Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter IV >> Page 40

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Page 40

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
into two bodies for this purpose. It is probable that thus divided they pursued different routes, with the view to the more easy procuring of their food. One of these bodies, preceding the other, reached the banks of a small river twelve miles south of St. Augustine. Before they could procure the means of effecting the passage, they were encountered by Melendez at the head of forty soldiers. There, for the first time, he learned the fate of Ribault's fleet. The shipwrecked men were in a state of helpless weakness, half famished, subdued in spirit, wanting equally in food and water. Melendez invited them to rely on his compassion. His invitation was complied with. The French yielded by capitulation, and were brought across the river by small divisions, in a single boat. As the captives stepped upon the bank occupied by their enemies, their hands were tied behind them ; a measure of precaution which probably did not alarm them, as they must have seen the smallness of the Spanish force. Two hundred were transported in this manner, and when brought together in the forests, at some distance from, and out of sight of their companions who were yet to cross, "at a line marked with his cane upon the sand," and at a signal from Melendez, they were set upon and butchered. Their carcasses were left unburied where they were slain.
A few days elapsed, when the remaining party, under Ribault himself, appeared at the same river, and were met, like the former, by the inveterate Spaniard. On this occasion, Melendez brought with him a more imposing force. A protracted negotiation followed, and a large
ransom was offered by the Frenchmen ; but Melendez,