By Donald E. Sheppard|
Art by Cheryl Lucente
TRAIL TO THIS POINT
SPANISH MAP: THEIR MIDWEST IN 1670
It Started in Alabama
This Site has described Hernando de Soto's trail from his landing in Florida to Mabila. That trail led into Alabama, across Georgia and the Carolinas, into parts of Tennessee and Georgia, then back through Alabama to a place near Prairie Bluff, an anchorage that's well protected from winter storms on the Alabama River.
NEW: DESOTO's TRAILS ON GOOGLE EARTH and CONQUEST CALENDARS
This report contends that landmarks, found along DeSoto's way and described in his people's journals, still exist where they were found in the 1540's. Scientists have never challenged this observation, but because most cling to the ancient belief that DeSoto landed in Tampa Bay, their supposed DeSoto trail through Alabama is well off-track. Their Alabama trail entry point, alone, is hundreds of miles off the mark. On the positive side, some Alabama scholars have shown interest in the tracking method presented here.
Alabama's Tuscalusa Indians were the boldest DeSoto encountered. Chief Tuscalusa knew that DeSoto was coming months before he arrived. DeSoto was headed for his waiting ships in Mobile Bay. They had more soldiers, weapons, clothing and food. Tuscaloosa knew the ships were there, just three days down the river from Mabila. He attacked DeSoto at Mabila despite overwhelming odds against him, but destroyed DeSoto's stores in the process. DeSoto stayed at Mabila, attended by native women, for one full moon cycle.
To prevent news of "defeat" from reaching prospective settlers, DeSoto kept his people - officers, wounded, fit, slave and woman - from straying away, then led them northward from Mabila, away from the ships. He would isolate them beyond the Tennessee River that winter, then march them farther north at springtime. The ships would be headed back to Cuba by then. They would return the following winter, as DeSoto had instructed them to do in such an event, when he could give them news of a more successful conquest.
Intelligence of Mabila, with its open pastures and friendly women, near a deep river with a protected anchorage close to an excellent port on the Gulf of Mexico, would influence another Spanish Conquistador, Tristan de Luna, to attempt settlement there two decades later. DeSoto Expedition survivors guided him.