Inca's Original DeSoto Writings

Garcilaso de la Vega, the "Inca," wrote a History of the Conquest of Florida based on interviews with DeSoto Expedition survivors. This translation was made by Charmion Shelby in 1935 and Published in the DeSoto Chronicles.        (Trails to this Point)

BY STATE: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia,
                   Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas,
Louisiana, Texas, Retreat, Arkansas, Escape to Mexico      



Florida of the Inca

Garcilaso de la Vega, el Inca 1539-1616







The governor and his captains, seeing that the month of March was already past and that it was now time to go on with their discovery, consulted together with regard to leaving that camp and province of Chicaca. The rest of the men desired to do so in order to go out of that country where the Indians had committed so many hostilities against them and done them so much damage, always by night. In all the four months that the Spaniards were wintering there the Indians did not miss four nights in making their continuous attacks and raising alarms. Reaching this common decision, our men left that post at the beginning of April of the year 154j, and having marched on the first day four leagues through a level country dotted with many small pueblos having fifteen or twenty houses, they passed a quarter of a league beyond the inhabited region, it appearing to them that the Indians of Chicaca, who had been so troublesome to them in their own country, on seeing them beyond their pueblos, would stop pursuing them. But they had other, very different ideas, totally opposed to peace, as we shall soon see.

When the Spaniards halted to make camp in that field they sent cavalry to scour the country on every side and see what was all around the camp. They returned with the information that nearby was a fort built of wood, manned by very select warriors who apparently numbered about four thousand. The general, choosing fifty cavalry, went to reconnoiter the fort, and having seen it, he returned to his men and said: "Gentlemen, it is well that before night closes in we drive our enemies from the fort where they have fortified themselves. Not content with the molestation and trouble that they have given us so persistently in their own country, now that we are out of it they still wish to harass us, to show that they do not fear your arms, since they come to seek them outside their boundaries. Therefore it will be well for us to chastise them and for them not to remain where they are tonight, because if we leave them there they can come out successively in armed bands and shoot arrows at us all night, not allowing us to rest."

Everyone agreed with what the governor had said, and thus leaving a third of the infantry and cavalry to guard the camp, all the rest went with the governor to assail the fort, called Alibamo. It was square, with four equal curtains made of embedded logs, the curtain of each wall being four hundred paces long. Inside the square were two other curtains of wood, which crossed the fort from one wall to the other. The front curtain had three small doors, so low that a mounted man could not go through them. One door was in the middle of the curtain and the other two were at the sides near the corners. In line with these three doors there were three others in each curtain, so that if the Spaniards should take the first ones, the Indians could defend themselves at those of the second curtain, and of the third and the fourth. The doors of the last curtain opened on a river that passed behind the fort. Though narrow, this river was very deep and had such steep banks that one could go up and down them only with difficulty on foot and not at all on horseback. This was the intention of the Indians, to make a fort in which they could be sure that the Castilians would not attack them with the horses by entering through the doors or by crossing the river, but would fight on foot like themselves, for as we have said already on other occasions, they had no fear whatsoever of the infantry, as it seemed to them that they were equal or even superior to them. They had bridges over the river made of wood, but so shaky and ruinous that they could hardly pass over them. There were no doors at all on the sides of the fort.

Having seen and examined the fort well, the governor ordered that a hundred of the best-armed cavalry dismount and attack it, formed into three squadrons with three men to a file, and that the infantry, who were not so well supplied with defensive arms as the cavalry, should follow them, and all attempt to gain the doors. This disposition was made immediately. One door fell to Captain Juan de Guzman, another to Captain Alonso Romo de Cardenosa and the third to Gonzalo Silvestre, and they led their squadrons directly toward the doors to attack them.

The Indians, who hitherto had remained closed up in their fort, seeing that the Spaniards were preparing to attack, sent out a hundred men from each door to skirmish with them. They wore great plumes on their heads, and in order to appear more fierce they all came with their faces, bodies, arms, and legs painted in stripes with paints or clays of various colors, and they assailed the Spaniards with all the gallantry that can be imagined. With the first arrows they felled Diego de Castro, a native of Badajoz, and Pedro de Torres, a native of Burgos, both nobles and brave men; they were advancing in the first file on either side of Gonzalo Silvestre. They wounded Diego de Castro above the knee in the large muscle of the right leg with a flint barb, and they transfixed Pedro de Torres in the leg between the two shin-bones. Francisco de Reynoso, a gentleman from Astorga, seeing his commander Gonzalo Silvestre advancing alone, passed from the second file where he was marching to the first, so as not to let him go by himself.

In the second squadron, which Captain Juan de Guzman was leading, they downed with another arrow wound made by a flint barb another gentleman, named Luis Bravo de Xerez, who was at the captain's side, wounding him in the large muscle of the thigh. They removed from the side of Captain Alonso Romo de Cardenosa, who was going to attack the third door, one of his two companions, who was named Francisco de Figueroa, very noble in blood and in virtue and a native of Zafra. He was also wounded in the large muscle of the thigh, likewise by a flint barb. These Indians being experienced warriors, they shot at the Spaniards from the thighs downward, these being the parts on which they wore no defensive armor; and they shot at them with flint barbs so as to be able to do more damage, because, if they did not wound them with the point, the edge would cut them in passing.

These three gentlemen died shortly after the battle, and all within an hour, because the wounds had been alike. Their deaths occasioned much grief because they were nobles, brave, and young, for none of them was as much as twenty-five years old. Besides the wounds of which we have told there were many others, because the Indians fought most valiantly, always shooting at their enemies' legs. Our men, on seeing this, all shouted together to close in at once on the enemy and not give them a chance to use up the arrows with which they were doing them so much damage. Thus they fell upon them so swiftly and furiously that they swept them back to the doors of the fort.



The governor had stationed himself with twenty horsemen on one side of the squadrons, and Captains Andres de Vasconcelos and Juan de Anasco on the other side, with thirty more, and they all fell upon the Indians. One of them shot an arrow at the general, who was at the head of his men, and struck him such a severe blow on the helmet above the forehead that the arrow flew up more than a pike's length in the air above the helmet, and the governor confessed afterward that it had made him see stars. When the cavalry and the infantry attacked all together, the Indians retreated to the wall of the fort where, since the doors were so small and all the Indians could not take refuge inside, they suffered heavy losses. With the same fury with which they had assailed the Indians in the open, the Spaniards entered the doors, face to face with the enemy, and so nearly at the same time that it could not be ascertained which of the three captains had entered first.

Inside the fort there was a great butchery of the Indians, for as the Spaniards saw them closed up there and remembered the many and unceasing grievances they had suffered from them in their last camp, they bore down upon them mercilessly in their wrath and rage against them and killed great numbers very easily with stabs and thrusts, as they wore no defensive armor. Many Indians, being unable to escape through the doors leading to the river because they were so hotly pursued, trusting to their swiftness, jumped from the tops of the walls and fell into the hands of the cavalry who were patrolling the field, where they speared all of them. Many other Indians, who were able to get out through the doors to the river, crossed it by the wooden bridge, but because of the haste with which they pushed against one another in passing over, many of them fell into the river, and it was an amazing thing to see the great splashes they made in striking the water because they fell from such a height. Others, who could not reach the bridges because the enemy's fury did not give them time, threw themselves down from the bluffs and swam across the river. In this manner they abandoned the fort within a short time, and those who were able to cross the river, being now safe, formed themselves into a squadron. Our men remained on this side.

One of the Indians who had escaped, seeing himself out of danger and wishing to show his skill with his bow and arrows, went apart from his own men and shouted to the Castilians, making them understand by signs and a few words that [he wished] one of their crossbowmen to come out for a single combat, so that they might exchange shots to see which one of them was the better archer. One of our men, named Juan de Salinas, an hidalgo from Santander, came out very promptly from among the Spaniards (who had taken shelter under some trees that were in front of them, as a protection against arrows) and went down the river to place himself opposite the Indian. Though one of his companions called to him to wait, that he wanted to go with him and protect him with a shield, he refused, saying that since his enemy sought no advantages for himself he would not take any against him. He immediately put a bolt in his crossbow and aimed at the Indian to shoot at him; the latter did the same with his bow, having chosen one of the arrows from his quiver.

Both fired their shots at the same time. The man from Santander struck the Indian in the center of the breast, so that he fell, but before he reached the ground his people came to his assistance and carried him off in their arms, more dead than alive, for the bolt entered his breast all the way. The Indian struck the Spaniard in the neck, just behind the left ear (for in order to take aim at the enemy and also to turn the side of his body toward him, which presented a smaller target than the front, he had turned to one side to f ire the crossbow), and the arrow went through the nape of his neck, standing out an equal distance on each side. Thus he went back to his companions, transfixed by the arrow and very satisfied with the shot that he had made at his enemy. The Indians (though they might have done so) would not shoot at Juan de Salinas because the challenge had been to have one-to-one combat. The adelantado, who was desirous of punishing those Indians for their impudence and audacity, calling to the mounted men and crossing the river by a good ford that was above the fort, drove them forward across a plain for more than a league, spearing them as they went, and they would not have stopped short of finishing them all if they had not been overtaken by darkness. Nevertheless more than two thousand Indians died in this confrontation, and they paid well for their boldness, because now they could not boast about the Castilians who had died in their country nor of the great molestation that they had given them throughout the past winter. Having pursued them as far as they could, the Castilians went back to their camp and treated the wounded, who were numerous, for which reason they remained there four days, being unable to march.



Going back a little in our History from where we are, so that events may be told according to the time and place in which they occurred, and so that we shall not have to go back further to tell them, it must be said that as soon as our Spaniards left the great province of Coca and entered that of Tascaluca they were in need of salt. Having passed some days without it, they felt the lack of it greatly, and some whose constitutions required more than others died for the need of it in a most extraordinary manner. They were taken with a slight hectic fever, and by the third or fourth day no one could endure the stench of their bodies fifty paces away from them, it being more foul than that of dead dogs or cats. Thus they perished without any help for it, because they neither knew what it was nor what to do for them, as they had no physicians or medicines, and even if they had had them, it was understood that they would have been of no use because they were already corrupt when the fever came upon them, and their bellies were as green as grass from the breast down.

Thus some of them began to die, to the great horror and consternation of their companions. In their fear many of them made use of the remedy the Indians prepared to save and help themselves in that necessity. This was that they burned a certain herb they knew about and made lye with the ashes. They dipped what they ate in it as if it were a sauce and with this they saved themselves from rotting away and dying, like the Spaniards. Many of the latter in their arrogance and presumptuousness were unwilling to make use of this remedy because they regarded it as a filthy thing and unbecoming to their rank, and said that it was a mean thing to do as the Indians did, and such as these were the ones who died. When in their extremity they asked for this lye, it was now of no use to them, for the time was past when it could save them from the corruption. Once it had appeared nothing could stop it, and [the medicine] did not help those who asked for it too late. It is a deserved punishment of the arrogant not to find in time of need that which they disdained in prosperity. Thus more than sixty Spaniards died during the time when they had no salt, which was almost a year, and we shall tell in due time how they made salt and supplied their need.

It is to be noted also that when the governor reached Chicaca, because of the great variety of languages that he found as a result of the many provinces that he had passed through, almost every one of which had a language different from the others, ten, twelve, or fourteen interpreters were needed to talk with the caciques and Indians of those provinces. The statement would pass from Juan Ortiz to the last of the interpreters, all of whom stood up like a chorus to receive and pass on the words to the next one, according to the manner in which they understood one another. With such labor and trouble the adelantado asked and received information concerning the things that it was worthwhile for him to know about all that extensive country. This labor was unnecessary in the case of the individual Indians, men and women, whom our people took from any of the provinces as servants, because after two months of communication with the Spaniards they understood what their masters said to them in the Castilian language and they could make themselves understood in the most necessary and common matters in the same tongue. After six months of speaking with the Castilians they could serve as interpreters for them with other, new Indians. All those of this great kingdom of La Florida showed this facility in the language, and aptness in all other matters as well.

The army left the camp of Alibamo, which was the last one in the province of Chicaca, after the four days that they were forced to spend there on account of the wounded. After three more days' march through an uninhabited region, always going north in order to withdraw from the sea...


...they came within sight of a pueblo called Chisca.

It was near a large river, which because it was the greatest of all those that our Spaniards saw in La Florida they called the Great River, without giving it any other name. Juan Coles says in his Relation that in the Indian language this river was called Chucagua, and below we shall describe its grandeur at more length, for it was a wonderful thing. The Indians of this province of Chisca, because of the continuous war that they have with those of Chicarra and because of the uninhabited region that lies between the two provinces, knew nothing of the Spaniards' coming to their country, and thus they were unprepared. As soon as our men saw the pueblo they attacked it without waiting for orders and captured many Indian men and women of all ages. They sacked everything they found in the pueblo, as if it had belonged to the Indians of the province of Chicaca where they had been treated so badly.

The curaca's house was to one side of the pueblo, situated on a small, high elevation erected artificially, and served as a fortress. There was no way of ascending to it except by two stairways. Many Indians gathered at this house, and others assembled in a very dense woodland that was between the pueblo and the Great River. The lord of that province was named Chisca, like the province itself. He was sick in his bed and was now an old man. Hearing the noise and uproar that were going on in the pueblo, he got up and went out of his apartment, and seeing the pillaging and capture of his vassals, he took up a battle-ax and went down as rapidly as he could, uttering fierce threats of killing all who might have entered his country without permission. With all his bravado the poor man had not the stature or strength to kill a cat, because in addition to being sick, he was a little old man so slight of body that among all the Indians these Spaniards saw in La Florida they saw no other of such forlorn appearance. But the spirit of the daring and exploits of his youth, which had been filled with warfare, and the lordship of such a large and fine province as his, gave him strength to make those threats and other, greater ones.

His wives and servants laid hold of him and begged him tearfully not to go down, reminding him of his illness. The Indians who came up from the pueblo told him that those who had come were men never seen before, nor heard of; that they were numerous and brought some very large and swift animals; that if he desired to fight with them, he must consider that his people were off their guard and not prepared; that in order to avenge his injury he should summon the people from the outlying districts and await a better opportunity; and that meanwhile he ought to make a fair show of complete friendliness and avail himself of such opportunities as might arise, exercising patience and endurance or wrath and vengeance as the case might be. He would not want to commit any unconsidered rashness to his own greater hurt and the injury of his vassals. With these and other similar arguments that his wives, servants, and vassals made to the curaca, they stopped him from fighting with the Christians, but he remained so angry he refused to listen to a message of peace and friendship the governor (knowing that he was in his house) sent to him. He said that he did not wish to hear a message from those who had offended him, but to give them war with fire and sword, and thus he declared it immediately so that they could look out for themselves, for he intended to cut all their throats forthwith.



The general and his captains and soldiers, who throughout the past winter had had enough and more than enough of fighting and had with them many sick and wounded, both men and horses, had no inclination for war, but wanted peace. Desirous of it and embarrassed by having pillaged the pueblo and angered the curaca, they sent him many other messages, all couched in the fairest, friendliest and most persuasive words that they could command, for besides the inconvenience that the Spaniards were suffering themselves, they saw that in less than three hours after their arrival in the pueblo almost four thousand warriors had joined the cacique, all with their weapons ready. Our men feared that inasmuch as those had come together in such a brief time, many others would come later. They noted also that the situation of the place, both in the pueblo and out of it, was very good and favorable for the Indians and very bad and inconvenient for the Castilians, for, because of the many streams and forests that were in all that region, they could not make use of the horses, which were needed to attack the Indians. And what was of more importance to them, as they had learned well by experience, was that they were gaining nothing from war and battles but rather were consuming themselves, because men and horses were being killed every day. For all these reasons they earnestly sought peace, desiring it greatly.

On the contrary, among the Indians (after they had assembled to discuss the messages from our men) there were many who desired war because they were offended by the capture of their women and children, their brothers and relatives, and by the property stolen. It seemed to them in the ferocity of their spirit that, in order to regain everything lost, there was no more direct way than that of arms, and any other would only cause delay. Desiring to engage in battle, they opposed peace, giving no other reason except that of their loss. There were likewise other Indians, who had lost nothing that they wished to recover, who opposed peace simply because they wished to show their courage and bravery and through the natural inclination that they generally have for war. These maintained that it was a matter of honor, saying that it would be a good thing to find out what sort of fighters these strange and unknown men were, and how much spirit and courage they had; and so that they and others after them would be warned away from their lands (in the future), it would be a very good thing to make them understand their own strength and bravery. There were other, more peaceable and discreet Indians who said that the peace and friendship the Spaniards offered ought to be accepted because they could recover their captive women and children and their lost property more surely by this means than by war and enmity, and make certain that other possible losses (such as seeing their pueblos burned and their fields laid waste when the crops were nearly mature) would not be incurred. There was no reason for making a trial of the bravery of those people, for their understanding told them clearly that men who had passed through so many hostile countries to reach there could not fail to be most valiant, and it was better to have peace and concord with them than war. Aside from the damage mentioned, the latter would cause the death of many of them and of their brothers, relatives, and friends, and would of itself give revenge to their enemies, the neighboring Indians. Therefore it would be better to accept their [the Spaniards'] friendship and see how they got on with it; if they were not satisfied, they could very easily take up arms again, with more advantages than they had at present, and carry out what they were now planning.

This advice outweighed the other, and the curaca agreed to it. Keeping his wrath for a better occasion, he replied to the governor's messengers, saying that they were to tell him first of all what it was the Castilians wanted. On their replying that they wanted nothing except that they [the Indians) move out of the pueblo so that they could lodge in it, and that they give them the food they needed, which would be little, so that they could continue on their way, as they could not stay long in their country, he [the curaca] replied that he was willing to concede them the peace and friendship they asked, and leave the pueblo, and give them the provisions, on condition that they immediately release his vassals and restore all the property they had taken, down to the last earthen pot (these were his words), and that they were not to ascend to his house or to see him. On these conditions he would be a friend to the Spaniards; otherwise he immediately challenged them to battle.

Our people accepted the conditions because they had no use for the Indians whom they had captured, as they had plenty of servants, and the property consisted of nothing except some trifles such as deerskins and some blankets, few and of poor quality. All of it was restored to them, not leaving out even a clay pot, as the curaca said. The Indians moved out of the pueblo and left the food they had in their houses for the Castilians. The latter remained in that pueblo called Chisca for six days in order to care for the sick. On the last day, with the cacique's permission, his anger having abated, the governor visited him and thanked him for his friendship and hospitality. The next day he left to continue his journey and discovery.



The army having left Chisca, it marched four short daily journeys of three leagues each, since the indispositions of the sick and wounded did not permit longer ones. On all four days they traveled upstream. At the end of that time they came to a passage where they could cross the Great River, not that they could ford it, but there was an open passage for reaching it, for previously all along its banks there had been extremely large and very dense woodlands, and the banks on either side were very high and steep and one could not go up or down them. The governor and his army were forced to stop at this pass for twenty days, for in order to cross the river it was necessary to make barks or pirogues like those they built in Chicaca, because immediately upon the arrival of our men at the river, more than six thousand Indian warriors showed themselves on the other side, well armed and with a large number of canoes in which to oppose their crossing.

On the day after the governor arrived at this camp four principal Indians came with a message from the lord of that same province where the Spaniards were, whose name is not set down here because it has been forgotten. Standing before the general, without having spoken a word or having made any other sign, they turned their faces to the east and made an obeisance to the Sun, with extreme reverence; then, turning to the west, they made another, not quite so deep, to the Moon; and then, facing the governor, they made him another, lesser one, so that all those present noted the three methods of veneration that they employed, according to their degree. Then they delivered their message, saying that their lord the curaca and all his nobles and the rest of the common people of his country had sent them in the name of all to welcome them and offer them their friendship, good will, and the service that his lordship might be pleased to receive from them. The adelantado spoke to them in a very friendly manner and sent them away very pleased with his affability.

All the time the Spaniards were in that camp, which was twenty days or more, these Indians served the army in a very friendly and peaceful manner, though the chief curaca never came to see the governor, but rather continued to excuse himself on the pretext of illness, from which it was understood that he had sent the embassy and performed the other services for fear they might lay waste the fields, which were very fruitful, with the crops nearly mature, and so that they might not burn the pueblos, more than from any love that he had for the Castilians or any desire to serve them. With the great diligence and industry with which the Spaniards applied themselves to building the boats (for all of them labored at it, without distinction between captains and soldiers, he being considered captain who worked hardest on them), at the end of fifteen days they launched two barks on the river, complete in every detail. They guarded them very carefully night and day so that the enemy might not burn them. The latter, throughout the time that the Spaniards were busy with their work, did not cease to molest them in their canoes. They had many and very good ones, and formed into squadrons, sometimes descending and sometimes ascending the river, on coming abreast they discharged many arrows. The Spaniards defended themselves and kept them back with harquebuses and crossbows, with which they did them much damage because they took care to fire so as not to lose a shot, and they dug pits on the riverbank where they concealed themselves, so that the Indians would come nearer. At the end of the twenty days that the Castilians spent in making the boats, they had four in the water, which would carry i fo infantry and thirty cavalry; and so that the Indians might see them well and understand that they could not damage them, they sailed and rowed them up and down the river. Realizing that they could not prevent their crossing, the heathen decided to break camp and go to their pueblos.


Without any opposition, the Spaniards crossed the river in their pirogues and in some canoes they had won from the enemy by their diligent efforts. Dismantling the boats in order to keep the nails, which were very necessary to them, they proceeded on their journey, and having made four daily marches through uninhabited country, on the fifth day they looked ahead from some high hills and saw a pueblo with four hundred houses, situated on the banks of a river larger than the Guadalquivir at Cordoba. All along the edges of that river and in its vicinity there were many fields of maize and Indian corn and great numbers of fruit trees, which showed the country to be very fertile. The Indians of the pueblo, who already had notice of the Castilians' coming, advanced all together without any personage being distinguished among them to greet the governor and offer him their persons, houses, and lands, and they told him that they made him lord of all these. Soon two principal Indians came on behalf of the curaca, accompanied by many others, and in the name of their lord and of the whole state they offered the general anew (as the first ones had done) their vassalage and service. The governor received them very kindly and spoke many friendly words to them, with which they returned very pleased.

This pueblo and its whole province and the curaca, its lord, had the same name, which was Casquin. The Spaniards rested there six days because of the plentiful supply of food that it had for the people and in order to attend to the sick and also to the horses. At the end of that time they went in two more days to the pueblo where the cacique Casquin resided, which was seven leagues up the river on the same side. All the land was very fertile and well populated, though the pueblos were small, with fifteen, twenty, thirty, or forty houses. The cacique, accompanied by many nobles, came out to receive the governor and offered him his friendship and service and his own house in which to lodge, this being on a high hill erected artificially, on one side of the pueblo, where there were twelve or thirteen large houses in which the curaca had all his family, consisting of wives and servants, who were numerous. The governor said that he accepted his friendship but not his house, so as not to inconvenience him. He was pleased to make camp in an orchard that the cacique himself designated when he saw that he did not desire his houses. There not being a single house in it, the Indians very soon erected large and fresh arbors, such as were necessary, for it was now May and very warm. Part of the army was quartered in the pueblo and part in the orchards, where all were very comfortable.



The army had been quartered for three days in the pueblo called Casquin, much to the satisfaction of both Indians and Spaniards, and on the fourth day the curaca appeared before the governor accompanied by all the nobles of his state, whom he had convoked for that ceremony. He and all his people having made deep obeisances, he said to him: "Sir, as you have advantage over us in strength and in arms, so we believe that you enjoy it in that you have a better God than ours. These whom you see here, who are the nobles of my country (who because of their humble estate and little merit do not dare appear before you), and I with them, supplicate that you be pleased to ask your God for rain, because our crops are much in need of water. The general replied that although all those of his army, and he as well, were sinners they would pray to God, our Lord, as a merciful Father to grant them that blessing. He ordered immediately in the cacique's presence that the Genoese, Maestre Francisco, who was very expert in carpentry and in shipbuilding, make a cross from the tallest and thickest pine tree that could be found in the vicinity.

The one that was cut on advice of the Indians themselves, after being finished, that is, having the bark removed and being rounded to best advantage, as the carpenters say, could not be lifted from the ground by a hundred men. The master constructed the cross perfectly, in the proportion of five and three, without taking away anything from the height of the tree. It came out most handsomely because it was so tall. They set it up on a high artif icially made hill that was on the riverbank and served the Indians as a lookout, and exceeded in height the other, small hills nearby. The work, which required two days, being finished, and the cross being erected, on the following day a solemn procession was formed in which the general and the captains and the most important men took part, and an armed squadron of infantry and cavalry kept watch, as was required for the safeguarding and security of the army.

The cacique went at the governor's side and many of his Indian nobles were interspersed among the Spaniards. In a separate group in advance of the general went the priests, clerics, and friars, chanting the litanies in chorus, and the soldiers responded. In this manner more than a thousand men, including the faithful and the heathen, marched a good distance until they came to the place where the cross was, and all knelt before it. Having said two or three prayers, they arose and went two by two with the priests leading and knelt on the ground to adore and kiss the cross. Following the ecclesiastics came the governor, and the cacique, who, without anyone telling him, did everything that he saw the general do, and kissed the cross. Behind them came the other Spaniards and the Indians, who did the same as the Christians.

On the other side of the river there were fifteen or twenty thousand souls of both sexes and all ages, who stood with their arms extended and their hands held up, watching what the Christians were doing. From time to time they raised their eyes to heaven, making signs with their hands and faces as if they were praying God to heed the Christians' petitions. Again they would give a low hoarse cry as of people mourning, and they told the children to cry, and they themselves did the same. All this ceremony and solemnity was observed on either side of the river in the adoration of the cross, which deeply moved the governor and many of his men, seeing that the sign of our redemption was venerated with such a demonstration of humility and tears in lands so far away and by people so far removed from the Christian doctrine. All having adored the cross in the manner that has been told, the procession returned in the same order in which it had come, the priests chanting the Te Deum laudamus to the end of the canticle. This concluded the ceremonies of that day, which had extended over a long four hours.

God, our Lord, in His mercy was pleased to show those heathen how He listens to His own who earnestly call upon Him, and at once on the following night, beginning at midnight, a very good rain commenced to fall, which lasted two more days, leaving the Indians very joyful and contented. The curaca and all his nobles formed a procession such as he had seen the Christians do to adore the cross, and went to render thanks to the governor for such favors as his God had bestowed upon them through his ntercession. Finally, they told him in very well-chosen words that they were his slaves and that thenceforth they would boast of it and take pride in being so. The governor told them to give their thanks to God, who created heaven and earth and bestowed those mercies and other, greater ones.

These things have been told in such detail because they happened thus, and because it was the mandate and the care of the governor and the priests who went with him that the cross be adored with all possible solemnity, so that those heathen would see the veneration in which the Christians held it. Juan Coles recounts all this chapter concerning the adoration at great length in his Relation, and says that it rained fifteen days. After these matters were concluded, they now having been in that pueblo nine or ten days, the governor ordered the army to prepare to march on the next day to continue their discovery.

The cacique Casquin, who was about fifty years of age, begged the governor to permit him to go with him and to bring warriors and servants, the f irst to accompany the army and the second to carry the provisions, because they would have to go through uninhabited country, and to clear the roads and bring wood and grass for the horses when they were in camp. The governor thanked him for his kindness and told him to do whatever most pleased him, whereupon the curaca left well satisfied and ordered made ready, if they were not already so, a large number of warriors and servants.



It must be said for the sake of a clearer explanation of our History that this cacique Casquin and his parents, grandparents, and ancestors for many centuries previously had war with the lord and lords of another province, called Capaha, which bordered upon his own. These latter, because they were more-powerful lords of lands and vassals, had hemmed in Casquin, and were continuing to do so, having almost overcome him. He dared not take up arms for fear of angering Capaha and irritating him lest he [Capaha] do him [Casquin] the harm that he could do, being so powerful. He remained quiet, content only with guarding his boundaries, and not leaving them or giving occasion for being attacked, if it be enough not to give it to tyrants. Since Casquin now saw the good opportunity that was offered him to take revenge for all his past injuries with the aid of foreign strength and power, being astute and sagacious, he asked the governor for the permission that we have mentioned. With this, and with the intention of avenging himself, he took in addition to servants five thousand Indian warriors well armed and adorned with large plumes, for they never left their houses without these two things. He took also three thousand Indians laden with food, who carried their bows and arrows as well.

Casquin set out from his pueblo with all this ostentation, having asked permission to go ahead with his men under pretext of discovering the enemy, if they were there, and of supplying the camps with the necessary things before the Spanish army should arrive. He led his men out formed in squadrons and divided into three parts, vanguard, center, and rear guard, in good military order. The Spaniards left a quarter of a league behind the Indians, and they marched thus all that day. At night the Indians camped ahead of the Castilians and also posted their sentries as our men did, and the cavalry made the rounds between the two lines of sentries. They marched three days in this order, and at the end of that time they came to a swamp that was very difficult to cross, having deep miry places at the entrance and exit and clear water in the middle, but so deep that for the space of twenty paces it was necessary to swim (this swamp was the boundary between the two hostile provinces of Casquin and Capaha). The men crossed over some poor wooden bridges that were there, and the horses swam across with much trouble because of the mud on either side of the swamp. They spent all the fourth day in passing over it, and half a league beyond Indians and Spaniards camped in some most beautiful pasture grounds in a very fine country. After crossing the swamp, they marched two days more, and early on the third they reached some high hills from which the principal pueblo of Capaha could be seen, which was the frontier and defense of the whole province against that of Casquin, and therefore it was fortified in the manner that we shall describe. The pueblo had five hundred large and good houses and was on a site somewhat higher and more elevated than its surroundings. They had made it almost an island with a ditch or moat ten or twelve fathoms deep and fifty paces wide, or forty at the narrowest parts, all made by hand. It was full of water that it received from the Great River that we mentioned above, which flowed three leagues above the pueblo. The water came through an open canal, made laboriously, which went from the moat to the Great River for this purpose. The canal was three estados in depth and so wide that two of the large canoes could go up and down it abreast without the oars of one touching those of the other. The moat of water, of the width that we have said, surrounded three sides of the pueblo, the work not yet being complete. The fourth side was enclosed by a very strong palisade in the form of a wall made of thick logs set in the ground, touching one another, and other, transverse logs fastened and covered with packed mud and straw such as we have described above. This great moat and its canal contained so many fish that all the Spaniards and Indians who were with the governor took their fill of them, and it was still as if none had been taken out.

When his enemies, the Casquines, came in sight of the pueblo, the cacique Capaha was inside of it, but it seemed to him that because his people were unprepared and because he did not have as many as were needed he could not resist his adversaries, so he gave way to them. Before they arrived he got into one of the canoes that were in the moat and went through the canal to the Great River to take refuge on a fortified island he had there. The Indians of the pueblo who could get canoes followed their lord. Others who could not obtain them fled to the woods that were close by. Others, who were slower and less fortunate, remained in the pueblo. The Casquines entered it, finding it undefended; not all at once, but cautiously, fearful that there might be an enemy ambush inside. Though they had the Spaniards' protection, still, as a people many times defeated, they feared those of Capaha and could not lose their dread of them. This delay gave opportunity for many people of the pueblo - men, women, and children - to escape by fleeing.

After the Casquines ascertained that there was no one in the pueblo to oppose them, they showed well the hatred and rancor that they felt against its inhabitants, for they killed the men on whom they could lay hands, numbering more than 150, and took off their scalps to carry to their own country as an indication of a great victory and of revenge for their wrongs, a sign used by all these Indians. They sacked the whole pueblo, particularly robbing the lord's houses with more satisfaction and enjoyment than any of the others, because they were his. They captured many boys, children, and women, and among them two very beautiful young women who were among the many wives of Capaha. They had been unable to embark with the cacique, their husband, because of the disturbance and great haste occasioned by the sudden and unexpected arrival of the enemy.



Not content with having pillaged the curaca's house and robbed the pueblo, and killed and taken as many prisoners as they could, the Casquines went to the temple, which was on a large plaza that the pueblo contained, which was the burial place of all the former lords of that province: the father, grandfathers, and ancestors of Capaha. Those temples and burial places, as has already been told elsewhere, are the most esteemed and venerated possessions that these Indians of La Florida have, and I believe that it is the same among all nations, not without good reason, because they are relics, not of saints, but of ancestors whom they represent to us as alive. The Casquines, summoning one another so that all could enjoy the triumph, went to this temple. Since they understood how much Capaha (being arrogant and haughty because he had not hitherto been attacked by them) would feel it that his enemies had the boldness to enter his temple and burial place contemptuously, they not only entered it, but committed all the ignominious and offensive affronts that they could, because they pillaged everything that the temple contained in the way of riches, ornaments, spoils, and trophies that had been gathered at the expense of their own ancestors.

They knocked down on the ground all the wooden chests that served as sepulchers, and for their own satisfaction and revenge and to affront their enemies, they threw out on the ground the bones and dead bodies that were in the chests. Not content with throwing them on the ground, they stamped and kicked them in an excess of contempt and disdain. They took away many heads of the Indians of Casquin, which those of Capaha had placed on the points of lances at the doors of the temple as a sign of triumph and victory. In the place of them they put other heads, which they had cut off that day from the inhabitants of the pueblo. In short, nothing they could think of was left undone. They wanted to burn the temple and the curaca's houses and the whole pueblo, but did not dare do it for fear of angering the governor. The Casquines did all these things before the governor entered the pueblo. The latter, as soon as he learned that Capaha had gone to the island to fortify himself there, sent him messages of peace and friendship by some of his Indians who had been captured, but he would not accept them. On the other hand he summoned his people in order to revenge himself against his enemies.

When the governor learned of this he ordered that Indians and Spaniards make ready to go to attack the island. The curaca Casquin told his lordship to wait three or four days until a fleet of sixty canoes should arrive, which he would order to be brought from his country and which were needed to cross to the island. This fleet would have to come up by way of the Great River, which also passed through the lands of Casquin. He ordered his vassals to go as speedily as possible and come back with the canoes; that this was to be their revenge and the destruction of their enemies. Meanwhile the governor did not cease sending messages of peace and friendship to Capaha. But seeing that he disregarded them and knowing that the canoes were already on the way up the river, he ordered the whole army to come out to receive them and to go by water and by land to where the enemies were. The Castilians went out on the fifth day after they reached the pueblo of Capaha.

In order to damage their enemies' growing crops, the Casquin Indians marched out formed into a wing half a league across, laying waste and destroying everything they encountered. They found many of their Indians who were captives and who served as domestics on the estates and in the f ields of those of Capaha. So that these slaves would not run away, they had crippled one of their feet, as we have already told concerning others, and they held them in slavery in a cruel and perpetual imprisonment, more as a sign of victory than because of the advantage and service they could be to them. The Casquines set them free and sent them to their country. The governor and the cacique Casquin arrived with their armies at the Great River and found that Capaha was fortified on the island with palisades made of thick logs that were set in from one side to the other. Since there were many thickets of brambles and trees growing on the island, it was bad to enter and worse to travel through, and because of this roughness and of the many and very good warriors Capaha had there, he was certain that they would not take it. In the face of all these difficulties the governor ordered that two hundred Castilian infantry embark in twenty canoes, and three thousand Indians in the others, and that they all attack the island together and attempt to gain it, like good soldiers. The number of Indians and Spaniards mentioned went in this order in the sixty canoes. Upon landing, an accident took place that grieved all the Castilians generally. This was that one of them, named Francisco Sebastian, who was a native of Villanueva de Barcarrota and had been a soldier in Italy, a man of handsome body and face and of a very happy temperament, was drowned because he had been in such haste to jump ashore with a lance by thrusting the end in the ground. He was unable to make the shore, and as the canoe had moved backward, he fell into the water. Since he wore a coat of mail, he immediately sank to the bottom and did not reappear. Shortly before, while in the canoe, he had been (as on other occasions) very merry with his companions, telling them innumerable jokes and stories, and among others he had told the following: "Ill-fortune brought me into these desperate places. Would that God had sent me into a good country, such as Italy: There, after their manner of speaking, they addressed me as "wordship" as if I were a lord of vassals, while you here don't even pride yourselves on addressing me familiarly. There, being a generous and charitable people, they entertained me and helped me in my need as if I had been their son. I was treated thus in time of peace, and in war: if I happened to kill an enemy - Turk, Moor, or Frenchman - there were spoils to be had in the form of arms, clothing, or horses, which always brought me something. But here I have to fight with a naked man who leaps along ten or twelve paces ahead of me, shooting arrows at me as if at a wild beast, without my being able to overtake him. And if good luck comes to my aid and I overtake and kill him, I find nothing to take from him except a bow and a plume, as if they were of any use to me. My greatest complaint is that El Lucero of Italy, so called as a famous astrologer, told me to avoid going in the water, because I was to die by drowning, and it seems that luck brought me to a country where we never get out of the water." Francisco Sebastian said these things and other similar ones a little before he was drowned, much to the grief of his companions.

These latter landed to make the first attack upon the enemy, and with much spirit and courage they gained the first palisade, driving [the Indians] back to the second. They thereby struck such terror into the women and children and serving-people who were on the island that they very hastily embarked in their canoes, shouting, in order to flee up the river. The Indians who were stationed to defend the second palisade - seeing their cacique before them and knowing the danger their women and children and all of them ran of being slaves of their enemies, and that in this single battle, if they did not fight like men and win it, they would lose all the honor and glory their predecessors had left them - attacked furiously, like desperate men, ashamed of those who had retreated and run from the Casquines. They fought very courageously and wounded many Spaniards, preventing them and the Indians from advancing farther.



Seeing that they had checked the impetus of their enemies, the Indians of Capaha, regaining their spirit and courage with this successful exploit, said to the Casquines: "Come on and take us, cowards, and carry us off as slaves, since you have dared enter our pueblo to injure our prince as you have done; remember well what you are doing and what you have done, so that when the strangers have gone we shall then see what kind of warriors you are."

These words alone were enough to make the Casquines, as a frightened people often defeated on other occasions, not only stop fighting but totally lose their courage, turn their backs, and run for the canoes, paying no attention to their cacique nor fearing the shouts and threats of the Spaniards and the governor ordering them not to desert the two hundred Christians who had come with them. Fleeing thus as if they were being pursued with spears, they took their canoes and attempted to take those the Castilians had carried, but they found two Christians in each one who had stayed to guard them and who defended them with their swords. The Indians wished to take them all so that the enemy would have no means of following them.

Thus the Casquines fled with such abjectness and meanness of spirit when shortly before they had been on the point of gaining the island with the protection and help of the Spaniards, without their adversaries daring to take up arms. Our infantry, seeing that they were few against so many enemies and that they had no horses, which were their greatest strength in resisting them, began to retire in good order to where they had left the canoes. Seeing that the Christians were alone and that they were retreating, the Indians of the island fell upon them very boldly to kill them. But the cacique Capaha, who was wise and prudent, wished to take advantage of this occasion to win the governor's favor and pardon for his rebelliousness and pertinacity in having refused to accept the peace and friendship that he had continuously offered him. It seemed to him also that he was obligated by the favor [on the governor's part] of his not having permitted the Casquines to do more damage in their pueblo and fields than they had done, which he regretted extremely.

With this intention he went out to his men and shouted to them loudly, ordering them not to harm the Christians, but to let them go freely. Because of this favor that Capaha did them our two hundred infantry escaped death, for if it had not been for his generosity and courtesy, they would all have died at that perilous time. The governor contented himself for the moment with having recovered his men alive through Capaha's magnanimity, which was esteemed and praised highly among all the Spaniards. Early on the morning of the following day four principal Indians came with an embassy from Capaha to the governor, asking his pardon for what had happened and offering his services and friendship in the future, and [requesting] that he not permit his enemies to do more damage in his country than they had done already. He begged his lordship to return to the pueblo and said that on the next day he would go personally to kiss his hands and offer the obedience that he owed him. This was the substance of the message, but the ambassadors delivered it in many words and with great solemnity, ceremony, and demonstrations of respect and veneration, which they accorded to the Sun and Moon, but not to the cacique Casquin. He was present, but [they acted] as if he were not there and as if they had not seen him.

The general replied, saying that Capaha might come whenever he wished, that he would always be well received, that he was glad to accept his friendship, and that they would do no more damage in his country, not even to the leaf of a tree. What had been done was caused by the fact that he had been unwilling to receive the peace and friendship that had been offered him so many times, and he begged him to speak no more of things already past. The governor sent the ambassadors back very well satisfied with this reply, having entertained them and made much of them with friendly words. Casquin was not at all pleased with the embassy from his enemy or with the governor's reply, for he hoped that Capaha would have persevered in his obstinacy, so that he could have taken revenge on him and destroyed him with the astilians' help. As soon as he had received Capaha's embassy, the governor returned to the pueblo. On the road he ordered a decree issued to the effect that neither Indian nor Spaniard should dare take anything that might injure the people of the province. On arriving at the pueblo, he ordered that the Indians of Casquin, both warriors and servants, go immediately to their own country, some of them staying to serve their curaca, who wished to remain with the governor. At noon, while the army was on the march, an embassy came from Capaha to the general saying that he begged his lordship to send word concerning his health and to be certain and assured that on the following day he would come to kiss his hands. At sunset, when they had already reached the pueblo, another messenger came with the same message, and these two embassies were delivered with the same solemnity and ceremonies as the first, with the veneration of the Sun, the Moon, and the governor. The general replied very courteously and ordered the messengers to be entertained so that they would understand that he considered them friends. At eight o'clock the next morning Capaha came, accompanied by a hundred nobles adorned with very handsome plumes and mantles made of all kinds of skins.

Before he saw the governor he went to see his temple and burial place; it might have been because it was on the way to the general's lodgings or because he felt that affront more than all the others they had committed against him. As he went inside and saw the destruction done, he concealed his feelings and lifted up from the ground with his own hands the bones and dead bodies of his ancestors, which the Casquines had thrown out, and having kissed them he returned them to the wooden chests that served as sepulchers. This done as well as possible, he went to his house where the governor was lodged. The latter came out of his apartment to receive him and embraced him with much affability. The curaca made his offer of vassalage and they spoke of many particulars that the governor asked him concerning his country and the surrounding provinces. The cacique replied to the general's satisfaction and to that of the captains who were present, and he showed himself to be very intelligent. Capaha was twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age.

The latter, seeing that the governor ceased his questions and that he did not have to reply to him, and on the other hand being able no longer to dissimulate his wrath against the cacique Casquin because of the offenses he had committed against him, and of whom - though he had gone out with the governor to receive him and had been present throughout their conversation - he had taken no notice, as if he had not been there; seeing, then, that the field was clear, he turned to him and said: "You must be satisfied, Casquin, at having seen what you never imagined or hoped from your own courage, which is revenge for your insults and affronts; you can thank the outside help of the Spaniards for it. They will leave, and we shall remain here in our country as before. Pray to the Sun and the Moon, our gods, that they send us good weather."



Before Casquin could reply, the governor asked the interpreters what it was that Capaha had said, and having been informed, he said to him that the Spaniards had not come to his lands to leave them more inflamed with their wars and enmities than they were before, but to put them in peace and concord, and that he himself was to blame for the injury that the Casquines had done him because he had not waited in his pueblo when the Castilians were coming to it, or had not sent him a messenger on the road. If he had done so, his enemies would not have entered his pueblo or his territory, and inasmuch as his own negligence had caused the past damage, he begged him to lay aside his anger and forget the passions the two of them had felt hitherto, and thenceforth to be friends and good neighbors. He begged and charged them to do this as a friend of both of them; if necessary he ordered it under penalty of his own enmity toward him who did not obey.

Capaha replied to the governor that, because his lordship had so commanded and in order to serve him, he would take pleasure in being a friend to Casquin, and thus they embraced like two brothers, but the expressions on their faces and their looks at one another were not those of true friendship. With as much of it as they could feign, however, the two curacas talked with the general about many things, both pertaining to Spain and to the provinces the Spaniards had seen in La Florida. The conversation lasted until they were told that it was time for dinner, so they passed to another apartment where the table had been laid for all three, because the governor always honored the caciques by having them eat with him. The adelantado seated himself at the head of the table, and Casquin, who from the first day that he had eaten with him had been seated at his right hand, took the same place. When Capaha saw him he said, without showing annoyance: "You know very well, Casquin, that that place is mine, for many reasons, the principal ones being that my rank is higher, my seigniory more ancient, and my state greater than yours. Because of any of these three reasons you ought not to take that seat, for you know that by virtue of each of them it belongs to me."

The governor, who had been acting as Casquin's patron, sensing that something unusual was happening, wished to know what Capaha had said to him. When he learned what it was, he said: "Granting that all this you have said is true, it is fitting that Casquin's age and his gray hairs should be respected and that you, who are young, should honor the elder by giving him the most important place, because it is a natural obligation that the young have to respect the old, and in so doing they honor themselves." Capaha replied, saying; "Sir, if I had Casquin as a guest in my house, I would give him the first place at my table, gray hairs or no, and would do him all the other honor that I could, but when eating at another's table it does not seem to me right to yield my privileges, because they belong to my ancestors, and my vassals, especially the nobles, would be displeased with me. If your lordship wishes me to eat at your table, I must be given the place at your right hand, for it belongs to me. Otherwise I shall go eat with my soldiers, which would be more honorable to me and more pleasing to them than to see me disgrace myself and the position my fathers left me." Casquin, who on the one hand desired to placate Capaha's past wrath, and on the other saw that all he had said and asserted on his own behalf was true, got up from the chair and said to the governor: "Sir, Capaha is right and his demands are justified.

I beg your lordship to order him to be given his seat and place, which is this one, and I shall seat myself on the other .side. I am much, honored to be seated at any part of your lordship's table." So saying, he passed to the left side and sat down to eat without any ill-feeling, whereas Capaha was pacified and took his seat, and ate with the governor with an untroubled countenance.

These things are written in such detail, though they may seem unimportant, to show that the ambition for honor, more than any other impulse, is very strong in all men, however barbarous and far removed they may be from all good instruction and doctrine. Thus the governor and the gentlemen who were with him wondered to see what had passed between the two curacas, because they had not understood that the Indians drew such fine distinctions of honor or that they would be so punctilious therein.

As soon as the governor and the two caciques had eaten, they brought before them the two wives of Capaha whom, we said, the Casquines had captured when they entered the pueblo, and they presented them to Capaha, having freed all the other people who had been captured with them the day before. Capaha received them with many thanks for the generosity shown him, and after having accepted them, he said to the governor that he begged his lordship to make use of them, that he offered and presented them to him very willingly. The governor told him that he did not need them because he already had many servants. The curaca replied that, if he did not want them for his own service, he might pass them on to any captain or soldier to whom he wished to grant a favor, because they were not to return to his house or remain in his country. It was understood that Capaha abhorred them and put them away from him because of the suspicion that, since they had been captives in the power of his enemies, it would be impossible that they should not have been contaminated.

So as not to displease the curaca, the governor told him that he would accept them because they were a gift from him. They were extremely beautiful, but for all this, and though the curaca was young, the suspicion alone was enough to make him detest them and put them from him. From this action it may be seen how that crime is abominated among these Indians, and the exile and punishment of these women seems to confirm what we said above about their laws against adultery.


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