Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
The Buccaneers depart from the Isle of Juan Fernandez to that of Iquique. Here they take several prisoners, and learn intelligence of the posture of affairs at Arica. Cruelty committed upon one of the said prisoners, who had rightly informed them. They attempt Arica the second time, and take the town, but are beaten out of it again before they could plunder, with great loss of men, many of them being killed, wounded, and made prisoners. Captain Watling, their chief Commander, is killed in this attack, and Captain Sharp presently chosen again, who leads them off, and through mountains of difficulties, makes a bold retreat to the ship.
HAVING bid our enemies adieu, after the manner as was said in the precedent chapter, the next morning, being January 14th, we bore N.E. We reckoned this day a N.N.E. one quarter S. way, and by it thirty leagues.
We were four leagues E. from the Island of Juan Fernandez, when I took our departure.
Saturday, January 15th, we had hazy weather. This day we made by a N.E. by N. way eleven leagues. The same hazy weather continued in like manner the 16th. But about ten that morning the wind died away. Our reckoning was a N.E. by N. way, and thirty-six leagues.
On the 17th we had a soft gale, and a clear observation. We found by it lat. 28° 47' S. easting seventy leagues. The next day we had likewise a clear day, and we reckoned by. a N.E. by N. way, thirty-one leagues. By observation lat. 27° 29' S.
Wednesday, January 19th, we had a clear day, as before, and reckoned a N.E. by N. way, and thirty-five leagues and two thirds. By observation we took lat. 25° 00' S. This day we put up our top-gallant masts and sails, which we had taken down at the island of Juan Fernandez, when we thought to have gone directly thence for the Straits of Magellan. But now our resolutions were changed, and our course was bent for Arica, that rich place, the second time, to try what good we could do upon it by another attempt, in order to make all our fortunes there. In the evening of this day we saw land at a great distance.
January 20th, about midnight, we had a small land-wind that sprang up and reached us. At break of day we could descry land again, at the distance of nine or ten leagues, more or less. This day was very hot and calm, easting ninety-two leagues.
On the 21st, we had very little wind, and all along as we went we could descry high land, and that barren. We sailed N. by E, and N.N.E. along the coast of the continent.
The next day being Saturday, January 22nd, we had very hot weather. This day we sailed N. and N. by E. and looked out continually for the island of Iquique, which our pilot told us was hereabouts. We kept at a just distance from land, for fear of being descried by the enemy.
On the following day, Sunday, 23rd, we sailed in like manner N.N.E. along the coast, which seems to be very full of bays hereabouts. By observation this day we took lat. 21° 49' S.
Monday, January 24th. This day we had an indifferent gale of wind, and we stood N. and by E. the wind being S.S.E. By observation, lat. 21 02' S. Our whole easting, I reckoned to be ninety-two leagues and a half. In the afternoon of this day Captain Watling, our commander, and twenty-five men more departed from the ship in two canoes, with design to seek for and take the island of Iquique, and there to gain intelligence of the posture of affairs at Arica. We were at the distance of twelve leagues from shore, when they went away from the ship.
The next day by a clear observation, lat. 20° 40' S. At four in the afternoon this day, one of our canoes returned, bringing word that they could not find the island, though they had searched for it very diligently. At night came the other, being brought back by a wrong sign given us by the first canoe. This second canoe had landed upon the continent, and there found a track, which they followed for some little space. Here they met a dead whale, with whose bones the Spaniards had built a hut, and set up a cross. There lay also many pieces of broken jars. They observed likewise that hereabouts upon the coast were many bays, good landings, and anchoring for ships. That evening, about seven o'clock, a fresh gang departed from the ship to seek for the same island, while we lay becalmed all night, driving about a league to leeward.
Wednesday, January 26th, we had extremely hot weather. This day the Spanish pilot told us that on the continent over against us, and at the distance of a very little way within the land, are many rich mines of silver, but that the Spaniards dared not open them for fear of an invasion from some foreign enemy or other. We sailed N., at the distance of about two leagues from shore. At noon by observation, found lat. 20° 21’ S. At four o'clock we saw a smoke made by our men, close by a white cliff, which proved to be the island. Hereupon we immediately sent away another canoe with more men, to supply them in their attempts. But in the meanwhile the first canoe, which had departed the evening before this day, came aboard, bringing with them four prisoners, two old white men and two Indians.
The other canoe, which set out last, brought back molasses, fish, and two jars of wine. To windward of the said island is a small village of eighteen or twenty houses, having a small chapel near it, built of stone, and for adornment thereof, it is stuck full of hides or the skins of seals. They found about fifty people in this hamlet, but the greatest part of them made their escape at the arrival of the canoe. To this island frequently come barks from Arica, which city is not far distant, to fetch clay, and they have already transported away a considerable part thereof. The poor Indians, inhabitants or natives of this island, are forced to bring all the fresh water they use the full distance of eleven leagues, that is to say, from a river, named Camarones, which lies to leeward of the island. The barque wherein they used to bring it, was gone for water when our men landed upon the place. The island all over is white, but the bowels thereof are of a reddish sort of earth. From the shore is seen here a great path which leads over the mountains into the country. The Indians of this island eat much and often a sort of leaves that are of a taste much like our bay-leaves in England, insomuch that their teeth are dyed a green colour by the continual use of it.1 The inhabitants go stark naked, and are very robust and strong people; yet notwithstanding they live more like beasts than men.
Thursday, January 27th. This morning on board the ship we examined one of the old men, who were taken prisoners upon the island the day before. But finding him in many lies, as we thought, concerning Arica, our commander ordered him to be shot to death, which was accordingly done. Our old commander, Captain Sharp, was much troubled in his mind and dissatisfied at this cruel and rash proceeding; whereupon he opposed it as much as he could. But seeing he could not prevail, he took water and washed his hands, saying, "Gentlemen, I am clear of the blood of this old man; and I will warrant you a hot day for this piece of cruelty, whenever we come to fight at Arica." These words were found at the latter end of this expedition of Arica to contain a true and certain prophesy, as shall be related hereafter.
The other old man being under examination, informed us that the island of Iquique afore-mentioned belonged to the Governor of Arica, who was proprietor thereof; and that he allowed these men a little wine and other necessaries, to live upon for their sustenance. That he himself had the superintendence of forty or fifty of the governor's slaves, who caught fish and dried it, for the profit of the said governor; and he sold it afterwards to the inland towns, and reaped a considerable benefit thereby. That by a letter received from Arica eight days ago, they understood there was then in the harbour of Arica three ships from Chile, and one bark. That they had raised there a fortification mounted with twelve copper guns. But that when we were there before, they had conveyed out of the town to the neighbouring stations all their plate, gold and jewels, burying it there in the ground and concealing it after several manners and ways, which whether it were now returned or not, he could not easily tell. That there were two great places, the one at ten, the other at twenty-five leagues distance from Arica, at which towns lay all their strength and treasure. That the day before had passed a post to declare our having been at Coquimbo. That the embargo laid on all vessels going northward was now taken off; so that a free passage was allowed them. That by land it was impossible to go hence to Arica in less than four or five days, forasmuch as they must carry water for themselves and horses for the whole journey. And lastly, that those arms that were brought from Lima to Arica, as was mentioned above, were now carried away to Buenos Ayres. All these things pleased us mighty well to hear. But, however, Captain Sharp was still much dissatisfied, because we had shot the old man. For he had given us information to the full, and with all manner of truth, how that Arica was greatly fortified, and much more than before; but our misfortune was that we took his information to be all contrary to the truth.
The leaves of which we made mention above are brought down to this island in whole bales, and then distributed to the Indians by a short allowance given to each man. This day we had very hot weather, and a S.W. sea. By observation we found lat. 20° 13' S. Besides the things above-mentioned, our prisoners informed us that at Arica the Spaniards had built a breastwork round about the town, and one also in every street, that in case one end of the town were taken, they might be able to defend the other. We stood off and on for the greatest part of this day. In the afternoon we were eight leagues and a half distant from shore, with a fresh wind. That morning, moreover, we took the bark that was at the river of Camarones, to fill water for the island.
Friday, January 28th. Last night about midnight we left the ship, and embarked ourselves in the bark aforementioned, the launch, and four canoes, with design to take Arica by surprise. We rowed and sailed all night, making in for the shore.
Saturday, January 29th. About break of day we got under shore, and there hid ourselves among the rocks for all the day long, fearing lest we should be descried by the enemy, before we came to Arica. At this time we were about five leagues to southward of Arica, near Quebrada de San Vitor, a place so-called upon that coast. Night being come, we rowed away from there.
Sunday, January 30th, 1680. This day (being the day that is consecrated in our English Calendar, to the Martyrdom of our glorious King Charles the First) in the morning about sun-rise, we landed amongst some rocks at some distance of four miles, more or less, to the southward from Arica. We put on shore ninety-two men in all, the rest remaining in the boats, to keep and defend them from being surprised by the enemy, with the intent we might leave behind us a safe retreat, in case of necessity. To these men we left strict orders, that if we made one smoke from the town, or adjoining fields, they should come after us towards the harbour of Arica with one canoe; but in case we made two, that they should bring all away, leaving only fifteen men in the boats. As we marched from our landing-place towards the town, we mounted a very steep hill, and saw thence no men nor forces of the enemy; which caused us to hope we were not as yet descried, and that we should utterly surprise them. But when we were come about half of the way to the town, we spied three horsemen, who mounted the look-out hill; and seeing us upon our march, they rode down full speed towards the city, to give notice of our approach. Our commander Watling chose out forty of our number, to attack the fort, and sent us away first thitherwards, the rest being designed for the town. We that were appointed for the fort had ten hand grenades among us when we gave the assault, and with them, as well as with our other arms, we attacked the castle, and exchanged several shot with our enemies. But at last, seeing our main body in danger of being overborne with the number of our enemies, we gave over that attempt on the fort, and ran down in all haste to the valley, to help and assist them in the fight. Here the battle was very desperate, and they killed three, and wounded two more of our men from their out-works, before we could gain upon them. But our rage increasing with our wounds, we still advanced, and at last beat the enemy out of all, and filled every street in the city with dead bodies. The enemy made several retreats to several places, from one breastwork to another; and we had not a sufficient number of men wherewith to man all places taken. Insomuch, that we had no sooner beat them out of one place, than they came another way, and manned it again with new forces and fresh men.
We took in every place where we vanquished the enemy, great number of prisoners, more indeed than peradventure we ought to have done or knew well what to do with; they being too many for such a small body as ours was to manage. These prisoners informed us that we had been descried no less than three days before, from the island of Iquique, whereby they were in expectation of our arrival every hour, knowing we still had a design to make a second attempt upon that place. That into the city were come four hundred soldiers from Lima, who, besides their own, had brought seven hundred arms for the use of the country-people; and that in the town they had six hundred armed men, and in the fort three hundred.
Being now in possession of the city, or the greatest part thereof, we sent to the fort, commanding them to surrender, but they would not vouchsafe to send us any answer. Hereupon we advanced towards it, and gave it a second attack, wherein we persisted very vigorously for a long time. Not being able to carry it, we got upon the top of a house that stood near it, and from there fired down into the fort, killing many of their men and wounding them at our ease and pleasure. But while we were busied in this attack, the rest of the enemy's forces had taken again several posts of the town, and began to surround us in great numbers, with design to cut us off. Hereupon we were constrained to desist the second time as before, from assaulting the fort, and make head against them. This we no sooner had done than, their numbers and vigour increasing every moment, we found ourselves to be overpowered, and consequently we thought it convenient to retreat to the place where our wounded men were, under the hands of our surgeons, that is to say, our Hospital. At this time our new commander, Captain Watling, both our quartermasters and a. great many others of our men were killed, besides those that were wounded and disabled. So that now the enemy rallying against us and beating us from place to place, we were in a very distracted condition, and in more likelihood to perish every man than escape the bloodiness of that day. Now we found the words of Captain Sharp to bear a true prophesy, being all very sensible that we had had a day too hot for us, after that cruel heat in killing and murdering in cold blood the old Mestizo Indian whom we had taken prisoner at Iquique, as before was mentioned.
Being surrounded with difficulties on all sides, and in great disorder, having no head or leader to give orders for what was to be done, we were glad to turn our eyes to our good and old commander, Captain Bartholomew Sharp, and beg of him very earnestly to commiserate our condition and carry us off. It was a great while that we were reiterating our supplications to him, before he would take any notice of our request in this point, so much was he displeased with the former mutiny of our people against him, all which had been occasioned by the instigation of Mr. Cook. But Sharp is a man of an undaunted courage, and of an excellent conduct, not fearing in the least to look an insulting enemy in the face, and a person that knows both the theory and practical parts of navigation as well as most do. Hereupon, at our request and earnest petition, he took upon him the command-inchief again, and began to distribute his orders for our safety. He would have brought off our surgeons, but that they had been drinking while we assaulted the fort, and thus would not come with us when they were called. They killed and took of our number twenty-eight men; eighteen more that we brought off were desperately wounded. At this time we were extremely faint for want of water and victuals, whereof we had had none all that day. Moreover, we were almost choked with the dust of the town; this being so much raised by the work that their great guns had made that we could scarcely see each other. They beat us out of the town, and then followed us into the Savannas, or open fields, still charging us as fast as they could. But when they saw that we rallied again, resolving to die one by another, they then ran from us into the town, and sheltered themselves under their breastworks. Thus we retreated in as good order as we could possibly observe in that confusion. But their horsemen followed us as we retired, and fired at us all the way, though they would not come within reach of our guns; for their own reached farther than ours, and out-shot us more than one third. We took the seaside for our greater security; which, when the enemy saw, they betook themselves to the hills, rolling down great stones and whole rocks to destroy us. In the meanwhile those of the town examined our surgeons, and other men whom they had made prisoners. These gave them our signs that we had left to our boats that were behind us, so that they immediately blew up two smokes, which were perceived by the canoes. This was the greatest of our dangers. For had we not come at the instant that we did to the seaside, our boats had been gone, they being already under sail; and we had inevitably perished every man. Thus we put off from the shore, and got on board about ten o'clock at night; having been involved in a continual and bloody fight with the enemy all that day long.
1 This is no doubt the famous coca or cuca, erythroxylon coca (the betel of South America), and universally in request by the Indian population of the West Coast of South America. It is a shrub which grows to the height of six or eight feet. The leaves stripped of their stalks, with the addition of a little unslaked lime (or of the ashes of the quinoa plant, chenopodium quinoa) are chewed like betel. It has a warm pungent taste, is a powerful nervous stimulant, and is also said to be a remedy for rheumatic affections. From the plant is also obtained the alkaloid cocaine well known in modern medicine.