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





While the three exploring captains went out and returned with the reports of what each of them had seen and discovered, Governor Hernando de Soto did not rest or remain idle, but on the other hand, he was considering in his own mind and preparing with all care and vigilance the things most advantageous for his army. Therefore seeing that winter was approaching (it was then October), he thought it best not to continue his discoveries that year but to winter in that province of Apalache where there were plenty of provisions. He planned to send for Captain Pedro Calderon and the other Spaniards who had remained with him in the province of Hirrihigua to come and join him, because they were not doing anything of importance where they were.

To this end he ordered as many supplies collected as possible. He had many houses built besides those in the pueblo so that there would be comfortable lodgings for all his soldiers. He had a site fortified that seemed suitable, for the safety of his men. During this time he did not cease to send messengers to Capafi, the lord of that province, with gifts and friendly messages, begging him to come out peaceably and be his friend. The latter was unwilling to accept any of these terms but instead fortified himself in a very wild forest full of swamps and difficult passes, which he chose for the defense and protection of his person.

The things stated being arranged and provided for, the governor ordered the accountant Juan de Anasco to prepare to return to the province of Hirrihigua, because it seemed to him that this gentleman was the most successful captain and had had better fortune from the beginning of his expedition than any of his others, and that such a man who had also his other good qualities as a soldier was needed to surmount the dangers and difficulties he would encounter. In consideration of these things he ordered him to take twenty-nine other lancers who were ready, he himself making thirty, and return with them to the pueblo of Hirrihigua by the same road that the army had taken, so that Captain Pedro Calderon and the other soldiers who were with him might be advised of what the general ordered them to do.

The task was a very severe one because those [who went] would have to go back over almost 150 leagues of country inhabited by brave and cruel enemies, filled with large rivers, forests, swamps, and difficult passes, a crossing in which the whole army had been in great danger. This would be even greater now that only thirty lancers were going, and they would necessarily find the Indians better prepared than when the governor passed, and because of the injuries received, more angry and desirous of avenging them.

But all this did not suffice to make the thirty gentlemen now prepared refuse to go on the expedition; rather they obeyed readily and with all promptness. Because they were men of such spirit and courage, who went through so many hardships, dangers, and difficulties, as we shall see, it will be fitting to set down their names, and we are including those whose names are remembered. Those who are missing will forgive me and accept my respects, for I would like to have information not only of them but of all those who went to conquer and win the New World, and I wish also that I could attain the historical eloquence of the most illustrious Caesar in order to spend my life recounting and celebrating their great exploits, To the extent that these have been greater than those of the Greeks, the Romans, and other nations, so much more unfortunate have the Spaniards been in lacking someone to write of them, and it is no small misfortune to these gentlemen that [the story of ] their deeds came into the hands of an Indian, whence they will emerge impaired and defaced rather than written as they deserve to be and as they occurred. In having done what I could, however, I have complied with this obligation, though I have a greater fund of good will to serve them than of power or ability.

The gentlemen chosen were the accountant and captain Juan de Anasco, a native of Sevilla; Gomez Arias, a native of Segovia; Juan Cordero and Alvaro Fernandez, natives of Yelves; Antonio Garillo, a native of Yllescas (he was one of the thirteen who revolted in Cuzco with Francisco Hernandez Giron in the year 1553). Francisco de Villalobos and Juan Lopez Cacho, citizens of Sevilla; Gonzalo Silvestre, a native of Herrera de Alcantara [from whom this knowledge was gained by Inca]; Juan de Espinosa, a native of Ubeda; Hernando Athanasio, a native of Badajoz; Juan de Abadia, a Biscayan; Antonio de la Cadena and Francisco Segredo, natives of Medellin; Bartolome de Argote and Pedro Sanchez from Astorga; Juan Garcia Pechudo, a native of Albuquerque; and Pedro Moron, mestizo, a native of the city of Bayamo in the island of Cuba. This soldier had a most unusual gift in that he scented and picked up a trail better than a pointer dog.

It often happened in the island of Cuba that when he and others went out to hunt for rebellious or runaway Indians he could follow their trails to the underbrush or hollow trees or eaves where they were hidden. He also could detect fire from the odor more than a league away, and many times in this exploration of La Florida, without flame or smoke having been seen, he said to his companions, "Look out, there is a fire near us," and they would find it half a league or a league away. He was a most expert swimmer, as we have said already. With him went his comrade and compatriot, Diego de Oliva, a mestizo and a native of the island of Cuba.



These twenty horsemen and ten others whose names are lacking to make up the number of thirty, left the pueblo of Apalache on October 20 of the year 1539 to go to the province of Hirrihigua where Pedro de Calderon was. They carried orders that will be told later as to what they were to do on sea and on land.

All traveled very lightly, with only helmets and coats of mail over their clothing, their lances in their hands, and a pair of knapsacks on their saddles containing some horseshoes and nails and the food that they could put into them for horses and riders. They left the camp a good while before daylight, and so that the news of their coming should not precede them and the Indians thus be warned to go out and take the passes, they traveled at a good speed, running where it was possible to do so. That day they speared two Indians whom they met on the road, killing them so that they might not give an alarm and warn those who were scattered about the country. They always traveled with this precaution against the news [of their coming} going ahead of them. Thus on that day they marched the eleven leagues between Apalache and the swamp, which they crossed without opposition from the enemy; no small advantage, because however few Indians might have come they would have been enough to shoot arrows at the horses in such a narrow road as that through the woods and the water.

The Spaniards slept on the plain entirely beyond the woods, having traveled and marched that day more than thirteen leagues. While resting they kept watch by thirds, in groups of ten, as we have told above.

They continued their march before daybreak and covered the twelve leagues of uninhabited country that lies between the swamp of Apalache and the pueblo of Osachile. They went with the fear that the Indians would know of their approach and would come out to oppose their passage, so they advanced slowly, waiting for nightfall, and about midnight they passed through the pueblo, going at a canter. A league beyond the pueblo they left the road and rested the remainder of the night, a third of them keeping watch, as we have said. That day they traveled more than thirteen leagues farther.

At dawn they continued their journey, going at a canter because there were people in the fields. They always did this when they were passing through inhabited country so that the news of their coming should not go ahead of them, which was what they most feared. Thus they traveled the five leagues from the place where they slept to the Rio de Osachile at the expense of the horses, and they were so good that they endured everything. On approaching the river, Gonzalo Silvestre, who, because he had urged his horse more than the others, was riding ahead, went to look at it with much misgiving, fearing to find it higher than when the army had crossed it, but God willed that it now carried less water than before. In his satisfaction at seeing it thus he plunged into it and swam across and came out on the plain on the opposite side. When his companions saw him on the farther bank they were very pleased because all of them had had the same fear of finding the river swollen; they crossed without any mishaps and by way of celebration and rejoicing for having crossed the river they ate lunch. Then they traveled at a moderate pace the four leagues from this Rio de Osachile to the pueblo of Vitachuco, the scene of the cacique Vitachuco's temerity.

The Castilians proceeded with the uneasy expectation of finding the pueblo of Vitachuco as they had left it, and they feared that they would have to fight with its inhabitants and gain passage by force, where it might happen that they [the Indians] would kill or wound some man or horse, a misfortune that would double the labors and difficulties of the road. They therefore agreed among themselves that none of them would remain to fight, but all would endeavor to pass on without stopping. With this determination they came to the pueblo, where they lost all their anxiety because they found it entirely burned and destroyed and the walls leveled to the ground; and the bodies of the Indians who died on the day of the battle and those whom they killed on the day that the cacique Vitachuco struck the governor were all heaped together in the fields, no one having desired to bury them. The Indians said later that they abandoned and destroyed the pueblo because it was founded on an unlucky and unfortunate site; and the dead Indians, as illfated men who had not carried out their pretensions, they left unburied as food for birds and wild beasts, for among them this was a very infamous punishment and was given to those who were unlucky and unfortunate in arms, as to people who were accursed and excommunicated, after their heathen custom. They so regarded this pueblo and those who died in it because it seemed to them that the disaster that happened there had been caused more by the unluckiness of the place and the ill-fortune of the dead than by the strength and bravery of the Spaniards, for their numbers were so small against so many and such brave Indians.


[which Inca would mistakenly call Rio de Ocali, five paragraphs below]

Wondering at what they had seen, the Spaniards passed through the pueblo and had scarcely left it when they found two Indian nobles who, armed with their bows and arrows, were hunting, not expecting to see Christians that day; but when they saw them appear they took refuge under a very large walnut tree that was close by. One of them, not trusting much in the safety of his position, ran away from the tree and went to take shelter in the woods that were on one side of the road. Two of the Castilians, much against their captain's wishes, went to head him off, and before the Indian reached the woods they overtook him, a small enough accomplishment for two horsemen. The other Indian, who had more courage and waited under the tree, was luckier, because fortune favors the daring, as people who deserve it. Putting an arrow in his bow, he faced all the Spaniards - who came up at a canter, one after another - and made a gesture of shooting it if they should come nearer to him. Some of them, angered by the Indian's audacity and boldness, or envious at seeing a spirit and courage so unusual and strange, wished to dismount and attack him on foot with their lances in their hands. But Juan de Anasco would not consent to it, saying that it was not valor or prudence to kill a rash and desperate man with the risk that the Indian would kill or wound one of them or one of their horses at a time when they needed them so much, and where they were so ill prepared for treating the wounded.

Saying these words, as he was leading the rest, he made a wide circle, going away from the Indian and from the road that passed near the tree where he was so that the enemy might not shoot at them in passing and wound a horse, which was what he most feared. As the Spaniard went by, the Indian, with an arrow in his bow, pointed it at his face, threatening to shoot him. The first one having passed, and likewise the second and third and all the rest, as they went by in their order, the Indian remained in the same attitude until all had passed, and when he saw that they had not attacked him, but rather had left and fled from him, he began to shout insulting words at them, saying: "Cowards, bastards, cravens; thirty of you on horseback have not dared attack one on foot!" With these boasts he remained under his tree with more honor than all these famous [soldiers] had gained; so said the Castilians in their excessive envy of him, as they passed on shamed by the shouts that he sent after them. At this point they heard a great outcry and alarm that the Indians who were in the fields on either side gave, calling to one another to block their road.

The Spaniards escaped this danger and other similar ones by the swiftness of their horses, always hastening and leaving the enemy behind. On this day, which was the third of their march, well after dark, they reached a fine plain clear of timber where they rested, having traveled and marched seventeen leagues that day, the last eight through the province of Vitachuco.

On the fourth day they marched eighteen more leagues, all through the province of Vitachuco. Its natives being injured and offended from the past battle, and seeing them [the Spaniards] now marching through their country, and that they were few in number, wished to take revenge by killing them. Therefore they made up relays in order to pass the word on from one to another to give the news of the Spaniards' coming and assemble men to occupy some difficult pass and cut them off. Surmising the Indians' intention, our men followed them so closely that none who attempted to carry the message escaped them, and thus on that day they speared seven Indians. At nightfall they reached a plain having no timber, where they thought they might rest because they heard no sounds of Indians in the surrounding country.

A little after midnight they left their beds, and by sunrise they had marched five leagues, reaching the Rio de Ocali where we said the Indians had shot the hound Bruto. [Bruto had been killed at the next river they would cross several days later.] The Castilians went with some hope of finding the river with less water than when they had crossed it [before], as they had found the Osachile [River of the Deer], but the contrary was true, because for some time before they came to it they saw the banks, which as we said were two pike-lengths high [referring, again, to the next river they would come to], entirely covered with water that overflowed beyond them on the plain. The river ran so rapidly, turbidly and strongly, with so many whirlpools in every part of it, that simply looking at it inspired fear, much less having to swim across it. To this difficulty and danger was added another, greater one, which was the alarm and outcry that the Indians raised on both sides of the river when they saw the Christians appear, shouting to one another to kill them as they crossed.

The Spaniards, seeing that the safety of their lives lay in their good spirit, strength, and speed, immediately discussed what they ought to do in that danger, and as if by prearrangement - and as if all of them were captains - calling one another by their names, they ordered that twelve of them who were the best swimmers, wearing only their helmets and coats of mail over their shirts (without any other clothing, so as not to hinder the horses in swimming), and carrying lances in their hands, go into the river to gain the other bank before the Indians should reach it. As there were more of them on that side and as the whole pueblo could assemble there, it was more dangerous and it was necessary to keep it unobstructed and free, so that as the Spaniards swam across the Indians might not shoot arrows at them at their pleasure. The twelve men appointed, then, seeing the imminent danger in which they were, all said with one accord, reassuring one another, that whoever might get out or whoever might die it was impossible for them to do otherwise. They ordered also that fourteen of them cut as quickly as possible five or six thick timbers from the dead trees that had fallen on the riverbank and make a raft from them in which they could take over the saddles, clothing and knapsacks, and the Spaniards who did not know how to swim. The four remaining men were to endeavor to hold back the Indians who were coming at full speed from upstream and down on this side to prevent their crossing.

They had no sooner made this plan than they put it into operation. The twelve men named to cross the river, taking off their clothes, at once plunged into the water, and eleven of them succeeded in coming out on the opposite bank at a large gap in the bluff. The twelfth, who was Juan Lopez Cacho, was unable to make the shore because his horse went a little downstream from the opening, and being unable to resist the velocity of the water to come out at this landing, he went on down the river to see if there were another opening by which he could come out. Although he attempted many times to ascend the bluff in order to land, he could not do so, for the bluff was as steep as a wall and the horse could not get a foothold. Therefore he had to go back to the other bank, and as the horse had been swimming for so long without resting, he was much fatigued. Juan Lopez asked for help from his companions who were cutting the timber for the raft, and four of them who were expert swimmers, seeing his danger, jumped into the water and brought him and his horse safely to shore, which was no small feat because they were fatigued from their labors. Here we shall leave them to tell what the governor was doing meanwhile in Apalache.



The adelantado Hernando de Soto was not idle while the accountant and captain Juan de Aiiasco and the thirty horsemen who went with him were making the expedition of which we have told. On the contrary, finding the Indians of the province of Apalache, where he was, with the eagerness and solicitude that we have seen to kill or wound the Spaniards, and that they were losing no occasion that presented itself to them on which they might do it, by day or by night, it seemed to him that, if he could get the cacique into his hands, the stratagems and treasonable acts of his Indians would cease at once. He secretly took great trouble to find out where the curaca was, and within a few days they brought him definite information that he was concealed in some high and very rough mountains where, though he was no more than eight leagues from the camp, the cacique believed himself to be safe, likewise because of the strength of his position and because of the many and good men whom he had with him for his defense.

With this certain news the general desired to make the journey himself, and taking the necessary cavalry and infantry and guided by the same spies, he set out for the place where the cacique was. Having traveled eight leagues in three days and experienced many hardships because of the difficulties of the road, he reached the place. The Indians had fortified it in the following manner. In the middle of a very large and dense forest they had cleared a space where the curaca and his Indians had their lodgings. As an entrance to this plaza they had opened through the same woods a narrow alley more than half a league in length. All along this alley at intervals of a hundred paces they had made strong palisades with thick logs, which commanded the passage. Men were designated for the defense of each palisade. They had not made an exit by which to escape at any other part of this fort because they believed that even though the Spaniards should reach it the site was so strong in itself and the men who were defending it were so numerous and so brave that it was impossible for them to gain it. Within it was the cacique Capafi, well supported by his people, all determined to die rather than see their lord in the power of his enemies.

Upon his arrival at the entrance of the alley, the governor found the men there well prepared to defend it. The Castilians fought bravely, but since the alley was narrow, only those in the lead could fight. With this labor, solely by dint of the sword, and receiving many arrow wounds, they gained the first palisade and the second, but inasmuch as it was necessary to cut the ropes made of willows and the other cords with which the Indians had fastened the cross-timbers, while they were cutting them they received much damage from the enemy. With all these difficulties, however, they gained the third palisade and all the rest up to the last one, though the Indians fought so obstinately that against their strong resistance the Spaniards gained the alley foot by foot, until they reached the clearing where the curaca was.

There the battle was hotly contested because the Indians, seeing their lord in danger of being killed or captured, fought like desperate men and thrust themselves among the swords and lances of the Spaniards in order to wound or kill them when they could not do so in any other way. On the other hand, the Christians, seeing so near the capture they desired to make, in order not to lose the result of their labor fought as hard as possible to prevent the cacique's escaping them. The struggle and combat between Indians and Spaniards continued for a long time, both showing their fortitude of spirit, though the Indians for lack of defensive weapons got the worst of it. The governor himself, desiring to have the cacique in his power and knowing him to be so near, fought like a very brave soldier, which he was, and like a good captain he encouraged his men, calling to them loudly by name. With this the Spaniards made a very great effort and fell upon the enemy with such ferocity and cruelty that they killed almost all of them.

Having done more than would have been thought possible for men not having defensive armor, these few Indians that remained, seeing that they could not now defend their cacique, laid down their arms and surrendered in order that the Spaniards might not kill him after killing them, and also because the curaca himself commanded them in a loud voice to do so. Falling on their knees before the governor, they all as one man begged him to spare their lord Capafi and to kill them instead. The general received the Indians mercifully and told them that he pardoned their lord and all of them for their past disobedience, and that in the future they would all be good friends.

The cacique arrived, carried in the arms of his Indians because he could not walk, and came to kiss the governor's hands; the latter received him very kindly, well satisfied to see him in his power. Capafi was a man with an extremely large body; so much so that because of being excessively fat and because of the indispositions and impediments that this always caused him, he was so helpless that he could not take a single step or stand on his feet. His Indians carried him on a litter, and wherever he wished to go in his house he went on all fours. This was the reason Capafi had not gone farther away from the Spaniards' camp than he did, believing that the place was sufficiently distant and strong enough and the road sufficiently rough to safeguard him from them, but his confidence was misplaced.



With the capture of the cacique, the general returned to the pueblo of Apalache very satisfied, for it seemed to him that with the imprisonment of the lord the impudences and boldnesses of the vassals would cease. These latter, after the Castilians had entered that pueblo, had not ceased day or night to make continuous attacks and sudden sallies and alarms, being so astute and diligent in their stratagems that they at once assaulted or wounded any Spaniard who strayed even a little distance from the camp. The general thought that all this would be ended by having the curaca in his power, but his hopes turned out to be in vain because the Indians, after the loss of their cacique, were more free and bold and molested the Christians more continuously, since as they had no lord in whose protection and service to occupy themselves, all turned more obstinately than before to molesting and injuring the Castilians. Angered by this, the adelantado talked one day with Capafi and told him of his displeasure at the great insolence and ingratitude his vassals showed at the good treatment he had accorded to their curaca and to them, in not having done the harm and damage that he might have done to their persons and property in punishment of their rebelliousness. On the contrary, he had treated them like friends, and unless it was provoked by themselves, they [the Spaniards] had not killed or wounded a single Indian nor moved to damage their pueblos or fields, when they were able to desolate and burn their whole province as lands and houses of enemies as perverse as they were. [He desired the cacique] to order them to cease their treasonable and shameless actions if he did not wish him to make war on them with fire and blood; he was to observe that he was in the power of the Spaniards, who were honoring and treating him with much respect and ceremony, and it could happen that the disrespect and excessive arrogance of his vassals would cause his death and the total destruction of his country.

The curaca replied with much humility and signs of great regret, saying that he was extremely grieved that his vassals did not comply with the obligation that the mercy his lordship had shown them had placed upon them, nor were serving as he himself desired and had attempted to [have them do] after he was in his [De Soto's] power, through the messengers that he had sent them, ordering them to cease angering and giving offense to the Castilians. But his messages had no effect because the Indians were unwilling to believe that they were from their cacique, but [thought they were] from strangers; nor could they bring themselves to believe in the clemency and respect his lordship had shown toward him, or that he was free. On the other hand they suspected that he had been very ill treated, kept in irons and in prison, and this was the reason they were now more persistent and obstinate in their stratagems than before. He therefore begged his lordship to order his captains and men that, taking him under strong guard, they go with him to a place five or six leagues from the camp to which he would guide them; there in a large forest were concealed the noblest and most important of his vassals. There, by day or night, he would shout to them in a loud voice, calling them by their names, and on hearing the voice of their lord they would all come at his summons. He having undeceived them of their evil suspicions, they would be appeased and would do what he ordered them, as the event would prove; and this was the most certain and quickest way to reduce the Indians to his service, because of the respect and veneration they naturally have for their curacas. Nothing would be gained by means of messengers nor could he negotiate through them, because they would reply that the messages were false and counterfeit, sent by the enemies themselves and not by their cacique.

With these words and a very chastened countenance, Capafi persuaded Hernando de Soto to send him where he asked, and thus it was ordered and carried out. Two companies went with him, one of cavalry and the other of infantry, and they went with strict orders to guard and watch the curaca closely lest he escape them. So cautioned, they left the camp before dawn, traveled six leagues toward the south, and arrived about nightfall at the place where the cacique said his people were in some woods nearby.

As soon as Capafi reached the appointed site, three or four of the Indians who had gone with him entered the woods, and in a short time ten or twelve others of those who had been in the woods came out. The curaca ordered them to notify that night all the principal Indians who were in the woods to assemble and appear before him on the following day; that he wished to tell them personally of things that were very important to the honor, safety and welfare of all of them. The Indians returned to the woods with this message, and the Castilians, having posted their sentries and a strong guard around the person of the cacique, rested that night well satisfied with what was arranged, it appearing to them that their business was so progressing that they, would be able to return from their journey with honor and glory. They did not consider that the greatest hopes that men promise themselves often turn out most vain, as happened to these Spaniards.



Our Castilians, captains and soldiers, had retired to rest with great satisfaction and common rejoicing, believing that on the next day they would return to their captain-general with the victory and triumph of bringing him all the principal Indians of that province, reduced to his friendship and service, with which they all expected to be left in peace and quiet. But they found that their imaginings had deceived them, for as soon as daylight came they saw themselves without the cacique and without a single one of the few Indians who had come with him. Amazed by this, they asked one another what had happened, and all of them replied that it was impossible unless the Indians had conjured up demons who had carried them away through the air, because the sentries affirmed that there had not been any carelessness whatsoever through which the cacique might have made his escape.

But the truth of the matter was that the Castilians, both on account of their weariness from the long journey of the previous day and because of the confidence they felt in the friendliness and fair words of Capafi and the impediment and helplessness of his person, were careless and slept, the sentries as well as the rest. Seeing their sleep and the good opportunity, the curaca dared to escape from them, and did so by passing on all fours through the sentries. His Indians - who were not sleeping but were plotting to waylay the Spaniards - encountering him, had raised him on their shoulders, and it was a mercy God granted to the Christians that the heathen did not come back to cut their throats, because their own savagery and our men's drowsiness would have permitted them to do so entirely at their pleasure.

But they contented themselves at seeing their lord out of the power of the Castilians, and so that he would not again fall into their hands they endeavored to put him in a more secure place than he had been formerly, and thus they took him where he was never seen again, then or later.

The two captains, whose names we omit to protect their reputation, and their good soldiers as well, made diligent search throughout these woods, hunting Capafi like a wild beast; but despite their efforts all through the day they found no trace of him, for the bird that escapes from the snare is seldom caught.

Having put the curaca in safety, the Indians came out to the Christians and uttered a thousand affronts and insults, ridiculing and mocking them, and without further provocation, since they did not want to fight with them, they left them to return to their camp. They arrived there much abashed and ashamed that an Indian, whom they had been so strictly charged to guard, had fled from them and escaped on all fours. They told the general and the other captains a thousand fabulous tales by way of excuse for their carelessness and to redeem their reputations, all affirming that they had heard very strange things that night, and that the thing was impossible unless he had been carried through the air by demons; they swore that in any other way it was not possible, in view of the strong guard that they had placed over him. When he saw the poor precautions taken and that there was now no help for it, in order not to affront these captains and soldiers the governor pretended to believe what they said and helped them by stating that the Indians were such great sorcerers that they could do even more than that. He did not fail, however, to perceive their carelessness.

Returning to the thirty horsemen whom we left laboring to cross the swollen Rio de Ocali, we said that those who were engaged in cutting logs in a short time had made the raft, because they had come prepared for such necessities with axes and ropes. They launched it on the water with two long ropes with which they drew it back and forth from one side of the river to the other, two good swimmers carrying one of the ropes to the opposite bank. The Spaniards had done all this when the Indians of Ocali approached the river with a great rush and clamor, with the desire and intention of killing the Christians.

The eleven horsemen who had gained the opposite bank of the river advanced to the encounter and engaged them with such determination and courage, spearing the first ones whom they met, that the Indians did not dare wait for them, because the land was free of both small and large timber and the horsemen were masters of the field. They therefore withdrew, retiring slowly and contenting themselves with shooting many arrows at them from a distance.

The four horsemen who were on this side of the river, where there were fewer enemies, divided in pairs, two going upstream and two down, for there were Indians coming from both directions, detaining them with their assaults so that they would not come to the place where the raft was. It made f ive voyages while the riders defended it on either side of the stream. On the f irst it carried the cloaks of the eleven horsemen who were on the other side of the river, who shouted to ask for them because a north wind had come up, striking them while they were damp and had no other clothing except their shirts with coats of mail over them, and they were chilled with the cold.

In four other voyages they took over the saddles, bridles, and knapsacks, and the men who did not know how to swim, who were few in number. Those who could, swam across in order not to lose time by making more voyages with the raft than were absolutely necessary. As they crossed they went out on the plain to assist those who were making a stand against the enemy there, whose numbers increased hourly. Finally, only two Spaniards remained to unload the raft and receive what was brought in it.

For the last voyage there remained on this side of the river only two men, one being Hernando Athanasio and the other Gonzalo Silvestre. The latter, while his companion drove his horse into the water and boarded the raft, went out to detain the enemy, and having driven them back with a good charge on horseback, he returned at full speed to get aboard the raft where his companion was awaiting him. Without removing the saddle or bridle from the horse, he drove him into the water and got on the raft, having unfastened the rope by which it was tied to the shore.

For all the speed with which the Indians came to discharge arrows at the Castilians, the latter were already in midstream, out of danger, because of the great diligence with which their companions on the other side had applied themselves to pulling the raft across. As the horses plunged into the water they crossed very willingly without anyone driving or guiding them, for they seemed to sense the harm that the enemy wished to do them, and, as if they were rational beings, they promptly obeyed what they told them to do, not refusing to enter and come out at the places their masters wished. For the Spaniards this was no small relief, and they even took an example from them for setting to work more promptly, seeing that the beasts did not refuse to do so.



With the difficulties and hardships we have told, and many more that have been omitted because it is impossible to recount all of those that are experienced on such expeditions, the thirty brave and courageous horsemen crossed the Rio de Ocali [Ocali was the name Inca had used for the next big village south of this river when Desoto came up the trail. He had NOT named that river, which the others had called The River of Discords, on the way up.] God, our Lord, having favored them so mercifully that none of them or none of their horses were wounded. It was two o'clock in the afternoon when they finished crossing the river. They went to the pueblo because it was necessary to stop there, because Juan Lopez Cacho, as a result of his struggle in the water and with the intense cold that came, had frozen and remained like a wooden statue, unable to move hand or foot.

Seeing the Spaniards coming to their pueblo, the Indians stationed themselves to oppose their passage in order to detain them while their women and children fled to the woods, and not to hinder their entrance and the stay they might wish to make in the pueblo. When they thought that their people would have reached safety they withdrew and abandoned the place. The Castilians entered it and camped in the middle of the plaza, not daring to go into the houses because the enemy, finding them divided, might surround them and take them while they were inside.

They built four large fires in the form of a square and put Juan Lopez in the heat between them, well wrapped in all his companions' cloaks; one of them gave him a clean shirt that he was bringing for himself. It seemed to them a miracle that at such a time there should be found among them any shirts other than the ones they were wearing. It was the best present that could have been given him.

They remained in the pueblo all the rest of that day with great anxiety and fear about Juan Lopez, wondering whether he would be able to travel that night or whether he would detain them so long that the Indians would send word to one another and join together to stop them and cut off the road. But whatever might happen, they determined to place the welfare of their companion above all the evils and dangers that could befall them. With this determination they gave the horses plenty of maize as preparation for their watch, fifteen of them eating while the others made the rounds; they dried the saddles and clothing that were wet, filled their saddlebags with food they found in the pueblo; and although there was an abundance of raisins, dried plums, and other fruits and vegetables, they did not attempt to carry anything except Indian corn because the first care that these Spaniards took was to see that they would not lack maize for the horses, and it also furnished subsistence for the riders.

When night came they stationed mounted sentries in pairs with orders to make the rounds on the outskirts of the pueblo, apart and at some distance from it, so that there would be time and opportunity to give warning if the enemy should come.

About midnight two of those who were thus making the rounds heard a murmuring as of people who were approaching. One of them went to warn their companions and the other remained to better identify and ascertain what it was. The night being clear, he saw a large and dark group of people who were coming toward the pueblo with a fierce and hoarse murmuring; looking again, he ascertained that it was an organized squadron of the enemy. He carried this news immediately to the other Spaniards, who, seeing Juan Lopez somewhat improved, put him on his horse well wrapped up and tied him in the saddle, because he could not hold himself up. He was like the Cid Ruy Diaz when he went out of Valencia dead and won that famous battle.

One of his companions took the reins of his horse to guide him because Juan Lopez was unable to do even this. In this manner, as secretly as possible, the thirty Spaniards left the pueblo of Ocali [Inca had called that place Ochile on the way up the trail] before the enemy reached it and marched at such a good pace that at daylight they found themselves six leagues from the pueblo.

They continued their journey always with this same swiftness, traveling with all speed through the inhabited country so that the news of their coming would not precede them; and they speared the Indians whom they encountered near the roads so that they might not give warning of them. Through the uninhabited country, where there were no Indians, they slowed their pace to allow the horses to rest and take breath in order to be ready to run where it might be necessary. Thus this day passed, which was the sixth of their journey, they having traveled and marched almost twenty leagues, part of them through the province of Acuera, a country inhabited by most warlike people. [Inca did not describe the Thirty Lancers' crossing of what the others had called the "River of Discords," just above this camp, the boundary of what he had called Acuera Province at Ocali, where Bruto had been killed, on the way up the trail.]

On the seventh day after they had left the camp, one of the men, named Pedro de Atienza, became ill, and a few hours after he felt the illness, while they were on the march, he died on his horse. His companions buried him with much grief at such a death, for in order not to lose time on the road, they had not paid attention to the complaints that he made of his sudden illness. They made the grave with axes they carried for cutting firewood, which served even for this purpose. They passed on with regret that at such a time and from so small a number one should be missing.

At sunset they reached the crossing of the great swamp, having traveled and marched that day, as on the previous one, another twenty leagues. It is impossible for those who have not taken part in the conquest of the New World or in the civil wars of El Peru to believe that there are horses or men who can make such long daily journeys. But on the word of an hidalgo we affirm truthfully that in seven days these Castilians traveled the 107 leagues, more or less, of the route by which they went from the principal pueblo of Apalache to the great swamp. They found that it had become a sea of water with many branches that entered and flowed out of it, so rapid and swift that any one of them would be enough to impede their passage, much less all of them, and particularly the main stream. The reason the horses are able to withstand the excessive labor they have undergone and now undergo in the conquests in the New World, I believe - and I have the confirmation of all the Spaniards of the Indies whom I have heard speak about this matter - to be chiefly the good nourishment they have from the maize that they eat, because it has a great deal of substance and is much liked by them and by all animals. A proof of this is that the Indians of El Peru feed maize to the sheep [i.e., llamas] that serve them as beasts of burden, so that they can endure the excessive load that they ordinarily carry, which is equal to the weight of a man; the rest, although they carry burdens according to their ability, they sustain only by the pasturage that is found in the fields.

That night they slept, or rather they kept watch, on the borders of the swamp in the extreme cold that came with the rising north wind, which in all that region is most frigid. They built great fires and with their heat were able to endure the cold, though with the fear that the Indians would be attracted by the light of the fire; and if twenty of them should come, it would be enough to block their way and even to kill them all, because from their canoes in the water the Indians could attack the Spaniards entirely at their pleasure, and the latter could not make use of their horses to oppose the enemy, nor did they have harquebuses or crossbows with which to keep them at a distance. With this uneasiness and fear they kept watch and rested by thirds, preparing for the labors of the next day.



Our Spaniards rested only a few hours when a sudden surprise occurred, though it was not caused by the enemy but by the excessive hardships they had suffered on the road. This was that about midnight, one of them, named Juan de Soto, who was a comrade of Pedro Atienza, whom we left behind in his grave, died almost as suddenly. One man in the party fled from them, running at full speed and shouting: "I swear that a pestilence has fallen upon us, because two Spaniards have died in such a short time and so suddenly." Gomez Arias, who was a sensible and prudent man, said to the one who was f leeing: "You are carrying enough pestilence in your flight, from which you cannot escape, however you may try. If you run from us, where do you think you will go? You are not on the sandy soil of Sevilla nor in its Ajarafe." Whereupon the fugitive came back and assisted in reciting the prayers that were said for the dead, but he did not dare attend the burial of the body, still insisting that he had died of the plague.

With such assistance in their hardships the night passed. When daylight came they made plans for crossing the swamp, which they saw had less water than on the previous day, no small relief in view of the labor that they expected to undergo. Eight Spaniards who did not know how to swim repaired the balustrade of the bridge across the deepest part of the swamp, which had been made of fallen trees, and carried over it the saddles of the horses and the clothing of all their companions. The other twenty Spaniards, naked as the day they were born, labored to get the horses into the water, but because the water was so cold the horses would not enter the deepest part where they had to swim. The Castilians fastened long ropes to the halters, and four or five of them would swim out to the middle of the current to pull the horses, and others would beat them with long rods to drive them in, but the horses planted their feet together and refused to move, and would allow themselves to be beaten almost to death rather than go into the water. Some of the horses thus driven and forced went in and swam for a little, but unable to endure the cold they fled back to land, dragging along the swimmers, who could not hold them; nor could those on the bank stop them, and though we said that they were on land, they were walking in water breast-deep.

Thus these twenty Spaniards continued to labor for more than three hours by the clock, and despite all their efforts they were unable to get a single horse to cross to the other side, though they changed them around, taking one and leaving the others, to see if any of them would go across.

At the end of three hours, as the result of many efforts two horses passed over, one belonging to Juan de Anasco and the other to Gonzalo Silvestre, and though these crossed, the others refused to do so because of their fear of the cold water. The masters who did not know how to swim saddled their horses and mounted them to be ready to do what they could if the enemy should appear.

Gomez Arias was the commander of the nineteen men who were swimming in the water, and it was he who labored hardest of all of them. These men, having been in the water for more than four hours enduring the cold the horses could not suffer, were numbed with the cold and their bodies were were so livid that they looked like Negroes. As they saw that all the efforts they were making and the hardships they were enduring (each one may imagine what they would be) were not gaining them anything in getting the horses to the other side, they were ready to give up their lives in despair. At this moment Juan de Anasco arrived, who as we said had his horse saddled, and he went through the part of the water that could be forded, up to the deep part of the channel. Vexed because no more horses had been taken across - not considering that this had not been due to lack of effort on the part of those who were working in the water, disregarding their sad condition, and urged on by a choler he possessed that occasioned a loss of the respect that should have been accorded this gentleman as commander - he said in a loud voice: "Gomez Arias, why don't you finish crossing those horses, confound you?" Seeing the state in which he and his companions were, who looked more like dead men than living, and already could not support the torment they felt, both of mind and body, and seeing that their captain rewarded so poorly the unendurable hardships that he and his companions were suffering - for certainly it would be impossible to exaggerate or tell fully what these twenty-eight companions passed through that day, especially those who were in the water; exasperated by the ingratitude Juan de Anasco showed for all his toil, Gomez Arias replied to him; saying: "Confound you and the evil bitch that gave birth to you! You are on your horse, fully dressed and wrapped in your coat, and you don't consider that we have been in the water for more than four hours, stiff with cold and doing all we can. Get down and come in, and we shall see if you can do better." To these words he added others no more polite, for wrath when it is ignited does not know when to stop.

Juan de Anasco made no answer because of what the others who came up to Gomez Arias told him, and also because he saw that he had been wrong in what he had said, and that his [Gomez Arias's] desperate condition had caused that outburst and its attendant disrespect for his person.

On many other occasions in this journey and in others that he made, the same thing happened, and because he did not consider first what he ought to say in such cases, he was often confused and his reputation suffered. Thus all men, and especially those who are appointed for commanders and superior officers in war, ought to note that at all times it is well for them to be gentle and affable toward their men, and that their orders to them in their work ought to be given rather by example than by words, and when they make use of the latter they should be good ones. It is difficult to say how much these gain and how much hard words lose, one being no more costly than the other.



As soon as the dispute was calmed the Spaniards went back to their work, and as it was now nearly noon, with the benefit of the sun's heat that tempered somewhat the coldness of the water, the horses began to cross over more easily than before, but not so rapidly as necessary, for it was more than three o'clock in the afternoon when they finished crossing.

It was a great shame and a pity to see how the Spaniards came out of the water, fatigued and exhausted by the long labor they performed, consumed by the cold they had suffered almost all day, and so broken and weary that they could scarcely stand. And with all this it is to be remembered that they had practically no comforts for restoring themselves in such an unfortunate situation; but they considered the time well spent in having crossed that bad swamp they so feared. They gave thanks to God that the enemy had not come up to oppose their passage; which was a particular Divine mercy, because if to the hardships we have said they endured there had been added the necessity of fighting and defending themselves from even fifty Indians, what would have happened to them? The reason the Indians did not come might have been because that swamp was some distance from the inhabited country and it was now winter, when, because they wore no clothing, the Indians were accustomed to leave their houses very little.

The Spaniards decided to spend the night on a large plain that was beyond the swamp, because they and their horses left it in such condition that they were unable to travel a step. They kindled great fires to warm themselves, consoled by the fact that from there on as far as Hirrihigua, where they were going, there were no bad crossings to pass over.

When night came they slept with the same precautions as formerly, and before dawn they were on their way. They speared five Indians whom they met so that they might not carry news of their coming ahead of them. The horses of the men who died traveled loose, saddled and bridled, following the others; often they went ahead, for they did not need their masters to guide them. That day they marched thirteen leagues. They halted on a fine plain where they slept that night in the usual way. At daylight they were traveling, and a little after sunrise they passed by the pueblo of Urribarracuxi, leaving it to one side, for they did not wish to enter it, in order not to have any quarrel with its inhabitants. On this day, which was the tenth of their journey, they marched fifteen leagues and stopped for the night three leagues before reaching the pueblo of Mucoco.

A little after midnight they left their beds, and having marched two leagues, they saw a fire in some woods near the road. The mestizo Pedro Moron had given warning of it more than a league back, saying, "Watch out, I can tell that there is a fire not far from where we are going." A league farther on he said again, "We are now very near the fire," and after they had gone a little distance they discovered it.

Wondering at such a strange thing, his companions went up to the fire and found many Indians with their wives and children, who were roasting skates for their breakfast. The Spaniards decided to capture as many as they could, although they might be vassals of Mucoco, until learning whether he had maintained peace with Pedro Calderon; because if he had not done so, they would try to send those that they took to La Havana, in order that they might be included among the other proofs and trophies of their victories. With this intention they advanced upon the fire. The young men among the Indians, terrified by the noise and trampling of the horses, fled into the woods beyond. Of the women and children they seized about eighteen or twenty persons whom they were able to stop, many others escaping because of the darkness of the night and the undergrowth in the woods. The prisoners clamored and wept in loud voices, calling the name of Ortiz and saying no other word except that, repeated many times, as if they were trying to recall to the Spaniards' memory the kindness their cacique and they themselves had done him. It did nothing toward freeing them from their captivity and restraint, for very few people remember to acknowledge favors already received. The Spaniards, still on horseback, breakfasted on the skates just as they were, and though the commotion of the Indians and the horses had filled them with sand they did not bother to get it off, for they said that it was like sugar and cinnamon to them because of their ravenous hunger.

They took an oblique route far from the pueblo of Mucoco, and having marched five leagues that morning, Juan Lopez Cacho's horse gave out. We have forgotten him since they brought him out of the pueblo of Ocali [ed, actually Ochile] bound [on his horse]; well, with the great excitement that they had that night from the coming of the enemy, and because of the vigor of his robust age, which was a little more than twenty years, he regained consciousness, became warm, and recovered from the illness that had overcome him because of that day's excessive cold and hardship, and all along the way thereafter he worked as well as any of his companions. As a result of laboring so hard to cross the Rio de Ocali [ed, Ochile], his horse gave out so close to the pueblo where they were going to stop that they had only six more leagues to march. In spite of all their efforts it was impossible to get him to go farther, so they left him in a fine meadow with plenty of grass for him to eat [where the army had spent their first night out of port on their way up that trail], taking off the bridle and saddle and putting it in a tree so that any Indian who wished to use him could take him with all his equipment. They feared, however, and were grieved to think that as soon as they found him they would shoot him with arrows. Thus regretful, they marched nearly five leagues, until in the expectation of another, greater trouble they forgot that one. This was that as they came within a little more than a league of the pueblo of Hirrihigua where Captain Pedro Calderon had remained with the forty cavalry and eighty infantry, they examined the ground as they went, hoping to see some sign of the horses, for since they were so near the pueblo and the country was clear of timber, it seemed to them that it would be strange if they had not been riding and passing back and forth up to that point or even beyond. Inasmuch as they were unable to find footprints or any other signs of horses, they were much grieved and saddened, fearing lest the Indians had killed them [the other Spaniards] or they had left the country in the brigantines and the caravel that remained there, for they said that, if they were still there, it was impossible that there should be no signs of horses so near the pueblo.

With this suspicion and in their confusion as to what they would do if one thing or the other occurred, they decided on their future actions. They found themselves isolated in such a manner that in order to leave the country and go by sea they had no vessel nor any means for building one, and to return to where the governor had remained [at first] seemed to them impossible, in view of what they had experienced in coming from there. From these fears and misgivings, all of them came unanimously to the same opinion and decision, and said that, if they did not find their companions in Hirrihigua, they would go into some secret place in the woods that were close by where they would find grass for the horses, and while the latter were resting, they would kill the extra one and prepare dried meat from it for the journey. Having allowed the horses to rest for three or four days, they would attempt to go back to where the governor was; if they [the Indians] killed them on the road, they would have met death like good soldiers, performing the duty that their captain-general had entrusted to them; and if they came out safely, they would have done what he commanded them to do. All the twenty-eight Spaniards agreed to this as their final decision of what they would do in the future if they did not find Pedro Calderon in Hirrihigua.



Having made this heroic decision, they continued their march, and the farther they went the more they were confirmed in the suspicion and fear that they felt, because they found no sign whatsoever of horses or any other indication by which they could ascertain that Spaniards had passed that way.

Thus they marched until they came to a small lake that was less than half a league from the pueblo of Hirrihigua, where they found fresh tracks of horses and signs that lye had been made and clothes washed there.

The Spaniards rejoiced greatly at these indications, and their horses, scenting the tracks of the others, were animated and took on new mettle in such manner that it seemed as if they were just going out of their stables after a twenty days' rest. With the satisfaction that can be imagined and with the new spirit of the horses, they traveled more rapidly. The horses went spurning the dust, with leaps and bounds their masters could not restrain; they were so good that, when it was thought they were too tired to stand, they could do this. They came in sight of the pueblo of Hirrihigua at sunset, having traveled that day, without hurrying, eleven leagues, and it was the shortest day's journey that they made on that whole trip. The mounted patrol was coming out from the pueblo two by two, with their lances and leather shields, to watch and guard their dwelling.

Juan de Anasco and his companions also formed in twos; and as if it were the opening of a tournament with reed spears, running their horses, with loud shouts and cries and much merriment and rejoicing, they came full speed toward the pueblo in such good order that when the first ones were coming to a stop the second were in the middle of the course and the third were leaving the post. Thus they all came in, making a fine show in the order they maintained; it was a glad and joyous festival, the end of a journey so laborious as we have seen.

At the shout given by the riders, Captain Pedro Calderon came out with all his men, and they were much pleased to see the fine entrance made by those who were arriving. They received them with many embraces and common rejoicing by all, and it was to be noted that in the first words spoken by those who were there - without having inquired after the welfare of the army or of the governor or of any particular friend they asked almost with one voice, very anxious to know about it, whether there was much gold in that country. The hunger and craving for this metal often alienates and denies relatives and friends.

After passing through many more hardships and dangers than we have told, these twenty-eight horsemen ended their journey, though it did not see the end of their labors, for they were on the point of undertaking other, greater and more protracted toils, as we shall see below. They had spent eleven days on the road; one of these they spent in crossing the Rio de Ocali [Ochile, NOT Ocali, see above], and the great swamp took another, so that in nine days they traveled 150 leagues or a little more, the distance from Apalache to the bay they call Espiritu Santo and the pueblo of Hirrihigua.


From the little that we have told of what they experienced on this brief journey, it may be understood and seen what the other Spaniards have passed through in conquering and winning the New World, so vast and forbidding in itself, without the ferocity of its inhabitants; and from the finger of the giant may be judged the magnitude of his body. In these days, however, those who have not seen this, as they enjoy with folded hands the fruits of the labors of those who won it, make sport of them, believing that the conquistadores gained it with the ease in which they now enjoy it.

As soon as he arrived at the pueblo of Hirrihigua, Captain Juan de Anasco asked Captain Pedro Calderon whether the Indians of that province and those of Mucoco had kept the peace and been friendly to him. Learning that they had, he ordered the immediate release of the Indian women and children whom he had brought as captives, and sent them to their own country with gifts, ordering them to tell their curaca Mucoco to come to see them (the Spaniards] and bring people to carry to their houses the ship's stores and many other things that the Spaniards intended to leave with them at their departure, and to say that he was turning over to him the horse that had been left in their country, tired out.

The women and children departed, very satisfied with such fine presents, and on the third day the good Mucoco came accompanied by his gentlemen and nobles. He brought the horse with him, and the Indians carried the saddle and bridle on their shoulders, not knowing how to put them on him. The cacique Mucoco embraced Captain Juan de Anasco and all those who came with him with much pleasure and affection, inquiring after the health of each one of them separately, and how they had left his lord the governor and the rest of the captains, gentlemen, and soldiers. After having informed himself about the army's health, he wished to know very particularly how they had fared on the road, going and coming; what battles, skirmishes, hunger, labor, and necessities they had experienced. At the end of his questions, the conversation having been very long and enjoyable, he said that it would give him great pleasure to be able to impose his own opinion and will upon all the curacas and lords of that great kingdom, so that they would all serve the governor and his Spaniards as they deserved and as he desired.

The accountant and captain Juan de Anasco, having noted how differently this curaca had received and spoken to them as compared with their own companions, who had asked about nothing but gold, thanked him in the name of all for the affection that he had for them, and on behalf of the general he praised him and all his people highly in acknowledgment of the peace and friendship they had maintained with Captain Pedro Calderon and his soldiers, and for the affection he had always shown for them. Besides these exchanges there were many other words; of commendation and love on both sides, and the Spaniards wondered at those of the Indian, spoken so fittingly and aptly, for certainly he was endowed with all the good parts that a gentleman who had been brought up in the most polished court in the world could have. In addition to the corporal gifts of a well-formed body and handsome face, those of the spirit, such as virtue and discretion in deeds as well as in words, were such that our Spaniards had reason for marveling at him, seeing that he was born and bred in that wilderness. They were justified in loving him for his good understanding and many excellences, and thus it was a great pity that they did not invite him [to accept] the water of baptism, for in view of his good judgment few persuasions would have been needed to take him out of his heathenism and convert him to our Catholic faith, and it would have been an auspicious beginning for hoping that such seed would produce much grain and a bountiful harvest. But they are not to be blamed, because these Christians had decided to preach and administer the sacraments of our Law of Grace after having conquered and made an establishment in the land, and this delayed them, so that they would not administer them [the sacraments] immediately. This statement has been made here so that it may serve to exonerate and excuse these Castilians from having been guilty of the same carelessness in other similar instances we shall note below. Certainly they lost many very favorable opportunities for the gospel to be preached and received, and it is not surprising that they did so.



The curaca Mucoco amused himself with Juan de Anasco and the other Spaniards for four days, during which, and in the rest of the time that our men were in the pueblo of Hirrihigua, his Indians, going and coming like ants, did not cease to carry to his country everything that the Spaniards had to leave in that pueblo because they were unable to take it with them. There were large quantities of these things, because of cassava alone, which is the bread of that island of Santo Domingo, of Cuba, and the surrounding ones, they had left more than five hundred quintels, besides large numbers of cloaks, coats, doublets, breeches, stockings, and footwear of all kinds, shoes, half boots, and sandals. Among the arms were many cuirasses, shields, pikes, lances, and steel helmets, of all of which the governor had brought a great abundance, as he was rich. There were also other things needed for the ships, such as sails, rigging, pitch, tow, tallow, ropes, baskets, crates, anchors, and cables; also much iron and steel. Although the governor had taken with him as many of these things as he could carry, a large quantity remained, and since Mucoco was a friend, the Spaniards were glad for them to take them, and his Indians did so and thereby became rich and very pleased.

Juan de Anasco had orders from the governor to go in the two brigantines that had remained at the Bay of Espiritu Santo, and coast along the shore to the west as far as the Bay of Aute, which Juan de Anasco himself had discovered with so much trouble, as we saw, and had left signs there so that it could be recognized when they should come along that coast by sea. In order to fulfill his commission he visited the brigantines that were near the pueblo, repaired them, provisioned them with food, and made the people ready who were to go with him; in doing this he spent seven days. He notified Captain Pedro Calderon of the order the governor sent him to set out on his march by land. Having taken leave of his other companions, he set sail for the Bay of Aute, where we shall leave him for the present.

That good gentleman, Gomez Arias, also had orders from the governor to go to La Havana in the caravel to visit Dona Isabel de Bobadilla and the city of La Havana and all the island of Santiago de Cuba, and to give them an account of everything that had happened to them up to that time and of the advantages and good qualities that they had seen and noted in La Florida. In addition he had to attend to other matters of importance of which no account is given because they do not belong to our History. Gomez Arias therefore sent to order the caravel to be careened and provided with men and supplies, and he set sail and in a few days reached La Havana safely. There he was well received by Dona Isabel and all the people of the island of Cuba, who celebrated with much festivity and rejoicing the news of the successful progress of the discovery and conquest of La Florida and the good health of the governor, whom all of them, individually and collectively, loved and wished all success, as if he were the father of each of them and had deserved it of them all.

Above in the First Book we mentioned that the Indians of this province of Hirrihigua on two different occasions had captured two Spaniards, which was more the fault of the captured Spaniards themselves than from the desire of the Indians to harm them. Because these were things that happened during the time that Captain Pedro Calderon was in this province after the governor left it, though they are of little importance, and also because nothing else of more moment occurred, it will be well to recount them here.

It is to be noted, then, that the Indians of that province had constructed on the Bay of Espiritu Santo large enclosures of rough stone in order to obtain skates and many other fish that came into them at high tide, and when it receded they were trapped there almost on dry land. The Indians killed a great many fish in this manner, and the Castilians who were with Captain Pedro Calderon also enjoyed them. It happened that one day two of these Spaniards, one named Pedro Lopez and the other Anton Galvin, natives of Valverde, decided to go and fish without the captain's order. They went in a small canoe and took with them a boy from Badajoz fourteen or fifteen years old, named Diego Munoz, one of the captain's pages.

While the two Spaniards were fishing in one of the large enclosures twenty Indians came up in two canoes, besides many others who stayed on shore. They entered the enclosure with friendly words to the Spaniards, speaking half in Spanish and half in the Indian tongue, and said to them: "Friends, friends, we will all enjoy the fishing." Pedro Lopez, who was an arrogant rustic, said: "Get out, you dogs; we don't want to be friends with dogs." So saying, he drew his sword and wounded an Indian who had approached him. The rest of them, seeing the Spaniards' injustice, surrounded them on all sides, and with arrows and blows from their bows and the canoe paddles they killed Pedro Lopez, who had caused the dispute, and they left Galvin for dead with his head opened up and his whole face battered from blows.

They took Diego Munoz prisoner, not harming him otherwise because he was so young.

The Castilians who were in the camp, on hearing the outcries, hastened in canoes to help their men, but they arrived too late, because they found the two companions dead and the other a captive in the hands of the Indians. They buried Pedro Lopez and, seeing that Anton Galvin was still breathing, they gave him treatment so that he was restored to this life, but his wounds were more than thirty days to heal, and for many months (although his body was cured) he remained like an idiot, his brain stupefied by the blows that they had given him. And he, [who] when in good health was not the most discreet of his countrymen, when he was telling what had happened that day always said, among other rustic words: "When the Indians killed me and my companion Pedro Lopez, we did thus and so." His comrades, making sport of him, said: "They didn't kill you, but Pedro Lopez; why do you say that they killed you when you are alive?" Anton Galvin replied: "They killed me too, and if I am alive God restored me to life." To hear his rustic and clownish words they made him tell the story many times; and persisting in his polished language and always telling it in the same way, Galvin entertained and amused his companions.

On another similar occasion the Indians of the province of Hirrihigua captured another Spaniard, named Hernando Vintimilla, an experienced sailor. He went out inadvertently one evening gathering shellfish and catching shrimp along the shore of the lower bay, at ebb tide, and thus carelessly he went on until he was out of sight behind some woods that were between the bay and the pueblo, in which some Indians were hidden. Seeing him alone, they came out to him and spoke in a friendly manner, asking that he divide his catch with them. Vintimilla replied haughtily, attempting to intimidate the Indians with words so that they would see that he was not afraid of them and would not dare do him any harm. The Indians, angry and offended that a single Spaniard should speak so arrogantly to ten or twelve of them, surrounded him and took him prisoner but did not do him any harm.

The Indians of this province kept these two Spaniards with them for ten years and allowed them to go about freely, as if they were one of themselves, until the year 1549, when there made port in this Bay of Espiritu Santo during a storm the ship of Father Fray Luis Cancer de Balbestro, Dominican, who went to preach to the Indians of La Florida. The Indians had killed him and two of his companions, and those who remained on the ship took refuge on the open sea. As they were fleeing, they encountered a storm and were forced to enter that bay to save themselves from the fury of the sea. When the storm was over the Indians of Hirrihigua came out in many canoes to fight the ship, which, as it did not carry any fighting men, again went out to sea. The Indians still persisted in following it, and the two Spaniards, Diego Munoz and Vintimilla, went with them by themselves in a discarded canoe, with the intention of escaping from the Indians and going to the ship if it would wait for them. As all of them were thus pursuing the ship a north wind came up. Fearing that the wind would increase in fury, as it is accustomed to do in that region, and blow them out to sea where they would be in great danger, the Indians thought it best to return to land. The two Spaniards very astutely stayed where they were, letting it be understood that the two of them alone could not row against the wind, and when they saw that the Indians were somewhat apart from them they turned the prow of their canoe toward the ship and rowed as hard as they could, as men who desired liberty, for which they put themselves in danger of losing their lives there, and shouted loudly to the others to wait for them. Seeing a single canoe coming toward them, those on the ship understood at once that they were people who needed them, and they lowered the sails and waited for the canoe. When it came up they received those two Spaniards in exchange for and in the place of those whom they had lost. In this manner Diego Munoz and Vintimilla returned to the hands of Christians at the end of ten years they had spent in the power of the Indians of the province of Hirrihigua and the Bay of Espiritu Santo.



As soon as Juan de Anasco and Gomez Arias set sail, one for the Bay of Aute and the other for the island of La Havana, Captain Pedro Calderon prepared the men who remained with him, who were seventy lancers and f ifty infantry, because Juan de Anasco and Gomez Arias took. the other thirty Spaniards in the brigantines and the caravel in order not to go with only the mariners. He set out from the pueblo of Hirrihigua, leaving the growing gardens the Castilians had planted for their use with much lettuce and with radishes and other garden stuff, having brought the seeds with them in case they should make a settlement.

On the second day of their march they reached the pueblo of the good Mucoco, who came out to receive them and that night offered them very good entertainment. On the next day he accompanied them to the borders of his territory and took leave of them with much affection and regret, saying: "Gentlemen, I now entirely lose the hope of ever seeing again my lord the governor, or any of his people; for hitherto, with having you in that presidio, I hoped to see his lordship, and I rejoiced, thinking to serve him as I have always desired, but now I shall mourn his absence all my life, without consolation. Therefore I pray that you give him this message and say that I beg him to receive it as it is sent." With these words and with many tears by which he showed his love for the Spaniards, he took leave of them and returned to his house.

Captain Pedro Calderon and his i 20 companions made their daily marches until they came to the great swamp, without anything noteworthy happening to them, except that one night before they reached the swamp, when the Castilians had camped on a plain near some woods, many Indians came out to make sudden attacks and sallies against them at all hours, until they came into the camp itself and fought hand to hand. When the Spaniards pressed them they ran back to the woods, and then came out again to molest them. In one of those engagements one of the riders assailed an Indian who showed himself to be more daring than the others. He ran from the rider, but when he felt that he was overtaking him, he turned to receive him with an arrow in his bow, and he shot it at such short range that at the same moment the Indian loosed the arrow the Spaniard gave him a lance thrust from which he fell dead. But he did not avenge his death badly, because the arrow he shot entered the horse's breast, and though he was so close, the shot was so true that the horse fell dead at his feet, with all four legs outspread and without making another step or movement. Thus the Indian and the horse and its master all three fell at once, one on top of the other. This horse was the famous one belonging to Gonzalo Silvestre, and all his excellence was not enough to make the Indian respect him.

The Spaniards, wondering how an animal so spirited, fierce and brave as a horse could have died so suddenly from the wound of only one arrow, shot at such close range, as soon as it was light desired to see what kind of shot had been made. They opened the horse and found that the arrow had entered the breast and passed through the middle of the heart, stomach, and intestines, stopping finally in the latter; so bold, strong, and skillful in shooting arrows are the natives of this great kingdom of La Florida generally. But this is not to be wondered at if it is remembered that they exercise themselves continuously in this at all ages, for the boys of three years or less, as soon as they can walk alone, impelled by their natural inclination and by what they constantly see their fathers do, ask them for bows and arrows. If they are not given to them, they themselves make them from such small sticks as they can find, and proudly stalk the vermin in their houses. If they can catch sight of a mouse or lizard entering its hole, they will wait three, four, or six hours with an arrow in their bow, watching with the greatest attention that can be imagined for it to come out, in order to kill it, and they do not rest until they have accomplished their purpose. When they can find nothing else at which to shoot they go about killing the flies that are crawling on the walls and the floor. With such continual practice and the habit formed therein, they are thus skillful and cruel in discharging arrows, with which they make most wonderful shots, as we shall see and note in the course of this History. Because it fits in here it will be well to tell of an event that took place in Apalache, where the governor had remained, for when we come to that province we shall not lack things to tell about the bravery of its natives. Thus it was that in one of the first skirmishes the Spaniards had with the Indians of Apalache the maese de campo Luis de Moscoso received an arrow wound in the right side, which passed through a buckskin jacket and a coat of mail that he wore beneath it, which because it was so highly burnished had cost i So ducats in Spain. The rich men had brought many of these, because they were so highly regarded. The arrow also passed through a quilted doublet and wounded him in such a manner that, entering obliquely, it did not kill him. Amazed at such an unusual shot, the Spaniards wished to see just what their highly burnished coats of mail, upon which they had depended so much, could withstand. On arriving at the pueblo, they set up in the plaza one of the baskets the Indians make of reeds, resembling vintage-baskets, and having chosen the best coat of mail that they had, they put it over the basket, which was very firmly woven. Taking off the chains of one of the Apalache Indians, they gave him a bow and arrow and ordered him to shoot at the coat of mail, which was fifty paces away.

The Indian, having shaken his arms with his fists closed in order to call up his strength, shot the arrow, which passed through the coat of mail and the basket so clean and with such force that if a man had been on the other side it would have passed through him also. Seeing the little or no protection that one coat of mail gave against an arrow, the Spaniards wished to see what two would do. Thus they ordered another, very fine one to be put on over the one on the basket, and giving the Indian another arrow, they told him to shoot it as he had the first one, to see if he were man enough to shoot through both of them.

The Indian, again shaking his arms as if he were gathering new strength, for the defense against him was now doubled, discharged the arrow. He struck the coats of mail and the basket through the center, and the arrow passed through the four thicknesses of steel and lodged there, halfway through. When the Indian saw that it had not come out clean on the other side, he showed great annoyance and said to the Spaniards: "Let me shoot another, and if it does not pass clear through both sides as the first one did, hang me here and now. The second arrow did not leave the bow as I wished it to and therefore did not pass through the coats of mail like the first one."

The Spaniards were unwilling to grant the Indian's request because they did not want their coats of mail further mistreated, and thenceforth they were undeceived with regard to the little defense that their much-esteemed coats of mail afforded against arrows. Thus the owners themselves made fun of them, calling them linen from Flanders, and in place of them they made loose quilted jackets, three or four finger-breadths in thickness, with long skirts that would cover the breasts and haunches of the horses. These jackets made from blankets would resist the arrows better than any other defensive armament; and the thick and unpolished coats of mail, which were not highly valued, with some other protection they put under them, were a better defense against arrows than the very elegant and highly burnished ones. Thus the cheaper ones came to be more valued and the expensive ones laid aside.

Other very notable shots that were made in the course of this discovery we shall mention below in the places where they occurred, and certainly they are amazing. But after all, considering that these Indians are born and bred in the midst of bows and arrows and brought up and nourished on what they kill with them, and are so expert in their use, there is no reason for our marveling at it so much.



Taking up again the thread of our story we said that the Indians who came out of the woods to harass the Spaniards in their camp contented themselves with having killed Gonzalo Silvestre's horse and with having lost the Indian whom he killed, who must have been one of their principal men, for when they saw him killed they retired immediately and did not come back.

On the day after this occurrence the Castilians arrived at the crossing of the great swamp where they passed that night, and early on the following day they crossed it, with no opposition from the enemy and no trouble, except that which the swamp itself gave, which was quite enough. They continued their march through the whole province of Acuera, making each day's journey as long as possible. In order to save the infantry the labor of going [always] on foot, the cavalrymen dismounted and gave them the horses to ride from time to time. They did not take them up behind the saddles, in order not to fatigue the horses, saving them for time of need. With this diligence and care they marched until they came to the pueblo of Ocali, with no more opposition from the enemy than if they were going through an uninhabited country. The Indians abandoned the pueblo and went to the woods. The Spaniards took the food that they needed and arrived at the river. They crossed it in rafts that they made, without an Indian so much as shouting at them on either side.

Having crossed the Rio de Ocali, they entered the pueblo of Ochile and traversed all the province of Vitachuco, and arrived at the pueblo where the proud Vitachuco and his people had died; the Castilians called it La Matanza. Passing the province of Vitachuco, they arrived at the Rio de Osachile and crossed it in rafts, without an Indian appearing to say a word to them. From the river they went to the pueblo called Osachile, whose inhabitants abandoned it, as they had all the others that they [the Spaniards) had passed through.

The Spaniards, having taken supplies in Osachile, marched through the uninhabited country that lies before the swamp of Apalache. They reached the swamp after having marched almost 135 leagues in all the peace and quiet in the world. Except on the night when they [the Indians] killed Gonzalo Silvestre's horse, they gave them no trouble throughout this long road; we can find no reason to give for it, nor can one be found.

The Indians of the province of Apalache, being more bellicose than the former ones, were willing to supply the fault and negligence that the others showed in molesting and injuring the Spaniards, as we shall soon see. Our men having arrived at the dense forest that is on the edge of the swamp, they slept beyond it on an open plain, and when morning came they marched along the narrow road through the forest, which we said was half a league in length, entered the water, and came to the bridge with the small balustrade. They repaired three or four logs that they found fallen down, the infantry crossed over it, and those on horseback swam across the deepest part of the channel.

Captain Pedro Calderon, seeing that they had crossed the deepest and most dangerous part of the water, ordered, for the greater speed and safety of those who still had to cross, that ten horsemen, taking five crossbowmen and five rodeleros behind their saddles, go to occupy the narrow trail through the woods on the other bank. They proceeded to carry out these orders and went as quickly as possible through the water toward the opposite bank. At this moment many Indians emerged from various parts of the woods, where they had hitherto been in ambush behind the undergrowth and large trees. With a great shout and outcry they fell upon the ten horsemen who were carrying the infantrymen behind them, and shot many arrows at them. They killed the horse of Alvaro Fernandez, a Portuguese from Yelves, and wounded five other horses that, as they assaulted them so suddenly, and as they were traveling so heavily laden and in water breast-deep, turned and fled, their masters being unable to hold them. The ten infantrymen who were riding behind were thrown off in water, almost all badly wounded, for when the horses turned around the Indians took them from behind, and could shoot arrows at them at their pleasure. Seeing them fallen in the water, the Indians rushed out fiercely to behead them, with a great shout to the other Indians to advise them of their victory so that they would come more swiftly and joyously to profit by it.

The sudden assault with which the Indians fell upon the Castilians, the foot soldiers falling into the water, the flight of the horses, and the many enemies who came up to combat them caused great confusion and alarm among them, and even fear of being routed and defeated, because the fighting was in the water where the swiftness of the horses could have no effect in succoring friends and attacking enemies.

On the other hand, the Indians, seeing how well their first assault had succeeded, took new spirit and courage, and came up with greater impetus to kill the infantry who had fallen into the water. The valiant Spaniards who were nearest came to their assistance, and the first to arrive were Antonio Carrillo, Pedro Moron, Francisco de Villalobos, and Diego de Oliva, who had crossed the bridge and stationed themselves in front of the Indians, preventing their going to kill the infantry. To the left of the Castilians there came up a large band of Indians who were gathering for the victory of which the first had shouted. More than twenty paces in front of all of them walked an Indian with a great plume on his head, with all the boldness and courage imaginable. He was coming to take a large tree that lay between the two forces, from which the Indians, if they gained it, could inflict much damage on the Spaniards and even keep them away from the crossing. As Gonzalo Silvestre, who was nearest the tree, saw this, he called loudly to Anton Galvan, whom we mentioned above, and he, although he was wounded and was one of those who had fallen from the horses, had not lost his crossbow (like a good soldier). Putting a dart in it, he went after Gonzalo Silvestre, who went holding half of a packsaddle cover that he found in the water as a shield, and he persuaded him [Galvin] not to fire at anyone except the Indian who was coming in front, who seemed to be their captain-general. This was true, though he said it as a surmise only. In this manner they reached the tree, and the Indian who was coming ahead, when he saw that the Spaniards had gained it because they had been nearer, shot three arrows at them in the winking of an eye. Gonzalo Silvestre received them on the shield that he was carrying, which resisted them because it was wet.

Anton Galvin, who had waited until the enemy should come nearer so as not to miss his shot, seeing him in a good position, fired with such sure aim that he struck him in the center of the breast, and as the poor unfortunate wore no defense except his own skin, the dart went in all the way. The Indian, turning completely around but not falling from the shot, shouted to his men, saying: "These traitors have killed me." The Indians rushed to him, raised him up in their arms with a great murmuring and, passing him from one to another, carried him back by the same road that they had come.


About DeSoto and Garcilaso the "Inca"

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