The Capachequi Chiefdom

Thread starter #1
As long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with De Soto's exploration of the southeast. This is easy to understand due to the fact I spent my youth (what some would call my formative years) along the banks, swamps and piney woods of the Ochlockonee River and the lower Flint River, the two rivers De Soto followed to reach, what scholars refer to as the interior of the southeast when writing about his travels. From what I can gather, the Capachequi "Kingdom" or Chiefdom was the first native community that he encountered in what is now Georgia.

Being born in Albany GA, and spending most of my adult life in Albany, this particular Chiefdom has added interest for me. The location of the Capachequi Chiefdom is associated with the Chickasawhatchee Swamp which is a roughly 335 square mile swamp southwest and west of Albany in Dougherty, Baker, Calhoun and Terrell counties. There are a couple of mound sites, to include the Mound site on Magnolia Plantation that are associated with the Capachequi Chiefdom, though there is little, if any archeological research definitively linking these sites with the Chiefdom that I can find.

The Capachequi were apparently a very warlike society and there is a passage or two in the various journals produced during De Soto's travels that bear this out. Around March 6 or 7, 1540, after leaving their winter camp near present day Tallahassee and encountering no native communities in the longleaf pine/wiregrass savannas he traveled through after leaving the Ochlockonee River , DeSoto's party found itself in what is now present-day Mitchell Co. on the east bank of the roughly (at the time) 250 foot wide, deep and rapidly flowing Flint River (that is generally when the Flint is annually at its highest flow) near present day Newton (in Baker Co). Apparently not knowing about some potentially easier places to cross the Flint River further north and a shortage of food and hearing about the fertile fields across the river, they built a crude boat and experienced a very tumultuous river crossing which they did not complete until March 10.

The next day, on March 11, they came upon the southern side of the Chickasawhatchee Swamp and their first town of the Capachequi Chiefdom, whose inhabitants fled into the swamp at the appearance of DeSoto's men. On March 12 a party of five Spaniards went to try to scrounge a wooden mortar to grind some corn they took from the abandoned town and encountered five warriors from the town (possibly from a second town they could see across a swampy section that they could not cross due to high water). A fight ensued with one Spaniard being killed and three wounded, with apparently no natives known to be harmed. From what I can tell, this is one of the first military "defeats" suffered by DeSoto's men on his journey.

One interesting fact is that the journals mention that these natives constructed raised wooden foot trails through many swampy areas similar to what we have today for trails in some of our parks and nature areas. That is about the extent of what I can find out about the Chiefdom of Capachequi that is not speculation since there is very little scholarly work on this group of people. If anyone knows of more materials, please point me in the right direction and post it here.
Last edited:
Thread starter #2
Over the years I have found numerous native artifacts in and around the Chickasawhatchee Swamp, but none that I could associate with the later Mississippian Period easily. I have found plenty of what I would consider Woodland period. I had unlimited access to Deer Run Plantation at one time and numerous other private properties in and around the swamp in Baker, Dougherty and Calhoun Counties plus some properties on the extreme northern parts in southern Terrell County.

There is speculation that the Capachequi Chiefdom traded with Apalachicola Chiefdom on the Chattahoochee River to the north and west and Toa Chiefdom on the east bank of the Flint in and around present-day Macon County, to the north and east. Oddly we know more about the Chiefdoms on the lower Chattahoochee River in this time frame, though DeSoto never traversed that region, through archeological research.
Last edited:
Thread starter #5
It has been awhile, but thanks I was trying to find the link. I am reading "Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun". Which is rather informative. It is on Amazon, available on Kindle if you use those. It is surprising how little work there has been with regards to actually confirming the route of DeSoto's travels with archeology. There has been a recent archeological find in Telfair County which the archeologist are trying to link to DeSoto even though it is over 100 miles off the generally accepted route. A metal blade and a few Italian 16th century glass beads were found outside of a burial situation. I tend to not put much faith in their conclusion simply because beads of that nature would have been very popular as trade items and just because the item can be dated to a certain period does not mean it got there during that time frame. Roman coins have been found in burial mounds in the Ohio Valley and I very seriously doubt the Romans ever explored that area.
Last edited: