The Cultures and History of the Americas: The Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress
The Buccaneers of America
Morgan Destroys the Spanish Fleet at Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
Morgan had all the buccaneers assemble in the market-place and read out the letter, first in English and then in French. Then he asked them how they felt—would they rather surrender their booty in order to gain a free passage, or would they fight for it? The buccaneers answered with one accord that they would rather fight till the death than hand over their spoils. They’d risked their lives for it once, and were ready to do so a second time.
One of the crowd came up to Morgan and said he would undertake to destroy the great ship, with only twelve men, in the following manner. They would make a fire-ship out of the ship they had captured in the lake, fitting her out like a man-of-war, with the flag flying. On the deck would stand logs of wood with caps on top, to look like the crew, and big hollow logs (the kind called negroes’ drums) would stick out of the ports to look like guns.
This suggestion was approved, considering their dire need, yet first Morgan wanted to see if he could not get some other concession from the Spanish general. He sent back a messenger with the following proposals: that the buccaneers would leave Maracaibo without doing any harm to the city by burning or other means, and without claiming any ransom; that they would give up half of the slaves, and set free all the prisoners without ransom; and that they would refrain from exacting the contribution for Gibraltar, which had still not been paid, and would let the hostages go free.
The Spanish general replied that he refused to consider such proposals, and that if they did not surrender upon conditions imposed by him within two days, he would destroy them by fire and sword. Upon receiving this answer, Morgan and his men instantly resolved to do everything they could to get out of the lake without surrendering their booty.
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