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




Seeing the great necessity for salt that his people were experiencing, for they were dying for lack of it, the adelantado made thorough inquiries of the curacas and their Indians in that province of Capaha in order to learn where they could get some. In the course of this questioning he found eight Indians in the hands of the Spaniards who had been captured the day they entered that pueblo, and were not natives of it, but strangers and merchants who had traversed many provinces with their goods; and among other things, they were accustomed to bring salt to sell. Being brought before the governor, they told him that in some mountains forty leagues away there was a great deal of very good salt, and to the repeated questions they asked them, they replied that there was also in that country much of the yellow metal they asked for.

The Castilians rejoiced greatly at this news, and two soldiers offered to go with the Indians to confirm it. These were natives of Galicia, one named Hernando de Silvera and the other Pedro Moreno, diligent men to whom anything could be entrusted. They were directed to note the nature of the country through which they passed and bring a report as to whether it were fertile and well populated. To barter for and purchase the salt and the gold, they took pearls and deerskins and some vegetables called frisoles that Capaha ordered to be given to them. They also took Indians to accompany them and two of the merchants to act as guides. Thus prepared, the Spaniards set out, and at the end of the eleven days that they spent on their journey they returned with six loads of rock-salt crystals, not made artificially, but found in this state. They also brought back a load of very fine and resplendent brass [copper], and concerning the quality of the lands they had seen, they said that they were not good, for they were sterile and thinly populated. Because they needed it so badly, the Spaniards consoled themselves with the salt for their disappointment and misunderstanding regarding the gold.


With the unfavorable reports that his two soldiers had given him concerning the lands that they had seen, the governor decided to go back to the pueblo of Casquin in order to make another journey to the west from there to see what lands there might be in that direction, because from Mauvila [Mabila, just above Mobile Bay, Alabama] to that point [Terre Haute, Indiana] they had always marched toward the north, in order to get away from the sea. Having so decided, the Castilians left Capaha in his pueblo and went back with Casquin to his, where they rested five days. At the end of that time they left it and marched four days' journey down the river through a fertile and well-populated country. Then they arrived in a province called Quiguate, whose lord and inhabitants came out peacefully to receive the governor, and entertained him. On the next day the cacique asked his lordship to go on to the chief pueblo of his province where he was better prepared to serve him than in that one.

The Spaniards traveled five more daily journeys, always down the river, through a country that, as we said of the last one, was well populated and had an abundance of food. At the end of the fifth day they reached the principal pueblo, called Quiguate, from which the whole province took its name. It was divided into three equal districts, in one of which was the lord's house, situated on a high elevation made by hand. The Spaniards lodged in two of the districts, and the Indians were assembled in the third, there being plenty of lodgings for everyone. Two days after they arrived all the Indians and the curaca ran away without any cause at all. Two days later they returned, asking pardon for their bad behavior. The cacique excused himself by saying that a certain urgent necessity had forced him to leave without his lordship's permission, thinking to return on that same day, and that it had not been possible for him to do so. It might have been that after his flight the curaca feared the Spaniards would burn his pueblo and fields on their departure, and that this fear caused him to return. Apparently he had left with bad intentions because in his absence his Indians had been rebellious, doing such damage as they could by stealth and wounding two or three Castilians. The governor overlooked all this so as not to break with them.

On one of the nights the Spaniards spent in this camp it happened that the assistant to the sergeant major, who was named Pablo Fernandez, a native of Valverde, went to the governor at midnight and told him that the treasurer Juan Gaytan, having been summoned to make the rounds on horseback in the second night watch, had refused to do so on the grounds that he was his Majesty's treasurer. The governor was very angry because this gentleman was one of those who had complained about the conquest in Mauvila and had planned to leave the country as soon as they should arrive where there were ships, and return to Spain or go to Mexico. This, as we have said already, was the cause of obstructing and disarranging the purposes and well-laid plans that the governor had in mind for conquering and settling the country.

Thus since the present disobedience recalled his past anger, the governor got out of bed and, stationing himself in the patio of the curaca's house, which was on a high place, he said in such a loud voice that, although it was midnight, the whole pueblo heard him: "What is this, soldiers and captains? Do the mutinies that were plotted in Mauvila for returning to Spain or going to Mexico still persist, so that under pretext of being officials of the real hacienda you refuse to stand the watches that fall to you? Why do you want to return to Spain? Did you leave some inheritances there to go back and enjoy? Why do you wish to go to Mexico? To show the weakness and cowardice of your spirits, when you could be lords of such a great kingdom where you have discovered and traversed so many and such beautiful provinces, you have thought it better (in abandoning them through your pusillanimity and cowardice) to go and lodge in a strange house and eat at another's table, when you could have your own in which to entertain and do good to many others? How much honor do you think they will do you when this becomes known? Be ashamed of yourselves, and understand that, officials of the real hacienda or not, we all have to serve his Majesty, and that no one shall presume to absent himself, whatever privileges he may have, or I shall behead him, whoever he may be. Understand further that while I live no one shall leave this country, but that we must conquer and settle it, or all die in the attempt. Therefore do your duty and give up your vain presumptions, because this is not the time for them."

The governor showed with these words, spoken in great anger and heaviness of heart, the reason for the perpetual discontent that he had felt all the way from Mauvila and that he felt continuously until his death. Those to whom they were addressed did as they were ordered from there on without raising any questions, because they understood that the governor was not a man to be trifled with, particularly when he had declared himself as decisively as he had done.



The Spaniards spent six days in the pueblo called Quiguate. On the seventh they left it, and in five daily journeys they made, always downstream along the banks of the Rio de Casquin, they reached the principal pueblo of another province, called Colima. Its lord came out peacefully and received the governor and his army very cordially and with signs of affection, which greatly pleased the Castilians because they had heard that the Indians of that province were accustomed to use [the juice of a poison] herb on their arrows. Our men were very fearful of this, because they said that if poison were added to the usual ferocity and boldness with which the Indians shot their arrows, what recourse could they have? But finding that they did not use [the poison], they received the friendship of the Colimas with greater satisfaction, though it did not last long, for within two days they rose up, without any reason for it, and the curaca and his vassals went to the woods.

After remaining one day in the pueblo of Colima following the flight of the Indians, collecting provisions on the march, our men continued their journey. They marched over some fertile cultivated fields and through some open woodlands, easy to traverse, and at the end of four days' march they came to the bank of a river, where the army encamped. After making their camp, certain soldiers went down to walk by the river, and passing along its shore, they happened to see a blue sand at the water's edge. One of them took up some of it, tasted it, and found that it was brackish. He told his companions, and they said that they thought saltpeter could be made of it for making powder for the harquebuses. With this in mind they set to work handily to take up the blue sand without an admixture of the white. Having collected a quantity of it, they put it in water, rubbed it together between their hands, strained off the water, and put it to boil. As they made a large fire under it, it was converted into salt of a somewhat yellow color, but effective and with a very good taste.

Rejoicing at this new discovery, and because of their great need for salt, the Spaniards spent eight days in that camp and made a large quantity of it. There were some who in their craving for salt, seeing that there was now an abundance of it, ate it by itself in mouthfuls, as if it were sugar. To those who scolded them they said, "Let us get our fill of salt, because we have had a great craving for it." Nine or ten of them ate their fill of it in such a manner that in a few days they died of dropsy. Thus some died from lack of salt and some from too much.


Supplied with salt and happy over their discovery for making it whenever they should need it, the Spaniards left that camp and province, which they named La Sal. They marched two days to get out of its territory, and entered that of another province, called Tula, through which they marched for four days in an uninhabited region. At noon on the last day the army halted on a fine plain where it encamped. Though the guides told the governor that the principal pueblo of that province was half a league from there, he did not want the men to go on because they had marched for six days without stopping, but desired to enter it the next day after they had rested in that camp. He himself wished to see the pueblo on that same evening, however, so he chose sixty infantry and a hundred cavalry to go with him to reconnoiter it. It was situated on a plain between two streams, and its inhabitants were unprepared, having had no notice of the Castilians' coming. But as soon as they saw them they sounded the alarm and came out to fight with all the good spirit and courage that could be imagined. What our men wondered at most, however, was seeing that many women came out among the men with their weapons and that they fought as fiercely as the men themselves.

The Spaniards fell upon the Indians and broke through them, and they entered the pueblo fighting with one another. There the Christians had ,enough to do because they found rash enemies who fought without fear of death, and even though they lacked weapons and strength, they were unwilling to give themselves up, but wished to be killed. The women did the same and showed themselves to be even more desperate. During the struggle a gentleman from the kingdom of Leon, named Francisco de Reynoso Cabeza de Vaca, entered a house and ascended to an upper room that served as a granary, where he found five Indian women huddled in a corner. By signs he told them to be quiet and that he did not wish to do them harm. Seeing him alone, they all assailed him at once, and like mastiffs attacking a bull they seized him by the arms, legs, and neck, and one grasped him around the body. By a great effort Reynoso freed his body and arms so as to defend himself with his fists. He bore heavily upon one foot, and it broke through the floor of the room, which was of flimsy framework. The foot and leg sank through to the thigh, and he was left sitting on the floor. Thereupon, the Indian women completely subdued him with bites and fisticuffs, and were on the point of killing him. Francisco de Reynosa, though he found himself in such dire straits, for the sake of his honor, because of the struggle being with women, did not wish to call to his people for help.

At this juncture a soldier happened to enter the lower room of the house where they were throttling Cabeza de Vaca. Hearing the noise that was going on above, he raised his eyes and saw the suspended leg. Thinking that it must belong to some Indian because it was bare, without stocking or shoe, he raised his sword to slash it with a stroke, but at that moment he suspected whom it might be because of the great clamor he heard overhead. He hurriedly summoned two other companions, and all three went up to the apartment. On seeing how the Indian women were holding Francisco de Reynoso, they attacked them and killed them all, because none of them would let go of Reynoso or cease cuffing and biting him, even though they were killed for it. Thus his comrades saved Francisco de Reynoso from death, which was very near. In the year 1591 in which I am making a final fair copy of this History, I learned in the month of February that this gentleman was still living in his native country.

Another incident, equally unfortunate, happened that day to Juan Paez, a native of Usagre, who was captain of crossbowmen. Though he had no skill in horsemanship, but rather was awkward and heavy, he wished to fight on horseback, and going out in the last stages of the battle, he encountered an Indian who, though he was retreating, was still fighting. Juan Paez attacked him, and without aptitude, skill, or dexterity, for he did not have them, he threw a lance at him. The Indian jumped aside and warded off the lance with a piece of a pike more than a fathom long, which he carried as a weapon. Grasping it with both hands, he gave Juan Paez a blow on the mouth that broke all his teeth, leaving him choking, and made his escape safely.



Because it was already late, the general ordered the assembly sounded, and leaving many Indians dead and carrying back some of his own badly wounded men, he returned to the camp, not at all satisfied with that day's expedition. On the other hand he was amazed at the obstinacy and temerity with which those Indians fought, and at the fact that the women had the same spirit and ferocity.

On the following day the general entered the pueblo with his army, and f inding it abandoned he encamped there. That afternoon bands of cavalry went out to scour the country in all directions to see whether there were any parties of the enemy there. They encountered some who were serving as lookouts, and captured them, but it was impossible to take any of them to the camp alive in order to obtain information from them, because when they laid hold of them to take them away, they immediately fell down on the ground and said, "Either kill me or leave me here." They would not answer a word to all the questions that were asked them, and if they tried to drag them along and raise them up they simply allowed themselves to be dragged. Thus the Castilians were forced to kill them all.

In the pueblo (because we are noting its peculiarities) our men found many cowhides tanned and dressed with the hair on them, which served as blankets on the beds. They found many other rawhides, not yet tanned. They also found beef, but they saw no cattle in the country, nor could they learn from where they had brought the hides. The Indians of this province of Tula are different from all the other Indians whom our Spaniards had encountered hitherto, for we have said that the others are handsome and graceful in person. These, however, both men and women, have ugly faces, and though they are well-proportioned, they deform themselves by deliberate distortion of themselves. Their heads are incredibly long and tapering on top, being made thus artificially by binding them up from birth to the age of nine or ten years. They prick their faces with flint needles, especially the lips, inside and out, and color them black, thereby making themselves extremely and abominably ugly. The hideous aspect of their faces corresponds to their bad dispositions, as we shall see more particularly below.

On the fourth night that the Spaniards spent in the pueblo of Tula the Indians came in great numbers just before dawn, and they arrived so silently that when the sentries heard them they were already surrounded. They attacked the camp on three sides, and though the Spaniards were not sleeping, the Indians who assaulted the crossbowmen's quarters came so suddenly and with such ferocity, impetus, and swiftness that they gave them no opportunity to prepare their crossbows or to make any other resistance. They could only run with their weapons in their hands toward the quarters of Juan de Guzman, which were nearest to those of the crossbowmen. The Indians pillaged the few things that our marksmen had and fought desperately with the soldiers of Juan de Guzman who came out to resist them, being inspired with new courage in that, in their opinion, they had snatched the victory out of their hands.

In the two other places where the enemy attacked the fighting was no less fierce, because everywhere there were deaths and wounds and great outcries and much confusion because of the darkness of the night, which kept them from seeing whether they were wounding friends or enemies. Therefore the Spaniards passed the word along for all of them to call out the name of Our Lady and the apostle St. James as they went, so that the Christians would thus recognize one another and would not harm their own men. The Indians did likewise, all of them having in their mouths the name of their province, Tula. In the place of bows and arrows with which they are always accustomed to fight, that night many of them carried clubs made of pieces of pikes two or three varas long, a new thing for the Spaniards. The reason for it was that the Indian who had broken Captain Juan Paez's teeth two days before had told his people of the lucky stroke he had made with his club. It appearing to them that good fortune lay in the kind of weapon and not in its skillful use (because the Indians generally are great believers in omens), that night they brought many clubs and gave mighty blows with them to many of the soldiers, particularly to a certain Juan de Baeza, who was one of the halberd- iers of the general's guard. That night he happened to find himself with a sword and a shield between two Indians with their clubs. One of them broke his shield to pieces with the first stroke, and the other gave him another blow on the shoulders so hard that it knocked him down, and he would have f inished killing him if his companions had not come to his rescue. In this manner many other valiant exploits took place, which, because they were blows with sticks, the soldiers laughed about afterward, comparing their experiences. It was a very good thing for them that they were sticks and not arrows, which would have done more damage.

The mounted men, who were the strength of the Spaniards and what the Indians feared most, broke through their squadrons and scattered their ranks, but they did not fail for this reason to fight with great courage and desire to kill the Castilians or to die in the attempt. Thus they fought very obstinately for more than an hour, and it was not enough for the horsemen to go in and out among them many times and kill large numbers of them (for since the country was level and clear they could spear them at pleasure) to make them stop fighting and leave, until daylight came. Then they withdrew by common consent into the woods along one of the streams that passed at the side of the pueblo, as a refuge and defense against the Castilians.

The Spaniards were greatly relieved when the Indians withdrew and stopped fighting, because they saw them battling desperately with great eagerness to kill the Christians, going,in among their weapons as if they were insensible [to pain) in order to kill or wound them. The battle ended at sunrise, and the Spaniards, without pursuing the enemy, assembled in the pueblo to tend the wounded, who were numerous, though only four were killed.



Because historical truth obliges us to tell the exploits of the Indians as well as the deeds done by the Spaniards, and not to slight the ones or the others, neglecting to tell of the valor of one nation and recounting only that of the other, but on the other hand telling everything as it happened, in its proper time and place, it will be fitting for us to relate a strange and singular thing that a Tula Indian did shortly after the battle we have described. We beg that the reader may not be vexed because we recount it in such detail, for the event took place thus and its particulars should be noted.

It happened that some Spaniards who were considered to be among the bravest were walking two by two scattered over the field where the battle had taken place, examining the dead, as was their custom, and noting the serious wounds given by good strokes; they always did this when an important and hotly contested battle had taken place. One soldier, named Gaspar Caro, a native of Medellin, fought that night on horseback, and however it may have happened, either by the enemy knocking him down or his falling from the horse, finally he lost it [the horse], and the horse ran away from the battle out into the fields. In order to recover it, Gaspar Caro asked a friend for his horse and went in search of his own. Having found it, he returned driving it in front of him, and thus he came to where four soldiers were walking looking at the dead and wounded. One of them, named Francisco de Salazar, a native of Castilla la Vieja, mounted the horse to show off his horsemanship, on which he prided himself.

At this point Juan de Carranza of Sevilla, one of the three soldiers who were on foot, shouted, "Indians, Indians!" The reason was that he saw an Indian raise himself up out of some bushes close by and drop back into hiding. Believing that there were many of them there, the two mounted men, without looking farther, ran one in one direction and the other in another to intercept the Indians who might come out. Juan de Carranza, who had seen the Indian, went running toward the bushes where he was hidden, and one of his two companions hurried after him. The other, having seen only one Indian, followed them slowly.

As he saw that he could not escape because the horses and foot soldiers were cutting him off on all sides, the barbarian ran out of the bushes to meet Juan de Carranza. He carried in his hands a battle-ax that had fallen to his lot from the spoils and booty that the Indians had taken that morning from the crossbowmen. The ax belonged to Captain Juan Paez, and being the weapon of a captain of crossbowmen the blades were well sharpened and it had a haft more than half a fathom long, very smooth and well polished. Holding it in both hands, the Indian struck Juan de Carranza a blow on the shield that knocked half of it on the ground and wounded him badly in the arm. The Spaniard was so stunned by the pain of the wound and the force of the blow that he had not the strength to attack the enemy. The latter turned upon the other Spaniard, who was near Carranza, and gave him another blow equal to the first one, which cut his shield in two and also wounded him badly in the arm, leaving him, like his companion, incapacitated for fighting. This soldier's name was Diego de Godoy, and he was a native of Medellin.

Francisco de Salazar, who was the one who mounted Gaspar Caro's horse, seeing the two Spaniards in such straits, attacked the Indian furiously. To avoid being trampled by the horse, the latter ran under an oak tree that was close by. Being unable to ride his horse under the tree, Francisco de Salazar came up to it and, good horseman that he was, made some very sad thrusts at the Indian as he was unable to reach him. The Indian came out from under the tree, being unable to swing the ax well because the branches of the tree hindered him, and stationed himself on the rider's left. Raising the ax in both hands, he struck the horse over the shoulder near the withers, and the curve of the blade opened him all the way to the knee, leaving the horse unable to move.

At this moment another Spaniard came up, who was on foot. He had not hurried more because it seemed to him that two Spaniards on foot and one on horseback would be enough for one lone Indian. This was Gonzalo Silvestre, a native of Herrera de Alcantara. When the Indian saw him coming, he went out to meet him with all ferocity and boldness, having gained new spirit and courage with the three such effective blows that he had delivered. Grasping the ax in both hands, he made a stroke that would have been like the first two if Gonzalo Silvestre had not been more cautious than the others, being able to avoid the blow, as he did. The ax glanced off the shield and did not break through it, and because of the great force of the blow, it did not stop until it reached the ground. The Spaniard then made a diagonal downward stroke at the Indian with his sword, which reached him and wounded him on the forehead, all down the face, in the breast, and in the left hand, cutting it off at the wrist. The heathen, seeing himself with only one hand and unable to use the ax with both hands as he desired, put the haft on the stump of the cut arm and made a desperate leap to wound the Spaniard by a stroke in the face. Warding off the ax with his shield, the latter thrust his sword from beneath it and gave him a diagonal stroke at the waist, which because of egligible protection from armor or clothing that the Indian wore or even from the bones of that part of the body, and also because of the Spaniard's strong arm, [cut] him entirely in two, so swiftly and with such a clean stroke of the sword that after it had passed, the Indian remained standing and said to the Spaniard, "Peace be with you!" Uttering these words, he fell dead, his body in two halves.

Just then Gaspar Caro arrived, it being his horse that Francisco de Salazar had brought to the fight. Seeing the state in which his horse was, he took him without saying a word, keeping his anger to be shown elsewhere, and brought him before the governor, saying to him: "So that your lordship may see the worthlessness of some of the soldiers that you have in your army, though they claim to be brave men, and so that you may see also the ferocity and boldness of the natives of this province of Tula, I inform you that one of them with three blows of an ax has incapacitated for fighting two Spanish foot soldiers and one on horseback, and would have ended by killing them if Gonzalo Silvestre had not come in time to their aid. With the first thrust that he gave the enemy he laid open his face and chest and cut off his hand, and with the second he cut him in half at the waist."

The governor and those who were with him wondered to hear of the Indian's valor and skill, and of the Spaniard's strong arm. So that Gaspar Caro, in his anger at the misfortune that had befallen his horse, would cease to regard the three Spaniards as luckless cowards, the general, wishing to uphold their honor - for assuredly they were brave men and fit for any valiant exploit - told him to moderate his anger and consider that these things were the chances of fortune, which nowhere shows itself to be more variable than in the events of war, today favoring one and tomorrow another. He told him to have the horse tended to at once, for it seemed to him that it would not die, since the wound was not a deep one; and that because of the wonder that he had excited by his account, he wished to go and see for himself what had happened, as in such extraordinary events it was well for many persons to be able to give testimony regarding them. So saying, he went accompanied by many persons to see the dead Indian and the brave exploits that he had performed. The governor learned the particulars that we have told from the wounded Spaniards themselves, and he and all those who heard them wondered anew.




The Spaniards remained in the pueblo called Tula for twenty days, treating the many wounded who came out of the recent battle. During this time they made many forays throughout the province, which was well populated, and captured many Indians, both men and women, of all ages, but it was impossible either by cajolery or threats for them to make any of them consent to go with the Castilians. When they attempted to take them by force they fell on the ground without saying a word, making it clear that they could either kill them or leave them, whichever they wished to do. These Indians showed themselves to be so obstinate and ungovernable, as we have said, that it was necessary to kill the men who were capable of fighting. The women, boys, and children they let go, since they could not carry them off.

Only one Indian woman from this province remained in the service of a Spaniard, a native of Leon named Juan Serrano. She was so ill-tempered, bold, and haughty that if her master or any of the men belonging to his company said anything to her about what she was to do regarding the food or any other matter of service, she would throw the pot, or firebrands, or anything that came to hand in his face. She wanted them either to let her do what she liked or to kill her, because, as she said, she did not have to obey or to do what they ordered her. Thus they let her alone and endured her illtemper, and even so she ran away, at which her master rejoiced, seeing himself free of that intractable woman. Because of the ferocity and inhumanity that characterize the Indians of this province, they are feared by all their neighbors; they are disturbed simply by hearing the name of Tula, and they frighten the children with it to make them hush when they cry. As a proof of this we shall come down from the ferocity of the elders to describe a children's game.

It happened that when the Spaniards left this province of Tula, they took with them only a, boy nine or ten years old who belonged to a gentleman from Badajoz named Cristobal Mosquera, whom I knew afterward in El Peru. In the pueblos that the Christians discovered later, where the Indians came out peacefully, the boys gathered for their games and childish diversions, which almost always took the form of battles against one another, they being divided either according to names or by districts. Often they became so inflamed in their fighting that many of them came out badly injured. The Castilians ordered the Tula boy to join one side and fight against the other, and he went out very pleased that they should order him to take part in the battle, Those on his side immediately named him captain, and with his soldiers he fell upon his adversaries with a great shout and outcry, calling the name of Tula, and this alone was enough to put the enemy to flight.

Then the Spaniards ordered the Tula boy to go over to the defeated side and fight the conquerors. He did so and overcame them with the same word, so that he always came out victorious. The Indians said that his elders did the same thing, because they were extremely cruel to their enemies and never took them alive. Their neighbors said that they deformed their heads, some of them being half a vara long, and painted their faces and mouths, inside and out, to make themselves uglier than they were already, so that their faces would be as forbidding as their bad dispositions and fierce natures, for they were most inhuman in every way.

After spending twenty days in the pueblo of Tula, more from necessity for healing the wounded than from any pleasure they might have had in remaining in the country of such a bad people, they left the pueblo and in two days' march passed out of its jurisdiction and entered another province, called Utiangue. Our people had the intention of wintering there if they could find the necessary conveniences, for winter was now approaching.

They marched through it for four days and noted that the land was good in itself and fertile, but thinly populated, having few people. These were very hostile, because they followed the road continuously, harrying the Spaniards with alarms and sudden attacks they gave them every half-league. They were in bands of one hundred, and when more assembled there were not as many as two hundred. They did the Christians little damage because, after having loosed one or two showers of arrows from a distance, with much shouting, they turned and fled, and the horsemen overtook them easily and speared them entirely at will because the country was level. But the Indians were not frightened away, for whenever they could get twenty men together they immediately came back to do the same thing, and in order to emerge more unexpectedly and cause greater surprise, they threw themselves down on the ground and covered themselves with grass so that they could not be seen, but they paid well for their audacity.

With these engagements, more injurious to the Indians than to the Castilians, the army marched these four days, and at the end of them they reached the principal pueblo of the province, which had the same name of Utiangue, from which its whole territory was named. They lodged there without any opposition because the inhabitants had abandoned it. The Indians of this province are better favored than those of Tula and do not paint their faces or deform their heads. They showed themselves to be warlike, because they were never willing to accept the peace and friendship that the governor sent many times to offer them by the Indians of that province themselves, whom they succeeded in capturing.

The general and his captains, having seen the pueblo, which was large and had good houses containing plenty of food, and was situated on a fine plain with two streams on either side of it that had plenty of grass for the horses, and seeing that it was enclosed with a wall, decided to winter there because it was already the middle of October of the year 1541. They did not know whether, if they should go on, they would find such good accommodations as they then had. Having made this decision, they repaired the wall of the pueblo, which was made of wood and had fallen down in some places, and they collected diligently a good deal of maize, though it is true that there was so much in the pueblo that the supply was almost sufficient for the whole winter.

They stored up much firewood and a great deal of dried fruit, such as nuts, raisins, dried plums, and other kinds of fruits and seeds unknown in Spain. In the country they found large numbers of rabbits like those of Spain, and though these were in all parts of that great kingdom, in none of the provinces were there so many as in the environs of this pueblo Utiangue. There were also many deer and roe deer, of which both the Spaniards and their Indian servants killed a great many, going out to hunt for pleasure and entertainment, though they went prepared to fight in case they should encounter enemies. Often the deer hunt was converted into a battle with plenty of arrow-shots and spear-thrusts, but it was always with more damage to the Indians than to the Spaniards. It snowed hard during that winter in this province, when there was an interval of a month and a half in which they could not go out into the country because of the deep snow. With their plentiful supply of wood and provisions, however, they had the best winter of all that they spent in La Florida. They themselves admitted that they could not have spent it more comfortably, or as much so, in their fathers' houses in Spain.



Because of what we have said in the last chapter about the contentment and comfort in which our people passed the winter in the pueblo Utiangue, it is much to be regretted that these Spaniards neglected to conquer and settle a land so fertile and abundant in the things necessary for human life as they discovered, because of not having found gold or silver there. They did not consider that, if it had not been found, it was because these Indians do not seek these metals or value them. I have heard from trustworthy persons that the Indians of the coast of La Florida have happened to find bags of silver from the ships that have been wrecked there by storms, and that they will take away the bag as a thing that is useful to them, and leave the silver, for they do not value it or know what it is. For this reason, and because it is true that the Indians of the New World generally, though they have gold and silver, do not use it for buying and selling, it is not to be assumed that there is none in La Florida. If a search should be made, mines of gold and silver would be found, just as new ones are discovered every day in Mexico and El Peru. And even though they should not be found, lands as broad and extensive as we have seen, and shall see, and provinces as fertile and abundant, would be sufficient to lay the foundations of an empire, because of what the land itself contains as well as because of the fruits, vegetables, grains, and cattle that could be introduced from Spain and Mexico. Better lands could not be desired for planting and breeding, and with their wealth of pearls and the quantity of silk that could be produced immediately, they could trade with the whole world and become rich in gold and silver. Spain herself does not obtain these metals from her own mines, though she has them, but brings them from a distance, from what she has discovered and conquered in these parts since the year 1492. For all these reasons it is not right that this enterprise should be neglected, if only in order to establish the faith of the Holy Mother, the Roman church, in this great kingdom and remove from the power of our enemy so great a number of souls as he has blinded with idolatry. May our Lord provide for this event in accordance with His will, and cause the Spaniards to be animated to win and subjugate [the land]. Returning to our History we said that the Castilians remained to winter in the pueblo of Utiangue in entire comfort and ease, lodged in a good pueblo and supplied with food for themselves and their horses.

The chief curaca of the province, seeing that the Spaniards had settled down, attempted by double-dealing, under cover of professed friendship, to drive them out of it. To this end he sent messengers to the governor with false messages, giving him hope that he would come out very soon to offer his services. These messengers acted as spies and came only at night in order to see how the Spaniards conducted themselves in their camp; whether they kept watch and were cautious or whether they slept carelessly and heedlessly, in what manner and where they kept their weapons, and how their horses were, so as to note all this and plan the attack in accordance with what they had seen. There was carelessness and lack of caution on the part of our men with respect to the Indian messengers, because when the Indian told the Spanish sentry that he came with a message from the curaca, instead of telling him to come back in the daytime, he would take him to the governor immediately, no matter what the hour of the night, and leave him with him to deliver his message. After giving the message, the Indian walked all through the pueblo, looking at the horses and the weapons, the sleeping and the watching of the Castilians, and he gave a long report of all this to his cacique.

When the governor learned about these things from his spies, he ordered the messengers not to come at night, but in the daytime. But they persisted in their evil intent, always coming at night and at all hours. The general complained repeatedly to his men about this effrontery, saying: "Is there no soldier who could give one of these nocturnal messengers one good sword-thrust and frighten them so that they will not come at night? I have ordered them not to come except in the daytime, and it does no good." These words aroused a soldier named Bartolome de Argote, a nobleman who had been brought up in the house of the marques of Astorga, and first cousin of the other Bartolome de Argote who was one of the thirty horsemen who went with Juan de Aiiasco from Apalache to the Bay of Espiritu Santo. Being a sentry one night at one of the gates of the pueblo, he killed one of the spies who attempted to pass with his false message, contrary to his order. The governor was very pleased with this act and praised and approved it. Thenceforth the soldier had a place among the valiant, though up to that time they had not considered him as such nor thought him capable of such an action, but he did what no one else in the whole army had been able to do. The messages ceased with the death of the messenger, and also the plots of the Indians, for they saw that the Castilians were aware of them and on the watch and that they could not succeed.

The general and his men busied themselves with guarding their pueblo and riding through the whole vicinity every day so as always to be informed of what the Indians might be plotting against them. The winter passed with these precautions, and with much rest and comfort even though they were at war with the natives, for they never did them any serious damage. After the worst of the snows were over, a captain went out with some men to make a foray and capture some Indians, as they needed them for servants. He returned at the end of eight days with a few Indian captives. The governor therefore ordered that another captain go out with more men. He did the same as the first one, and having spent another eight days on his foray, at the end of them he came back, bringing only a few prisoners.

Since the general saw the little skill that his two captains had shown, he decided to make an expedition himself, and choosing a hundred cavalry and x So infantry, he marched twenty leagues with them until he reached the confines of another province, called Naguatex (SEE NOTE BELOW). It was a fertile and abundant land, full of very handsome and well-disposed people.

In the first pueblo of this province, where its lord resided, though this was not the principal pueblo of his state, the governor made a surprise attack at dawn, and as he found the Indians unprepared, he captured many people, men and women of all ages. He returned with them to his camp, having spent fourteen days on the journey. He found that his people had been very uneasy at his delay for four or five days past. But they all rejoiced at his presence and shared his plunder, [the Indians] being divided among the captains and soldiers who were in need of serving-people.


Throughout the time that the Spaniards were wintering in the pueblo and camp of Utiangue, which was more than five months, nothing of importance occurred except what has been told. Since it was then the beginning of April of the year 1542, it seemed to the governor that it was time to proceed with his discovery.


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