The Fall of Old Panama, 1671
Upon the conclusion of a treaty of peace in 1670 between England and Spain, which confirmed the former in her possessions in the West Indies, but forbade her subjects to trade to any Spanish port without a license; a proclamation was issued in pursuance of such arrangement which greatly exasperated the freebooting community, and the direct result of which was an assemblage of the largest fleet ever brought together by the buccaneers, amounting to 37 ships of all sizes, manned by more than 2,000 pirates. They met in December, 1670, at Cape Tiburón, Gulf of Urabá, and held a council to decide whether their forces should be directed upon Cartagena, Vera Cruz, or Panama. The last was chosen as being the richest, and Morgan was elected Admiral.
Capt. Morgan perceived that fortune favored his arms, by giving good success to all his enterprises, which occasioned him, as it is usual in human affairs, to aspire to greater things, trusting she would always be constant to him. Such was the burning of Panama; wherein fortune failed not to assist him, in the like manner as she had done before, crowning the event of his actions with victory, howbeit she had led him thereto through thousands of difficulties. The history hereof, I shall now begin to relate, as being so very remarkable in all its circumstances that per-adventure nothing more deserving memory may occur to be read by future ages.
Not long after Capt. Morgan arrived at Jamaica, he found many of his chief officers and soldiers reduced to their former state of indigence through their immoderate vices and debauchery. Hence they ceased not to importune him for new invasions and exploits, thereby to get something to expend anew in wine, as they had already wasted what was secured so little before. Capt. Morgan being willing to follow fortune while she called him, hereupon stopped the mouths of many of the inhabitants of Jamaica, who were creditors to his men for large sums of money, with the hopes and promises he gave them, of greater achievements than ever, by a new expedition he was going about. This being done, he needed not give himself much trouble to levy men for this or any other enterprise, his name being now so famous through all those islands, that that alone would readily bring him in more men than he could well employ. He undertook therefore to equip a new fleet of ships; for which purpose he assigned the south side of the isle of Tortuga, as a place of rendezvous. With this resolution, he wrote divers letters to all the ancient and expert Pirates there inhabiting, as also to the Governor of said isle, and to the planters and hunters of Hispaniola (Hayti), giving them to understand his intentions, and desiring their appearance at the said place, in case they intended to go with him. All these people had no sooner understood his designs than they flocked to the place assigned, in huge numbers, with ships, canoes and boats, being desirous to obey his commands. Many, who had not the convenience of coming to him by sea, traversed the woods of Hispaniola, and with no small difficulties arrived there by land. thus all were present at the place assigned and in readiness, against the 24th day of October, 1670
Pirates Go A-Foraging.
Capt. Morgan was not wanting to be there according to his punctual custom, who came in his ship to the same side of the island, to a port called by the French, Port Couillon, over against the island, De la Vaca, this being a place which he had assigned to others. Having now gathered the greatest part of his fleet, he called a council to deliberate about the means of finding provisions sufficient for so many people. Here they concluded to send four ships and one boat, manned with four hundred men, over to the continent, to the intent they should rifle some country towns and villages, and in these get all the corn or maize they could gather. They set sail for the continent, towards the river, De la Hacha, with design to assault a small village called La Rancheria, where is usually to be found the greatest quantity of maize of all these parts thereabouts. In the meanwhile Capt. Morgan sent another party of his men to hunt in the woods, who killed there a huge number of beasts, and salted them. The rest of his companions remained in the ships, to clean, fit and rig them out to sea, so that at the return of those who were sent abroad, all things might be in readiness to weight anchor, and follow the course of their designs.
The four ships above mentioned, after they had set sail from Hispaniola, steered their course till they came within sight of the river, De la Hacha, where they were suddenly overtaken with a tedious calm. Being thus within sight of land becalmed for some days, the Spaniards inhabiting along the coast, who had perceived them to be enemies, had sufficient time to prepare themselves for the assault, at least to hide the best part of their goods, to the end that, without any care of preserving them, they might be in readiness to retire, when they found themselves unable to resist the force of the Pirates, by whose frequent attempts upon those coasts they had already learnt what they had to do in such cases. There was in the river at that present a good ship, which was come from Cartagena to lade maize, and was now when the Pirates came almost ready to depart. The men belonging to this ship endeavored to escape, but not being able to do it; both they and the vessel fell into their hands. This was a fit booty for their mind, as being good part of what they came to seek for with so much care and toil.
The next morning about break of day they came with their ships toward the shore, and landed their men, although the Spaniards made huge resistance from a battery which they had raised on that side, where of necessity they had to land; but notwithstanding what defense they could make, they were forced to retire towards a village, to which the Pirates followed them. Here the Spaniards, rallying again, fell upon them with great fury, and maintained a strong combat, which lasted till night was come; but then, perceiving they had lost a great number of men, which was no smaller on the Pirates side, they retired to places more occult in the woods.
The next day when the Pirates saw they were all fled, and the town left totally empty of people, they pursued them as far as they could possibly. In this pursuit they overtook a party of Spaniards, whom they made all prisoners and exercised the most cruel torments, to discover where they had hidden their goods; some were found who by the force of intolerable tortures confessed; but, others who would not do the same were used more barbarously than the former. Thus, in the space of fifteen days that they remained there, they took many prisoners, much plate and movable goods, with all other things they could rob, with which booty they resolved to return to Hispaniola. Yet not content with what they had already got, they dispatched some prisoners into the woods to seek for the rest of the inhabitants, and to demand of them a ransom for not burning the town. To this they answered, they had no money or plate, but in case they would be satisfied with a certain quantity of maize, they would give as much as they could afford. The Pirates accepted this proffer, as being more useful to them at that occasion than ready money, and agreed they should pay four thousand hanegs, or bushels, of maize. These were brought in three days after, the Spaniards being desirous to rid themselves as soon as possible of that inhuman sort of people. Having laded them on board their ships, together with all the rest of their booty, they returned to the Island of Hispaniola, to give account to their leader, Capt. Morgan, of all they had performed.
Preparations for Departure.
They had now been absent five entire weeks, about the commission aforementioned, which long delay occasioned. Capt. Morgan almost to despair of their return, fearing lest they had fallen into the hands of the Spaniards, especially considering that the place whereto they went could easily be relieved from Cartagena and Santa Marta, if the inhabitants were at all careful to alarm the country; on the other side he feared lest they should have made some great fortune in that voyage, and with it escaped to some other place. But at last seeing his ships return, and in greater number than they had departed, he resumed new courage, this sight causing both in him and his companions infinite joy. This was much increased when, being arrived, they found them full laden with maize, whereof they stood in great need for the maintenance of so many people, by whose help they expected great matters through the conduct of their commander.
After Capt. Morgan had divided the said maize, as also the flesh which the hunters brought in, among all the ships, according to the number of men that were in every vessel, he concluded upon the departure, having viewed beforehand every ship, and observed their being well equipped and clean. Thus he set sail, and directed his course towards Cape Tiburón, where he determined to take his measures and resolution, of what enterprise he should take in hand. No sooner were they arrived there than they met with some other ships that came newly to join them from Jamaica. So that now the whole fleet consisted of thirty-seven ships, wherein were two thousand fighting men, besides mariners and boys; the Admiral hereof was mounted with twenty-two great guns, and six small ones, of brass; the rest carried some twenty, some sixteen, some eighteen, and the smallest vessel at least four, besides which they had great quantity of ammunition and fireballs, with other inventions of powder.
Proposed Division of Spoils.
Capt. Morgan finding himself with such a great number of ships, divided the whole fleet into two squadrons, constituting a Vice-Admiral, and other officers and commanders of the second squadron, distinct from the former. To every one of these he gave letters patent, or commissions, to act all manner of hostility against the Spanish nation, and take of them what ships they could, either abroad at sea, or in the harbors, in like manner as if they were open and declared enemies (as he termed it) of the King of England, his pretended master. This being done, he called all his captains and other officers together, and caused them to sign some articles of common agreement between them, and in the name of all. Herein it was stipulated that he should have the hundredth part of all that was gotten, to himself alone. That every captain should draw the shares of eight men, for the expenses of his ship, besides his own: That the surgeon, besides his ordinary pay, should have two hundred pieces of eight, for his chest of medicaments: And every carpenter, above his common salary, should draw one hundred pieces of eight. As to recompences, they were regulated in this voyage much more than usual. Thus, for the loss of both legs, they assigned one thousand five hundred pieces of eight or fifteen slaves; for one leg, whether the right or left, six-hundred pieces of eight or six slaves; for a hand, as much as for a leg, and for the loss of an eye, one hundred pieces of eight or one slave. Lastly, unto him that in any battle should signalize himself, either by entering the first any castle, or taking down the Spanish colours and setting up the English, they constituted fifty pieces of eight for a reward. In the head of these articles it was stipulated that all these extraordinary salaries, recompences and rewards should be paid out of the first spoil or purchase they should take, according as every one should then occur to be either rewarded or paid.
This contract being signed, Capt. Morgan commanded his Vice-Admirals and Captains to put all things in order, to go and attempt one of three places, either Cartegena, Panama or Vera Cruz; but the lost fell upon Panama as being believed to be the richest of all three; notwithstanding this city being situated at such distance from the Northern sea, as they knew not well the avenues and entries necessary to approach it, they judged it necessary to go beforehand to the isle of St. Catharine, there to find and provide themselves with some persons who might serve them for guides in this enterprise; for in the garrison of that island are commonly employed many banditti and outlaws belonging to Panama and the neighboring places, who are very expert in the knowledge of all that country. But before they proceeded any farther, they caused an act to be published through the whole fleet, containing that in case they met with any Spanish vessel, the first captain who with his men should enter and take the said ship, should have for his reward the tenth part of whatsoever should be found within her.
Attack Isle of St. Catharine.
Capt. Morgan and his companions weighted anchor from the Cape of Tiburón, the 16th day of December in the year 1670. Four days after they arrived within sight of the Isle of St. Catharine [Also known as Santa Katalina or Old Providence, an island in the Caribbean Sea, 100 miles from the Mosquito Coast, now belonging to Venezuela], which was now in possession of the Spaniards again, and to which they commonly banished the malefactors of the Spanish dominions in the West Indies. In this island are found huge quantities of pigeons at certain seasons of the year; it is watered continually by four rivulets or brooks, whereof two are always dry in the summer season. Here is no manner of trade nor commerce exercised by the inhabitants, neither do they give themselves the trouble to plant more fruits than what is necessary for the sustentation of human life; howbeit, the country would be sufficient to make very good plantations of tabacco, which might render considerable profit were it cultivated for that use.
As soon as Capt. Morgan came near the island with his fleet, he sent before one of his best sailing vessels to view the entry of the river and see if any other ships were there who might hinder him from landing; as also fearing lest they should give intelligence of his arrival to the inhabitants of the island, and they by this means prevent his designs.
The next day before sunrise, all the fleet came to anchor near the island, in a certain bay called Aguada Grande; upon this bay the Spaniards had lately built a battery, mounted with four pieces of cannon. Captain Morgan landed with a thousand men, more or less, and disposed them into squadrons, beginning his march through the woods, although they had no other guides than some few of his own men who had been there before when Mansvelt took and ransacked the island. The same day they came to a certain place where the Governor at other times kept his ordinary residence; here they found a battery called The Platform, but nobody in it; the Spaniards having retired to the lesser island, which, as was said before, is so near the great one that a short bridge only may conjoin them.
Pirates in Serious Straits.
This lesser island aforesaid was so well fortified with forts and batteries around it as might seem impregnable. Hereupon, as soon as the Spaniards perceived the pirates to approach, they began to fire upon them so furiously that they could advance nothing that day, but were contented to retreat a little, and take up their rest upon the grass in the open fields, which afforded no strange beds to these people, as being sufficiently used to such kind of repose; what most afflicted the was hunger, having not eaten the least thing that whole day. About midnight it began to rain so hard that those miserable people had much ado to resist so much hardship, the greatest part of them having no other clothes than a pair of seaman's trousers or breeches, and a shirt, without either shoes or stockings. Thus finding themselves in great extremity, they began to pull down a few thatched houses to make fires withal; in a word, they were in such condition that one hundred men, indifferently well armed, might easily that night have torn them all to pieces. The next morning about break of day the rain ceased, at which time they began to dry their arms, which were entirely wet, and proceed on their march. But not long after, the rain commenced anew, rather harder than before, as if the skies were melted into waters, which caused them to cease from advancing towards the forts, whence the Spaniards continually fired at the Pirates, seeing them to approach.
The Pirates were now reduced to great affliction and danger of their lives through the hardness of the weather, their own nakedness and the great hunger they sustained. For a small relief hereof, they happened to find in the fields an old horse, which was both lean and full of scabs and blotches, with galled back and sides. This horrid animal they instantly killed and flayed, and divided into small pieces among themselves as far as it would reach, for many could not obtain one morsel, which they roasted and devoured without either salt or bread, more like ravenous wolves than men.
A Threat and the Answer.
The rain as yet ceased not to fall, and Capt. Morgan perceived their minds to relent, hearing many of them say they would return on board the ships. Amongst these fatigues both of mind and body, he thought it convenient to use some sudden and almost unexpected remedy; to this effect he commanded a canoe to be rigged in all haste, and the colours of truce to be hanged out of it. This canoe he sent to the Spanish governor of the island with this message: That if within a few hours he delivered not himself and all his men into his hands, he did by that messenger swear to him, and all those that were in his company, he would almost certainly put them all to the sword, without granting quarter to any.
After noon the canoe returned with this answer: That the Governor desired two hours time to deliberate with his officers in a full council about that affair; which being past, he would give his positive answer to the message.
The time now being elapsed, the said Governor sent two canoes with white colours, and two persons, to treat with Capt. Morgan, but before they landed, they demanded of the Pirates two persons as hostages of their security. These were readily granted by Capt. Morgan, who delivered to them two of his captains, for a mutual pledge of the security required. With this the Spaniards propounded to Capt. Morgan, that their Governor in a full assembly had resolved to deliver up the island, not being provided with sufficient forces to defend it against such an armada or fleet. But withal he desired that Captain Morgan would be pleased to use a certain stratagem of war, for the better saving of his won credit and the reputation of his officers both abroad and at home, which should be as follows: That Capt. Morgan would come with his troops by night, near the bridge that joined the lesser island to the great one, and there attack the fort of St. Jerome; that at the same time all the ships of his fleet would draw near the castle of Santa Teresa, and attack it by sea, landing in the meanwhile some more troops, near the battery called St. Matthew; that these troops which were newly landed should by this means intercept the Governor by the way, as he endeavored to pass to St. Jerome's fort, and then take them prisoner, using the formality, as if they forced him to deliver the said castle; and that he would lead the English into it, under the fraud of being his own troops; that on one side and the other there should be continual firing at one another, but without bullets, or at least into the air, so that no side might receive any harm by this device; that thus having obtained two such considerable forts, the chief of the isle, he need not care for the rest, which of necessity must fall by course into his hands.
A Mock Surrender.
These propositions, every one, were granted by Morgan, upon condition they should see them observed, for otherwise they should be used with rigor imaginable. This they promised to do and hereupon took their leave, and returned to give account of their negotiation to the Governor. Presently after, Capt. Morgan commanded the whole fleet to enter the port, and his men to be in readiness to assault that night the castle of Jerome. Thus the false alarm or battle began with incessant firing of great guns from both the castles against the ships, but without bullets, as was said before. Then the Pirates landed, and assaulted by night, the lesser island, which they took, as also possession of both fortresses, forcing all the Spaniards, in appearance, to fly to the church. Before this assault, Capt. Morgan had sent word to the Governor he should keep all his men together in a body, otherwise if the Pirates met any straggling Spaniards in the streets, they should certainly shoot them.
The island being taken by this unusual stratagem, and all things put in due order, the Pirates began to make a new war against the poultry, cattle and all sort of victuals they could find. This was their whole employ for some days, scarce thinking of anything else than to kill those animals, roast and eat, and make good cheer, as much as they could possibly attain unto. If wood was wanting, they presently fell upon the houses, and pulling them down, made fires with the timber, as had been done before in the field. The next day they numbered all the prisoners they had taken upon the whole island, which were found to be in all four hundred and fifty persons, between men, women and children, viz., one hundred and ninety soldiers belonging to the garrison; forty inhabitants who were married; forty-three children; thirty-four slaves belonging to the King, with eight children; eight banditti; thirty-nine negroes belonging to private persons, with twenty-seven female blacks, and thirty-four children. The Pirates disarmed all the Spaniards, and sent them out immediately to the plantations, to seek for provisions, leaving the women in the church, there to exercise their devotions.
Fortifications of St. Catherine.
Soon after they took a review of the whole island, and all the fortresses belonging thereunto, which they found to be nine in all, as follows: the fort of St. Jerome, nearest to the bridge, had eight great guns of 12, 6, and 8 pound carriage, together with six pipes of muskets, every pipe containing ten muskets. Here they found still sixty muskets, with sufficient quantity of powder and all other sorts of ammunition. The second fortress, called St. Matthew, had three guns, of 8 pound carriage each. The third and chief among all the rest, named Santa Teresa, had twenty great guns, of 18, 12, 8, and 6 pound carriage, with ten pipes of muskets, like those we said before, and ninety muskets remaining, besides all other warlike ammunition. This castle was built with stone and mortar, with very thick walls on all sides, and a large ditch around about it of twenty foot depth, which although it was dry was very hard to get over. Here was no entry but through one door, which corresponded to the middle of the castle, one door, which corresponded to the middle of the castle. Within it was a mount, or hill, almost inaccessible, with four pieces of cannon at the top, whence they could shoot directly into the port. On the sea side this castle was impregnable, by reason of the rocks which surrounded it and the sea beating furiously upon them. In like manner, on the side of the land, it was so commodiously seated on a mountain that there was no access to it, but by a path of three or four foot broad. The fourth fortress was named St. Augustine, having three guns, of 8 and 6 pound carriage. The fifth, named La Plattaforma de la Concepcion, had only two guns, of eight pound carriage. The sixth, by name of San Salvador, had likewise no more than two guns. The seventh, being called Plattaforma de los Artilleros, had also two guns. The eighth, called Santa Cruz, had three guns. The ninth, which was called St. Joseph's Fort, had six guns, of 12 and 8 pound carriage, besides two pipes of muskets and sufficient ammunition.
In the storehouse were found above thirty thousand pounds of powder, with all other sorts of ammunition, which were transported by the Pirates on board the ships. All the guns were stopped and nailed, and the fortresses demolished, excepting that of St. Jerome, where the Pirates kept their guard and residence.
Pirates Start for San Lorenzo.
Capt. Morgan inquired if any banditti were there from Panama or Porto Bello, and hereupon three were brought before him, who pretended to be very expert in all the avenues of those parts. He asked them if they would be his guides, and show him the securest ways and passages to Panama; which, if they performed, he promised them equal shares in all they should pillage and rob in that expedition, and that afterwards he would set them at liberty, by transporting them to Jamaica. These propositions pleased the banditti very well, and they readily accepted his proffers, promising to serve him very faithfully in all he should desire, especially one of these three, who was the greatest rogue, thief and assassin among them, and who had deserved for his crimes rather to be broken alive upon the wheel than punished with serving in a garrison. This wicked fellow had a great ascendancy over the other two banditti, and could domineer and command over them as he pleased, they not daring to refuse obedience to his orders.
Hereupon Capt. Morgan commanded four ships and one boat to be equipped and provided with all things necessary, to go and take the castle of Chagre, seated upon a river of that name. Neither would he go himself with his whole fleet, fearing less the Spaniards should be jealous of his farther designs upon Panama. In these vessels he caused to embark four hundred men, who went to put in execution the orders of their chief commander Capt. Morgan, while he himself remained behind in the Island of St. Catharine, with the rest of the fleet, expecting to hear the success of their arms.
The Castle of Chagre (San Lorenzo).
Capt. Morgan sending these four ships and a boat to the river of Chagre, chose for Vice-Admiral thereof a certain person named Capt. Brodely. This man had been a long time in those quarters, and committed many robberies upon the Spaniards when Mansvelt took the Isle of St. Catharine. He, being therefore well acquainted with those coasts, was thought a fit person for this exploit, his actions likewise having rendered him famous among the Pirates, and their enemies the Spaniards. Capt. Brodely being chosen chief commander of these forces, in three days after he departed from the presence of Captain Morgan, arrived within sight of the said castle of Chagre, which by the English is called St. Lawrence [English rendition of the Spanish, "San Lorenzo."] This castle is built upon a high mountain, at the entry of the river, and surrounded on all sides with strong palisades or wooden walls, being very well terrepleined, and filled with earth, which renders them as secure as the best walls made of stone or brick. The top of this mountain is in a manner divided into two parts, between which lies a ditch, of the depth of thirty foot. The castle itself has but one entry, and that by a drawbridge which passes over the ditch aforementioned. On the land side it has four bastions, that on the sea containing only two more. That part thereof that looks towards the south is totally inaccessible and impossible to be climbed, through the infinite asperity of the mountain. The north side is surrounded by the river, which hereabouts runs very broad. At the foot of the said castle, or rather mountain, is seated a strong fort, with eight great guns, which commands and impedes the entry of the river. Not much lower are to be seen two other batteries, whereof each hath six pieces of cannon, to defend likewise the mouth of the said river. At one side of the castle are built two great store-houses, in which are deposited all sorts of warlike ammunition and merchandize, which are brought thither from the inner parts of the country. Near these houses is a high pair of stairs, hewn out of the rock, which serves to mount to the top of the castle. On the west side of the said fortress lies a small port, which is not above seven or eight fathoms deep, being very fit for small vessels and of very good anchorage. Besides this, there lies before the castle, at the entry of the river, a great rock, scarce to be perceived above water, unless at low tide.
Attack on the Castle.
No sooner had the Spaniards perceived the Pirates to come than they began to fire incessantly at them with the biggest of their guns. They came to an anchor in a small port, at the distance of a league more or less from the castle. The next morning very early they went on shore and marched through the woods to attack the castle on that side. This march continued until two o'clock in the afternoon, before they could reach the castle, by reason of the difficulties of the way, and its mire and dirt. And although their guides served them exactly, notwithstanding they came so near the castle at first that they lost many of their men with the shot from the guns, they being in an open place where nothing could cover nor defend them. This much perplexed the Pirates in their minds, they not knowing what to do, not what course to take, for on that side, of necessity they must make the assault, and being uncovered from head to foot, they could not advance one step without great danger. Besides that, the castle, both for its situation and strength, caused them much to fear the success of their enterprise. But to give it over they dared not, lest they should be reproached and scorned by their companions.
Doomed by a burning Arrow.
At last, after many doubts and disputes among themselves, they resolved to hazard the assault and their lives after a most desperate manner. Thus they advanced towards the castle, with their swords in one hand and fireballs in the other. The Spaniards defended themselves very briskly, ceasing not to fire at them with their great guns and muskets continually crying withal: Come on, ye English dogs, enemies to god and our King; let your companions that are behind come on too; ye shall not go to Panama this bout. After the Pirates had made some trial to climb up the walls, they were forced to retreat, which they accordingly did, resting themselves until night. This being come, they returned to the assault, to try if by the help of their fire-balls they could overcome and pull down the pales before the wall. This they attempted to do, and while they were about it there happened a very remarkable accident, which gave them the opportunity of the victory. One of the Pirates was wounded with an arrow in his back, which pierced his body to the other side. This instantly he pulled out with great valor at the side of his breast, then taking a little cotton that he had about him, he would it about the said arrow, and putting it into his musket, shot it back into the castle. But the cotton being kindled by the powder, occasioned two or three houses that were within the castle, being thatched with palm leaves, to take fire, which the Spaniards perceived not so soon as was necessary. For this fire meeting with a parcel of powder, blew it up, and thereby caused great ruin, and no less consternation to the Spaniards, who were not able to account for this accident, not having seen the beginning thereof.
Brave Resistance by Defenders.
Thus the Pirates, perceiving the good effect of the arrow and the beginning of the misfortune of the Spaniards were infinitely gladdened threat. And while they were busied in extinguishing the fire, which caused great confusion in the whole castle, having not sufficient water wherewithal to do it, the Pirates made use of this opportunity, setting fire likewise to the palisades. Thus the fire was seen at the same time in several parts about the castle, which gave them huge advantage against the Spaniards. For many breaches were made at once by the fire among the pales, great heaps of earth falling down into the ditch. Upon these the Pirates climbed up, and got over into the castle, notwithstanding that some Spaniards who were not busied about the fire, cast down upon them many flaming pots, full of combustible matter and odious smells, which occasioned the loss of many of the English.
The Spaniards, notwithstanding the great resistance they made, could not hinder the palisades from being entirely burnt before midnight. Meanwhile the Pirates ceased not to persist in their intention of taking the castle. To which effect, although the fire was great, they would creep upon the ground, as nigh unto it as they could, and shoot amidst the flames against the Spaniards they could perceive on the other side, and thus caused many to fall dead from the walls. When day was come, they observed all the moveable earth that lay between the pales to be fallen into the ditch in huge quantity. So that now those within the castle did in a manner lie equally exposed to them without, as had been on the contrary before. Whereupon the Pirates continued shooting very furiously against them, and killed great numbers of Spaniards. For the governor had given them orders not to retire from those posts which corresponded to the heaps of earth fallen into the ditch, and caused the artillery to be transported to the breaches.
Castle Surrenders -- Heavy Losses.
Notwithstanding, the fire within the castle still continued, and now the Pirates from without used what means they could to hinder its progress, by shooting incessantly against it. One party of the Pirates was employed only to this purpose, and another to watch all the motions of the Spaniards, and take all the opportunities against them. About noon the English happened to gain a breach, which the Governor himself defended with twenty-five soldiers. Here was performed a very courageous and warlike resistance by the Spaniards, both with muskets, pikes, stones and swords. Yet notwithstanding, through all these arms the Pirates forced and fought their way, till at last they gained the castle. The Spaniards who remained alive cast themselves down from the castle into the sea, choosing rather to die precipitated by their own selves (few or none surviving the fall) than ask any quarter for their lives. The Governor himself retreated to the corps du garde, before which were placed two pieces of cannon. Here he intended still to defend himself, neither would he demand any quarter. But at last he was killed with a musket shot, which pierced his skull into the brain.
The Governor being dead, and the corps du garde surrendered, they found still remaining in it alive to the number of thirty men, whereof scarce ten were not wounded. These informed the Pirates that eight or nine of their soldiers had deserted their colors, and were gone to Panama to carry news of their arrival and invasion. These thirty men alone were remaining of three hundred and fourteen, wherewith the castle was garrisoned, among which number not one officer was found alive. They were all made prisoners, and compelled to tell whatever they knew of their designs and enterprises. Among other things they declared that the governor of Panama had notice sent him three weeks ago from Cartagena, how that the English were equipping a fleet at Hispaniola, with design to come and take the said city of Panama. Moreover, that this their intention had been known by a person, who had run away from the Pirates at the river De la Hacha, where they provided their fleet with corn. That, upon this news, the said Governor had sent one hundred and sixty-four men to strengthen the garrison of that castle, together with much provisions and warlike ammunition; the ordinary garrison whereof did only consist of one hundred and fifty men. So that in all they made the number aforementioned of three hundred and fourteen men being all very well armed. Besides this they had declared that the governor of Panama had placed several ambuscades all along the river of Chagre, and that he waited for their coming, in the open fields of Panama, with three thousand six hundred men.
The taking of this castle of Chagre cost the Pirates excessively dear, in comparison to the small numbers they used to lose at other times and places. Yea, their toil and labor here far exceeded what they sustained at the conquest of the Isle of St. Catharine and its adjacent. For coming to number their men, they found that they had lost above one hundred, besides those that were wounded, whose number exceeded seventy. They commanded the Spaniards that were prisoners to cast all the dead bodies of their own men down from the top of the mountain to the seaside, and afterwards to bury them. Such as were wounded were carried to the church belonging to the castle of which they made a hospital, and where also they put up the women.
Morgan Starts for San Lorenzo.
Capt. Morgan remained not long time behind at the Isle of St. Catharine, after taking the castle of Chagre of which he had notice presently sent him. Yet notwithstanding, before departed thence, he caused to be embarked all the provisions that could be found, together with great quantities of maize or Indian wheat, and cassava, whereof in like manner is bread in those parts. He commanded likewise great store of provisions should be transported to the garrison of the aforesaid castle of Chagre, from what parts soever they could be got. At a certain place on the island they cast into the sea all the guns belonging thereto, with a design to return and leave the island well garrisoned, for the perpetual possession of Pirates. Notwithstanding, he ordered all the houses and forts to be set on fire, excepting only the castle of St. Teresa, which he judged to be the strongest and securest wherein to secure himself at his return from Panama. He carried with him all the prisoners of the island, and thus set sail for the river of Chagre, where he arrived in the space of eight days. Here the joy of the whole fleet was so great, when they spied the English colors upon the castle that they minded not their way into the river, which occasioned them to lose four of their ships at the entry thereof, that, wherein Capt. Morgan went being one of the four. Yet their fortune was so good as to be able to save all the men and goods that were in the said vessels. Yea, the ships likewise had been preserved, if a strong northerly wind had not risen on that occasion, which cast the ships upon the rock above mentioned, that lies at the entry of the said river.
Capt. Morgan was brought into the castle with great acclamations of triumph and joy of all the Pirates, both of those that were within, and also them that were newly come. Having understood the whole transactions of the conquest, he commanded all the prisoners to begin to work and repair what was necessary, especially in setting up new palisades or pales, round about the forts depending on the castle. There were still in the river some Spanish vessels, called by them chatten, which serve for the transportation of merchandise up and down the said river, as also for going to Porto Bello and Nicaragua. These are commonly mounted with two great guns of iron and four other small ones of brass. All these vessels they seized on, together with four little ships they found there, and all the canoes. In the castle they left a garrison of five hundred men, and in the ships within the river one hundred and fifty more. These things being done, Captain Morgan departed toward Panama, at the head of one thousand two hundred men. He carried very small provisions with him, being in good hopes he should provide himself sufficiently among the Spaniards, whom he knew to lie in ambuscade at several places by the way.
Pirates Set Forth for Old Panama.
Capt. Morgan set forth from the castle of Chagre, towards Panama, the 18th day of January in the year 1671. He had under his conduct one thousand two hundred man, five boats with artillery, and thirty-two canoes, all of which were filled with the said people. Thus he steered his course up the river towards Panama. That day they sailed only six leagues, and came to a place called De los Bracos. Here a party of his men went on shore, only to sleep some few hours and stretch their limbs, they being almost crippled with lying too much crowded in the boats. After they had rested awhile, they went abroad to see if any victuals could be found in the neighboring plantations. But they could find none, the Spaniards being fled and carrying with them all the provisions they had. This day, being the first of their journey, there was amongst them such scarcity of victuals that the greatest part were forced to pass with only a pipe of tobacco, without any other refreshment.
The next day, very early in the morning, they continued their journey, and came about evening to a place called Cruz de Juan Gallego. Here they were compelled to leave their boats and canoes, by reason the river was very dry for want of rain, and the many obstacles of trees that were fallen into it.
The guides told them that about two leagues farther on the country would be very good to continue the journey by land. Hereupon they left some companies, being in all hundred and sixty men, on board the boats to defend them, with intent they might serve for a place of refuge, in case of necessity.
The next morning, being the third day of their journey, they all went ashore, excepting those abovementioned who were to keep the boats. To these Capt. Morgan gave very strict orders, under great penalties, that no man, upon any pretext whatsoever, should dare to leave the boats and go ashore. This he did, fearing lest they should be surprised and cut off by an ambuscade of Spaniards, that might chance to lie thereabouts in the neighboring woods, which appeared so thick as to seem almost impenetrable.
Having this morning begun their march they found the ways so dirty and irksome, that Capt. Morgan thought it more convenient to transport some of the men in canoes (though it could not be done without great labor) to a place farther up the river called Cedro Bueno. Thus they re-embarked, and the canoes returned for the rest that were left behind. So that about night they found themselves altogether at the said place. The Pirates were extremely desirous to meet any Spaniards, or Indians, hoping to fill their bellies with what provisions they should take from them. For now they were reduced almost to the very extremity of hunger.
On the fourth day, the greatest part of the Pirates marched by land, being led by one of the guides. The rest went by water, farther up with the canoes, being conducted by another guide, who always went before them with two of the said canoes, to discover on both sides of the river the ambuscades of the Spaniards. These had also spies, who were very dexterous, and could at any time give notice of all accidents or of the arrival of the Pirates, six hours at least before they came to any place.
This day about noon they found themselves near a post, called Torna Cavallos. Here the guide of the canoes began to cry aloud he perceived an ambuscade. His voice caused infinite joy to all the Pirates, as persuading themselves they should find some provisions, wherewith to satiate their hunger, which was very great.
Pirates Feast on Leather Bags
Being come to the place, they found nobody in it, the Spaniards who were there not long before being every one fled, and leaving nothing behind unless it were a small number of leather bags, all empty, and a few crumbs of bread scattered upon the ground where they had eaten. Being angry at this misfortune, they pulled down a few little huts which the Spaniards had made, and afterwards fell to eating the leather bags, as being desirous to afford something to the ferment of their stomachs, which now was grown so sharp that it did gnaw their very bowels, having nothing else to prey upon. Thus they made a huge banquet upon those bags of leather, which doubtless had been more grateful unto them, if divers quarrels had not risen concerning who should have the greatest share.
By the circumference of the place, they conjectured five hundred Spaniards, more or less, had been there. And these, finding no victuals, they were now infinitely desirous to meet, intending to devour some of them rather than perish. Whom they would certainly on the occasion have roasted or boiled, to satisfy their famine, had they been able to take them.
After they had feasted themselves with those pieces of leather they quitted the place, and marched farther on, till they came about night to another post called Torna Munni. Here they found another ambuscade but as barren and desert as the former. They searched the neighboring woods, but could not find the least thing to eat, the Spaniards having been so provident as not leave behind them anywhere the least crumb of sustenance, whereby the Pirates were now brought to the extremity aforementioned.
Here again he was happy, that had reserved since noon any small piece of leather whereof to make his supper, drinking after it a good draught of water for his greatest comfort. Some persons, who were never out of their mothers' kitchens may ask how these Pirates could eat, swallow and digest those pieces of leather, so hard and dry. To whom I only answer: That could they once experiment what hunger, or rather famine is, they would certainly find the manner, by their own necessity, as the Pirates did. For these first took the leather, and sliced it in pieces. Then did they beat it between two stones, and rub it, often dipping it in the water of the river, to render it by this means supple and tender. Lastly, they scraped off the hair, and roasted or broiled it upon the fire. And being thus cooked they cut it into small morsels, and ate it, helping it down with frequent gulps of water, which by good fortune they had near at hand.
Food Continues Scarce.
They continued their march the fifth day, and about noon came to a place called Barbacoa [Barbacoas, near where the Panama Railroad crossed the Chagres when it was first built]. Here likewise they found traces of another ambuscade, but the place totally as unprovided as the two preceding were. At a small distance were to be seen several plantation, which they searched very narrowly, but could not find any person, animal or other thing that was capable of relieving their extreme and ravenous hunger. Finally, having ranged up and down and searched a long time, they found a certain grotto which seemed to be but lately hewn out of a rock, in which they found two sacks of meal, wheat and like in which they found two sacks of meal, wheat and like things, with two great jars of wine, and certain fruits called Platanos [Plantains, one of the chief products of the Isthmus today]. Capt. Morgan knowing that some of his men were no, through hunger, reduced almost to the extremity of their lives, and fearing lest the major part should be brought into the same condition, caused all that was found to be distributed amongst them who were in greatest necessity.
Having refreshed themselves with these victuals, they began to march anew with greater courage than ever. Such as could not go well for weakness were put in the canoes, and those commanded to land that were in there before. Thus they prosecuted their journey till late at night, at which time they came to a plantation where they took up their rest. But without eating anything at all for the Spaniards as before, had swept away all manner of provisions, not leaving behind them the least sign of victuals.
On the sixth day they continued their march, part of them by land through the woods and part by water in the canoes. Howbeit they were constrained to rest themselves very frequently by the way, both for the ruggedness thereof and the extreme weakness they were under. To this they endeavored to occur, by eating some leaves of trees and green herbs, or grass, such as they could pick, for such was the miserable condition they were in. This day, at noon, they arrived at a plantation, where they found a barn full of maize. Immediately they beat down the doors, and fell to eating of it dry as much as they could devour. Afterwards they distributed great quantity, giving to every man a good allowance thereof.
Traces of Indian Ambuscades.
Being thus provided, they prosecuted their journey, which having continued for the space of an hour, or thereabouts, they met with an ambuscade of Indians. This they no sooner had discovered, than they threw away their maize, with the sudden hopes they conceived of finding all things in abundance. But after all this haste, they found themselves much deceived, they meeting neither Indians, nor victuals, nor anything else of what they had imagined. They saw notwithstanding on the other side of the river a troop of a hundred Indians, more or less, who al escaped away through the agility of their feet. Some few Pirates there were who leapt into the river, the sooner to reach the shore to see if they could take any of the said Indians prisoners. But all was in vain for being much more nimble on their feet than the Pirates, they easily baffled their endeavors. Neither did they only baffle them, but killed also two or three of the Pirates with their arrows, shouting at them at a distance and crying: Ha; perros, a la savana, la savana. Ha; ye dogs, got the plain, go to the plain.
This day they could advance no farther, by reason they were necessitated to pass the river hereabouts to continue their march on the other side. Hereupon they took up their repose for that night. Howbeit their sleep was not heavy nor profound, for great murmurings were heard that night in the camp, many complaining of Capt. Morgan and his conduct in that enterprise, and being desirous to return home. On the contrary, others would rather die there than go back one step from what they had undertaken. But others who had greater courage than any of these two parties did laugh and joke at all their discourses. In the meanwhile they had a guide who much comforted them, saying: It would not be long before they met with people, from whom they should reap considerable advantage.
Arrive at Cruces.
The seventh day, in the morning, they all made clean their arms, and every one discharged his pistol or musket, without bullet, to examine the security of the firelocks. This being done, they passed to the other side of the river in the canoes, leaving the post where they had rested the night before, called Santa Cruz. Thus they proceeded on their journey till noon, at which time they arrived at a village called Cruz [Now called Cruces, head of navigation on the Chagres for parties bound for Panama]. Being at a great distance as yet from the place, they perceived much smoke to arise out of the chimneys.
The sight hereof afforded them great joy and hopes of finding people in the town, and afterwards what they most desired, which was plenty of good cheer. Thus they went on with as much haste as they could, making several arguments to one another upon those external signs, though all like castles built in the air. For, said they, there is smoke coming out of every house, therefore they are making good fires to roast and boil what we are to eat. With other things to this purpose.
At length they arrived there in great haste, all sweating and panting, but found no person in the town, nor anything that was eatable wherewith to refresh themselves, unless it were good fires to ward themselves, which they wanted not. For the Spaniards before their departure, had every one set fire to his own house, excepting only the storehouses and stables belonging to the King.
They had not left behind them any beast whatsoever, either alive or dead. This occasioned much confusion in their minds, they not finding the last thing to lay hold on, unless it were some few cats and dogs, which they immediately killed and devoured with great appetite.
At last in the King's stables they found by good fortune fifteen or sixteen jars of Peru wine, and a leather sack full of bread. But no sooner had they begun to drink of the said wine when they fell sick, almost every man. This sudden disaster made them think that the wine was poisoned, which caused a new consternation in the whole camp, as judging themselves, now to be irrecoverably lost. But the true reason was, their huge want of sustenance in that whole voyage, and the manifold sorts of trash which they had eaten upon that occasion. Their sickness was so great that day as to cause them to remain there till the next morning, without being able to prosecute their journey as they used to do, in the afternoon.
This village is seated in the latitude of 9 degrees and 2 minutes, north, being distant from the river of Chagre twenty-six Spanish leagues [evidently refers to distance from mouth of river], and eight from Panama. Moreover, this is the last place to which boats or canoes can come; for which reason they built here storehouses, wherein to keep all sorts of merchandise, which hence to and from Panama are transported upon the backs of mules.
Here, therefore, Capt. Morgan was constrained to leave his canoes and land all his men, though never so weak in their bodies. But lest the canoes should be surprised, or take up too many men for their defense, he resolved to send them all back to the place where the boats were, excepting one, which he caused to be hidden, to the intent it might serve to carry intelligence according to the exigence of affairs. Many of the Spaniards and Indians belonging to this village were fled to the plantations thereabouts.
Hereupon Capt. Morgan gave express orders that none should are to go out of the village, except in whole companies of a hundred together. The occasion hereof was his fear lest the enemies should take an advantage upon his men, by any sudden assault. Norwithstanding, one party of English soldiers, stickled not to contravene these commands, being tempted with the desire of finding victuals. But these were soon glad to fly into the town again being assaulted with great fury by some Spaniards and Indians, who snatched up one of the Pirates, and carried him away prisoner. Thus the vigilance and care of Capt. Morgan was not sufficient to prevent every accident that might happen.
Resistance Offered by Indians.
On the eighth day, in the morning, Capt. Morgan sent two hundred men before the body of his army, to discover the way to Panama, and see if they had laid any ambuscades therein, especially considering that the places by which they were to pass were very fit for that purpose, the paths being so narrow that only ten or twelve persons could march in a file and oftentimes not so many.
Having marched about the space of ten hours, they came to a place called Quebrada Obscura. Here, all on the sudden, three or four thousand arrows were shot at them, without being able to perceive whence they came, or who shot them. The place whence it was presumed they were shot was a high rocky mountain, excavated from one side to the other, wherein was a grotto that went through it, only capable of admitting one horse, or other beast laded. This multitude of arrows caused a huge alarm among the Pirates, especially because they could not discover the place whence they were discharged.
At last seeing no more arrows to appear they marched a little farther, and entered into a wood. Here they perceived some Indians to fly as fast they could possibly before them, to take the advantage of another post, and thence observe the march of the Pirates. There remained notwithstanding one troop of Indians upon the place, with full design to fight and defend themselves. This combat they performed with huge courage, till such time as their captain fell to the ground wounded, who although he was now in despair of life, yet his valor being greater than his strength, would demand no quarter, but, endeavoring to raise himself, undaunted mind laid hold of his azagaya, or javelin, and struck at one of the Pirates. But before he could second the blow, he was shot to death with a pistol. This was also the fate of many of his companions, who like good and courageous soldiers lost their lives with their captain, for the defense of their country.
"A la Savana, Perros Ingleses."
The Pirates endeavored, as much as possible, to lay hold on some of the Indians and take them prisoners. But they being infinitely swifter than the Pirates, every one escaped, leaving eight Pirates dead upon the place, and ten wounded. Yea, had the Indians been more dexterous in military affairs, they might have defended that passage and not let one sole man to pass. Within a little while after they came to a large campaign field open, and full of variegated meadows. From here they could perceive at a distance before them a parcel of Indians, who stood on top of a mountain, very near the way by which the Pirates were to pass. They sent a troop of fifty men, the nimblest they could pick out, to see if they could catch any of them, and afterwards force them to declare whereabouts their companions had their mansions. But all their industry was in vain, for they escaped through their nimbleness, and presently afterwards showed themselves in another place, hallooing to the English, and crying: A la savana, A la savana, cornudos, perros Ingleses; that is, To the plain, to the plain, ye cuckolds, ye English dogs. While these things passed, the ten Pirates that were wounded a little before were dressed and plastered up.
At this place there was a wood, and on each side thereof a mountain. The Indians had immediately possessed themselves of one, and the Pirates took possession of the other that was opposite to it. Capt. Morgan was persuaded that in the wood the Spaniards had placed an ambuscade as lying so conveniently for that purpose. Hereupon he sent before two hundred men to search it. the Spaniards and Indians perceiving the Pirates to descend the mountain, did so too, as if they designed to attack them. But being got into the wood, out of sight of the Pirates, they disappeared, and were seen no more, leaving the passage open to them.
About night there fell a great rain, which caused the Pirates to march the faster and seek everywhere for houses wherein to preserve their arms from being wet. But the Indians had set fire to every one thereabouts, and transported all their cattle to remote places, to the end that the pirates, finding neither houses nor victuals, might be constrained to return homewards. Notwithstanding after diligent search, they found a few little huts belonging to shepherds, but in them nothing to eat. These not being capable of holding many men, they placed in them out of every company a small number; who kept the arms of all the rest of the army. Those who remained in the open field endured much hardship that night, the rain not ceasing to fall until the morning.
The End of the March.
The next morning about break of day being the ninth of this tedious journey, Capt. Morgan continued his march while the fresh air of the morning lasted. For the clouds then hanging as yet over their heads were much more favorable to them than the scorching rays of the sun, by reason the way was now more difficult and laborious than all the preceding. After two hours' march they discovered a troop of about twenty Spaniards, who observed the motions of the Pirates. They endeavored to catch some of them, but could lay hold on none, they suddenly disappearing, and absconding themselves in caves among the rocks totally unknown to the Pirates.
At last they came to a high mountain, which, when they ascended, they discovered from the top thereof the South Sea. This happy sight, as if it were the end of their labors, caused infinite joy among all the Pirates. Hence they could descry also one ship and six boats, which were set forth from Panama and sailed towards the islands of Tavago and Tovagilla, (Toboga and Taboguilla). Having descended this mountain; they came to a vale (the Sabanas of the present day), in which they found great quantity of cattle, whereof they killed good store. Here while some were employed in killing and flaying of cows, horses, bulls and chiefly asses, of which there was a very large number, others busied themselves in kindling of fires and getting wood wherewith to roast them. Thus cutting the flesh of these animals into convenient pieces, or bobbets, they threw them into the fire, and half carbonadoed or roasted, they devoured them with incredible haste and appetite. For such was their hunger that they more resembled cannibals than Europeans at this banquet, the blood many times running down from their beards to the middle of their bodies.
Having satisfied their hunger with these delicious meats, Capt. Morgan ordered them to continue the march. Here again he sent before the main body fifty men, with intent to take some prisoners, if possibly they could. For he seemed now to be much concerned that in nine days' time he could not meet one person who might inform him of the condition and forces of the Spaniards.
About evening they discovered a troop of two hundred Spaniards, more or less, who hallooed to the Pirates, but these could not understand what they said. A little while after they came the first time within sight of the highest steeple of Panama. This steeple they no sooner had discovered than they began to show signs of extreme joy, casting up their hats into the air, leaping for mirth, and shouting, even just as if they had already obtained the victory and entire accomplishment of their designs. All the trumpets were sounded and every drum beaten, in token of this universal acclamation and huge alacrity of their minds.
Thus they pitched their camp for that night with general content of the whole army, waiting with impatience for the morning, at which time they intended to attack the city. This evening there appeared fifty horses, who came out of the city, hearing the noise of the drums and trumpets of the Pirates, to observe, as it was thought, their motions. They came almost within musket-shot of the army, being preceded by a trumpet that sounded marvelously well. Those on horseback hallooed aloud to the Pirates, and threatened them, saying: Perros! non veremos, that is, Ye dogs! we shall meet ye. Having made this menace, they returned into the city, excepting only seven or eight horsemen who remained hovering thereabouts to watch that motions the Pirates made.
Immediately after, the city began to fire and ceased not to play with their biggest guns all night long against the camp, but with little or no harm to the Pirates, whom they could not conveniently reach. About this time also the afternoon appeared again within sight, making resemblance as if they would block up the passages, to the intent no Pirates might escape the hands of their forces. But the Pirates, who were now in a manner besieged, instead of conceiving any fear of their blockades, as soon as they had placed sentries about their camp, began every one to open their satchels, and without any preparation of napkins or plates, fell to eating very heartily the remaining pieces of bulls and horses' flesh which they had reserved since noon. This being done they laid themselves down to sleep upon the grass with great repose and huge satisfaction, expecting only with impatience the dawning of the next day.
Preparations for Attack.
On the tenth day betimes in the morning, they put all their men in convenient order, and with drums and trumpets sounding, continued their march directly towards the city. But one of the guides desired Capt. Morgan not to take the common highway that led thither, fearing lest should find in it much resistance and many ambuscades. He presently took his advice, and choose another way that went through the wood, although very irksome and difficult. Thus the Spaniards, perceiving the Pirates had taken another way, which they scarce had though on or believed, were compelled to leave their stops and batteries, and come out to meet them. The Governor of Panama put his forces in order, consisting of two squadrons, four regiments of foot, and a huge number of Indians, with some negroes and others, to help them.
The Pirates, being now upon their march, came to the top of a little hill, whence they had a large prospect of the city and campaign (champaign) country underneath. Here they discovered the forces of the people of Panama, extended in battle array and when they perceived them to be so numerous, they were suddenly surprised with great fear, much doubting the fortune of the day. Yea, few or one there were but wished themselves at home, or at least free from the obligation of that engagement, wherein they perceived their lives must be so narrowly concerned.
Having been some time at a stand, in a wavering condition of mind, they at last reflected upon the straits they had brought themselves into, and that now they ought of necessity either to fight resolutely or die, for no quarter could be expected from an enemy against whom they had committed so many cruelties on all occasions. Hereupon they encouraged one another, and resolved either to conquer, or spend the very last drop of blood in their bodies. Afterwards they divided themselves into three battalions, or troops, sending before them one or two hundred buccaneers, which sort of people are infinitely dexterous at shooting with guns.
Thus the Pirates left the hill and descended marching directly towards the Spaniards, who were posted in a spacious field, waiting for their coming.
As soon as they drew near them, the Spaniards began to shout, and cry, Viva el Rey! God save the King! and immediately their horses began to move against the Pirates. But the field being full of quags and very soft under foot, they could not ply to and fro and wheel about, as they desired. The two hundred buccaneers who gave them a full volley of shot, wherewith the battle was instantly kindled very hot.
Wild Bulls Used in Battle.
The Spaniards defended themselves very courageously, acting all they could possibly perform, to disorder the Pirates. Their foot, in like manner, endeavored to second the horse, but were constrained by the Pirates to separate from them. Thus finding themselves frustrated of their designs, they attempted to drive the bulls against them at their backs, and by this means put them into disorder, but the greatest part of the wild cattle ran away, being frightened with the noise of the battle, and some few that broke through the English companies did no other harm than to tear the colors in pieces, whereas the buccaneers shooting them dead, left not one to trouble them thereabouts.
The battle having now continued for the space of two hours, at the end thereof the greatest part of the Spanish horse was ruined and almost all killed. The rest fled away, which being perceived by the foot, and that they could not possibly prevail, they discharged the shot they had in their muskets, and throwing them on the ground, betook themselves to flight, every one which way he could run. The Pirates could not possibly follow them, as being too much harassed and wearied with the long journey they had lately made. Many of them, not being present among the shrubs of the sea-side. But very unfortunately, for most of them being found out by the Pirates, were instantly killed, without giving quarter to any. Some religious men were brought prisoners before Captain Morgan, but he being deaf to their cries and lamentations, commanded them all to be immediately pistoled, which was immediately done.
Soon after they brought a captain to his presence, whom he examined very strictly about several things, particularly wherein consisted the forces of those of Panama. To which he answered: Their whole strength did consist in four hundred horse, twenty-four companies of foot, each being of one hundred men complete, sixty Indians and some negroes, who were to drive two thousand wild bulls and cause them to run over the English camp, and thus by breaking their files put them into a total disorder and confusion. He discovered more, that in the city they had made trenches, and raised batteries in several places, in which they had placed many guns, and that at the entry of the highway which led to the city they had built a fort, which was mounted with eight great guns of brass, and defended by fifty men.
Captain Morgan, having heard this information, gave orders instantly they should march another way. But before setting forth, he made a review of all his men, whereof he found both killed and wounded a considerable number, and much greater than had been believed. Of the Spaniards were found six hundred dead upon the place, besides the wounded and prisoners. The Pirates were nothing discouraged, seeing their number so much diminished, but rather filled with greater pride than before, perceiving what huge advantage they had obtained against their enemies. Thus having rested themselves some while they prepared to march courageously towards the city, plighting their oaths to one another in general they would fight till never a man was left alive. With this courage they recommenced their march, either to conquer or be conquered, carrying with them all the prisoners.
They found much difficulty in their approach to the city. For within the town the Spaniards had placed many great guns, at several quarters thereof, some of which were charged with small pieces of iron, and others with musket-bullets. With all these they saluted the Pirates at their drawing nigh to the place, and gave them full and frequent broadsides, firing at them incessantly. Whence it came to pass that unavoidably they lost, at every step they advanced, great numbers of men. But neither these manifest dangers to their lives, nor the sight of so many of their own men dropping down continually at their sides, could deter them from advancing farther and gaining ground every moment upon the enemy. Thus, although the Spaniards never ceased to fire an act the best they could for their defense, yet notwithstanding they were forced to deliver the city after the space of three hours' combat.
The Pirates having now possessed themselves thereof, killed and destroyed as many as attempted to make the least opposition against them. The inhabitants had caused the best of their goods to be transported to more remote and occult places. Howbeit they found within the city as yet several warehouses very well stocked with all sorts of merchandise, as well as silks, cloths, linen, and other things of considerable value.
As soon as the first fury of their entrance into the city was over, Capt. Morgan assembled all his men at a certain place which he assigned, and there commanded them under very great penalties that none of them should dare to drink or taste any wine. The reason he gave for this injunction was, because he had received private intelligence that it had been all poisoned by the Spaniards. Howbeit it was the opinion of many that he gave these prudent orders to prevent the debauchery of his people, which he foresaw would be very great at the beginning, after so much hunger sustained by the way, fearing withal lest the Spaniards seeing them in wine, should rally their forces and fall upon the city, and use them as inhumanly as they had used the inhabitants before.
Morgan Sets Fire to the City.
Capt. Morgan, as soon as he had placed guards at several quarters where he thought necessary, both within and without the city of Panama, immediately commanded twenty-five men to seize a great boat, which had stuck in the port for want of water at a low tide, so that she could not put out to sea. The same day, about noon, he caused certain men privately to set fire to several great edifices of the city, nobody knowing whence the fire proceeded nor who were the authors thereof, much less what motives persuaded Capt. Morgan thereto, which are as yet unknown to this day. The fire increased so fast that before night the greatest part of the city was in flame.
Capt. Morgan endeavored to make the public believe the Spaniards had been the cause thereof, which suspicions he surmised among his won people, perceiving they reflected upon him for that action. Many of the Spaniards, as also some of the Pirates, used all the means possible either to extinguish the flame, or by blowing up houses with gun power, and pulling down others, to stop its progress. But all was in vain for in less than half an hour is consumed a whole street.
The Wealth of Old Panama.
All the houses of this city were built with cedar, being of very curious and magnificent structure, and richly adorned within, especially with hangings and paintings whereof part was already transported out of the Pirates way, and another great part was consumed by the voracity of the fire. There belonged to this city (which is also the head of a bishopric), eight monasteries, whereof seven were for men and one for women, two stately churches and monasteries were all richly adorned with altar-pieces and paintings, and huge quantity of gold and silver, with other precious things all of which the ecclesiastics had hidden and concealed.
Besides the above ornaments, here were to be seen two thousand houses of magnificent and prodigious building, being all or the greatest part inhabited by merchants of that country who are vastly rich. For the rest of the inhabitants of lesser quality and tradesmen, this city contained five thousand houses more. Here were also a great number of stables which served for the horses and mules that carry all the plate, belonging as well to the King of Spain as the private men towards the coast of the North Sea. The neighboring fields belonging to this city are all cultivated with fertile plantations and pleasant gardens which afford delicious prospects to the inhabitants the whole year long.
The Genoese had in this city of Panama a stately and magnificent house belonging to their trade and commerce of negroes. This building likewise was commanded by Capt. Morgan to be set on fire whereby it was burnt to the very ground. Besides which pile of buildings, here were consumed to the number of two hundred warehouses, and a great number of slaves who had hid themselves therein, together with an infinite multitude of sacks of meal.
The fire of all the houses and buildings was seen to continue four weeks after the day it began. The Pirates in the meanwhile, at least the greatest part of them, camped some time without the city, fearing and expecting that the Spaniards would come and fight them anew. For it was known that they had an incomparable number of men more than the Pirates had. This occasioned them to keep the field thereby to preserve their forces united, which now were very much diminished by the losses of the preceding battles, as also because they had a great many wounded, all of which they had put into one of the churches which along remained standing, the rest being consumed by the fire. Moreover, besides these decreases of their men, Capt. Morgan had sent a convoy of one hundred and fifty men to the Castle of Chagre, to carry the news of his victory obtained against Panama.
They saw many times whole troops of Spaniards cruise to and fro in the campaign (champaign) fields which gave them occasion to suspect their rallying anew. Yet they never had the courage to attempt anything against the Pirates. In the afternoon of this fatal day Captain Morgan re-entered again the city with his troops, to the intent that every one might take up his lodgings, which now they could hardly find, very few houses having escaped the desolation of the fire. Soon after they fell to seeking very carefully among the ruins and ashes for utensils of plate or gold which peradventure were not quite wasted by the flames. And of such things they found no small number in several places, especially in wells and cisterns where the Spaniards had hid them from the covetous search of the Pirates.
The next day Capt. Morgan dispatched away two troops of Pirates, of one hundred and fifty men each being all very stout soldiers and well armed, with orders to seek for the inhabitants of Panama who were escaped from the hands of their enemies. These men, having made several excursions up and the campaign (champaign) fields, woods and mountains, adjoining to Panama, returned after two days' time, bringing with them above two hundred prisoners, between men, women and slaves.
Escape of the Treasure Galleon.
The same day returned also the boat above mentioned which Capt. Morgan had sent into the South Sea, bringing with it three other boats which they had taken in a little while. But all these prizes they could willingly have given, yea, although they had employed greater labor into the bargain for our certain galleon which miraculously escaped their industry, being very richly laden with all the King's plate and a great quantity of riches of gold, pearls, jewels and other most precious goods of all the best and richest merchants of Panama. On board of this galleon were also the religious women, belonging to the nunnery of the said city, who had embarked with them all the ornaments of the church consisting of a large quantity of gold, plate and other things of great value.
The strength of this galleon was nothing considered as having only seven guns and ten or twelve muskets for its whole defense, being on the other side very ill-provided of victuals and other necessaries, with great want of fresh water, and having no more sails than the uppermost sails of the main mast. This description of the said ships, the Pirates received from certain persons who had spoken with seven mariners belonging to the galleon, at such time as they came ashore in the cock-boat to take in fresh water. Hence they concluded for certain they might easily have taken the said vessel had they given her chase and pursued her, as they ought to have done, especially considering the said galleon could not long subsist at sea.
But they were impeded from following this vastly rich prize by gluttony and drunkenness, having plentifully debauched themselves with several sorts of rich wines they found there ready to their hands. so that they chose rather to satiate their appetite with the things above-mentioned, than to lay hold on the occasion of each a huge advantage, although this sole prize would certainly have been of far greater value and consequence to them than all they secured at Panama, and other places thereabout.
The next day, repenting of their negligence, and being totally wearied of the vices and debaucheries aforesaid, they set forth to sea another boat well armed, to pursue with all speed imaginable the said galleon. But their present care and diligence was in vain, the Spaniards who were on board the said ship having received intelligence of the danger they were in one or two days before, while the Pirates were cruising so near them, whereupon they fled to places more remote and unknown to their enemies.
Take Prizes at Taboga.
Notwithstanding, the Pirates found in ports of the islands of Tavoga and Tavogilla (Taboga and Tabogilla), several boats that were laden with many sorts of very good merchandise all of which they took and brought to Panama where, being arrived, they had an exact relation of all that had passed while they were aboard to Capt. Morgan. The prisoners confirmed what the Pirates had said, adding thereto, that they undoubtedly knew whereabouts the said galleon might be at that present, but that it was very probable they had been relieved before now from other places.
These relations stirred up Capt. Morgan anew to send forth all the boats that were in the port of Panama, with design to seek and pursue the said galleon till they could find her. The boats aforesaid, being in all four, set sail from Panama and having spent eight days in cruising to and fro and searching several ports and creeks, they lost all their hopes of finding what they so earnestly sought for.
Hereupon they resolved to return to the isles of Tavoga and Tavogilla. Here they found a seasonably good ship that was newly come from Payta, [Peru], being laden with cloth, soap, sugar and biscuit, and with twenty thousand pieces of eight in ready money. This vessel they instantly seized, not finding the least resistance from any person within her. Near to the said ship was also a boat, whereof in like manner they possessed themselves. Upon the boat they laded great part of the merchandize they had found in the ship, together with some slaves they had taken in the said islands. With this purchase they returned to Panama, something better satisfied of their voyage, yet withal much discontented they could not meet with the galleon.
The convoy which Capt. Morgan had sent to the castle of Chagre returned much about the same time, bringing with them very good news. For while Captain Morgan was upon his journey to Panama, those he had left in the castle of Chagre had sent forth to sea two boats to exercise piracy. These happened to meet with a Spanish ship, which they began to chase within sight of the castle. This being perceived by the Pirates that were in the castle, they put forth Spanish colors, thereby to allure and deceive the ship that fled before the boats. Thus the poor Spaniards thinking to find refuge for themselves under the castle and the guns thereof, by flying into the port, were caught in a snare and made prisoners where they thought to find defense. The cargo which was found on board the said vessel consisted of victuals and provisions that were all eatable things. Nothing could be more opportune than this prize for the castle, where they had begun already to experience great scarcity of things of this kind.
Torture of Prisoners.
This good fortune of the garrison of Chagre gave occasion to Capt. Morgan to remain longer time than he had determined at Panama. And hereupon he ordered several new excursions to be made into the whole country round about the city.
So that while the Pirates at Panama were employed in these expeditions, those at Chagre were busied in exercising piracy upon the North Sea.
Capt. Morgan used to send forth daily parties of two hundred men to make inroads into all the fields and country thereabouts, and when one party came back, another consisting of two hundred more was ready to go forth. By this means they gathered in a short time a huge quantity of riches, and a no lesser number of prisoners. These being brought into the city, were presently put to the most exquisite tortures imaginable to make them confess both other people's goods and their own.
Here it happened that one poor and miserable wretch was found in the house of a gentleman of great quality, who had put on, amidst the confusions of things a pair of taffeta breeches belonging to his master with a little silver key hanging at the strings thereof. This being perceived by the Pirates they immediately asked him where was the cabinet of the said key. His answer was: He knew not what was become of it, but only that finding those breeches in his master's house, he had made bold to wear them. Not being able to extort any other confession out of him they first put him upon the rack, wherewith they inhumanly disjointed his arms. After this they twisted a cord about his forehead, which they wrung so hard that his eyes appeared as big as eggs, and were ready to fall out of his skull. But neither with these torments could they obtain any positive answer to their demands. Whereupon they soon after hung him up, giving him infinite blows and stripes while he was under that intolerable pain and posture of body. Afterwards they cut off his nose and ears and singed his face with burning straw, till he could speak nor lament his misery no longer. Then losing all hopes of hearing any confessions from his mouth, they commanded a negro to run him through with a lance, which put an end to his life, and a period to their cruel and inhuman tortures. After this execrable manner did many others of those miserable prisoners finish their days, the common sport and recreation of these Pirates being these and other tragedies not inferior.
They spared in these their cruelties, no sex or condition whatsoever. For as to religious persons and priests, they granted them less quarter than to others, unless they could produce a considerable sum of money, capable of being a sufficient ransom. Women themselves were no better used, and Capt. Morgan, their leader and commander, gave them no good example on this point. for as soon as any beautiful woman was brought as a prisoner to his presence, he used all the means he could, both of rigor and mildness, to bend her to his pleasure, for a confirmation of which assertion, I shall here give my reader a short history of a lady, whose virtue and constancy ought to be transmitted to posterity as a memorable example of her sex.
Morgan and the Constant Lady.
Among the prisoners that were brought by the Pirates from the islands of Tavoga and Tavogilla, there was found a gentlewoman of good quality, as also no less virtue and chastity, who was wife to one of the richest merchants in all of those countries. Her years were but few, and her beauty so great as, peradventure I may doubt whether in all Europe one could be found to surpass her perfections either of comeliness or honest. Her husband at that present was absent from home, being gone as far as the kingdom of Peru, about great concerns of commerce and trade, wherein his employments did lie.
This virtuous lady, likewise, hearing that Pirates were coming to assault Panama, had absented herself thence in the company of other friends and relations, thereby to preserve her life amidst the dangers which the cruelities and tyrannies of those hard-hearted enemies did seem to menace to every citizen. But no sooner had she appeared in the presence of Capt. Morgan than he commanded they should lodge her in a certain apartment by herself giving her a negress, or black woman, to wait upon her, and that she should be treated with all the respect and regale due to her quality. The poor afflicted lady did beg with multitude of sobs and tears she might be suffered to lodge among the other prisoners, her relations, fearing less the unexpected kindness of the commander might prove to be a design upon her chastity. But Capt. Morgan would by no means hearken to her petition, and all he commanded, in answer thereto, was she should be treated with more particular care than before and have her victuals carried from his own table.
This lady had formerly heard very strange reports concerning the Pirates, before their arrival at Panama, intimating to her, as if they were not men, but as they said heretics, who did neither invoke the Blessed Trinity, nor believe in Jesus Christ. But now she began to have better thoughts of them than ever before having experienced the manifold civilities of Capt. Morgan, especially hearing him many times to swear by the name of God, and of Jesus Christ, in whom, she was persuaded they did not believe. Neither did she now think them to be so bad, or to have the shapes of beasts, as from the relations of several people she had oftentimes heard. For as to the names of robbers or thieves; which was commonly given them by others, she wondered not much at it seeing as she said, that among all nations of the universe there were to be found some wicked men who naturally coveted to possess the goods of others.
Comformable to the persuasion of this lady was the opinion of another woman of the weak understanding, at Panama who used to say, before the Pirates came thither, she desired very much and had a great curiosity to see one of those men called Pirates for as much as her husband had often told her that they were not men, like others, but rather irrational beasts. This silly woman at last happened to see the first of them, and cried out aloud saying: Jesus bless me! these thieves are like us Spaniards.
This false civility of Capt. Morgan wherewith he used this lady was soon after changed into barbarious cruelty. For three or four days being past, he came to see her and the virtuous lady repulsed him with all the civility imaginable and many humble and modest expressions of her mind. But Capt. Morgan still persisted in his disorderly request, presenting her withal with much pearl, gold and all that he had got that was precious and valuable in that voyage. But the lady being in no manner willing to consent thereto nor accept his presents, and showing herself on all respects like Susannah for constancy, he presently changed note and began to speak to her in another tone, threatening her with a thousand cruelties and hard usages at his hands.
To all these things she gave this resolute and positive answer, than which no other could be extorted from her: Sir, my life is in your hands; but as to my body, in relation to that which you would persuade me to, my soul shall sooner be separated from it through the violence of your arms than I shall condescend to your request. No sooner had Captain Morgan understood this heroic resolution of her mind than he commanded her to be stripped of the best of her apparel and imprisoned in a darksome and stinking cellar. Here he had allowed her an extremely small quantity of meat and drink, wherewith she had much ado to sustain life for a few days.
Under this hardship the constant and virtuous lady ceased not to pray daily to God Almighty for constancy and patience against the cruelties of Capt. Morgan. But he being now thoroughly convinced of her chaste resolutions, as also desirous to conceal the cause of her confinement and hard usage, since many of the Pirates, his companions, did compassionate her condition, laid many false accusations to her charge giving to understand she held intelligence with the Spaniards and corresponded with them by letters abusing thereby his former lenity and kindness.
I myself was an eye witness to these things here related, and could never have judged such constancy of mind and virtuous chastity to be found in the world, if my own eyes and ears had not informed me thereof. But of this incomparable lady I shall say something more hereafter in its proper place, whereupon I shall leave her at present to continue my history.
Preparations for Departure.
Capt. Morgan having now been at Panama the full space of three weeks commanded all things to be put in order for his departure. To this effect, he have orders to every company of his men to seek out for so many beasts of carriage as might suffice to convey the whole spoil of the city to the river where his canoes lay.
About this time a great rumor was spread in the city of a considerable number of Pirates who intended to leave Capt. Morgan and that, by taking a ship which was in the port, they determined to go ad rob upon the South Sea till they had got as much as they though fit, and then return homewards by the way of the East Indies into Europe. For which purpose, they had already gathered great quantity of provisions, which they had hidden in private places, with sufficient store of powder, bullets, and all other sorts of ammunition, likewise some great guns, belonging to the town, muskets and other things where with they designed not only to equip the said vessel but also to fortify themselves and raise batteries in some island or other, which might serve them for a place of refuge.
The design had certainly taken effect as they intended, had not Capt. Morgan had timely advice thereof given him by one of their comrades. Hereupon he instantly given him by one of their comrades. Hereupon he instantly commanded the mainmast of the said ship should be cut down and burnt, together with all the other boats that were in the port. Hereby, the intentions of all or most of his companions were totally frustrated. After this Captain Morgan sent forth many of the Spaniards into the adjoining fields and country, to seek for money wherewith to ransom not only themselves but also all the rest of the prisoners, as likewise the ecclesiastics, both secular and regular. Moreover he commanded all the artillery of the town to be spoiled, that is to say, nailed and stopped up.
At the same time he sent out a strong company of men to seek for the Governor of Panama, of whom intelligence was brought that he had laid several ambuscades in the way by which he had to pass on his return. But those who were sent upon this design returned soon after, saying they had not found any sign or appearance of such ambuscades for a confirmation whereof they brought with them some prisoners they had taken, who declared that the said Governor had had an intention of making some opposition by the way, but that the men whom he designed to effect it were unwilling to undertake any such enterprise so that for want of means he could not put his design in execution.
Prisoners Held for Ransom.
On the 24th of February of the year 1671, Captain Morgan departed from the city of Panama, or rather from the place where the said city of Panama did stand; of the spoils whereof he carried with him one hundred and seventy-five beasts of carriage laden with silver, gold and other precious things, besides six hundred prisoners, more or less, between men, women, children and slaves. That day they came to a river that passes through a delicious campaign (champaign) field, at the distance of a league from Panama.
Here Capt. Morgan put all his forces into good order of martial array in such manner that the prisoners were in the middle of the camp, surrounded on all sides with Pirates. At which present conjuncture nothing else was to be heard by lamentations, cries, shrieks and doleful sighs, of the many women and children, who were persuaded Capt. Morgan designed to transport them all and carry them into his own country for slaves. Besides that, among all those miserable prisoners there was extreme hunger and thirst endured at that time, which hardship and misery Capt. Morgan designedly caused them to sustain, with intent to excite them more earnestly to seek for money wherewith to ransom themselves according to the tax he had set upon every one.
Many of the women begged of Capt. Morgan upon their knees, with infinite sighs and tears he would permit them to return to Panama, there to live in company with their dear husbands and children, in their little huts of straw which they would erect, seeing they had no houses until the rebuilding of the city. But his answer was: He came not hither to hear lamentations and cries, but rather to seek money. Therefore they ought to seek out for that in the first place, wherever it were to be had and bring it to him, otherwise he would assuredly transport them all to such places whither they cared not to go.
The next day when the march began, those lamentable cries and shrieks were renewed in so much as it would have caused compassion in the hardest heard to hear them. But Capt. Morgan, a man little given to mercy, was not moved therewith in the least. They marched in the same order as was said before; one party of the Pirates proceeding in the van, the prisoners in the middle, and the rest of the Pirates in the rear-guard, by whom the miserable Spaniards were at every step, punched and thrust in their backs and sides with the blunt end of their arms to make them march the faster.
Morgan Punishes Treachery.
That beautiful and virtuous lady of whom we made mention heretofore for her unparalleled constancy and chastity, was led prisoner by herself between two Pirates who guarded her. Her lamentations now did pierce the skies, seeing herself carried away into foreign captivity, often crying to the Pirates, and telling them: That she had given order to two religious persons, in whom she had relied, to go to a certain place and fetch so much money as her ransom did amount to. That they had promised faithfully to do it but having obtained the said money, instead of bringing it to her, they had employed it another way to ransom some of their own and particular friends.
This ill action of theirs was discovered by a slave, who brought a letter to the said lady. Her complaints, and the cause thereof being brought to the ears of Capt. Morgan, he thought fit to inquire thereinto. Having found the thing to be true, especially hearing it confirmed by the confession of the said religious men, though under some frivolous excuses of having diverted the money but for a day or two, within which time they expected more sums to repay it, he gave liberty to the said lady, whom otherwise he designed to transport to Jamaica. But in the meanwhile he detained the said religious men as prisoners in her place, using them according to the deserts of their compassionate intrigues.
As soon as Capt. Morgan arrived upon his march at the town called Cruz, situated on the banks of the river Chagre as was mentioned before, he commanded an order to be published among the prisoners, that within the space of three days every one of them should bring in his ransom, under the penalty aforementioned of being transported to Jamaica.
In the meanwhile he gave orders for so much rice and maize to be collected thereabouts as was necessary for the victualling of all his ships. At this place some of the prisoners were ransomed but many others could not bring in their moneys in so short a time. Hereupon he continued his voyage, leaving the village on the 5th day of March next following, and carrying with him all the spoil that ever he could transport.
From this village he likewise led away some new prisoners who were inhabitants of the said place. So that these new prisoners were added to those of Panama who had not as yet paid their ransoms, and all transported. But the two religious men who had diverted the money belonging to the lady, were ransomed three days after their imprisonment by other persons who had more compassion for their condition than they had shown for hers.
Pirates Searched for Valuables.
About the middle of the way to the castle of Chagre, Capt. Morgan commanded them to be placed in due order according to their custom, and caused every one to be sworn that they had reserved nor concealed nothing privately to themselves, even not so much as the value of a sixpence. This being done, Capt. Morgan having had some experience that those lewd fellows would not much stickle to swear falsely in points of interest, he commanded every one to be searched very strictly, both in their clothes and satchels and everywhere it might be presumed they had reserved anything. Yea, to the intent this order might not be ill taken by his companions, he permitted himself to be searched, even to the very soles of his shoes. To this effect, by common consent, there was assigned one out of every company to be the searchers of all, the rest.
The French Pirates that went on this expedition with Capt. Morgan were not well satisfied with this new custom of searching. Yet their number being less than that of the English, they were forced to submit to it as well as the others had done before them. The search being over, they re-embarked in their canoes and boats, which attended them on the river, and arrived at the castle of Chagre on the 9th day of the said month of March. Here they found all things in good order, excepting the wounded men, whom they had left there at the time of their departure. For of these the greatest number were dead, through the wounds they had received.
Division of Spoils.
From Chagre, Capt. Morgan sent presently after his arrival, a great boat to Porto Bello, wherein were all the prisoners he had taken at the Isle of St. Catharine, demanding by them a considerable ransom for the castle of Chagre, where he then was threatening otherwise to ruin and demolish it even to the ground. To this message those of Porto Bello made answer:They would give not one farthing towards the ransom of the said castle, and that the English might do with it as they pleased. This answer being come, the dividend was made of all the spoil they had obtained in that voyage.Thus every company, and every particular person therein included received their portion of what was got, or rather what part Capt. Morgan was pleased to give them.For so it was, that the rest of his companions, even of his own nation, complained of his proceedings in this particular, and feared not to tell him openly to his face that he had reserved the best jewels for himself.For they judged it impossible that no greater share should belong to them than two hundred pieces of eight per capita of so many valuable booties and robberies as they had obtained.Which small sum they thought too little reward for so much labor and such huge and manifest dangers as they had so often exposed their lives to.But Capt. Morgan was deaf to all these and many other complaints of this kind, having designed in his mind to cheat them of as much as he could.
Morgan Takes French Leave.
At last Capt. Morgan finding himself obnoxious by many obloquies and detractions among his people, began to fear the consequences thereof and hereupon thinking it unsafe to remain any longer time at Chagre, he commanded the ordnance of the said castle to be carried on board his ship.Afterwards he caused the greatest part of the walls to be demolished, and the edifices to be burnt, and so many other things spoiled and ruined as could conveniently be done in a short while.
These orders being performed, he went secretly on board his own ship, without giving any notice of his departure to his companions nor calling any council as he used to do.Thus he set sail and put out to sea, not bidding anybody adieu, being only followed by three or four vessels of the whole fleet.These were such (as the French Pirates believed) as went shares with Capt. Morgan towards the best and greatest part of the spoil which had been concealed from them in the dividend.
The Frenchmen could very willingly have revenged this affront upon Capt. Morgan and those that followed him, had they found themselves with sufficient means to encounter him at sea.But they were destitute of most things necessary thereto.Yea, they had much ado to find sufficient victuals and provisions for their voyage to Jamaica, he having left them totally unprovided of all things.
account by John Esquemerling
May 1, 2000
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