Narrative of Le Moyne

to Ribaud. Upon hearing the story, it may easily be imagined how great was the grief of Ribaud and all his company, and how utterly he was at a loss what to say or do. For his own part, he foresaw the cruelty of the Spaniards ; and yet he perceived that most of his force would perish by starvation and exposure in the woods ; but, before resolving on any definite step, it was decided to send some messenger to the fort, to learn something of the intentions of the Spaniards, and what disposal had been made of the Frenchmen left in the fort. For this purpose were sent Nicolas Verdier, captain of one of the ships, and La Caille, that officer of Laudonniere’s of whom mention has already been made. They went in a canoe with five or six soldiers, and, according to orders, showed themselves at a good distance off. The Spaniards, on seeing them, came in a boat to the other bank of the river, and held a parley with our men. The French asked what had become of the men left in the fort. The Spaniards replied that their commander, who was a humane and clement person, had sent them all to France in a large ship abundantly supplied, and that they might say to Ribault that he and his men should be used equally well. The French returned with this message. Ribault, on hearing it, believed too hastily this story about his men having been sent back to France, and summoned another council. Here most of the soldiers began at once to cry out, ” Let us go, let us go! What is to hinder our going over to them at once . Even if  they should put us to death, is it not better to die outright than to endure so many miseries? There is not one of us who has not experienced a hundred deaths while we have been making this journey ! ” Others, more prudent, said they could never put faith in Spaniards ; for, they urged, if there were no other reason than the hatred which they bear to us on account of our religion, they assuredly will not spare us.

Ribault, however, perceiving that most were of his mind, that it was best to surrender to the Spaniards, decided to send La Caille in to the Spanish commander, with orders, if the latter should seem inclined to clemency, to ask, in the name of the lieutenant of the king of France, for a safe-conduct, and to announce, that, if the Spanish leader would make oath to spare all their lives, they would come in, and throw themselves at his feet. The greater part of the company assented to this, and La Caille was accordingly sent ; who, coming to the fort, was taken before the commander, and, throwing himself at his feet, delivered his message. Having heard La Caille through, he not only pledged his faith to La Caille in the terms suggested, and confirmed the pledge with many signs of the cross, and by kissing the Evangelists, but made oath in the presence of all his men, and drew up a writing sealed with his seal, repeating the oath, and promising that he would without fraud, faithfully, and like a gentleman and a man of honesty, preserve the lives of Ribault and his men. All this was handsomely written out, and given to La Caille ; but this fine paper promise was worth just as much as the blank paper. La Caille, however, took back this elegant document with him ; which was joyfully received by some, while others did not entertain any great expectations from it.

Ribault, however, having made an excellent speech to his people, and all having joined in offering prayer to God, gave orders to proceed, and with all his company came down to the bank of the river near the fort. Upon being seen by the Spanish sentinels, they were taken over in boats.

Ribault himself, and D’Ottigny, Laudonniere’s lieutenant, were first led into the fort by themselves ; the rest were halted about a bowshot from the fort, and were all tied up in fours, back to back; from which, and other indications, they quickly perceived that their lives were lost. Ribault asked to see the governor, to remind him of his promise ; but he spoke to deaf ears. D’Ottigny, hearing the despairing cries of his men, appealed to the oath which had been taken, but they laughed at him. As

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3 thoughts on “Narrative of Le Moyne

  1. […] Narrative of Le Moyne (1859 English translation of Le Moyne’s writings about Florida) Learn more about the ancient Native American civilizations of Florida at our sister site, Learn more about Le Moyne and the French explorations in the southeastern U.S. with the following books & videos: […]

  2. […] likelihood that Fontaneda actually visited Fort Caroline. Le Moyne includes in his accounts an episode where he has two Spanish castaways living among the Indians brought to the fort. They stated they […]

  3. […] “All the troops being now on board, a fair wind for an hour or two was all that was needed to bring us up with the enemy ; but just as the anchors were about to be weighed the wind changed, and blew directly against us, exactly from the point where the enemy were, for two whole days and nights, while we waited for it to become fair.” Narrative of Le Moyne […]