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he was to ride rough shod over the naked Indians, he was emboldened by a fatal contempt for the prow. ess of his foe Uracca allowed the Spaniards to become entangled in the intricacies of rocks and gul. lies and gigantic forest trees, when suddenly he opened upon them such a shower of poisoned arrows as the Spaniards had never encountered before. The touch of one of these arrows, breaking the skin, caused immediate and intense agony, and almost certain death. The sinewy arms of the Indians could throw these sharp-pointed weapons with almost the precision and force of a bullet, and with far greater rapidity than the Spaniards could load and fire their inuskets.
Espinosa found himself assailed by a foe outnumbering him ten or twenty to one. The air was almost darkened with arrows, and every one thrown with unerring aim. The rout of the Span iards was almost instantaneous. Several were killed, many wounded.
In a panic, they turned and fled precipitately from the trap in which they had been caught. The natives impetuously pursued, showing no quarter, evidently determined to exterminate the whole band.
It so happened that De Soto, with his dragoons, had left Pizarro's band, and in a military incursion into the country, was approaching the bay
where Espinosa had landed his troops. Suddenly the clamor of the conflict burst upon his ear—the shouts of the Indian warriors and the cry of the fugitive Spaniards. His little band put spurs to their hc: ses and hastened to the scene of action. Very great difficulties impeded their progress. The rugged ground, encumbered by rocks and broken by ravines, was almost impassable for horsemen.
But the energy of De Soto triumphed over these obstacles, even when the bravest of his companions remonstrated and hesitated to follow him. At length he reached the open country over which the Spaniards were rushing to gain their ships, pursued by the Indians in numbers and strength which seemed to render the destruction of the Spaniards certain.
The natives stood in great dread of the horses. When they saw the dragoons, glittering in their steel armor, come clattering down upon the plain, their pursuit was instantly checked. Espinosa, thus unexpectedly reinforced, rallied his panic-stricken troops, and in good order continued the retreat to the ships. De Soto with his cavalry occupied the post of danger as rear-guard. The Indians cautiously followed, watching for every opportunity which the inequalities of the ground might offer, to assail the invaders with showers of arrows. Occasionally De Soto would halt and turn his horses' heads towards the Indians
Apprehensive of a charge, they would then fall back. The retreat was thus conducted safely, but slowly.
The Spaniards had advanced many leagues from the shores of the Pacific.
They were now almost perishing from hunger and fatigue. Indian bands were coming from all directions to reinforce the native troops. The sun was going down and night was approaching All hearts were oppressed with the greatest anxiety. Just then Pizarro, with his two hundred men, made his appearance.
He had not been far away, and a courier having informed him of the peril of the Spaniards, he hastened to their relief. Night with its gloom settled down over the plain, and war's hideous clamor was for a few hours hushed. The morning would usher in a renewal of the battle, under circumstances which caused the boldest hearts in the Spanish camp to tremble.
In the night Generals Espinosa and Pizarro held a council of war, and came to the inglorious resolve to steal away under the protection of darkness, leaving Uracca in undisputed possession of the field. This decision excited the indignation of De Soto. He considered it a disgrace to the Spanish arms, and de. clared that it wou.d only embolden the natives in all their future military operations. His bitter remonstrances were only answered by a sneer from General Espinosa, who assured him that the veteran captains of Spain would not look to his youth and inexperience for guidance and wisdom.
At midnight the Spaniards commenced their retreat as secretly and silently as possible.
But they had a foe to deal with who was not easily to be deceived. His scouts were on the alert, and immediate notice was communicated to Uracca of the move. ments of the Spaniards. The pursuit was conducted with as much vigor as the flight. For eight and forty hours the fugitives were followed so closely, and with such fierce assailment, that large numbers of the rank and file perished. The officers and the dragoons of De Soto, wearing defensive armor, generally escaped unharmed. The remnant at length, weary and famine-stricken, reached their ships and immediately put to sea. With the exception of De Soto's dragoons, they numbered but fifty men. Deeply despondent in view of their disastrous campaign, they sailed several leagues along the western coast of the isthmus towards the south, till they reached a flourishing Indian village called Borrica. Conscious that here they were beyond the immediate reach of Uracca's avenging forces, they ventured to land. They found all the men absent. They were probably in the ranks of the native army.
General Espinosa, who was now chief in com.
mand, meanly sacked the defenceless village and captured all the women and children, to be seni to the West Indies and sold as slaves.
The generous heart of De Soto was roused by this outrage. He was an imperious man, and was never disposed to be very complaisant to his superiors. Sternly the young captain rebuked Espinosa as a kidnapper, stealing the defenceless; and he demanded that the prisoners should be set at liberty. An angry controversy ensued. De Soto accused Espinosa of cowardice and imbecility, in ordering the troops of Spain to retreat before naked savages. Espinosa, whose domineering spirit could brook no opposition, accused De Soto of mutinous conduct, and threatened to report him to the governor. De Soto angrily turned his hecl upon his superior officer and called upon his troops to mount their horses. Riding proudly at their head, he approached the tent of Espinosa and thus addressed him :
“ Señor Espinosa, the governor did not place me under your command, and you have no claim to my obedience. I now give you notice, that if you retain these prisoners so cruelly and unjustly captured, you must do so at your own risk. If these Indian warriors choose to make any attempt to recover their wives and their children, I declare to you upon my solemn oath, and by all that I hold most sacred,