Following El Inca Garcilaso’s account of Juan Ortiz and the Narváez expedition, here begins a selection from the account by Rodrigo Ranjel, which takes place mostly in modern day Alabama. The passage below was incorporated into Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés’ Historia general y natural de las Indias and entitled the “Narrative of De Soto’s Expedition Based on the Diary of Rodrigo Ranjel, His Private Secretary.” Little else is known of Ranjel’s life, death and history except for that he was a native of Almendralejo and accompanied De Soto on the expedition as his private secretary. This excerpt includes a retelling of how native and Spanish relations were organized, as well as what de Soto demanded from native “caciques,” or chiefs. Ranjel writes of the greed that consumes de Soto and how it will ultimately lead to the expedition’s downfall in Mabila.
Edited by Amelia Zimmerman, University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Clayton, Lawrence A., Vernon J. Knight, and Edward C. Moore (eds.). The De Soto Chronicles: the Expedition of Hernando De Soto to North America in 1539-1543. Tuscaloosa: U Alabama P, 1995. Print
Rangel, Rodrigo. “Account of the Northern Conquest and Discovery of Hernando De Soto.” from Gonzalo Fernándz de Oviedo y Valdés, Historia general y natural de las Indias. Transl. John E. Worth. In The De Soto Chronicles: The Expedition of Hernando De Soto to North America, 1539-1543.
Chapter Six: How the Governor Hernando De Soto went to the town of Jalameco, and how the Cacica, the ruler of that land, entertained them and placed on his neck a string of pearls that she wore on her neck, and how they found many others, and through the fault of the Governor he did not find all that he wished, and of the trees that they found like those of Spain, and others of that land of Cofitachequi; and how they went onward and how a Christian called Rodriguez and a black man and other slaves remained in these journeys, and how they arrived in Atchiha, where they found Palisaded towns and carried from these five hundred slaves, and how farther on they found pearls in rivers of fresh water, and many other particulars suitable to the discourse of these histories.
Let the reader not marvel how this historian proceeds so precisely through the journeys and rivers and crossings that this adelantado and Governor Hernando de Soto and his army experienced in those northern provinces and places; it is because among those gentlemen who found themselves in all that, there was one, called Rodrigo Rangel, of whom mention has been made and in future will be made, who served in that army, who, wanting to understand what he saw and how his life passed, like a wise man, wrote at the end of the day’s journey, after his labors, all that which happened to them, and also for his recreation; and also because each Christian ought to do it in order to know how to confess and bring his sins to memory, in particular those who go to war; and also because those who have labored and passed through such excessive hardships, enjoy afterward, as eyewitnesses, communicating and sharing it with their friends, and in order to explain their own role, as they should, And so this Rodrigo Rangel came, after all these things already described and those that follow had happened, to this city of Sancto Domingo of the island Espanola and gave a relation of all these things in this Audiencia Real to the very reverend senor licenciado Alonzo Lopez de Cerrato, who presides in it, and he commanded and charged that he should tell in writing and give an account of all to me, so that, as chronicler for Their Majesties of these histories of the Indies, this northern conquest and discovery might be compiled and made known, placed among their number, since so many novelties and unusual subjects come together for the delight of the prudent reader, and as a warning for many who in these Indies come to lose [their lives] following after a Governor who dispenses thus others’ lives, as is apparent through these my studies and writings.
Let us come back to the events and the continuation of what we have in hand and is treated here. Friday, the last day of April, the Governor took some on horseback, the most rested, and the Indian woman Baltasar de Gallegos brought as guide and went toward Cofitachequi and spent the night hard by a large and deep river, and he sent Juan de Añasco with some on horseback to try to have some interpreters and canoes ready in order to cross the river, and he [Añasco] got some. The next day the Governor arrived at the crossing in front of the town, and principal Indians came with gifts, and the cacica, ruler of that land, came, whom the principal [Indians] brought with much prestige on a litter covered in white (with thin linen) and on their shoulders, and they crossed in the canoes, and she spoke to the Governor with much grace and self-assurance. She was young and of fine appearance, and she removed a string of pearls that she wore about the neck and put it on the Governor’s neck in order to ingratiate herself and win his good will. And all we army crossed in canoes, and they gave many presents of very well tanned hides and blankets all very good, and a large amount of jerked venison and dry wafers, and much and very good salt. All the Indians walked covered down to the feet with very excellent hides, very well tanned, and blankets of the land, and blankets of sable, and blankets of mountain lions, which smelled; the people are very clean and very polite and naturally well developed. Monday, on the third of May, all the rest of the army arrived, and all could not cross until the next day, Tuesday, and not without cost and loss of seven horses, which drowned. These were among the most fat and strong, which fought against the current, but the thin ones, which let themselves go with the current, crossed better.
On the seventh of May, Friday, Baltasar de Gallegos went with most of the people of the army to Ilapi to eat seven barbacoas of corn that they said were there, which were a deposit of the cacica.This same day the Governor and Rodrigo Rangel entered in the temple or oratory of these idolatrous people, and having unwrapped some interments, they found some bodies of men tied on a barbacoa, the breasts and openings and necks and arms and legs covered in pearls; and as they were bringing them out, Rangel saw a thing like a green and very good emerald, and he showed it to the Governor, and he was very delighted. And he commanded that he should look out of the wall and call Juan de Añasco, accountant of Their Majesties, and Rangel told him: “My Lord, do not call anyone: it could be that there might be some precious stone or jewel here.” And the Governor replied, somewhat angrily, and said: “Even if there were, do we have to steal it?” Juan de Añasco having come, they took out that emerald and it was made of glass, and after that one, more and more beads of glass and rosaries with their crosses. They also found Biscayan axes of iron, by which they recognized that they were in the district or land where the licenciado Lucas Vasquez de Ay1lón was lost. They brought out from there eight or nine arrobas [200-25 pounds] of pearls; and as the cacica saw that the Christians made much of them, she said: “Do you think this is a lot? … Go to Talimeco, my town, and you will find so many that you will be unable to carry them on your horses.” The governor said: “Leave them here, and to whom God gives them by good fortune, may St. Peter bless them,” and so they remained. It was believed that he intended to take that [place] for himself, because without doubt it is the best that they saw and the land of better disposition, although neither many people nor much corn appeared, nor did they tarry to look for them there.
Some things were made there as in Spain, which must have been taught by the Indians who went away to the licenciado Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, because they made breeches and buskins, and black gaiters [antiparras] with laces of white hide, and with fringes or edging of colored hide, as if they had been made in Spain. In the temple or Oratory of Talimeco, there were breastplates, as well as corselets and helmets, made from raw and hairless hides of cows, and from the same [hides] very good shields. This Talimeco was a town of great importance, with its very authoritative oratory on a high mound; the Caney or house of the cacique very large and very tall and broad, all covered, high and low, with very excellent and beautiful mats, and placed with such fine skill, that it appeared that all the mats were only one mat. Only rarely was there a hut, which might not be covered with matting. This town has very good savannahs and a fine river, and forests of walnuts and oak, pines, evergreen oaks and groves of sweet gum, and many cedars. In this river it was said that Alaminos, a native of Cuba (although Spanish), had found a bit of gold; and such a rumor became public in the army among the Spaniards, and for this it was believed that this is a land of gold, and that good mines would be found there.
Wednesday, the thirteenth of May, the Governor left from Cofitachequi, and in two days he arrived at the province [población] of Chalaque: but he could not find the town of the lord, nor was there an Indian who would disclose it, And they slept in a pine forest, where many Indian men and women began to come in peace with presents and gifts, and they were there on Whitsuntide. And from there the Governor wrote to Baltasar de Gallegos by some Indians, [sending them] to the barbacoas that they had gone to in order to eat the corn, as was stated above, that they should follow the Governor. And on Monday, the seventeenth of that month, they departed from there and spent the night in a forest; and on Tuesday they went to Guaquili, and the Indians came forth in peace and gave them corn, although little, and many hens roasted on barbacoa, and a few little dogs, which are good food. These are little dogs that do not bark, and they rear them in the houses in order to eat them. They also gave them tamemes, which are Indians who carry burdens. And on the following Wednesday they went to a canebrake, and on Thursday to a small savannah where a horse died; and some foot soldiers of Baltasar de Gallegos arrived, making known to the Governor that he was approaching.
The next day, Friday, they went to Xuala, which is a town on a plain [llano] between some rivers; its cacique was so well provisioned, that he gave to the Christians however much they asked for: tamemes, corn, little dogs, petacas, and however much he had. Petacas are baskets covered with leather (and also yet to be covered), with their lids, for carrying clothes and whatever they might wish. And on Saturday Baltasar de Gallegos arrived there with many sick and lame, and they needed them healthy particularly since they now had the mountains [sierras] before them. In that Xuala it seemed to them that there was better disposition to look for gold mines than in all that they had passed through and seen in that northern part.
Tuesday, on the twenty-fifth of May they left from Xuala and crossed that day a very high mountain range [sierra], and they spent the night in a small forest,and the next day, Wednesday, in a savannah where they endured great cold, although it was already the twenty-sixth of May; and there they crossed, in water up to their shins, the river by which they afterward left in the brigantines that they made. When that river comes forth to the sea, the navigation chart states and indicates that it is the river of Spiritu Sancto; which, according to the charts of the cosmographer Alonso de Chaves, enters in a great bay, and the mouth of this river, in the salt water, is at thirty-one degrees on this side of the equator.
Returning to the history from there where it is stated that they crossed the river in water up to their shins, the cacica of Cofitachequi, whom they took with them in payment of the good treatment that they had received from her, turned back, and that day Mendoza de Montanjes and Alaminos de Cuba stayed behind (it was said that it was done with deception); and because that day Alonso Romo led the rear guard and left them, the Governor made him return for them, and they awaited them one day; and when they arrived, the Governor wanted to hang them. In that [province] of Xala- que a comrade deserted who was named Rodríguez, a native of Peñtafiel, and also a shrewd young Indian slave from Cuba, who belonged to a gentleman
On Friday, the twentieth of August, the Governor and his people left Coça and there remained behind a Christian who was named Feryada, a Levantine; and they spent that night beyond Talimuchusi. And the next day; in a heavy rain, they spent the night at Itaba, a large town alongside a good river, and there they bartered for some Indian women, whom they gave them in exchange for mirrors and knives. Monday, the thirtieth of August, the Governor left from ltaba with his army and spent the night in an oak grove, and the following day they went to Ulibahali, a very good town, next to a large river. And many Indians of evil intent were waiting, intending to take the cacique of Coça away from the Christians, because they were subjects of his; and so that the land would not rise in revolt or deny them supplies, they took him with them, and they entered in the town very much on guard. The cacique of Coça commanded the Indians to lay down their weapons; and so they did, and they gave them tamemes and twenty Indian women, and they went in peace, although a gentleman from Salamanca, called Manzano, remained there, and it was not known if it was from his own will or from losing his bearings, going alone to pillage, inasmuch as he went on foot. He was unhappy and he had requested other soldiers to remain with him, before they missed him. This was not known for certain, but it was said in the army after he was missing. Also a very shrewd black man, who was called Joan Vizcaíno, deserted Captain Juan Ruiz Lobillo there.
The day that they left from this town, they ate many grapes, as good as those grown from vines in Spain. In Coça and farther back they had eaten very good ones, but these from Ulibahali were the best. From this town of Ulibahali the Spaniards and their Governor left one Thursday, the second of September, and they spent the night in a pretty town hard by the river; and the next day, Friday, they came to Piachi, which is alongside a river, and there they awaited Lobillo for one day, who, without permission, had gone to look for his black man, and on coming back the Governor reprimanded him severely. On Sunday they left there and spent the night in the open, and the next day, Monday, they went to Tuasi, where they gave them tamemes and thirty-two Indian women. On Monday, the thirteenth of September, the Governor left from there, and they spent the night in the open, and on Tuesday they made another day’s journey and halted likewise in the open, and on Wednesday they went to an old town that had double walls [cercas] and good towers. And those ramparts [muros] are built in this manner: they sink many thick poles, tall and straight, next to one another; they weave them with some long sticks and daub them within and without, and they make their loopholes at intervals, and they make their towers and turrets [cubos] spread out along the curtain and parts of the rampart as suits them; and at a distance, they appear to be one very excellent wall [muralla], and such walls are very strong.
The next day, Thursday, they spent the night in a new town next to the river, where the Spaniards rested that day. And the next day, Saturday, they went to Talisi, and they found the cacique and people gone. This town is large and fertile with much corn, and next to a large river. A messenger came there from Tascaluça, a powerful lord and very feared in that land, and then came a son of his, and the Governor commanded the Spaniards to mount, and that those on horseback should gallop and sound the trumpets (more to impose fear, than to make ceremony with such a reception). Upon the return of those Indians, the adelantado sent with them two Christians instructed to observe and spy, in order that they might take counsel and be prepared.
On the twenty-fifth of September the cacique of Talisi came and gave what they asked him for, such as tamemes, women, and supplies, and there they freed the cacique of Coça, so that he might return to his land; and he was very angry and tearful because the Governor refused to give up a sister of his that they took, and because they had brought him so far from his land.
Tuesday, the fifth of October, they left from Talisi and spent the night at Casiste, which is a pretty town alongside the river. And the next day, Wednesday they went to Caxa[Lacaxa?] so a wretched town on the bank of a river and at the boundary [raya] between Talisi and Tascaluça. And the next day, Thursday, they spent the night alongside the river, and a town that is called Humati was on the other side of the water. And the next day, Friday, they went to another new town [población], which is called Uxapita; and the next day, Saturday, they established their camp one league before arriving at the town of Tascaluça in the open, and from there the Governor sent a messenger, and he came with the reply that he would be welcome whenever he wished to come.
The historian asked a well-informed gentleman who found himself present with this Governor and who went with him all through that northern land, why, in each place that this Governor and his army arrived, they asked for those tamemes or burden-bearing Indians, and why they took so many women, and these not old nor the most ugly; and after giving them what they had, why they detained the caciques and principal Indians, and why, where they went, they never halted or settled anywhere; saying that was neither to populate nor to conquer, but rather to disturb and devastate the land and take away the liberty of all the natives, and not to convert or make one Indian a Christian or a friend. He responded and said: that they took those burden bearing Indians or tamemes in order to have more slaves and servants, and to carry their supplies, and whatever they stole or what they gave them; and that some died and others fled or weakened, and thus they had need to renew and take more; and that they wanted the women also in order to make use of them and for their lewdness and lust, and that they baptized them more for their carnal intercourse than to instruct them in the faith; and that if they detained the caciques and principal Indians, this was advisable so that the others, their subjects, would be quiet and not obstruct their thefts and prevent what they might wish to do in their land. As to where they were going, neither the Governor nor they knew, except that his intent was to find some land so rich that it might sate his greed, and to find out about the great secrets that the Governor said that he had heard about those places, according to many reports that had been given to him. And that as regards disturbing the land and not settling it, nothing else could be done until they came upon a site that would satisfy them. Oh, lost people; oh, diabolical greed; oh, bad conscience; oh, unfortunate soldiers; how you did not understand in how much danger you walked, and how wasted your lives and without tranquility your souls! Why did you not remember that truth that the glorious St. Augustine, deploring of the present misery of this life, says: “This life is a life of misery, decrepit and uncertain, a toilsome and unclean life, a life, my Lord, of evils, queen of the proud, filled with miseries and with dread; this is not life, nor can it be called that, but rather death, since in a moment it is finished by various mutations and diverse kinds of death”? Listen well, Catholic reader, and do not lament any less the conquered Indians than their Christian conquerors, or killers of themselves and of those others, and attend to the incidents of this ill-governed Governor, instructed in the school of Pedrarias de Avila, in the dissipation and devastation of the Indians of Castilla de Oro, graduate in the killing of the natives of Nicaragua and canonized in Peru, according to the Order of the Pizarros. And freed from all those hellish passages, and having gone to Spain loaded with gold, neither as a bachelor nor a married man could he rest, nor did he know how to, without returning to the Indies to spill human blood, not content with that already spilled, and to depart this life in the manner that farther on will be related; and giving cause for so many sinners, deceived by his vain words, to be lost width him. See how much more he wanted than what that queen or cacica of Cofitachequi, lady of Talimeco, offered him, where she told him that in that place of hers he would find so many pearls that all the horses of his army would not be able to carry them; and receiving him with such humanity, see how he treated her. Let us go on, and do not forget this truth that you have read, bow in proof of how many pearls she offered him this Governor and his people now carried eight or nine arrobas of pearls, and you will see what enjoyment they go, of them in what follows.
Chapter Seven: In which is related what happened to the Adelantado Hernando De Soto with the Cacique of Tascaluca, named Actahachi, who was so tall a man that he seemed a giant; and of the surprise attacks and harsh battles and assault that they gave to the Christians in the town called Mabila and father on in Chicaca, and other events suitable and notable for the history are related in this chapter.
On Sunday, the tenth of October, the Governor entered in the town of Tascaluça, which was called Athahachi, a new town; and the cacique was on a balcony that was made on a mound to one side of the plaza, about his head a certain headdress like an almaizar [turban?], worn like a Moor, which gave him an appearance of authority, and a Pelote or blanket of feathers down to his feet, very authoritative, seated upon some high cushions and many principals of his Indians with him. He was of as tall a stature as that Antonico of the guard of the Emperor our lord, and of very good proportions, a very well built and noble man; he had a young son as tall as he, but he was more slender. Always in front of this cacique was a very graceful Indian on foot, with a sunshade, on a pole, which was like a round and very large fly-flap, with a white cross similar to that which the knights of the Order of St. John of Rhodes wear, in the middle of a black field. And although the Governor entered in the plaza and dismounted and went up to him, be did not rise but rather was quiet and composed, as if he were a king, and with much gravity. The Governor sat with him a bit, and after a little while he rose and said that they should go to eat and took him with him, and Indians came to dance; and they danced very well in the way of the peasants of Spain, in such a manner that it was a pleasure to see.
At night he wished to go, but the adelantado told him that he had to sleep there; and he understood it and showed that he scoffed at such a decision, being lord, to give him so suddenly a restraint or impediment to his liberty; and concealing his intentions in the matter, he then dispatched his principal Indians, each one by himself, and he slept there to his sorrow. The next day the Governor asked for tamemes and one hundred Indian women, and the cacique gave them four hundred tamemes and said that he would give them the rest of the tamemes and the women in Mabila, the province of a principal vassal of his, and the Governor was content that the rest of that his unjust demand would be satisfied in Mabila. And he commanded that he be given a horse and some buskins and a cloak of scarlet cloth to keep him content. But as the cacique had already given him four hundred tamemes, or more accurately slaves, and was to give him one hundred women in Mabila, and those which they most desired, see what contentment could be given him by those buskins and mantle and the chance to tide on horseback, since he thought that he was riding on a tiger or on a ferocious lion, because horses were held in great dread among those people.
Finally, Tuesday, the twelfth of October, they left from that town of Atahachi, taking the cacique, as has been said, and with him many principals and always the Indian with the sunshade in front of his lord, and another with a cushion; and that day they spent the night in the open. And the next day, Wednesday, they arrived at Piachi, which is a high town, upon the bluff of a rocky riverand its cacique was malicious, and he took a position to resist the crossing; but in fact they crossed the river with difficulty, and two Christians were killed, and the principals who accompanied the cacique went away.In that town Piachi it was found out that they bad killed Don Teodoro, and a black man, who came forth from the boats of Pánfilo de Narváez.
On Saturday, the sixteenth of October, they departed from there and went to a forest, where one of the two Christians that the Governor had sent to Mabila came; and he said that there was a great gathering of armed people in Mabila. The next day they went to a palisaded town, and messengers from Mabila came who brought to the cacique much chestnut bread, for there are many and good chestnuts in his land. On Monday, the eighteenth of October, the day of St. Luke, the Governor arrived at Mabila, having passed that day through some towns. But these towns detained the soldiers, pillaging and scattering themselves, for the land seemed populous; thus only forty on horseback arrived in advance guard with the Governor, and since they were a little detained, in order for the Governor not to show weakness, he entered in the town with the cacique, and all entered with him. The Indians then did an areito, which is their kind of ball with dancing and singing.
While watching this, some soldiers saw them placing bundles of bows and arrows secretively in some palm leaves, and other Christians saw that the huts were filled high and low with concealed people. The Governor was warned, and he placed his helmet on his head and commanded that all should mount their horses and warn all the soldiers who had arrived; and scarcely had they left, when the Indians took command of the gates of the wall of the town. And Luis de Moscoso and Baltasar de Gallegos and Espíndola, Captain of the guard, and seven or eight soldiers remained with the Governor. And the cacique plunged into a hut and refused to come out from it; and then they began to shoot arrows at the Governor. Baltasar de Gallegos entered for the cacique, and he not wanting to leave, he [Gallegos] cut off the arm of a principal Indian with a slash. Luis de Moscoso, awaiting him at the door in order not to leave him alone, was fighting like a knight, and he did everything possible, until he could suffer no more, and said: “Señor Baltasar de Gallegos, come forth, or I will have to leave you, for I cannot wait for you any longer.”
During this time Solís, a resident of Triana, of Seville, and Rodrigo Rangel, had mounted. They were the first, and for his sins Solís was then shot down dead. Rodrigo Rangel arrived near the gate of the townat the time that the Governor and two soldiers of his guard with him were leaving, and about him [the Governor] were more than seventy Indians, who halted out of fear of the horse of Rodrigo Rangel, and he [the Governor] wishing him to give it to him, a black man arrived with his own [horse]; and he commanded Rodrigo Rangel to aid the Captain of the guard who remained behind, who came out very fatigued, and with him a soldier of the guard, and he on horseback faced his enemies until he got out of danger. And Rodrigo Rangel returned to the Governor, and he drew out more than twenty arrows that he carried hanging from his armor, which was a quilted tunic of thick cotton; and he commanded Rangel to guard [the body of] Solís until he could bring him out from among their enemies, so that they might not carry him within, and so that the Governor might go to collect the soldiers. There was so much virtue and shame this day in all those who found themselves in this first attack and the beginning of this bad day. They fought admirably, and each Christian did his duty as a most valiant soldier. Luis de Moscoso and Baltasar de Gallegos left with the remaining soldiers through another gate.
In effect, the Indians ended up with the town and all the property of the Christians and with the horses that they left tied within, which they then killed. The Governor gathered all the forty on horseback who were there, and they arrived at a large plaza in front of the principal gate of Mabila. And there the Indians came forth, without daring to venture far from the palisade; and in order to draw them out, they pretended that those on horseback were fleeing at a gallop, withdrawing far from the ramparts, and the Indians, believing it, ventured from the town and from the palisade in their pursuit, desirous of employing their arrows, and when it was time, those on horseback turned around on their enemies, and before they could take shelter, they lanced many. Don Carlos wished to go with his horse up to the gate, and they gave his horse an arrow wound in the breast, and not being able to turn [his horse], he dismounted to draw out the arrow, and another came which struck him in the neck, above his shoulder from which, asking for confession, he fell dead. The Indians did not dare to venture again from the palisade. Then, the adelantado encircled them on many sides until all the army arrived, and they entered it through three sides setting fire, first cutting ring through the palisade with axes; and the fire traveled so that die nine arrobas of pearls chat they brought were burned, and all the clothes and ornaments and chalices and moulds for wafers, and the wine for saying mass, and they were left like Arabs, empty-handed and with great hardship.
The Christian women, who were slaves of the Governor, had remained in a hut, and some pages, a friar, a cleric, and a cook and some soldiers; they defended themselves very well from the Indians, who could not enter until the Christians arrived with the fire and brought them out. And all the Spaniards fought like men of great spirit, and twenty-two of them died, and they wounded another one hundred and forty-eight with six hundred and eighty-eight arrow wounds, and they killed Seven horses and wounded twenty-nine others. The women and even boys of four years struggled against the Christians, and many Indians hanged themselves in order not to fall into their hands, and others plunged into the fire willingly. See what spirit those tamemes had. There were many great arrow shots sent with such fine will and force, that: the lance of a gentleman, named Nuño de Tovar, which was of two pieces of ash and very good, was pierced by an arrow through the middle from side to side, like a drill, without splintering anything, and the arrow made a cross on the lance.
Don Carlos died this day, and also Francisco de Soto, nephew of the Governor, and Juan de Gamez, de Jaen, and Men Rodriguez, a good Portuguese gentleman, and Espinosa, a good gentleman, and another called Velez, and one Blasco de Barcarrota and other very honored soldiers; and the wounded were most of the people of worth and of honor. They killed three thousand Indians, in addition to which there were many others wounded, which they found afterward dead in the huts and by the roads. Nothing was ever learned of the cacique [Tascaluça], either dead or alive; the son was found lanced.
The battle having taken place in the manner stated above, they rested there until Sunday, the fourteenth of November, treating the wounded and the horses, and they burned a great part of the land. From the time that this Governor and his armies entered in the land of Florida up to the time that they left from there, all the dead were one hundred and two Christians, and not all, to my way of thinking, in true penitence.
On Sunday, the fourteenth of November of the aforesaid year, the Governor left Mabila, and the following Wednesday he arrived at a very good river, and on Thursday, the twenty-eighth [November 18?],they went across bad crossings and swamps and found a town with corn, which was called Talicpacana. The Christians had discovered on the other side of the river a town that seemed good to them from a distance, and well situated, and on Sunday, the twenty-first of November, Vasco Gonzalez found a town, a half-league from this one, which is called Moçulixa, from which they bad transferred all the corn to the other side of the river, and they had it in heaps, covered with mats, and the Indians were on the other side of the water, making threats. A piragua was made, which was finished on the twenty-ninth of the month, and they made a large cart to carry it up to Moçulixa, and having launched it in the water, sixty soldiers entered in it. The Indians shot innumerable darts, or more accurately arrows; but as this great canoe landed; they fled and did not wound but: three or four Christians. They took the land easily and found plenty of corn.
The next day, Wednesday; all the army went to a town that is called Zabusta, and there they crossed the river in the piragua and with some canoes that they took there; and they went to take lodging in another town on the other end, because upriver they found another good town and took its lord, who was named Apafalaya, and brought him as guide and interpreter, and that: bank was called the river of Apafalaya. From this river and province [población] the Governor and his people left in search of Chicaça on Thursday, the ninth of December, and they arrived the following Tuesday at the river of Chicaça, having passed many bad crossings and swamps and rivers and cold weather.
And so that you know, reader, what life those Spaniards led. Rodrigo Rangel, as an eyewitness, says that among many other needs of men that were experienced in this enterprise, he saw a nobleman named Don Antonio Osorio, brother of the Lord Marquis of Astorga, with a doublet of blankets of that land, torn on the sides, his flesh exposed, without a hat. bare-headed, bare-footed, without hose or shoes, a shield at his back, a sword without a scabbard, the snows and cold very great; and being such a man, and of such illustrious lineage, made him suffer his hardship and not lament, like many others, since there was no one who might aid him, being who he was, and having had in Spain two thousand ducats of income through the Church; and the day that this gentleman saw him thus, he believed that he had not eaten a mouthful and had to look for his supper with his fingernails. I could not help laughing when I heard him say that nobleman had left: the Church and the aforementioned income in order to go to look for this life at the sound of the words of De Soto, Because I knew Soto very well, and although he was a man of worth; I did not hold that he would be able with such sweet talk or cunning to delude such persons. What did such a man wish, from an unfamiliar and unknown land? Nor did the Captain who led him know more of it than that Juan Ponce de Leon and the licenciado Lucas Vasquez de Ayllón and Pànfilo de Narvaez and others more skillful than Hernando de Soto had been lost in it. And those who follow such guides, go from some necessity, since they find places where they could settle or rest, and little by little penetrate and understand and find out all about the land. But let us go on; small is the hardship of this nobleman compared to those who die, if they do not win salvation.
They found that the river of Chicaça was flowing out of its bed, and the Indians on the other side were up in arms, with many white banners. Orders were given to make a piragua, and the Governor sent Baltasar de Gallegos with thirty swimmers on horseback to go to look upriver for a place where they could cross and attack suddenly upon the Indians; but he was detected, and so they [the Indians] abandoned the crossing, and they crossed very well in the piragua on Thursday, the sixteenth of the month. And the Governor advanced with some on horseback, and they arrived very late at night at the town of the lord, and all the people were gone. The next day Baltasar de Gallegos arrived with the thirty who went with him. They were there in Chicaça that Christmas, and it snowed with as much wind as if they were in Burgos, and with as much or more cold.
Monday, the third of January of fifteen forty-one, the cacique of Chicaça came in peace and gave guides and interpreters to the Christians in order to go to Caluça, which had much renown among the Indians. Caluça is a province of more than ninety towns (not subject to anyone) of ferocious people, very bellicose and very feared, and the land is prosperous in those parts. In Chicaça the Governor commanded that half of the people of his army should go to make war on Sacchuma, and on their return the cacique Miculasa made peace, and messengers came from Talapatica.
And in the course of this war the time to travel arrived, and they asked the cacique for tamemes; and the Indians created such an uproar among themselves, that the Christians understood it, and the agreement was made that they would give them over on the fourth of March when they were to depart, and that day they would come with them. The previous evening, the Governor mounted his horse and found the Indians engaged in evil intrigue, and he recognized the treacherous intention that they had and returned to the camp and said publicly, “This night is a night of Indians; I will sleep armed and my horse saddled.” And all said that they would do the same; and he called to the maestre de campo, who was Luis de Moscoso, and told him.