To the Gold Coast for Gold
By Richard F. Burton
Public Domain Books
THE SPANISH ACCOUNT OF THE REPULSE OF NELSON FROM SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE.
[Footnote: From the Relacion circumstanciada de la Defensa que hizo la Plaza de Santa Cruz, by M. Monteverde. Published in Madrid, 1798.]
The following pages afford a circumstantial and, I believe, a fairly true account of an incident much glossed over by our naval historians. The subject is peculiarly interesting. At Santa Cruz, as at Fontenoy, the Irish, whom harsh measures at home drove for protection to more friendly lands, took ample share in the fighting which defeated England’s greatest sailor. Again, the short-sighted policy which sent to the Crimea 20,000 British soldiers to play second instrument in concert with 40,000 Frenchmen, thus lowering us in the eyes of Europe, made Nelson oppose his 960 hands to more than eight times their number. The day may come when the attack shall be repeated. Now that steam has rendered fleets independent of south-west winds, it is to be hoped the assailant will prefer day to night, so that his divisions can communicate; that he will not land in the ’raging surf’ of the ebb-tide, and that he will attack the almost defenceless south instead of the well-fortified north of the city.
Already the heroic Island had inflicted partial or total defeat upon three English admirals. [Footnote: Grand Canary also did her duty by beating off, in October 1795, Drake’s strong squadron.] In April 1657 the Roundhead ’general at sea,’ Admiral Sir Robert Blake, of Bridgewater, attempted to cut out the Spanish galleons freighted with Mexican gold and with the silver of Peru. Of these the principal were the Santo-Cristo, the Jesus-Maria, the Santo Sacramento, La Concepcion, the San Juan, the Virgen de la Solitud, and the Nuestra Señora del Buen Socorro. This ’silver fleet’ was moored under the guns of the ’chief castle,’ San Cristobal, the mean work at the root of the mole. The English were preparing to board, when the Captain-General, D. Diego de Egues, whom our histories call ’Diagues,’ ordered the fleet to be fired, after all the treasure had been housed in the fort. A steady fight lasted three hours, during which the wife of the brave Governor, D. Estevan de la Guerra, distinguished herself. ’I shall not be useless here,’ she exclaimed when invited to leave the batteries; and this ’maid of Tenerife’ continued to animate the garrison till the end. As was the case with his great successor, Roundhead Blake’s failure proved to him far better than a success. For his francesada, or coup de tête, Nelson expected to lose his commission, instead of which some popular freak flung to him honour and honours. So Protector Cromwell sent a valuable diamond ring to his ’general at sea,’ in token of esteem on his part and that of his Parliament. Our histories, relying on the fact that a few weak batteries were silenced, claim for the Admiral a positive victory, despite his losses–fifty killed and 500 wounded.
[Footnote: The late Mr. Hepworth Dixon (Life of Blake, p. 346) describes the open roadstead of Santa Cruz as a ’harbour shaped like a horse-shoe, and defended at the north side of the entrance by a regular castle.’ In p. 350 we also read of the bay and its entrance. Any hydrographic chart would have set him right.]
In 1706, during the Spanish war of succession, Admiral Jennings sailed into Santa Cruz bay–the old Bay of Anaga or Anago–and lay off San Cristobal
[Footnote: This work still remains. It is a parallelogram with four bastions in star-shape, fronting the sea, and an embrasured wall facing the town. It began as a chapel, set up by De Lugo to N. S. de la Consolacion, and a tower was added in 1493. It was destroyed by the Guanches and rebuilt by Charles Quint: the present building assumed its shape in 1579. The main square, inland of San Cristobal, shows by a marble cross where the conqueror planted with one hand a large affair of wood–hence Santa Cruz. The original is, or was till lately, in the Civil Hospital.]
with twelve ships of the line. The Plaza was commanded, in the absence of the Captain-General, by the Corregidor, D. Antonio de Ayala, who assembled all the nobles in the castle’s lower rooms and swore them to loyalty. The English attempted to disembark, and were beaten back; whereupon, as under Nelson, they sent a parliamentary and summoned the island to surrender to the Archduke Charles of Austria. The envoy informed the Governor, who is described by Dampier as sitting in a low, dark, uncarpeted room, adorned only with muskets and pikes, that Philip V. had lost Gibraltar, that Cadiz and Minorca had nearly fallen, and that the American galleons in the port of Vigo had been burnt or captured by the English, whose army, entering Castile, had overrun Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia. The braves reply was, ’If Philip, our king, had lost his all in the Peninsula, these islands would still remain faithful to him.’ And the castle guns did such damage that the Jennings squadron sailed away on the same evening.
The third expedition, detached by Admmiral Sir John Jervis, afterwards Earl St. Vincent, to ’cut out a richly freighted Manilla ship,’ also resulted in a tremendous failure. Captain Brenton, to gratify national complacency, grossly exaggerates in his ’Naval History’ the difficulty of the enterprise. ’Of all places which ever came under our inspection none, we conceive, is more invulnerable to attack or more easily defended than Teneriffe.’ He forgets to mention its principal guard, the valour of the inhabitants. And now to my translation.
’At dawn on July 2, [Footnote: James (Naval History, vol. ii. p. 56) more correctly says July 20. So the Despatches, &c., of Lord Nelson, Sir H. Nicholas, vol. ii. p. 429. The thanksgiving for the victory took place on July 27, the fête of SS. Iago and Cristobal.] 1797, the squadron [Footnote: The squadron was composed as follows:–1. Theseus (74), Captain Ralph Willett Miller, carried the Rear-Admiral’s flag; 2. Culloden (74), Commodore and Captain Thos. Troubridge; 3. Zealous (74), Captain Sam. Hood; 4. Leander (50), Captain Thos. Boulden Thomson, which joined on the day before the attack. There were three frigates:–1. Seahorse (38), Captain Thos. Francis Fremantle; 2. Emerald (36), Captain John Waller; and 3. Terpsichore (32), Captain Richard Bowen; also the Fox (cutter), Lieut. Commander John Gibson, and a mortar-boat or a bomb-ketch, probably a ship’s launch with a shell-gun.] of Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson, K.B., composed of nine ships, and carrying a total of 393 guns, appeared off Santa Cruz, the port of Tenerife, Canarian archipelago. The enemy at once manned and put off his boats. One division of sixteen occupied our front; the other twenty-three took the direction of the Bufadero valley, a wild gap two or three miles to the north of the harbour.
’An alarm signal was immediately made in the town, when the enemy returned to his ships, and made his troops prepare to disembark. At ten A.M. the three frigates, towed by their boats, cast anchor out of cannon-shot, near the Bufadero; whilst the other vessels plied to windward, [Footnote: At the time the weather was calm in the town, but a violent levante, or east wind, prevented vessels from approaching the bay, where the lee shore is very dangerous.] and disembarked about 1,200 men on the beach of Valle Seco, between the town and the valley. This party occupied the nearest hill before it could be attacked; its movements showed an intention to seize the steep rocky scarp commanding the Paso Alto–the furthest to the north of the town. [Footnote: Nelson’s rough sketch, vol. ii. p. 434, shows that it had 26 guns. San Cristobal de Paso Alto commands the large ravine called by the Guanches ’Tahoide’ or ’Tejode,’ which is now defended by San Miguel. This is a small rockwork carrying six guns in two tiers, the upper en barbette and the lower casemated.] Thus the enemy would have been enabled to land fresh troops during the night; and, after gaining the heights and roads leading to the town, to attack us in flank as well as in front.
’Light troops were detached to annoy the invader, and they soon occupied the passes with praiseworthy celerity and boldness. One party was led by the Capitaine de Frégate Citizen Ponné [Footnote: James calls him Zavier Pommier. He commanded the French brig Mutine (14), of 349 tons, with a crew of 135. As he landed at Santa Cruz with 22 of his men on May 28, 1797, the frigates Lively, Captain Benjamin Hallowell, and the Minerva, Captain George Cockburn, descried the hostile craft. Lieutenant Hardy, of the Minerva, supported by six officers and their respective boats’ crews, boarded her as she lay at anchor. Despite the fire of the garrison and of a large ship in the roads, he carried her, after an hour’s work, safe out of gunshot. Only 15 men were wounded, including Lieutenant Hardy. This officer was at once put in command of the Mutine, which he had so gallantly won.] and by the Lieutenant de Vaisseau Citizen Faust. Both officers, who had been exchanged and restored at the same port, showed much presence of mind on this occasion, and on July 25 they applied to be posted at a dangerous point of attack–the beach to the south of the town, near Puerto Caballas, beyond where the Lazaretto now lies. When the enemy purposed assaulting a more central post, they came up at the moment of the affair, ending in our victory.
’A second party was composed of the Infantry Battalion of the Canaries, [Footnote: This battalion afterwards distinguished itself highly in the Peninsular war.] under Sub-Lieutenant Don Juan Sanchez. A third, composed of 70 recruits from the Banderas [Footnote: Bandera is a flag, a depôt, also a levy made by officers of Government.] of Havana and Cuba, was led by Second Lieutenant Don Pedro Castillo; a fourth numbered seventeen artillerymen and two officers, Lieutenant Don Josef Feo and Sub-Lieutenant Don Francisco Dugi. A fifth, and the last, was of twenty-five free chasseurs belonging to the town, and commanded by Captains Don Felipe Viña and Don Luis Roman.
’Our Commandant-General, H. E. Señor Don Juan Antonio Gutierrez, [Footnote: Not Gutteri, as James has it, nor ’Gutienez,’ as Mrs. Murray prefers.] was residing in the principal castle of San Cristobal. His staff consisted of the commandants of the Royal Corps of Artillery and Engineers, Don Marcelo Estranio and Don Luis Margueli; of the Auditor of War (an old office, the legal military adviser and judge), Don Vicente Patiño; of Lieutenant-Colonel Don Juan Creagh (locally pronounced Cré-ah); of the Secretary of Inspection Captain Don Juan Creagh; of the Secretary to Government and Captain of Militia Don Guillermo de los Reyes; of the Captain of Infantry Don Josef Victor Dominguez; of Lieutenants Don Vicente Siera and Don Josef Calzadilla, Town-Adjutant–the latter three acting as aides-de-camp to his Excellency–and of the first officers of the Tobacco and Postal Bureaux, Don Juan Fernandez Uriarte and Don Gaspar de Fuentes.
’The five parties before alluded to, numbering a total of 191, were, at his own request, placed under Lieutenant-Colonel the Marquess de la Fuente de las Palmas, commanding the division of chasseurs. The first to mount the hill nearest the enemy, he saw the increased force of the attacker, who had placed a 4-pounder in position; whereupon he sent for reinforcements and some pieces of cannon. Our Commandant-General, on receipt of the message, ordered up four guns (3 and 4-pounders) with fifty men under a captain of the Infantry Battalion of the Canaries. Universal admiration was excited by the agility and intrepidity with which twenty militiamen of the Laguna Regiment, under the chief of that corps, Florencio Gonsalez, scaled the cliffs, carrying on their shoulders, besides their own arms and ammunition, the four guns and their appurtenances.
’Meanwhile our troops replied bravely to the enemy’s deliberate fire of musketry and field-pieces. As he sallied out to a spring in the Valle Seco, two of his men were killed by the French party and the levies of Havana and Cuba, whilst a third died of suffocation whilst scaling the heights. At the same time Lieutenant-Colonel Don Juan Creagh, commanding the Infantry Battalion, accompanied by a volunteer, Don Vicente Siera, Lieutenant of the local corps (fixo) of Cuba, led thirty of his men and fifty Rozadores [Footnote: The insular name of an irregular corps, now done away with. Literally taken, the word means sicklemen.] belonging to the city of La Laguna. They proceeded across country in order to reconnoitre the enemy’s rear. Before nightfall they succeeded in occupying high ground in the same valley opposite the heights held by the English, and in manning the defiles through which the latter must pass on their way to the town.
’As soon as the enemy saw these troops, he formed in five companies near his field-gun. Lieutenant-Colonel Creagh was joined by some 500 men of the Laguna militia, and their lieutenant, Don Nicholas Quintin Garcia, followed by the peasantry of the adjoining districts, under the Alcalde or Mayor of Taganana. These and all the other troops were liberally supplied with provisions by the Ayuntamiento (municipality) of the Island.
’On the next morning (July 23) our scouts being sent down to the valley, found that the enemy had disappeared during the night. Notwithstanding which, the Marquess de las Palmas ordered a deliberate fire to be kept up in case of surprise. Our General, when informed of the event, recalled the troops. The Marquess, who unfortunately received a fall which kept him hors de combat for many days, [Footnote: I find pencilled in the original volume, ’Que caida tam oportuna!’ (What a lucky fall!)] obeyed with his command at 5 P.M., leaving behind him thirty men under Don Felix Uriundo, second lieutenant of the Battalion of Canaries. Don Juan Creagh did the same with his men. But as the French commandant reported that some of the enemy were still lurking about the place, our General-in-Chief directed Captain Don Santiago Madan, second adjutant of the same corps, to reconnoitre once more the Valle Seco with 120 Rozadores. This duty was well performed, despite the roughness of the paths and the excessive heat of the sun.
’The enemy’s squadron now seemed inclined to desist from its attempt. At 6 A.M. of July 23 Rear-Admiral Nelson’s flagship, which, with the other ships of the line, had kept in the offing, drew near, and signalled the frigates to sheer off from the point and to rejoin the rest of the squadron. These, however, at 3 P.M., allowed themselves to drop down the coast towards the dangerous southern reaches between Barranco Hondo, beyond the Quarantine-house and the village of Candelaria, distant a day’s march from Santa Cruz. To prevent their landing men, Captain Don Antonio Eduardo, and the special engineer, Don Manuel Madera, reconnoitred the shore about Puerto Caballas, to see if artillery could be brought there. Meanwhile Sub-Lieutenant Don Cristobal Trinidad, of the Guimar Regiment, watched, with fifty of his men, the coast near San Isidro, [Footnote: Here the landing is easiest.] which is not far from Barranco Hondo. The squadron, however, retired to such a distance that it could hardly be discerned from the town, as it bore S.E. 1/4 E.: notwithstanding which, all preparations were made to give the enemy a warm reception.
’At daylight on July 24 the squadron again appeared, crowding on all sail to gain the weather-side. The look-out at Anaga Point, north of the island, signalled three ships from that direction, and two to the south, where we could distinguish only one of fifteen guns, which was presently joined by the rest. At 6 P.M. the enemy anchored with his whole force on the same ground which the frigates chose on the 22nd, and feinted to attack Paso Alto Fort. Our General and chiefs were not deceived. Foreseeing that we should be assaulted in front, and to the right or south, [Footnote: The town of Santa Cruz runs due north and south in a right line; the bay affords no shelter to shipping, and the beach is rocky.] they made their dispositions accordingly, without, however, neglecting to protect the left.
’At 6 P.M. a frigate and the bomb-ketch approached Paso Alto, and the latter opened fire upon the fort and the heights behind it. These positions were occupied by 56 men of the Battalion of the Canaries, 40 Rozadores, under Second Lieutenant Don Felix Uriundo, and 16 artillerymen, commanded by Sub-Lieutenant of Militia Artillery Don Josef Cambreleng. [Footnote: A Flemish name, I believe: the family is still in the island.] Of 43 shells, however, only one fell in the fort, bursting in a place where straw for soldiers’ beds had been stored, and this, like the others, did no damage. [Footnote: A fragment of this shell is preserved in the Fort Chapel for the edification of strangers.] Paso Alto, commanded by the Captain of the Royal Corps of Artillery, Don Vicente Rosique, replied firmly. At the same time Don Juan del Castillo, sub-lieutenant of militia, with 16 men, reconnoitred, by H. E. the Governor’s orders, the Valle Seco. The operation was boldly performed, despite the darkness of night and other dangers; and our soldiers returned with a prisoner, an Irish sailor of the Fox cutter, who had swum off from his ship.
’The enemy now prepared his force for the attack. One thousand five hundred men, [Footnote: James numbers 200 seamen and marines from each of the three line-of-battle ships, and 100 from each of the three frigates, besides officers, servants, and a small detachment of Royal Artillery. This made a total of 1,000 to 1,060 men, commanded by Captain, afterwards Admiral, Sir Thomas Troubridge, Bart. Nelson (Despatches, vol. ii. p. 43) says 600 to 700 men in the squadron boats, 180 on board the Fox, and about 70 or 80 in a captured boat; total, at most, 960.] as we were afterwards informed, well armed with guns, pistols, pikes, swords, saws, and hatchets, and led by their best officers, among whom was the Rear-Admiral, embarked in their boats. At 2.15 A.M. (July 25) they put off in the deepest silence. The frigate of the Philippine Islands Company, anchored outside the shipping in the bay, discovered them when close alongside. Almost at the same moment the Paso Alto Fort, under Lieutenant-Colonel Don Pedro de Higueras, and the Captain of Artillery Don Vicente Rosique, gave the signal to the (saluting) battery of San Antonio [Footnote: This old work, à fleur d’eau, still remains; and near it are the ruins of the Bateria de los Melones, on land bought by the Davidson family.] in the town, held by the Captain of Militia Artillery Don Patricio Madan. They alarmed the citizens by their fire, and the enemy attacked with rare intrepidity.
’The defence was gallantly kept up by the battery of San Miguel, under Sub-Lieutenant of Artillery Don Josef Marrero; by the Castle of San Pedro, [Footnote: The San Pedro battery dated from 1797. It defended the southern town with six embrasures and three guns en barbette. For many years huge mortars and old guns lay outside this work.] under the Captain of Artillery Don Francisco Tolosa; by the Provisional Battery de los Melones, [Footnote: Now destroyed. It was, I have said, near the new casemates north of the town.] under the Sergeant of Militia Juan Evangelista; by the Mole-battery, under Lieutenant of the Royal Corps of Artillery Don Joaquim Ruiz and Sub-Lieutenant of Militia Don Francisco Dugi; by the Castle of San Cristobal, under the Captain of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and Brigade-Major Don Antonio Eduardo, who commanded the central and right batteries, and Lieutenant of Militia Artillery Don Francisco Grandi, to whom were entrusted the defences on our left; by the battery of La Concepcion, [Footnote: Where the Custom House now is, in the middle of the town.] under Captain of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Don Clemente Falcon; and by that of San Telmo, [Footnote: Near the dirty little square south of the Custom House. The word is thus written throughout the Canary Islands; in Italy, Sant’ Elmo.] under the Captain of Militia Artillery Don Sebastian Yanez.
’The rest of our line did not fire, because the enemy’s boats had not passed the Barranco, or stony watercourse, which divides the southern from the northern town. In the Castle of San Juan,
[Footnote: It is the southernmost work, afterwards used as a powder-magazine. To the south of the town are also the Bateria de la Rosa, near the coal-sheds, and the Santa Isabel work. The latter had 22 fine brass guns, each of 13 centimètres, made at Seville, once a famous manufactory.]
however, Captain Don Diego Fernandez Calderia trained four guns to bear upon the beach, which was protected by the Laguna militia regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Juan de Castro.
’So hot and well-directed was our fire, that almost all the boats were driven back, and the Fox cutter, with her commander and 382 of the landing party–others said 450–also carrying a reserve store of arms and ammunition, was sunk. [Footnote: Nelson, loc. cit., says 180 men were in the Fox, and of these 97 were lost. So Captain Brenton, Naval History, says 97. In vol. ii. p. 84, speaking of Trafalgar, he informs us that the French ship Indomptable (84), M. Hubart, was wrecked off Rota, where her crew, said to be 1,500 men, all perished. Add, ’except M. Maffiote, of Tenerife, and about 143 others.’] Rear-Admiral Nelson lost his right arm before he could touch ground, and was compelled to return to his flag-ship, with the other officers of his boat all badly wounded. [Footnote: The grape-shot was fired from the Castle of San Pedro; others opine from San Cristobal; and the Canarese say that a splinter of stone did the work. According to most authorities, Nelson was half-way up the mole. James declares that Nelson’s elbow was struck by a shot as he was drawing his sword and stepping out of his boat. In Nelson’s Despatches, loc. cit., we read that the ’mole was instantly stormed and carried, although defended by 400 or 500 men, and the guns–six 24-pounders–were spiked; but such a heavy fire of musketry and grape-shot was kept up from the citadel and houses at the head of the mole that we could not advance, and nearly all were killed.’] The brave Captain Bowen was killed on the first step of the Mole, a volley of grape tearing away his stomach. [Footnote: This officer is said to have caused the expedition, by describing it to Admiral Jervis and the British Government as an easy exploit. He had previously cut out of this bay a Philippine Island frigate, El Principe Fernando; and he had with him, as guide, a Chinese prisoner, taken in that vessel. The guide was also killed. Captain Bowen’s family made some exertions to recover certain small articles which he carried about him–watch, pistols, &c.–and failed. One pistol was lost, and for the other its possessor modestly demanded 14l.] Nineteen other Englishmen were struck down by a discharge of grape. The gun which fired it had, on that same night, been placed by the governor of the Castle of San Cristobal, Don Josef Monteverde, [Footnote: There is a note in my volume, ’Father of the adopted son, Miguelito Morales.’] at a new embrasure which he caused to be opened in the flank of the bastion. [Footnote: This part of the castle has now been altered, and mounted with brass 80-pounders.] Thus it commanded the landing-place, where before there was dead ground. The enemy afterwards confessed that the injury thus done was the first cause of his misfortunes.
’Notwithstanding the Rear-Admiral’s wound and the enemy’s loss in men and chief officers, a single boat, carrying Captain and Commodore Troubridge, covered by the smoke and the darkness, landed at the Caleta [Footnote: ’Caleta’ means literally a cul de sac. At Santa Cruz it is applied to a rocky tract near the Custom-house Battery: in those days it was the place where goods were disembarked.] beach. At the same time the main body of the English, who had escaped the grape of the Castle of San Cristobal and the batteries La Concepcion and San Telmo, disembarked a little further south, at the Barranquillo del Aceyte, [Footnote: This ditch is now built over and converted into a drain. It runs a little above the present omnibus stables.] at the Butcheries, and at the Barranco Santo. [Footnote: Also called de la Cassona–’of the Dog-fish’–that animal being often caught in a charco, or pool, in the broad watercourse. So those baptised in the parish church are popularly said to have been ’dipped in the waters of the Dog-fish Pool.’] The levies of Havana and Cuba, posted in the Butcheries under Second Lieutenant Don Pedro de Castilla, being unable to repulse the enemy’s superior force, retreated upon the Battalion of Infantry of the Canaries, consisting of 260 men and officers, including the militia. This corps, supported by two field-guns, [Footnote: In the original ’canones violentos,’ i.e. 4-pounders, 6-pounders, or 8-pounders.] ably and energetically worked by the pilots, Nicolas Franco and Josef Garcia, did such damage that the English were in turn compelled to fall back upon the beaches of the Barranco and the Butcheries.
’These were the only places where the enemy was able to gain a footing in the town. He marched in two columns, one, with drums beating, by the little square of the parish church (La Concepcion) to the convent of Santo Domingo, [Footnote: Afterwards pulled down to make room for a theatre and a market-place.] and the other to the Plaza [Footnote: Plaza here means the square behind the castle. In other places it applies to the fortified part of the town.] of the San Cristobal castle. His plan of attack was to occupy the latter post, but he was driven back from the portcullis after losing one officer by the hot fire of the militia-Captain Don Esteban Benitez de Lugo. Thus driven back to the Caleta, the invaders marched along the street called “de las Tiendas." [Footnote: It is now the ’Cruz Verde.’ In those days it was the principal street; the Galle del Castello (holding at present that rank) then showed only scattered houses.] They then drew up at the head of the square, maintaining a silence which was not broken by nine guns discharged at them by the Captain of Laguna Chasseurs Don Fernando del Hoyo, nor by the aspect of the two field-pieces ranged in front of them by the Mayor, who was present at all the most important points in the centre of the line. The cause was discovered in an order afterwards found in the pocket of Lieut. Robinson, R.M. It ran to this effect:–[Footnote: This and other official documents are translated into English from the Spanish. According to our naval despatches and histories the senior marine officer who commanded the whole detachment was Captain Thomas Oldfleld, R.M. The ’Relacion circumstanciada’ declares that the original is in the hands of Don Bernardo Cologan y Fablon, another Irish-Spanish gentleman who united valour and patriotism. He was seen traversing, sabre in hand, the most dangerous places, encouraging the men and attending to the wounded so zealously that he parted even with his shirt for bandaging their hurts.]
’July 24, night.
’SIR,–You will repair with the party under your command to H.M.S. Zealous, where you will receive final instructions. Care must be taken to keep silence in the ranks, and the only countersign which you and your men are to use is that of “The Leander.”
’I am, Sir, &c. &c., ’(Signed) T. THOMPSON.
’Lieutenant Robinson, R.M.
’Standing at the head of the square, the enemy could observe that not far from them was a provision-store, guarded by Don Juan Casalon and Don Antonio Power, [Footnote: The original has it ’Pouver,’ a misprint. The Irish-Spanish family of Power is well known in the Canaries.] the two “deputies of Abastos.” [Footnote: Now called regidores–officers who are charged with distributing rations.] The English seized it, wounding Dons Patricio Power and Casalon, who, after receiving two blows with an axe, escaped. They then obliged, under parole, the deputy Power and Don Luis Fonspertius to conduct into the Castle a sergeant sent to parly. Our Commandant-General, when summoned to surrender the town within two minutes, under pain of its being burned, returned an answer worthy of his honour and gallantry. “Such a proposal,” he remarked, “requires no reply,” and in proof thereof he ordered the party to be detained. [Footnote: According to James, who follows Troubridge’s report, the sergeant was shot in the streets and no answer was received.]
’Meanwhile our militiamen harassed the first column of the enemy, compelling it, by street-fighting, to form up in the little squares of Santo Domingo and of the parish church. Our Commandant-General was startled when he found that this position cut off direct communication between San Cristobal and the Battalion of the Canaries, whose fire, like that of the militiamen on the right, suddenly ceased. But he was assured that the battalion was unbroken, and all the central posts except the Mole were supported, by the report of Lieutenant Don Vicente Siera: this officer had just attacked with 30 men of that battalion the enemy’s boats as they lay grounded at the mouth of the Barranco Santo, dislodging the defenders, who had taken shelter behind them, and making five prisoners. The English were stopped at the narrow way near the base of the pier by the hot fire of the troops under Captain and Adjutant of Chasseurs Don Luis Roman, the nine militiamen under Don Francisco Jorva, the sergeant of the guard Domingo Mendez, and a recruit of the Havana levy; these made forty-four prisoners, including six officers, whilst twelve were wounded. Our Commandant-General was presently put out of all doubt by Don Josef Monteverde. This governor of San Cristobal, when informed that 2,000 Englishmen had entered the town, intending probably to attack the Castle with the scaling-ladders brought from their boats, resolved himself to inspect the whole esplanade, and accordingly reconnoitred the front and flank of the Citadel.
’All our advantages were well-nigh lost by a report which spread through the garrison when our firing ceased. A cry arose that our chief was killed, and that as the English who had taken the town were marching upon La Laguna, they must be intercepted at the cuesta, or hill, behind Santa Cruz. It is easy to conceive what a panic such rumours would cause among badly armed and half-drilled militia. The report arose thus:–Our Commandant-General seeing the defenders of the battery at the foot of the Mole retreating, and hearing them cry, “Que nos cortan!” (We are cut off!), sallied out with Don Juan Creagh and other officers, the Port Captain, the Town Adjutant, and the chief collector of the tobacco-tax. After ordering the corps of Chasseurs, 89 men and 9 officers, to fire, our chief returned, leaning upon the arm of Don Juan Creagh, and some inconsiderate person thought that he was wounded. Fortunately this indiscretion went no further than the Chasseur Battalion of the Canaries and the militiamen on our right.
’When this battalion was not wanted in its former position it was ordered to the square behind the Citadel. The movement was effected about daybreak by Don Manuel Salcedo, Lieutenant of the King. [Footnote: An old title (now changed) given to the military governor of Santa Cruz and the second highest authority in the archipelago. Marshal O’Donnell was Teniente del Rey at Tenerife, and he was born in a house facing the cross in the main square of Santa Cruz.] That officer had never left his corps, patrolling with it along the beaches where the enemy disembarked, and he had sent to the barracks twenty-six prisoners, besides three whom he captured at San Cristobal. When the battalion was formed up and no enemy appeared, the Adjutant-Major enquired about them in a loud voice. Meanwhile the Laguna militia, who in two divisions, each of 120 men, under Lieut.-Col. Don Juan Baptista de Castro, had been posted from San Telmo to the Grariton, [Footnote: Meaning a large garita, or sentry-box. It is a place near the windmills to the south of the town.] were also ordered to the main square. In two separate parties they marched, one in direct line, the other by upper streets, to cut off the enemy’s retreat and place him between two fires. As the latter, however, entered the little square of Santo Domingo, their commander, Lieut.-Col. de Castro, hearing a confusion of tongues, mistook for Spaniards and Frenchmen the English who were holding it. Thereupon the enemy fired a volley, which killed him and a militiaman and wounded many, whilst several were taken prisoners.
’The attackers presently manned the windows of Santo Domingo, and kept up a hot fire against our militiamen. They then determined to send an officer of marines to our Commandant-General, once more demanding the surrender of the town under the threat of burning it. At the order of Lieut.-Col. Don Juan Guinther the parliamentary was conducted to the Citadel by Captain Don Santiago Madan. Our chief replied only that the city had still powder, ball, and fighting men.
’Thereupon the affair recommenced. One battalion came up with two field-guns to support its friends, and several militiamen died honourably, exposing themselves to the fire of an entrenched enemy. Our position was further reinforced by the militia-pickets that had been skirmishing in the streets, and by the greater part of those who, deceived by a false report, had retired to the slopes of La Laguna.
’Already it was morning, when a squadron of five armed boats was seen making for our right. Our brave artillerymen had not the patience to let them approach, but at once directed at them a hot fire, especially from the Mole battery, under Don Francisco Grandi. That officer, accompanied by the second constable, Manuel Troncos, had just passed from the Citadel [Footnote: La Ciudadela, to the north of the mole, is not built, as we read in Colburn (U. S. Magazine, January 1864), on an artificial wall. It has a moat, casemates, loopholes, and twelve bouches à feu for plunging fire. The lines will connect with La Laguna and complete the defences of the capital.] to the battery in question, and had removed the spikes driven into the guns by Citoyen François Martiney when he saw them abandoned. [Footnote: The English diary shows that the Spaniards had spiked the guns.] The principal Castle and the Mole batteries, supported by that of La Concepcion, rained a shower of grape at a long range with such precision that three boats were sunk and the two others fell back upon the squadron. At the same time the Port Captain and Flag Officer of the frigate ordered his men to knock out the bottoms of eighteen boats which the enemy after his attack had left on the beach.
’The English posted in the convent, seeing the destruction of their reinforcements, lost heart and persuaded the prior, Fray Carlos de Lugo, and the master, Fray Juan de Iriarte, to bear another message to our chief. The officer commanding the enemy’s troops declared himself ready to respect the lives and property of those about him provided that the Royal Treasury and that of the Philippine Company were surrendered, otherwise that he could not answer for the consequences.
’This deputation received the same laconic reply as those preceding it. Seeing the firmness of our Commandant-General and the crowds of peasantry gathering from all parts, the enemy’s courage was damped, and his second in command, Captain Samuel Hood, came out to parley. This officer, perceiving that the Militiamen who had joined the Chasseurs were preparing to attack, signalled with a white flag a cessation of hostilities, and our men were restrained by the orders of Don Fernando del Hoyo. Both parties advanced to the middle of the bridge, where they were met by Lieutenant-Colonel Don Juan Guinther, commanding the Battalion of the Canaries, who could speak many languages, and by the Adjutant-Major, Don Juan Battaler. These officers also withheld their men, who were opening fire as they turned the corner of the street in which, a little before, Don Rafael Fernandez, a sub-lieutenant of the same corps, had fallen, shot through the body, whilst heading an attack upon the enemy.
’With a white flag and drums beating, the English officer, accompanied by those who had already parleyed with our Commandant-General, marched to the citadel. At the bridge of the street “de las Tiendas” he was met by the Lieutenant of the King, by the Sergeant-Major of the town, by Lieutenant-Colonel Creagh, by Captain Madan, carrying the flag of truce, and by the Town Adjutant, who conducted him with eyes bandaged to the presence of our chief. Captain Hood did not hesitate again to demand surrender, which was curtly refused. This decision, and the chances of destruction in case of hostilities continuing, made him alter his tone. At length both chiefs came to terms. The instrument was written by Captain Hood, and was at once ratified by Captain Thomas Troubridge, commanding H.B.M.’s troops. The following is a copy of the ’Terms agreed upon with the Governor of the Canary Islands.
[Footnote: The original is in the Nelson Papers. It is written by Captain Hood, and signed by him, Captain Troubridge, and the Spanish Governor.]
’Santa Cruz: July 25,1797.
’That the troops, &c., belonging to his Britannick Majesty shall embark with their arms of every kind, and take their boats off, if saved, and be provided with such others as may be wanting; in consideration of which it is engaged on their part that the ships of the British squadron, now before it, shall in no way molest the town in any manner, or any of the islands in the Canaries, and prisoners shall be given up on both sides.
’Given under my hand and word of honour.
’T. TROUBRIDGE, Commander of the British Troops;
’JN. ANTONIO GUTIERREZ, Com’te.-Gen. de las Islas de Canaria.
’This done, Captain Samuel Hood was escorted back to his men by those who had conducted him to the Citadel.
’At this moment a new incident occurred at sea. The squadron, convinced of the failure of its attempt, began to get under way: already H.B.M.’s ship Theseus, carrying the Rear-Admiral’s flag, and one of the frigates had been swept by the current to opposite the valley of San Andres. [Footnote: A gorge lying to the north of the town, like the ’Valle Seco’ and the Bufadero.] From its martello-tower the Lieutenant of Artillery Don Josef Feo fired upon them with such accuracy that almost every shot told, the Theseus losing a yardarm and a cable, She replied with sundry broadsides, whilst the bomb-ketch, which had got into position, discharged some ten shells, and yet was so maltreated, one man being killed and another wounded, that she was either crippled or hoisted on board by the enemy.
’When the terms of truce were settled, the English troops marched in column out of the convent; and, reaching the bridge of the Barranquillo del Aceyte, fired their pieces in the air. Then with shouldered arms and drums beating they made for the Mole, passing in front of our troops and of the French auxiliaries, who had formed an oblong square in the great plaza behind the Citadel, from whose terrace our chief watched them.
’When Captain Hood suddenly sighted his implacable enemies the French, he gave way to an outbreak of rage and violent exclamations, and he even made a proposal which might have renewed hostilities had he failed to give prompt satisfaction. He presently confessed to having gone too far and renewed his protestations to keep the conditions of peace.
’Boats and two brigantines (island craft) were got ready to receive the British troops at the Mole. Meanwhile our Commandant-General ordered all of them to be supplied with copious refreshments of bread and wine, a generous act which astonished them not less than the kindness shown to their wounded by the officials of the hospital. They hardly knew how to express their sense of a treatment so different from what they had expected. During their cruise from Cadiz their officers, hoping to make them fight the better, told them that the Canarians were a ferocious race who never gave quarter to the conquered.
’Our chief invited the British officers to dine with him that day. They excused themselves on the plea that they must look after their men, upon whom the wine had taken a strong effect, and deferred it till the morrow. They also offered to be the bearers of the tidings announcing our success and to carry to Spain all letters entrusted to their care. Our chief did not hesitate to commit to their charge, under parole, his official despatches to the Crown; and all the correspondence was couched in terms so ingenuous that even the enemy could not but admire so much moderation.
’During the course of the day the English re-embarked, bearing with a guard of honour the corpses of Captain Bowen and of another officer of rank. [Footnote: This is fabulous. Captain Richard Bowen, ’than whom a more enterprising, able, and gallant officer does not grace H.M.’s naval service,’ was the only loss of any consequence. All the rest were lieutenants.] They (who?) had stripped off his laced coat when he expired in a cell of the Santo Domingo convent, [Footnote: In Spanish two saints claim the title ’Santo,’ viz. Domingo and Thomas: all the rest are ’San.’] disfigured his face, and dressed him as a sailor. The wounded, twenty-two in number, did not leave the hospital till next day: among them was Lieutenant Robinson in the agonies of death.
’Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson hearing the politeness, the generosity, and the magnanimity with which our Commandant-General followed up his success, and feeling his own noble heart warm with grateful sentiments, dictated to him an official letter, which he signed for the first time with his left hand. [Footnote: The original of this peculiarly interesting document, written on official paper, was kept in a tin box under lock at the Captain-General’s office, Santa Cruz, and in 1864 it was transferred to the archives of Madrid. The writing is that of a secretary, who put by mistake 1796 for 1797. A copy of it, published in Harrison’s Life of Nelson (vol. i. p. 215), was thence transferred to Nicolas’s Despatches and Letters. It is bonâ fide the first appearance of Nelson’s signature with his left hand, despite the number of ’first signatures’ owned by the curious of England.]
’To His Excellency Don Antonio Gutierrez, Commandant-General of the Canary Islands.
’His Majesty’s ship Theseus, opposite Santa Cruz de Teneriffe: July 26, 1796.
’Sir,–I cannot take my departure from this Island without returning your Excellency my sincerest thanks for your attention towards me, by your humanity in favour of our wounded men in your power or under your care, and for your generosity towards all our people who were disembarked, which I shall not fail to represent to my Sovereign; hoping also, at a proper time, to assure your Excellency in person how truly I am, Sir, your most obedient humble Servant,
’(Signed) HORATIO NELSON.
’P.S. I trust your Excellency will do me the honour to accept of a cask of English beer and a cheese.
’To Señor Don Antonio Gutierrez, Commandant-General, Canary Islands.
’Having received with due appreciation this honourable letter, our chief replied as follows:–
’Muy Señor mio de mi mayor attencion! [Footnote: This courteous Castilian phrase would lose too much by translation.]–I have received with the greatest pleasure your estimable communication, the proof of your generosity and kindly feeling. My belief is that the man who follows only the dictates of humanity can claim no laurels, and to this may be reduced all that has been done for the wounded and for those who disembarked: I must consider them my brethren the moment hostilities terminate.
’If, sir, in the state to which the ever uncertain fortunes of war have reduced you, either I or anything which this island produces could afford assistance or relief, it would afford me a real pleasure. I hope that you will accept two demijohns of wine which is, I believe, not the worst of our produce.
’It would be most satisfactory to me if I could personally discuss, when circumstances permit, a subject upon which you, sir, display such high and worthy gifts. In the meantime I pray that God may preserve your life for many and happy years.
’I am, Sir,
’Your most obedient and attentive Servant,
’(Signed) Don ANTONIO GUTIERREZ.
’Santa Cruz de Tenerife: July 26, 1797.
’P.S. I have received and duly appreciated the beer and the cheese with which you have been pleased to favour me.
’PP.S. I recommend to your care, sir, the petition of the French, which Commodore Troubridge will have reported to you in my name.
’To Admiral Don Horatio Nelson.
’Such was the end of an event which will ever be memorable in the annals of the Canarian Islands. When we know that on our side hardly 500 men armed with firelocks entered into action, and that the 97 cannon used on this occasion, and requiring 532 artillery-men, were served by only 320 gunners, of whom but 43 were veterans and the rest militia; [Footnote: According to James, who follows the report of Captain Troubridge (vol. ii. p. 427), there were 8,000 Spaniards and 100 Frenchmen under arms. Unfortunate Clio!] when we remember that we took from the enemy a field-gun, a flag, [Footnote: This was the ensign of the Fox cutter, sunk at the place where the African steamships now anchor.] two drums, a number of guns, pikes, swords, pistols, hand-ladders, ammunition, &c. &c., with a loss on our part of only 23 killed [Footnote: Two officers–viz. Don Juan Bautista de Castro, before alluded to; Don Rafael Fernandez, also mentioned–and 21 noncommissioned officers, 5 soldiers of the Canarian battalion, 2 chasseurs, 4 militiamen, 1 militia artilleryman, 4 French auxiliaries, and 5 civilians.] and 28 wounded, [Footnote: Namely, 3 officers–Don Simon de Lara, severely wounded at the narrow part of the Mole, Don Dionisio Navarro, sub-lieutenant of the Provincial Regiment of La Laguna, and Don Josef Dugi, cadet of the Canarian battalion–25 noncommissioned officers, 5 men of the same battalion, 1 chasseur, 1 sergeant, 11 militiamen, 1 soldier of the Havana depôt, 1 ditto of Cuban ditto, 1 militia artilleryman, and 5 French auxiliaries. This, however, does not include those suffering from contusions, amongst whom was Don Juan Rosel, sub-lieutenant of the Provincial Regiment of Orotava.] whereas the enemy lost 22 officers and 576 men [Footnote: Nelson (Despatches, vol. ii. p. 424) says 28 seamen, 16 marines killed (total 44); 90 seamen, 15 marines wounded; 97 seamen and marines drowned; 5 seamen and marines missing. Total killed, 141; wounded, 105; and grand total, 246 hors de combat. The total of 251 casualties nearly equals that of the great victory at Cape St. Vincent.]–when, I say, we take into consideration all these circumstances, we cannot but consider our defence wonderful and our triumph most glorious.
’We must not forget the gallant part taken in this affair by the two divisions of the Rozadores irregulars, who were provided with sickles, knives, and other weapons by the armoury of La Laguna. One division of forty peasants was placed under the Marquess del Prado and the Viscount de Buenpaso, who both, though not military men, hastened to the town when the attack was no longer doubtful. The other body of thirty-five men was committed to Don Simon de Lara, already mentioned amongst the wounded. In the heat of the affair and the darkness of night the first division was somewhat scattered as it entered the streets leading to the Barranco Santo (watercourse), where the Canarian battalion was attacking the English as they landed. The Marquess, after escaping the enemy, who for half an hour surrounded without recognising him, and expecting instant death, attempted to cross the small square of Santo Domingo to the Plaza of the Citadel. He was prevented from so doing by the voices of the attacking party posted in the little place. He therefore retired to the upper part of the town, and took post on the Convent-flank. The Viscount marched his men to the square of the Citadel, where they were detained by Lieutenant Jorva to reinforce the post and to withdraw a field-gun that had been dangerously placed in the street of San Josef.
’Equally well deserving of their country’s gratitude were sundry others, especially Diego Correa, first chief of the Provincial Regiment of Guimar, who, forgetting his illness, sprang from his bed at the trumpet’s sound, boldly met the foe with sword and pistol, and took eleven prisoners to the Citadel. Don Josef de Guesala, not satisfied with doing the mounted duties required of him, followed the enemy with not less courage than Diego Correa, at the head of certain militiamen who had lost their way in the streets.
’Good service was also done by the Alcalde and the deputies [Footnote: The local aldermen.] of the district. In charge of the four parties, composed of tradesmen and burghers, they patrolled the streets and guarded against danger from fire. They also issued to all those on duty rations of bread and wine punctually and abundantly from the night of the 22nd till that of the 25th of July.
’No circumstantial account of our remarkable success would be complete without recording, in the highest and the most grateful terms, the zeal with which the very noble the Municipality (ayuntamiento) of Tenerife took part in winning our laurels. Since July 22, when the first alarm-signal was made at Santa Cruz, Don Josef de Castilla, the Chief Magistrate (Corregidor), with the nobility and men at arms (armas-tomar) assembled in force on the main square of La Laguna (Plaza del Adelantado). The Mayor (Alcalde Mayor), Don Vicente Ortiz de Rivera, presided over the court (cabildo), at which were present all those members (regidores) who were not personally serving against the enemy. These were the town deputies, Don Lopo de la Guerra, Don Josef Saviñon, Don Antonio Riquel, Don Cayetano Pereza, Don Francisco Fernandez Bello, Don Miguel de Laisequilla, and Don Juan Fernandez Calderin, with the Deputy Syndic-General, Don Filipe Carillo. Their meetings were also attended by other gentlemen and under-officers (curiales), who were told off to their respective duties according to the order laid down for defending the Island. After making a careful survey of the bread and provisions in the market, also of the wheat and flour in the bakeries and of the reserve stores, they promptly supplied the country-people who crowded into the city. Wind being at this season wanting for the mills, we were greatly assisted by a cargo of 3,000 barrels of flour taken before Madeira from an Anglo-American prize by the Buonaparte, a French privateer, who brought her to our port. This supply sufficed for the militia stationed on the heights of Taganana, in the Valle Seco, near the streams of the Punta del Hidalgo, Texina, Baxamar, the Valley of San Andrés, and lastly the line of Santa Cruz, Guadamogete, and Candelaria, whose posts cover more than twenty-four miles of coast between the north-west and the south of the island.
’Equally well rationed were the peasants who passed by La Laguna en route to Santa Cruz and other parts; they consumed about 16,000 lbs. of bread, 300 lbs. of biscuit, seven and a half pipes of wine; rice, meat, cheese, and other comestibles. Meanwhile, at the application of the Municipality to the venerable Vicar Ecclesiastic, and to the parish priests and superiors of the community (prelados), prayers were offered up in the churches, and certain of the clergy collected from the neighbouring houses lint and bandages for the wounded. The soldiers in the Paso Alto and Valle Seco received 100 pairs of slippers, for which our Commandant-General had indented. Many peasants who had applied for and obtained guns, knives, and other weapons from the Laguna armoury were sent off to defend the northern part of the island. On the main road descending to Santa Cruz the Chief Magistrate planted a provisional battery with two field-pieces belonging to the Court of Aldermen. When thus engaged an unfortunate fall from his horse compelled him to retire.
’That patriotic body the Municipality of Santa Cruz sat permanently in the Mansion House, engaged in the most important matters from the dawn of July 22 to noon on the 25th; nor was its firmness shaken even by the sinister reports to which others lent ear. When on the morning of the latter day our chief communicated to them the glowing success of our arms and the disastrous repulse of the enemy, they hastened to appoint July 27 for a solemn Te Deum. It is the day on which the island of Tenerife was conquered exactly three centuries before, and thus it became the annual festival of San Cristobal, its patron.
’The secular religious and the regular monastic communities performed this function with pomp and singular apparatus in the parish church of Our Lady of the Conception. The Town-court carried the banner which had waved in the days of the Conquest, escorted by a company of the Canarian battalion and its band. These stood during the office at the church door, and saluted with three volleys the elevation of the host. Master Fray Antonio Raymond, of the Order of St. Augustine, preached upon the grateful theme to a sympathising congregation. The court, retiring with equal ceremony, gave a brilliant banquet to the officers of the battalion, to the chiefs of the provincial regiments of La Laguna and Guimar, and to all their illustrious compatriots who had taken part in the contest. Volleys and band performances saluted the three loyal and patriotic toasts–"the King,” “the Commandant-General,” and “the Defenders of the Country.” The town, in sign of jubilee, was illuminated for several successive nights.
’A Te Deum was also sung in the parish church of Los Remedios at La Laguna, with sermon and high mass performed at the expense of Don Josef Bartolomé de Mesa, Treasurer-General of the Royal Exchequer. Our harbour settlement obtained from the King the title of “very noble, loyal, and invict town, [Footnote: Villa, town, not city.] port and fort of Santa Cruz de Santiago.” [Footnote: Holy Cross of St. James.] Recognising the evident protection of St. James, patron saint of Spain, on whose festival the enemy had been defeated, a magnificent procession was consecrated to him on July 30. His image was borne through the streets by the four captains of the several corps, whilst six other officers, followed by a picket of garrison troops and a crowd of townspeople, carried the colours taken from the English.
’On the next day were celebrated the obsequies of those who had fallen honourably in defence of their beloved country. The ceremony took place in the parish church of Santa Cruz, and was repeated in the cathedral of Grand Canary and in the churches and convents of the other islands. The Ecclesiastical Court of Tenerife ordered the Chapter of Music to sing a solemn Te Deum, at which the municipal body attended. On the next day a mass of thanksgiving was said, with exposition of the Holy Sacrament throughout the day, and a sermon was preached by the canon superior, Don Josef Icaza Cabrexas. Lastly, a very solemn funeral function, with magnificent display, did due honour to their memory who for their country’s good had laid down their lives.’ Mrs. Elizabeth Murray, wife of H.B.M.’s Consul for Tenerife and author of an amusing book, [Footnote: Sixteen Years of an Artist’s Life in Morocco, &c. Hurst and Blackett, 1859. I quote from vol. i. chap. iv.] adds certain local details concerning Nelson’s ill-fated attack. It is boldly stated that during the rash affair the Commandant-General and his staff remained safely inside the Castle of San Cristobal, and that when the English forces captured the monastery the Spanish authorities resolved to surrender. This step was opposed by a sergeant, Manoel Cuera, who, ’with more familiarity than is usual when soldiers are separated so far by their respective ranks, placed his hand upon the shoulder of his commanding officer and said, “No, your Excellency, you shall not give up the Plaza; we are not yet reduced to such a strait as that."’ Whereupon the General, ’assuming his usual courage, followed his sergeant’s advice, and continued the engagement till it was brought to a termination equally honourable to Englishmen and Spaniards.’
Mrs. Murray also declares that Captain Troubridge, when invested in the monastery by superior numbers, placed before his men a line of prisoners, and that these being persons of influence, the assailants fired high; moreover that Colonel M(onteverde?), the commander of the island troops, was an Italian who spoke bad Spanish, and kept shouting to his men, ’Condanate vois a matar a la Santisima Trinitate!’ The officer sent to parley (Captain Hood) was, we are told, accompanied to the citadel by a gentleman named Murphy, whom the English had taken prisoner. A panic (before mentioned) came from three militia officers, who, mounting a single animal, rode off to La Laguna, assuring the cabildo and the townspeople that Santa Cruz had fallen. One of this ’valiant triumvirate’ had succeeded to a large property on condition of never disgracing his name, and after the flight he had the grace to offer it to a younger brother who had distinguished himself in South America. The junior told him not to be a fool, and the property was left to the proprietor’s children, ’his grandson being in possession of it at the present day.’
The chapter ends with the fate of one O’Rooney, a merchant’s clerk who cast his lot with the Spaniards, and whom General Gutierrez sent with an order to the commandant of Paso Alto Fort. Being in liquor, he took the Marina, or shortest road; and, when questioned by the enemy, at once told his errand. ’In those days and in such circumstances,’ writes the lively lady, ’soldiers were very speedy in their decisions, and the marine who had challenged O’Rooney at once bayonetted him, while his comrade rifled his pockets and appropriated his clothes.’
Remains only to state that the colours of the unfortunate cutter Fox and her boats are still in the chapel of Sant’ Iago, on the left side of the Santa Cruz parish church, La Concepcion. Planted against the wall flanking the cross, in long coffin-like cases with glass fronts, they have been the object of marked attention on the part of sundry British middies. And the baser sort of town-folk never fail to show by their freedom, or rather impudence of face and deportment, that they have not forgotten the old story, and that they still glory in having repulsed the best sailor in Europe.