First To The South-Seas, Thence To The East-Indies, And Homewards By The Cape Of Good Hope. Begun In 1708, And Finish'd In 1711.


Chapter XI

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Dec.21. Pursuant to Yesterday's Agreement we made the best of our Way into the Harbour called by Sir Tho. Cavendish Port Segura, where the Marquiss was refitting; but having Calms most part of the Afternoon, and a Current setting to Leeward we rather lost than got ground. Towards Morning there Sprung up a Gale, and we found our selves to Leeward of the Port, tho'we took all Advantages of the Wind: But to our great and joyful Surprize about 9 a Clock the Man Mast-head cryed out be saw a Sail besides the Dutchess and Bark, bearing West half South of us, distant about 7 Leagues. We immediately hoisted our Ensign, and bore away after her, the Dutchess soon did the same; but it falling calm, I ordered the Pinnace to be manned and armed, and sent her away to make what she was: Some were of opinion it was the Marquiss come out of the Harbour, and to confirm this, said they could discern the Sail to have no Fore-top mast; so the Boat being not out of call, returned back, and we put a Gap in her for the Marquiss, then sent her away again, by which time it was Noon. The Cape then bore N. N. E. of us, distant about 5 Leagues.

Dec.22. We had very little Wind all Yesterday Afternoon; so that we neared the Ship very slowly, and the Boat not returning kept us in a languishing Condition, and occasioned several Wagers, whether it was the Marquiss or the Acapulco Ship. We kept sight of our Boat, and could not perceive her to go aboard the Ship, but made towards the Dutchess Pinnace who was rowing to them; they lay together some time, then the Dutchess's Boat went back to their Ship again, and ours kept dogging the Stranger, tho' at a good distance, which gave us great hopes that it was the Manila Ship. I sent Mr. Frye aboard the Dutchess in know what News, and if the Ship was not the Marquiss, to agree how to engage her. We then hoisted a French Ensign, and fired a Gun, which the Stranger answered. Mr. Frye returned with the joiful News that it was the Ship we had so impatiently waited for, and despaired of seeing her. We agreed the 2 Pinnaces should tend her all Night, and keep showing false Fires, that we might know whereabouts they and the Chase was; and if we were so fortunate to come up with her together, agreed to board her at once. We made a clear Ship before Night, had every thing in a Readiness to engage her at Day-break, and kept a very good Look-out all Night for the Boat's false Fires, which we law and answered frequently. At Day-break we saw the Chase upon our Weather-Bow, about a League from us, the Dutchess a-head of her to Leeward near about half as far. Towards 6 our Boat came aboard, having kept very near the Chase, all Night, and received no Damage, but told us the Dutchess passed by her in the Night, and she fired 2 Shot at them, but they returned none. We had no Wind, but got out 8 of our Ships Oars, and rowed above an Hour; then there sprung up a small Breeze. I ordered a large Kettle of Chocolate to be made for our Ship's Company (having no spiritous Liquor to give them;) then we went to Payers, and before we had concluded were disturbed by the Enemy's firing at us. They had Barrels hanging at each Yard-Arm, that looked like Powder Barrels, to deter us from boarding 'em. About 8 a Clock we began to engage her by our selves, for the Dutchess being to Leeward, and having little Wind, did not come up. The Enemy fired her Stern Chase upon us first, which we returned with our Fore Chase several times, till we came nearer, and when close aboard each other, we gave her several Broad-sides, plying our small Arms very briskly, which they returned as thick a while, but did not ply their great Guns half so fast as WE. After some time we shot a little a head of them, lay thwart her Hawse close aboard, and plyed them so warmly, that she soon Struck her Colours two thirds down. By this time the Dutchess came up, and fired about 5 Guns, with a Volley of small Shot, but the Enemy having submitted, made no Return. We sent our Pinnace aboard, and brought the Captain with the Officers away, and having examined 'em, found there was another Ship came out of Manila with them, of a bigger Burthen, having about 40 Brass Guns mounted, and as many Patereroes; but they told us they lost her Company 3 Months ago, and reckoned she was got Acapulco before this time, she sailing better than this Ship. This Prize was called by the long Name of Nostra Seniora de la Inearnacion Disenganio, Sir John Pichberty Commander; she had 20 Guns, 20 Patereroes, and 193 Men aboard, whereof 9 were killed, 10 wounded, and several blown up and burnt with Powder. We engaged 'em about 3 Glasses, in which time we had only my self and another Man wounded. I was shot thro' the Left Cheek, the Bullet struck away great pare of my upper Jaw, and several of my Teeth, part of which dropt down upon the Deck, where I fell; the other, Will. Powell, an Irish Land-man, was slightly wounded in the Buttock. They did us no great Damage in our Rigging, but a shot disabled our Mizen Mast. I was forced to write what I would say, to prevent the Loss of Blood, and because of the Pain I suffered by Speaking.

Dec. 23. After we had put our Ships to rights again, we stood in for the Harbour, which bore N. E. of us distant about 7 Leagues. Our Surgeons went aboard the Prize to dress the wounded Men.

Dec.24. About 4 Yesterday Afternoon we got to an Anchor in Port Segura in 25 Fathom Water, found the Marquiss in a sailing Posture, and all the Company much overjoyed at our unexpected good Fortune. In the Night I felt something clog my Throat, which I swallowed with much Pain, and suppose it is a part of my Jaw Bone, or the Shot, which we can't yet give an account of, I soon recovered my self; but my Throat and Head being very much swelled, have much ado to swallow any sort of Liquids for Sustenance. At 8 the Committee met aboard us, and agreed that the Dutchess and Marquiss should immediately go out, and cruize 8 Days for the other Ship, being in hopes she had not passed us; in the mean time we and the Prize to stay and refit, and dispatch the Prisoners away in the Bark, and if we could get Security from the Guiaquil Hostages for the Payment of the Remainder of the Ransom, to let 'em go likewise. We lie land-lockt from the E. by N. to the S.S.E. distant from the Eastermost Point about 4 Mile, from the Southermost Rock about half a Mile, and near the same Distance off Shore. The Committee we held resolved as follows.

On board the Duke riding in Port Segura on the Coast of California, Dec. 24. 1709.

Having Information from the Prisoners taken on board the Prize the 22d instant, bound from Manila to Acapulcothat they came out in company with another Ship bound for the fame Port, from which they parted in Lat. 39. N. It is resolved that Capt. Vourtney in the Dutchess, and Capt. Cooke in the Marquiss, do forthwith go out upon a Cruise for 8 Days, to look after the said Ship.

Signed by the Majority of the Council.

Capt. Courtney, Cooke, and their Officers of the Council, would not agree that the Duke and Dutchess should go out as I desired, with most of the Men belonging to the Marquiss divided between them, in order to cruise for the biggest Acapulco Ship, which we were in hopes had not passed us; and by being thus well manned, might if they meet her carry her by boarding at once, and that in the mean time the Marquiss with a very small number of Men might be sufficient to stay in the Port, and send off the Bark with the Prisoners.

But there having been some Reflections amongst the Sailors because the Dutchess did not engage this Prize before the Duke came up, it made them obstinate to cruize for her without us and the Officers of our Consorts being agreed, made the Majority of our Council; so that according to the foregoing Committee we were obliged to stay in the Harbour against our Will.

Dec.25. Last Night the Dutchess and Marquiss went out; We put 10 good Hands aboard the Dutchess, that if they should be so fortunate as to see the Great Ship, they might be the better able to attack her. In the Morning we began to put part of the Goods aboard the park into the Prize, in order to Tend the Prisoners away. Capt. Dover and Mr. Stretton, who were aboard the Prize, came to me, and we all agreed to send off the Guiaquil Hostages, the Captain of the Manila Ship (who was a French Chevalier) having given us 5 Bills of Exchange for the same, payable in London for 6000 Dollars, being 2000 more than the Ransom Money, for which we allowed him the Benefit of the Bark and Cargo, the Captain and Hostages giving us Certificates, that it was a Bargain concluded at their own Requests, and very much to their advantage. Sir John Pichberty being, we hope, a Man of Honour, will not suffer his Bills to be protested, since we have so generously trusted him, tho' a Prisoners, without a Hostage, which is always demanded for less Sums.

Dec.26. We placed two Gentries to keep a good Look-out upon the Top of a Hill, with Orders if they saw 3 Sail in the Offing, to make 3 Waffs with their Colours.

Dec.27. Yesterday Afternoon the Centrys made 3 Waffs, and we immediately sent the Yawl to them for better Satisfaction, and found there were 3 Sail out at Sea; upon which we immediately put all the Prisoners aboard the Bark, taking away her Sails, and fetched our Men aboard, leaving only 22 Hands belonging to us, aboard the Prize, to help refit and look after her. The Prisoners, who were about 170, being secured aboard our Bark, without Arms, Radder, Sails, or a Boat, and moared near a Mile from our Prize, a few more of our Men that was sufficient, to give them Victuals and Drink, might have guarded them very lately; yet for the more Security, we left a Lieutenant of each Ship, and the above Men well armed Aboard our Prize, and immediately weighed in order to go and assist our Consorts to attack the great Ship, which then came in sight. Capt. Dover thought fit to go on board the Prize, and exchange Posts with one of the Lieutenants that guarded the Prisoners, and send him to us in his stead. I was in so weak a Condition, and my Head and Throat so much swelled, that I yet spoke in great Pain, and hot load enough to be heard at any distance; so that all the rest of the chief Officers, and our Surgeons, would have perswaded me to stay in the Harbour in Safety aboard our Prize. We weighed our Anchors, and got under Sail by 7 a Clock: We saw Lights seweral times in the Night, which we took to be our Consorts Boats making false Fires. In the Morning at Day-break we saw 5 Sail to Windward of us; but were so far distant, that we could not make which were our Consorts, and which the Chase, till about 9 a Clock, when we saw the Dutchess and Chase near together, and the Marquiss standing to them with all the Sail she could crowd. We made what Sail we could, but were to Leeward of them 3 or 4 Leagues, and haying a scant Wind, made little Way. At Noon they bore S. E. of us, being right to Wind ward about 3 Leaguers.

In the Afternoon we saw the Marquiss come up with the Chase, and lay a considerable Time, which made us think she was some way or other disabled. I ordered the Pinnace to be manned, and sent her away to her, that if what we suspected proved true, and we had not Wind to get up with them before Night, our Boat might dog the Chase with Signals till the Morning, that she might not escape us and the other Ships; but before the Boat could get up with them, the Marquiss made sail and came up with the Chase, and both went to it again briskly for 4 Glasses and upwards: Then the Ship which we took to be the Dutchess stretched a head to Windward of the Enemy, I suppose to fix her Rigging, or stop her Leaks; mean while the other kept her in play till she bore down again, and each firing a Broad-side or two, left off, because 'twas dark: They then bore South of us, which was right in the Wind's Eye, distant about 2 Leagues. By Midnight we were pretty well up with them, and our Boat came aboard, having made false Fires, which we answered: They had been on board the Dutchess and Marquiss, and told me the former had her Foremast much disabled, and the Ring of an Anchor shot away, with several Men wounded, and one killed, having received a shot in their Powder Room, and several in their upper Works, but all stopt. They engaged the Ship by themselves the Night before, which was what we took to be the Boats Lights, being out of the hearing of the Guns, At that time they could perceive the Enemy was in disorder, her Guns hot being all mounted, and consequently their Netting-deck and Close-Quarters unprovided; so that had it been my good Fortune in the Duke to accompany the Dutchess, as I desired, we all believe we might then have carried this great Ship; or if they in the Dutchess had thought of taking most of the Men out the of the Marquiss, who did not sail well and enough to come up to their Assistance at first, they alone might very probably have taken her by Boarding at once, before the Spaniards had experienced our Strength, being afterwards so well provided, as encouraged them to lie driving, and give us all Opportunity to board them when we pleased Capt. Cooke sent me word, that the Marquiss had fired near all her shot and Powder, but had escaped very well both in Masts, Rigging and Men. I sent our Boat with 3 Barrels of Powder, and Shot in proportion, and Lieut. Frye, to consult our Consorts how to engage the Enemy to the best advantage at Break of Day. The Chase had made Signals to our Ship all the Day and Night, because the took us for her Consort, which we had in possession, and after 'twas dark had edged away to us, else I should not have been up with her, having very little Wind, and that against us. In the Morning as soon as 'twas Day, the Wind veering at once, put our Ship about, and the Chase fired first upon the Dutchess, who by means of the Wind's veering was nearest the Enemy; she returned it smartly: we stood as possible, firing as our Guns came to bear; but the Dutchess being by this time thwart the Spaniards Hawse, and firing very fast, those shot that missed the Enemy flew from the Dutchess over us, and betwixt our Masts, so that we ran the risque of receiving more Damage from them than from the Enemy, if we had lain on her Quarters and cross her Stern, as I desinged, while the Enemy lay driving. This forced us to lie along side, close aboard her, where we kept firing round Shot, and did not load with any Bar or Partridge, because the Ship's Sides were too thick to receive any Damage by it, and no Men appearing in sight, it would only have been a Clog to the Force of our Round Shot, We kept close aboard her, and drove as she did as near as possible. The Enemy kept to their close Quarters, so that we did not fire our Small Arms till we saw a Man appear, or a Port open; then we fired as quick as possible. Thus we continued for 4 Glasses, about which time we received a Shot in the Main Mast, which much disabled it; soon after that the Dutchess and we firing together, we came both close under the Enemy, and had like to have been all aboard her, so that we could make little use of our Guns. Then we fell a stern in our Birth along side, where the Enemy threw a Fire-ball out of one of her Tops, which lighting upon our Quarter-deck, blew up a Chest of Arms and Cartouch Boxes all loaded, and several Cartridges of Powder in the Steerage, by which means Mr. Vanbrugh, our Agent, and a Dutchman, were very much burnt; it might have done more Damage, had it not been quenched as soon as possible. After we got clear of each other, the Dutchess flood in for the Shore, where she lay braced to, mending her Rigging, etc. The Marquiss fired several Shot, but to little purpose, her Guns being small. We were close aboard several times afterwards, till at last we received a second Shot in the Main Mast not far from the other, which rent it miserably, and the Mast settled to it, so that we were afraid it would drop by the board, and having our Rigging Shattered very much, we sheered off, and brought to, making a Signal to our Consorts to consult what to do; in the interim we got ordinary Fishes for a port to the Main-mast, and fastened it as well as we got could to secure it at present. Capt. Courtney and Cape. Cooke came aboard with other Officers, where we considered the Condition the 3 Ships were in, their Masts and Rigging being much damified in a Place where we could get no Recruit, that if we engaged her again, we could propose to do no more than what we had already done, which was evident did her no great Hurt, because we could perceive few of our Shot entered her Sides to any purpose, and our Small Arms availed less, there being not a Man to be seen above-board; that the least thing in the World would bring our Main-mast, and likewise the Dutchess Fore-mast by the board, either of which by its Fall might carry away another Mast, and then we should lie a Battery for the Enemy, having nothing to command our Ships with, so that by his heavy Guns he might either sink or take us: That if we went to board her, we should run a greater hazard in losing a great many Men with little Hopes of Success, they having above treble the Number aboard to oppose us, and there being now in all our 3 Ships not above 120 good Men fit for boarding, and those but weak, having been very Short of Provisions a long time; besides we had the Disadvantage of a Netting-deck to enter upon, and a Ship every other way well provided; so that if we had boarded her, and been forced off, or left any of our Men behind, the Enemy by that means might have known our Strength, and then gone into the Harbour and took possession of the Prize in spright of all we could do to prevent it: Besides, our Ammunition was very short, having only enough to engage a few Glasses longer. All this being seriously considered, and knowing the Difficulty we should have to get Masts, and the Time and Provisions we must spend before we could get 'em sitted, it was resolved to forbear attempting her further, since our battering her signifyed little, and we had not Strength enough to board her: Therefore we agreed to keep her company till Night, then to lose her, and make the best of our way into the Harbour to secure the Prize we had already took. We engaged first and last about fix or seven Hours, during all which time we had aboard the Duke but eleven Men wounded, 3 of whom were scorched with Gun powder. I was again unfortunately wounded in the Left Foot with a Splinter just befor we blew up on the Quarter-deck so that I could not stand, but lay on my Back in a great deal of Misery part of my Heel-bone being struck out, and all wider my Ankle cut above half thro', which bled very much, and weakened me, before it could be dressed and stopt. The Dutchess had about 30 Men killed and wounded, 3 of the latter and one of the former were my Men. The Marquiss had none killed or wounded, but 2 scorched with Powder. The Enemy's was a brave lofty now Ship, the Admiral Manila, and this the first Voyage she had made; she was called the Begonia, of about 900 Tuns, and could carry 60 Guns, about 40 of which were mounted, with as many Patereroes, all Brass; her Complement of Men on board, as we informed, was above 450, besides Passengers. They added, that 150 of the Men on board this great Ship were European, several of whom had been formerly Pirates, and having now got all their Wealth aboard, were resolved to defend it to the last. The Gunner, who had a good Post in Manila, was an expert Man, and had provided the Ship extraordinary well for Defence, which made them sight so desperately; they had filled up all between the Guns with Bales to Secure the Men. She kept a Spnish Flag at her Main-top-mast Head all the time she fought us; we shattered her Sails and Rigging very much, shot her Mizon-yard, killed two Men out of her Tops, which was all the Damage we could see we did 'em; tho' we could not place less than 500 Shot (6 Pounders) in her Hull. These large Ships are bulk at Manila with excellent Timber, that will not splinter; they have very thick Sides, much stronger than we build in Europe. Whilst the Officers were aboard us, Capt. Courtney and others desired that what we had agreed upon might be put in Writing, and signed by as many as were present, to prevent false Reflections hereafter, which was done as follows.

At a Committee held on board the Duke, after we had engaged the bigger Manila Ship, December 27. 1709.

WE having considered the Condition of all our 3 Ships, and that our Masts are much damnified in engaging the Manila Ship, do think it for the Interest of the whole to forbear any further Attempts upon her having no Probability of taking her, but to do our endeavours to secure the Prize we have already took, which will be much more for the Honour and Interest of OUR selves and Country. This is our Opinion, in witness whereof we have set our Hands, the Day and Year above-written.

Woodes Rogers, Lan. Appleby, Stephen Courtney, Charles Pope, William Dampier, Henry Oliphant, Edw. Cook, Alex. Selkirk, Rob. Frye, John Connely, John Piller, John Bridge.

Thus ended our Attempt on the biggest Manila Ship, which I have heard related so many ways at home, that I thought it necessary to set down every particular Circumstance of it, as it stood in my Journal. Had we been together at first, and boarded her, we might probably have taken this great Prize; but after the Enemy had fixed her Netting-deck and close Quarters, they valued us very little. I believe also we might have burnt her with one of our Ships, but that was objected against by all the Officers, because we had Goods of Value on board all our 3 Ships. The Enemy was the better provided for us, because they heard at Manila from our English Settlements in India, that there were 2 small Ships fitted from Bristol, that designed to attempt them in the South Seas. This was told us by the Prisoners we took on board the other Ship.

When I proposed parting Companies at the Tres Marias, and to cruise for the Acapulco Ship from Manila with our Ship and Bark at one Station, and the Dutchess and Marquiss at another, we then expected but one Ship from Manila, and she not so well provided as the least Ship now was; tho' as we have found it, we might probably have been better asunder, for then I make little question but we should have got some Recruit of Provisions, and consequently our Men had been stronger and better in heart to have boarded this great Ship at once, before they had been so well provided; but since Providence or Fate will have it as it is, we must be content.

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