DECLINE OF BUCCANEERING.
THE EX-BANDIT BECOMES JUDGE MORGAN.
Among the judicial officers who, by their severity, rendered themselves a terror to evil-doers, was no less a personage than Henry Morgan, the ex-Bandit Chief, now Sir Henry Morgan, if you please. Having succeeded in persuading twelve hundred other thieves to join him in plundering Panama, and in robbing his confederates of almost all the booty taken, as already described, he escaped to England with the booty, and there, established in society as a man of vast wealth, he had been knighted by Charles II, and was consequently prepared to frown down all lawless attempts on the part of reckless adventurers to interfere with the sacred rights of property. His burning zeal in the interests of law and order commended him to the government as a proper person to promote peace and quiet in the West Indies, and so
Full of wise laws and modern instances,"
he reappeared in his former scene of action with wig and gown, as an English judge. The Buccaneers laughed when his appointment was announced, but soon found it was no gleeful matter, for as soon as he entered on the duties of his office, they ascertained that although he knew nothing of law, his ideas of justice were very clearly defined.
SAVAGE DESTRUCTION OF THE BUCCANEERS.
With such an abhorrence of crime in general, and especially of piracy, English Buccaneers who had the misfortune to be taken stood little show for their lives before the reformed demon of the main, Sir Henry. He gave them the benefit of no doubt. If they were taken with arms in their hands, that fact was sufficient for their conviction. No mercy was shown. To a prisoner who ventured to suggest that he and his judge had served together at Panama, His Lordship roared "Thinkest thou, wretch, I ever had companionship with such as thou art. The Henry Morgan thou knewest is dead. Sir Henry the judge, alone survives to mourn Henry the Buccaneer."
With no place to sell their plunder, with no home, for Tortuga had been taken and occupied by a French expedition, and with their former leader eager to efface the memory of his own crimes by hanging all his former associates he could lay his judicial hands on, the business of the English Buccaneers became a sorry one indeed. Many deserted the seas and took to the occupation of planting; others abandoned the West Indies for more favorable fields; others came to terms with the commanders of British vessels and regularly entered the service of the British navy, where, on account of their well-known bravery and excellent seamanship, they were very welcome; while others, loth to give up an occupation which, although fraught with danger, still possessed many charms for adventurous minds, relinquished their national prejudices and consorted with the filibusters, who still carried on business at the old stand, and who still at war with the English made so many descents on the coasts of Jamaica and carried off so much plunder and so many negroes that they called that island "Little Guinea."
There were several reasons why the filibusters were encouraged by the French for some years after the English had begun the suppression of the Buccaneers, but the principal one was found in the fact that France was so depleted, both of men and of money by the wars of La Grande Monarque, that troops could not be snared for the protection of the West Indian colonies, which were, therefore, forced to rely on the filibusters for security against the Spaniards. The same class, therefore, who were suppressed by the English as an international nuisance were encouraged by the French as a public benefit and the surest guarantee against Spanish invasion and conquest. In France, "Nos Filibusters" were popular heroes, and the French historians record with pride any achievement done by these "Knights of the Ocean Wave" as a matter of national congratulation.
While the peace of Ryswick was in negotiation an enterprise was undertaken by the French which proved to be the last important appearance of either Buccaneers or filibusters on the stage of history. The war with the Grand Alliance had gone against France to such an extent as greatly to shock the national pride and to close the war with a little plunder, as well as prestige, was necessary to recruit the finances and to maintain ,the profligate Louis' reputation for greatness, a reputation, which by the way, was his chief stock in trade for carrying on the business of a reigning monarch with proper dignity and success: The object proposed was to fit out a French fleet which should make a descent on some port of Spain in the New World, secure a large booty and then let the curtain fall on a disastrous war with a blaze of red fire and a burst of triumphant music from the band.
THE CARTAGENA EXPEDITION.
There being little money, however, available for such a purpose, the treasury being empty by the long continued wars of Louis XIV., popular subscriptions were called for, and a considerable sum, quite enough to fit out the necessary naval force, was raised by leading capitalists, bankers and noblemen. On their part the matter was a speculation, the funds being furnished with the understanding that the booty was to be divided among them proportionately to the advances they made, while the possibility of loss was of course not contemplated.
The profitable nature of raids on the Spanish main being well known, the subscribers were liberal, and the result was one of the largest fleets which France had ever sent to the New World. The command was given to Monsieur de Pointis, an old sailor, a commander of experience and of high reputation, and by him a commission was sent to Monsieur de Casse, the governor of the French settlements in Hispaniola (Hayti), to raise at least twelve hundred men to co-operate in the undertaking. When the fleet arrived in the West Indies and the filibusters saw the man with whom they had to deal, their dissatisfaction with his haughtiness and lack of condescension was so great that they hesitated about joining the expedition. They were accustomed to the free and easy ways of their own leaders, who at best were only temporarily in command, and when off duty were of no higher rank than their fellows, and the lack of discipline among the freebooters very ill-prepared them for submitting to the stern exercise of authority by a martinet admiral.
But though they grumbled greatly at the airs which Monsieur de Pointis and his officers gave themselves, they finally concluded to co-operate with the French fleet, for such was its strength that they anticipated great booty as a result of its operations. So they did not relinquish what they deemed a permanent and solid advantage for the few haughty words of the French commander-in-chief. They did not know where they were going, but felt satisfied that on whatever point the attack was made, material advantage would result to themselves from the assistance of the French force.
AGREEMENT FOR DIVIDING THE PLUNDER.
But before definitely consenting to join the expedition, they insisted that an exact agreement should be entered into with reference to the division of the booty, desiring to know what share of it would fall to themselves. On this point there was much discussion, for as de Pointis considered himself the only person of authority in the whole command, he was strongly inclined to give them no satisfaction, and to compel them to be content with whatever he should allot. To this, however, they would by no means agree, and after much discussion an understanding was finally reached, that filibusters and colonists should share equally man for man with the men of the French fleet. This matter was no sooner settled than another difficulty arose, this time between de Pointis and de Casse. The latter, since he had furnished so large a proportion of the force, decided that he himself would accompany his men as their commander, and wished to be informed what rank he would hold in the expedition. In his opinion, as the filibusters and colonists formed a large part of the available fighting force, their leader should rank equally with the admiral of the fleet, but to this de Pointis would by no means consent, and de Casse finally accompanied the expedition with the rank of captain of a ship, for discontented as he was, he was unwilling to be left behind, and hoping to share equally in the glory and in the plunder, accompanied his men.
It was settled that the filibusters should go in their own ships and should provide themselves with six weeks' rations, and before starting a grand review was held of all the available force in order that none but able-bodied men should be taken. During the course of this parade it was discovered that a considerable party of negroes desired to join the expedition, and a special clause was inserted in the plunder agreement for this part of the force. The free negroes were to be counted as sharing equally with the whites in the division of the spoils, while the portions of slaves were to go to their masters. Copies of the agreement were posted up in public places at Petit Goave, that all might be informed as to its particulars. Copies were also deposited with, leading officials of the colony, the Admiral taking one, Monsieur de Casse another, and one was sent to France.
The point of attack had not yet been determined. The colonists and filibusters voted for San Domingo on account of its nearness and the benefit the colonies would derive from the expulsion of the Spaniards from Hispaniola, but San Domingo was not rich enough to suit the Admiral, and as plunder was the leading object, Cartagena, on the north coast of South America, in what is now Colombia, was finally selected.
A SERIOUS ROW PRECIPITATED BY A DRUNKEN MAN.
All was now in readiness, but on the point of departure the inopportune drunkenness of one of the filibusters precipitated a difficulty which nearly broke up the expedition. De Pointis, assuming that as he was commander-in-chief his authority extended over the land of the French colonies as well as over the sea, had taken possession of a font in Petit Goave and had garrisoned it with his own men. The day before the fleet was to sail, a drunken filibuster staggering along the road leading into the fort was stopped by the sentinel. Angry at the interruption he sprang upon the man and attempted to take his gun. The sentinel resisted, and unwilling to shoot the freebooter, knocked him down with the butt of his musket, at the same time calling for the guard. Responding to the sentinel's shouts, the petty officer turned out with three or four men and in a twinkling the drunken freebooter was dragged into the fort, put in irons and thrown into the guard-house. The affray was witnessed by several of the comrades of the drunken man, who at once ran to the camp and spread the report that de Pointis' dandies, as the filibusters called his men, were killing a colonist. In a moment the camp of the freebooters was in an uproar. Without waiting for orders, they seized their arms and ran to the fort to attack it and to secure the release of their comrade. Seeing so disorderly a mob, armed to the teeth, rushing up the hill, the soldiers of the garrison closed the gates, ran out two pieces of artillery, and set their arms ready to resist any attack that might be made. While the filibusters were on their way, word was brought to de Casse and de Pointis, who chanced to be very near the scene of the affray, Knowing the serious results that might follow a conflict of this kind, they both rushed in, one imploring the freebooters to desist, the other ordering the garrison not to fire. With much difficulty the enraged filibusters were finally dissuaded from their intention, and the matter was compromised, the drunken freebooter being released, and the officer who put him in irons was sent on board one of the ships under arrest.
On April 3d, 1697, the fleet sailed from Petit Goave for Cartagena. It was a formidable array. Seven men-of-war of the first class led the way, followed by eleven frigates and over forty smaller vessels, the force on board consisting of seven hundred filibusters, one hundred and seventy soldiers from the French garrisons, and three hundred and thirty volunteer colonists and negroes, altogether about twelve hundred men from the garrisons, which, with the crews of the ships, made the total force over five thousand, five hundred and fifty.
THE ATTACK ON CARTAGENA.
Cartagena was sighted on April 13th, but two days were spent in endeavoring to make a landing. The city was found to be approachable only by the lake, and the only entrance to this was by Bocca Chica, which was defended by a strong Spanish fort. A heavy cannonade was carried on for several hours, and under cover of the guns of the fleet a landing was finally effected by a corps of eighty negroes. After these had secured a strong position along a line of hills near the fort and had driven back the Spaniards from their outer works, a body of filibusters landed and took the water fort by storm.
To the east of the city of Cartagena, and commanding all the land approaches, there was a high hill crowned by the church of Nuestra Signum de la Poupa. In the church and the convent adjoining, the Spaniards had extemporized a fortification, the outer works of which extended a considerable distance down the hill, and presented a most formidable barrier to the progress of an enemy. Beneath the hill on the side furthest from the sea, the French from their ships could observe the inhabitants of the city moving out in large numbers, and taking with them wagons and pack animals which no doubt bore away the property of the Spaniards beyond the reach of successful pursuit. In order to prevent this general exodus, which if continued promised to lose to the besiegers all the expected booty, the French admiral assigned the Buccaneers to the dangerous task of scaling the hill and capturing its fortifications. No regular troops either of the land or from the ships were sent along, and the impression at once gained ground, among both colonists and filibusters, that de Pointis was desirous of sparing his own men, and esteeming the lives of the freebooters of no consequence, did not care how many of them were killed. Though greatly dissatisfied, they entered gallantly upon the required service, carried the hill by an assault that awoke the admiration of the French, and thus completely invested the city both by sea and land.
Still the Spaniards were not without resources. Although their condition seemed almost hopeless, they kept up a desperate resistance, raised new barriers to take the place of the outer works captured by the filibusters, and fought so desperately that it was not until May 3d that the city capitulated. Even then they did not surrender without securing for themselves terms of capitulation, though these were only such as would be granted by robbers to their victims. All public effects were to be given up, and all moneys delivered over. The inhabitants were free to go or stay as they pleased, but those who went must, before leaving the city, deliver all their property of whatever nature to their conquerors, while those who remained were to declare what money and valuables they possessed, no matter of what nature, and upon giving up half were allowed to retain the remainder, but all churches and convents were to be respected.