« AnteriorContinuar »
Spaniards, despite their great superiority of numbers, were utterly defeated, a great many being killed on the field and others in the panic of flight.
But the freebooters had lost heavily, and Panama, a city defended by walls and forts, remained to be taken. Morgan knew that success depended on taking instant advantage of the panic of the enemy, and he advanced without delay against the town. It was strongly defended with artillery, but the impetuous assault of the freebooters carried all before it, and after a three hours' fight the city was in their hands.
The scenes that followed were marked by the most atrocious ferocity and vandalism. The city was given up to indiscriminate pillage, attended by outrages of every kind, and in the end was set on fire by Morgan's orders and burned to the ground, much of its great wealth being utterly consumed through the sheer instinct of destruction.
Fortunately for the people of Panama, the majority of them had sought safety in flight, taking their women and all their portable wealth. In pursuit of those that had fled by water Morgan sent out a well-manned ship, which returned after a two days' cruise with three prizes. It also brought back news that a large galleon, deeply laden with treasure in gold and silver and carrying away the principal women of the town, with their jewels, had escaped. It was poorly manned and defended and for days Morgan made strenuous efforts to
discover and capture it, but fortunately this rich prize eluded his grasp.
For three weeks the freebooters occupied the site of the burned city, many of them engaged in searching the ruins for gold and silver, while some, who were discontented with the acts of their leader, conspired to seize the largest ship in the harbor and start on a piratical cruise of their own down the Pacific. This coming to Morgan's ears on the eve of its execution, he defeated it by causing the main-mast of the ship to be cut down, and afterwards by setting fire to all the ships in the harbor.
The return of the freebooters had its items of interest. The booty, consisting of gold, silver, and jewels, was laden on a large number of animals, beside which disconsolately walked six hundred prisoners, men, women, and children, Morgan refusing them their liberty except on payment of a ransom which they could not procure. Some of them succeeded in obtaining the ransom on the march, but the majority were taken to Chagres. From there they were sent in a ship to Porto Bello, a neighboring coast town, Morgan threatening that place with destruction unless a heavy ransom was sent him. The inhabitants sent word back that not a half-penny would be paid, and that he might do what he pleased. What he pleased to do was to carry out his threat of destroying the town.
The final outcome of this frightful raid remains to be told. It demonstrated that Morgan was as faithless to his companions as he was ferocious to
his victims. On their way back from Panama he ordered that every man should be searched and every article they had secreted be added to the general store. To induce them to consent he offered himself to be searched first. In the final division, however, of the spoil, which was valued at four hundred and forty-three thousand two hundred pounds weight of silver, he played the part of a traitor, many of the most precious articles disappearing from the store and the bulk of the precious stones especially being added by Morgan to his share.
This and other acts of the leader created such a hostile feeling among the men that a mutiny was imminent, to avoid which Morgan secretly set sail with his own and three other vessels, whose commanders had shared with him in the unequal division of the spoil. The fury of the remaining freebooters, on finding that they had been abandoned, was extreme, and they determined to pursue and attack Morgan and his confederates, but lack of provisions prevented them from carrying this into effect.
Meanwhile, events were taking place not much to the comfort of the freebooting fraternity. An English ship-of-the-line arrived at Jamaica with orders to bring home the governor to answer for the protection he had given "these bloodthirsty and plundering rascals," while the governor who succeeded him issued the severest orders against any future operations of the freebooters. From this time Morgan withdrew from his career
of robbery, content to enjoy the wealth which he had so cruelly and treacherously obtained. He settled in Jamaica, where he was permitted to enjoy in security his ill-gotten wealth. In fact, the British government showed its real sentiment concerning his career by promoting him to high offices and giving him the honor of knighthood. As a result this faithless and cruel pirate bore during the remainder of his life the distinction of being addressed as Sir Henry Morgan.
A DRAMA OF PLUNDER, MURDER,
A FAMOUS story of American history is that which tells of the massacre of the French settlers in Florida by the Spaniards of St. Augustine, and of the signal revenge taken on the murderers by the French chevalier Dominique de Gourgues. There is a parallel tale to tell about Brazil, not so full of the element of romance, yet for all that an interesting story and well worth the telling.
The great Portuguese colony of Brazil, like many of the Spanish colonies, was open to the attacks of buccaneers and of free lances of the seas bearing the flags of various countries of Europe. There was not an important port of the country, except its capital, Rio Janeiro, that escaped attack by hostile fleets, eager for spoil, during the seventeenth century, and early in the eighteenth Rio itself was made the victim of assault. A city of over twelve thousand people, and the gateway to a rich goldmining country in the rear, its wealth invited a visit from the prize-seekers, though the strength of its population and garrison long kept these away. Its turn for assault came in 1710.
In that year a squadron appeared in the waters outside the harbor on which the people looked with doubt. It flew the French flag, and that standard