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THE TERRIBLE LADRONES
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Salty Dog
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134732 Gold -

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tuesday, the 25th, at daylight in the morning, the fleet, amounting to about five
hundred sail of different sizes, weighed, to proceed on their intended cruise up
the rivers, to levy contributions on the towns and villages. It is impossible to
describe what were my feelings at this critical time, having received no answers
to my letters, and the fleet under-way to sail,—hundreds of miles up a country
never visited by Europeans, there to remain probably for many months, which
would render all opportunities of negotiating for our enlargement totally
ineffectual; as the only method of communication is by boats, that have a pass
from the Ladrones, and they dare not venture above twenty miles from Macao,
being obliged to come and go in the night, to avoid the Mandarines; and if these
boats should be detected in having any intercourse with the Ladrones, they are
immediately put to death, and all their relations, though they had not joined in
the crime,[21] share in the punishment, in order that not a single person of their
families should be left to imitate their crimes or revenge their death. This
severity renders communication both dangerous and expensive; no boat would
venture out for less than a hundred Spanish dollars.
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Salty Dog
Helmsman
Posts: 6774



134732 Gold -

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tuesday, the 25th, at daylight in the morning, the fleet, amounting to about five
hundred sail of different sizes, weighed, to proceed on their intended cruise up
the rivers, to levy contributions on the towns and villages. It is impossible to
describe what were my feelings at this critical time, having received no answers
to my letters, and the fleet under-way to sail,—hundreds of miles up a country
never visited by Europeans, there to remain probably for many months, which
would render all opportunities of negotiating for our enlargement totally
ineffectual; as the only method of communication is by boats, that have a pass
from the Ladrones, and they dare not venture above twenty miles from Macao,
being obliged to come and go in the night, to avoid the Mandarines; and if these
boats should be detected in having any intercourse with the Ladrones, they are
immediately put to death, and all their relations, though they had not joined in
the crime,[21] share in the punishment, in order that not a single person of their
families should be left to imitate their crimes or revenge their death. This
severity renders communication both dangerous and expensive; no boat would
venture out for less than a hundred Spanish dollars.
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Salty Dog
Helmsman
Posts: 6774



134732 Gold -

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Ladrones now prepared to attack the town with a formidable force, collected
in rowboats from the different vessels. They sent a messenger to the town,
demanding a tribute of ten thousand dollars annually, saying, if these terms were
not complied with, they would land, destroy the town, and murder all the
inhabitants; which they would certainly have done, had the town laid in a more
advantageous situation for their purpose; but being placed out of the reach of
their shot, they allowed them to come to terms. The inhabitants agreed to pay six
thousand dollars, which they were to collect by the time of our return down the
river. This finesse had the desired effect, for during our absence they mounted a
few guns on a hill, which commanded the passage, and gave us in lieu of the
dollars a warm salute on our return.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



134732 Gold -

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

October the 1st, the fleet weighed in the night, dropped by the tide up the river,
and anchored very quietly before a town surrounded by a thick wood. Early in
the morning the Ladrones assembled in rowboats and landed; then gave a shout,
and rushed into the town, sword in hand. The inhabitants fled to the adjacent
hills, in numbers apparently superior to the Ladrones. We may easily imagine to
ourselves the horror with which these miserable people must be seized, on being
obliged to leave their homes, and everything dear to them. It was a most
melancholy sight to see women in tears, clasping their infants in their arms, and
imploring mercy for them from those brutal robbers!

The old and the sick, who
were unable to fly, or to make resistance, were either made prisoners or most
inhumanly butchered! The boats continued passing and repassing from the junks
to the shore, in quick succession, laden with booty, and the men besmeared with
blood! Two hundred and fifty women, and several children, were made
prisoners, and sent on board different vessels. They were unable to escape with
the men, owing to that abominable practice of cramping their feet: several of
them were not able to move without assistance, in fact, they might all be said to
totter, rather than walk. Twenty of these poor women were sent on board the
vessel I was in; they were hauled on board by the hair, and treated in a most
savage manner.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



134732 Gold -

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

When the chief came on board, he questioned them respecting the circumstances
of their friends, and demanded ransoms accordingly, from six thousand to six
hundred dollars each. He ordered them a berth on deck, at the after part of the
vessel, where they had nothing to shelter them from the weather, which at this
time was very variable,—the days excessively hot, and the nights cold, with
heavy rains. The town being plundered of every thing valuable, it was set on fire,
and reduced to ashes by the morning. The fleet remained here three days,
negotiating for the ransom of the prisoners, and plundering the fish-tanks and
gardens. During all this time, the Chinese never ventured from the hills, though
there were frequently not more than a hundred Ladrones on shore at a time, and I
am sure the people on the hills exceeded ten times that number.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



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

October 5th, the fleet proceeded up another branch of the river, stopping at
several small villages to receive tribute, which was generally paid in dollars,
sugar and rice, with a few large pigs roasted whole, as presents for their joss (the
idol they worship).[25] Every person on being ransomed, is obliged to present
him with a pig, or some fowls, which the priest offers him with prayers; it
remains before him a few hours, and is then divided amongst the crew. Nothing
particular occurred 'till the 10th, except frequent skirmishes on shore between
small parties of Ladrones and Chinese soldiers. They frequently obliged my men
to go on shore, and fight with the muskets we had when taken, which did great
execution, the Chinese principally using bows and arrows. They have matchlocks,
but use them very unskillfully.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the 10th, we formed a junction with the black squadron, and proceeded many
miles up a wide and beautiful river, passing several ruins of villages that had
been destroyed by the black squadron. On the 17th, the fleet anchored abreast
four mud batteries, which defended a town, so entirely surrounded with wood
that it was impossible to form any idea of its size. The weather was very hazy,
with hard squalls of rain. The Ladrones remained perfectly quiet for two days.
On the third day the forts commenced a brisk fire for several hours: the Ladrones
did not return a single shot, but weighed in the night and dropped down the river.

The reasons they gave for not attacking the town, or returning the fire, were that
Joss had not promised them success. They are very superstitious, and consult
their idol on all occasions. If his omens are good, they will undertake the most
daring enterprizes.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



134732 Gold -

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The fleet now anchored opposite the ruins of the town where the women had
been made prisoners. Here we remained five or six days, during which time
about a hundred of the women were ransomed; the remainder were offered for
sale amongst the Ladrones, for forty dollars each. The woman is considered the
lawful wife of the purchaser, who would be put to death if he discarded her.
Several of them leaped overboard and drowned themselves, rather than submit to
such infamous degradation.

The fleet then weighed and made sail down the river, to receive the ransom from
the town before mentioned. As we passed the hill, they fired several shots at us,
but without effect. The Ladrones were much exasperated, and determined to
revenge themselves; they dropped out of reach of their shot, and anchored. Every
junk sent about a hundred men each on shore, to cut paddy, and destroy their
orange-groves, which was most effectually performed for several miles down the
river. During our stay here, they received information of nine boats lying up a
creek, laden with paddy; boats were immediately dispatched after them.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Next morning these boats were brought to the fleet; ten or twelve men were
taken in them. As these had made no resistance, the chief said he would allow
them to become Ladrones, if they agreed to take the usual oaths before Joss.
Three or four of them refused to comply, for which they were punished in the
following cruel manner: their hands were tied behind their back, a rope from the
mast-head rove through their arms, and hoisted three or four feet from the deck,
and five or six men flogged them with three rattans twisted together 'till they
were apparently dead; then hoisted them up to the mast-head, and left them
hanging nearly an hour, then lowered them down, and repeated the punishment,
'till they died or complied with the oath.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

October the 20th, in the night, an express-boat came with the information that a
large mandarine fleet was proceeding up the river to attack us. The chief
immediately weighed, with fifty of the largest vessels, and sailed down the river
to meet them. About one in the morning they commenced a heavy fire till
daylight, when an express was sent for the remainder of the fleet to join them:
about an hour after a counter-order to anchor came, the mandarine fleet having
run. Two or three hours afterwards the chief returned with three captured vessels
in tow, having sunk two, and eighty-three sail made their escape. The admiral of
the mandarines blew his vessel up, by throwing a lighted match into the
magazine as the Ladrones were boarding her; she ran on shore, and they
succeeded in getting twenty of her guns.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In this action very few prisoners were taken: the men belonging to the captured
vessels drowned themselves, as they were sure of suffering a lingering and cruel
death if taken after making resistance. The admiral left the fleet in charge of his
brother, the second in command, and proceeded with his own vessel towards
Lantow. The fleet remained in this river, cutting paddy, and getting the necessary
supplies.

On the 28th of October, I received a letter from Captain Kay, brought by a
fisherman, who had told him he would get us all back for three thousand dollars.
He advised me to offer three thousand, and if not accepted, extend it to four; but
not farther, as it was bad policy to offer much at first: at the same time assuring
me we should be liberated, let the ransom be what it would. I offered the chief
the three thousand, which he disdainfully refused, saying he was not to be played
with; and unless they sent ten thousand dollars, and two large guns, with several
casks of gunpowder, he would soon put us all to death. I wrote to Captain Kay,
and informed him of the chief's determination, requesting if an opportunity
offered, to send us a shift of clothes, for which it may be easily imagined we
were much distressed, having been seven weeks without a shift; although
constantly exposed to the weather, and of course frequently wet.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the first of November, the fleet sailed up a narrow river, and anchored at
night within two miles of a town called Little Whampoa. In front of it was a
small fort, and several mandarine vessels lying in the harbor. The chief sent the
interpreter to me, saying I must order my men to make cartridges and clean their
muskets, ready to go on shore in the morning. I assured the interpreter I should
give the men no such orders, that they must please themselves. Soon after the
chief came on board, threatening to put us all to a cruel death if we refused to
obey his orders. For my own part I remained determined, and advised the men
not to comply, as I thought by making ourselves useful we should be accounted
too valuable.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few hours afterwards he sent to me again, saying, that if myself and the
quartermaster would assist them at the great guns, that if also the rest of the men
went on shore and succeeded in taking the place, he would then take the money
offered for our ransom, and give them twenty dollars for every Chinaman's head
they cut off. To these proposals we cheerfully acceded, in hopes of facilitating
our deliverance.

Early in the morning the forces intended for landing were assembled in
rowboats, amounting in the whole to three or four thousand men. The largest
vessels weighed, and hauled in shore, to cover the landing of the forces, and
attack the fort and mandarine vessels. About nine o'clock the action commenced,
and continued with great spirit for nearly an hour, when the walls of the fort gave
way, and the men retreated in the greatest confusion.
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Salty Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The mandarine vessels still continued firing, having blocked up the entrance of
the harbor to prevent the Ladrone boats entering. At this the Ladrones were
much exasperated, and about three hundred of them swam on shore, with a short
sword lashed close under each arm; they then ran along the banks of the river 'till
they came abreast of the vessels, and then swam off again and boarded them.
The Chinese thus attacked, leaped overboard, and endeavored to reach the
opposite shore; the Ladrones followed, and cut the greater number of them to
pieces in the water. They next towed the vessels out of the harbor, and attacked
the town with increased fury. The inhabitants fought about a quarter of an hour,
and then retreated to an adjacent hill, from which they were soon driven with
great slaughter.
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Salty Dog
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Posts: 6774



134732 Gold -

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After this the Ladrones returned, and plundered the town, every boat leaving it
when laden. The Chinese on the hills perceiving most of the boats were off,
rallied, and retook the town, after killing near two hundred Ladrones. One of my
men was unfortunately lost in this dreadful massacre! The Ladrones landed a
second time, drove the Chinese out of the town, then reduced it to ashes, and put
all their prisoners to death, without regarding either age or sex!

I must not omit to mention a most horrid (though ludicrous) circumstance which
happened at this place. The Ladrones were paid by their chief ten dollars for
every Chinaman's head they produced. One of my men turning the corner of a
street was met by a Ladrone running furiously after a Chinese; he had a drawn
sword in his hand, and two Chinaman's heads which he had cut off, tied by their
tails, and slung round his neck. I was witness myself to some of them producing
five or six to obtain payment!
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