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Armament of Francisco de Garay.


I HAVE already made mention of F. de Garay, who was governor of the Island of Jamaica. When he heard of the riches that had been acquired here by Diego Velasquez, and of the fertile countries which had been discovered, stimulated by his avarice, and encouraged by the reflection on his wealth and means, Garay was induced to try his fortune.

Having therefore sent for, and discoursed with Alaminos our principal pilot upon the subject, his account was so favorable that he determined on sending a confidential person one Juan de Torralva, to obtain from the Bishop of Burgos the government of the country about the river Panuco. His application having been successful he sent an armament of three ships, with two hundred and forty soldiers, under the command of Alonzo Alvarez Pinedo or Pineda, which was defeated by the Indians of Panuco, one ship only escaping, and joining us at Villa Rica.

Garay receiving no intelligence of his first armament, sent a second, which also arrived at our port; and having now expended much treasure, and learning the good fortune of Cortes, he was more than ever stimulated to make exertions. He therefore fitted out a fleet of thirteen ships, and embarked one hundred and thirty six cavalry, and eight hundred and forty foot soldiers, mostly musqueteers and crossbow-men. The fleet under his command sailed from Jamaica in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty three, on the day of St. John, and arri- 

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ved without any particular occurrence at a port called Xagua in the Island of Cuba. On his arrival here, he learned the news of Cortes having brought the province of Panuco under subjection, and that he had sent a petition to his Majesty to be appointed to the government of it. He was also told of the heroic actions of Cortes and his companions in arms, and of our having defeated Narvaez with only two hundred and seventy soldiers. He was therefore struck with awe at the power of our chief, and the more so when he was visited by the Licentiate Zuazo. One day discoursing with this gentleman on the fortunes of Cortes, he expressed his apprehensions of a difference between them relative to the government of Panuco, and requested that Zuazo would mediate with tortes in his favor, to which the other assented.

Shortly after this, Garay with his armament let out, and being forced by a storm into the river Palmas, he there disembarked and marched for Panuco. Knowing also that Cortes had made an establishment there, he thought it necessary to take an oath of fidelity from those under his command, and he nominated the officers requisite for the establishment of his colony, which he meant to name the city of Garayana.

Having advanced for two days march along the sea shore through an uninhabited and marshy country, he with his troops arrived at some villages, whole inhabitants received, and entertained them hospitably, but, many of the soldiers staying behind, robbed and injured the people. Garay continued his march and at length arrived at Panuco, which the troops had painted to themselves as the end of their labours, but were sadly undeceived by finding it almost a desert, for the war of Cortes had wasted it, or what remained was concealed on the approach of the Spaniards, who sound nothing but bare walls, where they were to sustain the attack of flies, and vermin of every description. One misfortune following another, he could get no intelligence from his fleet, but learned by a Spaniard who having committed some crime was a fugitive among the Indians, that it had not arrived at the port. The

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same person gave a very unfavorable account of the country of Panuco, enhancing that of Mexico, and this making a strong impression on the minds of Garay’s soldiers, they began to disband, and went towards Mexico, robbing the natives in their way.

All these things combined reduced Garay to a bad situation, and he lent one of his officers named Diego de Ocampo, to sound the disposition of the governor under Cortes in the colony of Santistevan, to whom he notified the appointment he had obtained from his Majesty. This officer answered Garay’s message politely, and returned a favorable answer as to their reception, requesting that the soldiers might not outrage the inhabitants; Pedro de Vallejo, for that was his name, at the same time sent an express to Cortes with Garay’s letter, and sollicited a strong reinforcement, or the presence of Cortes himself.

On the receipt of the intelligence from Vallejo, Cortes dispatched Fra Bartholome, Alvarado, Sandoval, and Gonzalo de Ocampo, brother to the person of that name who was with Garay, and entrusted to them the instructions he had received, whereby his Majesty’s pleasure was signified, that all his conquests should be left under his command, until the matters in dispute between him and Velasquez should be brought judicially to an issue.

I will now return to my relation of the steps taken by Garay, who advanced with his force into the neighbourhood of St. Estevan del Puerto. On receiving intelligence thereof, Vallejo concerted a plan with the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, and being guided by five deserters who told him that Garay’s troops were scattered negligently in a large town called Nacoplan, he came upon them by surprise, and made forty of them prisoners, assigning as a reason, their coming without producing any commission, and the outrages which they committed on the inhabitants. This being reported to Garay, he demanded the prisoners, threatening Vallejo with the vengeance of government. Vallejo replied, that when he saw his Majesty’s orders he would obey them with all

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humility, and requesting that they should be sent to him. At this moment the persons deputed by Cortes arrived, and Diego de Ocampo being at that time first alcalde under Cortes in Mexico, began to remonstrate against the entrance of Garay’s force into that country, and several days were passed in remonstrances and replies. During this time numbers of Garay’s soldiers deserted from him; thus he saw every day his force diminishing, and that of Cortes encreasing. From his fleet he had intelligence, that two of his ships had been lost in a tempest, and that the remainder, which were at the mouth of the river, had received and rejected a friendly invitation from Vallejo to remove higher up to a place of security, threatening at the same time, that in case of refusal he would consider them as pirates.

Vallejo continued secretly to negociate with the officers of the fleet, and having succeeded with two of them, they went to the ship of the commodore Juan de Grijalva, and informed him that he should either bring his vessel into the river, or quit the place entirely. To this Grijalva only answered by discharging his artillery, but on the receipt of certain letters from Alvarado and Fra Bartholome, accompanied with promises conveyed by a royal notary he was at last induced to accede to the first proposition. No sooner had he brought his ship into port than Vallejo declared all on board prisoners to his general Cortes; he was persuaded however by Fra Bartholome to give them their liberty, from motives of humanity, which as he said was the method of acting most agreeable to God and to Caesar.

The unfortunate Garay entreated the officers of Cortes to restore his ships, and to compel his troops to return to him, promising to give up his intended establishment, and make the best of his way to the river Palmas. This proposal was acceded to, and every measure taken to deliver up to him his deserters, though with little effect for the soldiers despised Garay, and as to the oath of service, they said that they had complied with it in coming to Panuco. Garay was then in the utmost despair, and finally agreed to adopt the measure advised by the officers of

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Cortes, in writing to that general, stating his situation, and praying his protection in consideration of their former intimacy. This request was acceded to by Cortes, who sent an invitation to him to come to Mexico. Garay set out upon his journey, and when he approached the city of Mexico, he was met by Cortes at the head of a number of Spanish gentlemen on horseback, who conducted him to his newly built palace, and having heard the detail of his distresses, he promised him redress, and referred the affair to Fra Bartholome, Alvarado, and Sandoval. Fra Bartholome, to bind Cortes and Garay in stronger ties of friendship proposed an alliance between the daughter of Cortes, named Donna Catalina Cortes or Pizarro, and the eldest son of Garay, who then held a command in his fleet. Cortes accepting the proposal gave his daughter a liberal fortune, adding an assent to Garay’s colonizing on the river of Palmas, and a promise to support the undertaking.

Garay was now induced to intercede with the general, and obtained permission for Narvaez to visit the Island of Cuba; for which favor Narvaez was very thankful, and took his leave of Cortes with many professions of gratitude and service. As to Garay and his expedition, both one and the other approached their end, for he, attending Cortes to early mattins, and having walked about the church, and eaten his breakfast, was suddenly seized with a pleurisy, which after a course of bleeding and purging was declared mortal. This was anounced to him by Fra Bartholome, who accompanied the fatal news with earnest exhortations to him, to advert to the state of his soul, and not lose that in the next world, as he had already thrown away his fortune in this. Garay was impressed by the arguments of the good father, and having confessed, and had the rites of the church administered, he made his will, leaving Cortes and Fra Bartholome his executors, and in four days from the time he was first seized he gave up the ghost. This we observe peculiarly to belong to the climate of these countries; that in four days pleurisies are fatal, of which we had many instances amongst our soldiers, both in Tezcuco and in Cuyoacan. However Garay being now dead, God pardon him his sins! amen. He received an honour- 

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able funeral, and Cortes and the other officers put themselves into mourning. Thus died Garay in a distant country, a strange house, and far from his wife and children. As to his armament, being now left without any head a competition arose for the command, between Juan de Grigalva, Gonzalo de Figueroa, Alonzo de Mendoza, Lorenzo de Alloa, Juan de Medina, Juan de Villa, Anthonio de la Cerda, and a certain Tobarda the most seditious fellow in the whole army. The young Garay however was ultimately made generals contrary to the inclination of every soldier; the consequence of which was, that they separated in small bodies of fifteen or twenty, and went through the country pillaging as if they had been amongst Moors. This enraging the Indians they laid a plot to cut, all the Spaniards off, which they so effectually executed, that in a few days they had sacrificed and eaten more than five hundred of Garay’s soldiers. In some towns upwards of a hundred Spaniards were sacrificed together. In other places they fell on and massacred these wanderers without resistance, and encouraged thereby, they rose against the settlement of St. Estevan in such numbers, that it was with great difficulty they could be kept out of it, nor Would they have been, but for seven or eight of the veterans of Cortes, who supported Vallejo, a brave man, and experienced officer. These gallant veterans induced many of Garay’s Spaniards to abide by them in. the open field, being obliged to fight three battles, in one of which Vallejo was killed, and many were wounded. So desperate did the Indians grow, that one night they killed and burned forty Spaniards and fifteen horses, and among the soldiers who were killed were several of those of Cortes.

When the general heard of these outrages he was exceedingly displeased, and determined to go in person to suppress them; but being at that moment prevented, having broken his arm by accident, he dispatched Gonzalo de Sandoval, with one hundred infantry, fifty cavalry, two pieces of artillery, and fifteen arcabusiers, to whom he joined eight thousand Mexicans and Tlascalans, with orders not to quit those dis-

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tricts until he had so completely subjugated them, as that it should not be in their power again to make disturbance. Sandoval was a man who did not sleep at night when on any business of importance; of course he made no delay upon his route, towards the enemy, who expected him in two narrow defiles, where they had concentrated the whole force of the refractory provinces. Sandoval on learning this divided his force into two bodies, and attacked each of these posts. The Indians resisted with their darts and arrows, whereby many of our soldiers were wounded, insomuch that he was obliged to halt the body which he commanded in that bad position, and send orders to his other detachment to do the fame for that night. The Indians retaining their first position, Sandoval recalled his detachment, and began his retreat towards Mexico. When the enemy perceived this, they thought themselves conquerors, and began to follow and surround the Spaniards from all parts, shouting at, and reviling them. This Sandoval seemed not to regard, but continued his retreat, by which having completely deceived them, he made a sudden countermarch at midnight, to gain the passes. This he effected, but not without the loss of three of his horses, and considerable danger to his whole army, many of whom were wounded. No sooner were his two columns clear of the defiles, than he perceived in front vast bodies of Indians, who had arrived there that very night, on hearing that he had countermarched. He therefore again brought his whole force into one body, and perceiving the desperation with which the Indians fought, and that they had actually wrested the lances out of the hands of six of his soldiers, while his cavalry was composed of men unused to such service, he gave them full instructions how to act, telling them not to halt to give thrusts, because the first thing that the Indian does when wounded is, to seize the lance. He farther directed, that if such a thing happened, the soldier should put spurs to his horse, and with the lance firmly grasped in his hand, and under his arm, wrest it from the enemy by the force of the horse. Having then placed watches, guards, and patroles, he gave orders that the cavalry should remain saddled all night, and the troops went to their re- 

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pose on the bank of a river. The Mexicans and Tlascalans were posted at a little distance, for Sandoval knew by experience, that if the enemy attacked him in the night, he would be little benefited by them.

As soon as daylight appeared, Sandoval put his army into march, but had hardly advanced half a mile when he heard the sound of the drums of the Indians, and he was shortly after fronted by three large bodies of their warriors, who attempted to surround him. As soon as Sandoval perceived this, he made an attack upon them with his cavalry in two squadrons with such spirit that he entirely broke and dispersed them. This was not however effected without the loss of two soldiers and three horses. Our allies then made considerable destruction, burning all before them, until the army arrived at St. Estevan del Puerto. The remains of this colony Sandoval found in a wretched state, and he was received as one who laved them from destruction, and the soldier of Garay who were there assured him, that the preservation of what remained was solely owing to our veterans. Sandoval then divided his cavalry, musqueteers, and crossbow-men, into different bodies, and placed them under the command of the veterans, with orders to carry on the war with vigour against the neighbouring Indians, and to send in what provisions they could collect, for he was unable to go out, in consequence of a bad wound. During three days his parties sent in number of prisoners of the lower class, together with five chiefs, the former of whom Sandoval released. He then gave out an order to his troops not to send in any but such as had been present at, or concerned, where the lives of Spaniards had been lost.

Sandoval now prepared for an expedition against the enemy, any on the day after, marched out with those troops which he had brought from Mexico, and by skilful measures succeeded in taking twenty caciques, who had commanded where no less than six hundred Spaniard had been put to death. Pursuing mild and severe measures at the same time, according to the circumstances, he summoned the neighbouring

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towns to a treaty of peace. Some acceded to his proposals, but others neglected to attend. With the latter he dissimulated, thinking it best not to notice their contumacy, and wrote to Cortes giving a full account of what he had done, and desiring to know how the prisoners should be disposed of. Cortes on receiving these satisfactory accounts appointed Sandoval to succeed Vallejo, as commandant at St. Estevan, and informed him, that for the sake of justice, and to prevent future mischief, it was necessary to punish with death those who had been any way concerned in, or who had abetted the murders of Spaniards, and he gave directions to the alcalde Diego de Ocampo, to take the necessary steps against them, with orders to execute such as should be legally condemned. He gave orders that every necessary measure also should be taken to conciliate the natives of that province, and that proper steps should be adopted to prevent any future outrages on the part of Garay’s troops. These letters, the contents of which were highly satisfactory to Sandoval having reached him, he proceeded conjointly with Ocampo to put the orders of Cortes into execution. In two days after their receipt they proceeded to the trial of those caciques who were accused, and many being found guilty by evidence, or their own confession, were put to death. Some were burnt and others hanged; many also were pardoned, and the districts were given to the children and heirs of such as suffered. These acts of justice being done, Ocampo in compliance with the farther instructions he had received from Cortes, proceeded against all those Spaniards who had committed outrages, robberies, or murders; or who, going through the country in bands, had invited other soldiers to desert to them; and having seized and colleted together these public disturbers, he caused them to embark for the Island of Cuba. To Juan de Grijalva Cortes offered the alternative of accepting a present of two thousand crowns, and a passage to Cuba, or if he preferred staying in the country, an honorable reception at Mexico; Grijalva and all the others were anxious however to return and accordingly they set sail for that island.

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Sandoval and Ocampo having thus cleared the colony of these troublesome inmates, returned to Mexico, leaving an officer of the name of Vallecillo governor of the settlement. On their arrival they were received by Cortes and every one there as their services merited, for a general apprehension prevailed of some misfortune occurring on that expedition. Such was the success of the measures pursued as I have above related, that there never was another insurrection in that province.

The reader has been told how the Licentiate Zuazo met with Garay in the Island of Cuba, and that the latter made pressing invitations to him to take a part in his expedition. Zuazo agreed to this proposal, and promised to follow, as soon as he could give up his office. Having effected this he embarked, taking with him two brothers of the order of mercy, Fra Gonzalo de Pontevedra, and Fra Juan de Varillas. These three persons pursuing their voyage, fell among some small islands named Las Viboras, very fatal to vessels. Here, they were obliged to throw overboard their provisions, and the pieces of pork attracted a number of sharks, one of which seized a sailor, and tore him to pieces, so that the whole water round them was discoloured with his blood. They were then obliged to run the vessel on shore, and in this situation they were left. Two Indians of Cuba who were with them had the art of obtaining fire by rubbing two dry sticks together; in the sand they found some brackish water, and a quantity of turtles came ashore to lay their eggs. Thus they obtained provisions sufficient to sustain thirteen persons. The tailors also contrived to kill the sea wolves which in the night were frequently found on the shore. Amongst the crew were two ship carpenters, who had preserved their working tools. Out of the wreck of the vessel they constructed a small sailing boat in which three mariners and one Indian embarked for New Spain, and made the port of Calchocuca in the river Vanderas. From thence they went to Medellin, and informing the governor of the situation in which, they had left the Licentiate, he sent a vessel in search of them. The vessel

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arrived at the island but Fra Gonzalo died a few days before. The rest, shortly arrived at Medellin; from whence they went to Mexico, where they had all reason to be satisfied with the reception they met with from Cortes, who made Zuazo his alcalde major.