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whereof was found very great quantity. The chief trade
of this place consisteth of sugar and ginger, which groweth
in the island, and of hides of oxen and kine, which in this
waste country of the island are bred in infinite numbers, the
soil being very fertile. And the said beasts are fed up to a
very large growth, and so killed for nothing so much as
for their hides aforesaid. We found here great store of
strong wine, sweet oil, vinegar, olives, and other such-like
provisions, as excellent wheat-meal packed up in wine-pipes
and other cask, and other commodities likewise, as woollen
and linen cloth and some silks ; all which provisions are
brought out of Spain, and served us for great relief. There
was but a little plate or vessel of silver, in comparison of
the great pride in other things of this town, because in these


hot countries they use much of those earthen dishes finely
painted or varnished, which they call porcellana, which is
had out of the East India; and for their drinking they use
glasses altogether, whereof they make excellent good and fair
in the same place. But yet some plate we found, and many
other good things, as their household garniture, very gallant
and rich, which had cost them dear, although unto us they
were of small importance.

From St. Domingo we put over to the main or firm land,
and, going all along the coast, we came at last in sight of
Carthagena, standing upon the seaside, so near as some of
our barks in passing alongst approached within the reach
of their culverin shot, which they had planted upon certain
platforms. The harbour-mouth lay some three miles toward
the westward of the town, whereinto we entered at about
three or four of the clock in the afternoon without any
resistance of ordnance or other impeachment planted upon
the same. In the evening we put ourselves on land towards
the harbour-mouth, under the leading of Master Carlile,
our Lieutenant-General. Who, after he had digested us to
march forward about midnight, as easily as foot might fall,
expressly commanded us to keep close by the sea-wash of
the shore for our best and surest way; whereby we were
like to go through, and not to miss any more of the way,
which once we had lost within an hour after our first
beginning to march, through the slender knowledge of him
that took upon him to be our guide, whereby the night spent
on, which otherwise must have been done by resting. But
as we came within some two miles of the town, their horse-
men, which were some hundred, met us, and, taking the
alarm, retired to their townward again upon the first volley
of our shot that was given them; for the place where we
encountered being woody and bushy, even to the water-
side, was unmeet for their service.

At this instant we might hear some pieces of artillery dis-
charged, with divers small shot, towards the harbour; which
gave us to understand, according to the order set down
in the evening before by our General, that the Vice-Admiral,
accompanied with Captain Vernier, Captain White, and
Captain Cross, with other sea captains, and with divers


pinnaces and boats, should give some attempt unto the little
fort standing on the entry of the inner haven, near adjoin-
ing to the town, though to small purpose, for that the place
was strong, and the entry, very narrow, was chained over;
so as there could be nothing gotten by the attempt more than
the giving of them an alarm on that other side of the haven,
being a mile and a-half from the place we now were at. In
which attempt the Vice-Admiral had the rudder of his skiff
strucken through with a saker 7 shot, and a little or no harm
received elsewhere.

The troops being now in their march, half-a-mile behither
the town or less, the ground we were on grew to be strait,
and not above fifty paces over, having the main sea on the
one side of it and the harbour- water or inner sea (as you
may term it) on the other side, which in the plot is plainly
shewed. This strait was fortified clean over with a stone
wall and a ditch without it, the said wall being as orderly
built, with flanking in every part, as can be set down. There
was only so much of this strait unwalled as might serve for
the issuing of the horsemen or the passing of carriage in time
of need. But this unwalled part was not without a very
good barricado of wine-butts or pipes, filled with earth, full
and thick as they might stand on end one by another, some
part of them standing even within the main sea. This place
of strength was furnished with six great pieces, demicul-
verins 8 and sakers, which shot directly in front upon us as
we approached. Now without this wall, upon the inner side
of the strait, they had brought likewise two great galleys
with their prows to the shore, having planted in them
eleven pieces of ordnance, which did beat all cross the
strait, and flanked our coming on. In these two galleys
were planted three or four hundred small shot, and on
the land, in the guard only of this place, three hundred
shot and pikes.

They, in this their full readiness to receive us, spared not
their shot both great and small. But our Lieutenant-
General, taking the advantage of the dark (the daylight
as yet not broken out) approached by the lowest ground,
according to the express direction which himself had for-

1 Bore 3 Ml inches, shot 5 lb. 8 Bore 4% inches, shot 9 lb.


merly given, the same being the sea-wash shore, where the
water was somewhat fallen, so as most of all their shot was
in vain. Our Lieutenant-General commanded our shot to
forbear shooting until we were come to the wall-side. And
so with pikes roundly together we approached the place,
where we soon found out the barricados of pipes or butts to
be the meetest place for our assault; which, notwithstanding
it was well furnished with pikes and shots, was without stay-
ing attempted by us. Down went the butts of earth, and
pell-mell came our swords and pikes together, after our
shot had first given their volley, even at the enemy's nose.
Our pikes were somewhat longer than theirs, and our bodies
better armed; for very few of them were armed. With
which advantage our swords and pikes grew too hard for
them, and they driven to give place. In this furious entry
the Lieutenant-General slew with his own hands the chief
ensign-bearer of the Spaniards, who fought very manfully
to his life's end.

We followed into the town with them, and, giving them
no leisure to breathe, we won the market-place, albeit they
made head and fought awhile before we got it. And so we
being once seized and assured of that, they were content
to suffer us to lodge within their town, and themselves to
go to their wives, whom they had carried into other places
of the country before our coming thither. At every street's
end they had raised very fine barricados of earth-works,
with trenches without them, as well made as ever we saw
any work done; at the entering whereof was some little
resistance, but soon overcome it was, with few slain or hurt.
They had joined with them many Indians, whom they had
placed in corners of advantage, all bowmen, with their
arrows most villainously empoisoned, so as if they did but
break the skin, the party so touched died without great mar-
vel. Some they slew of our people with their arrows; some
they likewise mischiefed to death with certain pricks of small
sticks sharply pointed, of a foot and a-half long, the one
end put into the ground, the other empoisoned, sticking fast
up, right against our coming in the way as we should ap-
proach from our landing towards the town, whereof they
had planted a wonderful number in the ordinary way; but


our keeping the sea-wash shore missed the greatest part
of them very happily.

I overpass many particular matters, as the hurting of
Captain Sampson at sword blows in the first entering, unto
whom was committed the charge of the pikes of the vant-
guard by his lot and turn; as also of the taking of Alonzo
Bravo, the chief commander of that place, by Captain
Goring, after the said captain had first hurt him with his
sword ; unto which captain was committed the charge of the
shot of the said vant-guard. Captain Winter was likewise
by his turn of the vant-guard in this attempt, where also
the Lieutenant-General marched himself; the said Captain
Winter, through a great desire to serve by land, having
now exchanged his charge at sea with Captain Cecil for
his band of footmen. Captain Powell, the Sergeant-Major,
had by his turn the charge of the four companies which made
the battle. Captain Morgan, who at St. Domingo was of the
vant-guard, had now by turn his charge upon the companies
of the rearward. Every man, as well of one part as of an-
other, came so willingly on to the service, as the enemy was
not able to endure the fury of such hot assault.

We stayed here six weeks, and the sickness with mortality
before spoken of still continued among us, though not with
the same fury as at the first ; and such as were touched with
the said sickness, escaping death, very few or almost none
could recover their strength. Yea, many of them were much
decayed in their memory, insomuch that it was grown an
ordinary judgment, when one was heard to speak foolishly,
to say he had been sick of the calentnra, which is the Spanish
name of their burning ague; for, as I told you before, it is a
very burning and pestilent ague. The original cause thereof
is imputed to the evening or first night air, which they term
Ic serena; wherein they say and hold very firm opinion
that whoso is then abroad in the open air shall certainly
be infected to the death, not being of the Indian or natural
race of those country people. By holding their watch our
men were thus subjected to the infectious air, which at
Santiago was most dangerous and deadly of all other places.

With the inconvenience of continual mortality we were
forced to give over our intended enterprise to go with


Nombre de Dios, and so overland to Panama, where we
should have strucken the stroke for the treasure, and full
recompense of our tedious travails. And thus at Carthagena
we took our first resolution to return homewards, the form
of which resolution I thought good here to put down under
the principal captains' hands as followeth:

A Resolution of the Land-Captains, what course they think most
expedient to be taken. Given at Carthagena, the 2j. of Feb-
ruary, 1585.

WHEREAS it hath pleased the General to demand the opinions
of his captains what course they think most expedient to be now
undertaken, the land-captains being assembled by themselves to-
gether, and having advised hereupon, do in three points deliver
the same.

THE FIRST, touching the keeping of the town against the force
of the enemy, either that which is present, or that which may come
out of Spain, is answered thus :

' We hold opinion, that witk this troop of men which we have
presently with us in land service, being victualled and munitioned,
we may well keep the town, albeit that of men able to answer present
service we have not above 700. The residue, being some 150 men,
by reason of their hurts and sickness, are altogether unable to stand
us in any stead : wherefore hereupon the sea-captains are likewise
to give their resolution, how they will undertake the safety and
service of the ships upon the arrival of any Spanish fleet.'

THE SECOND point we make to be this, whether it be meet to go
presently homeward, or else to continue further trial of our fortune
in undertaking such like enterprises as we have done already, and
thereby to seek after that bountiful mass of treasure for recom-
pense of our travails, which was generally expected at our coming
forth of England : wherein we answer :

That it is well known how both we and the soldiers are en-
tered into this action as voluntary men, without any impress or gage
from her Majesty or anybody else. And forasmuch as v/e have
hitherto discharged the parts of honest men, so that now by the
great blessing and favour of our good God there have been taken
three such notable towns, wherein by the estimation of all men
would have been found some very great treasures, knowing that
Santiago was the chief city of all the islands and traffics thereabouts,
St. Domingo the chief city of Hispaniola, and the head government
not only of that island, but also of Cuba, and of all the islands about
it, as also of such inhabitations of the firm land, as were next unto
it, and a place that is both magnificently built and entertaineth great
trades of merchandise ; and now lastly the city of Carthagena, which
cannot be denied to be one of the chief places of most especial im-

HC xxxiii (9)


portance to the Spaniard of all the cities which be on this side of
the West India: we do therefore consider, that since all these cities,
with their goods and prisoners taken in them, and the ransoms of
the said cities, being all put together, are found far short to satisfy
that expectation which by the generality of the enterprisers was first
conceived ; and being further advised of the slenderness of our
strength, whereunto we be now reduced, as well in respect of the small
number of able bodies, as also not a little in regard of the slack dis-
position of the greater part of those which remain, very many of the
better minds and men being either consumed by death or weakened
by sickness and hurts ; and lastly, since that as yet there is not laid
down to our knowledge any such enterprise as may seem convenient
to be undertaken with such few as we are presently able to make,
and withal of such certain likelihood, as with God's good success
which it may please him to bestow upon us, the same may promise
to yield us any sufficient contentment : we do therefore conclude
hereupon, that it is better to hold sure as we may the honour already
gotten, and with the same to return towards our gracious sovereign
and country, from whence, if it shall please her Majesty to set
us forth again with her orderly means and entertainment, we are
most ready and willing to go through with anything that the utter-
most of our strength and endeavour shall be able to reach unto. But
therewithal we do advise and protest that it is far from our thoughts,
either to refuse, or so much as to seem to be weary of anything,
which for the present shall be further required or directed to be done
by us from our General.'

THE THIRD and last point is concerning the ransom of this city
of Carlhagena, for the which, before it was touched with any fire,
there was made an offer of some 27,000 or 28,000 sterling:

' Thus much we utter herein as our opinions, agreeing, so it be
done in good sort, to accept this offer aforesaid, rather than to break
off by standing still upon our demands of 100,000; which seems a
matter impossible to be performed for the present by them. And to
say truth, we may now with much honour and reputation better be
satisfied with that sum offered by them at the first, if they will now
be contented to give it, than we might at that time with a great
deal more ; inasmuch as we have taken our full pleasure, both in the
uttermost sacking and spoiling of all their household goods and mer-
chandise, as also in that we have consumed and ruined a great part
of their town with fire. And thus much further is considered herein
by us ; that as there be in the voyage a great many poor men, who
have willingly adventured their lives and travails, and divers amongst
them having spent their apparel and such other little provisions as
their small means might have given them leave to prepare, which
being done upon such good and allowable intention as this action
hath always carried with it (meaning, against the Spaniard, our
greatest and most dangerous enemy), so surely we cannot but have
an inward regard, so far as may lie in us, to help them in all good
sort towards the satisfaction of this their expectation ; and by


procuring them some little benefit to encourage them, and to nourish
this ready and willing disposition of theirs, both in them and in
others by their example, against any other time of like occasion.
But because it may be supposed that herein we forget not the
private benefit of ourselves, and are thereby the rather moved to
incline ourselves to this composition, we do therefore think good
for the clearing ourselves of all such suspicion, to declare hereby, that
what part or portion soever it be of this ransom or composition
for Carthagena which should come unto us, we do freely give and
bestow the same wholly upon the poor men who have remained with
us in the voyage (meaning as well the sailor as the soldier), wishing
with all our hearts it were such or so much as might see a suffi-
cient reward for their painful endeavour. And for the firm con-
firmation thereof, we have thought meet to subsign these presents
with our own hands in the place and time aforesaid.

' Captain Christopher Carlile, Lieutenant-General ; Captain Coring,
Captain Sampson, Captain Powell, &c.

But while we were yet there, it happened one day that
our watch called the sentinel, upon the church-steeple, had
discovered in the sea a couple of small barks or boats,
making in with the harbour of Carthagena. Whereupon
Captain Moon and Captain Vamey, with John Grant, the
master of the Tiger, and some other seamen, embarked
themselves in a couple of small pinnaces, to take them before
they should come nigh the shore, at the mouth of the har-
bour, lest by some straggling Spaniards from the land, they
might be warned by signs from coming in. Which fell out
accordingly, notwithstanding all the diligence that our men
could use: for the Spanish boats, upon the sight of our
pinnaces coming towards them, ran themselves ashore, and
so their men presently hid themselves in bushes hard by the
sea-side, amongst some others that had called them by signs
thither. Our men presently without any due regard had to
the quality of the place, and seeing no man of the Spaniards
to shew themselves, boarded the Spanish barks or boats, and
so standing all open in them, were suddenly shot at by a
troop of Spaniards out of the bushes; by which volley of
shot there were slain Captain Vamey, which died presently,
and Captain Moon, who died some few days after, besides
some four or five others that were hurt: and so our folks
returned without their purpose, not having any sufficient
number of soldiers with them to fight on shore. For those
men they carried were all mariners to row, few of them


armed, because they made account with their ordnance to
have taken the barks well enough at sea; which they might
full easily have done, without any loss at all, if they had
come in time to the harbour mouth, before the Spaniards'
boats had gotten so near the shore.

During our abode in this place, as also at St. Domingo,
there passed divers courtesies between us and the Spaniards,
as feasting, and using them with all kindness and favour; so
as amongst others there came to see the General the gov-
ernor of Carthagena, with the bishop of the same, and divers
other gentlemen of the better sort. This town of Carthagena
we touched in the out parts, and consumed much with fire,
as we had done St. Domingo, upon discontentments, and for
want of agreeing with us in their first treaties touching
their ransom; which at the last was concluded between us
should be 110,000 ducats for that which was yet standing,
the ducat valued at five shillings sixpence sterling.

This town, though not half so big as St. Domingo, gives,
as you see, a far greater ransom, being in very deed of far
more importance, by reason of the excellency of the harbour,
and the situation thereof to serve the trade of Nombrc de
Dios and other places, and is inhabited with far more richer
merchants. The other is chiefly inhabited with lawyers and
brave gentlemen, being the chief or highest appeal of their
suits in law of all the islands about it and of the mainland
coast next unto it. And it is of no such account as Cartha-
gena, for these and some like reasons which I could give
you, over long to be now written.

The warning which this town received of our coming to-
wards them from St. Domingo, by the space of 20 days be-
fore our arrival here, was cause that they had both fortified
and every way prepared for their best defence. As also
that they had carried and conveyed away all their treasure
and principal substance.

The ransom of 110,000 ducats thus concluded on, as is
aforesaid, the same being written, and expressing for
nothing more than the town of Carthagena, upon the pay-
ment of the said ransom we left the said town and drew
some part of our soldiers into the priory or abbey, standing
a quarter of an English mile below the town upon the har-


bour water-side, the same being walled with a wall of stone ;
which we told the Spaniards was yet ours, and not redeemed
by their composition. Whereupon they, finding the defect
of their contract, were contented to enter into another
ransom for all places, but specially for the said house, as
also the blockhouse or castle, which is upon the mouth
of the inner harbour. And when we asked as much for
the one as for the other, they yielded to give a thousand
crowns for the abbey, leaving us to take our pleasure upon
the blockhouse, which they said they were not able to ransom,
having stretched themselves to the uttermost of their
powers ; and therefore the said blockhouse was by us under-
mined, and so with gunpowder blown up in pieces. While
this latter contract was in making, our whole fleet of ships
fell down towards the harbour-mouth, where they anchored
the third time and employed their men in fetching of fresh
water aboard the ships for our voyage homewards, which
water was had in a great well that is in the island by the
harbour-mouth. Which island is a very pleasant place as
hath been seen, having in it many sorts of goodly and very
pleasant fruits, as the orange-trees and others, being set
orderly in walks of great length together. Insomuch as the
whole island, being some two or three miles about, is cast
into grounds of gardening and orchards.

After six weeks' abode in this place, we put to sea the last
of March; where, after two or three days, a great ship
which we had taken at St. Domingo, and thereupon was
called The New Year's Gift, fell into a great leak, being
laden with ordnance, hides, and other spoils, and in the
night she lost the company of our fleet. Which being missed
the next morning by the General, he cast about with the
whole fleet, fearing some great mischance to be happened
unto her, as in very deed it so fell out ; for her leak was so
great that her men were all tired with pumping. But at the
last, having found her, and the bark Talbot in her company,
which stayed by great hap with her, they were ready to
take their men out of her for the saving of them. And so
the General, being fully advertised of their great extremity,
made sail directly back again to Carthagena with the whole
fleet; where, having staid eight or ten days more about the


unlading of this ship and the bestowing thereof and her
men into other ships, we departed once again to sea, direct-
ing our course toward the Cape St. Anthony, being the
westermost part of Cuba, where we arrived the 27. of April.
But because fresh water could not presently be found, we
weighed anchor and departed, thinking in few days to re-
cover the Matanzas, a place to the eastward of Havana.

After we had sailed some fourteen days we were brought
to Cape St. Anthony again through lack of favourable wind;
but then our scarcity was grown such as need make us look
a little better for water, which we found in sufficient quan-
tity, being indeed, as I judge, none other than rain-water
newly fallen and gathered up by making pits in a plot of
marish ground some three hundred paces from the seaside.

I do wrong if I should forget the good example of the
General at this place, who, to encourage others, and to hasten
the getting of fresh water aboard the ships, took no less
pain himself than the meanest; as also at St. Domingo,
Carthagena, and all other places, having always so vigilant
a care and foresight in the good ordering of his fleet, ac-
companying them, as it is said, with such wonderful travail
of body, as doubtless had he been the meanest person, as
he was the chiefest, he had yet deserved the first place of

Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 23 of 35)