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CHAP. governor to return, since the country opened no a brilliant prospects. “I will not turn back,” said
“ 1539. Soto, “ till I have seen the poverty of the country
with my own eyes.". The hostile Indians, who were taken prisoners, were in part put to death, in part enslaved. These were led in chains, with iron collars about their necks; their service was, to grind the maize and to carry the baggage. An exploring party discovered Ochus, the harbor of Pensacola ; and a message was sent to Cuba, desiring that in the ensuing year supplies for the expedition might be sent to that place.
Early in the spring of the following year, the Mar.
Spaniards renewed their march, with an Indian guide, who promised to lead the way to a country, governed by a woman, and where gold so abounded, that the art of melting and refining it was understood. He seemed to describe the process so well, that the credulous Spaniards took heart, and exclaimed, “He must have seen it, or the devil has taught him.” They, therefore, eagerly hastened to the northeast; they passed the Alatamaha; they admired the fertile valleys of Georgia, rich, productive, and full of good rivers. They passed a northern tributary of the Alatamaha, and a southern branch of the
Ogechee; and, at length, came upon the Ogechee April itself, which, in April, flowed with a full channel and
a strong current. Much of the time, the Spaniards were in wild solitudes; they suffered for want of
1 Portuguese Relation, c. xi. p. 495.
2 Ibid, c. xii. p. 498.
3 Comparé Portuguese Relation, c. vii-xii. and Vega, l. ii. part i. and ii. p. 23—106.
SPANIARDS IN GEORGIA.
salt and of meat. Their Indian guide would have CHAP. been torn in pieces by the dogs, if he had not still been needed to assist the interpreter. Of four In- 1540. dian captives, whom they questioned, one bluntly answered, he knew no country such as they described ; and the governor ordered him to be burnt,
; for what was esteemed his falsehood. The sight of the execution quickened the invention of his companions; and the Spaniards made their way to the small Indian settlement of Cutifa-Chiqui. A dagger and a rosary were found here; the story of the Indians traced them to the expedition of Vazquez de Ayllon; and a two days' journey would reach, it was believed, the harbor of St. Helena. The soldiers thought of home; and desired, either to make a settlement on the fruitful soil around them, or to
The governor was “a stern man, and of few words.” Willingly hearing the opinions of others, he was inflexible, when he had once declared his own mind; and all his followers, “condescending to his will,” continued to indulge delusive hopes.'
The direction of the march was now to the north; May to the comparatively sterile country of the Cherokees, and in part through a district, in which gold is now found. The inhabitants were poor but gentle ; they liberally offered such presents, as their habits of life permitted, deer skins and wild hens. Soto could hardly have crossed the mountains, so as to
1 Portuguese Relation, c. xiii. I cannot follow McCulloh, p. and xiv. p. 498—504 ; Vega, 1. iii. 524. c. ii.-xvii. Compare Belknap's 2 Nuttall's Arkansas, p. 124; American Biography, v. i. p. 188. McCulloh's Researches, p. 524.
CHAP. enter the basin of the Tennessee river ;' it seems,
rather, that he passed from the head-waters of the 1540. Savannah, or the Chattahouchee, to the head-waters
of the Coosa. The name of Canasauga, a village, at which he halted, is still given to a branch of the latter stream. For several months, the Spaniards were in the valleys, which send their waters to the bay of Mobile; Chiaha was an island, distant about a hundred miles from Canasauga. An exploring party, which was sent to the north, were appalled by the aspect of the Apalachian chain, and pronounced the mountains impassable. They had looked for mines of copper and gold; and their only
plunder was a buffalo robe.? July
In the latter part of July, the Spaniards were at Coosa. In the course of the season, they had occasion to praise the wild grape of the country, the same probably which has since been thought worthy of culture. A southerly direction led the train to
Tuscaloosa ; nor was it long before the wanderers Oct. reached a considerable town on the Alabama, above
the junction of the Tombecbee; and about one hundred miles, or six days' journey, from Pensacola. The town was called Mavilla, or Mobile, a name, which is still preserved, and applied, not to the bay only, but to the river, after the union of its numerous tributaries. The Spaniards, tired of lodging in the fields, desired to occupy the town; the Indians rose to resist the invaders, whom they distrusted and
1 Martin's Louisiana, v. i. p. 11. 504–506 ; Vega, I. iii. c. xvii.2 Portuguese Relation, c. xv. p. xxii. p. 134–141.
SPANIARDS IN ALABAMA.
feared. A battle ensued; the terrors of their cavalry CHAP. gave the victory to the Spaniards. I know not if a more bloody Indian fight ever occurred on the soil of 1540. the United States; the town was set on fire; and two thousand five hundred Indians are said to have been slain, suffocated, or burned. They had fought with desperate courage; and, but for the flames, which consumed their light and dense settlements, they would have effectually repulsed the invaders. “Of the Christians, eighteen died ;" one hundred and fifty were wounded with arrows; twelve horses were slain and seventy hurt. The flames had not spared the baggage of the Spaniards; it was within the town, and was entirely consumed.
Meanwhile, ships from Cuba had arrived at Ochus, now Pensacola. Soto was too proud to confess his failure. He had made no important discoveries; he had gathered no stores of silver and gold, which he might send to tempt new adventurers; the fires of Mobile had consumed the curious collections which he had made. It marks the resolute cupidity and stubborn pride, with which the expedition was conducted that he determined to send no news of himself, until, like Cortes, he had found some rich country.”
But the region above the mouth of the Mobile was populous and hostile ; and yet too poor to promise plunder. Soto retreated towards the north ; Nov. his troops already reduced, by sickness and warfare,
1 Port. Rel. c. xvii.—xix. p. 508 compare Belknap, v. i. p. 189, 190, -512. Vega is very extravagant and McCulloh, p. 525. in his account of the battle. L. 2 Portuguese Relation, c. xix. p. iii. c. xxvii.—xxxi. On localities, 512, 513.
CHAP. to five hundred men. A month passed away, before
II. a he reached winter quarters at Chicaça, a small town Dec. in the country of the Chickasaws, in the upper part
of the state of Mississippi ; probably on the western bank of the Yazoo. The weather was severe, and
snow fell; but maize was yet standing in the open 1541. fields. The Spaniards were able to gather a supply
of food, and the deserted town, with such rude cabins as they added, afforded them shelter through the winter. Yet no mines of Peru were discovered ; no ornaments of gold adorned the rude savages; their wealth was the harvest of corn, and wigwams were
their only palaces; they were poor and independent; Mar. they were hardy and loved freedom. When spring
opened, Soto, as he had usually done with other tribes, demanded of the chieftain of the Chickasaws two hundred men to carry the burdens of his company. The Indians hesitated. Human nature is the same in every age and in every climate. Like the inhabitants of Athens in the days of Themistocles, or those of Moscow of a recent day, the Chickasaws, unwilling to see strangers and enemies occupy their homes, in the dead of night, deceiving the sentinels, set fire to their own village, in which the Castilians were encamped.? On a sudden, half the houses were in flames; and the loudest notes of the, war-whoop rung through the air. The Indians, could they have acted with calm bravery, might have gained an easy and entire victory; but they trembled
Vega says January. L. iii. c. xxxvi. p. 166.
2 Vega, l. iii.c.xxxvi., xxxvii.and xxxviii. Port. Account, c. xx. xxi.