Written by Donald E. Sheppard|
Drawings by Cheryl Lucente
TRAILS TO THIS POINT
INDIAN PLACE NAMES
THE DESOTO CHRONICLERS
ACK'S & REFERENCES
On June 7th, 1542, Hernando de Soto's army entered Louisiana from Lake Village, Arkansas, where DeSoto had died. His body had been placed in Lake Chicot, a fork off the Mississippi River at the time. Since that river was flooded by heavy spring runoff, DeSoto's people could not find a way down it to escape. Having trudged for three years across America, they had been reduced from 650 to 400 soldiers and 40 of the 220 horses they had brought from Cuba. They were tired, hungry and destitute, headed for Mexico City, the closest Spanish outpost on the continent. Under the direction of General Luis de Moscoso, they would explore Louisiana until August 17th - when they would cross the Sabine River into Texas.
DESOTO'S ARMY'S TRAIL ON GOOGLE EARTH
You can read the translated details of Louisiana Conquest written
by three DeSoto Chroniclers: Biedma, Elvas & Inca
Elvas says, "They passed (southwest, down Bayou Bartholomew's flats below Lake Village) through a province called Catalte (north and east of today's Bastrop) and after passing through an uninhabited region for six days (the natives had fled from Bastrop and Monroe), they reached Chaguete (today's Ruston) on the twentieth of the month... The chief of that province had gone to visit the governor, Don Hernando de Soto, at Autiamque (Jacksonport, during the past winter) where he brought him gifts of skins, blankets, and salt... © 1993, University of Alabama Press
"The governor stayed six days in Chaguete. There he got information of the people to the west. They told him that three days' journey from there was a province called Aguacay. The day he left Chaguete (on June 27th, Full Moon), a Christian named Francisco de Guzman, bastard son of a gentleman of Seville, remained behind. He went away to the Indians in fear lest they [the Christians] seize from him as a gaming obligation an Indian woman whom he had as a mistress and whom he took away with him."
Inca, who called this place Naguatex, says "...they missed a gentleman named Diego de Guzman. (He) had gone on this conquest as a noble and a rich man... comported himself in every way like a gentleman except that he gambled passionately."
Biedma says, "From here we went to another province that is called Aguacay. We spent another three days' journey getting there, still going straight west..." to Minden.
Elvas says, "On behalf of the chief of Aguacay, before reaching that province, fifteen Indians came to meet him on the way with a present of skins, fish and venison. The governor reached his town on July 4. He found the town abandoned and lodged therein. He stayed there for some time, during which he made several inroads, in which many Indians, both men and women, were captured. There they heard of the south sea."
The Indians were probably referring to the Gulf of Mexico but the Spaniards thought the Indians meant the Pacific Ocean. Since DeSoto had died, and likewise his dream of finding it, none of his troops wanted to go there; they just wanted to get rich and go home.
Elvas continues over the next eight paragraphs, "There a considerable quantity of salt was made from the sand which they gathered in a vein of earth like slate and which was made as it was made in Cayas... Summersville, Missouri
"On the day the governor left Aguacay (Minden), he went to sleep near a small town subject to the lord of that province. The camp was pitched quite near to a salt marsh, and on that evening some salt (Potassium nitrate, the oxidizing agent of gun powder) was made there (as it was at that site during World War II: Louisiana's Army Ammunition Plant).
"Next day he went to sleep between two ridges (they're still there, too - photo above - unusually high hills beside the east-west highways: General Moscoso's route) in a forest of open trees. Next day he reached a small town called Pato (today's Bossier City). The fourth day after he left Aguacay, he reached the first settlement of a province called Amaye (at Shreveport, having crossed the provincial boundary at the Red River, logjammed at the time). An Indian was captured there who said that it was a day and a half journey thence to Naguatex, all of which lay through an inhabited region...
"Having left the village of Amaye (Shreveport), on Saturday, July 20, camp was made at midday beside a brook (Cypress Bayou below Keithville) in a luxuriant grove between Amaye and Naguatex. Indians were seen there who came to spy on them. Those of horse rushed at them, killing six and capturing two..." more skirmishes followed.
"They brought one Indian to camp alive, whom the governor asked who those were who had come to do battle with him. He said that they were the cacique of Naguatex and he of Maye and another of a province called Hacanac (all Caddoan Indians), lord of vast lands (on both sides of the Sabine River) and many vassals; and that he of Naguatex came as captain and head of all. The governor ordered his right arm and his nostrils cut off and sent him to the cacique of Naguatex, ordering him to say that on the morrow he would be in his land to destroy him and that if he wished to forbid him entrance, he should await him...
[EDITORS NOTE: Inca had placed Naguatex in today's Arkansas where he described credible activity FROM THIS PLACE ON TO LACANE AT ALTO, TEXAS, which he called GUANCANE.]
"That night he slept there and next day reached the (first) village of Naguatex which was very extensive. He asked where the town of the cacique was and they told him it was on the other side of a river (the Sabine) which ran through that district. He marched toward it and on reaching it saw many Indians on the other side waiting for him (the Governer), so posted as to forbid his passage. Since he did not know whether it was fordable, nor where it could be crossed, and since several Christians and horses were wounded, in order that they might have time to recover in the town where he was, he made up his mind to rest for a few days.
"Because of the great heat, he made camp near the village, a quarter of a league from the river (the Sabine River at Logansport in De Soto Parish, Louisiana), in an open forest of luxuriant and lofty trees near a brook (under a Full Moon on July 26th). Several Indians were captured there. He asked them whether the river was fordable. They said it was at times in certain places. Ten days later (August 5th) he sent two captains, each with fifteen horse up and down the river with Indians to show them where they could cross, to see what population lay on the other side of the river. The Indians opposed the crossing of them both as strongly as possible, but they crossed in spite of them. On the other side they saw a large village and many provisions; and returned to camp with this news.
"Four days later (August 9th) he (General Moscoso) departed thence, but on reaching the river could not cross, as it had swollen greatly. This appeared a wonderful phenomenon to him because of the season then and because it had not rained for more than a month...
"The Indians declared that it swelled often in that way without it having rained anywhere in the land. It was conjectured that it might be the sea which came up through the river. It was learned that the increase always came from above, and that the Indians of all that land had no knowledge of the sea. The governor returned to the place where he had been during the preceding days. A week later, hearing that the river could be crossed, he passed to the other side..." into Texas on August 17th.