Captain Henry Morgan and the Escape from Maracaibo — Historical past is Now Journal, Podcasts, Weblog and Books

20220702 Admiral Sir Henry Morgan 1635–1688 Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica

Captain Morgan was not an excellent navigator, sailor, or soldier. He was missing in lots of the expertise of those that got here earlier than him (Sir Francis Drake), and people who got here after him (Blackbeard). However he was an excellent chief and an excellent thinker greater than any of those males. Morgan was the best menace to the Spanish since Sir Francis Drake and loved the nickname El Draque by the Spanish.

Early Life

Henry Morgan was born in January of 1635 in Wales. Typical of seafaring males of this time, little is understood of his formative years and childhood. He doubtless got here to the New World on an expedition of Thomas Gage directed by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell presently being the chief of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Eire. The expedition was captained by Admiral Penn and Basic Venables who had been to journey to the Spanish Predominant and try and loosen the maintain the Spanish had developed on commerce and the New World. Nobody foresaw the troublesome situations, harsh landscapes, and bitter combating that was awaiting them.

Throughout this time, there was nice stress between Protestant England and Catholic Spain, that resulted in letters of Marque being given to sailors to raid and pillage enemy ships. Letters of Marque or Commissions had been a simple approach for a rustic to keep up an almost free Navy, and it allowed their navy vessels to struggle the enemy – not loot for treasure. Privateering commissions modified the world, and particularly the Caribbean. It was in November of 1663 that Morgan doubtless obtained his first command and a fee of his personal. It was then that his privateering profession really started.


The assault that reveals the brilliance of Sir Henry Morgan greater than every other is that of Maracaibo. Maracaibo is a city in Venezuela, that sits instantly on a channel off the Caribbean Sea. This channel results in Lake Maracaibo, the place Morgan units his sights for plunder. In the course of the early levels of the assault on Maracaibo, Morgan simply moved into the city, ransacking and plundering all that was discovered. Few Spanish troops manned the fort, and people who did had been afraid of what would occur in the event that they had been captured by the “English devils.” Morgan and his males captured prisoners and held them for ransom, and exploited others as guides. Prisoners had been tortured and killed in an effort to extract any and all details about the placement of valuables, and for details about the Spanish forces.

His assault was going completely, till a fleet of Spanish ships with the specific order to finish piracy within the Caribbean appeared, blocking his solely exit level from Maracaibo. Bear in mind, Maracaibo sits in a channel and results in a land locked lake – there’s a technique in and a technique out. Don Alonzo de Campos y Espinosa, the commander of the Spanish fleet, despatched Morgan a letter instructing him to give up, or his males could be killed in battle. Morgan learn this and commenced discussions together with his males (you will need to notice that an early type of democracy was practiced onboard pirate and privateering vessels with the captain solely retaining complete management throughout battle) – it was determined they might struggle their approach out of Maracaibo.

Escape Plan

Morgan captured a service provider vessel earlier in his pillage, and now it was for use as a fireplace ship. That’s, a ship coated in flammable materials and lit ablaze then sailed instantly at an enemy goal, the final sailors abandoning the ship in a canoe shortly earlier than influence. Morgan knew that the Spanish Armada was manned by hardened, battle prepared troopers with superior firepower, so Morgan determined he needed to win the battle with wit and braveness. The service provider ship was outfitted with cannon and wood cutouts of males on deck to look that it was a privateering vessel prepared for battle. It was not till Morgan’s decoy was working instantly into the Magdalen, the Spanish Flagship, that Alonzo and crew realized what was taking place. Quickly the Magdalene was engulfed in flames, and troopers had been leaping ship to keep away from burning alive. One other ship in Alonzo’s fleet, the Soledad, tried to show and run from the privateers, however had a malfunction that saved it from crusing. Quickly Morgan’s males had been boarding the ship because the Spanish jumped from her decks to flee, shortly fixing the ship, and making it seaworthy. It was with this sensible maneuver, that Morgan virtually secured his secure exit from Maracaibo.

Escaping the Fort

The final step to flee was getting previous the Fort guarding passage into the Caribbean Sea. As soon as Alonzo’s males had been defeated within the water, they shortly bolstered the fort’s remaining troopers. Cannon was manned and musketeers had been on the able to cease Morgan from crusing out of the bay. Morgan obtained a ransom fee from these within the city and agreed that if they need to carry him Don Alonzo he would depart peacefully. Alonzo was unwilling to permit Morgan to move and accepted one other battle. In really sensible model, Morgan had his males board canoes and sail to the financial institution showing to disembark. In actuality his males had been laying down within the backside of the canoes, and rowing again to the unseen aspect of the ship and climbing aboard. Morgan has this executed over the course of a day, all below the watchful eye of Don Alonzo who presumed an assault would come by land. Late within the night, Morgan had his ships elevate anchor and slowly maneuver towards the fort till abruptly they opened full sail and shortly moved out of vary of the Spanish cannon. Morgan made his approach again to Port Royal, and his males celebrated their victory with the standard privateer celebration (rum, prostitutes, and playing). After this, Morgan grew to become a real hero to English Jamaicans and secured his place because the defender of Jamaica.

Morgan’s Brilliance

Morgan’s assaults grew to become increasingly more daring and harmful as time went on, however probably the most spectacular exhibiting of his brilliance of management was at Maracaibo. Many captains would have taken the provide of secure give up or would have died in useless attempting to struggle the pleasure of the Spanish Navy. However Morgan was completely different – his males trusted him and he them. He deliberate for each state of affairs and had males keen to execute his each command with military-like precision. Morgan retired to his sugar plantations in Jamaica and hoped to stay a peaceable life. Ultimately although, after a raid on Panama, Morgan was arrested and brought again to London. To his shock, he was not punished however slightly made a Knight, and appointed Lt. Governor of Jamaica. His cost – finish piracy within the Caribbean. Morgan did simply this, however the lifetime of a politician was much less interesting to Morgan, and he ultimately died a rich alcoholic. Morgan made smart selections all through his profession. He knew when to push on, and he knew when to cease. He knew methods to encourage males and methods to make his enemies concern his identify. It’s in these qualities that Morgan grew to become probably the most profitable privateer since Sir Francis Drake and cemented his identify to a brief checklist of profitable privateers.

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Now, learn extra tales at sea: the story of French feminine 14th century pirate Jeanne de Clisson is right here.

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