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Document Number: AJ-139
Author: Pardo, Juan, 16th cent.
Title: Account of Florida, 1566-1568
Source: Hudson, Charles M. (editor) and Herbert E. Ketcham (translator). The Juan Pardo Expeditions: Spanish Explorers and the Indians of the Carolinas and Tennessee, 1566-1568. With Documents Relating to the Pardo Expeditions. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990). Pages 254-296.
Pages/Illustrations: 44 / 0
Citable URL:

Author Note

Almost nothing is known about Juan de la Bandera, the Spanish notary who compilied these records. He went along with Juan Pardo, a military officer who led Spanish explorations into Georgia and South Carolina in the 1560s, with explicit instructions to record everything he witnessed. Pardo may have come to America with Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565 to help eject the French from Florida (see AJ-141). Beyond that, little about either of them can be ascertained.

Expeditions of 1566-1568

Having ousted the French from Florida, Spanish officials tried to discover what lay between their their new outpost on the Atlantic and their claims in Mexico. With little information about the interior, they suspected that descriptions they heard of the southern Appalachians might refer to the eastern side of the Sierra Madre Oriental, in Mexico. They hoped that a reconnaissance from the east might verify that supposition and also discover silver or gold mines.

Pardo was chosen in 1566 to lead this investigation. He left the Spanish fort near modern Beaufort, South Carolina, November 1, 1566, with 125 soldiers and spent eight weeks reconnoitering along the modern Georgia and South Carolina border. In September 1567, on the expedition described here, he pushed further northwest to the Tennessee River in northern Alabama and perhaps as far southwest as the Coosa River. Although he left small detachments of soldiers at garrisons along the route, his failure to find either riches or a route to Mexico gave the Spanish no reason to support them indefinitely, and the soldiers were eventually killed or absorbed into neighboring Indian tribes.

Document Note

This manuscript of this document is preserved in the Spanish Archivo General de Indias. It occupies seventy-one hand-written pages and is dated March 31, 1569. In it Bandera recorded in great detail everything that the expedition saw or did, but he wrote as a legal secretary rather than a literary master. It is translated and printed for the first time in the source presented here.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

Pardo’s movements are traced in depth and his career analyzed in Charles Hudson’s The Juan Pardo Expeditions, from which this excerpt is given.

Three other primary documents from the Pardo expeditions were published in “Three Sixteenth-century Spanish Chronicles Relating to Georgia” by Herbert E. Ketcham in the Georgia Historical Quarterly vol. 38 (1954): 66-82.

Maps and photographs of archaeological remains from the Pardo expeditions can be found at the Warren Wilson college’s “Sixteenth-Cnetury Catawba Valley” Web site:

The Florida Heritage Collection at places Pardo in the context of Spanish exploration of Florida generally, with a helpful timeline and discussions of other explorers.

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