|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
GLOSSARY TABLE of INDIAN PLACE NAMES used by the DESOTO CHRONICLERS
1 LEAGUE = 2.6 STATUATE MILES
Florida of the Inca
Garcilaso de la Vega, el Inca 1539-1616
HISTORY OF THE ADELANTADO HERNANDO DE SOTO, GOVERNOR
AND CAPTAIN GENERAL OF THE KINGDOM OF LA FLORIDA, AND
OF OTHER HEROIC GENTLEMEN, SPANIARDS AND INDIANS;
WRITTEN BY THE INCA GARCILASSO DE LA VEGA,
CAPTAIN OF HIS MAJESTY, A NATIVE OF
THE GREAT CITY OF EL CUZCO,
CAPITAL OF THE KINGDOMS
AND PROVINCES OF
THE SPANIARDS WOUND AN INDIAN SPY, AND THE
COMPLAINT THAT THE CHIEFS MADE ABOUT IT
The chief Guachoya made no reply to all that the captain-general Anilco said to him, but he showed by the expression on his face that he was ashamed and put out of countenance at having started the discussion (for very often it happens that he who attempts to affront another is himself offended). Thus the governor and those who were with him inferred that what Anilco had said was true, and thenceforth they regarded him even more highly.
General Luis de Moscoso, having considered that the enmity of the chiefs would result in damage and prejudice to him if he allowed it to go on-because, in making war on one another, they would not continue to supply the things needed for building the brigantines-told them that, since they were both his friends, it was not reasonable for them to continue to be hostile to one another, because the Castilians would not know to which one to go in making friendly advances. Thus he begged them to forget the enmity that had existed between them and be friends.
The chiefs replied that it gave them pleasure to obey his lordship and promised him to say no more about the matter. The governor, however, not confiding in the friendly promises that Guachoya had made, feared that he might set an ambush on the road when Anilco should go to his house, in order to take revenge on him. Thus four days after the events we have described, when Anilco wished to leave, he ordered thirty cavalry to escort him until he reached safety. Although Anilco refused it and showed so little fear of his adversary that he said he did not need the cavalry, he took them on that occasion out of obedience to the governor, but many other times he came and went to his house with only ten or twelve Indians to accompany him so as to let the Spaniards understand that he had little or no fear of his enemies.
While these things were going on in the Castilians' camp, the chief Quigualtanqui and his fellow conspirators did not cease their evil machinations, but in pursuit of them they sent many messengers, by day and by night, with presents and false messages. After having delivered them, they would walk all through the Spanish camp, feigning friendliness, observing attentively how the Christians kept watch at night, how they kept their arms, and where the horses were, so as to make use in their treachery of any carelessness that our people might show. They paid no attention to the fact that the governor had ordered them repeatedly not to come at night. They came even more freely, because it seemed to them that, being friends, as they pretended to be, they were privileged to do all these things.
Gonzalo Silvestre, whom we have mentioned on other occasions, was exasperated by these actions of the Indians. Like the rest of the Spaniards, he had been ill and often at the point of death, but finding himself now convalescent and being on guard and sentry duty one night at one of the gates of the pueblo, standing the second watch, just at midnight by the light of a clear moon that was shining, he saw two Indians approach with long plumes on their heads and their bows and arrows in their hands. Having crossed the moat of water by a fallen tree that served as a bridge, they went directly to the gate. Gonzalo Silvestre said to the companion who was watching with him, who was named Juan Garrido, a native of the land of Burgos: "Here come two Indians, and I intend to stab in the face the first one who enters the gate, so that they will not come so shamelessly at night after the governor has forbidden it."
The Castilian replied; "Leave him to me, for I am somewhat stronger and you are weak and debilitated." Gonzalo Silvestre said: "Any attack that is made on them will be enough to frighten them." So saying, he prepared to receive the Indians, who were approaching. Seeing the gate, which was a small postern, standing open, they entered it without asking permission or speaking a word, as if they were going into their own house. The Spaniard's anger was doubled at seeing their boldness and fearlessness, and he stabbed the first one who entered in the forehead, from which he fell to the ground. He had scarcely fallen when he jumped up and, recovering his bow and arrows, he turned his back and ran, unable to fight any more. Gonzalo Silvestre did not wish to kill him, though he could have done so, because it seemed to him that what had been done was enough to frighten the Indians. The Indian companion of the wounded man, hearing the blow, began to run
without waiting to see what had happened to his comrade. Gaining the tree across the moat, he passed over it and came to the place where he had left his canoe in the Rio Grande. Without waiting for his friend, he jumped into it and crossed the river, giving the alarm to his people.
The wounded Indian, with the blood that was flowing in his eyes or in the fear he must have felt that they were pursuing him to finish killing him, jumped into the water of the moat and swam across it, shouting as be went to his companion, who had already reached safety. The Indians on the other side of the river, hearing the shouts of the wounded man, went to his aid, shielding him and carrying him away with them.
On the next day at sunrise four principal Indians came to see the governor to complain in the name of Quiguahanqui and all the neighboring chiefs that he should have violated the peace and friendship that had been formed among them with such an affront and insult to all of them generally, because they said that the wounded Indian was one of their chief men, closely related to them by marriage. Therefore they begged his lordship, for the satisfaction of them all, to order the soldier or captain who had done it to be executed publicly, for the Indian was mortally wounded.
At noon four other Indian chiefs came with the same demand, and said that the Indian was dying. At sunset four others came with the same complaint, saying that the Indian was now dead, and that they asked satisfaction for his death through that of the Spaniard who had killed him so unjustly.
THE ACTIVITY OF THE SPANIARDS IN BUILDING THE BRIGANTINES,
AND A MOST REMARKABLE FLOOD ON THE RIO GRANDE
General Luis de Moscoso replied on all three occasions that he had not ordered the Indian to be wounded, because he desired to maintain the peace and friendship that he had made with Quigualtanqui and the other chiefs; but that a soldier who was very proud of his profession and punctilious in observing military regulations had done so as a matter of duty. If he should attempt to punish him in order to give satisfaction to the chiefs, the other soldiers and captains would not consent to it, because in strict justice and according to military rules the soldier had not been to blame in having performed his duty well. The wounded or dead Indian who had entered with out speaking to the sentries, and the chiefs who had sent him at that hour after being warned not to send messages at night, were to blame. Though there was now no remedy for what was past, in the future the chiefs must do as they had been told to avoid conflicts that would break the peace and destroy the friendship that existed among them.
The ambassadors left with this reply, highly incensed, and gave it to the chiefs, inciting them to greater wrath and anger at the audacity and disdain of the Spaniards. Therefore all of them agreed that they would disregard the offense received in order to avenge it at the proper time and would further hasten the execution of the plot they had formed against them.
Nor was there lacking a captain among our men who upheld the Indians' quarrel, saying that it was a mistake not to punish the murder of a principal Indian, thereby giving the friendly chiefs occasion to rebel against them. There would have been fine quarrels among the Spaniards over this opinion if the cooler and less passionate heads had not prevented them, for it had arisen from a certain secret grudge that existed among some of them.
It was already the beginning of March when the things that we have told took place, and to the Castilians in their eagerness to leave that country the days seemed like years. They never ceased to hasten their work on the brigantines, and most of those who labored at the forges and in the carpenters' shops were very noble gentlemen, who had never thought to perform such offices. They were the ones who proved most skillful in them because their better natural abilities and the great need of more skilled workmen had made experts of those who had never learned these trades.
We sometimes call these ships under construction brigantines and again caravels, after the usual custom of those Spaniards, who called them thus, but in reality they were neither the one nor the other. They were simply some large barks made in accordance with the few, poor and scanty resources that our people had for building them.
The captain-general Anilco was the moving spirit of this work because of the magnificent provision that he made of everything they requested for the brigantines. He supplied it so abundantly and so promptly that the Chris
tians themselves admitted that, if it had not been for the favor and assistance
of this good Indian, it would have been impossible for them to leave that country.
Other Spaniards who did not know how to work in iron or wood, they used for other things equally necessary, such as seeking food for all of them. These made special efforts to kill fish in the Rio Grande, because it was Lent and they needed them. They made large and small hooks for the fishing, some of them managing to do it so skillfully and delicately that they seemed to have been engaged in this all their lives. They threw them into the water during the first night watch, baited and attached to long packthreads, and when they examined them in the morning they found extremely large fish caught on them.
There was one fish thus caught on a hook whose head alone weighed forty pounds, of sixteen ounces to each [pound]. With the industry of the fishermen, who on most days caught an excess of fish, and with the abundance of maize, vegetables, and dried fruit that the Spaniards found in the two pueblos called Aminoya, they had plenty of food during all the time they were in that province, and they even had enough left over to take away later in the brigantines.
While the work on the caravels was proceeding, Quigualtanqui and the other chiefs of the neighborhood were not idle. Each one of them separately mustered all the warriors he could in his own country so that they would be able to assemble between them thirty or forty thousand fighting men to make a surprise attack on the Spaniards. They hoped to kill them all or at least to burn all the supplies and equipment that they had prepared for the boats, so that they could not leave their country at that time. It seemed to them that later, by waging continuous warfare against them, they could wear them out gradually without any difficulty, because they saw already that there were few horses, which were their principal strength, and the men were now so few that they had been informed that two-thirds of those who had entered La Florida were gone. And they knew that their captain-general Hernando de Soto, who was worth all of them, was now dead. This information increased their desire to carry out their evil intentions, and they
awaited only the day they had set for their treason.
This day must already have been near, because some of the Indians who were accustomed to bring the presents and false messages from the chiefs, on meeting alone some Indian women who were servants of Captains Arias Tinoco and Alonso Romo de Cardefiosa, said to them: "Be patient, sisters, and rejoice at the news that we are giving you. Very soon we shall rescue you from the captivity in which these thieving vagabonds are holding you, because you must know that we have planned to cut their throats and put their heads on every lance for the honor of our temples and burial places, and their bodies will be-quartered and hung in the trees, for this is no more than they deserve." The Indian women immediately told their masters what these Indians had said to them.
Besides these signs, on clear nights the noise that the Indians made in various places was heard on the other side of the river, and many fires were visible, separated from one another. It was understood clearly that these were war parties that were assembling to carry out their treason.
For the time being God, our Lord, prevented this by a most excessive f lood on the Rio Grande. On those same days, which were about the eighth or tenth of March, a powerful flood of water began to come down. At first it began to cover some sand beaches that were between the channel of the river and its banks; soon it was rising slowly over them until they were completely submerged. Then it began to overflow into the fields very rapidly and copiously, and as the land was flat, without any hills, there was no impediment to prevent its inundation.
On the eighteenth of March 1543, which that year fell on Palm Sunday, as appears from the calculations [made] before the ten-day rectification of the
calendar year [a reference to the Gregorian calendar]-while the Spaniards were marching in the procession they formed, in spite of all their labors, to
celebrate the entrance of our Redeemer into Jerusalem, in accordance with the observances of the holy Roman church, our Mother and Lady-the river rose so furiously and with such a rush that it entered the gates of the pueblo of Aminoya, and two days thereafter one could not go through the streets except in canoes.
It was forty days before this rise reached its greatest height, which was on the twentieth of April. It was a most wonderful thing to see what had been woods and fields made into a sea, because the river extended over more than twenty leagues of country on either side of its banks, and all this expanse was navigated in canoes. Nothing could be seen except the new growth at the top of the tallest trees. Telling of the flood on the river, Alonso de Carmona says at this point: "And we remembered the good old woman who prophesied this flood to us." These are his own words.
THEY SEND A SPANISH CAPTAIN TO THE CHIEF ANILCO
FOR ASSISTANCE IN FINISHING THE BRIGANTINES
Because of such inundations this Rio Grande and others that we have named in our History occasion with their floods, the Indians endeavor to settle on high places where there are hills, and where there are none they make them artificially, principally for the houses of their lords, both out of respect for their rank and so.that they may not be inundated. They build the private houses three or four estados up from the ground mounted on thick beams that serve as pillars. These are joined together by other, crosswise beams that form the ground floor. Above this wooden foundation they erect the dwelling with its balconies on all four sides where they put their food and other valuables, and there they take refuge during the great floods. These do not occur every year, but depend upon the amount of snow in the
previous winter, and rain in the following summer in the regions where the rivers have their sources. Thus the flood of that year 1543 was very great because of the large amounts of snow that we said had fallen during the previous winter, if it were not, as the old woman said, that the floods came every fourteen years. This can be ascertained when the land is conquered, as I expect it to be.
During the overflow of the river it was necessary to send out a squadron of twenty soldiers who went in four canoes, joined together two by two, for if they had gone singly, they might have been upset against the submerged trees that they might run against. The soldiers were to go to the pueblo of Anilco, which was twenty leagues from Aminoya, to ask for old blankets from which to make tow for caulking the brigantines, and for ropes for rigging, and for resin from trees for pitch. Although they had collected supplies of all these things they did not have enough to finish the work.
The twenty soldiers chose Gonzalo Silvestre to go with them as commander, both because he was a very good soldier and captain and because a few days before he had done a great service and favor for the chief Anilco. This was that on the expedition that Governor Hernando de Soto made against the pueblo of Anilco in the preceding year, as we have said above, where the Indians of Guachoya committed such cruelties and burned the pueblo, Gonzalo Silvestre had captured a boy twelve or thirteen years old who happened to be the son of the chief Anilco himself. He had taken him with him over the whole route that the Spaniards had traveled to the country that we call that of the Vaqueros, and had brought him back to the province of Aminoya where they then were, Of the five Indian servants whom he had taken with him on that journey, this boy alone remained, having escaped the recent illness. When the Spaniards returned to the Rio Grande the chief Anilco had made inquiries about his son, and learning that he was alive, being a friend of the Spaniards, he asked for him, Because of the many favors that the chief had done them, Gonzalo Silvestre had given him up very willingly, though the boy, like a boy, had refused to go with his people when he was turned over to them, because he was now attached to the Spaniards.
Because of this service that Gonzalo Silvestre had done the chief Anilco, the governor chose him [for this task), as it seemed to him that, having placed the chief under obligations to him by the restitution of his son, he could obtain more favors from him than anyone else in the army.
Silvestre set out with the twenty men of his party, and they took some of Anilco's own Indians for guides and oarsmen. On reaching the pueblo, he found that it had become an island and that the inundation of the river had
spread five or six leagues farther, so that at that place it had gone twenty-five leagues beyond its bed.
As soon as the chief Anilco knew that the Castilians were in his pueblo and who their commander was and what he had come to ask, he ordered his captain-general Anilco to be summoned and said to him: "Captain, show the desire and willingness that we have to serve the Spaniards by ordering that they be entertained and feasted more than I myself would be, and by giving them the supplies that they request for the brigantines as readily as if they were for ourselves, because of the love that we have for all of them and the particular obligation under which this captain has placed us by the restoration of my son. Note that I confide this to your person rather than to my own because I know that you will attend to it better than 1, as you do everything I entrust to you."
Having given this order, he had Gonzalo Silvestre summoned, and directed that none of his men come with him, because he said that, since he had not received them as friends the first time they had come to his country, he was so chagrinned and ashamed that he would feel all his life the regret and sorrow of that disgrace and reproach that he had brought upon himself, and that, because of this dereliction, he did not dare appear before the Spaniards.
He came out of his house to receive Gonzalo Silvestre and embraced him very affectionately, and took him to his apartment, being unwilling for him to leave it during all the time that the Castilians were in his pueblo. He enjoyed greatly talking with him and learning of the things that had happened to the Spaniards in that great kingdom, and which and how many provinces they had traveled through, and what battles they had fought, and many other things that they had experienced in that discovery. They entertained themselves in this manner during the days that Gonzalo Silvestre remained there, and the chief's son, whom he had brought back to him, served as interpreter.
Among these conversations and others that they were accustomed to have, on one of the last days that Gonzalo Silvestre was with him the chief said to him: "Well, Captain, neither Guachoya not any of his people had ever had enough courage or boldness to set foot in any part of my state and seigniory, but he dared with the Castilians' protection to come to my pueblo and enter my own house, and pillage it shamelessly, with total lack of the respect that he ought to have had for me. He committed other insolences and cruelties upon the children and aged in such revenge as he had never hoped to take for his injuries. Not content with what he did to the living, he went on to insult the dead by taking the bodies of my parents and grandparents from their sepulchers and throwing them on the ground, dragging, trampling, and kicking the bones that I so revere. Finally, he dared to set fire to my pueblo and house, against the governor's will and that of all his Spaniards, for I am well informed about everything that happened then. I have no
more to say about it except that you will leave this country, and we shall remain in it, and perhaps some day I shall even accounts for that lost game."
These are the very words that the chief said to Gonzalo Silvestre, and he spoke them with all the feeling of outrage and anger that he could express. Thus it was understood why this chief had shown and was showing such friendship for the Castilians; first because they had not been inclined to favor Guachoya against him, and second because, in order to avenge their insults, he desired that the Spaniards leave that country promptly. Therefore he had given and would give them so liberally the supplies that they requested for the brigantines, and thus he made every exertion and effort possible to grant their last petition, and soon gave them a supply of the blankets, ropes, and resin that they asked for in larger quantities than they had requested, or expected, for the Spaniards had been fearful when they came that through lack of the things they needed the chief would be unable to give them enough.
Along with these supplies he gave them twenty canoes, and Indian warriors and servants and a captain to serve them and carry the baggage. On taking leave, he embraced Gonzalo Silvestre, and told him to make his excuses to the governor for not having gone in person to kiss his hands; and he said that, with regard to the league of Quigualtanqui and his confederates, he would advise him in time of what they were plotting against the Castilians. Gonzalo Silvestre returned to the governor with this message and gave him an account of what had happened to him on that journey.
EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE DURING THE RISING AND RECEDING OF THE
During all the time that the flood in the Rio Grande lasted, which was forty days, the Spaniards did not cease to carry on the work on the brigantines, though the water hindered them. But they went up into the large houses that we said they had built high above the ground, which they called dockyards, and there they labored with such dexterity and industry in all the crafts that they made even the charcoal for the forges inside those houses, in the wooden garrets overhead. They made it from branches that they cut from trees that stood up out of the water, as there was then no other wood, or firewood, all of it being under water. Those who aided most notably in these labors, not only as assistants, but as if they had been master workmen in iron work, carpentry, and caulking, were two gentlemen who were brothers, named Francisco Osorio and Garcia Osorio, very close relatives of the house of Astorga. In Spain, Francisco Osorio was a lord of vassals.
RIO GRANDE, AND THE WARNING THAT ANILCO GAVE OF THE LEAGUE
Though they were of such high rank, they applied themselves to all this necessary labor with the same promptness, skill, and dexterity that they had always shown when it was necessary to fight, and their good example inspired all the other Spaniards, nobles or otherwise, to do the same, for work always inspires imitation more readily than giving orders.
As the inundation caused by the floodwaters of the Rio Grande was so excessive, all the warriors whom the chiefs of the league had raised against the Castilians were dispersed, because it was necessary and imperative for all of them to go to their pueblos and houses to arrange and put in a safe place everything that was in them. Thus for the time being our Lord prevented these Indians from carrying out their evil purpose, of killing the Spaniards or burning their boats. Though their men were dispersed, the chiefs did not abandon their evil purpose, and to conceal it they continually sent messages of pretended friendship. The governor replied to them with all the dissimulation possible, leading them to believe that he was ignorant of their treachery. But with all this he did not cease to be cautious and watchful in all necessary matters, so that his enemies would not harm him.
At the end of April the river began to recede as slowly as it had risen, and
even on the twentieth of May the Castilians could not walk through the pueblo except in their bare feet and bare-legged, because of the water and mud in the streets.
This going barefoot was one of the hardships that our Spaniards felt most of all among those that they endured on this discovery. For after the battle of Mauvila, where their extra clothing and footwear were burned, they were forced to go without shoes. Though it is true that they made some, they were of untanned leather and of deerskins, with soles of the same that became a shapeless mass as soon as they were wet. Though they might have used the abilities they showed in other, more important and difficult things in making hemp sandals such as the Spaniards in Mexico and El Peru and other places make, they could not do so on this expedition to La Florida because they found no hemp or other material of which to make them. The same thing happened to them with regard to clothing, for as they found no blankets made of wool or cotton, they dressed in deerskin, and a single short garment served them as shirt, doublet, and coat. Since they had to march and cross rivers and work in the rain, having no woolen clothing to protect themselves from it, they were forced to go about almost continuously wet, and as we have seen they were often perishing of hunger, eating herbs and roots because they had nothing else. From the little that we have told in our History and shall tell before it is ended, any discerning person can infer the innumerable, and never sufficiently described or even half-told labors that the Spaniards endured in the discovery, conquest, and settlement of the New World, so profitless to themselves and their sons, for as one of the latter I can testify well to it.
At the end of May the river was back in its bed, having gathered up its waters, which had been so widely dispersed and extended over those lowlands. As soon as the country could be traversed, the chiefs again called to the field the warriors whom they had made ready and went out with the determination of executing their enterprise and evil plans promptly. When the good captain-general Anilco learned of it he went to visit the governor, as was his custom, and on his own behalf and that of his chief he secretly gave him a very detailed account of everything that Quigualtanqui and his allies had planned to the detriment of the Spaniards. He said that on a certain future day each chief would send his ambassadors separately, and they would do this so that their league and treason would not be suspected, as it might be if they should all come together. As further proof that he was speaking the truth and knew the chiefs' secret plans, he told what each ambassador would say on his mission and the gift and present he would bring in sign of friendship. Some would come in the morning, others at noon, and others in the evening, and these embassies would continue for four days. This was the time that the allied chiefs had set and designated for assembling the last of the warriors and attacking the Spaniards. Their intention was to kill all of them, and if they could not accomplish this purpose, at least they would bum the boats so that they could not leave their country. They planned to exterminate them later at their leisure with the continuous warfare that they would wage against them.
General Anilco, after having told everything pertaining to the treason of the chiefs, said: "Sir, my chief and lord Anilco offers your lordship eight thousand warriors, chosen men and feared by all their neighbors, with whom your lordship can resist and attack your enemies, and I offer to come with them personally and [if need be] die in your service.
"My lord says also that, if your lordship desires to withdraw to his country, he offers it immediately for everything that may be conducive to your
service, and he begs your lordship very affectionately to accept his friendship and his state and seigniory, and to make use of all of it as if it were your own. Your lordship may be assured that, if you go to the state of my lord Anilco, you will be safe from attacks by your enemies. Meanwhile your lordship can order that which seems best to you."
THE PUNISHMENT THAT WAS GIVEN TO THE AMBASSADORS OF THE LEAGUE
AND THE ACTIVITIES OF THE SPANIARDS UNTIL THEY EMBARKED
The governor, having heard the warning that the captain-general Anilco gave of the chiefs' treachery, and the offers that he made him on behalf of his chief and himself, thanked him earnestly for both and told him with very affectionate words that he would not accept the assistance of fighting men, in order that his chief Anilco might not incur the hatred and enmity of the other chiefs and Indians of the vicinity in the future because of having favored the Castilians so openly. Furthermore, because he was in tending to leave so soon and go down the river, it was not necessary to make war against the enemy. For the same reasons he would not accept the good company of his person as captain-general, though he knew of his great bravery, and how important his support and assistance would be to the Spaniards if they had to overcome their enemies by fighting. Inasmuch as he must go, he did not wish to leave him hated by and at enmity with his neighbors, or that they should know anything about his having warned them against the league.
For the same reason, and because for the time being it was not convenient for him to make an establishment in that kingdom, he refused to withdraw to his country. But although he could not take advantage of the offers that he and his chief made him, at least he accepted the good intentions of both of them, to remember them and the obligation that their words and deeds had placed upon him and the whole Spanish nation. He would endeavor to repay it if the occasion should ever be offered him, and a report and memorial of it would be duly given to his lord the king of Castilla, who was emperor and chief of all the Christian kings, lords, and princes. He should know what they had done for his vassals and servants the Castilians, and he would order a memorandum to be made of it in writing for the gratification of his Majesty or the kings his descendants. He left his pledge and promise to them and their sons and successors as repayment for the benefits they had conferred upon them. With these words the governor took leave of Captain
Anilco and was ready for what might come in the future, having consulted about it with his captains and principal soldiers.
Four days after the warning, which was at the beginning of June of the year 1543, the ambassadors of the chiefs of the league arrived, in the same order and manner that Anilco had said, some in the morning, others at noon, and others in the evening. They brought the same verbal messages and the same gifts that Anilco had mentioned as a sign of their treason.
This being seen by the governor, he ordered that they be seized and each one put in a place by himself to be questioned about their league and conspiracy. When this was done the Indians did not deny it, but confessed very openly all the preparations they had made to kill the Spaniards and burn their boats.
So that the punishment that had to be inflicted upon the Indian ambassadors would not fall upon so many of them as would be the case if they should wait for all of them to arrive, the general ordered that it be carried out promptly upon those whom they had taken that day. They would give the word to the rest that their treachery was found out, and they would not send more ambassadors.
Their confessions having been taken, on the same day that they came they visited upon them the punishment for their chiefs' wrongdoings. The reward for their embassy was to cut off the right hands of thirty of them.
They came up so patiently to receive the punishment that was given them that one severed hand was scarcely removed from the block when another was placed there to be cut off. This aroused the pity and compassion of those who saw it.
The punishment of the ambassadors broke up the league of their chiefs, because they said that since the Castilians knew of their hostile plans they would be on guard and prepared so as not to be harmed. Thus each chief returned to his own country, vexed at not having carried out his evil intentions. They kept these [intentions] in mind to show them again on some future occasion, and because they knew they were more powerful on the water than on land, they planned among themselves that each one would make ready as many men and canoes as he could to pursue the Spaniards when they should go down the river, where they were planning to kill them all.
Having seen that the great league and conspiracy that the chiefs had formed against them was an actuality, the governor and his captains thought it would be well to leave their lands as soon as they could, before the enemy should form another, worse one. In this determination they hastened the work of completing the brigantines even more than before, though up to that time they had not been lazy.
Our Spaniards built seven little caravels, and since they did not have enough nails to cover them entirely, they covered one space at the stern and another at the prow on which they could place the ship-stores. They laid some loose planks across the center to make a deck, and by raising one of them up they could draw out the water that they might have taken in.
With the same industry that they had shown in building the boats, they collected the supplies they thought would be needed, asking the friendly chiefs Anilco and Guachoya for stores of Indian corn and other grains and dried fruits that were in their country.
They butchered the hogs, which they had hitherto kept for breeding in spite of all their past hardships, and they still reserved eighteen of them, because they had not lost hopes of making a settlement near the sea if they should find a good situation. They gave three, two females and one male for breeding, to each of the friendly chiefs. The meat of those that they killed was salted for the journey, and they used the lard in place of oil for softening the resin obtained from trees, so as to make it thin and liquid enough to run, it being used to pitch the brigantines.
They provided canoes to carry the horses that they had remaining, these being a few more than thirty. The canoes were fastened together by twos, so that the horses could be carried with their fore feet in one and their hind feet in the other. Besides the canoes for the horses, each brigantine carried one at the stern to serve as a ship's boat.
Alonso de Carmona says here that they killed twenty of the fifty horses that remained, these being the ones that were lame and most useless, and that in order to kill them they tied them one night to separate stakes and opened their veins, allowing them to bleed to death. This was done with much sadness on the part of their masters and to the grief of all of them because of the good service the horses had performed. The meat was parboiled and put in the sun to preserve it, and thus they kept it as ship-stores for their voyage. The things that we have told being finished, they launched the brigantines into the water on the day of the great precursor St. John the Baptist, and in the five days until the eve of [the day of) the princes of the church-St. Peter and St. Paul-they busied themselves in embarking the ship-stores and the horses, and in dressing the brigantines and the canoes with boards and skins of animals as a defense against arrows. Two days before they embarked, they took leave of the chief Guachoya and the captain-general Anilco so that they could go to their own countries; they begged them to be true friends, and they promised that they would be. Then on the same day of the Apostles they embarked, having ordered to go as captains of the seven brigantines those whom we shall name in the following book and chapter.