Hernando DeSoto discovered the Mississippi River, of course. Well, he did that and some other things. His
name literally means 'Hernando of the grove.' As a man who played a role during The Renaissance, Hernando DeSoto was
born around 1500 in Barcarotta, Spain. He began his life as an adventurous young boy who was always exploring his environment.
At about 14 years of age, DeSoto traveled from Spain to Panama with Pedro Arias de Avila with just a sword and a shield as
the only things that he owned. Two years later, he led a calvary unit through his journey to Honduras and Nicaragua
to colonize the villages. Hernando DeSoto became famous not only because of his skills in battle, but of how he fought
against the people of Central America. He was ruthless against the armies and refused to give up, showing brutality
in the ways he fought.
DeSoto wanted to find a waterway between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, so he searched the Yukatan Penninsula in
1528. He ventured to Peru with Francisco Pizarro, eventually stumbling upon the Incans, being the first European to
talk to them after separating from Pizarro. He returned back to Spain in 1536 with 100,000 pesos for conquesting the Incan
Empire. In Spain he had suspected that there were great resources in Florida as there were in Peru. Charles V made him
the governor of Cuba after DeSoto declared the lands. De Soto sold all the extra items that he owned and began his journey
into the unknown lands of the west.
It was May in the year 1539 when he came to Florida with between 600 and 700 men. He expected Florida to be full
of great resources, but instead he found the brutal temperatures along with the mosquitos and the swampland. He was
very brutal with the indian tribes that he had come upon, as he captured them and used them for working and helping explore
the land. DeSoto made it through many parts of Georgia and the South and North Carolinas. At one point through
the expedition, the Spaniards were attacked by the Choctaw tribe, where a total of fourty or so Spaniards died, several were
wounded, and between 2,000 and 6,000 Choctaw died. This battle left many of the Spaniards weak and most of the equipment
They went north where they met the Chickasaw tribe and DeSoto demanded
200 men from them. They refused, and
when the Spaniards went to bed that night, they were attacked and lost the rest of their equipment. But on May 8, 1541,
DeSoto and his troops had reached the Mississippi River. DeSoto was the first man who had a claim to seeing the river,
as nobody else had documented seeing it. Finding this river was more hurt that good to him though, because as you know,
the Mississippi River is a huge river, and DeSoto had to find a way to get himself and 400 men across it. He finally
contructed many little boats to get his soldiers across the river.
It was May 21, 1542 that Hernando DeSoto met his end. It was said that he had a fever that may have been caused
by infection in his wounds from a battle with a Native American tribe called the Tula. DeSoto had convinced the indians
that Christians were immortal, so his troops made sure they didnt know about his death.
So what did he get out of it? What was so important about the expeditions of Hernando DeSoto? He came to
Florida to find that not only did it not contain the great resources like Peru did, but the climate and lands were rough too.
DeSoto met many indian tribes along his journey, and to them he and all European people appeared to be fierce and arrogant
people. But on the other hand, his expeditions did help with the mapping of North America, along with his descriptions
of the tribes that he encountered. Thanks to him, many people knew what was in the west, so it motivated explorers to explore
the United States.