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THE TERRIBLE LADRONES
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the 4th of November an order arrived from the admiral for the fleet to
proceed immediately to Lantow, where he was lying with only two vessels, and
three Portuguese ships and a brig constantly annoying him; several sail of
mandarine vessels were daily expected. The fleet weighed and proceeded
towards Lantow. On passing the island of Lintin, three ships and a brig gave
chase to us. The Ladrones prepared to board; but night closing we lost sight of
them: I am convinced they altered their course and stood from us. These vessels
were in the pay of the Chinese government, and style themselves the Invincible
Squadron, cruising in the river Tigris to annihilate the Ladrones!

On the fifth, in the morning, the red squadron anchored in a bay under Lantow;
the black squadron stood to the eastward. In this bay they hauled several of their
vessels on shore to bream their bottoms and repair them.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the afternoon of the 8th of November, four ships, a brig and a schooner came
off the mouth of the bay. At first the pirates were much alarmed, supposing them
to be English vessels come to rescue us. Some of them threatened to hang us to
the mast-head for them to fire at; and with much difficulty we persuaded them
that they were Portuguese. The Ladrones had only seven junks in a fit state for
action; these they hauled outside, and moored them head and stern across the
bay; and manned all the boats belonging to the repairing vessels ready for
boarding.

The Portuguese observing these maneuvers hove to, and communicated by boats.
Soon afterwards they made sail, each ship firing her broadside as she passed, but
without effect, the shot falling far short. The Ladrones did not return a single
shot, but waved their colors, and threw up rockets, to induce them to come
further in, which they might easily have done, the outside junks lying in four
fathoms water which I sounded myself: though the Portuguese in their letters to
Macao lamented there was not sufficient water for them to engage closer, but
that they would certainly prevent their escaping before the mandarine fleet
arrived!
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the 20th of November, early in the morning, I perceived an immense fleet of
mandarine vessels standing for the bay. On nearing us, they formed a line, and
stood close in; each vessel as she discharged her guns tacked to join the rear and
reload. They kept up a constant fire for about two hours, when one of their
largest vessels was blown up by a firebrand thrown from a Ladrone junk; after
which they kept at a more respectful distance, but continued firing without
intermission 'till the 21st at night, when it fell calm.

The Ladrones towed out seven large vessels, with about two hundred rowboats
to board them; but a breeze springing up, they made sail and escaped. The
Ladrones returned into the bay, and anchored. The Portuguese and mandarines
followed, and continued a heavy cannonading during that night and the next day.
The vessel I was in had her foremast shot away, which they supplied very
expeditiously by taking a mainmast from a smaller vessel.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the 23d, in the evening, it again fell calm; the Ladrones towed out fifteen
junks in two divisions, with the intention of surrounding them, which was nearly
effected, having come up with and boarded one, when a breeze suddenly sprung
up. The captured vessel mounted twenty-two guns. Most of her crew leaped
overboard; sixty or seventy were taken immediately, cut to pieces and thrown
into the river. Early in the morning the Ladrones returned into the bay, and
anchored in the same situation as before. The Portuguese and mandarines
followed, keeping up a constant fire. The Ladrones never returned a single shot,
but always kept in readiness to board, and the Portuguese were careful never to
allow them an opportunity.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the 28th, at night, they sent in eight fire-vessels, which if properly
constructed must have done great execution, having every advantage they could
wish for to effect their purpose; a strong breeze and tide directly into the bay,
and the vessels lying so close together that it was impossible to miss them. On
their first appearance the Ladrones gave a general shout, supposing them to be
mandarine vessels on fire, but were very soon convinced of their mistake. They
came very regularly into the center of the fleet, two and two, burning furiously;
one of them came alongside of the vessel I was in, but they succeeded in
booming her off. She appeared to be a vessel of about thirty tons; her hold was
filled with straw and wood, and there were a few small boxes of combustibles on
her deck, which exploded alongside of us without doing any damage. The
Ladrones, however, towed them all on shore, extinguished the fire, and broke
them up for fire-wood. The Portuguese claim the credit of constructing these
destructive machines, and actually sent a dispatch to the Governor of Macao,
saying they had destroyed at least one-third of the Ladrones' fleet, and hoped
soon to effect their purpose by totally annihilating them!
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the 29th of November, the Ladrones being all ready for sea, they weighed
and stood boldly out, bidding defiance to the invincible squadron and imperial
fleet, consisting of ninety-three war-junks, six Portuguese ships, a brig, and a
schooner. Immediately the Ladrones weighed, they made all sail. The Ladrones
chased them two or three hours, keeping up a constant fire; finding they did not
come up with them, they hauled their wind and stood to the eastward.

Thus terminated the boasted blockade, which lasted nine days, during which
time the Ladrones completed all their repairs. In this action not a single Ladrone
vessel was destroyed, and their loss about thirty or forty men. An American was
also killed, one of three that remained out of eight taken in a schooner. I had two
very narrow escapes: the first, a twelve-pounder shot fell within three or four
feet of me; another took a piece out of a small brass-swivel on which I was
standing. The chief's wife frequently sprinkled me with garlic-water, which they
consider an effectual charm against shot. The fleet continued under sail all night,
steering towards the eastward. In the morning they anchored in a large bay
surrounded by lofty and barren mountains.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the 2nd of December I received a letter from Lieutenant Maughn,
commander of the Honorable Company's cruiser Antelope, saying that he had the
ransom on board, and had been three days cruising after us, and wished me to
settle with the chief on the securest method of delivering it. The chief agreed to
send us in a small gunboat, 'till we came within sight of the Antelope; then the
Compradore's boat was to bring the ransom and receive us.

I was so agitated at receiving this joyful news, that it was with considerable
difficulty I could scrawl about two or three lines to inform Lieutenant Maughn of
the arrangements I had made. We were all so deeply affected by the gratifying
tidings, that we seldom closed our eyes, but continued watching day and night
for the boat. On the 6th she returned with Lieutenant Maughn's answer, saying
he would respect any single boat; but would not allow the fleet to approach him.
The chief then, according to his first proposal, ordered a gunboat to take us, and
with no small degree of pleasure we left the Ladrone fleet about four o'clock in
the morning.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At one P.M. saw the Antelope under all sail, standing toward us. The Ladrone
boat immediately anchored, and dispatched the Compradore's boat for the
ransom, saying, that if she approached nearer, they would return to the fleet; and
they were just weighing when she shortened sail, and anchored about two miles
from us. The boat did not reach her 'till late in the afternoon, owing to the tide's
being strong against her. She received the ransom and left the Antelope just
before dark. A mandarine boat that had been lying concealed under the land, and
watching their maneuvers, gave chase to her, and was within a few fathoms of
taking her, when she saw a light, which the Ladrones answered, and the
Mandarine hauled off.

Our situation was now a most critical one; the ransom was in the hands of the
Ladrones, and the Compradore dare not return with us for fear of a second attack
from the mandarine boat. The Ladrones would not remain 'till morning, so we
were obliged to return with them to the fleet.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the morning the chief inspected the ransom, which consisted of the following
articles: two bales of superfine scarlet cloth; two chests of opium; two casks of
gunpowder; and a telescope; the rest in dollars. He objected to the telescope not
being new; and said he should detain one of us 'till another was sent, or a
hundred dollars in lieu of it. The Compradore however agreed with him for the
hundred dollars.

Every thing being at length settled, the chief ordered two gunboats to convey us
near the Antelope; we saw her just before dusk, when the Ladrone boats left us.
We had the inexpressible pleasure of arriving on board the Antelope at 7 P.M.,
where we were most cordially received, and heartily congratulated on our safe
and happy deliverance from a miserable captivity, which we had endured for
eleven weeks and three days.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few Remarks on the Origin, Progress, Manners, and Customs of the
Ladrones
THE Ladrones are a disaffected race of Chinese, that revolted against the
oppressions of the mandarins. They first commenced their depredations on the
Western coast (Cochin-China), by attacking small trading vessels in rowboats,
carrying from thirty to forty men each. They continued this system of piracy
several years; at length their successes, and the oppressive state of the Chinese,
had the effect of rapidly increasing their numbers. Hundreds of fishermen and
others flocked to their standard; and as their number increased they consequently
became more desperate. They blockaded all the principal rivers, and captured
several large junks, mounting from ten to fifteen guns each.

With these junks they formed a very formidable fleet, and no small vessels could
trade on the coast with safety. They plundered several small villages, and
exercised such wanton barbarity as struck horror into the breasts of the Chinese.
To check these enormities the government equipped a fleet of forty imperial warjunks,
mounting from eighteen to twenty guns each. On the very first rencontre,
twenty-eight of the imperial junks struck to the pirates; the rest saved themselves
by a precipitate retreat.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These junks, fully equipped for war, were a great acquisition to them. Their
numbers augmented so rapidly, that at the period of my captivity they were
supposed to amount to near seventy thousand men, eight hundred large vessels,
and nearly a thousand small ones, including rowboats. They were divided into
five squadrons, distinguished by different colored flags: each squadron
commanded by an admiral, or chief; but all under the orders of A-juo-Chay
(Ching y?h saou), their premier chief, a most daring and enterprising man, who
went so far as to declare his intention of displacing the present Tartar family
from the throne of China, and to restore the ancient Chinese dynasty.

This extraordinary character would have certainly shaken the foundation of the
government, had he not been thwarted by the jealousy of the second in
command, who declared his independence, and soon after surrendered to the
mandarines with five hundred vessels, on promise of a pardon. Most of the
inferior chiefs followed his example. A-juo-Chay (Ching y?h saou) held out a
few months longer, and at length surrendered with sixteen thousand men, on
condition of a general pardon, and himself to be made a mandarine of
distinction.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Ladrones have no settled residence on shore, but live constantly in their
vessels. The after-part is appropriated to the captain and his wives; he generally
has five or six. With respect to conjugal rights they are religiously strict; no
person is allowed to have a woman on board, unless married to her according to
their laws. Every man is allowed a small berth, about four feet square, where he
stows with his wife and family.
From the number of souls crowded in so small a space, it must naturally be
supposed they are horridly dirty, which is evidently the case, and their vessels
swarm with all kinds of vermin. Rats in particular, which they encourage to
breed, and eat them as great delicacies; in fact, there are very few creatures they
will not eat. During our captivity we lived three weeks on caterpillars boiled
with rice. They are much addicted to gambling, and spend all their leisure hours
at cards and smoking opium.
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