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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Kerr Robert

«A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol.IV», Robert Kerr











Twelve months have now elapsed since the first half volume of this work was offered to the public. The favourable reception it has experienced gives the Editor reason to hope that he has fulfilled the engagements which he came under at its first appearance, and is a powerful inducement to continue his utmost exertions to preserve and improve the character of the work. In the four volumes which are now published, several extensive and important original articles are introduced, which have not hitherto appeared in any similar collection, and had not even been previously translated into English. These materially contribute towards the ample information which was formerly announced, in the Preface to the first Volume, as a leading object in this Collection. In the subsequent parts of the work, every effort shall be made to fill up its several divisions with original articles of similar interest and equal importance.

Encouraged by a satisfactory and increasing sale, the progress of publication has been somewhat hastened, beyond what was originally promised in the Prospectus and Conditions; as the whole of the fourth Volume is now published, at the period when only its first half was to have appeared. It is intended to repeat this anticipation occasionally, by the publication of two numbers or half-volumes at once, when opportunity offers. While this may gratify one portion of our readers, it is not meant to preclude others from continuing to be supplied, as before, with the numbers or half volumes at regular intervals, in their own option.

EDINBURGH, 1st Jan, 1812.

(Illustration: Viceroyalty of Mexico Published 1 Jan'y 1812 by W'm Blackwood Edin'r.)








SECTION VI. The Spaniards commence their March to Mexico; with an account of the War in Tlascala, and the submission of that Nation

Everything being in readiness for our march to Mexico, we were advised by our allies of Chempoalla to proceed by way of Tlascala, the inhabitants of that province being in friendship with them and constantly at war with the Mexicans; and at our requisition, we were joined by fifty of the principal warriors of the Totanacas[?], who likewise gave us 200 tlamama, or men of burden, to draw our guns and to transport our baggage and ammunition[?]. Our first day's march on the 16th of August 1519, was to Xalapan, and our second to Socochima, a place of difficult approach, surrounded by vines. During the whole of this march, the main body was kept in compact order, being always preceded by an advance of light infantry, and patroles of cavalry. Our interpreters informed the people of this place, that we were subjects of the great emperor Don Carlos, who had sent us to abolish human sacrifices and various other abuses; and as these people were allies of Chempoalla and independent of Montezuma, they treated us in a friendly manner. We erected a cross at this place, explaining its signification and giving them information of many things belonging to our holy faith, and exhorting them to reverence the cross. From this place we proceeded by a difficult pass among lofty mountains to Texotla, the people of which place were well disposed to us, as they also paid no tribute to Montezuma. Continuing our march through desert lofty mountains, we experienced excessive cold, with heavy falls of hail, and came next day to a pass, where there were some houses and large temples, and great piles of wood intended for the service of the idols. Provisions were scarce during the two last days, and we now approached the confines of the Mexican empire, at a place called Xocotlan; to the cacique of which place Cortes sent a message informing him of our arrival. The appearance of this place evinced that we were entering upon a new and richer country. The temples and other buildings were lofty, with terraced roofs, and had a magnificent appearance, being all plastered and white-washed, so as to resemble some of our towns in Spain; on which account we called this place Castel blanco.

In consequence of our message, the cacique and other principal persons of the town came out to meet us, and conducted us to our quarters, where they gave us a very poor entertainment. After supper, Cortes inquired respecting the military power of Montezuma, and was told that he was able to bring prodigious armies into the field. The city of Mexico was represented as of uncommon strength, being built on the water, with no communication between the houses, houses, except by means of boats or bridges, each house being terraced, and only needing the addition of a parapet to become a fortress. The only access to the city was by means of three causeways or piers, each of which had four or five apertures for the passage of the waters, having wooden bridges which could be raised up, so as to preclude all access. We were likewise informed of the vast wealth possessed by Montezuma, in gold, silver, and jewels, which filled us with astonishment; and although the account we had already received of the military resources of the empire and the inaccessible strength of the capital might have filled us with dismay, yet we were eager to try our fortunes. The cacique expatiated in praise of Montezuma, and expressed his apprehension of having offended him by receiving us into his government without his leave. To this Cortes replied, That we had come from a far distant country by command of our sovereign, to exhort Montezuma and his subjects to desist from human sacrifices and other outrages; adding: "I now require all who hear me, to renounce your inhuman sacrifices, cannibal feasts, and other abominable customs; for such is the command of GOD, whom we adore." The natives listened to all this in profound silence, and Cortes proposed to the soldiers to destroy the idols and plant the holy cross, as had been already done at Chempoalla; but Father Olmedo recommended that this should be postponed to a fitter opportunity, lest the ignorance and barbarism of the people might incite them to offer indignity against that holy symbol of our blessed religion.

We happened to have a very large dog along with us, which belonged to Francisco de Lugo, which used to bark very loud during the night, to the great surprise of the natives, who asked our Chempoallan allies if that terrible animal was a lion or tiger which we had brought to devour them. They answered that this creature attacked and devoured whoever offended us; that our guns discharged stones which destroyed our enemies, and that our horses were exceedingly swift and caught whoever we pursued. On this the others observed that with such astonishing powers we certainly were teules. Our allies also advised them to beware of practising any thing against us, as we could read their hidden thoughts, and recommended them to conciliate our favour by a present. They accordingly brought us several ornaments of much debased gold, and gave us four women to make bread, and a load of mantles. Near some of the temples belonging to this place I saw a vast number of human skeletons arranged in such exact order that they might easily be counted with perfect accuracy, and I am certain there were above an hundred thousand. In another part immense quantities of human bones were heaped up in endless confusion. In a third, great numbers of skulls were suspended from beams, and watched by three priests. Similar collections were to be seen everywhere as we marched through this district and the territories of Tlascala.

On consulting the cacique of Xocotla respecting the road to Mexico, he advised us to go through Cholula; but our allies strongly dissuaded us from that route, alleging that the people were very treacherous, and that the town was always occupied by a Mexican garrison, and repeated the former advice of going by Tlascala, assuring us of a friendly reception there. Cortes accordingly sent messengers before us to Tlascala announcing our approach, and bearing a crimson velvet cap as a present. Although these people were ignorant of writing, yet Cortes sent a letter by his messengers, as it was generally understood to carry a sanction of the message which was to be delivered. We now set out for Tlascala, in our accustomed order of march, attended by twenty principal inhabitants of Xocotla. On arriving at a village in the territory of Xalacingo[?], where we received intelligence that the whole nation of the Tlascalans were in arms to oppose us, believing as to be in alliance with their inveterate enemies the Mexicans, on account of the number of Mexican subjects who attended our army. So great was their suspicion on this account, that they imprisoned our two messengers, for whose return we waited two days very impatiently. Cortes employed the time in exhorting the Indians to abandon their idolatry and to reconcile themselves to our holy church. At the end of these two days, we resumed our march, accompanied by two of the principal people of this place whom Cortes demanded to attend us, and we soon afterwards met our messengers who had made their escape, either owing to the negligence or connivance of their guards. These messengers were in extreme terror, as the people of Tlascala threatened to destroy us and every one who should adhere to us. As a battle was therefore to be expected, the standard was advanced to the front, and Cortes instructed the cavalry to charge by threes to the front, never halting to give thrusts with their lances, but urging on at speed with couched lances levelled at the faces of the enemy. He directed them also, when their lance was seized by the enemy, to force it from them by the efforts of the horse, firmly grasping the butt under the arm. At about two leagues from the last resting-place, we came to a fortification built of stone and lime, excellently constructed for defence, and so well cemented that nothing but iron tools could make an impression on it. We halted for a short time to examine this work, which had been built by the Tlascalans to defend their territory against the incursions of their Mexican enemies; and on Cortes ordering us to march on, saying, "Gentlemen follow your standard the holy cross, through which we shall conquer;" we all replied, "Forward in the name of God, in whom is our only confidence."

After passing this barrier some distance, our advanced guard descried about thirty of the Tlascalan troops, who had been sent to observe us. Cortes sent on the cavalry to endeavour to take some of these men prisoners, while the infantry advanced at a quick pace to support the advanced guard. Our cavalry immediately attacked, but the Tlascalans defended themselves bravely with their swords, wounding some of the horses severely, on which our people had to kill five of them, but were unable to make any prisoners. A body of three thousand warriors now sallied out upon us with great fury from an ambush, and began to discharge their arrows at our cavalry; but as our artillery and musquetry were now ready to bear upon them, we soon compelled them to give way, though in a regular manner, and fighting as they retreated; leaving seventeen of their men dead on the field; and one of our men was so severely wounded as to die a few days after. As the day was near a close, we did not attempt any pursuit; but continued our march, in which we soon descended from the hills into a flat country, thickly set with farm-houses, among fields of maize and the Maguay plant. We halted for the night on the banks of a brook, where we dressed our wounds with the grease of a fat Indian who was slain in the skirmish; and though the natives had carried away all their provisions, we caught their dogs when they returned at night to the houses, and made a comfortable supper of that unusual fare. Next day, after recommending ourselves to God, we resumed our march against the Tlascalan army; both cavalry and infantry being duly instructed how to act when we came to battle; the cavalry to charge right through, and the infantry to preserve a firm array. We soon fell in with the enemy, to the number of about 6000 men in two bodies, who immediately attacked us with great spirit, discharging their arrows, shouting, and sounding their martial instruments. Cortes halted the army, and sent three prisoners to demand a peaceable conference, and to assure them we wished to treat them as brothers; ordering at the same time the notary Godoy, to witness this message officially. This message had no effect, as they attacked us more fiercely than before, on which Cortes gave the word, St Jago, and on them. We accordingly made a furious onset, slaying many with the first discharges of our artillery, three of their chiefs falling on this occasion. They now retreated to some uneven ground, where the whole army of the state of Tlascala, 40,000 in number, were posted under cover, commanded by Xicotencatl, the general in chief of the republic. As the cavalry could not act in this uneven ground, we were forced to fight our way through as well as we were able in a compact column, assailed on every side by the enemy, who were exceedingly expert archers. They were all clothed in white and red, with devices of the same colours, being the uniform of their general. Besides the multitudes who discharged continual flights of arrows, many of them who were armed with lances closed upon us while we were embarrassed by the inequality of the ground; but as soon as we got again into the plain, we made a good use of our cavalry and artillery. Yet they fought incessantly against us with astonishing intrepidity, closing upon us all around, so that we were in the utmost danger at every step, but God supported and assisted us. While closely environed in this manner, a number of their strongest warriors, armed with tremendous two-handed swords, made a combined attack on Pedro de Moron, an expert horseman, who was charging through them accompanied by other three of our cavalry. They seized his lance and wounded himself dangerously, and one of them cut through the neck of his horse with a blow of a two-handed sword, so that he fell down dead. We rescued Moron from the enemy with the utmost difficulty, even cutting the girths and bringing off his saddle, but ten of our number were wounded in the attempt, and believe we then slew ten of their chiefs, while fighting hand to hand. They at length began to retire, taking with them the body of the horse, which they cut in pieces, and distributed through all the districts of Tlascala as a trophy of victory. Moron died soon after of his wounds, at least I have no remembrance of seeing him afterwards. After a severe and close conflict of above an hour, during which our artillery swept down multitudes out of the numerous and crowded bodies of the enemy, they drew off in a regular manner, leaving the field to us, who were too much fatigued to pursue. We took up our quarters, therefore, in the nearest village, named Teoatzinco, where we found numbers of subterraneous dwellings. This battle was fought on the 2d September 1519. The loss of the enemy on this occasion was very considerable, eight of their principal chiefs being slain, but how many others we know not, as whenever an Indian is wounded or slain, he is immediately carried off by his companions. Fifteen of them were made prisoners, of whom two were chiefs. On our side fifteen men were wounded, one only of whom died. As soon as we got clear of the enemy, we gave thanks to God for his merciful preservation, and took post in a strong and spacious temple, where we dressed our wounds with the fat of Indians. We obtained a plentiful supply of food from the fowls and dogs which we found in the houses of the village, and posted strong guards on every side for our security.

We continued quietly in the temple for one day, to repose after the fatigues of the battle, occupying ourselves in repairing our cross-bows, and making arrows. Next day Cortes sent out seven of our cavalry with two hundred infantry and all our allies, to scour the country, which is very flat and well adapted for the movements of cavalry, and this detachment brought in twenty prisoners, some of whom were women, without meeting with any injury from the enemy, neither did the Spaniards do any mischief; but our allies, being very cruel, made great havoc, and came back loaded with dogs and fowls. Immediately on our return, Cortes released all the prisoners, after giving them food and kind treatment, desiring them to expostulate with their companions on the madness of resisting our arms. He likewise released the two chiefs who had been taken in the preceding battle, with a letter in token of credence, desiring them to inform their countrymen that he only asked to pass through their country in his way to Mexico. These chiefs waited accordingly on Xicotencatl, whose army was posted about two leagues from our quarters, at a place called Tehuacinpacingo, and delivered the message of Cortes. To this the Tlascalan general replied, "Tell them to go to Tlascala, where we shall give them peace by offering their hearts and blood to our gods, and by feasting on their bodies." After what we had already experienced of the number and valour of the enemy, this horrible answer did not afford us much consolation; but Cortes concealed his fears, and treated the messengers more kindly than ever, to induce them to carry a fresh message. By inquiry from them he got the following account of the number of the enemy and of the nature of the command enjoyed by its general. The army now opposed to us consisted of the troops or quotas of five great chiefs, each consisting of 10,000 men. These chiefs were Xicotencatl the elder, father to the general, Maxicotzin, Chichimecatecle, Tecapaneca cacique of Topeyanco, and a cacique named Guaxocinga[?]. Thus 50,000 men were now collected against us under the banner of Xicotencatl, which was a white bird like an ostrich with its wings spread out[?]. The other divisions had each its distinguishing banner, every cacique bearing these cognizances like our Spanish nobles, a circumstance we could not credit when so informed by our prisoners. This formidable intelligence did not tend to lessen the fears which the terrible answer of Xicotencatl had occasioned, and we prepared for the expected battle of the next day, by confessing our sins to our reverend fathers, who were occupied in this holy office during the whole night[?].

On the 5th of September, we marched out with our whole force, the wounded not excepted, having our colours flying and guarded by four soldiers appointed for that purpose. The crossbow-men and musketeers were ordered to fire alternately, so that some of them might be always loaded: The soldiers carrying swords and bucklers were directed to use their points only, thrusting home through the bodies of the enemy, by which they were less exposed to missile weapons; and the cavalry were ordered to charge at half speed, levelling their lances at the eyes of the enemy, and charging clear through without halting to make thrusts. We had hardly marched half a quarter of a league, when we observed the whole army of the enemy, covering the plain on every side as far as the eye could reach, each separate body displaying its particular device or standard, and all advancing to the sound of martial music. A great deal might be said of this tremendous and long doubtful battle, in which four hundred of us were opposed to prodigious hosts, which surrounded us on every side, filling all the plains to the extent of two leagues. Their first discharges of arrows, stones, and double-headed darts covered the whole ground which we occupied, and they advanced continually till closed upon us all around, attacking us with the utmost resolution with lances and two-handed swords, encouraging each other by continual shouts. Our artillery, musketry, and cross-bows plied them with incessant discharges, and made prodigious havoc among the crowded masses of the enemy, and the home thrusts of our infantry with their swords, prevented them from closing up so near as they had done in the former battle. Yet with all our efforts, our battalion was at one time completely broken into and separated, and all the exertions of our general was for some time unable to get us again into order; at length, however, by the diligent use of our swords, we forced them from among us, and were able again to close our ranks. During the whole battle our cavalry produced admirable effects, by incessant charges through the thickest of the enemy. We in some measure owed our safety, under God, to the unwieldy multitude of the enemy, so that some of the divisions could never get up to the attack. One of the grand divisions, composed of the warriors dependant on Guaxocinga, was prevented from taking any share in the battle by Chichemecatecle[?], their commander, who had been provoked by some insulting language by Xicotencatl respecting his conduct in the preceding engagement, of which circumstance we received information afterwords. The circumstance of these divisions not joining in the battle, slackened the ardour of the rest, more especially after they had experienced the terrible effects of our cavalry, artillery, and other offensive weapons; and one of their greatest chiefs being killed, they at length drew off from the fight, and were pursued to a short distance by our cavalry. In this great battle, one only of our soldiers was killed, but seventy men and all our horses were wounded. I had two wounds, one by an arrow and the other by a stone, but they were not sufficient to make me unfit for duty. Thus again masters of the field, we gave thanks to God for his merciful preservation, and returned to our former post, first burying our dead companion in one of the subterraneous houses, which was filled up and levelled, that his body might not be discovered by the enemy. We passed the ensuing night in a most comfortless situation, not being able to procure even oil and salt, and exposed to excessive cold winds from the snowy mountains.

Cortes sent a fresh message by three of our prisoners and those who had carried his former message, demanding a free passage to Mexico, and threatening to destroy the whole country in case of refusal. On their arrival at Tlascala, they found the chiefs much cast down at their repeated losses, yet unwilling to listen to our proposals. They sent for their priests and wizards, who pretended to foretel future events by casting lots, desiring them to say if the Spaniards were vincible, and what were the best means of conquering us; likewise demanding whether we were men or superior beings, and what was our food. The wizards answered, that we were men like themselves, subsisting upon ordinary food, but did not devour the hearts of our enemies as had been reported; alleging that though invincible by day, we might be conquered at night, as we derived all our power from the influence of the sun. Giving credit to this response, Xicotencatl received orders to make an immediate attack on our quarters during the night. He marched accordingly with ten thousand warriors, and made a night attack on our post in three places at once: But our outposts kept too good guard to be taken by surprise, and we were under arms in a moment to receive them. They met with so warm a reception, that they were soon forced to turn their backs; and as it was clear moon-light, our cavalry pursued them with great effect, so that they returned to their camp heartily repenting of their night attack; insomuch that it was reported they sacrificed two of their priests for deceiving them to their hurt. In this action one only of our allies was killed, and two Spaniards wounded; but our situation was far from consolatory. Besides being dreadfully hard harassed by fatigue, we had lost fifty-five of our soldiers from wounds, sickness, and severity of the weather, and several were sick. Our general and Father Olmedo were both ill of fevers: And we began to think it would be impossible for us to reach Mexico, after the determined resistance we had experienced from the Tlascalans.

In this extremity several of the officers and soldiers, among whom I was one, waited on Cortes, and advised him to release his prisoners and to make a fresh offer of friendship with the Tlascalans through these people. He, who acted on all occasions like a good captain, never failing to consult with us on affairs of importance, agreed with our present advice, and gave orders accordingly. Donna Marina, whose noble spirit and excellent judgment supported her on all occasions of danger, was now of most essential service to us, as indeed she often was; as she explained in the most forcible terms to these messengers, that if their countrymen did not immediately enter into a treaty of peace with us, that we were resolved to march against their capital, and would utterly destroy it and their whole nation. Our messengers accordingly went to Tlascala, where they waited on the chiefs of the republic, the principal messenger bearing our letter in one hand, as a token of peace, and a dart in the other as a signal of war, as if giving them their choice of either. Having delivered our resolute message, it pleased GOD to incline the hearts of these Tlascalan rulers to enter into terms of accommodation with us. The two principal chiefs, named Maxicatzin and Xicotencatl the elder[?], immediately summoned the other chiefs of the republic to council, together with the cacique of Guaxocingo the ally of the republic, to whom they represented that all the attacks which they had made against us had been ineffectual, yet exceedingly destructive to them; that the strangers were hostile to their inveterate enemies the Mexicans, who had been continually at war against their republic for upwards of an hundred years, and had so hemmed them in as to deprive them of procuring cotton or salt; and therefore that it would be highly conducive to the interests of the republic to enter into an alliance with these strangers against their common enemies, and to offer us the daughters of their principal families for wives, in order to strengthen and perpetuate the alliance between us. This proposal was unanimously agreed upon by the council, and notice was immediately sent to the general of this determination, with orders to cease from hostilities. Xicotencatl was much offended at this order, and insisted on making another nocturnal attack on our quarters. On learning this determination of their general, the council of Tlascala sent orders to supersede him in the command, but the captains and warriors of the army refused obedience to this order, and even prevented four of the principal chiefs of the republic from waiting upon us with an invitation to come to their city.

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