Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/22

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chieftain, but depredations committed by some of the soldiers precipitated a conflict, which, however, was quelled by the courage and presence of mind of De Soto, and the wrath of the natives appeased. The wily Spaniard then enticed the chief within his lines and held him as hostage until he was ransomed with provisions and slaves. On July 26th, De Soto approached the town of Coosa. The chieftain with 1,000 tall, sprightly and active warriors came out to meet him with the most friendly greetings, but, like the chieftain of Costa, he, too, was held as a prisoner and hostage to enable De Soto to extort ransom and to prevent any hostility on the part of the Indian warriors. De Soto then turned southward to Maubila, the principal city of the Maubilians, which was situated at what is now Choctaw Bluff, Clarke county. Tuskaloosa, the chieftain of that tribe, was a very handsome man about forty years old and of most extraordinary stature; he was entirely undemonstrative, but it soon became evident that he regarded the Spaniards with grave suspicion. Nevertheless, upon entering the city they were received with music, the most graceful dancing of beautiful Indian girls, and other outward signs of hospitality.

The Spaniards soon found that they were in the midst of an armed force of Indians fully ten times their number. A dispute between a native and a Spanish officer was the beginning of a most terrible battle; De Soto succeeded in getting outside of the gates, and deployed his soldiers so as to meet the swarm of Indians that were sweeping down upon them, a large body of which were directing their attack upon the horses of the Spaniards. The Indians used missiles of all kinds. Bows and arrows were used with great skill, while in hand-to-hand conflict the savages fought with wooden cleavers and enormous clubs. After three hours of battle, the Spanish were reinforced by the arrival of their rear guard under Muscoso. Encouraged by this addition of fresh troops, the heavily-armored Spaniards, with their superior weapons,