Web Text-ures Logo
Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
1999-2016


(Return to Web Text-ures)
Click Here to return to
The Buccaneers of America
Content Page

 Return to the Previous Chapter
Kellscraft Studio Logo
(HOME)

CHAPTER IV.

Of the Origin and Descent of Captain Henry Morgan his Exploits and a continuation of the most remarkable actions of his life.

CAPTAIN HENRY MORGAN was born in the Kingdom of England, and there in the principality of Wales. His father was a rich yeoman, or farmer, and of good quality in that country, even as most who bear that name in Wales are known to be. Morgan, being as yet young, had no inclinations to follow the calling of his father; and therefore left his country, and came towards the seacoasts to seek some other employ more suitable to his humour, that aspired to something else. There he found entertainment in a certain port where several ships lay at anchor, that were bound for the Isle of Barbados. With these ships he resolved to go in the service of one, who, according to what is commonly practised in those parts by the English and other nations, sold him as soon as he came on shore. He served his time at Barbados, and when he had obtained his liberty, thence transferred himself to the Island of Jamaica, there to seek new fortunes. Here he found two vessels of Pirates that were ready to go to sea. Being destitute of employ, he put himself into one of these ships, with intent to follow the exercises of that sort of people: He learned in a little while their manner of living; and so exactly, that having performed three or four voyages with some profit and good success, he agreed with some of his comrades, who had gotten by the same voyages a small parcel of money, to join stocks and buy a ship. The vessel being bought, they unanimously chose him to be the captain and commander thereof.

With this ship, soon after, he set forth from Jamaica to cruize upon the coasts of Campeche; in which voyage he had the fortune to take several ships, with which he returned triumphant to the same island. Here he found at the same time an old Pirate, named Mansvelt (of whom we have already made mention in the first part of this book), who was then busied in equipping a considerable fleet of ships with design to land upon the Continent, and pillage whatever came in his way. Mansvelt, seeing Captain Morgan return with so many prizes, judged him, from his actions, to be of undaunted courage; and hereupon was moved to choose him for his Vice-Admiral in that expedition. Thus having fitted out fifteen ships, between great and small, they set sail from Jamaica with five hundred men, both Walloons and French. With this fleet they arrived not long after at the Isle of St. Catharine, situated near the Continent of Costa Rica, in the latitude of twelve degrees and a half North, and distant thirty-five leagues from the river of Chagre, between North and South. Here they made their first descent, landing most of their men presently after.

Being now come to try their arms and fortune, they in a short while forced the garrison that kept the island to surrender and deliver into their hands all the forts and castles belonging thereunto. All these they instantly demolished, reserving only one, wherein they placed one hundred men of their own party, and all the slaves they had taken from the Spaniards. With the rest of their men they marched to another small island near that of St. Catharine, and adjoining so near to it, that with a bridge they could get over. In few days they made a bridge, and passed thither, conveying also over it all the pieces of ordnance which they had taken upon the great island. Having ruined and destroyed, with sword and fire, both the islands, leaving what orders were necessary at the castle above-mentioned, they put forth to sea again with the Spaniards they had taken prisoners. Yet these they set on shore, not long after, upon the firm land, near a place called Porto Bello. After this they began to cruize upon the coasts of Costa Rica, till finally they came to the river of Colla, designing to rob and pillage all the towns they could find in those parts, and afterwards to pass to the village of Nata, to do the same.

The President or Governor of Panama, having had advice of the arrival of these Pirates and the hostilities they committed everywhere, thought it his duty to set forth to their encounter with a body of men. His coming caused the Pirates to retire suddenly with all speed and care, especially seeing the whole country alarmed at their arrival, and that their designs were known and consequently could be of no great effect at that present. Hereupon they returned to the Isle of St. Catharine, to visit the hundred men they had left in garrison there. The Governor of these men was a certain Frenchman named Le Sieur Simon, who behaved himself very well in that charge, while Mansvelt was absent. Insomuch that he had put the great island in a very good posture of defence; and the little one he had caused to be cultivated with many fertile plantations, which were sufficient to revictual the whole fleet with provisions and fruits, not only for present refreshment, but also in case of a new voyage. Mansvelt's inclinations were very much bent to keep these two islands in perpetual possession, as being very commodious, and profitably situated for the use of the Pirates, chiefly because they were so near the Spanish dominions, and easily to be defended against them; as I shall represent in the third part of this history more at large, in a copper plate, delineated for this purpose.

Hereupon Mansvelt determined to return to Jamaica, with design to send some recruit to the Isle of St. Catharine, that in case of any invasion of the Spaniards, the Pirates might be provided for a defence. As soon as he arrived, he propounded his mind and intentions to the Governor of that island; but he liked not the propositions of Mansvelt, fearing lest by granting such things he should displease his Master, the King of England, besides, that giving him the men he desired, and other necessaries for that purpose, he must of necessity diminish and weaken the forces of that island whereof he was Governor. Mansvelt seeing the unwillingness of the Governor of Jamaica, and that of his own accord he could not compass what he desired, with the same intent and designs went to the Isle of Tortuga. But there, before he could accomplish his desires, or put in execution what was intended, death suddenly surprised him, and put a period to his wicked life; all things hereby remaining in suspense, until the occasion which I shall hereafter relate.

Le Sieur Simon, who remained at the Isle of St. Catharine in quality of Governor thereof, receiving no news from Mansvelt, his Admiral, was greatly impatient, and desirous to know what might be the cause thereof. In the meanwhile Don John Perez de Guzman, being newly come to the government of Costa Rica, thought it no ways convenient for the interest of the King of Spain that that island should remain in the hands of the Pirates. And hereupon he equipped a considerable fleet, which he sent to the said island to retake it. But before he came to use any great violence, he wrote a letter to Le Sieur Simon, wherein he gave him to understand, if he would surrender the island to his Catholic Majesty, he should be very well rewarded; but in case of refusal, severely punished when he had forced him to do it. Le Sieur Simon, seeing no appearance or probability of being able to defend it alone, nor any emolument that by so doing could accrue either to him or his people, after some small resistance delivered up the island into the hands of its true lord and master, under the same articles they had obtained it from the Spaniards. Few days after the surrender of the island, there arrived from Jamaica an English ship which the Governor of the said island had sent underhand, wherein was a good supply of people, both men and women. The Spaniards from the castle having espied this ship, put forth the English colours, and persuaded Le Sieur Simon to go on board, and conduct the said ship into a port they assigned him. This he performed immediately with dissimulation, whereby they were all made prisoners. A certain Spanish engineer has published, before me, an exact account and relation of the retaking of the Isle of St. Catharine by the Spaniards; which printed paper being fallen into my hands, I have thought it fit to be inserted here.


A true Relation and particular Account of the Victory obtained by the Arms of his Catholic Majesty against the English Pirates, by the direction and valour of Don John Perez de Guzman, Knight of the Order of St. James, Governor and Captain-General of Terra Firma and the Province of Veraguas.


THE Kingdom of Terra Firma, which of itself is sufficiently strong to repulse and extirpate great fleets, but more especially the Pirates of Jamaica, had several ways notice, under several hands, imparted to the Governor thereof, that fourteen English vessels did cruize upon the coasts belonging to his Catholic Majesty. The 14th day of July, 1665, news came to Panama, that the English Pirates of the said fleet were arrived at Puerto de Naos, and had forced the Spanish garrison of the Isle of St. Catharine, whose Governor was Don Estevan del Campo; and that they had possessed themselves of the said island, taking prisoners the inhabitants, and destroying all that ever they met. Moreover, about the same time Don John Perez de Guzman received particular information of these robberies from the relation of some Spaniards who escaped out of the island (and whom he ordered to be conveyed to Porto Bello), who more distinctly told him, that the aforementioned Pirates came into the island the 2nd day of May, by night, without being perceived by anybody; and that the next day, after some disputes by arms, they had taken the fortresses and made prisoners all the inhabitants and soldiers, not one excepted, unless those that by good fortune had escaped their hands. This being heard by Don John, he called a council of war, wherein he declared the great progress the said Pirates had made in the dominions of his Catholic Majesty. Here likewise he propounded: That it was absolutely necessary to send some forces to the Isle of St. Catharine, sufficient to retake it from the Pirates; the honour and interest of his Majesty of Spain being very narrowly concerned herein. Otherwise the Pirates by such conquests might easily in course of time possess themselves of all the countries thereabouts. To these reasons some were found who made answer: That the Pirates, as not being able to subsist in the said island, would of necessity consume and waste themselves, and be forced to quit it, without any necessity of retaking it. Thal consequently it was not worth the while to engage in so many expenses and troubles as might be foreseen this would cost. Notwithstanding these reasons to the contrary, Don John, as one who was an expert and valiant soldier, gave order that a quantity of provisions should be conveyed to Porto Bello, for the use and service of the militia. And neither to be idle nor negligent in his master's affairs, he transported himself thither, with no small danger to his life. Here he arrived the 7th day of July, with most things necessary to the expedition in hand; where he found in the port a good ship, called St. Vincent, that belonged to the Company of the Negroes. This ship being of itself a strong vessel and well mounted with guns, he manned and victualled very well and sent to the Isle of St. Catharine, constituting Captain Joseph Sanchez Ximenez, mayor of the city of Porto Bello, commander thereof. The people he carried with him were two hundred threescore and ten soldiers, and thirty-seven prisoners of the same island, besides four-and-thirty Spaniards belonging to the garrison of Porto Bello, nine-and-twenty mulattos of Panama, twelve Indians very dexterous at shooting with bows and arrows, seven expert and able gunners, two lieutenants, two pilots, one surgeon, and one religious man of the Order of St. Francis for their chaplain.

Don John soon after gave his orders to every one of the officers, instructing them how they ought to behave themselves, telling them withal that the Governor of Cartagena would assist and supply them with more men, boats, and all things else they should find necessary for that enterprize; to which effect he had already written to the said Governor. On the 24th day of the said month Don John commanded the ship to weigh anchor, and sail out of the port. Then seeing a fair wind to blow, he called before him all the people designed for that expedition, and made them a speech, encouraging them to fight against the enemies of their country and religion, but more especially against those inhuman Pirates who had heretofore committed so many horrid and cruel actions against the subjects of his Catholic Majesty. Withal, promising to every one of them most liberal rewards; but especially to such as should behave themselves as they ought in the service of their king and country. Thus Don John bid them farewell; and immediately the ship weighed anchor, and set sail under a favourable gale of wind. The 22nd of the said month they arrived at Cartagena, and presented a letter to the Governor of the said city from the noble and valiant Don John; who received it, with testimonies of great affection to the person of Don John and his Majesty's service. And seeing their resolute courage to be conformable to his desires and expectation, he promised them his assistance, which should be with one frigate, one galleon, one boat, and one hundred and twenty-six men, the one half out of his own garrison, and the other half mulattos. Thus all of them being well provided with necessaries, they set forth from the port of Cartagena, the 2nd day of August; and the Toth of the said month they arrived within sight of the Isle of St. Catharine, towards the Western point thereof. And although the wind was contrary, yet they reached the port, and came to an anchor within it; having lost one of their boats, by foul weather, at the rock called Quita Signos.

The Pirates, seeing our ships come to an anchor, gave them presently three guns with bullets; the which were soon answered in the same coin. Hereupon the Mayor Joseph Sanchez Xiinenez sent on shore to the Pirates one of his officers, to require them in the name of the Catholic King, his Master, to surrender the island, seeing they had taken it in the midst of peace between the two crowns of Spain and England; and that in case they would be obstinate, he would certainly put them all to the sword. The Pirates made answer, That island had once before belonged to the Government and dominions of the King of England; and that, instead of surrendering it, they preferred to lose their lives.

On Friday, the 13th of the said month, three negroes, from the enemy, came swimming aboard our Admiral. These brought intelligence, that all the Pirates that were upon the island were only threescore and twelve in number; and that they were under a great consternation, seeing such considerable forces come against them. With this intelligence the Spaniards resolved to land, and advance towards the fortresses, the which ceased not to fire as many great guns against them as they possibly could; which were corresponded in the same manner on our side till dark night. On Sunday, the 15th of the said month, which was the day of the Assumption of Our Lady, the weather being very calm and clear, the Spaniards began to advance thus. The ship named St. Vincent, which rode Admiral, discharged two whole broadsides upon the battery called the Conception. The ship called St. Peter, that was Vice-Admiral, discharged likewise her guns against the other battery named St. James. In the meanwhile our people were landed in small boats, directing their course towards the point of the battery last mentioned, and thence they marched towards the gate called Cortadura. The lieutenant Frances de Cazeres, being desirous to view the strength of the enemy, with only fifteen men, was compelled to retreat in all haste, by reason of the great guns which played so furiously upon the place where he stood, they shooting not only pieces of iron and small bullets, but also the organs of the church, discharging in every shot threescore pipes at a time.

Notwithstanding this heat of the enemy, Captain Don Joseph Ramirez de Leyva, with threescore men, made a strong attack, wherein they fought on both sides very desperately, till at last he overcame and forced the Pirates to surrender the fort he had taken in hand.

On the other side, Captain John Galeno, with fourscore and ten men, passed over the hills, to advance that way towards the castle of St. Teresa. In the meanwhile the Mayor Don Joseph Sanchez Ximenez, as commander-in-chief, with the rest of his men set forth from the battery of St. James, passing the fort with four boats, and landing in despite of the enemy. About this same time Captain John Galeno began to advance with the men he led to the forementioned fortress. So that our men made three attacks upon the enemy, on three several sides, at one and the same time, with great courage and valour. Thus the Pirates, seeing many of their men already killed and that they could in no manner subsist any longer, retreated towards Cortadura, where they surrendered themselves and likewise the whole island into our hands. Our people possessed themselves of all, and set up the Spanish colours, as soon as they had rendered thanks to God Almighty for the victory obtained on such a signalized day. The number of dead were six men of the enemy's, with many wounded, and threescore and ten prisoners. On our side was found only one man killed, and four wounded.

There was found upon the island eight hundred pound of powder, two hundred and fifty pound of small bullets, with many other military provisions. Among the prisoners were taken also two Spaniards, who had borne arms under the English against his Catholic Majesty. These were commanded to be shot to death the next day by order of the Mayor. The 10th day of September arrived at the isle an English vessel, which being seen at a great distance by the Mayor, he gave order to Le Sieur Simon, who was a Frenchman, to go and visit the said ship, and tell them that were on board the island belonged still to the English. He performed the commands, and found in the said ship only fourteen men, one woman and her daughter; who were all instantly made prisoners.

The English Pirates were all transported to Porto Bello; excepting only three, who by order of the Governor were carried to Panama, there to work in the castle of St. Jerome. This fortification is an excellent piece of workmanship, and very strong; being raised in the middle of the port, of quadrangular form, and of very hard stone. Its elevation or height is eighty-eight geometrical feet, the walls being fourteen and the curtains seventy-five feet diameter. It was built at the expense of several private persons, the Governor of the city furnishing the greatest part of the money; so that it did not cost his Majesty any sum at all.


Book Chapter Logo Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.