In 1540, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto first set foot in what is now Alabama. When his troops reached the Mabila tribal capital presided over by Chief Tuskaloosa, an encounter between a Spanish officer and a Mabila inhabitant turned violent. In the melee that followed, de Soto’s men burned down the town, killing many of its occupants in one of the bloodiest battles in North American history.

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Encyclopedia of Alabama