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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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Section Third. — Contention of France and Spain for the Occupation of Florida. Chapter I. — Voyages of Ribault and Laudonniere.

THUS far our information regarding the Indian tribes had been derived, in direct sequence, from incidental notices of the operations of De Leon and Vasquez, in the south; of Cartier and Roberval in the north; of Verrazani in the area of the central littoral tribes; of Narvaez and De Soto among the Appalachian and the Issati, or Great "Western family; and of Caba de Vaca and Coronado among the Querchos, or Buffalo Hunters, and the house building tribes of the high plains of New Mexico. The year 1542 witnessed the failure of the last three principal attempts at colonization, those of Cartier, De Soto, and Coronado.

Twenty years, of comparative inaction and quiet, succeeded these energetic efforts to found territorial sovereignties in the extensive country possessed by the Indians. In the meantime, the Reformation had made such progress in Europe, as to engender a new and bitter source of discord between the subjects of the colonizing powers. Loyola had taught the ancient Christian faith to the natives of East India, and Las Casas was selected to perform the same service for the benighted, and, as he thought, ill-used aborigines of America. Religious instruction was considered to be an essential adjunct of every attempt to explore, conquer, and colonize; an ecclesiastical force always accompanying those expeditions, whose duty it was to divert the attention of the native tribes, from their gross daemonology and idolatry, to God.

Prominent among the converts in France, to the new doctrines promulgated by Luther and Calvin, was Admiral Coligni, a man of much influence, one of the nobility, and holding a high rank. The narrow-minded Charles IX., then a mere boy, and his

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more famed, but bigoted mother, Catherine de Medicis, were then in power in France. Coligni, being desirous of providing an asylum for his persecuted countrymen, professing the Protestant faith, turned his attention to the New World. He first made an experiment in Brazil, which failed, through the treachery of Villegagnon, his agent, who renounced his faith; he next directed his thoughts to Florida, then a geographical term, having an almost continental extent, but which, in 1524, had been named New France, by Verrazani. He received a patent from the king for founding a colony in this quarter, and provided two ships, which were placed under the command of John Ribault, a skilful and resolute Huguenot, who set sail from Havre de Grace on the 18th of February, 1562. Steering a nearly direct course across the Atlantic, without touching at any of the West India islands, he made the coast of Florida on the last day of April, the voyage having occupied a little over two months, owing to the delay caused by tempestuous weather. The following day he cast anchor off the mouth of the St. John's river, naming it the river of May; then, entering it with his boats, he ascertained that there was a good depth of water in the channel.

Ribault took possession of the country in the name of the king, and erected a stone monument, which he had brought with him from France for that purpose. Having established a friendly, as well as pleasant intercourse with the natives, and spent a few days with them, he re-embarked, and, during "four weeks" continued his voyage along the coast, until he arrived at Port Royal, within the present limits of South Carolina. Finding, on exploring it by means of his boats, that the harbor was spacious, the water deep, and the anchorage excellent, he entered it with his largest ships, and dropped his anchors in a good position. The territory in which he then was, had been named Chicora by the natives, as also by the early Spanish adventurers. Magnificent scenery, both land and water, was spread before him in every direction. Delighted with the prospect, he took formal possession of the surrounding territory by erecting an engraved monumental stone, bearing the king's arms. Having determined to found a settlement at this place, a suitable spot was selected, which is supposed to have been near to, or on the site of the present town of Beaufort, where he erected a fortification called Fort Charles. [59] Leaving thirty men, well provided with arms, tools, and supplies, to begin operations, he placed them under the command of Albert de Peirria, and then returned to France. Being a strictly conscientious man, Ribault did not follow the example of the Spanish mariners, and abduct the natives of the country, that he might exhibit them in Europe as specimens of the Indian race.

The Chicora Indians, having naturally very gentle manners, were kind in supplying the colonists with the zea maize, and rendering them other services. In these offices of kindness, the local chief, Andasta, took a prominent part, and was

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seconded by others at more southerly points, who were respectively entitled Ouade, Couexes, Maccoa, Outina, Satouriona, Wosta, Oleteraca, Timagoon, and Potanon, the orthographical elements of which names do not coincide with the Muscogee, Cherokee, or any known number of the Floridian stock.

The colonists themselves, however, being idle and factious, planted nothing, and had no idea of directing their attention to the real business before them. Peirria having no proper conception of the authority delegated to him, became an inflated tyrant, hanged one of the men as a measure of discipline, and performed other arbitrary acts. Eventually the colonists rebelled against his authority, and put him to death; after which, having appointed another leader in his stead, they determined to build a vessel and return in it to France. This plan was carried out, and the entire party embarked, abandoning the fort. The voyage having been long, as well as tempestuous, and the vessel, weak and miserable, they suffered horribly. Most of them died of starvation and exposure. At length, when near the coast of France, an English vessel hove in sight, by which the few survivors were saved.

At this period, events were equally as transitory in the Old World as in the New. When Ribault returned to France, after establishing his little colony at Fort Charles, and giving it promises of assistance, he found the contest between the Catholics and the Reformers raging with greater violence than ever, and Coligni to be so much involved in this struggle, that he applied to the king in vain for succor for the colony. As soon, however, as the warfare against the Huguenots had subsided, three ships were fitted out to convey assistance to the colony in Chicora, and placed under the orders of Rene de Laudonniere, who, in addition to the ordinary outfit of men and supplies, was provided with an artist, who had orders to sketch the features, as also the costumes of the natives, and other curiosities. [60]


Laudonniere sailed from Havre de Grace on the 22d of April, 1564, being one year and nine months subsequent to the first departure of Ribault from the same port. Intelligence of the sad fate of those left at Fort Charles, had, evidently, been received in France prior to this time, although the fact is not distinctly stated. However, be that as it may, Laudonniere did not proceed to Fort Charles, but, on the 25th of June, cast anchor off the mouth of the river of May, the St. John's, in Florida. On entering the river, he was received by Satouriona, and his tribe, who shouted in French, ami, ami. By them he was guided to the monument of possession erected by Ribault, which he found crowned with garlands, and surrounded by little baskets of zea maize. There was, indeed, a warmth and cordiality in the reception of the French by these aborigines, which, whatever may have occasioned it, has marked the intercourse of the French with the Indians, from that day to the present;

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which friendly feelings have not been manifested by them toward any other nation whatever.

Laudonniere was entranced, not only with the picturesque beauty of the country, but also with its fertility, and its fragrant, as well as luxuriant vegetation. Quitting the St. John's, he sailed northwardly along the coast until he entered a river, which he named the Somme, where he was also received in a friendly manner by the Indians. A few days subsequently he returned again to the St. John's, and built a fort on its southern banks, about three leagues from its mouth, which he named Caroline, [61] in honor of Charles IX. The events connected with the history of this fort — the meeting, the improvements, the buccaneering and the executions, the visit to the friendly chief, Andasta, at Port Royal, Indian negotiations, fights, and other occurrences — impart a deep interest to this portion of the narrative; but they can only be thus incidentally noticed. Their result was the transmission of false reports to France, in consequence of which, Laudonniere was recalled.

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Chapter II. — Second Visit of Ribault to Florida. Treacherous Massacre of Himself and His Men.


THE intestine dissensions in France having been in a measure allayed, Admiral Coligni renewed his representations to the king, in favor of his plan of colonization in Florida. Early in January, 1565, authority was granted him to equip seven vessels for another voyage thither, with all possible despatch. This squadron was placed under the command of Ribault, who found no difficulty in procuring as many volunteers as he deemed necessary for the service, some of whom carried with them their wives and children. Whatever reports may have reached France concerning the untoward events at Fort Charles, they do not appear to have dampened the energy with which this expedition was equipped. Ribault sailed from Dieppe on the 27th of May, and arrived at the river St. John's, Florida, on the 28th of August. Ascending the river to Fort Caroline, he was welcomed by Laudonniere, whose conduct he approved. A few days subsequently, September 4th, a Spanish squadron, under the command of Menendez, a narrow-minded, and cruel bigot, arrived at the same place, with a comparatively large force of men, and more substantial and larger vessels. He held a commission from Philip II., to make discoveries and found a colony, and had explicit instructions to expel the Huguenots and Lutherans, who had fled from France under the patronage of Coligni.

A struggle for sovereignty ensued, which was rendered more rancorous by the admixture of religious elements in the strife. The crowned heads of Spain and France were still involved in the struggles of a contest between Catholicity and Protestantism — between the ancient form of worship, and the more modern one, originated by Luther and his co-laborers in the field of religion.

On the 8th of September, Menendez landed a few leagues south of the St. John's, at a point where laborers had been set to work, a day or two previous, to erect a fortification, which he named St. Augustine. Ribault, having determined to put to sea and attack the squadron, assembled his officers to deliberate on the measure. Objections were made to it by Laudonniere, but the voices of the majority concurred in the plan. At this time an Indian chief arrived, with the news that the Spaniards were digging trenches, and erecting breastworks, at the place where they had landed. By attacking

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their shipping, Ribault thought he would most effectually frustrate their design. Flushed with this idea, he took nearly all the available force of the fort, and set sail to encounter the enemy. At first calms, and, subsequently, a storm, prevented the contest, and drove the French out to sea. Menendez, learning the defenceless condition of Fort Caroline, determined to march against it with 500 men. Heavy rains, and the intervention of marshes, protracted his movements; but, after three days' march, across the country, under the direction of Indian guides, his army reached the environs of the fort. The Spaniards advanced cautiously, and were not seen until they were close to the fort, which, taking advantage of some breaches, they at once assaulted. The contest was short; the works were soon stormed, and the survivors were nearly all immediately put to the sword; bigoted zeal adding its incitement to the perpetration of these horrors. It is stated that, on the 20th of September, when it was attacked, Fort Caroline had but eighty-six persons within its walls, a part of whom were women and children. Only nine or ten had ever borne arms, and but seventeen soldiers were fit for service, including some who were still confined, from the effects of wounds received in a battle with the Indians. The fort itself was found to be in a dilapidated state, Laudonniere having used the timber of one angle to build a vessel, when he had determined to abandon it. Laudonniere escaped into the woods, together with some others. Several of the prisoners were reserved to be hanged, and, having been taken to a tree standing near the fort, were all suspended on its limbs. The following inscription was then affixed to the trunk, "Not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans."

Meantime the squadron of Ribault was wrecked on the Florida coast, without, however, the loss of any lives. The commander, after organizing his force, began his march back to Fort Caroline, following the coast line. Starvation soon reduced the men to mere skeletons. At length, on the banks of a stream, they were confronted by Menendez, with superior forces. A parley, negotiations, and a surrender ensued, the French delivering up their arms. They were then conveyed across the river in squads, and, as soon as each squad reached the other side, their hands were tied behind their backs, after which they were marched off to a distance and shot. When Ribault at last discovered the treachery, he was almost immediately deprived of life by a Spanish soldier, who stabbed him with a poniard; and Ortez, his junior in command, shared the same fate.

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Chapter III. — The Chevalier Gourgues Retaliates Upon the Spanish Settlement in Florida.

INTELLIGENCE of the horrid treachery of the Spaniards was received in France with one universal burst of indignation. The relatives of the persons massacred in Florida petitioned the king for redress, alleging that they had gone thither by his authority, and that, consequently, it was his crown that had been insulted. The nation demanded that the king of Spain should be required to make atonement for the atrocities of his subjects. But Charles IX. cared no more for these events than did Philip II. Protestantism being a heresy loathed by both monarchs, nothing was done. The blood of Ribault, and of his 900 followers, [62] vainly appealed to the French government for vengeance.


At length the matter was taken in hand by the Chevalier Dominico Gourgues, a Gascon gentleman, descended from an ancient family. He possessed an enviable reputation for courage, influence, and moral character, and stood high in public estimation for his military services, both in France and in foreign countries. His success and skill in naval affairs were also of a high order.

At his own cost, Gourgues equipped three vessels, of moderate tonnage, adapted to the navigation of small rivers and shallow bays. In calling for volunteers, both soldiers and sailors, he told no one his precise object, the prestige of his name being sufficient. He mustered 100 soldiers having fire arms, among whom were gentlemen, and eighty mariners armed with cross-bows, who designed also to act with the military force. He carried with him provisions for one year. [63] It was the 22d of August before he left the coast of France. He appeared to meditate a descent on the shores of Africa, which he really visited, but, finally, steering across the Atlantic, he made the shores of Brazil, whence he directed his course to Cape St. Antonio, or the west cape of Cuba. At this place he called his men together, and revealed to them the object of the expedition. He stated the injuries inflicted upon their country, the insult to their king, the gross violation of all recognised laws of war, and, above all, the

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outrages upon humanity. Having aroused their enthusiasm, and excited their feelings and sense of justice, he sailed into the river Somme, now St. Mary's, the coast boundary between Florida and Georgia.

Nearly a year had elapsed in the performance of the long and circuitous voyage, and in the delays incident to the landings which had been made. Spring had again clothed the Florida coasts in verdure. It was early in the month of April, when Gourgues entered the river St. Mary's. The Indians were assembled in considerable numbers, and evinced signs of hostility, until they ascertained that the new comers were French. The chief, Satouriona, was there to welcome him, and restored to him a young Frenchman (Pierre Delre), who had escaped to the Indians after the massacre of the garrison of Fort Caroline, and who, subsequently, became very serviceable to the French as an interpreter. Satouriona soon gave Gourgues to understand that the Indians hated the Spaniards, whose domination was irksome, and at once agreed to aid Gourgues in an attack on the three Spanish forts, then located on the St. John's. The movements of Gourgues were very rapid. Finding the Indians ready to second him, he determined to attack the enemy immediately. In three days the Indians, to the number of 300, armed with bows, and led on by experienced warriors, set out by land for a rendezvous on the St. John's. Gourgues, intending to proceed by water, embarked his men in boats; but the winds being adverse, when half way thither, he landed and marched across the country. When he arrived at the rendezvous, all the Indians were there, ready and eager for the fray.

A conference having been held with the Indian chiefs, they marched forward, and just at night-fall reached the river. It was decided to attack the fort on the south bank at daybreak, the Indians being skilful guides; but it happened that the tide in a creek near the fort was up, making it then too deep to ford. This caused a delay, during the continuance of which they lay in ambush, in the forest, to avoid discovery. When the tide flowed out, the allies crossed the creek unobserved, stormed and carried the fort, sword in hand, retaining but few prisoners.

The feelings of Gourgues and his men were much excited by the capture of a culverine, having the arms of Henry IV. engraved on it, which had been mounted in Fort Caroline. Ordering his boats around, he determined immediately to assault the north fort. He embarked his men in military order; but the Indians, too impatient to wait for the return of the boats, plunged into the river and swam across. Seeing so great an array, the garrison, sixty in number, made no show of defence, but fled, with the intention of seeking shelter in another fort, situated three miles above. But they were met by another strong party of French, and, being hemmed in by the Indians in the rear, were completely cut to pieces, with the exception of fifteen men, who were detained, that they might be hanged.

Fort Matheo, the strongest of the three, which the Spaniards had erected after the capture of Fort Caroline, was still unharmed. While meditating on the best mode of

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attack, they were informed by one of the Spanish prisoners, a soldier from Fort Matheo, of the exact height of its walls, to scale which, ladders were at once prepared. At this time the Indians discovered a Spaniard in camp, in the disguise of an Indian, who proved to be a spy. From him Gourgues learned that the garrison consisted of 260 men, that the fort was large, and that it was believed that Gourgues had a force of 2000 men. He instantly determined on his plan of attack, and, after two days spent in preparation, he directed the Indians to conceal themselves in the forest, on both sides of the river, near the fort. He then crossed in boats with his whole force, merely leaving behind him fifteen men as a guard. As soon as his army was seen from the fort, the Spaniards opened their culverines on him, to avoid the effects of which, he landed and took possession of an eminence, overlooking the fort and the movements of its garrison, while his own troops were concealed and protected. He designed taking the work by escalade the following morning, but the Spaniards precipitated matters by ordering a sally of sixty men. Gourgues ordered an officer and twenty men to get between the fort and the sallying party, by a circuitous route, which being accomplished, he marched rapidly forward, directing his forces to reserve their fire for a close contest, and, after the first discharge, to rush on sword in hand. Many of the foe fell, and, though the rest fought bravely, they were at length obliged to retreat; but, encountering the force in their rear, every man was slain, no quarter being given.

Seeing the flower of their force thus cut down, the garrison, crediting the exaggerated reports of the French strength, fled across the river, where the Indians, lying in ambush, rose upon them with overwhelming fury. Such was their skill in the use of the arrow, that one of them passed through the buckler of a Spanish officer, and entered his body, killing him dead on the spot. The French, having again crossed the river, assaulted the Spaniards in the rear, killing all who escaped the Indians; and thus the entire garrison perished, with the exception of a few, reserved for the gallows, as a retaliation for the cruelty of the Spaniards, after the surrender of Ribault.

Fort Matheo was entered triumphantly, and was found to contain a large quantity of arms, nine culverines, of all sizes, and eighteen casks of powder. The following day the boats were freighted with the artillery; but the magazine was blown up by a secret train, left by the enemy, which was unwittingly fired by an Indian, while cooking fish.

The work of retribution was not, however, as yet, fully completed. Drawing up his men, and the auxiliary Indians who had taken so active a part in the short campaign, and placing all the Spanish prisoners whom he had taken, in the centre, Gourgues addressed the latter, recounting to them the atrocities committed by Menendez, and finished by condemning them to immediate execution, in the same manner as that adopted by the Spaniards. They were then taken to the same tree which had served as the Tyburn of Menendez, and upon which he had placed the inscription — "Not as

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Frenchmen, but as Lutherans." The thirty prisoners having been suspended upon its limbs, Gourgues, with a red-hot pointed iron, inscribed upon a strip of pine board — "Not as Spaniards, but as traitors, robbers, and murderers;" which was fastened to the natural gallows.

Immediately returning with his cavaliers, Satouriona, and his native allies, to St. Mary's river, where he had left his ships, and, having distributed presents to the Indians, who were in ecstacies with his martial exploits, Gourgues exchanged the most friendly salutations and civilities with them, and then, on the 3d of May, set sail for France, arriving at the port of Rochelle on the 6th of June, after a very prosperous voyage.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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