Submitted by ub on Sat, 05/16/2015 - 11:09

On a sweltering day in May and almost 500 years ago today, Hernando de Soto and his army of over 600 soldiers splashed ashore in Tampa Bay.

They had been ordered by King Charles V of Spain to sail to La Florida and "conquer, populate and pacify" the land.But this expedition would never yield the gold and treasure these men so desperately sought. Instead, they marched from one village to the next, taking food and enslaving the native peoples to use as guides and porters.

De Soto's expedition would change the face of the American Southeast forever. Ultimately, it was the first hand accounts of survivors, describing the native cultures and the richness of the land, which became the journey's enduring legacy.The National Memorial preserves the controversial story of his four year, four thousand mile odyssey and interprets it's significance in American history.

Scott Pardue, Superintendent of the De Soto National Memorial, shares the significance of his exploration throughout the Southeastern United States. He explains that Hernando De Soto's journey is a vital piece of early American history.

The Significance of Hernando De Soto…