Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/21

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Saxon or English-speaking people were nearly a century behind the Latin race in their attempt to assert jurisdiction over, take possession of and occupy territory upon the new continent. But, with the exception of Napoleon's momentary control in Louisiana, the rule of France in this country was effectually terminated by the treaty of Paris on February 7, 1763; and the Spanish crown, which once exercised dominion over all explored parts of America, and claimed the right to all by virtue of discovery, is now left without sovereignty in the Western hemisphere.

In April, 1528, Pamfilo de Narvaez landed with 300 men on the shore of Tampa bay. He marched northward, believing that in the interior he would find a wealthy empire similar to those of Mexico and Peru. The greater number of this expedition perished, but Alvar Nuñez and four companions made their way westward, passed through south Alabama, and finally reached the Spanish settlement of Mexico. These were the first white men who ever trod the soil of Alabama. In May, 1539, Hernando de Soto, with 1,000 chosen cavaliers, most of them from the best blood of Spain and Portugal, sailed into Tampa bay and disembarked at about the same spot where Narvaez landed eleven years before. Many months were spent in exploring eastern Florida, and then he turned northwardly into Georgia, at every turn confronted by a trackless wilderness and often surrounded by hostile tribes of Indians. In one of his earliest conflicts with natives he rescued Jean Ortiz, one of the Spanish followers of Narvaez, who for eleven years had been held as a prisoner by the Indians. The knowledge of the Indian customs and language acquired by Ortiz during captivity was of invaluable use to De Soto.

On July 2, 1540, the army passed from Georgia into Alabama at the site of the Indian village of Costa, which was situated near where the city of Rome, Ga., now stands. De Soto was received kindly by the Indian