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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
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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

1565.

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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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
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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