DeSoto's Florida Trails
Suwannee River Crossing Place - today's Lower Clay Landing


DeSoto's Florida Conquest Trail Map - to Napituca Written by Donald E. Sheppard
Drawings by Cheryl Lucente

INTRODUCTION   TRAILS TO THIS POINT   MAIN TRAIL MAPS
INDIAN PLACE NAMES       STATES INDEX       REFERENCES

NAPITUCA, COMING AND GOING

Hernando de Soto's Thirty Lancers would pass through Napituca Village on their way back down his trail once his army had established their winter headquarters in North Florida. The distance which the Thirty Lancers reported between Napituca and the Suwannee River is the only one we have. Inca tells of the Lancers finding the bodies of Indians killed by DeSoto strewn across Napituca Village as they passed through it. Inca called it Vitachuco Village. © 1993, University of Alabama Press

The lancers would proceed eight leagues beyond Napituca to camp, then ride eighteen leagues the next day and night to camp five leagues short of a big river; for a total distance of thirty-one leagues (82 miles) from Napituca Village to the big river. They would struggle to cross it into Caliquen Village the next day - leaving a perfect description of the Suwannee River at Lower Clay Landing (in photo above).

To warm and dry themselves, the Lancers would spend the remainder of that day between large fires in Caliquen Village. Inca had called that village Ochile when the army went up that trail,I then confused it with the similarly-titled Ocali,I on the south bank of the next big river, the Withlacoocee to southward, when he reported the Lancers return down it. Be that as it may, the Lancers camped at Caliquen Village just south of Lower Clay Landing.

Flatwoods

You can read the Conquest writings of 
DeSoto's ChroniclersBiedma, Rangel, Elvas and Inca
TRAIL DETAILS on GOOGLE EARTH Conquest Calendars

DeSoto's army left Caliquen bound for Napituca. They marked the trail which the Thirty Lancers followed back, camping at a village (on a lake one league above the river) their first night out, having spent the day crossingR the Suwannee River. At their normal pace of four-plus leagues per day, they next camped at "Uriutina, a town of pleasant view and with much food,"R Cross City (where the Thirty Lancers camped their fourth night out), then eleven miles to its northwest in swampland, where his horsemen stopped at "Many Waters,"R an understatement there, below Steinhatchee River. The troops continued,E however, stopping at Howell Place that night, then Adams Beach, then on the Fenholloway River near Hampton Springs (where the Thirty Lancers camped their third night out), then near the Econfina River, all at normal marching interval. There the horsemen caught-up with the troops, having riden fourteen leagues since last seeing the troops at the swampland.

DeSoto's Chroniclers,R E and VacaV with Narvaez the decade earlier, reported native "flute players" along that flatwoods trail which, Vaca says, "was difficult to travel but wonderful to look upon... In it were vast forests, the trees being astonishingly high" (image at left).

Finally, they all crossed the Aucilla River's natural bridges, forded Cow Creek Swamp and entered Napituca Village (all mapped below), four leagues from the Econfina River and thirty-one leagues from the Suwannee River, as reported by the Thirty Lancers (above).

Biedma says that trail was "ten to twelve leagues from the coast and always toward New Spain..." Narvaez, while looking for his ships, had probably used the same trail DeSoto used, given that trail's nearness to the Gulf of Mexico.

Wacissa River Lakes
Inca says, "near the village was a large plain. On one side was a high and dense forest that covered a large tract of land, and on the other were two lakes. The first was small, and would measure about one league in circumference; it was clear of growth and mud, but was so deep that three or four steps from the shore one could not touch bottom. The second, which was further away from the pueblo, was very large, more than half a league in breath and so long that it looked like a large river, its extent being unknown. The Indians stationed their squadron between the forest and these two lakes (as General Andrew Jackson would do in the Seminole War of 1818), the lakes being on their right and the forest on their left."

Florida Turpentine Distillers - Author's Grandfather, Ed Sheppard, at rightNapituca Village lies just above today's Nutall Rise, on a giant plain between the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers. Miles of abandoned railroad weave through that plain today, attesting to the magnificence of that once great stand reported there. The tracks were built to harvest gigantic pine trees after they were drained of sap for distilling turpentine (...in photo, my grandfather, a Florida woods rider, and his crew with sap barrels gathered at the still).

The Wacissa River's Small Lake

The "lakes" are parts of the Wacissa River. The first lies southwest of Napituca's plain and measures one league in circumference, as reported. The second "lake" is much wider and extends for miles to the north from the northwest side of the plain. It disappears in the surrounding swamp and looks exactly the way Inca described it (photo above). Both "lakes" are very deep near their banks because the river flows through them and underground between them. Andrew Jackson would fight Florida's First Seminole War beside those lakes.

Napituca Plain

Napituca's plain lies one league west of the Aucilla River's natural bridges, another partially underground river near Nutall Rise, which explains why the army and the Lancers did not report a river crossing there. A swamp, today's Cow Creek just south-east of the village site, was reported by Rangel when the army entered that village. Napituca was completely surrounded by swamps and is almost impenetrable even today. It provided Napituca's people shelter in a very hostile environment. Rangel says their Apalachen neighbors were "most valiant... great spirit and boldness", the fiercest in Florida.

DeSoto fought Napituca natives on those "lakes" when they attacked him.R E I Those Indians jumped into the lakes, shooting back for most of that day and night, but most were captured by DeSoto's army.R Many were publicly executed.E The Thirty Lancers would describe Napituca Village's devastation.


The Flatwoods of Florida

Narvaez had used the same flatwoods trail into Napituca, a village which Vaca called "Apalachen."V Napituca Village may have been in Apalache Province at that time, given the warring nature of that neighboring provinceR and the European diseases (population movers) delivered by Narvaez. "The Lakes", says Vaca,V "are much larger here.. as we sallied they fled to the lakes nearby... shooting from the lakes which was safety to themselves that we could not retaliate..." Narvaez, apparently, didn't have a large enough army to surround them, as DeSoto would do with more horsemen and an army twice his size.

Vaca says those natives told them that the land and villages inland were very poor, but that by "journeying south nine days was a town called Aute... (with) much maize, beans and pumpkins and being near the sea they had fish."V

Map, Narvaez from Aute to Apalachen

Biedma says these Indians told many great lies. Narvaez had believed them - he had no Juan Ortiz to sort them out.R Narvaez headed southwest from Napituca (mapped above): "The first day we got through those lakes and passages without seeing anyone, next day we went to a lake difficult of crossing... (southwestward)... at the end of a league we arrived at another of the same character, but worse, as it was half a league in extent."V

A St. Marks River Pool

St. Marks RiverNarvaez' trail below Napituca Village, at a marching rate of four-plus leagues per day, would have passed between the "lakes" at Napituca then over a large swamp. The next day, turned southwest by the Gulf of Mexico, it crossed East River Pool and the St. Marks River (photo above); both difficult to get around, even today. Pioneer trails crossed both at the same places. East River Pool now has an earthen causeway where they crossed it, and the St. Marks River is still just as shallow near its mouth.

Their trail would lead to Aute, where DeSoto, who would use a different trail there, would find traces of them. DeSoto massacred Napituca's people and enslaved their women for misleading Narvaez. The Chroniclers never mention this, perhaps for the shame of it, or maybe because it was so obvious to them.

The mass slaying of natives by DeSoto would be repeated only twice during his three year campaign: one when attacked by Chicasa in Tennessee, the other when Alabama's Chief Tuscalusa betrayed him.

PANHANDLE MONSTERS

DeSoto's Conquest Trail Map - Napituca to Apalache

DESOTO'S TRAIL ON GOOGLE EARTH   and   CONQUEST CALENDARS

Near the River of the DeerTuesday, the twenty-third of September, with a well-fed army supported by captives from four provinces (Paracoxi, Ocale, Caliquen and Napituca), DeSoto set out once more toward his planned winter encampment at Apalache. The trip would take two weeks; the men would rest for days along the way. From Napituca it is only ten leagues to Tallahassee by crossing the St. Marks River (Inca called it Osachile when the Thirty Lancers crossed it). The army stopped to bridge that river on their first night out,R four leagues from Napituca. The chief of a nearby village, Uzachil, who had sent flute players to amuse the men further back on the trail, presented dressed deer E while they built a bridge of logs the next day at or near that river's natural bridge. The army, accordingly, named the St. Marks River "The River of the Deer."R

Bridge over The River of the Deer - the St. Marks RiverAfter completing the bridge the following day, "The army crossed the river, (and) marched two leagues through a country without timber," leaving the flatwoods and arriving at a place where they "found large fields of maize, beans and calabashes."I They called that plentiful village Hapaluya;E it was located ten miles southeast of Tallahassee. There's one gigantic farm there today, clearly visible from outer space.

"With the fields began the settlement of scattered houses, separated from one another without the order of a village, and these continued for a space of four leagues as far as the chief village..."I  "But in all these towns they found the people gone, and some captains went out to pillage and captured many people." R

DeSoto's Tallahassee Area Chronicled
by Biedma, Rangel, Elvas and Inca

Tallahassee's ForestsThat evening, under the Harvest Moon, DeSoto rode four more leagues into Uzachil:R E I today's Tallahassee. The villagers, however, had fled into the forests.I The army caught up and captured many of them while pillaging the surrounding fields over the next four days R E I and moonlit nights. The Thirty Lancers would camp there on their second night out.

"In the town he found an abundance of maize, beans, and pumpkins, of which their food consists, and on which the Christians lived there. Maize is like coarse millet and the pumpkins are better and more savory than those of Spain.E

"From there the governor sent two captains, each one in a different direction, in search of the Indians. They captured a hundred head, among Indian men and women. Of the latter, there, as well as in any other part where forays were made, the captain selected one or two for the governor and the others were divided among themselves and those who went with them. These Indians they took along in chains with collars about their necks and they were used for carrying the baggage and grinding the maize and for other services which so fastened in this manner they could perform. Sometimes it happened that when they went with them for firewood or maize they would kill the Christian who was leading them and would escape with the chain. Others at night would file the chain off with a bit of stone which they have in place of iron tools, and with which they cut it. Those who were caught at it paid for themselves and for those others, so that on another day they might not dare do likewise. As soon as the women and young children were a hundred leagues (260 miles) from their land, having become unmindful, they were taken along unbound, and served in that way, and in a very short time learned the language of the Christians.E

Tallahassee's State Capitol BuildingInca, who called this village Osachile, says, "Because of the short time that the Spaniards were in this province and because it was small, though well populated... and supplied with food... it will be appropriate, in order not to leave it so soon, for us to describe the site, plan, and appearance of this pueblo..." Among other things, he says the chief lived on "a high point" of earth "three pikes high." Topography would indicate that he was describing the natural hill under Florida's Capitol Building, with a base elevation of 200 feet - 50 feet over the surrounding terrain - it was the highest point DeSoto had crossed in today's Florida.

DeSoto's Trail from Tallahassee to the Apalachicola RiverThe army departed westward, crossed the swampy Ochlockonee River, and spent the night at a "pine wood,"R about five leagues west of Florida's Capitol by following the course of the "Florida's Old Spanish Trail." The next day they continued to "Agile" RE four-and-a-half leagues up the road at today's Quincy. That area was labeled 1827 John L. Williams Map of the Western Part of Florida "Tup-Hulga Reservation" in 1827 by John L. Williams (on his Map of Western Part of Florida, left). These natives had never seen Christians before (like Cabeza de Vaca with Narvaez, who had passed south of there). One of DeSoto's troops was grabbed in his genitals by an unhappy female captive there; he survived, but just barely.R

The next day, DeSoto, in the vanguard, came to the Apalache Swamp,E B R I the Apalachicola River, with Florida's largest flow, twelve leagues beyond Uzachil's boundary;I the Ochlockonee River. The army would camp at a large pasture two leagues from the Apalache Swamp while crossing it in groups during the next several days.I Inca says the Thirty Lancers would also camp there, their first night out.

The Gigantic Apalachicola River Gorge and its Bridge

Today's Woodruff dam spans 8,800 feet across the Apalachicola River's mammoth hundred foot deep gorge at Chattahoochee. Inca says the banks were half-a-league apart,I as they are today below the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers. With extensive swamps on either side, the river flowed around an island where DeSoto crossed it, a mile below today's dam. Elvas says that the river was wider than a crossbow shot.E It still is, despite the upstream dam (beyond the bridges in photo below).

Apalachicola River Bridge at Chattahoochee

Old Florida trails converged at this place on Florida's original Township Survey. The railroad follows DeSoto's narrow foot path through that gorge's forest. The east bank, where DeSoto descended into it, and the west bank, where he built a stockade, look the same today as described then.E I It took the army several days to bridge and cross this river. Indian resistance was intense. This mammoth river was the provincial boundary of Apalache.B

Inca says, "Some of them (the natives) took new courage and strength from the memory and recollection of having defeated and destroyed Panphilo de Narvaez ten or twelve years before in this same swamp, though not at this pass (he crossed it 40 miles downstream of there). They recalled this exploit to the Spaniards and to their general, saying to them, among other taunts and insults, that they would do the same thing to them and to him."

Once all had crossed, DeSoto's army left the stockade and proceeded two leagues up the west bank to camp at a village called Vitachuco, which had been set ablaze just prior to their arrival;B E R today's Sneads. The army passed through rich fields to Calahuchi Village,I camping just north of today's Cypress then, having lost their only good guide, they came to a deep ravine that was difficult to pass two leagues down the road.I They met extreme resistance from the Apalachens at this ravine, the worst they had seen in Florida.I

Spring Creek Ravine
That ravine, with banks over eighty feet over Spring Creek today, even though it is dammed today, still looks like Inca described it.I That creek rises from Blue Spring and flows southwest into the Chipola River. Pioneer maps show the trail from the Apalachicola River passing north of Blue Spring to avoid that gorge, then continuing west to the Chipola River's natural bridge, two leagues from the spring. But DeSoto was "carrying as guide an old Indian woman who got them lost..."R

1837 John Lee Williams Map of FloridaOnce the fighting was over they "marched two leagues more through a country without cultivated fields..."I Those fields are still not farmed, as most east and west of them are. DeSoto's army camped at today's Florida Caverns State Park on the Chipola River.

The next morning they crossed the Chipola River's "natural bridge." DeSoto proceeded two leagues in advance with the horsemen and a hundred foot soldiers into the principal village of Iviahica Apalache,I E R where the lord of all that land and province lived. The natives had fled.

Iviahica Apalache Village was located at yesteryear's Webbville, just northwest of today's Marianna, eleven leagues from the Apalachicola River's swampI. DeSoto established his winter headquarters there. His "panhandle monsters" were that swamp and the ravine; our's would be the enduring myth that Tallahassee was the location of Iviahica Apalache. Tallahassee was just another stop along DeSoto's way, which accounts for the paucity of archaeological evidence of his presence being found there after sixty years of digging.

Greg Farro Exploring Native American Paradise

The Author near MariannaPARADISE
Chronicled by Biedma, Rangel, Elvas, Inca

FLORIDA TRAIL DETAILS ON GOOGLE EARTH
and CONQUEST CALENDARS

Iviahica Apalache's fields are deep, rich, red mineral sediments nestled between rolling, sandy hills and spring-fed streams. Vegetables grow in profusion.I E R
One look in the fields tells the story of a thousand year occupation. The fields are strewn with fragments of cultures which settled and farmed there from time to time. The black farmers who live on Union Road, which cuts through what used to be Iviahica, are a beautiful, hard working and proud people; most of their ancestors were born there. The setting is rural Alabama; livestock are pastured on several southern-style plantations. Pigs, chickens, beans, squash, corn and insects are abundant.

Churches and small cemeteries dot the forested landscape. The Old Spanish Trail bends north to Alabama and the Pensacola Road forks southwest there (see Webbville on the J.L. Williams 1837 Map of Florida).

Native American ParadiseRangel says, "The province of Apalache is very fertile and very abundant in supplies, with much corn and beans and squash, and diverse fruits, and many deer and many varieties of birds, and near the sea there are many and good fish, and it is a pleasant land although there are swamps; but they are firm because they are over sand." DeSoto would spend the winter there.

DeSoto's scouts found the elusive chief of that province, "he was concealed in some high and very rough mountains" two miles south of DeSoto's camp. The army fought their way to the clearing on top of one of them (at 217 feet msl) from which much of that province can be seen today. Excessively fat and incapable of standing or walking, he (the chief) surrendered. "His Indians carried him on a litter, and wherever he wished to go in his house he went on all fours. This was the reason he had not gone farther away from the Spaniards' camp than he did."

Biedma, the King's Agent, says, "In this province of Apalache there are many towns, and it is a land of plentiful food... and here it seemed to us that it was time to find out about those who remained at the port, and that they should know about us, because we intended to plunge so far into the interior that we might not be able to have more news of them." The Thirty Lancers would eventually be sent.


Inca and Elvas say that Juan de Anasco was dispatched from that place (during New Moon) to find the seaI just before being sent back down the trail with the Thirty Lancers.I B Anasco needed to mark the trees along that seashore in order to find Apalache on his return from Ucita in DeSoto's ships. He first rode south to Aute, twelve leagues from Iviahica,I today's Bennett.

He reported crossing only two small rivers along that way, easy to cross;I they are called Econfina and Sweetwater Creeks today. He had camped midway at Ochete, Compass Lake, the half way point.

Biedma says, "Here we went to look for the sea (the Gulf of Mexico near today's Panama City), which was about nine leagues (23 miles) from this town..." Inca says Anasco then got lost due due to poor night visability and having a bad guide. He returned to Aute to get a different one. Just over two leagues (5 miles) beyond Aute, after crossing a creek (photo below) up to his horse's pasterns, Anasco came to the head of a bay; today's Deer Point Lake, just above North Bay and St. Andrew Bay.

The creek Anasco forded is called Bear Creek today and it, too, is the same with shallow water and a hard bottom. By skirting the bay southward, Anasco "found the place on the shore where Panfilo de Narvaez made the boats (for escape), because we found the site of the forge and many bones of the horses..." on the north shore point of Bayou George at Deer Point Lake.

Pasterns Creek

Anasco found crosses carved in the trees (right photo), carcasses of dead horses, and the forge Narvaez had built to smelt nails from stirrups to build his boats. Then, in order to mark the trees for his own return, Anasco followed along the shore of the bay to the sea, which was three leagues away.INarvaez Boatworks Site The Gulf of Mexico is one league south of the harbor's point at today's Panama City, then two leagues out the strait formed by the breaker island (see map below) where he marked the trees, for a total distance of three leagues to the sea, as he reported. Vaca says Narvaez called that strait San Miguel when he went through it.V Today the breaker island has been cut below Panama City (mapped below) to form a pass for ships, thereby avoiding the shallows at the mouth of the strait which Anasco would report months later on his return from Ucita in DeSoto's ships.B

Vaca & Narvaez Escape Route Around Panama CitySince the water in all of that bay is shallow, Narvaez had to time his departure on favorable tides. According to modern lunar reports, that is exactly what he did: Narvaez completed his boats so they could be launched and maneuvered out of the bay on the spring tides of harvest moon, September 28th, 1528. That may have been his first wise move in conquest but, no doubt, his last.

Vaca reported that during their 280 league trip through Florida, Narvaez never saw a mountain.V Apparently he bypassed Tallahassee. DeSoto's people reported that they were the first whites ever seen near the Apalache Swamp,I confirming that Narvaez had taken a different route to Aute. Vaca's reported distance traveled through Florida to the bay, 280 leagues,V would indicate its estimate along the trails and various diversions, not along paced and charted lines, as was DeSoto's habit.

Narvaez camped for several days in Aute (today's Bennett, mapped well above), where Vaca was dispatched on horseback to find an escape route from that hostile country. He rode down the same trail Juan de Anasco, with DeSoto, would ride from Aute to Bayou George. There Vaca found a place favorable for building boats, with cedar, pine, oak, palmetto, shell fish coves and a fresh water stream, but no rocks at Bayou George (see the Florida Township survey of 1831 which is exactly the way Vaca described it). That trail from Aute, about four leagues round trip to the bayou, was ridden many times by Narvaez' people to fetch sick men and food from Aute during the time it took them to build their boats for escape.

Vaca says, "On the twenty-second day of the month of September (1528) we had eaten up all the horses but one. That bay from which we started is called the Bay of the Horses. We sailed seven days among those inlets, in the water waist deep, without signs of anything like the coast. At the end of this time we reached an island near the shore..." of the Gulf of Mexico.

"...and two leagues beyond found a strait between the island and the coast, which strait we christened Sant Miguel, it being the day of that saint (on September 29th). Issuing from it we reached the coast, where by means of the five canoes I had taken from the Indians we mended somewhat the barges, making washboards and adding to them and raising the sides two hands above water."

That was the last of Cabeza de Vaca and Panfilo Narvaez on land in today's Florida. They sailed west, beyond the Mississippi River.

DeSoto's Offshore Conquest Trail Map - Charlotte Harbor to Panama CityWhen Biedma, the King's Agent, was at Aute he pronounced the sea to be nine leagues (23 miles) distant.B 227 It is that distance, on a straight line, to the sea from today's Bennett. Notice that Biedma did not say to the "coast" this time. A navigable harbor, such as St. Andrews Bay, was, by definition, a coast. They called that harbor the Bay of Aute.I Biedma also says they had walked one-hundred and ten leagues (300 miles) from Ucita to that point.B 227 It is exactly that distance, on a straight line, from Ucita (Charlotte Harbor) to Aute, the way Anasco was instructed to return in DeSoto's ships; Biedma knew that was the "paced and charted" range they had displaced to the bay since leaving Ucita. DeSoto's cartographers must have been much more talented than previous trail seekers surmised.

Biedma goes on to say, "Juan de Anasco made certain signs in some trees that were on the shore of the sea, because the Governor ordered him (with Thirty Lancers) to call the people who had remained at the port, and to send them by land the way we had come, and to come back by sea in two brigantines and a small vessel that was there, and to bring them to that province of Apalache; meanwhile we remained waiting there..." at Aute.


Thirty Lancers to Port The Thirty Lancers were dispatched to Charlotte Harbor's Ucita on October 20th, 1539, seven days before Hunter's Moon. They followed DeSoto's "seacoast" route from Ucita, as it was referred to then,E 73 back to port. Only two shortcuts were available to them over its 150 leagues (390 miles), as Inca reported.I 205, 227 It measures 385 miles on U.S. Department or Interior Geological Survey 7.5 Minute Series Topographic Maps.

Anasco's object was to avoid potentially hostile villages that Desoto had deliberately passed through for food and captives on his way up.E 72 Anasco's first bypass was just west of today's Dunnellon, where the Lancers took a more southerly course over the Withlacoochee River's flats to the Great Swamp, avoiding the villages on the Rock Phosphate Ridge near the "Cove" of the Withlacoochee River; cutting off about one league.I 220 They captured several females from the outlying fields along that way, and they would eventually be taken to Havana.E 72 Anasco's second shortcut bypassed Paracoxi Village to the west.I 224 There are no swamps or rivers to preclude that cut-off. In that neighborhood DeSoto had been misled to Tocaste on his way up, adding at least eight leagues to his trip. Anasco proceeded more southward from the Great Swamp, saving perhaps another league. To avoid Mococo's Village, not knowing if Spain still held favor there, Anasco and the Lancers rounded the village to westward then forded the Myakka river well below the village. They captured more Indians who were engaged in a ceremony of fish baking in the woods, Mococo's peopleI 224-5.

DeSoto had timed the Thirty Lancers departure from Iviahica to be lit by Hunter's Moon at their worst obstacle, the Great Swamp, with bright moonlit nights on either side to enable long overnight passages through that neighborhood.E 72 Once at Ucita, where the "rescued" men shouted with joy almost in unison about the gold the army must have found by then,I 227 the troops had only one week before marching to catch the next Full Moon at Caliquen, the most populated village on their journey to northwest Florida. The men spent that week celebrating with and distributing hardware to Chief Mococo and his people.I 228-230

Old Spanish FieldsThe army had been introduced to lighter and more effective Indian arrow-shielding: long, thick quilted jackets.I 236 Excess armor was, therefore, given to Mococo's people and would end up scattered around their village site and be found by Florida's pioneers, who called that place "Old Spanish Fields". On their trip up DeSoto's trail, the men would suffer the loss of several of their own and seven horses,E 72, R 268 some at the Apalache Swamp, others at the Ravine.I 237-242 All were jubilant to reunite with DeSoto's army in search of gold and treasures.

Careening a Vessel for CleaningAt Ucita, Anasco had only one week to catch the next Spring Tide, on the New Moon, to pass over Charlotte Harbor's channel shallows. He used the time to careen and load the brigs. That timing was no accident, it was calculated;I 243 it would take Anasco just under two weeks to sail from there to Panama CityR 268 to catch the favorable Spring Tides at that harbor. Only today can we realize DeSoto's genius.I 244 Desoto's trail from Ucita to the bay where Narvaez built his boats was only 173 leagues long (148 leagues traveled by the lancers from Iviahica to Ucita, plus two leagues cut off by Anasco's shortcuts, plus the eight leagues DeSoto marched back and forth below Lake Hancock, plus Anasco's twelve leagues marched from Iviahica to Aute, then three more leagues to the bay). Vaca's estimate of 280 leagues traveled by Narvaez to the bayV probably included scouting for food, plus the distance from his landing site to Ucita, then the greater distance to the Great Swamp on his trail up the east side of the Peace River through Arcadia's rich grain fields. Narvaez never got to meet Chief Mococo or his fine people; Mococo's Village was eight leagues north of the route Narvaez took from his entrance port to Ucita and beyond.

Biedma says, after "Juan de Anasco sent the people by land (to Apalache), and he came back by sea as the Governor commanded him... he endured much hardship and danger, because he did not find that coast; he did not find a trace of what he had seen by land before he went there by sea, because the inlets were shallow, and at high tide they had water but at low tide they were dry. We made a piragua that each day went out two leagues into the sea to see if the brigantines were coming, in order to show them where they were to stop."


That piragua, says Elvas, was made with "...planks hewn and spikes taken to the sea (which DeSoto sent from Iviahica Apalache), with which was built a piragua large enough to hold thirty well-armed men who went by way of the bay to the sea and coasted about waiting for the brigantines. Several times they fought with Indians who were going along the keys in canoes."

"Saturday, the nineteenth of November, Juan de Anasco arrived at the port... And at this time Captain Calderon arrived with all the people, minus two men and seven horses that the Indians killed on the road."R

Captain Maldonado was then dispatched westward along the coast in DeSoto's brigs to find "an entrance to the sea" at which to meet DeSoto the following year or, barring that, the next year.E 73, B 228, R 268, I 244 Biedma says, "He spent two months on this journey, yet to all of us it became a thousand years through detaining us there so long..." waiting for him at Aute.

Maldonado found Ochuse, sixty leagues down the coast at Mobile Bay, the mouth of the great Alabama Rivers. He took captives from there to lead DeSoto overland to it.

Panama City to Mobile Bay










From Iviahica, DeSoto would explore for nearly a year and a thousand miles before an ambush took place above Mobile Bay. DeSoto's precise cartography accounts for his knowledge that the captives led him toward Mobile: the place from which DeSoto planned to settle and hold North America.

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