Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
| PART IV.
CONTAINING THE DANGEROUS VOYAGE AND BOLD ASSAULTS OF CAPTAIN BARTHOLOMEW SHARP AND OTHERS, PERFORMED IN THE SOUTH SEA, FOR THE SPACE OF TWO YEARS, ETC.
Captain Cozon, Sawkins, Sharp and others set forth in a fleet towards the province of Darien, upon the continent of America. Their designs to pillage and plunder in those parts. Number of their ships, and strength of their forces by sea and land.
AT a place called Boca del Toro was the general rendezvous of the fleet, which lately had taken and sacked Porto Bello the second time; that rich place having been taken once before, under the conduct of Sir Henry Morgan, as is related above. At this place also were two other vessels; the one belonging to Captain Peter Harris, and the other to Captain Richard Sawkins; both Englishmen and privateers. Here therefore a report was made to the fleet of a peace concluded between the Spaniards and the Indians of the land of Darien, who for the most part wage incessant wars against one another. Also, that since the conclusion of the said peace, they had been already tried, and found very faithful to Captain Bournano, a French commander, in an attempt on a certain place called Chepo, near the South Sea. Further, that the Indians had promised to conduct him to a great and very rich place, named Tocamora: upon which he had likewise promised them to return in three months time with more ships and men. Hereupon we all agreed to go and visit the said place, and thus dispersed ourselves into several coves (by the Spaniards called cučvas, or hollow creeks under the coasts), there to careen and fit our vessels for that purpose. In this place, Boca del Toro, we found plenty of fat tortoises, the pleasantest meat in the world. When we had refitted our vessels, we met at an island, called by us the Water-key; and this was then our strength, as follows:
We sailed thence March 23rd, 1679, and in our way touched at the islands called Samballas. These are certain islands reaching eight leagues in extent, and lying fourteen leagues westward of the river of Darien. Being here at anchor, many of the Indians, both men and women, came to see us. Some brought plantains, others other fruits and venison, to exchange with us for beads, needles, knives, or any trifling bauble whereof they stand in need. But what they most chiefly covet are axes and hatchets to fell timber with. The men here go almost naked. They wear as an ornament in their noses a golden or silver plate, in shape like a half-moon, which, when they drink they hold up with one hand, while they lift the cup with the other. They paint themselves sometimes with streaks of black; as the women do in like manner with red. These have in their noses a pretty thick ring of gold or silver; and for clothing they cover themselves with a blanket. They are generally well-featured women: among them I saw several fairer than the fairest of Europe, with hair like the finest flax. Of these it is reported, they can see far better in the dark than in the light.
These Indians misliked our design for Tocamora, and dissuaded us from it, asserting it would prove too tedious a march, and the way so mountainous, and uninhabited that it would be extremely difficult to get provisions for our men. Withal they proffered to guide us, undescried, within a few leagues of the city of Panama, in case we were pleased to go thither; where we could not choose but ourselves know we should not fail of making a good voyage. Upon these and other reasons which they gave us, we concluded to desist from the journey of Tocamora, and to proceed to Panama. Having taken these resolutions, Captain Bournano and Captain Row's vessels separated from us, as being all French, and not willing to go to Panama, they declaring themselves generally against a long march by land. Thus we left them at the Samballas. Thence an Indian captain or chief commander, named Andrceas, conducted us to another island, called by the English the Golden Island, situated somewhat to the westward of the mouth of the great river of Darien. At this island we met, being in all seven sail, on April 3rd, 1680.
Here at the Golden Island, the Indians gave us notice of a town called Santa Maria, situated on a great river, which bears the same name, and which runs into the South Sea by the Gulf of San Miguel. In the town was kept a garrison of four hundred soldiers:, and from this place much gold was carried to Panama, which was gathered from the mountains thereabouts. In case we should not find sufficient booty there, we might thence proceed by sea to Panama, where we could not easily fail of our designs. This motion of the Indians we liked so well, that we landed three hundred and thirty-one men, on April 5th, 1680, leaving Captains Alleston and Macket with a party of seamen to guard our ships in our absence with which we intended to return home.
The men that were landed had each of them three or four cakes of bread (called by the English doughboys) for their provision of victuals; and for drink, the rivers afforded enough. At the time of our landing Captain Sharp was very faint and weak, having had a great fit of sickness lately, from which he had scarcely recovered. Our several companies that marched were distinguished as follows. First, Captain Bartholomew Sharp with his company had a red flag, with a bunch of white and green ribbons. The second division led by Captain Richard Sawkins, with his men had a red flag striped with yellow. The third and fourth, led by Captain Peter Harris, had two green flags, his company being divided into two several divisions. The fifth and sixth, led by Captain John Coxon, who had some of Alleston's and Mackett's men joined to his, made two divisions or companies, and had each of them a red flag. The seventh was led by Captain Edmund Cook with red colours striped with yellow, with a hand and sword for his device. All or most of them, were armed with fuzee, pistol and hanger.