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| CHAPTER VII.
Captain Morgan takes the city of Maracaibo, on the coast of New Venezuela. Piracies committed in those Seas. Ruin of three Spanish ships, that were set forth to hinder the robberies of the Pirates.
NOT long after the arrival of the Pirates at Jamaica, being precisely that short time they needed to lavish away all the riches above-mentioned, they concluded upon another enterprize whereby to seek new fortunes. To this effect Captain Morgan gave orders to all the commanders of his ships to meet together at the island called De la Vaca, or Cow Isle, seated on the south side of the Isle of Hispaniola, as has been mentioned above. As soon as they came to this place, there flocked to them great numbers of other Pirates, both French and English, by reason the name of Captain Morgan was now rendered famous in all the neighbouring countries, for the great enterprizes he had performed. There was at that present at Jamaica an English ship newly come from New England, well mounted with thirty-six guns. This vessel likewise, by order of the Governor of Jamaica, came to join with Captain Morgan to strengthen his fleet, and give him greater courage to attempt things of huge consequence. With this supply Captain Morgan judged himself sufficiently strong, as having a ship of such port, being the greatest of his fleet, in his company. Notwithstanding, there being in the same place another great vessel that carried twenty-four iron guns, and twelve of brass, belonging to the French, Captain Morgan endeavoured as much as he could to join this ship in like manner to his own. But the French, not daring to repose any trust in the English, of whose actions they were not a little jealous, denied absolutely to consent to any such thing.
The French Pirates belonging to this great ship had accidentally met at sea an English vessel; and being then under an extreme necessity of victuals, they had taken some provisions out of the English ship without paying for them, having peradventure no ready money on board. Only they had given them bills of exchange, for Jamaica and Tortuga, to receive money there for what they had taken. Captain Morgan having notice of this accident, and perceiving he could not prevail with the French Captain to follow him in that expedition, resolved to lay hold on this occasion as a pretext to ruin the French, and seek his own revenge. Hereupon he invited, with dissimulation, the French commander and several of his men to dine with him on board the great ship that was come from Jamaica, as was said before. Being come thither, he made them all prisoners, pretending the injury aforementioned done to the English vessel in' taking away some few provisions without pay.
This unjust action of Captain Morgan was soon followed by divine punishment, as we may very rationally conceive. The manner I shall instantly relate. Captain Morgan, presently after he had taken the French prisoners abovesaid, called a council to deliberate what place they should first pitch upon, in the course of this new expedition. At this council it was determined to go to the Isle of Savona, there to wait for the flota which was then expected from Spain, and take any of the Spanish vessels that might chance to straggle from the rest. This resolution being taken, they began on board the great ship to feast one another for joy of their new voyage and happy council, as they hoped it would prove. In testimony hereof, they drank many healths, and discharged many guns, as the common sign of mirth among seamen used to be. Most of the men being drunk, by what accident is not known the ship suddenly was blown up into the air, with three hundred and fifty Englishmen, besides the French prisoners above-mentioned that were in the hold. Of all which number, there escaped only thirty men, who were in the great cabin at some distance from the main force of the powder. Many more 'tis thought might have escaped, had they not been so much overtaken with wine.
The loss of such a great ship brought much consternation and conflict of mind upon the English. They knew not whom to blame; but at last the accusation was laid upon the French prisoners, whom they suspected to have fired the powder of the ship wherein they were, out of design to revenge themselves, though with the loss of their own lives. Hereupon they sought to be revenged on the French anew, and accumulate new accusations against the former, whereby to seize the ship and all that was in it. With this design they forged another pretext against the said ship, by saying the French designed to commit piracy upon the English. The grounds of this accusation were given them by a commission from the Governor of Barracoa, found on board the French vessel, wherein were these words: That the said Governor did permit the French to trade in all Spanish ports, etc. . . . As also to cruize upon the English Pirates in what place soever they could find them, because of the multitude of hostilities which they had committed against the subjects of his Catholic Majesty, in time of peace betwixt the two Crowns. This Commission for trade was interpreted by the English as an express order to exercise piracy and war against them, notwithstanding it was only a bare licence for coming into the Spanish ports; the cloak of which permission were those words inserted: That they should cruize upon the English. And although the French did sufficiently expound the true sense of the said Commission, yet they could not clear themselves to Captain Morgan, nor his council. But, in lieu hereof, the ship and men were seized and sent to Jamaica. Here they also endeavoured to obtain justice and the restitution of their ship, by all the means possible. But all was in vain: for instead of justice, they were long time detained in prison, and threatened with hanging.
Eight days after the loss of the said ship, Captain Morgan commanded the bodies of the miserable wretches who were blown up to be searched for, as they floated upon the waters of the sea. This he did, not out of any design of affording them Christian burial, but only to obtain the spoil of their clothes and other attire. And if any had golden rings on their fingers, these were cut off for purchase, leaving them in that condition exposed to the voracity of the monsters of the sea. At last they set sail for the Isle of Savona, being .the place of their assignation. They were in all fifteen vessels, Captain Morgan commanding the biggest, which carried only fourteen small guns. The number of men belonging to this fleet were nine hundred and threescore. In few days after, they arrived at the Cape called Cabo de Lobos, on the south side of the Isle of Hispaniola, between Cape Tiburon and Cape Punta ti' Espada. Hence they could not pass, by reason of contrary winds that continued the space of three weeks, notwithstanding all the endeavours Captain Morgan used to get forth, leaving no means unattempted thereunto. At the end of this time they doubled the cape, and presently after spied an English vessel at a distance. Having spoken with her, they found she came from England, and bought of her, for ready money, some provisions they stood in need of.
Captain Morgan proceeded in the course of his voyage, till he came to the port of Ocoa. Here he landed some of his men, sending them into the woods to seek water and what provisions they could find, the better to spare such as he had already on board his fleet. They killed many beasts, and among other animals some horses. But the Spaniards, being not well satisfied at their hunting, attempted to lay a stratagem for the Pirates. To this purpose they ordered three or four hundred men to come from the city of San Domingo, not far distant from this port, and desired them to hunt in all the parts thereabouts adjoining the sea, to the intent that if any Pirates should return, they might find no subsistence. Within a few days the same Pirates returned, with design to hunt. But finding nothing to kill, a party of them, being about fifty in number, straggled farther on into the woods. The Spaniards, who watched all their motions, gathered a great herd of cows, and set two or three men to keep them. The Pirates having spied this herd, killed a sufficient number thereof; and although the Spaniards could see them at a distance, yet they would not hinder their work for the present. But as soon as they attempted to carry them away, they set upon them with all fury imaginable, crying: Mata, mata! that is, Kill, kill. Thus the Pirates were soon compelled to quit the prey, and retreat towards their ships as well as they could. This they performed, notwithstanding, in good order, retiring from time to time by degrees; and when they had any good opportunity, discharging full volleys of shot upon the Spaniards. By this means the Pirates killed many of the enemies, though with some loss on their own side.
rest of the Spaniards, seeing what damage they had
sustained, endeavoured to save themselves by flight, and
carry off the dead bodies and wounded of their companions.
The Pirates perceiving them to flee, could not content
themselves with what hurt they had already done, but
pursued them speedily into the woods, and killed the
greatest part of those that were remaining. The next day
Captain Morgan, being extremely offended at what had
passed, went himself with two hundred men into the woods,
to seek for the rest of the Spaniards. But finding nobody
-there, he revenged his wrath upon the houses of the poor
and miserable rustics that inhabit scatteringly those
fields and woods; of which he burnt a great number. With
this he returned to his ships, something more satisfied in
his mind, for having done some considerable damage to the
enemy; which was always his most ardent desire.
The huge impatience wherewith Captain Morgan had waited now this long while for some of the ships, which were not yet arrived, made him resolve to set sail without them, and steer his course for the Isle of Savona, the place he had always designed. Being arrived there, and not finding any of his ships yet come, he was more impatient and concerned than before, fearing their loss, or that he must proceed without them. Notwithstanding, he waited for their arrival some few days longer. In the meanwhile, having no great plenty of provisions, he sent a crew of one hundred and fifty men to the Isle of Hispaniola, to pillage some towns that were near the city of San Domingo. But the Spaniards, having had intelligence of their coming, were now so vigilant and in such good posture of defence, that the Pirates thought it not convenient to assault them, choosing rather to return empty-handed to Captain Morgan's presence than to perish in that desperate enterprize.
At last Captain Morgan, seeing the other ships did not come, made a review of his people, and found only five hundred men, more or less. The ships that were wanting were seven, he having only eight in his company, of which the greatest part were very small. Thus having hitherto resolved to cruize upon the coasts of Caracas, and plunder all the towns and villages he could meet, finding himself at present with such small forces, he changed his resolution, by the advice of a French Captain that belonged to his fleet. This Frenchman had served L’Ollonais in like enterprizes, and was at the taking of Maracaibo; whereby he knew all the entries, passages, forces and means how to put in execution the same again in the company of Captain Morgan, to whom, having made a full relation of all, he concluded to sack it again the second time, as being himself persuaded, with all his men, of the facility the Frenchman propounded. Hereupon they weighed anchor, and steered their course towards Curacoa. Being come within sight of that island, they landed at another, which is near it, and is called Ruba, seated about twelve leagues from Curacoa, towards the west. This island is defended but by a slender garrison, and is inhabited by Indians, who are subject to the Crown of Spain, and speak Spanish, by reason of the Roman Catholic religion, which is here cultivated by some few priests that are sent from time to time from the neighbouring continent.
The inhabitants of this isle exercise a certain commerce or trade with the Pirates that go and come this way. These buy of the islanders sheep, lambs and kids, which they exchange unto them for linen, thread and other things of this kind. The country is very dry and barren, the whole substance thereof consisting in those three things above-mentioned, and in a small quantity of wheat, which is of no bad quality. This isle produces a great number of venomous insects, as vipers, spiders and others. These last are so pernicious here, that if any man is bitten by them, he dies mad. And the manner of recovering such persons, is to tie them very fast both hands and feet, and in this condition to leave them for the space of four and twenty hours without eating or drinking the least thing imaginable. Captain Morgan, as was said, having cast anchor before this island, bought of the inhabitants many sheep, lambs and also wood, which he needed for all his fleet. Having been there two days he set sail again, in the time of the night, to the intent they might not see what course he steered.
The next day they arrived at the sea of Maracaibo, having always great care of not being seen from Vigilias, for which reason they anchored out of the sight of the watch-tower. Night being come, they set sail again towards the land, and the next morning by break of day found themselves directly over against the bar of the lake above-mentioned. The Spaniards had built another fort since the action of L’Ollonais, whence they did now fire continually against the Pirates, while they were putting their men into boats to land. The dispute continued very hot on both sides, being managed with huge courage and valour from morning till dark night. This being come, Captain Morgan, in the obscurity thereof, drew nigh the fort; which having examined, he found nobody in it, the Spaniards having deserted it not long before. They left behind them a match kindled near a train of powder, wherewith they designed to blow up the Pirates and the whole fortress, as soon as they were in it. This design had taken effect, had the Pirates failed to discover it the space of one quarter of an hour. But Captain Morgan prevented the mischief by snatching away the match with all speed, whereby he saved, both his own and his companions' lives. They found here great quantity of powder, whereof he provided his fleet; and afterwards demolished part of the walls, nailing sixteen pieces of ordnance, which carried from twelve to four and twenty pound of bullet. Here they found also great number of muskets and other military provisions.
The next day they commanded the ships to enter the bar; among which, they divided the powder, muskets and other things they found in the fort, These things being done, they embarked again, to continue their course towards Maracaibo. But the waters were very low, whereby they could not pass a certain bank that lies at the entry of the lake. Hereupon they were compelled to put themselves into canoes and small boats with which they arrived the next day before Maracaibo, having no other defence than some small pieces which they could carry in the said boats. Being landed, they ran immediately to the fort called De la Barra, which they found in like manner as the preceding, without any person in it: for all were fled before them into the woods, leaving also the town without any people, except a few miserable poor folk who had nothing to lose.
As soon as they had entered the town the Pirates searched every corner thereof, to see if they could find any people that were hidden who might offend them unawares. Not finding anybody, every party, according as they came out of their several ships, chose what houses they pleased to themselves, the best they could find. The church was deputed for the common corps de garde, where they lived after their military manner, committing many insolent actions. The next day after their arrival, they sent a troop of one hundred men to seek for the inhabitants and their goods. These returned the next day following, bringing with them to the number of thirty persons, between men, women and children, and fifty mules laden with several good merchandize. All these miserable prisoners were put to the rack, to make them confess where the rest of the inhabitants were and their goods. Amongst other tortures then used, one was to stretch their limbs with cords, and at the same time beat them with sticks and other instruments. Others had burning matches placed betwixt their fingers, which were thus burnt alive. Others had slender cords or matches twisted about their heads, till their eyes burst out of the skull. Thus all sort of inhuman cruelties were executed upon those innocent people. Those who would not confess, or who had nothing to declare, died under the hands of those tyrannical men. These tortures and racks continued for the space of three whole weeks; in which time they ceased not to send out, daily, parties of men to seek for more people to torment and rob; they never returning home without booty and new riches.
Captain Morgan, having now got by degrees into his hands about one hundred of the chief families, with all their goods, at last resolved to go to Gibraltar, even as L’Ollonais had done before. With this design he equipped his fleet, providing it very sufficiently with all necessary things. He put likewise on board all the prisoners; and, thus weighing anchor, set sail for the said place, with resolution to hazard the battle. They had sent before them some prisoners to Gibraltar, to denounce to the inhabitants they should surrender: otherwise Captain Morgan would certainly put them all to the sword, without giving quarter to any person he should find alive. Not long after, he arrived with his fleet before Gibraltar, whose inhabitants received him with continual shooting of great cannon-bullets. But the Pirates, instead of fainting hereat, ceased not to encourage one another, saying: We must make one meal upon bitter things, before we come to taste the sweetness of the sugar this place affords.
The next day, very early in the morning, they landed all their men. And being guided by the Frenchman above-mentioned, they marched towards the town, not by the common way but crossing through the woods; which way the Spaniards scarce thought they would have come. For, at the beginning of their march, they made appearance as if they intended to come the next and open way that led to the town, hereby the better to deceive the Spaniards. But these remembering as yet full well what hostilities L’Ollonais had committed upon them but two years before, thought it not safe to expect the second brunt, and hereupon were all fled out of the town as fast as they could, carrying with them all their goods and riches, as also all the powder, and having nailed all the great guns: insomuch as the Pirates found not one person in the whole city, excepting only one poor and innocent man who was born a fool. This man they asked whither the inhabitants were fled, and where they had absconded their goods. To all which questions and the like he constantly made answer: I know nothing, I know nothing. But they presently put him to the rack, and tortured him with cords; which torments forced him to cry out: Do not torture me any more, but come with me and I will show you my goods and my riches. They were persuaded, as it should seem, he was some rich person who had disguised himself under those clothes so poor as also that innocent tongue. Hereupon they went along with him; and he conducted them to a poor and miserable cottage, wherein he had a few earthen dishes, and other things of little or no value; and amongst these, three pieces of eight, which he had concealed with some other trumpery underground. After this, they asked him his name; and he readily made answer: My name is Don Sebastian Sanchez, and I am brother to the Governor of Maracaibo. This foolish answer, it must be conceived, these men, though never so inhuman, took for a certain truth. For no sooner had they heard it, but they put him again upon the rack, lifting him up on high with cords, and tying huge weights to his feet and neck; besides which cruel and stretching torment, they burnt him alive, applying palm-leaves burning to his face, under which miseries he died in half-an-hour. After his death they cut the cords wherewith they had stretched him, and dragged him forth into the adjoining woods, where they left him without burial.
The same day they sent out a party of Pirates to seek for the inhabitants, upon whom they might employ their inhuman cruelties. These brought back with them an honest peasant with two daughters of his, whom they had taken prisoners, and whom they intended to torture as they used to do with others, in case they showed not the places where the inhabitants had absconded themselves. The peasant knew some of the said places, and hereupon seeing himself threatened with the rack, went with the Pirates to show them. But the Spaniards perceiving their enemies to range everywhere up and down the woods, were already fled thence much farther off into the thickest parts of the said woods, where they built themselves huts, to preserve from the violence of the weather those few goods they had carried with them. The Pirates judged themselves to be deceived by the said peasant; and hereupon, to revenge their wrath upon him, notwithstanding all the excuses he could make, and his humble supplications for his life, they hanged him upon a tree.
After this, they divided into several parties, and went to search the plantations. For they knew the Spaniards that were absconded could not live upon what they found in the woods, without coming now and then to seek provisions at their own country houses. Here they found a certain slave, to whom they promised mountains of gold, and that they would give him his liberty by transporting him to Jamaica, in case he would show them the places where the inhabitants of Gibraltar lay hidden. This fellow conducted them to a party of Spaniards, whom they instantly made all prisoners, commanding the said slave to kill some of them before the eyes of the rest; to the intent that by this perpetrated crime he might never be able to leave their wicked company. The negro, according to their orders, committed many murders and insolent actions upon the Spaniards, and followed the unfortunate traces of the Pirates, who after the space of eight days, returned to Gibraltar with many prisoners and some mules laden with riches. They examined every prisoner by himself (who were in all about two hundred and fifty persons) where they had absconded the rest of their goods, and if they knew of their fellow-townsmen. Such as would not confess were tormented after a most cruel and inhuman manner. Among the rest, there happened to be a certain Portuguese, who by the information of a negro was reported, though falsely, to be very rich. This man was commanded to produce his riches. But his answer was, he had no more than one hundred pieces of eight in the whole world, and that these had been stolen from him two days before, by a servant of his. Which words, although he sealed with many oaths and protestations, yet they would not believe him. But dragging him to the rack, without any regard to his age, as being threescore years old, they stretched him with cords, breaking both his arms behind his shoulders.
This cruelty went not alone. For he not being able or willing to make any other declaration than the above-said, they put him to another sort of torment that was worse and more barbarous than the preceding. They tied him with small cords by his two thumbs and great-toes to four stakes that were fixed in the ground at a convenient distance, the whole weight of his body being pendent in the air upon those cords. Then they thrashed upon the cords with great sticks and all their strength, so that the body of this miserable man was ready to perish at every stroke, under the severity of those horrible pains. Not satisfied as yet with this cruel torture, they took a stone which weighed above two hundred pound, and laid it on his belly, as if they intended to press him to death. At which time they also kindled palm-leaves, and applied the flame to the face of this unfortunate Portuguese, burning with them the whole skin, beard and hair. At last these cruel tyrants, seeing that neither with these tortures nor others they could get anything out of him, they untied the cords, and carried him, being almost half dead, to the church, where was their corps du garde. Here they tied him anew to one of the pillars thereof, leaving him in that condition, without giving him either to eat or drink, except very sparingly, and so little as would scarce sustain life, for some days. Four or five being past, he desired that one of the prisoners might have the liberty to come to him, by whose means he promised he would endeavour to raise some money to satisfy their demands. The prisoner whom he required was brought to him; and he ordered him to promise the Pirates five hundred pieces of eight for his ransom. But they were both deaf and obstinate at such a small sum, and, instead of accepting it, did beat him cruelly with cudgels, saying unto him: Old fellow, instead of five hundred you must say five hundred thousand pieces of eight; otherwise you shall here end your life. Finally, after a thousand protestations that he was but a miserable man, and kept a poor tavern for his living, he agreed with them for the sum of one thousand pieces of eight. These he raised in few days, and having paid them to the Pirates, got his liberty; although so horribly maimed in his body, that 'tis scarce to be believed he could survive many weeks after.
Several other tortures besides these were exercised upon others, which this Portuguese endured not. If with this they were minded to show themselves merciful to those wretches, thus lacerated in the most tender parts of their bodies, their mercy was to run them through and through with their swords; and by this means rid them soon of their pains and life. Otherwise, if this were not done, they used to lie four or five days under the agonies of death, before dying. Others were crucified by these tyrants, and with kindled matches were burnt between the joints of their fingers and toes. Others had their feet put into the fire, and thus were left to be roasted alive. At last, having used both these and other cruelties with the white men, they began to practice the same over again with the negroes, their slaves; who were treated with no less inhumanity than their masters.
Among these slaves was found one who promised Captain Morgan to conduct him to a certain river belonging to the lake, where he should find a ship and four boats richly laden with goods that belonged to the inhabitants of Maracaibo. The same slave discovered likewise the place where the Governor of Gibraltar lay hidden, together with the greatest part of the women of the town. But all this he revealed, through great menaces wherewith they threatened to hang him, in case he told not what he knew. Captain Morgan sent away presently two hundred men in two mattes, or great boats, towards the river above-mentioned, to seek for what the slave had discovered. But he himself, with two hundred and fifty more, undertook to go and take the Governor. This gentleman was retired to a small island seated in the middle of the river, where he had built a little fort, after the best manner he could, for his defence. But hearing that Captain Morgan came in person with great forces to seek him, he retired farther off to the top of a mountain not much distant from that place; unto which there was no ascent, but by a very narrow passage. Yea, this was so straight, that whosoever did pretend to gain the ascent, must of necessity cause his men to pass one by one. Captain Morgan spent two days before he could arrive at the little island above-mentioned. Thence he designed to proceed to the mountain where the Governor was posted, had he not been told of the impossibility he should find in the ascent, not only of the narrowness of the path that led to the top, but also because the Governor was very well provided with all sorts of ammunition above. Besides that, there was fallen a huge rain, whereby all the baggage belonging to the Pirates, and their powder, was wet. By this rain also they had lost many of their men at the passage over a river that was overflown. Here perished likewise some women and children, and many mules laden with plate and other goods; all which they had taken in the fields from the fugitive inhabitants. So that all things were in a very bad condition with Captain Morgan, and the bodies of his men as much harassed, as ought to be inferred from this relation. Whereby, if the Spaniards in that juncture of time had had but a troop of fifty men well armed with pikes or spears, they might have entirely destroyed the Pirates, without any possible resistance on their sides. But the fears which the Spaniards had conceived from the beginning were so great, that only hearing the leaves on the trees to stir, they often fancied them to be Pirates. Finally, Captain Morgan and his people, having upon this march sometimes waded up to their middles in water for the space of half or whole miles together, they at last escaped for the greatest part. But of the woman and children they brought home prisoners, the major part died.
Thus twelve days after they set forth to seek the Governor, they returned to Gibraltar with a great number of prisoners. Two days after arrived also the two saëties that went to the river, bringing with them four boats and some prisoners. But as to the greatest part of the merchandize that were in the said boats, they found them not, the Spaniards having unladed and secured them, as having intelligence beforehand of the coming of the Pirates. Whereupon they designed also, when the merchandize were all taken out, to burn the boats. Yet the Spaniards made not so much haste as was requisite to unlade the said vessels, but that they left both in the ship and boats great parcels of goods, which, they being fled from thence, the Pirates seized, and brought thereof a considerable booty to Gibraltar. Thus, after they had been in possession of the place five entire weeks, and committed there infinite number of murders, robberies, and suchlike insolences, they concluded upon their departure. But before this could be performed, for the last proof of their tyranny, they gave orders to some prisoners to go forth into the woods and fields, and collect a ransom for the town; otherwise they would certainly burn every house down to the ground. Those poor afflicted men went forth as they were sent. And after they had searched every corner of the adjoining fields and woods, they returned to Captain Morgan, telling him they had scarce been able to find anybody. But that to such as they had found, they had proposed his demands; to which had they made answer that the Governor had prohibited them to give any ransom for not burning the town. But notwithstanding any prohibition to the contrary, they beseeched him to have a little patience, and among themselves they would collect to the sum of five thousand pieces of eight. And for the rest, they would give him some of their own townsmen as hostages, whom he might carry with him to Maracaibo, till such time as he had received full satisfaction.
Captain Morgan having now been long time absent from Maracaibo, and knowing the Spaniards had had sufficient time wherein to fortify themselves, and hinder his departure out of the lake, granted them their proposition above-mentioned; and, withal, made as much haste as he could to set things in order for his departure. He gave liberty to all the prisoners, having beforehand put then every one to the ransom; yet he detained all the slaves with him. They delivered to him four persons that were agreed upon for hostages of what sums of money more he was to receive from them; and they desired to have the slave of whom we made mention above, intending to punish him according to his deserts. But Captain Morgan would not deliver him, being persuaded they would burn him alive. At last they weighed anchor, and set sail with all the haste they could, directing their course towards Maracaibo. Here they arrived in four days, and found all things in the same posture they had left them when they departed. Yet here they received news, from the information of a poor distressed old man, who was sick and whom alone they found in the town, that three Spanish men-of-war were arrived at the entry of the lake, and there waited for the return of the Pirates out of those parts. Moreover, that the castle at the entry thereof was again put into a good posture of defence, being well provided with great guns and men and all sorts of ammunition.
This relation of the old man could not choose but cause some disturbance in the mind of Captain Morgan, who now was careful how to get away through those narrow passages of the entry of the lake. Hereupon he sent one of his boats, the swiftest he had, to view the entry, and see if things were as they had been related. The next day the boat came back, confirming what was said, a-d assuring they had viewed the ships so near that they had been in great danger of the shot they had made at them. Hereunto they added that the biggest ship was mounted with forty guns, the second with thirty, and the smallest with four and twenty. These forces were much beyond those of Captain Morgan; and hence they caused a general consternation in all the Pirates, whose biggest vessel had not above fourteen small guns. Every one judged Captain Morgan to despond in his mind and be destitute of all manner of hopes, considering the difficulty either of passing safely with his little fleet amidst those great ships and the fort, or that he must perish. How to escape any other way by sea or by land, they saw no opportunity nor convenience. Only they could have wished that those three ships had rather come over the lake to seek them at Maracaibo, than to remain at the mouth of the strait where they were. For at that passage they must of necessity fear the ruin of their fleet, which consisted only for the greatest part of boats.
Hereupon, being necessitated to act as well as he could, Captain Morgan resumed new courage, and resolved to show himself as yet undaunted with these terrors. To this intent he boldly sent a Spaniard to the Admiral of those three ships, demanding of him a considerable tribute or ransom for not putting the city of Maracaibo to the flame. This man (who doubtless was received by the Spaniards with great admiration of the confidence and boldness of those Pirates) returned two days after, bringing to Captain Morgan a letter from the said Admiral, whose contents were as follows.
Letter of Don Alonso del Campo y Espinosa, Admiral of the Spanish Fleet, unto Captain Morgan, commander of the pirates.
HAVING understood by all our friends and neighbours the unexpected news, that you have dared to attempt and commit hostilities in the countries, cities, towns and villages belonging to the dominions of his Catholic Majesty, my Sovereign Lord and Master; I let you understand by these lines, that I am come to this place, according to my obligation, nigh unto that castle which you took out of the hands of a parcel of cowards; where I have put things into a very good posture of defence, and mounted again the artillery which you had nailed and dismounted. My intent is to dispute with you your passage out of the lake, and fallow and pursue you everywhere, to the end you may see the performance of my duty. Notwithstanding, if you be contented to surrender with humility all that you have taken, together with the slaves and all other prisoners, I will let you freely pass, without trouble or molestation; upon condition that you retire home presently to your own country. But in case that you make any resistance or opposition unto these things that proffer unto you, I do assure you I will command boats to come from Caracas, wherein I will put my troops, and coming to Maracaibo, will cause you utterly to perish, by putting you every man to the sword. This is my last and absolute resolution. Be prudent, therefore, and do not abuse my bounty with ingratitude. I have with me very good soldiers, who desire nothing more ardently than to revenge on you and your people all the cruelties and base infamous actions you have committed Von the Spanish nation in America. Dated on board the Royal Ship named the Magdalen, lying at anchor at the entry of the Lake of Maracaibo, this 24th day of April, 1669.
Don Alonso del Campo y Espinosa.
As soon as Captain Morgan had received this letter, he called all his men together in the market-place of Maracaibo; and, after reading the contents thereof, both in French and English, he asked their advice and resolutions upon the whole matter, and whether they had rather surrender all they had purchased, to obtain their liberty, than fight for it?
They answered all unanimously: They had rather fight, and spill the very last drop of blood they had in their veins, than surrender so easily the booty they had got with so much danger of their lives. Among the rest, one was found who said to Captain Morgan: Take you care for the rest, and I will undertake to destroy the biggest of those ships with only twelve men. The manner shall be, by making a brulot, or fire-ship, of that vessel we took in the river of Gibraltar. Which, to the intent she may not be known for a fire-ship, we will fill her decks with logs of wood, standing with hats and Montera-caps, to deceive their fight with the representation of men. The same we will do at the port-holes that serve for the guns, which shall be filled with counterfeit cannon. At the stern we will hang out the English colours, and persuade the enemy she is one of our best men-of-war that goes to fight them. This proposition, being heard by the Junta (i.e., council), was admitted and approved of by every one; howbeit their fears were not quite dispersed.
For notwithstanding what had been concluded there, they endeavoured the next day to see if they could come to an accommodation with Don Alonso. To this effect Captain Morgan sent him two persons, with these following propositions. First: That he would quit Maracaibo, without doing any damage to the town, nor exacting any ransom for Me firing thereof. Secondly: That he would set at liberty one half of the slaves, and likewise all other prisoners, without ransom. Thirdly: That he would send home freely the four chief inhabitants of Gibraltar, which he had in his custody as hostages for the contributions those people had promised to pay. These propositions from the Pirates, being understood by Don Alonso, were instantly rejected every one, as being dishonourable for him to grant. Neither would he hear any word more of any other accommodation; but sent back this message. That in case they surrendered not themselves voluntarily into his hands within the space of two days, under the conditions which he had offered them by his letter, he would immediately come and force them to do it.
No sooner had Captain Morgan received this message from Don Alonso, than he put all things in order to fight, resolving to get out of the lake by main force, and without surrendering anything. In the first place, he commanded all the slaves and prisoners to be tied and guarded very well. After this, they gathered all the pitch, tar and brimstone they could find in the whole town, therewith to prepare the fire-ship above-mentioned. Likewise they made several inventions of powder and brimstone, with great quantities of palm-leaves, very well anointed with tar. They covered very well their counterfeit cannon, laying under every piece thereof many pounds of powder. Besides which, they cut down many outworks belonging to the ship, to the end the powder might exert its strength the better Thus they broke open also new port-holes; where, instead of guns they placed little drums, of which the negroes make use. Finally, the decks were handsomely beset with many pieces of wood dressed up in the shape of men with hats, or monteras, and likewise armed with swords, muskets and bandoliers.
brulot or fire-ship, being thus fitted to their purpose,
they prepared themselves to go to the entry of the port.
All the prisoners were put into one great boat, and in
another of the biggest they placed all the women, plate,
jewels and other rich things which they had. Into others
they put all the bales of goods and merchandize, and other
things of greatest bulk. Each of these boats had twelve
men on board, very well armed. The brulot had orders to go
before the rest of the vessels, and presently to fall foul
with the great ship. All things being in readiness,
Captain Morgan exacted an oath of all his comrades,
whereby they protested to defend themselves against the
Spaniards, even to the last drop of blood, without
demanding quarter at any rate: promising them withal, that
whosoever thus behaved himself should be very well
With this disposition of mind and courageous resolution, they set sail to seek the Spaniards, on the 30th day of April, 1669. They found the Spanish fleet riding at anchor in the middle of the entry of the lake. Captain Morgan, it being now late and almost dark, commanded all his vessels to come to an anchor; with design' to fight thence even all night, if they should provoke him thereunto. He gave orders that a careful and vigilant watch should be kept on board every vessel till the morning, they being almost within shot, as well as within fight, of the enemy. The dawning of the day being come, they weighed anchors, and set sail again, steering their course directly towards the Spaniards; who observing them to move, did instantly the same. The fire-ship, sailing before the rest, fell presently upon the great ship, and grappled to her sides in a short while. Which by the Spaniards being perceived to be a fire-ship, they attempted to escape the danger by putting her off; but in vain, and too late. For the flame suddenly seized her timber and tackling, and in a short space consumed all the stern, the forepart sinking into the sea, whereby she perished. The second Spanish ship, perceiving the Admiral to burn, not by accident but by industry of the enemy, escaped towards the castle, where the Spaniards themselves caused her to sink; choosing this way of losing their ship, rather than to fall into the hands of those Pirates, which they held for inevitable. The third, as having no opportunity nor time to escape, was taken by the Pirates. The seamen that sank the second ship near the castle, perceiving the Pirates to come towards them to take what remains they could find of their shipwreck (for some part of the bulk was extant above water), set fire in like manner to this vessel, to the end the Pirates might enjoy nothing of that spoil. The first ship being set on fire, some of the persons that were in her swam towards the shore. These the Pirates would have taken up in their boats; but they would neither ask nor admit of any quarter, choosing rather to lose their lives than receive them from the hands of their persecutors, for such reasons as I shall relate hereafter.
The Pirates were extremely gladdened at this signal victory, obtained in so short a time and with so great inequality of forces; whereby they conceived greater pride in their minds than they had before. Hereupon they all presently ran ashore, intending to take the castle. This they found very well provided both with men, great cannon and ammunition; they having no other arms than muskets and a few fire-balls in their hands. Their own artillery they thought incapable, for its smallness, of making any considerable breach in the walls. Thus they spent the rest of that day, firing at the garrison with their muskets till the dusk of the evening, at which time they attempted to advance nearer to the walls, with intent to throw in the fire balls. But the Spaniards, resolving to sell their lives as dear as they could, continued firing so furiously at them, that they thought it not convenient to approach any nearer nor persist any longer in that dispute. Thus having experienced the obstinacy of the enemy, and seeing thirty of their own men already dead, and as many more wounded, they retired to their ships.
The Spaniards believing the Pirates would return the next day to renew the attack, as also. make use of their own cannon against the castle, laboured very hard all night to put all things in order for their coming. But more particularly they employed themselves that night in digging down and making plain some little hills and eminent places, whence possibly the castle might be offended.
But Captain Morgan intended not to come ashore again, busying himself the next day in taking prisoners some of the men who still swam alive upon the waters, and hoping to get part of the riches that were lost in the two ships that perished. Among the rest, he took a certain pilot, who was a stranger and who belonged to the lesser ship of the two, with whom he held much discourse, enquiring of him several things. Such questions were: What number of people those three ships had had in them? Whether they expected any more ships to come? From what port they set forth the last time, when they came to seek them out? His answer to, all these questions was as follows, which he delivered in the Spanish tongue: Noble sir, be pleased. to pardon and spare me, that no evil be done to me, as being a stranger to this nation I have served, and I shall sincerely inform you if all that passed till our arrival at this lake. We were sent by orders from the Supreme Council of State in Spain, being six men-of-war well-equipped into these seas, with instructions to cruize upon the English pirates, and root them out from these parts by destroying as many of them as we could. These orders were given, by reason of the news brought to the Court of Spain of the loss and ruin of Porto Bello, and other places. Of all which damages and hostilities committed here by the English very dismal lamentations have oftentimes penetrated the ears both of the Catholic King and Council, to whom belongs the care and preservation of this New World. And although the Spanish Court has many times by their Ambassadors sent complaints hereof to the King of England, yet it has been the constant answer of his Majesty of Great Britain, That he never gave any Letters-patent nor Commissions for the acting any hostility whatsoever against the subjects of the King of Spain. Hereupon the Catholic King, being resolved to avenge his subjects and punish these proceedings, commanded six men-of-war to be equipped, which he sent into these parts under the command of Don Augustin de Bustos, who was constituted Admiral of the said fleet. He commanded the biggest ship thereof named Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, mounted with eight and forty great guns and eight small ones. The Vice-Admiral was Don Alonso del Campo y Espinosa, who commanded the second ship, called La Concepcion, which carried forty-four great guns and eight small ones. Besides which vessels, there were also four more; whereof the first was named the Magdalen, and was mounted with thirty-six great guns and twelve small ones, having on board two hundred and fifty men. The second was called St. Lewis, with twenty-six great guns, twelve small ones and two hundred men. The third was called La Marquesa, which carried sixteen great guns, eight small ones and one hundred and fifty men. The fourth and last, Nuestra Señora del Carmen, with eighteen great guns, eight small ones and likewise two hundred and fifty men.
We were now arrived at Cartagena, when the two greatest ships received orders to return into Spain, as being judged too big for cruizing upon these coasts. With the four ships remaining, Don Alonso del Campo y Espinosa departed thence towards Campeche, to seek out the English. We arrived at the port of the said city, where being surprised by a huge storm that blew from the north, we lost one of our four ships; being that which I named in the last place among the rest. Hence we set sail for the Isle of Hispaniola; in sicht of which we came within few days, and directed our course to the port of San Domingo. Here we received intelligence there had passed that way a fleet from Jamaica, and that some men thereof having landed at a place called Alta Gracia, the inhabitants had taken one of them prisoner, who confessed their whole design was to go and pillage the city of Caracas. With these news Don Alonso instantly weighed anchor, and set sail thence, crossing over to the continent, till we came in sight of Caracas. Here we found not the English; but happened to meet with a boat which certified us they were in the Lake of Maracaibo, and that the fleet consisted of seven small ships and one boat.
Upon this intelligence we arrived here; and coming nigh unto the entry of the lake, we shot of a gun to demand a pilot from the shore. Those on land perceiving that we were Spaniards, came willingly to us with a pilot, and told us that the English had taken the city of Maracaibo, and that they were at present at the pillage of Gibraltar. Don Alonso, having understood this news, made a handsome speech to all his soldiers and mariners, encouraging them to perform their duty, and withal promising to divide among them all they should take from the English. After this, he gave order that the guns which we had taken out of the ship that was lost should be put into the castle, and there mounted for its defence, with two pieces more out of his own ship, of eighteen pounds port each. The pilots conducted us into the port, and Don Alonso commanded the people that were on shore to Come to his presence, to whom he gave orders to repossess the castle, and re-inforce it with one hundred men more than it had before its being taken by the English. Not long after, we received news that you were returned from Gibraltar to Maracaibo; to which place Don Alonso wrote you a Letter, giving you account of his arrival and design, and withal exhorting you to restore all that you had taken. This you refused to do; whereupon he renewed his promises and intentions to his soldiers and seamen. And having given a very good supper to all his people, he persuaded them neither to lake nor give any quarter to the English that should fall into their hands. This was the occasion of so many being drowned, who dared not to crave any quarter for their lives, as knowing their own intentions of giving none. Two days before you came against us, a certain negro came on board Don Alonso's ship, telling him: Sir, be pleased to have great care of yourself; for the English have prepared a fire-ship with design to burn your fleet. But Don Alonso would not believe this intelligence, his answer being: How can that be? Have they, peradventure, wit enough to build a fire-ship? or what instruments have they to do it withal?
The pilot above-mentioned having related so distinctly all the aforesaid things to Captain Morgan, was very well used by him, and, after some kind proffers made to him, remained in his service. He discovered moreover to Captain Morgan, that in the ship which was sunk, there was a great quantity of plate, even to the value of forty thousand pieces of eight. And that this was certainly the occasion they had oftentimes seen the Spaniards in boats about the said ship. Hereupon Captain Morgan ordered that one of his ships should remain there to watch all occasions of getting out of the said vessel what plate they could. In the meanwhile he himself, with all his fleet, returned to Maracaibo, where he refitted the great ship he had taken of the three afore-mentioned. And now being well accommodated, he chose it for himself, giving his own bottom to one of his captains.
After this he sent again a messenger to the Admiral, who was escaped on shore and got into the castle, demanding of him a tribute or ransom of fire for the town of Maracaibo; which being denied, he threatened he would entirely consume and destroy it. The Spaniards, considering how unfortunate they had been all along with those Pirates, and not knowing after what manner to get rid of them, concluded among themselves to pay the said ransom, although Don Alonso would not consent to it.
Hereupon they sent to Captain Morgan to ask what sum he demanded. He answered them he would have thirty thousand pieces of eight, and five hundred beeves, to the intent his fleet might be well victualled with flesh. This ransom being paid, he promised in such case he would give no farther trouble to the prisoners, nor cause any ruin or damage to the town. Finally, they agreed with him upon the sum of twenty thousand pieces of eight, besides the five hundred beeves. The cattle the Spaniards brought in the next day, together with one part of the money. And while the pirates were busied in salting the flesh, they returned with the rest of the whole sum of twenty thousand pieces of eight, for which they had agreed.
But Captain Morgan would not deliver for that present the prisoners, as he had promised to do, by reason he feared the shot of the artillery of the castle at his going forth of the lake. Hereupon he told them he intended not to deliver them till such time as he was out of that danger, hoping by this means to obtain a free passage. Thus he set sail with all his fleet in quest of that ship which he had left behind, to seek for the plate of the vessel that was burnt. He found her upon the place, with the sum of fifteen thousand pieces of eight, which they had secured out of the wreck, besides many other pieces of plate, as hilts of swords and other things of this kind; also great quantity of pieces of eight that were melted and run together by the force of the fire of the said ship.
Captain Morgan scarce thought himself secure, neither could he contrive how to evade the damages the said castle might cause to his fleet. Hereupon he told the prisoners it was necessary they should agree with the Governor to open the passage with security for his fleet; to which point, if he should not consent, he would certainly hang them all up in his ships. After this warning the prisoners met together to gtonfer upon the persons they should depute to the said Governor Don Alonso; and they assigned some few among them for that embassy. These went to him, beseeching and supplicating the Admiral he would have compassion and pity on those afflicted prisoners who were as yet, together with their wives and children, in the hands of Captain Morgan; and that to this effect he would be pleased to give his word to let the whole fleet of Pirates freely pass, without any molestation, forasmuch as this would be the only remedy of saving both the lives of them that came with this petition, as also of those who remained behind in captivity; all being equally menaced with the sword and gallows, in case he granted not this humble request. But Don Alonso gave them for answer a sharp reprehension of their cowardice, telling them: If you had been as loyal to your King in hindering the entry of these Pirates as I shall do their going out, you had never caused these troubles, neither to yourselves, nor to our whole nation; which have suffered so much through your pusillanimity. In a word, I shall never grant your request; but shall endeavour to maintain that respect which is due to my King, according to my duty.
Thus the Spaniards returned to their fellow-prisoners with much consternation of mind, and no hopes of obtaining their request; telling Captain Morgan what answer they had received. His reply was: If Don Alonso will not let me pass, I will find means how to do it without him. Hereupon he began presently to make a dividend of all the booty they had taken in that voyage, fearing lest he might not have an opportunity of doing it in another place, if any tempest should arise and separate the ships, as also being jealous that any of the commanders might run away with the best part of the spoil which then lay much more in one vessel than another. Thus they all brought in, according to their laws, and declared what they had; having beforehand made an oath not to conceal the least thing from the public. The accounts being cast up, they found to the value of two hundred and fifty thousand pieces of eight in money and jewels, besides the huge quantity of merchandize and slaves: all which booty was divided into every ship or boat, according to its share.
The dividend being made, the question still remained on foot, how they should pass the castle and get out of the Lake. To this effect they made use of a stratagem, of no ill invention, which was as follows. On the day that preceeded the night wherein they determined to get forth. they embarked many of their men in canoes, and rowed towards the shore, as if they designed to land them. Here they concealed themselves under the branches of trees that hung over the coast for a while till they had laid themselves down along in the boats. Then the canoes returned to the ships, with the appearance only of two or three men rowing them back, all the rest being concealed at the bottom of the canoes. Thus much only could be perceived from the castle; and this action of false-landing of men, for so we may call it, was repeated that day several times. Hereby the Spaniards were brought into persuasion the Pirates intended to force the castle by scaling it, as soon as night should come. This fear caused them to place most of their great guns on that side which looks towards the land, together with the main force of their arms, leaving the contrary side belonging to the sea almost destitute of strength and defence.
Night being come, they weighed anchor, and by the light of the moon, without setting sail, committed themselves to the ebbing tide, which gently brought them down the river, till they were nigh the castle. Being now almost over against it, they spread their sails with all the haste they could possibly make. The Spaniards, perceiving them to escape, transported with all speed their guns from the other side of the castle, and began to fire very furiously at the Pirates. But these having a favourable wind were almost past the danger before those of the castle could put things into convenient order of offence. So that the Pirates lost not many of their men, nor received any considerable damage in their ships. Being now out of the reach of the guns, Captain Morgan sent a canoe to the castle with some of the prisoners; and the Governor thereof gave them a boat that every one might return to his own home. Notwithstanding, he detained the hostages he had from Gibraltar, by reason those of that town were not as yet come to pay the rest of the ransom for not firing the place. Just as he departed Captain Morgan ordered seven great guns with bullets to be tired against the castle, as it were to take his leave of them. But they answered not so much as with a musket-shot.
The next day after their departure, they were surprised with a great tempest, which forced them to cast anchor in the depth of five or six fathom water. But the storm increased so much that they were compelled to weigh again and put out to sea, where they were in great danger of being lost. For if on either side they should have been cast on shore, either to fall into the hands of the Spaniards, or of the Indians, they would certainly have obtained no mercy. At last the tempest being spent, the wind ceased; which caused much content and joy in the whole fleet.
While Captain Morgan made his fortune by pillaging the towns above-mentioned, the rest of his companions, who separated from his fleet at the Cape de Lobos to take the ship of which was spoken before, endured much misery, and were very unfortunate in all their attempts. For being arrived at the Isle of Savona, they did not find Captain Morgan there, nor any one of their companions. Neither had they the good fortune to find a letter which Captain Morgan at his departure left behind him in a certain place, where in all probability they would meet with it. Thus, not knowing what course to steer, they at last concluded to pillage some town or other, whereby to seek their fortune. They were in all four hundred men, more or less, who were divided into four ships and one boat. Being ready to set forth they constituted an Admiral among themselves, by whom they might be directed in the whole affair. To this effect they chose a certain person who had behaved himself very courageously at the taking of Porto Bello, and whose name was Captain Hansel. This commander resolved to attempt the taking of the town of Comana, seated upon the continent of Caracas, nearly threescore leagues from the west side of the Isle of Trinidad. Being arrived there, they landed their men, and killed some few Indians that were near the coast. But approaching the town, the Spaniards, having in their company many Indians, disputed them the entry so briskly, that with great loss and in great confusion they were forced to retire towards their ships. At last they arrived at Jamaica, where the rest of their companions who came with Captain Morgan, ceased not to mock and jeer them for their ill success at Comana, often telling them: Let us see what money you brought from Comana, and if it be as good silver as that which we bring from Maracaibo.