
returned the Commander sent two Christians with them instructed as to what they
were to observe and to spy out so that they might take counsel and be
forewarned. 76.

September 25, came the chief of Talisi, and he gave what
they asked, such as carriers, women, and supplies; and from that place they
sent and released the chief of Coça, so that he might return to his land; and
he went in anger and in tears because the Governor would not give up a sister
of his that they took, and because they had taken him so far from his country.

Tuesday, October 5, they went on from Talisi and came to
Casiste for the night. This was a small village by the river. The next day,
Wednesday, they came to Caxa, a wretched village on the river banks on the
direct line from Talisi to Tascaluça. And the next day, Thursday, they slept by
the river; and on the other side of the stream was a village called Humati; and
the next day, Friday, they came to another settlement, a new one named Uxapita;
and the next day, Saturday, the force encamped in the open country, a league
this side of the village of Tascaluça. And the Governor dispatched a messenger,
and he returned with the reply that he would be welcome whenever he wished to
come. 78.

The historian asked a very intelligent gentleman who was
with this Governor, and who went with him through his whole expedition in this
northern country, why, at every place they came to, this Governor and his army
asked for those tamemes or Indian carriers, and why they took so many women and
these not old nor the most ugly; and why, after having given them what they
had, they held the chiefs and principal men; and why they never tarried nor
settled in any region they came to, adding that such a course was not
settlement or conquest, but rather disturbing and ravaging the land and
depriving the natives of their liberty without converting or making a single
Indian either a Christian or a friend. He replied and said: That they took
these carriers or tamemes to keep them as slaves or servants to carry the loads
of supplies which they secured by plunder or gift, and that some died, and
others ran away or were tired out, so that it was necessary to replenish their
numbers and to take more; and the women they desired both as servants and for
their foul uses and lewdness, and that they had them baptized more on account
of carnal intercourse with them than to teach them the faith; and that if they
held the chiefs and principal men captive, it was because it would keep their
subjects quiet, so that they would not molest them when foraging, or doing what
they wished in their country; and that whither they were going neither the
Governor nor the others knew, but that his purpose was to find some land rich
enough to satiate his greed and to get knowledge of the great secrets this
Governor said he had heard in regard to those regions according to much
information he had received; and as for stirring up the country and not
settling it, nothing else could be done until they found a site that was
satisfactory. 79.

Oh, wicked men! Oh, devilish greed! Oh, bad consciences!
Oh, unfortunate soldiers! that ye should not have understood the perils ye were
to encounter, and how wasted would be your lives, and without rest your souls!
That ye were not mindful of that truth which the blessed St. Augustine uttered
in lamenting the miseries of this life, saying, this life is a life of misery,
frail, and uncertain, full of toil and stain; a life, Lord, of ills, a kingdom
of pride, full of miseries and terror, since it is not really life, nor can be
called so, but rather death, for in a moment it is ended by various changes of
fortune and divers kinds of deaths! Give ear, then, Catholic reader, and do not
lament the conquered Indians less than their Christian conquerors or slayers of
themselves, as well as others, and follow the adventures of this Governor, ill
governed, taught in the School of Pedrarias de Avila, in the scattering and
wasting of the Indians of Castilla del Oro; a graduate in the killing of the
natives of Nicaragua and canonized in Peru as a member of the order of the
Pizarros; and then, after being delivered from all those paths of Hell and
having come to Spain loaded with gold, neither a bachelor nor married, knew not
how nor was able to rest without returning to the Indies to shed human blood,
not content with what he had spilled; and to leave life as shall be narrated,
and providing the opportunity for so many sinners deluded with his vain words
to perish after him. See what he wanted most of what that queen or woman chief
of Cofitachequi, lady of Talimeco, offered him when she told him that in that
place of hers he would find so many pearls that all the horses in the army
could not carry them off; and, when she received him so courteously, see how he
treated her. Let us proceed, and forget not this truth which you have read, how
as a proof of the number of pearls which were offered him, this Governor and
his people took over two hundred pounds, and you will know what enjoyment they
got out of them in the sequel. 80.



SUNDAY, October 10, the Governor entered the village of
Tascaluça, which is called Athahachi, a recent village. And the chief was on a
kind of balcony on a mound at one side of the square, his head covered by a
kind of coif like the almaizal, so that his headdress was like a Moor’s which
gave him an aspect of authority; be also wore a pelote or mantle of feathers
down to his feet, very imposing; he was seated on some high cushions, and many
of the principal men among his Indians were with him. He was as tall as that
Tony of the Emperor, our lord’s guard, and well proportioned, a fine and comely
figure of a man. He had a son, a young man as tall as himself but more slender.
Before this chief there stood always an Indian of graceful mien holding a
parasol on a handle something like a round and very large fly fan, with a cross
similar to that of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Rhodes, in the
middle of a black field, and the cross was white. And although the Governor
entered the plaza and alighted from his horse and went up to him, he did not
rise, but remained passive in perfect composure and as if he had been a king.

The Governor remained seated with him a short time, and
after a little he arose and said that they should come to eat, and he took him
with him and the Indians came to dance; and they danced very well in the
fashion of rustics in Spain, so that it was pleasant to see them. At night be
desired to go, and the commander told him that he must sleep there. He under-
stood it and showed that he scoffed at such an intention for him, being the
lord, to receive so suddenly restraints upon his liberty, and dissembling, he
immediately despatched his principal men each by himself, and he slept there
notwithstanding his reluctance. The next day the Governor asked him for
carriers and a hundred Indian women; and the chief gave him four hundred
carriers and the rest of them and the women he said he would give at Mabila,
the province of one of his principal vassals. And the Governor acquiesced in
having the rest of that unjust request of his fulfilled in Mabila; and he
ordered him to be given a horse and some buskins and a scarlet cloak for him to
ride off happy. And now that the chief had given him four hundred carriers. or
rather slaves, and was to give him in Mabila a hundred women, and what they
were most in need of, see how happy he could be made with those buskins and the
cloak and with riding on a horse when he felt as if he were mounted on a tiger
or a most savage lion, since this people held horses in the greatest terror!

At last, Tuesday, October 12, they departed from that
village of Atahachi, taking along the chief as has been said and with him many
principal men and always the Indian with the sunshade attending hi lord, and
another with a cushion. And that night they slept in the open country. The next
day, Wednesday, they came to Piachi, which is a village high above the gorge of
a mountain stream; and the chief of this place was evil intentioned, and
attempted to resist their passage; and as a result, they crossed the stream
with effort, and two Christians were slain, and also the principal Indians who
accompanied the chief. In this village, Piachi, it was learned that they had
killed Don Teodoro and a black, who came from the ships of Pamphilo de Narvaez.

Saturday, October 16, they departed thence into a mountain
where they met one of the two Christians whom the Governor had sent to Mabila,
and he said that in Mabila there had gathered together much people in anus. The
next day they came to a fenced village, and there came messengers from Mabila
bringing to the chief much bread made from chestnuts, which are abundant and
excellent in that region. 84.

Monday, October 18, St. Luke’s day, the Governor came to
Mabila, having passed that day by several villages, which was the reason that
the soldiers stayed behind to forage and to scatter themselves, for the region
appeared populous. And there went on with the Governor only forty horsemen as
an advance guard, and after they had tarried a little, that the Governor might
not show weakness, he entered into the village with the chief, and all his
guard went in with him. Here the Indians immediately began an areyto, which is
their fashion for a ball with dancing and song. While this was going on some
soldiers saw them putting bundles of bows and arrows slyly among some palm
leaves, and other Christians saw that above and below the cabins were full of
people concealed. The Governor was informed of it and he put his helmet on his
head and ordered all to go and mount their horses and warn all the soldiers
that had come up. Hardly had they gone out when the Indians took the entrances
of stockade, and there were left with the Governor, Luis de Moscoso and
Baltasar de Gallegos, and Espindola, the Captain of the Guard, and seven or
eight soldiers. And the chief went into a cabin and refused to come out of it.
Then they began to shoot arrows at the Governor. Baltasar de Gallegos went in
for the chief, he not being willing to come out. He disabled the arm of a
principal Indian with the slash of a knife. Luis de Moscoso waited at the door,
so as not to leave him alone, and he was fighting like a knight and did all
that was possible until, not being able to endure any more, he cried: “Señor
Baltasar de Gallegos, come out, or I will leave you, for I cannot wait any
longer for you.” During this, Solis, a resident of Triana of Seville, had
ridden up, and Rodrigo Ranjel, who were the first, and for his sins Solis was
immediately stricken down dead; but Rodrigo Ranjel got to the gate of the town
at the time when the Governor went out, and two soldiers of his guard with him,
and after him came more than seventy Indians who were held back for fear of
Rodrigo Ranjel’s horse, and the Governor, desiring to charge them, a negro
brought up his horse; and he told Rodrigo Ranjel to give aid to the Captain of
the Guard, who was left behind, for he had come out quite used up, and a
soldier of the Guard with him; and he with a horse faced the enemy until he got
out of danger, and Rodrigo Ranjel returned to the Governor and had him draw out
more than twenty arrows which he bore fastened in his armour, which was a loose
coat quilted with coarse cotton. And he ordered Ranjel to watch for Solis, to
rescue him from the enemy that they should not carry him inside. And the
Governor went to collect the soldiers. There was great valour and shame that
day among all those that found themselves in this first attack and beginning of
this unhappy day; for they fought to admiration and each Christian did his duty
as a most valiant soldier. Luis de Moscoso and Baltasar de Gallegos came out
with the rest of the soldiers by another gate. 85.

As a result, the Indians were left with the village and
all the property of the Christians, and with the horses that were left tied
inside, which they killed immediately. The Governor collected all of the forty
horse that were there and advanced to a large open place Before the principal
gate of Mabila. There the Indians rushed out without venturing very far from
the stockade, and to draw them on the horsemen made a feint of taking flight at
a gallop, withdrawing far from the walls. And the Indians believing it to be
real, came away from the village and the stockade in pursuit, greedy to make
use of their arrows. And when it was time the horsemen wheeled about on the
enemy, and before they could recover themselves, killed many with their lances.
Don Carlos wanted to go with his horse as far as the gate, and they gave the
horse an arrow shot in the breast. And not being able to turn, he dismounted to
draw out the arrow, and then another came which hit him in the neck above the
shoulder, at which, seeking confession, he fell dead. The Indians no longer
dared to withdraw from the stockade. Then the Commander invested them on every
side until the whole force had come up; and they went up on three sides to set
fire to it, first cutting the stockade with axes. And the fire in its course
burned the two hundred odd pounds of pearls that they had, and all their
clothes and ornaments, and the sacramental cups, and the moulds for making the
wafers, and the wine for saying the mass; and they were left like Arabs,
completely stripped, after all their hard toil. They had left in a cabin the
Christian women, which were some slaves belonging to the Governor; and some
pages, a friar, a priest, a cook, and some soldiers defended themselves very
well against the Indians, who were not able to force an entrance before the
Christians came with the fire and rescued them. And all the Spaniards fought
like men of great courage, and twenty-two died, and one hundred and forty-eight
others received six hundred and eighty-eight arrow wounds, and seven horses
were killed and twenty-nine others wounded. Women and even boys of four years
of age fought with the Christians; and Indian boys hanged themselves not to
fall into their hands, and others jumped into the fire of their own accord. See
with what good will those carriers acted. The arrow shots were tremendous, and
sent with such a will and force that the lance of one gentleman named Nuño de
Tovar, made of two pieces of ash and very good, was pierced by an arrow in the
middle, as by an auger, without being split, and the arrow made a cross with
the lance. 86.

On that day there died Don Carlos, and Francis de Soto,
the nephew of the Governor, and Johan de Gamez de Jaen, and Men Rodriguez, a
fine Portugues gentleman, and Espinosa, a fine gentleman, and another named
Velez, and one Blasco de Barcarrota, and many other honoured soldiers; and the
wounded comprised all the men of most worth and honour in the army. They killed
three thousand of the vagabonds without counting many others who were wounded
and whom they afterwards found dead in the cabins and along the roads. Whether
the chief was dead or alive was never known. The son they found thrust through
with a lance. 87.

After the end of the battle as described, they rested
there until the 14th of November, caring for their wounds and their horses, and
they burned over much of the country. And up to the time when they left there,
the total deaths from the time the Governor and his forces entered the land of
Florida, were one hundred and two Christians, and not all, to my thinking, in
true repentance. 88.

Sunday, November 14, of the year already mentioned, the
Governor left Mabila, and the Wednesday following came to a fine river.
Thursday, the 28th, their way lay over bad places and through swamps, and they
found a village with corn which was named Talicpacana. The Christians had
discovered on the other side of the river a village which appeared to them from
a distance to be finely situated. 89.

On Sunday, the 21st of November, Vasco Gonçalez found a
village half a league distant from this named Moçulixa, from which they had
transported all the corn to the other side of the river and had piled it in
heaps covered with mats; and the Indians were across the river, and were making
threats. A barge was constructed which was finished the 29th of the month, and
they made a large truck to carry it to Moçulixa; and when it was launched in
the water sixty soldiers embarked in it. The Indians shot countless darts, or
rather arrows. But when this great canoe reached the shore they took flight,
and not more than three or four Christians mere wounded. The country was easily
secured, and they found an abundance of corn. 90.

The next day, Wednesday, the whole force came to a village
which was called Zabusta, and there they crossed the river in the boat and with
some canoes that they had found in that place; and they tarried for the night
in another village on the other side, because up above they found a fine one,
and took the chief, whose name was Apafalaya, and carried him along as guide
and interpreter; and this stream was called the river Apafalaya. From this
river and town the Governor and his array set out in search of Chicaça on
Thursday, December 9. The following Tuesday they arrived at the river of
Chicaça, having traversed many bad passages and swamps and cold rivers. 91.

And that you may know, reader, what sort of a life these
Spaniards led, Rodrigo Ranjel, an eye-witness, says that among many other great
hardships that men endured in this undertaking he saw a knight named Don
Antonio Osorio, brother of the Lord Marquis of Astorga, wearing a short garment
of the blankets of the country, torn on the sides, his flesh showing, no hat,
bare-headed, barefooted, without hose or shoes, a buckler on his back, a sword
without a shield, amidst heavy frosts and cold. And the stuff of which he was
made and his illustrious lineage made him endure his toil without laments such
as many others made, for there was no one who could help him, although he was
the man he was, and had in Spain two thousand ducats of income through the
Church. And the day that this gentleman saw him he did not believe that he had
eaten a mouthful, and he had to dig for it with his rails to get something to
eat. 92.

I could hardly help laughing when I heard that this knight
had left the Church and the income above mentioned to go in search of such a
life as this, at the sound of the words of De Soto; because I knew Soto very
well, and, although he was a man of worth, I did not suppose that he was so
winning a talker or so clever, as to be able to delude such persons. What was
it that a man like him wanted of a land unexplored and unknown? Nor did the
Captain that took him know anything more than that in this land had perished
Johan Ponce de Leon and the lawyer Lucas Vazquez de Allyon and Pamphilo de
Narvaez and others abler than Hernando de Soto. And those that follow such
guides have to go in that manner, since they found regions where they were able
to make a settlement and rest and gradually push in and make their inferences
and learn the country. But let us proceed, for the toil of this knight is
little compared with those that are dying and escaped. 93.

The river of Chicaça they found overflowing its bed, and
the Indians on the other side in arms with many white flags. Orders were given
to make a barge, and the Governor sent Baltasar de Gallegos with thirty
horsemen, swimmers, to search the river up above for a good crossing place, and
to fall suddenly upon the Indians; and it was perceived, and they forsook the
passage and they crossed over very comfortably in the barge on Thursday, the
16th of the month. And the Governor went on ahead with some horsemen, and they
arrived late at night at a village of the lord which had been deserted by all
the people. The next day Baltasar de Gallegos appeared with the thirty that
went with him, End they spent that Christmas in Chicaça, and there was a
snowstorm with a heavy fall of snow, just as if they had been in Burgos, and
the cold was as severe, or more so. On Monday, January 3, 1541, the chief of
Chicaça came proffering peace, and promptly gave the Christians guides and
interpreters to go to Caluça, a place of much repute among the Indians. Caluça
is a province of more than ninety villages not subject to any one, with a
savage population, very warlike and much dreaded, and the soil is fertile in
that section. In Chicaça the Governor ordered that half of his army make war on
Sacchuma; and on their return the Chief Miculasa made peace, and messengers
came from Talapatica. In the meantime, while this war was going on, the time
came to march, and they asked the chief for carriers; and the Indians raised
such a tumult among themselves that the Christians understood it; and the
settlement was that they would give them on the 4th of March, when they had to
start, and that on that day they would come with them. On the evening of that
day the Governor mounted his horse and found the Indians evilly disposed, and
realizing their dangerous intentions he returned to the camp and said in
public: “To-night is an Indian night. I shall sleep armed and my horse
saddled.” And they all said that they would do the same, and he called the
Master of the Camp, who was Luis de Moscoso, and told him that they should take
extra precautions that night in regard to the sentinels, since it was the last.
The Governor as he went away from where he left those soldiers to whom he had
given these warnings, lay down undressed on his couch, and neither was his
horse saddled nor any other, and all those in the camp lay down to sleep
without precautions and unarmed. The Master of the Camp put on the morning
watch three horsemen, the most useless and with the poorest horses in the army.
And on the day before mentioned, the 4th of March, when the Indian carriers had
been promised them, at dawn, the Indians, fulfilling their word, entered the
camp in many detachments, beating drums as if it had been in Italy, and serving
fire to the camp, they burned and captured fifty-nine horses, and three of them
they shot through both shoulders with arrows. 94.

And the Christians were like heedless people on this
occasion; and few arms, coats-of-mail, lances and saddles remained after the
fire; and all the horses had run off, escaping the fire and the noise. Only the
commander was able to mount his horse, and they did not fasten the horse’s
girth, nor did he buckle his coat of arms, and Tapia de Valladolid was with
him; and he fell over the first Indian that he thrust at who had thrust at him,
saddle and all, and if the Indians had known how to follow up their victory,
this would have been the last day of the lives of all the Christians of that
army, and made an end of the demand for carriers. 95.

Next the Spaniards went to a plain, a league from that
village where they were; and they had cabins and supplies, and they set up the
camp on a sloping hillside. And they made haste to set up a forge, and they
made bellows of bear skins, and they retempered their arms, and made new frames
for their saddles, and they provided themselves with lances for there were in
that place very good ash-trees. And within a week they had everything repaired.
There were slain in Chicaça and burned alive twelve Christians. 96.

Tuesday, March 15, the morning watch, the Indians returned
upon the Christians, determined to finish them up, and attacked them on three
sides; and as necessity had made them cautious, and, as they were informed and
on the watch, they fought with them bravely and put the Indians to flight. And
it pleased God that the Christians should not suffer much loss, and few Indians
perished. Some Spaniards displayed great valour that day, and no one failed to
do his duty. And unfortunate was he on that occasion who did not well defend
his life and who failed to prove to the enemy the quality and arms of the
Christians. 97.



TUESDAY, April 26, in the year aforesaid, 1541, the
Governor Hernando de Soto set out from the plain of Chicaça, and arrived at
Limamu for the night; and there they searched for corn, because the Indians had
hidden it, and they had to pass over a desert. And Thursday they came to
another plain where the Indians had taken the position, having made a very
strong barricade, and within it there were many Indian braves, painted red and
decorated with other colours which appeared very fine (or rather, very bad, at
least it meant harm to the Christians). And they entered the barricade by
force, and with some loss by death and wounds on the part of the Commander and
his army, and with a loss greater beyond comparison on the part of the
conquered; and it would have been still more if the Indians had not taken
flight. 98.

Saturday, the last of April, the army set out from the
place of the barricade and marched nine days through a deserted country and by
a rough way, mountainous and swampy, until May 8, when they came to the first
village of Quizqui, which they took by assault and captured much people and
clothes; but the Governor promptly restored them to liberty and had everything
restored to them for fear of war, although that was not enough to make friends
of these Indians. A league beyond this village they came upon another with
abundance of corn, and soon again after another league, upon another likewise
amply provisioned. There they saw the great river. Saturday, May 21, the force
went along to a plain between the river and a small village, and set up
quarters and began to build four barges to cross over to the other side. Many
of these conquerors said this river was larger than the Danube. 99.

On the other side of the river, about seven thousand
Indians had got together, with about two hundred canoes, to defend the passage.
All of them had shields made of canes joined, so strong and so closely
interwoven with such thread that a cross-bow could hardly pierce them. The
arrows came raining down so that the air was full of them, and their yells were
something fearful. But when they saw that the work on the barges did not relax
on their account, they said that Pacaha, whose men they were, ordered them to
withdraw, and so they left the passage free. And on Saturday, June 8, the whole
force crossed this great river in the four barges and gave thanks to God
because in His good pleasure nothing more difficult could confront them. Soon,
on Sunday, they came to a village of Aquixo. 100.

Tuesday, June 21, they went from there and passed by the
settlement of Aquixo, which is very beautiful, or beautifully situated. The
next day, Wednesday, they passed through the worst tract for swamps and water
that they had found in all Florida, and on that day the toil of the soldiers
was very heavy. 101.

The next day following, Thursday, they entered the land
of Quarqui, and passed through small villages; and the next day, Friday, St.
John’s day, they came to the village of the Lord of Casqui, who gave food and
clothing to the army. It was Saturday when they entered his village, and it had
very good cabins, and, in the principal one, over the door, were many heads of
very fierce bulls, just as in Spain, noblemen who are sportsmen mount the heads
of wild boars or bears. There the Christians planted the cross on a mound, and
they received it and adored it with much devotion, and the blind and lame came
to seek to be healed. Their faith, says Rodrigo Ranjel, would have surpassed
that of the conquerors if they had been taught, and would have brought forth
more fruit than those conquerors did. 102.

Sunday, June 26, they departed thence to go to Pacaha, an
enemy of Casqui; and after passing several villages, they spent the night in
one. And the following day they crossed a swamp over which the Indians had
thrown a well-constructed bridge, broad and very cleverly built. On Wednesday
they came to the village of Pacaha, a village and lord of wide repute and
highly thought of in that country. 103.

This town was a very good one, thoroughly well stockaded;
and the walls were furnished with towers and a ditch round about, for the most
part full of water which flows in by a canal from the river; and this ditch was
full of excellent fish of divers kinds. The chief of Casqui came to the
Christians when they were entering the village and they entertained him
bravely. In Aquixo, and Casqui, and Pacaha, they saw the best villages seen up
to that time, better stockaded and fortified, and the people were of finer
quality, excepting those of Cofitachequi. 104.

The Commander and his soldiers remaining some days in
Pacaha, they made some incursions further up country. 105.

And the chief of Casqui, on one occasion, when he saw a
chance for it, went off without seeking permission, on account of which the
Governor tried to secure peace with Pacaha; and he came to the camp to recover
a brother of his whom the Christians had taken when they entered the village;
and an agreement was made with Pacaha that they should war against Casqui,
which was very gratifying to Pacaha. But Casqui got wind of this resolve and
came with fifty Indians of his in fine array, and he brought a clown for
display, who said and did much that was amusing, making those who saw him laugh
a good deal. The Governor assumed an air of irritation and sternness to please
Pacaha, and sent word that Casqui should not come into the village. Casqui
replied that he would not refrain from coming even if they cut off his head.
Pacaha asked the Governor to allow him to give Casqui a slash in the face with
a knife that he had in his hand, which the Christians had given him. But the
Governor told Pacaha that he should do no such thing, nor do him any harm, for
he would be angry at him; and he ordered Casqui to come so as to see what he
wanted, and because he wished to ask him the reason why he had gone without his
permission. Casqui came and spoke to the Governor as follows:–as it was
reported by the interpreter Johan Ortiz and the other Indian interpreters that
the Governor and the Christians had– “How is it, my Lord, possible, that after
having given me the pledge of friendship, and without my having done any harm
to you, or given any occasion, you desire to destroy me, your friend and
brother? You gave me the cross for a defence against my enemies, and with it
you seek to destroy me.” (This he said because the Indians of Pacaha, his
enemy, that went with the Christians, against him, wore crosses on their heads,
high up, that they might be seen.) “Now, my Lord,” said Casqui,” when God has
heard us by means of the cross; when the women and boys and all those of my
country threw themselves on their knees before it to pray for water to the God
who you said suffered on it; and He heard us and gave us water in great
abundance and refreshed our corn-fields and plantations; now, when we had the
most faith in it and in your friendship, you desired to destroy these boys and
women that are so devoted to you and your God. Why did you desire to use us
with such cruelty without our deserving it from you ? Why did you desire to
destroy the faith and confidence which we had in you? Why did you desire to
offend your God and us, when for Him, and in His name, you gave us assurances
and received us for friends, and we gave you entire confidence and trust in the
same God and His cross, and have it for our safeguard and protection, and hold
it in the reverence and veneration which is proper? With what object or purpose
were you actuated to do, or even to think of a thing so grievous against a
people without blame, and friends of the cross and of yours?” 106.

This said, he held his peace. The Governor, his eyes
melting and not without trace of tears, considering the faith and words of this
chief , replied to him, through the interpreters, in the presence of many of
the Christian soldiers, who, attentively, and not without tears, overcome by
such goodness and faith, had heard what was said, and spoke as follows: “Look
you, Casqui, we are not come to destroy you, but to do for you what you know
and understand is the work of the cross and our God, as you tell me. And these
favours which it has bestowed upon you, are a small thing in comparison with
many others and very great ones, which it will secure you if you love it and
believe in it. Be assured of this, and you will find it so and realize it
better every day. And when you ran off without my permission I thought that you
held the teaching we had given you of little account, and for that contempt
that you had for it I wanted to destroy you; supposing that in pride you had
gone off for that is the thing which our God most abhors, and for which He
punishes us the most. Now that you have come in humility, be assured that I
wish you more good than you think; and if you have need of anything from me,
tell me of it and you will see, since we do what our God commands us, which is
not to lie; and, therefore, believe that I tell you the truth, since to speak a
lie is a very great sin amongst us. For this good-will be not grateful to me or
mine, since if you hold what you say, God, our Lord, commands that we love you
as a brother, and that we treat you as such because you and yours are our
brethren, and such is the injunction of our God.” 107.

The Indians, as much as the Christians, had heard with
wonder what Casqui had said. It was now the hour for dinner and the commander
sat down and ordered both chiefs to be stated, And between them there was much
contention, as to which of them should sit on the right hand of the Governor.
Pacaha said to Casqui: “You know well that I am a greater lord than you, and
of more honourable parents and grandparents, and that to me belongs a higher
place.” Casqui replied as follows: “True it is that you are a greater lord than
I, and that your forbears were greater than mine. And since this great lord
here tells us that we must not lie, I will not deny the truth. But you know
well that I am older and mightier than you, and that I confine you in your
walls whenever I wish, and you never have seen my country.” Finally this was
left to the Governor to settle and he ordered that Pacaha should be seated on
his right hand because he was a greater lord and more ancient in rank, and he
showed in his good customs more of the manners of the courtier after their
fashion. 108.

Casqui had brought a daughter, a fine young girl, to the
Governor. Pacaha gave him one of his wives, blooming, and very worthy; and he
gave him a sister and another Indian woman of rank. The Governor made them
friends and embraced them and ordered that there should be merchandising and
business between one country and the other, and they agreed to it. And after
this the Governor departed thence the 29th of July. 109.

But I could wish that along with the excellencies of the
cross and of the faith that this Governor explained to these chiefs, he had
told them that he was married, and that the Christians ought not to have more
than one wife, or to have intercourse with another, or to commit adultery; that
he had not taken the daughter whom Casqui gave him, nor the wife and sister and
the other woman of rank whom Pacaha gave him; and that they had not got the
idea that the Christians, like the Indians, could have as many wives and
concubines as they desired, and thus, like the Indians, live as adulterers.

Let us pass on. To my thinking it would have been better
after baptizing a chief of so much intelligence as Casqui, and making him and
his people Christians, to have remained there, than to go on to what the
history will relate. Nor do I approve of their having gone further than to
Cofitachequi, for the same reason, and on account of what was said of that
land. However, this army and its Governor having departed, they came by
nightfall to a village of Casqui. And the next day to the principal village of
the same lord of Casqui, which they had already passed. And they departed from
there Sunday, the last day of that month and came to a village of that
province. And Monday, August 1, they came to another village, which is on the
river of Casqui, which is a branch of the great river of Pacaha, and this
branch is as large as the Guadalquivir. Thither came Casqui and assisted them
across the river in canoes, August 2. 111.

On Wednesday, they slept in a burned village. The next
day, Thursday, in another near the river, where there were many pumpkins and an
abundance of corn, and beans. And the next day, Friday, they came to Quiguate,
which is the largest village which they saw in that country, situated on the
river of Casqui; and it was later known that the banks of this river were
thickly populated further down (although they did not find it out there) and
along it they took the trail of Coligua which was not peopled in the
intervening country. 112.

Friday, August 26, they left Quiguate in search of
Coligua and passed the night by a swamp, and from swamp to swamp they made a
journey over four swamps and days’ marches; and in these swamps, or pools,
there was no end of fish, because all that country is flooded by the great
river when it overflows its banks. And, Tuesday, they came to the river of
Coligua, and, Wednesday, likewise, to the same river. And the next day,
Thursday, September 1, to the town of Coligua; and they found it populated, and
from it they took much people and clothes, and a vast amount of provisions and
much salt. It was a pretty village, between some ridges along the gorge of a
great river. And from there, at midday, they went to kill some cows, of which
there are very many wild ones. 113.

Tuesday, the 6th of September, they left Coligua and
crossed the river again, and Wednesday they passed some mountains and came to
Calpista, where there was an excellent salt spring which distilled very good
salt in deposits. The Thursday following they came to Palisma, and on Saturday,
September 10, they went on to encamp by a water; and Sunday they came to
Quixila, where they rested over Monday. Tuesday they went on to Tutilcoya, and
Wednesday, to a village along a large river. And Thursday they encamped near a
swamp. And the Governor went on ahead with some horsemen, and came to Tanico,
and the next day they came to the same settlement of Tanico, which was built in
a somewhat scattered fashion, but was very abundantly provided with supplies.
Some would have it that it was Cayase, of which they had heard much, a large
stockaded town, ban they were never able to see that place or discover it; and
subsequently they were told that they had left it near the river. 114.

From there the Governor, with thirteen horsemen and fifty
foot, went on to see Tula, and he returned from there in a hurry, and the
Indians killed one horse and wounded four or five, and he resolved to go there
with the army. One ought not to omit and leave in forgetfulness that in Cayase
our Spaniards gathered baskets of dry sand from the river and strained water
through it, and there came out a brine, and they boiled it down, and let it
harden, and in that way made excellent salt, very white and of very good
flavour. 115.

Wednesday, October 5, they departed from the station of
Tanico, and came, Friday, to Tula, and found the inhabitants gone, but abundant
provisions. On Saturday, in the morning, the Indians came to give them a brush,
or a battle, and they had large, long poles, like lances, the ends hardened by
fire, and they were the best fighting people that the Christians met with, and
they fought like desperate men, with the greatest valour in the world. That day
they wounded Hernandarias, the grandson of the marshal of Seville, and, thank
God, the Christians defended themselves so valiantly that they did not receive
much damage, although the Indians tried to round up the whole force. 116.

Wednesday, October 19, the army and the Governor departed
from Tula, and passed the night at two cabins. And the next day, Thursday, at
another cabin, and Friday, at another, where Hernandarias de Saavedra, who had
been wounded at Tula, died in convulsions; and he died like a Catholic knight,
commending his soul to God. The next day they came to Guipana, which is between
ridges of mountains near a river; and from there they went for the night to a
place where they could cross over, and all the country was mountainous from
Tula. The next day they left the mountain and came on to the plains and Monday
the last day of the month, they came to a village called Quitamaya, and
Tuesday, the 1st of November, they went through a small village; and Wednesday,
the 2d of November, they came to Utiangue, which was a plain well peopled and
of attractive appearance. 117.

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Prose
Subjects: Discovery and Exploration of America
Period: 1550-1600
Location: Spanish borderlands in North America
Format: Account/Relation

This text was first published in Burgos in 1557.

The text of this edition was initially prepared from and proofed against "A NARRATIVE OF DE SOTO'S EXPEDITION BASED ON THE DIARY OF RODRIGO RANJEL HIS PRIVATE SECRETARY BY GONZALO FERNANDEZ DE OVIEDO Y VALDES." In Edward Gaylord Bourne, ed. Narratives of the career of Hernando de Soto, trans. Buckingham Smith (New York, ALLERTON BOOK CO., 1922). All preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.