« AnteriorContinuar »
Boy as Lantaro was, he showed the skill of an old soldier in dealing with his well-armed foe. While the Spaniards were toiling up a narrow pass of the mountain a strong force of Araucanians fell upon them, and for three hours gave them as sharp a fight as they had yet encountered. Then the Indians withdrew to the strong palisade, behind which Lantaro awaited the foe.
Up the side of the steep mountain rode a party of Spanish horsemen, with the purpose of forcing a passage, but near the summit they were met with such a storm of arrows and other missiles that it became necessary to support them with infantry and artillery. Lantaro, vigilant in the defence, endeavored to surround the Spaniards with a body of his warriors, but the success of this stratagem was prevented by the advance of Villagrau to their support. The battle now grew hot, the artillery in particular sweeping down the ranks of the Indians.
At this critical juncture Lantaro showed that he was a born captain. Calling to him one of his officers, named Leucoton, he said, “You see those thunder-tubes. It is from them our trouble comes. There is your work. Do not dare show your face to me until you have made them your own.”
Leucoton at once rushed forward with his company and fell in fury upon the battery, driving back the gunners and capturing their cannon. This successful charge was followed by Lantaro with a fierce attack on the Spanish front, which broke their ranks, throwing them into confusion and putting
them to flight. The defeat was ruinous, three thousand of the Spaniards and their allies being slain, while Villagrau was saved with difficulty and at the risk of their lives by three of his picked him up where he lay wounded and carried him off on his horse.
In their flight the Spaniards had to traverse again the defile by which they had ascended. Lantaro had sent men to obstruct it by felled trees, and the few remaining Spaniards had a severe fight before they could escape. The Araucanians pursued them to the Biobio, fatigue preventing their following beyond that stream. The fugitives continued their flight until Concepcion was reached, and here the old men and women were speedily sent north in ships, while the other inhabitants fled from the city in a panic, and started for Santiago by land. All their property was left, and the victors found a rich prize when they entered the city. Lantaro, after destroying the place, returned home, to be greeted with the acclamations of his people.
We must deal more rapidly with the remaining events of the boy hero's career. Some time after this defeat the Spaniards attempted to rebuild Concepcion, but while thus employed they were attacked and defeated by Lantaro, who pursued them through the open gates of their fortress and took possession of the stronghold, the people again fleeing to the woods and the ships in the harbor. Once more burning the city, Lantaro withdrew in triumph.
The “Chilian Hannibal," as Lantaro has been
with much justice called, now advanced against Santiago with six hundred picked men, as an aid to Caupolican in his siege of Imperial and Valdivia. Reaching the country of the Indian allies of the Spanish, the youthful general laid it waste. He then fortified himself on the banks of the Rio Claro and sent out spies into the country of the enemy. At the same time a body of Spanish horsemen were sent from the city to reconnoitre the position of their enemies, but they were met and driven back in dismay, being severely handled by the Araucanians. The news of their repulse filled the people of Santiago with consternation.
Villagrau being ill, he despatched his son Pedro against Lantaro, and ordered the roads leading to the city to be fortified. Young Pedro proved no match for his still younger but much shrewder opponent. When the Spaniards attacked him, Lantaro withdrew as if in a panic, the Spaniards following tumultuously into the fortifications. Once inside, the Indians turned on them and cut them down so furiously that none but the horsemen escaped.
Three times Pedro attacked Lantaro, but each time was repulsed. The young Spanish leader then withdrew into a meadow, while Lantaro encamped on a neighboring hill, with the design in mind of turning the waters of a mountain stream on Pedro's camp. Fortunately for the latter, a spy informed him of the purpose to drown him out, and he hastily retired to Santiago.
Villagrau had now got well again, and relieved his son of the task which had proved too much for him. At the head of a strong force, he took a secret route by the sea-shore, with the purpose of surprising the Araucanian camp. At daybreak the cries of his sentinels aroused Lantaro to the impending danger, and he sprang up and hurried to the side of his works to observe the coming enemy. He had hardly reached there when an arrow from the bow of one of the Spanish allies pierced him with a mortal wound, and the gallant boy leader fell dead in the arms of his followers.
A fierce combat followed, the works being stormed and the fight not ending till none of the Araucanians remained alive. The Spaniards then withdrew to Santiago, where for three days they cele·brated the death of their foe; while his countrymen, dismayed by his fall, at once abandoned the siege of the invested cities and returned home. .
A remarkable career was that of this young captain, begun at sixteen and ending at nineteen. History presents no rival to his precocious military genius, though in the centuries of war for independence in his country many older heroes of equal fame and daring arose for the defence of their native land against the Spanish foe.
DRAKE, THE SEA-KING, AND THE
At the end of October, 1578, Sir Francis Drake, the Sea-King of Devon, as he was called, and the most daring and persistent of the enemies of the Spanish settlements in America, sailed from Cape Horn, at the southern extremity of the continent, and steered northward into the great Pacific, with the golden realm of Peru for his goal. A year before he had left the harbor of Plymouth, Eng. land, with a fleet of five well-armed ships. But these had been lost or left behind until only the “Golden Hind,” a ship of one hundred tons burden, was left, the flag-ship of the little squadron. Of the one hundred and sixty men with whom he started only about sixty remained.
The bold Drake had previously made himself terrible to the Spaniards of Mexico and the West Indies, and had won treasure within sight of the walls of Panama. Now for the first time the foot of a white man trod the barren rocks of Cape Horn and the keel of an English ship cut the Pacific waves. Here were treasure-laden Spanish galleons to take and rich Spanish cities to raid, and the hearts of the adventurers were full of hope of a golden harvest as they sailed north into that unknown sea.