A proposed route for the de Soto Expedition, based on Charles M. Hudson map of 1997.[1]

This is a list of sites and peoples visited by the Hernando de Soto Expedition in the years 1539–1543. In May 1539, de Soto left Havana, Cuba, with nine ships, over 620 men and 220 surviving horses and landed at Charlotte Harbor, Florida. This began his three-year odyssey through the Southeastern North American continent, from which de Soto and a large portion of his men would not return.

They met many varied Native American groups, most of them bands and chiefdoms related to the widespread Mississippian culture. Only a few of these ancestral cultures survived into the seventeenth century, or their descendants combined as historic tribes known to later Europeans. Others have been recorded only in the written historical accounts of de Soto's expedition.


A proposed route for the first leg of the de Soto Expedition, based on Charles M. Hudson map of 1997.


The second leg of the de Soto Expedition, from Apalachee to the Alibamu.

The peoples the expedition encountered in Georgia were speakers of Muskogean languages. The expedition made two journeys through Georgia - the first heading northeast to Cofitachequi in South Carolina, and the second heading southwest from Tennessee, at which point they visited the Coosa chiefdom.

First Leg

After leaving Ocute, the expedition crossed the "Wilderness of Ocute" (the modern-day Savannah River basin) to arrive in present-day South Carolina. Artifacts from the first leg have been found in Telfair County, Georgia.

Second Leg

All territory the expedition crossed through during this leg was under the control of Coosa, a paramount chiefdom with territory in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.

South Carolina

The primary destination of the expedition in South Carolina was the paramount chiefdom of Cofitachequi. The people of this chiefdom were likely the ancestors of the modern Cherokee and Catawba.

North Carolina


De Soto's men burn Mabila, illustration by H.Roe


Parts of Coosa extended into Alabama. The other primary chiefdom encountered by the expedition was that of Tuscaluza. The peoples encountered in Alabama were likely the ancestors of the modern Creek, Alabama, and Choctaw.


A map showing the de Soto expedition route through Mississippi, and Arkansas, up to the point de Soto dies. Based on the Charles M. Hudson map of 1997.



A map showing the de Soto expedition. This section shows Moscoso's route through Arkansas, and Texas, and then to Mexico after de Soto's death. Based on the Charles M. Hudson map of 1997.

All the peoples which the expedition encountered in Texas were the ancestors of the modern Caddo, especially the Hasinai and Kadohadacho confederacies. Intentionally misled by their Caddo guides, the expedition wandered around Texas while only encountering a few major Caddo centers, though there were many that lay not far beyond where they traveled.[3][4] Eventually they were forced to turn around after reaching the River of Daycao, variously identified as the Brazos, Trinity, or even the Colorado. Beyond Daycao, the chroniclers of the expedition claimed that people did not grow maize and subsisted off the land as hunter-gatherers.[citation needed]

As this leg of the expedition took place after the death of both de Soto and Juan Ortiz, his primary translator, the records are more sparse and reveal less information than in earlier parts of the journey.[1][5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Hudson, Charles M. (1997). Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820318882.
  2. ^ a b Morse, Phyllis A. (1981). Parkin. Arkansas Archaeological Survey. OCLC 7540091.
  3. ^ Barr, Juliana (2017). "There's No Such Thing as "Prehistory": What the Longue Durée of Caddo and Pueblo History Tells Us about Colonial America". The William and Mary Quarterly. 74 (2): 203–240. doi:10.5309/willmaryquar.74.2.0203. ISSN 1933-7698. S2CID 151938572.
  4. ^ Carter, Cecile Elkins (1995). Caddo Indians: Where We Come From. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806127477.
  5. ^ Bruseth, James E.; Kenmotsu, Nancy A. (January 1, 1994). "From Naguatex to the River Daycao: The Route of the Hernando de Soto Expedition through Texas". North American Archaeologist. 14 (3): 199–225. doi:10.2190/JBKW-6G2Q-T4LY-LT6V. ISSN 0197-6931. S2CID 162079440.