Captian Morgan & Panama Viejo

by Female Abroad

January of 1671. Henry Morgan and 1,200 ferocious, filthy, scruffy, and desperate pirates have arrived, sweating and smelling after a nine-day march through the forest.

Location, Old Panama aka Panama Viejo. With the convent and public baths on your left, the Jesuit church on your right, and the gravelled, tree-lined road in front of you, take a seat and pay close attention. terrified screams cries of dominance. steel on steel clashing muzzle blast. the metropolis being consumed by the roar of fire.

When they set out from the Caribbean, Morgan believed his soldiers would be able to subsist on the land. He was mistaken. Villages were burned down and left in ruins. Morgan had believed he could surprise the area that is today known as Panama Viejo. He erred once more. Three weeks prior to the attack, the Spanish were aware of it.

They could have easily eliminated Morgan's half-starved and worn-out crew at any number of prime ambush locations along the way through the jungle with a relatively small defence force. Don Juan de Guzman, the governor of Panama, who died beside the city he believed to be indestructible, can be held responsible for the fact that they did not even try. The Pacific Ocean was visible in the distance as Morgan's troops stumbled to the top of a small hill after nine days of uninterrupted travel through the jungle.

Below them, fruit-laden trees and big calves grazing on lush grass could be seen. Another terrible Spanish mistake.

Before the cattle had even died, the pirates attacked them, chopping off large chunks of uncooked meat. Think of the blood that covered their faces, hands, beards, and clothing that had been reduced to rags in the jungle as you picture them fighting the next day in Panama Viejo. Imagine the fear they inflicted on the local populace as they waved their weapons and screamed like banshees.

Another mistake made by Guzman contributed to the destruction of Panama Viejo. On the plains outside the city, he ranged 4,000 well-equipped, well-dressed soldiers, including infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Faced with a little more than 1,000 dispersed rabble, there should have been no contest. The terror of the forest was something the Spanish did not anticipate. Instead of returning to the horrors of the forest and a possible slow death there, these men would prefer to die fast in battle. The corridor going to Panama Viejo was where the defenders positioned their biggest weapons. The fixed weapons were rendered useless as Morgan's forces simply avoided a small hill and approached the city from a different angle.

The Spanish combat style also worked against them. The pirates jumped into a long ditch that was covered in vegetation as the two forces drew near to one another. 400 of the best mounted soldiers in the Americas made up the Spanish cavalry, and they trotted in close formation toward 200 specifically chosen marksmen with orders to wait until the horsemen were almost upon them before charging. The killing was horrifying. The remaining cavalry withdrew, reorganised, and faced the pirate wall of death again with the same outcome. The never crossed the line. The tactic was used repeatedly until all of the cavalry had been destroyed. Almost everyone among Morgan's troops was unharmed.

It was now time for the soldiers to pay the price. They were slaughtered by a foe they could not even see while fighting in a Spanish block formation in the open in close quarters. The Spanish fought in formation out in the open while the pirates hid behind trees, hummocks, and anything else that would offer cover. Guzman launched what he believed to be the battle's winning tactic after witnessing his army being destroyed; he let out 2,000 wild bulls that had been brought into the city only a few days earlier. The enraged bulls were driven across the field to crush the pirates by shouting cowboys. The bulls fled in fright after the pirates merely shot the cowboys and a few lead animals.

The defenders retreated towards Panama Viejo with the invaders pursuing them because they were vastly outnumbered. Less than eight hours after the first shot was fired, the defenders made an attempt to hold their ground inside the city, but their morale was crushed and they surrendered. There was a fresh threat in Panama Viejo right now. Morgan heard the residential area was on fire between the yells, groans, and screams. The wealthy's cedar and other aromatic wood homes and the poor's and slaves' thatched roof homes burnt like kindling in the hot, dry summer wind. Pirates and locals collaborated to put out the fire, but it proved uncontrollable.

Although Morgan was given the blame for the fire, this is improbable. The most costly furnishings money could purchase was stuffed into the wealthy people's homes. More precious than the money and silver taken during the attack were the rugs, tapestries, and family china that were destroyed by the flames. Morgan, who had anticipated making a fortune from the attack, only received one-tenth of what he had anticipated. According to some, the Spanish started the fire to deceive the pirates. Others believe that a fight caused a blazing stove to fall over. Regardless of the cause, the majority of what is now Panama Viejo was destroyed. Only the stone structures, the remains of which are still visible today, were left standing. Morgan also lost the ability to threaten to set the city on fire if the ransom was not paid. (Ironically, villagers scavenging materials to build dwellings in the 20th century caused the most harm to the stone structures.)

Morgan discovered from interrogating detainees that the Peru-bound treasure galleon Trinity had left Panama Viejo the day before his pirates arrived. It had 1,500 members of the wealthiest families, who are able to pay large ransoms, and half of Panama's wealth. The ship was so heavily loaded and moving so slowly that it should have been simple for the pirates to catch up to it. The cargo was likely worth millions of dollars.

In order to locate the ship, which had sailed in the general area of Taboga Island, close to Panama Viejo, Morgan dispatched Captain Daniel Searles. When Searles and his men arrived on the island, they were not aware that the Spanish were bringing supplies over from the opposite side. The locals supplied Searles and his men with copious amounts of wine, and because of their intoxication, the Spanish ship was able to make its getaway.

When Searles and his merry party regained consciousness the following morning, they realised what had transpired, but it was too late for them to reach the treasure ship. Instead, they brought Maria Eleanora Lopez y Ganero back in the hopes that Morgan would be so taken with her that he would overlook the ship's loss. Despite his disinterest, Morgan managed to kidnap the woman for $30,000 while being a practical man.

The spoils of Panama Viejo were transported to the Caribbean side by just 175 pack mules. Morgan had anticipated using ten times that amount. The pirates were no longer hoping for life-changing wealth; instead, they realised how scant the loot actually had been. They were discontent, irritable, and disobedient. And the arduous trip back didn't make them feel any better. Many of his troops were enraged with Morgan, and finally he learned that some of them were preparing to kill him.

He gathered a few of his most devoted supporters back at the entrance of the Chagres River, quietly prepared three of the most seaworthy ships, and had the booty divided into different piles of gold and bullion, jewellery, and goods. Then he said that a lavish party would take place this evening and that the spoils would be distributed the next day.

Morgan raised a toast to the prizes of Panama and those of their upcoming expedition and opened the first keg, but only a few of his chosen followers really drank. The other men drank themselves to death. The gold, diamonds, and most expensive goods were loaded into the three ships while they snorted loudly. The other ships were so damaged that it would take several days to fix them, so Morgan and his crew pushed out into the river's current and were silently taken away. The remaining buccaneers released every prisoner held at Panama Viejo while Morgan sailed away to his headquarters in Jamaica. Most of the Spaniards marched in the direction of Portobelo. They were travelling in the direction of Panama Viejo. They established the still-existing village of San Juan before reaching the continental divide.

Never was Panama Viejo reconstructed. About five miles to the west, close to the vicinity of the Presidential Palace, was where what is today the vibrant, contemporary city of Panama was created. The city was never again attacked by pirates. However, the remaining stones of Panama Viejo, which are still touchable today, seen and heard everything.