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The Camp

    HOTAO's new site at the Camp Bayou Nature Center has been under construction for only a few months. The construction is based partly on the accounts of the village of Ucita, such as that of the Gentleman of Elvas listed below.  With the mix of Spanish and Indian items the Camp at this year's School of the 16th Century gave very much the feel of what the Soto's Campo at the Port of Espirito Santo must have been like.

     “On Friday May 30, [1539] they disembarked on the land of Florida, two leagues from a town of an Indian Chief called Ucita.  They disembarked the two hundred and thirteen horses which they carried, in order to lighten the ships so that they would be need less water.  All the men landed and only seamen stayed aboard, who in a week, by going up with the tide for a short distance daily, brought the vessels near to the town.  As soon as the men landed the camp was established on the shore near the bay which went up to the town.    ...the land being obstructed by woods and swamps,...   The night following, the governor with one hundred men in the brigantines came upon a town which he found without people,...   On the following day, Luis de Moscoso, maese de campo, set the men in order, those on horse in three squadrons-the vanguard, the battle line, and the rear guard- and in that way and the next, going around great mud flats which come from the bay.  They arrived at the town of Ucita, where the governor was, on Sunday, June first, the day of the Trinity.  The town consisted of seven or eight houses. the chief's house stood near the beach on a very high hill which had been artificially built as a fortress  At the other side of  the town was the temple and on top of it a wooden bird with its eyes gilded....   The houses were of wood covered with palm leaves.  The governor was lodged in the houses of the chief and with him Vasco Porollo and Luis de Moscoso; and in the
other houses which were located in the middle of the town, the chief constable, Balstar de Gallegos.  And apart in the same houses were placed the provisions carried on the ships.  The other houses and the temple were [dismantled], and a mess of every three or four built a small house in  which they were lodged.  The land round about  was greatly encumbered and choked with a great and lofty forest.  The governor ordered it to be cut down for the space of a crossbow shot about the town, in order that the horses might run and the Christians have the advantage of the Indians if the latter should by chance try to attack them by night. They posted foot soldiers as sentinels, in couples at each position along the roads and at proper places, who stood watch for four hours [ por quartes ].  The horsemen visited them and were ready to aid them if there should be an alarm.  The governor appointed four captains over the horsemen and two over the foot soldiers.  Those over the horse were: one, André de Vasconcelos, and Second, Pedro Calderón, of Badajóz, and the other two his kinsmen, the Cardeñosa (Arias Tinoco and Alfonso Romo), also natives of Badajóz.  One of captains over the foot soldiers was Francisco Maldonado of Salamanca, and the other Juan Rodriguez Lobillo.”

- The Gentleman of Elvas

 De Soto Chronicles. Vol. I pp.57-58.

      One of the most interesting classes, for this Spaniard was that on thatching.  A most useful skill for staying dry while conquring the New World. Some of the other subjects discussed at this year's event  included:
      Best of all the readings of the primary accounts (English) of the early encounters and  life in Florida - - good story telling sources -
    It was a good gathering of the folks of 16th century "living history."

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Timothy Burke