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garrison of fifty soldiers at San Antonio, on Charlotte Bay, in the territory of the cacique Carlos, and Brother Villareal, also with a garrison, at Tegesta on the Miami River mouth at Biscayne Bay.
Menéndez had now established three permanent settlements on the Atlantic coast – St. Augustine and San Mateo in Florida and Santa Elena in South Carolina; and he had garrisoned forts at Guale in northern Georgia, at Tampa and Charlotte Bays on the west coast of the peninsula, and at Biscayne Bay and the St. Lucie River on the east coast. From these points Spaniards would now command the routes of the treasure fleets from the West Indies and from Vera Cruz. He had also projected a settlement at Chesapeake Bay, which was not fated to endure.
In May, 1567, after twenty months of continuous activity, Menéndez went to Spain. There he was acclaimed as a hero. Philip made him CaptainGeneral of the West, with command of a large fleet to secure the route to the West Indies, appointed him Governor of Cuba, and created him Knight Commander of the Holy Cross of Zarza, of the order of Santiago. It was said that Menéndez was greatly disappointed that his reward consisted of so many sonorous words and of so little substance. Menéndez had reached his zenith. The story of his later successes is varied with disasters.
In France, among all parties, the news of the massacre of Ribaut's colony had kindled fury against the Spaniards. Even to Catherine, in that hour of humiliation, the slaughtered men in Florida were not Huguenots but French. She rejected Philip's insinuating suggestions to make Coligny the scapegoat, avowed her own responsibility, and protested bitterly the effrontery and cruelty of Philip's agent in murdering her subjects. But her position in divided France was such that Philip had the whip hand, and he couched his answers in terms to make her feel it. She dared not go beyond high words, lest he publish her as an enemy of her own Church and, by some sudden stroke at her or her invalid son, hasten the end at which all his intrigues in her kingdom aimed, namely, the complete subservience of France to the Spanish Crown.
Catherine could not avenge the wrong; but Dominique de Gourgues could. Gourgues was an ex-soldier and a citizen of good family; his parents were Catholics and he is not known to have been a Protestant. He had been captured in war by the Spaniards and had been forced
to serve as a galley slave. Now to his own grievance was added that of his nation; and he chose to avenge both. It is possible that he did
not have the aid of the Queen and Coligny in heté raising his expedition - ostensibly to engage in
the slave trade — but quite probable that he did. (He timed his stroke to fall during the absence of Menéndez in Spain. With one hundred and eighty men he went out in August, 1567, and spent the winter trading in the West Indies. Early next year he proceeded to Florida, landed quietly near St. John's River and made an alliance with Chief Saturiba, who was hostile to the Spaniards but an old friend of the French.) Saturiba received him with demonstrations of joy, called his secondary chiefs to a war council, and presented Gourgues with a French lad whom his tribe had succored and concealed from the Spaniards since the time of Ribaut.
His force augmented by Saturiba's warriors, Gourgues marched stealthily upon San Mateo. The Spaniards in the outpost blockhouses had just dined “and were still picking their teeth" when Gourgues's cry rang out:
“Yonder are the thieves who have stolen this land from our King. Yonder are the murderers who have massacred our French. On! On! Let us avenge our King! Let us show that we are Frenchmen!”
The garrison in the first blockhouse, sixty in all, were killed or captured. The men in the second blockhouse met the same fate; and the French pushed on towards San Mateo fort itself, their fury having been increased by the sight of French cannon on the blockhouses — reminders of Fort Caroline. The Spaniards at San Mateo had received warning. A number had made off towards St. Augustine; the remaining garrison opened artillery fire upon the French. The trees screened the Indian allies; and the Spaniards, in making a sortie, were caught between the two forces. “As many as possible were taken alive, by Captain Gourgues's order, to do to them what they had done to the French,” says the report. The completion of Gourgues's revenge is thus related: “They are swung from the branches of the same trees on which they had hung the French, and in place of the inscription which Pedro Menéndez had put up containing these words in Spanish, I do this not as to Frenchmen but as to Lutherans, Captain Gourgues causes to be inscribed with a hot iron on a pine tablet: I do this not as to
Spaniards nor as to Marranos (secret Jews] but as to traitors, robbers, and murderers.":
Gourgues now turned homeward. On the way he captured three Spanish treasure ships, threw their crews overboard, and took their contents of gold, pearls, merchandise, and arms. With a hideous vindictiveness on land and water had he repaid Spaniards for the massacre of his countrymen on Florida soil and for his own degradation as a slave in their galleys on the sea. And he, too, like Menéndez, stepping red-handed upon his native shores, was acclaimed as a hero.
Troubles now came fast upon the Spaniards in Florida. Indians rose and massacred the soldiers at Tampa Bay. The garrison at San Antonio was compelled by hunger and the hostility of the natives to withdraw to St. Augustine. In rapid succession, the interior posts established by Pardo and Boyano were destroyed by the Indians, or abandoned to save provisions. By 1570 Indian rancor and shortage of food had forced numbers of the colonists to leave the country.
* Lowery, Florida, p. 333. There seems to be no proof that Menéndez had hanged Frenchmen at Fort Caroline with this inscription over them; but the report that he had done so was believed in France. Spanish accounts do not mention it.