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Captain Morgan departs from the Castle of Chagre, at the head of one thousand two hundred men, with design to take the city of Panama.
CAPTAIN MORGAN set forth from the castle of Chagre, towards Panama, the 18th day of August1 in the year 1670. He had under his conduct one thousand two hundred men, five boats with artillery and thirty-two canoes, all which were filled with the said people. Thus he steered his course up the river towards Panama. That day they sailed only six leagues, and came to a place called De los Bracos. Here a party of his men went on shore, only to sleep some few hours and stretch their limbs, they being almost crippled with lying too much crowded in the boats. After they had rested a while, they went abroad, to see if any victuals could be found in the neighbouring plantations. But they could find none, the Spaniards being fled and carrying with them all the provisions they had. This day, being the first of their journey, there was amongst them such scarcity of victuals that the greatest part were forced to pass with only a pipe of tobacco, without any other refreshment.
The next day, very early in the morning, they continued their journey, and came about evening to a place called Cruz de Juan Gallego. Here they were compelled to leave their boats and canoes, by reason the river was very dry for want of rain, and the many obstacles of trees that were fallen into it.
The guides told them that about two leagues farther on the country would be very good to continue the journey by land. Hereupon they left some companies, being in all one hundred and sixty men, on board the boats to defend them, with intent they might serve for a place of refuge, in case of necessity.
The next morning, being the third day of their journey, they all went ashore, excepting those above mentioned . who were to keep the boats. To these Captain Morgan gave very strict orders, under great penalties, that no man, upon any pretext whatsoever, should dare to leave the boats and go ashore. This he did, fearing lest they should be surprised and cut off by an ambuscade of Spaniards, that might chance to lie thereabouts in the neighbouring woods, which appeared so thick as to seem almost impenetrable. Having this morning begun their march they found the ways so dirty and irksome, that Captain Morgan thought it more convenient to transport some of the men in canoes (though it could not be done without great labour) to a place farther up the river, called Cedro Bueno. Thus they re-embarked, and the canoes returned for the rest that were left behind. So that about night they found themselves altogether at the said place. The Pirates were extremely desirous to meet any Spaniards, or Indians, hoping to fill their bellies with what provisions they should take from them. For now they were reduced almost to the very extremity of hunger.
On the fourth day, the greatest part of the Pirates marched by land, being led by one of the guides. The rest went by water, farther up with the canoes, being conducted by another guide, who always went before them with two of the said canoes, to discover on both sides the river the ambuscades of the Spaniards. These had also spies, who were very dextrous, and could at any time give notice of all accidents or of the arrival of the Pirates, six hours at least before they came to any place. This day about noon they found themselves near a post, called Torna Cavallos. Here the guide of the canoes began to cry aloud he perceived an ambuscade. His voice caused infinite joy to all the Pirates, as persuading themselves they should find some provisions wherewith to satiate their hunger, which was very great. Being come to the place, they found nobody in it, the Spaniards who were there not long before being every one fled, and leaving nothing behind unless it were a small number of leather bags, all empty, and a few crumbs of bread scattered upon the ground where they had eaten. Being angry at this misfortune, they pulled down a few little huts which the Spaniards had made, and afterwards fell to eating the leathern bags, as being desirous to afford something to the ferment of their stomachs, which now was grown so sharp that it did gnaw their very bowels, having nothing else to prey upon. Thus they made a huge banquet upon those bags of leather, which doubtless had been more grateful unto them, if divers quarrels had not risen concerning who should have the greatest share. By the circumference of the place, they conjectured five hundred Spaniards, more or less, had been there. And these, finding no victuals, they were now infinitely desirous to meet, intending to devour some of them rather than perish. Whom they would certainly in that occasion have roasted or boiled, to satisfy their famine, had they been able to take them.
After they had feasted themselves with those pieces of leather, they quitted the place, and marched farther on, till they came about night to another post called Torna Munni. Here they found another ambuscade, but as barren and desert as the former. They searched the neighbouring woods, but could not find the least thing to eat. The Spaniards having been so provident as not to leave behind them anywhere the least crumb of sustenance, whereby the Pirates were now brought to the extremity aforementioned. Here again he was happy, that had reserved since noon any small piece of leather whereof to make his supper, drinking after it a good draught of water for his greatest comfort. Some persons, who never were out of their mothers' kitchens, may ask how these Pirates could eat, swallow and digest those pieces of leather, so hard and dry. To whom I only answer: That could they once experiment what hunger, or rather famine, is, they would certainly find the manner, by their own necessity, as the Pirates did. For these first took the leather, and sliced it in pieces. Then did they beat it between two stones, and rub it, often dipping it in the water of the river, to render it by these means supple and tender. Lastly, they scraped off the hair, and roasted or broiled it upon the fire. And being thus cooked they cut it into small morsels, and eat it, helping it down with frequent gulps of water, which by good fortune they had near at hand.
They continued their march the fifth day, and about noon came to a place called Barbacoa. Here likewise they found traces of another ambuscade, but the place totally as unprovided as the two preceeding were. At a small distance were to be seen several plantations, which they searched very narrowly, but could not find any person, animal or other thing that was capable of relieving their extreme and ravenous hunger. Finally, having ranged up and down and searched a long time, they found a certain grotto which seemed to be but lately hewn out of a rock, in which they found two sacks of meal, wheat and like things, with two great jars of wine, and certain fruits called Platanos. Captain Morgan knowing that some of his men were now, through hunger, reduced almost to the extremity of their lives, and fearing lest the major part should be brought into the same condition, caused all that was found to be distributed amongst them who were in greatest necessity. Having refreshed themselves with these victuals, they began to march anew with greater courage than ever. Such as could not well go for weakness were put into the canoes, and those commanded to land that were in them before. Thus they prosecuted their journey till late at night, at which time they came to a plantation where they took up their rest. But without eating anything at all; for the Spaniards, as before, had swept away all manner of provisions, leaving not behind them the least signs of victuals.
On the sixth day they continued their march, part of them by land through the woods, and part by water in the canoes. Howbeit they were constrained to rest themselves very frequently by the way, both for the ruggedness thereof and the extreme weakness they were under. To this they endeavoured to occur, by eating some leaves of trees and green herbs, or grass, such as they could pick, for such was the miserable condition they were in. This day, at noon, they arrived at a plantation, where they found a barn full of maize. Immediately they beat down the doors, and fell to eating of it dry, as much as they could devour. Afterwards they distributed great quantity, giving to every man a good allowance thereof. Being thus provided, they prosecuted their journey, which having continued for the space of an hour or thereabouts, they met with an ambuscade of Indians. This they no sooner had discovered, but they threw away their maize, with the sudden hopes they conceived of finding all things in abundance. But after all this haste, they found themselves much deceived, they meeting neither Indians, nor victuals, nor anything else of what they had imagined. They saw notwithstanding on the other side of the river a troop of a hundred Indians, more or less, who all escaped away through the agility of their feet. Some few Pirates there were who leapt into the river, the sooner to reach the shore to see if they couid take any of the said Indians prisoners. But all was in vain; for being much more nimble on their feet than the Pirates, they easily baffled their endeavours. Neither did they only baffle them, but killed also two or three of the Pirates with their arrows, shouting at them at a distance, and crying: Ha! perros, á la savana, á la savana. Ha! ye dogs, go to the plain, go to the plain.
This day they could advance no farther, by reason they were necessitated to pass the river hereabouts to continue their march on the other side. Hereupon they took up their repose for that night. Howbeit their sleep was not heavy nor profound, for great murmurings were heard that night in the camp, many complaining of Captain Morgan and his conduct in that enterprize, and being desirous to return home. On the contrary, others would rather die there than go back one step from what they had undertaken. But others who had greater courage than any of these two parties did laugh and joke at all their discourses. In the meanwhile they had a guide who much comforted them, saying: It would not be long before they met with people, from whom they should reap some considerable advantage.
The seventh day in the morning they all made clean their arms, and every one discharged his pistol or musket, without bullet, to examine the security of their firelocks. This being done, they passed to the other side of the river in the canoes, leaving the post where they had rested the night before, called Santa Cruz. Thus they proceeded on their journey till noon, at which time they arrived at a village called Cruz. Being at a great distance as yet from the place, they perceived much smoke to arise out of the chimneys. The sight hereof afforded them great joy and hopes of finding people in the town, and afterwards what they most desired, which was plenty of good cheer. Thus they went on with as much haste as they could, making several arguments to one another upon those external signs, though all like castles built in the air. For, said they, there is smoke coming out of every house, therefore they are making good fires, to roast and boil what we are to eat. With other things to this purpose.
At length they arrived there in great haste, all sweating and panting, but found no person in the town, nor anything that was eatable wherewith to refresh themselves, unless it were good fires to warm themselves, which they wanted not. For the Spaniards before their departure, had every one set fire to his own house, excepting only the store-houses and stables belonging to the King.
They had not left behind them any beast whatsoever, either alive or dead. This occasioned much confusion in their minds, they not finding the least thing to lay hold on, unless it were some few cats and dogs, which they immediately killed and devoured with great appetite. At last in the King's stables they found by good fortune fifteen or sixteen jars of Peru wine, and a leather sack full of bread. But no sooner had they began to drink of the said wine when they fell sick, almost every man. This sudden disaster made them think that the wine was poisoned, which caused a new consternation in the whole camp, as judging themselves now to be irrecoverably lost. But the true reason was, their huge want of sustenance in that whole voyage, and the manifold sorts of trash which they had eaten upon that occasion. Their sickness was so great that day as caused them to remain there till the next morning, without being able to prosecute their journey as they used to do, in the afternoon. This village is seated in the latitude of 9 degrees and 2 minutes, North, being distant from the river of Chagre twenty-six Spanish leagues, and eight from Panama. Moreover, this is the last place to which boats or canoes can come; for which reason they built here store-houses, wherein to keep all sorts of merchandize, which hence to and from Panama are transported upon the backs of mules.
Here, therefore, Captain Morgan was constrained to leave his canoes and land all his men, though never so weak in their bodies. But lest the canoes should be surprized, or take up too many men for their defence, he resolved to send them all back to the place where the boats were, excepting one, which he caused to be hidden, to the intent it might serve to carry intelligence according to the exigence of affairs. Many of the Spaniards and Indians belonging to this village were fled to the plantations thereabouts. Hereupon Captain Morgan gave express orders that none should dare to go out of the village, except in whole companies of a hundred together. The occasion hereof was his fear lest the enemies should take an advantage upon his men, by any sudden assault. Notwithstanding, one party of English soldiers, stickled not to contravene these commands, being tempted with the desire of finding victuals. But these were soon glad to fly into the town again, being assaulted with great fury by some Spaniards and Indians, who snatched up one of the Pirates, and carried him away prisoner. Thus the vigilance and care of Captain Morgan was not sufficient to prevent every accident that might happen.
On the eighth day, in the morning, Captain Morgan sent two hundred men before the body of his army, to discover the way to Panama, and see if they had laid any ambuscades therein. Especially considering that the places by which they were to pass were very fit for that purpose, the paths being so narrow that only ten or twelve persons could march in a file, and oftentimes not so many. Having marched about the space of ten hours, they came to a place called Quebrada Obscura. Here, all on a sudden, three or four thousand arrows were shot at them, without being able to perceive whence they came, or who shot them. The place whence it was presumed they were shot was a high rocky mountain, excavated from one side to the other, wherein was a grotto that went through it, only capable of admitting one horse, or other beast laded. This multitude of arrows caused a huge alarm among the Pirates, especially because they could not discover the place whence they were discharged. At last, seeing no more arrows to appear, they marched a little farther, and entered into a wood. Here they perceived some Indians to fly as fast as they could possible before them, to take the advantage of another post, and thence observe the march of the Pirates. There remained notwithstanding one troop of Indians upon the place, with full design to fight and defend themselves. This combat they performed with huge courage, till such time as their captain fell to the ground wounded, who although he was now in despair of life, yet his valour being greater than his strength, would demand no quarter, but, endeavouring to raise himself, with undaunted mind laid hold of his azagaya, or javelin, and struck at one of the Pirates. But before he could second the blow, he was shot to death with a pistol. This was also the fate of many of his companions, who like good and courageous soldiers lost their lives with their captain, for the defence of their country.
The Pirates endeavoured, as much as was possible, to lay hold on some of the Indians and take them prisoners. But they being infinitely swifter than the Pirates, every one escaped, leaving eight Pirates dead upon the place and ten wounded. Yea, had the Indians been more dextrous in military affairs, they might have defended that passage and not let one sole man to pass. Within a little while after they came to a large campaign field open, and full of variegated meadows. From here they could perceive at a distance before them a parcel of Indians, who stood on the top of a mountain, very near the way by which the Pirates were to pass. They sent a troop of fifty men, the nimblest they could pick out, to see if they could catch any of them, and afterwards force them to declare whereabouts their companions had their mansions. But all their industry was in vain, for they escaped through their nimbleness, and presently afterwards showed themselves in another place, hallooing to the English, and crying: Á la savana, á la savana cornudos, perros Ingleses; that is, To the plain, to the plain, ye cuckolds, ye English dogs! While these things passed, the ten Pirates that were wounded a little before were dressed and plastered up.
At this place there was a wood, and on each side thereof a mountain. The Indians had possessed themselves of the one, and the Pirates took possession of the other that was opposite to it. Captain Morgan was persuaded that in the wood the Spaniards had placed an ambuscade, as lying so conveniently for that purpose. Hereupon he sent before two hundred men to search it. The Spaniards and Indians perceiving the Pirates to descend the mountains, did so too, as if they designed to attack them. But being got into the wood, out of sight of the Pirates, they disappeared, and were seen no more, leaving the passage open to them.
About night there fell a great rain, which caused the' Pirates to march the faster and seek everywhere for houses wherein to preserve their arms from being wet. But the Indians had set fire to every one thereabouts, and transported all their cattle to remote places, to the end that the pirates, finding neither houses nor victuals, might be constrained to return homewards. Notwithstanding, after diligent search, they found a few little huts belonging to shepherds, but in them nothing to eat. These not being capable of holding many men, they placed in them out of every company a small number, who kept the arms of all the rest of the army. Those who remained in the open field endured much hardship that night, the rain not ceasing to fall until the morning.
The next morning, about break of day, being the ninth of this tedious journey, Captain Morgan continued his march while the fresh air of the morning lasted. For the clouds then hanging as yet over their heads were much more favourable to them than the scorching rays of the sun, by reason the way was now more difficult and laborious than all the preceding. After two hours' march, they discovered a troop of about twenty Spaniards, who observed the motions of the Pirates. They endeavoured to catch some of them, but could lay hold on none, they suddenly disappearing, and absconding themselves in caves among the rocks, totally unknown to the Pirates. At last they came to a high mountain, which, when they ascended, they discovered from the top thereof the South Sea. This happy sight, as if it were the end of their labours, caused infinite joy among all the Pirates. Hence they could descry also one ship, and six boats, which were set forth from Panama, and sailed towards the islands of Tovago and Tovagilla. Having descended this mountain, they came to a vale, in which they found great quantity of cattle, whereof they killed good store. Here while some were employed in killing and flaying of cows, horses, bulls and chiefly asses, of which there was greatest number, others busied themselves in kindling of fires and getting wood wherewith to roast them. Thus cutting the flesh of these animals into convenient pieces, or gobbets, they threw them into the fire, and, half carbonadoed or roasted, they devoured them with incredible haste and appetite. For such was their hunger that they more resembled cannibals than Europeans at this banquet, the blood many times running down from their beards to the middle of their bodies.
Having satisfied their hunger with these delicious meats, Captain Morgan ordered them to continue the march. Here again he sent before the main body fifty men, with intent to take some prisoners, if possibly they could. For he seemed now to be much concerned that in nine days time he could not meet one person who might inform him of the condition and forces of the Spaniards. About evening they discovered a troop of two hundred Spaniards, more or less, who hallooed to the Pirates, but these could not understand what they said. A little while after they came the first time within sight of the highest steeple of Panama. This steeple they no sooner had discovered than they began to show signs of extreme joy, casting up their hats into the air, leaping for mirth, and shouting, even just as if they had already obtained the victory and entire accomplishment of their designs. All their trumpets were sounded and every drum beaten, in token of this universal acclamation and huge alacrity of their minds. Thus they pitched their camp for that night with general content of the whole army, waiting with impatience for the morning, at which time they intended to attack the city. This evening there appeared fifty horse, who came out of the city, hearing the noise of the drums and trumpets of the Pirates, to observe, as it was thought, their motions. They came almost within musket-shot of the army, being preceded by a trumpet that sounded marvellously well. Those on horseback hallooed aloud to the Pirates, and threatened them, saying, Perros! nos veremos, that is, Ye dogs we shall meet ye. Having made this menace, they returned into the city, excepting only seven or eight horsemen who remained hovering thereabouts, to watch what motions the Pirates made. Immediately after, the city began to fire and ceased not to play with their biggest guns all night long against the camp, but with little or no harm to the Pirates, whom they could not conveniently reach. About this time also the two hundred Spaniards whom the pirates had seen in the afternoon appeared again within sight, making resemblance as if they would block up the passages, to the intent no Pirates might escape the hands of their forces. But the Pirates, who were now in a manner besieged, instead of conceiving any fear of their blockades, as soon as they had placed sentries about their camp, began every one to open their satchels, and without any preparation of napkins or plates, fell to eating very heartily the remaining pieces of bulls and horses flesh which they had reserved since noon. This being done, they laid themselves down to sleep upon the grass with great repose and huge satisfaction, expecting only with impatience the dawning of the next day.
On the tenth day, betimes in the morning, they put all their men in convenient order, and with drums and trumpets sounding, continued their march directly towards the city. But one of the guides desired Captain Morgan not to take the common highway that led thither, fearing lest they should find in it much resistance and many ambuscades. He presently took his advice, and chose another way that went through the wood, although very irksome and difficult. Thus the Spaniards, perceiving the Pirates had taken another way, which they scarce had thought on or believed, were compelled to leave their stops and batteries, and come out to meet them. The Governor of Panama put his forces in order, consisting of two squadrons, four regiments of foot, and a huge number of wild bulls, which were driven by a great number of Indians, with some negroes and others, to help them.
The Pirates, being now upon their march, came to the top of a little hill, whence they had a large prospect of the city and campaign country underneath. Here they discovered the forces of the people of Panama, extended in battle array, which, when they perceived to be so numerous, they were suddenly surprised with great fear, much doubting the fortune of the day. Yea, few or none there were but wished themselves at home, or at least free from the obligation of that engagement, wherein they perceived their lives must be so narrowly concerned. Having been some time at a stand, in a wavering condition of mind, they at last reflected upon the straits they had brought themselves into, and that now they ought of necessity either to fight resolutely or die, for no quarter could be expected from an enemy against whom they had committed so many cruelties on all occasions. Hereupon they encouraged one another, and resolved either to conquer, or spend the very last drop of blood in their bodies. Afterwards they divided themselves into three battalions, or troops, sending before them one of two hundred buccaneers, which sort of people are infinitely dextrous at shooting with guns. Thus the Pirates left the hill and descended, marching directly towards the Spaniards, who were posted in a spacious field, waiting for their coming. As soon as they drew near them, the Spaniards began to shout, and cry, Viva el Rey! God save the King! and immediately their horse began to move against the Pirates. But the field being full of quags and very soft under foot, they could not ply to and fro and wheel about, as they desired. The two hun- dred buccaneers who went before, every one putting one knee to the ground, gave them a full volley of shot, wherewith the battle was instantly kindled very hot. The Spaniards defended themselves very courageously, acting all they could possibly perform, to disorder the Pirates. Their foot, in like manner, endeavoured to second the horse, but were constrained by the Pirates to separate from them. Thus finding themselves frustrated of their designs, they attempted to drive the bulls against them at their backs, and by this means put them into disorder. But the greatest part of that wild cattle ran away, being frightened with the noise of the battle. And some few that broke through the English companies did no other harm than to tear the colours in pieces whereas the buccaneers, shooting them dead, left not one to trouble them thereabouts.
The battle having now continued for the space of .two hours, at the end thereof the greatest part of the Spanish horse was ruined and almost all killed. The rest fled away. Which being perceived by the foot, ani that they could not possibly prevail, they discharged the shot they had in their muskets, and throwing them on the ground, betook themselves to flight, every one which way he could run. The Pirates could not possibly follow them, as being too much harassed and wearied with the long journey they had lately made. Many of them, not being able to fly whither they desired, hid themselves for that present among the shrubs of the sea-side. But very unfortunately; for most of them being found out by the Pirates, were instantly killed, without giving quarter to any. Some religious men were brought prisoners before Captain Morgan; but he being deaf to their cries and lamentations, commanded them all to be immediately pistoled, which was accordingly done. Soon after they brought a captain to his presence, whom he examined very strictly about several things; particularly, wherein consisted the forces of those of Panama. To which he answered: Their whole strength did consist in four hundred horse, twenty-four companies of foot, each being of one hundred men complete, sixty Indians and some negroes, who were to drive two thousand wild bulls and cause them to run over the English camp, and thus by breaking their files put them into a total disorder and confusion. He discovered more, that in the city they had made trenches, and raised batteries in several places, in all which they had placed many guns, and that at the entry of the highway which led to the city they had built a fort, which was mounted with eight great guns of brass, and defended by fifty men.
Captain Morgan, having heard this information, gave orders instantly they should march another way. But before setting forth, he made a review of all his men, whereof he found both killed and wounded a considerable number, and much greater than had been believed: Of the Spaniards were found six hundred dead upon the place, besides the wounded and prisoners. The Pirates were nothing discouraged, seeing their number so much diminished, but rather filled with greater pride than before, perceiving what huge advantage they had obtained against their enemies. Thus having rested themselves some while, they prepared to march courageously towards the city, plighting their oaths to one another in general they would fight till never a man was left alive. With this courage they recommenced their march, either to conquer or be conquered, carrying with them all the prisoners.
They found much difficulty in their approach to the city. For within the town the Spaniards had placed many great guns, at several quarters thereof, some of which were charged with small pieces of iron, and others with musket-bullets. With all these they saluted the Pirates, at their drawing nigh to the place, and gave them full and frequent broadsides, firing at them incessantly. Whence it came to pass that unavoidably they lost, at every step they advanced, great numbers of men. But neither these manifest dangers of their lives, nor the sight of so many of their own as dropped down continually at their sides, could deter them from advancing farther, and gaining ground every moment upon the enemy. Thus, although the Spaniards never. ceased to fire and act the best they could for their defence, yet notwithstanding they were forced to deliver the city after the space of three hours' combat. And the Pirates, having now possessed themselves thereof, both killed and destroyed as many as attempted to make the least opposition against them. The inhabitants had caused the best of their goods to be transported to more remote and occult places. Howbeit they found within the city as yet several warehouses, very well stocked with all sorts of merchandize, as well silks and cloths as linen, and other things of considerable value. As soon as the first fury of their entrance into the city was over, Captain Morgan assembled all his men at a certain place which he assigned, and there commanded them under very great penalties that none of them should dare to drink or taste any wine. The reason he gave for this injunction was, because he had received private intelligence that it had been all poisoned by the Spaniards. Howbeit it was the opinion of many that he gave these prudent orders to prevent the debauchery of his people, which he foresaw would be very great at the beginning, after so much hunger sustained by the way — fearing withal lest the Spaniards, seeing them in wine, should rally their forces and fall upon the city, and use them as inhumanly as they had used the inhabitants before.
1 "August" is probably intended for " January," for we note (p. 3 of 3rd part) that the assembly at Tortuga was on the 24th of October, 1670, that (p. 1) they sailed from Tehuron on 16th December, 1670, and that (p. 70) they left Panama on the 24th February, 1671.