SAN JOSÉ STATE UNIVERSITY
Time Line of
Cabeza de Vaca's
Mid-North America 1528-1536
- June 17, 1527: Fleet leaves Spain from near Cadiz
- Fleet arrives at Santo Domingo (Island of Hispanola)
where it stays 45 days
- Fleet arrives at Santiago, Cuba
- Fleet sets out for Trinidad, Cuba but stops at Cabo de Santa Cruz,
Cuba and sends Cabeza de Vaca on with two ships to obtain supplies
- Cabeza de Vaca takes some soldiers ashore. The two ships are caught
in a hurricane and lost with sixty men
- November 5, 1527 Governor Narvaez arrives with four ships at the
place where Cabeza de Vaca and his men are
- Cabeza takes ships to Jagua (Xagua, now Cienfuegos) to spend the
- February 20, 1528: Governor Narvaez arrives with brigatine bought
at Trinidad. He also has a pilot, Miruelo, who claims knowledge of
the Gulf Coast of North America
- April 12, 1528: Flett arrives in Florida in the vicinity of
- April 15, 1528: Expedition disembarks from the ships on the
- April 16, 1528: Governor Narvaez claimed possession of the land
in the name of the King of Spain
- April 17, 1528: Governor Narvaez decides to take a party of forty men
to explore the area
- May 1, 1528: Governor Narvaez announces that he want the main body to
penetrate the interior of Florida while the ships and crew were travel the
coast to find a harbor. This was the fatal split in the expedition.
- June 17, 1528: Expedition on its way to the town of Apalache is met
by a friendly chief and his band.
- June 25, 1528: Expedition gets view of Apalache without the inhabitants
being aware. Cabeza de Vaca with fifty infantry and nine cavalry entry
Apalache and find only women and boys there, the warriors having abandoned
- July 19-20, 1528: Expedition leaves Apalache and heads for the town of
Aute, reputed to have plentiful food.
- August 1, 1528: Expedition leaves Aute heading toward the sea to build
boats to take them to New Spain (Mexico).
- September 20, 1528: Five boats completed.
- September 22, 1528: Last of the horses eaten and the expedition departs
in the boats, about fifty men to a boat.
- September 29, 1528: Expedition at the mouth of St. Marks Bay. Material
from captured natives' canoes used to improve the boats.
- October 27-28, 1528: Natives near Pensacola Bay, probably Choctaws,
appeared to befriend the expedition. They take the Spanish to their
village and feed them, but in the middle of the night attack them and
try to kill the Spanish.
- November 1528: Expedition boats pass the outflow of the Mississippi
River. The men are able to drink fresh water from the sea. A north wind
blows the boats out to sea where they are separated.
- November 6, 1528: Cabeza de Vaca comes to an island after being three
as sea. The island is named by Cabeza de Vaca's men, "Isla de Malhado,"
the Island of Misfortune. It was probably Galveston Island.
- November 7-8, 1528:
Cabeza de Vaca's group try to leave the island.
Their boat is buried in sand and they strip to better work in the surf to
free the boat. The boat is launched but a short distance from shore it
is overturned by a wave. Many are drowned and those that survived are
naked and left with nothing.
- 1528-1534: Cabeza de Vaca and the other
survivors lived on the Isle of Misfortune and its
vicinity. There were initially eighty or so survivors who arrived on the
island but very soon, due to hardship, disease and execution by the natives,
the number was reduced to fifteen.
After spending more than a year as a slave of one group of natives on
and near the Isle of Misfortune Cabeza de Vaca escapes to the mainland and
joins another group of natives. Here he was allowed to operate as a
trader. He dealt in sea snails, shells, hides, ocher and pigments.
- 1533: Capture of Cabeza de Vaca and Andres Dorants by Mariames tribe.
- late September or early October 1534: Escape from the Mariames by
Cabeza de Vaca and Dorantes and escape from Iguases by Estebanico and
Castillo. The four headed west instead of directly south to New Spain
because they were told that the natives to the south so hated Spaniards
that they would kill them immediately.
- 1534-1535: The four men reside with the Avavares tribe for about
- June 1535: The four leave the Avavares.
- January 1536: The four meet Spanish soldiers of New Spain in
what is now the State of Sinaloa in northwest Mexico.
- February 1536: The four arrive at Culiacan, a frontier outpost of
- July 1536: The four are welcomed to Mexico City by Hernan Cortes and
Antonio de Mendoza, the Viceroy of New Spain.
- October 1536: Cabeza de Vaca is ready to sail for Spain but the ship
he was going to travel on is wrecked in a storm.
- April 1537: Cabeza de Vaca leaves for Spain. The other three stay in
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