OCTOBER 18, 1540

BATTLE OF MABILA—POSSIBLY BLOODIEST BATTLE IN AMERICAN HISTORY

When Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto first met Mobile Chief Tuskaloosa at his home village in present Alabama, he sought supplies.  Tuskaloosa led de Soto’s expedition to the village of Mabila which had a wooden palisade with bastions for archers.  The Spaniards knew something was amiss when the population of the town was almost exclusively young warriors and men of status.  The palisade had been recently strengthened and all trees, bushes, and weeds, had been cleared from outside the town for the length of a crossbow shot.  The Chief asked de Soto to allow him to remain there.  When de Soto refused, Tuskaloosa warned him to leave the town.  A scuffle ensued and the Spaniards barely escaped from the town. When the Indians closed the gates, de Soto set fire to the town.  Eventually, he sent in his cavalry and infantry.  Spanish accounts at the time put the number of Indian dead at between 2,500 and 3,000.  This range would make the battle one of the bloodiest in recorded North American history.

Source:  Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, “Geography in the News: Hernando De Soto’s Famous Battle,” National Geographic, 6/14/2014.  Retrieved 7/16/2019, https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2014/06/14/geography-in-the-news-hernando-de-sotos-famous-battle/
Map:  Guillaume Delisle (1675-1726), 1700, reissued by Covens and Mortier, 1708.  Public Domain in the US:  Pre-1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.    

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