We know that the b and v are often interchanged in the Spanish names of places and persons; as for example Baldivia and Valdivia are both applied to the original Spanish conqueror of Chili. In the present instance, Mavila may afterwards have been changed to Mabila, and then by the French to Mobille. All this however is mere conjecture.
This was the more distressing to the Spaniards as they were barefooted, all their shoes having been burnt at Mavila, and the shoes they had since been able to make, being of untanned leather, were like so much tripe as soon as wet.
Soto led the van in person, consisting of an hundred horse and an hundred and fifty foot. He was accompanied by Tascaluza, and as he marched with diligence, he arrived at Mavila at eight in the morning, the main body not coming up for a considerable time after.
The Spaniards remained a fortnight at Mavila, making frequent excursions into the country, where they found plenty of provisions. From twenty Indians whom they took prisoners, they were informed that there were no warriors left to oppose them in all the surrounding country, as all the bravest men of the nation and its allies had been slain in the battle.
But since the battle of Mavila, in which all the oil was lost, he had never attempted to cure either others or himself, though twice wounded before, believing that the cure could not be performed without oil and dirty wool. In this distress, he swore that he would not submit to the surgeons, and would rather die than allow them to dress his wound.
Their condition was most forlorn. Few of their horses remained alive; their baggage had been destroyed at the burning of the Indian town of Mavila, and many of the soldiers were without armor and without weapons.
This fort, called Alibamo , was of a square form, each side being four hundred paces in length, and the gates were so low that the horsemen could not ride in, similar in all respects to what has been already said respecting Mavila. The general therefore gave orders to three companies of infantry to assail the gates, those who were best armed being placed in front.
One point only in the whole course of his wanderings can be ascertained with certainty, the Bay of Espirita Santo on the western coast of Florida, in about lat. 28° N. and long. 83° W. Mavila. may possibly be what has since been called Mobile, and the Rio Grande or great river was most probably the Mississippi.
They reported that they had seen no person by the way, but that Mavila was a much better fortified place than, any they had hitherto seen in Florida. As the Spaniards were bound for Mavila, and under circumstances very considerable suspicion as to the good intentions of Tascaluza and his subjects, they marched with the utmost circumspection.
Upon this cause of jealousy, and being likewise privately informed that the cacique had assembled a great number of men at a place called Mavila, under pretence of serving the Spaniards, Soto sent three confidential officers to view that place, which was about a league and a half from quarters.