Historic Markers Across Florida

Close to Starvation

Marker ID:  
Location: along the Withlacoochee State Trail, about 1/10 mile east of Turner Camp Road, Inverness, FL
County: Citrus
Coordinates: N 28° 50.691    W 082° 20.192
  28.84485    -82.33653333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Close to Starvation
Florida De Soto Trail

—July 26, 1539 —

It’s July 26, 1539…
An advance guard of Hernando de Soto’s army has moved through a nearby area and crossed the present-day Withlacoochee River -

It took us two days to cross the river. The rest of our army soon followed. Weighed down with supplies, they made their way slowly through the swamp. Purposely misled by their Indian guides, it took the men 4 days to reach the other side of the river. By then, they were exhausted and vulnerable to attack. Low on provisions, they resorted to boiling roots and leaves for food.

”The swamp of [Ocale] was of great current and broad, and they crossed it with great difficult, and were there was no bridge, they crossed with water at their chests and at the chin, with their clothes and saddles on their heads, a distance of three crossbow shots.”
- Account by Rodrigo Rangel

The De Soto Chronicles

The Native Path
Before European contact, native people had been living in the Withlacoochee swamplands for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence indicates they depended heavily on the diverse wildlife of the river basin. They also took advantage of the abundant fish and other sea life found in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.

The Conquistador Trail
A survivor of the expedition, Ana Mendez started the journey when she was 10 years old. Twenty years later, she gave a personal account of the many hardships faced in La Florida. She endured crossing the swamp of the Withlacoochee and marching to the point of starvation. She also witnessed the death of her master, Don Carlos, at the battle of Mabila. She was one of the few survivors who returned to Spain.

Erected by Florida De Soto Trail, Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Park Service, and the National Park Service.