Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
What happened in the river De la Hacha.
THE four ships abovementioned, 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 endeavoured 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 towards 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 defence 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 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 moveable goods, with all other things they could rob, with which booty they resolved to return to Hispaniola. Yet not contented 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 nor 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 Captain Morgan of all they had performed.
They had now been absent five entire weeks, about the commission aforementioned, which long delay occasioned Captain Morgan almost to despair of their return, fearing lest they were fallen into the hands of the Spaniards, especially considering that the place whereto they went could easily be relieved from Cartagena and Santa Maria, 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 Captain 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 1eparture, having viewed beforehand every ship, and observed their being well equipped and clean. Thus he set sail, and directed his course towards Cape Tiburon, where he determined to take his measures and resolution, of what enterprize 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 fire-balls, with other inventions of powder.
Captain 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 harbours, 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 and rewards, they were regulated in this voyage much higher than was expressed in the first part of this book. Thus, for the loss of both legs, they assigned one thousand five hundred pieces of eight or fifteen slaves, the choice being left to the election of the party; for the loss of both hands, one thousand eight hundred pieces of eight or eighteen slaves; for one leg, whether the right or the left, six hundred pieces of eight or six slaves; for a hand, as much a.. 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, Captain Morgan commanded his Vice-admirals and Captains to put all things in order, every one in his ship, to go and attempt one of three places, either Cartagena, Panama or Vera Cruz; but the lot 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 enterprize; for in the garrison of that island are commonly employed many banditti and outlaws belonging to Panama and the neighbouring 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.