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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. IV. by Robert Kerr

Part 3 out of 10

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us at the same time that our allies were to be put into cages to fatten,
and that they would soon recover our ill got treasure. Sometimes they
adjured us in the most plaintive terms to restore their king to liberty,
and they annoyed us without ceasing by flights of arrows, constantly
shouting and whistling. On the ensuing morning at day-break, having first
recommended ourselves to GOD, we sallied out from our quarters with the
turrets, such as I have seen in other places, and called _mantas_ or
_burros_. Our column was headed by a party of musketeers and crossbow-men,
and our cavalry on our flanks, occasionally charging the enemy. Our
purpose was to assail the great temple, which by its elevation and strong
enclosures, served as a citadel to the Mexicans, and we advanced therefore
in that direction, accompanied by our turrets; but the enemy resisted all
our efforts with the most determined obstinacy. I will not attempt to
relate all the circumstances of this desperate battle, or the difficulty
which we had to encounter in driving the enemy from a very strong house
which they occupied. The arrows of the Mexicans wounded many of our horses,
notwithstanding that they wore defensive armour; and when our cavalry
attempted at any time to charge or to pursue the enemy, they threw
themselves into the canals, while others sallied out from the houses on
both sides with long lances, assailing our people in the rear and on both
flanks. It was utterly impossible for us to burn the houses, or to pull
them down, as they all stood singly in the water, communicating only by
means of draw-bridges; and it was too dangerous for us to attempt reaching
them by swimming, as they showered vollies of stones upon us by slings,
and threw large stones upon our heads from the terraces of their house
tops. Even when a house was set on fire, it was very long of taking effect;
and even when we succeeded, the flames could not communicate to the other
houses, as they were all separated by canals, and their roofs were
terraced, not thatched.

At length we reached the great temple, into which four thousand of the
Mexicans immediately rushed, independent of other large bodies who were
previously stationed there for its defence. They defended their temple
with the most obstinate valour, and for some time prevented us from being
able to ascend, our turrets, musketry, and cavalry, being of no avail to
force them to give ground. The pavements of the temple courts were so
smooth, that the horses fell when our cavalry attempted to charge. They
opposed us in front from the steps of the great temple, and assailed us
with such fury on both flanks and in the rear, that though our guns swept
off a dozen or fifteen of them at every discharge, and though in each
charge of our infantry we killed many of them with our swords and lances,
they continually filled up the chasms we had made among them, and their
numbers and resolution were so great that we could not make any permanent
or effectual impression. We were even forced to abandon our _mantas_ or
turrets, which the enemy had demolished. At length, by a desperate effort,
we forced our way up the steps, and in this assault Cortes shewed himself
a hero. Our battle in this place was most desperate, every man among us
being covered with blood, and above forty of our number lay dead on the
spot. We reached with infinite difficulty the place where we had formerly
set up the image of the blessed Virgin, which was not to be found, as it
had been removed by order of Montezuma, either through fear or from
devotion to his idols. We set fire to the buildings, and burnt down a part
of the temples of Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca; and while some of us
were employed in setting fire to the buildings, and others fighting, in
which our Tlascalan allies seconded us most gallantly, above three
thousand Mexican nobles, headed by their priests, made a most severe
attack, and drove us down eight or ten of the steps. Others of the enemy
from the corridors, or within the railings and concavities of the temple,
assailed us on every side with arrows and other missiles, so that we were
unable even to maintain the ground we had gained. We were constrained
therefore to retreat, every man of us being wounded, and forty-six of our
number slain. We regained our quarters with the utmost difficulty, which
the enemy had almost gained possession of, as they had been continually
endeavouring to carry them by assault during our absence, or to set them
on fire. But they desisted in a great measure from the assault on our
arrival, yet continued to throw in perpetual showers of arrows, darts, and
stones. In the course of this most terrible engagement, we made two of the
chief priests prisoners, whom we carried along with us to our quarters. I
have often seen representations of this battle in Mexican paintings, both
at Mexico and Tlascala, in which the various incidents were represented in
a very lively manner. Our ascent to the great temple; the setting the
temple on fire; the numerous warriors defending it in the corridors, from
behind the rails, and in the concavities, and others on the plain ground,
in the courts of the temple, and on all sides of us; many of our men being
represented as dead, and all of us covered with wounds. In these paintings,
the destruction of our turrets is conspicuously represented as a most
heroic achievement.

The night which succeeded this unfortunate battle was passed by us in a
most melancholy state; repairing the breaches which had been made in the
walls of our quarters, dressing our wounds, burying our slain companions,
and consulting upon measures for extricating us from our present almost
hopeless situation. The followers of Narvaez heaped maledictions on Cortes
for leading them to Mexico, and Velasquez came in for an ample share of
their abuse, for having induced them to quit their peaceful habitations in
Cuba. The enemy assembled around us again at day-break, and assailed our
quarters with greater fury than ever, insomuch that our fire-arms were
insufficient to repel them, though they mowed them down in great numbers.
In this desperate situation, Cortes sent for Montezuma, whom he desired to
address his subjects from a terrace, desiring them to desist from their
attacks, assuring them that we would immediately evacuate the city. On
receiving this message, Montezuma burst into tears, exclaiming, "What does
he want with me now? I have been reduced to my present unhappy state on
his account, and I neither wish to see him nor to live any longer?" He
therefore dismissed the messengers with a refusal, and it is reported that
he added, that he desired not to be any more troubled with the false words
and specious promises of Cortes. Father Olmedo and Captain De Oli went to
wait upon him, and used all possible expressions of respect and affection
to induce him to comply with the request of Cortes. To this he replied,
that he did not believe any thing he could now do would be of any avail,
as the Mexicans had elected another sovereign, and were resolved not to
allow a single Spaniard to quit the city alive. He made his appearance
however at the railing of a terraced roof, attended by many of our
soldiers, and made a very affectionate address to the people below,
earnestly entreating a cessation of hostilities, that we might evacuate
Mexico. As soon as Montezuma was perceived, the chiefs and nobles made
their troops to desist from the attack, and commanded silence. Then four
of the principal nobles came forwards, so near as to be able to hold
conversation with Montezuma whom they addressed, lamenting the misfortunes
which had befallen him and his family. They told him that they had raised
_Cuitlahuatzin_[3] to the throne; that the war would soon be ended, as
they had promised to their gods never to desist till they had utterly
destroyed the Spaniards; that they offered up continual prayers for the
safety of Montezuma their beloved sovereign, whom they would venerate and
obey as formerly, as soon as they had rescued him from our hands, and
hoped he would pardon all they had done for the defence of their religion
and independence, and their present disobedience. Just as they concluded
this address, a shower of arrows fell about the place where Montezuma
stood; and though the Spaniards had hitherto protected him by interposing
their shields, they did not expect any assault while he was speaking to
his subjects, and had therefore uncovered him for an instant; in that
unguarded state, three stones and an arrow hit him on the head, the arm,
and the leg, wounding him severely. Montezuma refused every assistance,
and all the endeavours of Father Olmedo could not prevail upon him to
embrace the holy Catholic faith, neither could he be prevailed upon to
have his wounds attended to. When informed of his death, Cortes and our
captains lamented him exceedingly, and all of us soldiers who had been
acquainted with his generosity and other amiable qualities, grieved as for
the loss of a father. He was said to have reigned seventeen years, and to
have been the best of all the sovereigns who had ruled over Mexico; having
fought and conquered in three pitched battles, while subjugating other
states to his dominions.

After the death of Montezuma, Cortes sent two of our prisoners, a nobleman
and a priest, with a message to the new sovereign Cuitlahuatzin, to inform
him of the melancholy event, which had happened by the hands of his own
subjects; to express our grief on the occasion; and our wish that
Montezuma might be interred with that respect which was due to his exalted
character. Cortes likewise informed these messengers, that he did not
acknowledge the right of the sovereign whom the Mexicans had chosen, as
the throne ought to belong to the son of the great Montezuma, or to his
cousin, who was now a prisoner in our quarters. He desired them also to
say, if they would desist from hostilities, we would immediately march out
of their city. He then ordered the body of Montezuma to be carried out by
six nobles, and attended by most of the priests whom we had taken
prisoners, desiring them to deliver the body of their deceased monarch to
the Mexican chiefs, according to his dying injunctions. We could hear the
exclamations of sorrow which were expressed by the people, at the sight of
the body of their late sovereign; but our message was unavailing, as they
recommenced their attack on our quarters with the utmost violence,
threatening that in two days we should all pay with our lives for the
death of their king and the dishonour of their gods, as they had now a
sovereign whom we could not deceive as we had done by the good Montezuma.

Our situation was now exceedingly alarming, and on the day after the death
of Montezuma, we made another sally towards that part of the city which
contained many houses built on the firm ground, meaning to do all the
injury we could, and, taking advantage of the causeway, to charge through
the enemy with our cavalry, hoping to intimidate them by severe military
execution, so as to induce them to grant us a free passage; we accordingly
forced our way to that part of the city, where we burnt down about twenty
houses, and very nearly reached the firm land[4]. But the injury we did
the enemy was dearly purchased by the death of twenty of our soldiers, and
we were unable to gain possession of any of the bridges, which were all
partly broken down, and the enemy had constructed barricades or
retrenchments in various places to obstruct the cavalry, wherever they
could have done most essential service. Thus our troubles and perplexities
continually increased, and we were forced again to fight our way back to
our quarters. In this sally, which took place on a Thursday, Sandoval and
others of our cavalry acted with great bravery; but those who came with
Narvaez, not having been accustomed to such service, were timorous in
comparison with our veterans. The number and fury of our enemies increased
daily, while our force was diminished by each successive attack, and from
our wounds we were become less able for resistance. Our powder was almost
entirely expended; provisions and water became scarce; our friend
Montezuma was no more; all our proposals for peace were rejected; the
bridges by which we might have retreated were broken down; and in fine
nothing but death in its direst form of immolation to their horrible idols
appeared before us. In this state almost bordering on despair, it was
resolved by Cortes in a consultation with all his confidential officers
and soldiers, to make an attempt to quit the city during the night, as we
were in expectation to find the enemy less upon their guard than in the
day time. In order to deceive them, a message was sent by one of their
chief priests who had been made prisoner, engaging to give up all the
treasure in our possession, if they would give us permission within eight
days to quit the city. Four days before this, one Botello, who pretended
to be an astrologer, predicted that if we did not leave Mexico on this
very night, that none of us would ever get out of it alive, adding many
other foolish particulars to his prophecy.

As it was determined to endeavour to force our way from the city, a
portable bridge of very strong timber was prepared for enabling us to pass
over the canals or passages in the causeway, where the enemy had broken
down the bridges; and one hundred and fifty of our soldiers, with four
hundred Tlascalan allies, were appointed for conveying, guarding, and
placing this bridge. The advanced guard of an hundred of our youngest and
most active men, was commanded by Sandoval, assisted by Azevedo, De Lugo,
De Ordas, and De Tapia, with eight of the captains that came with Narvaez.
The rear guard of an hundred men, mostly those of Narvaez, and the greater
part of our cavalry, was confided to Alvarado and Velasquez de Leon. Donna
Marina and Donna Luisa, with the Mexican chiefs who were prisoners, were
placed under an escort of thirty Spanish soldiers and three hundred
Tlascalans: Our general, with Avila, Oli, and other officers, and fifty
soldiers, formed a body of reserve to act where they might be most needed.
The rest of our soldiers and allies, with the baggage, formed a main body
along with which the prisoners and their especial escort was to move,
under protection of the van and rear guards. By the time that all these
arrangements were completed, it drew towards night, and Cortes caused all
the gold, which had hitherto been kept in his apartment, to be brought
into the great hall of our quarters, when he desired Avila and Mexia, the
kings officers, to take charge of what belonged to his majesty, assigning
them eight wounded horses and above fourscore Mexicans for its conveyance.
When these were loaded with all the gold they were able to carry, a great
deal more remained heaped up in the saloon. Cortes then desired his
secretary Hernandez and other notaries to bear witness that he could no
longer be responsible for this gold; and desired the soldiers to take as
much as they pleased, saying it were better for them to have it, than to
leave it to their Mexican enemies. Upon this many of the soldiers of
Narvaez, and some even of our veterans, loaded themselves with treasure. I
was never avaricious, and was now more intent on saving my life than on
the possession of riches: I took the opportunity, however, of carrying off
four calchihuis from a casket, though Cortes had ordered his major-domo to
take especial care of this casket and its contents, and these jewels were
of infinite use to me afterwards, as a resource against famine, as they
are highly prized by the Indians. The memorable night of our leaving
Mexico, was dark, with much mist and some rain. Just before midnight, the
detachment having charge of the portable bridge moved off from our
quarters, followed in regular succession by the other divisions of our
army. On coming to the first aperture in the causeway of Tacuba or
Tlacopan, by which we retreated as being the shortest, the bridge was laid
across, and was passed by the vanguard, the baggage, artillery, part of
the cavalry, the Tlascalans with the gold. Just as Sandoval and his party
had passed, and Cortes with his body of reserve, the trumpets of the enemy
were heard, and the alarm was given on every side, the Mexicans shouting
out, "_Tlaltelulco! Tlaltelulco_[5]! out with your canoes! the teules are
marching off, assail them at the bridges!" In an instant the enemy
assailed us on every side, some on the land and others in their canoes,
which swarmed on the lake and the canals on both sides of our road, and so
numerous were they and so determined that they entirely intercepted our
line of march, especially at the broken bridges, and from this moment
nothing but confusion and dismay prevailed among our troops. It rained so
heavily that some of the horses became restive and plunged into the water
with their riders; and to add to our distress our portable bridge was
broken down at this first gap, and it was no longer serviceable. The enemy
attacked us with redoubled fury, and as our soldiers made a brave
resistance, the aperture became soon choked up with the dead and dying men
and horses, intermixed with artillery, packs and bales of baggage, and
those who carried them, all heaped up in the water. Many of our companions
were drowned at this place, and many were forced into canoes and hurried
away to be sacrificed. It was horrible to hear the cries of these
unfortunate captives, calling upon us for aid which we were unable to give,
and invoking the blessed Virgin and all the saints in vain for deliverance.
Others of our companions escaped across those gaps in the causeway, by
clambering over the confused mass of dead bodies and luggage by which they
were filled, and were calling out for assistance to help them up on the
other side; while many of them, thinking themselves in safety when they
got to the firm ground, were there seized by the Mexicans, or killed with
war clubs. All the regularity which had hitherto guided our march was now
utterly lost and abandoned. Cortes and all the mounted officers and
soldiers galloped off along the causeway, providing for their own
immediate safety, and leaving all the rest to save ourselves as we best
might: Nor can I blame them for this procedure, as the cavalry could do
nothing against the enemy, who threw themselves into the water on both
sides of the causeway when attacked, while others, by continual flights of
arrows from the houses, or with long lances from the canoes on each side,
killed and wounded the men and horses. Our powder was all expended, so
that we were unable to do any injury to the Mexicans in the canoes. In
this situation of utter confusion and derout, the only thing we could do
was by uniting together in bands of thirty or forty, to endeavour to force
our way to the land: When the Indians closed upon us, we exerted our
utmost efforts to drive them off with our swords, and then hurried our
march to get over the causeway as soon as possible. Had we waited for each
other, or had our retreat been in the day, we had all been inevitably
destroyed. The escape of such as made their way to land, was due to the
mercy of God who gave us strength to force our way; for the multitudes
that surrounded us, and the melancholy sight of our companions hurried
away in the canoes to instant sacrifice, was horrible in the extreme.
About fifty of us, mostly soldiers of Cortes, with a few of those who came
with Narvaez, stuck together in a body, and made our way along the
causeway through infinite difficulty and danger. Every now and then strong
parties of Indians assailed us, calling us _luilones_, their severest term
of reproach, and using their utmost endeavours to seize us. As soon as we
thought them within reach, we faced about and repelled them with a few
thrusts of our swords, and then resumed our march. We thus proceeded,
until at last we reached the firm ground near Tacuba, where Cortes,
Sandoval, De Oli, Salcedo, Dominguez, Lares, and others of the cavalry,
and such of the infantry as had got across the bridge before it was broken
down, had already arrived[6].

On our approach, we heard the voices of Sandoval, De Oli, and Morla,
calling on Cortes to return to the assistance of those who were still on
the causeway, who loudly complained of being abandoned. Cortes replied,
that it was a miracle any should have escaped, and that all who returned
to the bridges would assuredly be slain: Yet he actually did return with
ten or twelve of the cavalry and such of the infantry as had escaped
unhurt, and proceeded along the causeway to attempt the succour of such as
might be still engaged. He had not gone far when he met Alvarado badly
wounded, accompanied by three of our soldiers, four of those belonging to
Narvaez, and eight Tlascalans, all severely wounded and covered with blood.
These Alvarado assured him were all that remained of the rear-guard,
Velasquez de Leon and about twenty of the cavalry, and above an hundred of
the infantry, who had belonged to his division, being all slain, or made
prisoners and carried away to be sacrificed. He said farther, that after
all the horses were slain, about eighty had assembled in a body and passed
the first gap on the heaps of luggage and dead bodies; that at the other
bridge the few who now accompanied him were saved by the mercy of God. I
do not now perfectly recollect in what manner he passed that last aperture,
as we were all more attentive to what he related of the death of Velasquez
and above two hundred of our unhappy companions. As to that last fatal
bridge, which is still called _Salto de Alvarado_, or the Leap of Alvarado,
we were too much occupied in saving our own lives to examine whether he
leaped much or little. He must, however, have got over on the baggage and
dead bodies; for the water was too deep for him to have reached the bottom
with his lance, and the aperture was too wide and the sides too high for
him to have leaped over, had he been the most active man in the world. In
about a year after, when we besieged Mexico, I was engaged with the enemy
at that very bridge which was called Alvarados Leap, where the enemy had
constructed breastworks and barricades, and we all agreed that the leap
was impossible. One Ocampo, a soldier who came with Garay, who used to
amuse himself with lampoons, made one on this supposed feat of Alvarado,
saying, "That fear made him give that prodigious leap, leaving Velasquez
and two hundred more to their fate as he leaped for his life." As Cortes
found, by the information of Alvarado, that the causeway was entirely
filled by the enemy, who must have intercepted all the rest of our
companions, he returned to Tacuba, where all who had escaped were now
collected. Messengers had been already sent from Mexico, ordering all the
people of Tacuba, Ezcapuzalco, Tenajocan, and other neighbouring cities on
that side of the lake, to collect and attack us; and they now began to
surround us in the inclosed courts of Popotla where we had taken shelter,
harassing us with stones and arrows, and even attacking us with lances,
many of which were headed with the swords which we lost during our retreat.
We defended ourselves against this attack as well as we could, and made
several sallies to drive them off. But, as the enemy continually increased
in number, it was determined to endeavour to reach Tlascala, for which
purpose we set out under the direction of six or seven of our allies who
were well acquainted with the country. After a fatiguing march by an
indirect road, during which we were much harassed by the enemy, who plied
us with stones and arrows, we reached some houses on a hill near a temple,
where we defended ourselves, and took such care as we could of our wounds;
but could get no provisions. After the conquest of Mexico, a church was
built on the site of this temple, and dedicated to _Nuestra Senora de los
Remedios_, our Lady of Succour, to which many ladies and other inhabitants
of Mexico, now go in procession to pay nine days devotion[7].

Our wounds had become extremely painful from cold, and want of proper
dressings, and we now bound them up as well as we could. We had to deplore
the loss of great numbers of our valiant companions, most of the soldiers
of Narvaez having lost their lives by being overloaded with gold. Poor
Botello the astrologer was killed among the rest. The sons of Montezuma,
Cacamatzin who had been prince of Tezcuco, and all the other prisoners,
among whom were some Mexican princes, lost their lives on this fatal night
of our retreat from Mexico. All our artillery were lost. We had only
twenty-three horses remaining, and very few crossbows; and our situation
was melancholy and desperate in the extreme, having no other resource but
to endeavour to reach Tlascala, and even there our reception was
exceedingly uncertain[8]. After dressing our wounds, and making arrows for
our crossbows, during which employment we were incessantly harassed in our
present post, we proceeded at midnight on our march, under the direction
of our faithful Tlascalans. Some of those who were badly wounded had to
walk with the aid of crutches; others were assisted on each side by some
of their companions; and those who were utterly unable to support
themselves were placed upon lame horses. Thus, making head against the
enemy with as many of the infantry as could bear arms, and having the
cavalry who were able to act in front and on our flanks, with the wounded
Spaniards and allies in the centre, we marched on continually harassed by
the enemy, who reviled us, saying that we should soon meet our destruction;
words that we did not then understand. I have forgot to mention the
satisfaction we all enjoyed at finding Donna Marina and Donna Luisa had
been saved in our retreat from Mexico. Having crossed among the first,
they had been brought safe to Popotla by the exertions of two brothers of
Donna Luisa, all the rest of the female Indians having been lost in the
retreat.

On this day we reached a large town named Gualtitlan[9]. From that place
we continued our march, still harassed at every step by the enemy, whose
numbers and boldness increased as we advanced, insomuch that they killed
two of our lame soldiers and one of our horses at a difficult pass,
wounding many both of our horses and ourselves. Having repulsed them, we
reached some villages, where we halted for the night, making our supper of
the slain horse[10]. We began our march very early next morning, and had
only proceeded about a league, believing ourselves now almost in safety,
when three of our videts came in with a report that the whole extent of a
plain through which we must necessarily pass was covered over by an
innumerable army. This intelligence was truly terrifying to our small
numbers, worn out with fatigue and privations, and covered with wounds;
yet we resolved to conquer or die, as we had indeed no other alternative.
We were immediately halted and formed in order of battle, the infantry
being directed to use their swords only in thrusts, by which we exposed
ourselves less to the weapons of the enemy, and the cavalry were ordered
to charge clear through at half speed, with their lances levelled at the
faces of the enemy, never stopping to make thrusts. While recommending
ourselves to God and his Holy Mother, and invoking the aid of St Jago, the
enemy began to close around us, and we resolved to sell our lives dearly,
or force our way through. The infantry being drawn up in a solid column,
and our cavalry formed in bodies of five, we proceeded to the attack. It
is impossible to describe the tremendous battle which ensued: How we
closed hand to hand, and with what fury the enemy attacked us, wounding us
with their clubs and lances and two-handed swords; while our cavalry,
favoured by the even surface of the plain, rode through them at will with
couched lances, bearing down the enemy wherever they came, and fighting
most manfully though they and their horses were all wounded. We too of the
infantry did our best, regardless of our former wounds and of those we now
received, closing up with the enemy, and using every effort to bear them
down with our swords. Cortes, Alvarado, and De Oli, though all wounded,
continued to make lanes through the throng of the enemy, calling out to us
to strike especially at the chiefs, who were easily distinguished by their
plumes of feathers, golden ornaments, rich arms, and curious devices. The
valiant Sandoval encouraged us by his example and exhortations, exclaiming,
"Now is the day of victory! Trust in God, who will still preserve us to do
him service." We were all resolute to conquer or die, and were assuredly
assisted by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Virgin, and St Jago; as was
afterwards certified by a chief belonging to Guatimotzin, who was present
in this battle. Though some were killed and many wounded, we continued to
maintain our ground, yet the enemy never relaxed in their efforts. At
length it was the will of God, that Cortes, accompanied by Sandoval, De
Oli, Alvarado, Avila, and other captains, came up to that part of the
enemy in which their commander-in-chief was posted, who was distinguished
from all the rest by his rich golden arms, and highly adorned plume of
feathers, and the grand standard of the army[11]. Immediately on Cortes
perceiving this chief, who was surrounded by many nobles wearing plumes of
feathers, he exclaimed to his companions, "Now, gentlemen, let us charge
these men, and if we succeed the day is our own." Then, recommending
themselves to God, they charged upon them, and Cortes struck the Mexican
chief and threw down his standard, he and the other cavaliers effectually
breaking and dispersing this numerous body. The Mexican chief, however,
was making his escape, but was pursued and slain by Juan de Salamanca, who
seized his rich plume of feathers and presented it to Cortes, saying, that
as he had first struck the Mexican general and overthrown the standard,
the trophy of the conquest was his undoubted right.

It pleased God, that the enemy should relax in their efforts immediately
on learning the death of their general and of the numerous chiefs who
surrounded him. On perceiving that they began to retreat, we forgot our
hunger, thirst, fatigue, and wounds, and thought of nothing but victory
and pursuit. Our scanty cavalry followed them up close, dealing
destruction around them on every side; and our faithful allies fought like
lions, mowing down all before them with the arms which the enemy threw
away to facilitate their flight. On the return of our cavalry from the
pursuit, we gave humble thanks to God for our unexpected victory and
miraculous preservation. Never had the Mexican empire collected together
so large a force as on this occasion; being composed of all the warriors
of Mexico, Tezcuco, and Tlalcopan, headed by the whole nobility of these
nations, magnificently armed and adorned, and all determined not to leave
a single trace of us upon earth. This great and decisive battle was fought
in the neighbourhood of a place called Obtumba, Otumba, or Otompan. I have
frequently seen it, and all the other battles we fought against the
Mexicans, antecedent to the final conquest, admirably represented in
Mexican paintings. It is now proper to mention, that we entered Mexico to
relieve Alvarado on the 24th of June 1520, with upwards of 1300 soldiers,
including 97 cavalry, 80 musketeers, and 80 armed with crossbows; having
with us a great train of artillery, and 2000 warriors of our allies the
Tlascalans. Our flight from Mexico was on the 1st of the succeeding month
of July, and the battle of Obtumba on the 4th of that month. In Mexico,
during our passage of the causeway, on our march, and in the battle, we
lost above 870 soldiers, including 72 of those belonging to Narvaez, and
five Spanish women, who were put to death at a place called Tustepeque.
Upwards of 1200 of our Tlascalan allies were also killed; as were Juan de
Alcantara and two more who had been sent from Chempoalla for the share of
the gold assigned to the garrison of Villa Rica, who were robbed and
murdered. Upon the whole, all who were concerned in the treasure came to
bad fortune; and thus a much greater proportion of the soldiers of Narvaez
perished in the flight from Mexico than of our veterans, as they had
avariciously loaded themselves with gold on that unhappy night[12].

[1] We are not writing the history of the conquest of Mexico, yet may be
allowed to say that Cortes committed a gross military error, in
entering Mexico without establishing a strong communication of posts
between that insulated city and the land, along one of the causeways;
which he might easily have done along the shortest causeway of Tacuba
or Tlacopan, or by the aqueduct of Chapoltepec.--E.

[2] It is to be noticed that the lake in which the city of Mexico was
built contained water so salt as to be unfit for drinking.--E.

[3] This prince, whom Diaz names Coadlavaca, was brother to Montezuma,
prince of Iztapalapan, and Tlachcocoatl, or grand general of the
Mexican army.--E.

[4] The expression in the text, of having nearly reached the firm land, is
rather obscure, and may possibly mean that they had nearly forced
their way along one of the causeways leading from the insular city to
the continental shore of the lake.--E.

[5] Tlaltelulco was the name of that division of the city of Mexico
through which the Spaniards marched in their way towards the causeway
of Tacuba, and was probably used to summon the inhabitants of that
quarter to the attack.--E.

[6] Clavigero, II. 116, says that the miserable remnant of the Spaniards
assembled in Popotla, a village near Tacuba or Tlacopan. Diaz is often
negligent of dates, but we learn in a subsequent passage, that this
disastrous retreat from Mexico was on the 1st of July 1520.--E.

[7] This place is about nine miles W.N.W. from Mexico, and only about a
mile and a half from Tacuba. Its Mexican name, according to Clavigero,
was Otoncalpolco. It is almost in an opposite direction from the road
to Tlascala, but was probably chosen on purpose to avoid the populous
hostile vale of Mexico, and to get as soon as possible among the hills,
and among some of the conquered tribes who bore the Mexican yoke with
impatience. Clavigero says that the Spaniards procured at this place
some refreshments from a tribe of Otomies, who inhabited two
neighbouring hamlets.--E.

[8] The distance from where they now were to Tlascala was between 80 and
90 miles in a straight line; but as they chose a very circuitous route,
by the west and north of the lakes in the vale of Mexico, before
turning south-eastwards to Tlascala, their march must have much
exceeded that distance.--E.

[9] Named Quauhtitlan by Clavigero, and Guautitlan, Huauhtitlan or
Teutitlan, in Humboldts map of the Vale of Mexico.--E.

[10] As related in the text, this march to the villages appears to have
been made on the same day with that to Guauhtitlan, and the battle of
Otumba or Otompan, to have been fought on the second day of the march
from Popotla or _Los Remedios_. But the distances and difficulty of
the march renders this almost impossible. The chronology and distances,
taking the names of some of the stages from Clavigero, II. 117, and
the distances from Humboldts map, may have been as follows; Retreat
from Mexico to Popotla, 1st July, 9 miles. March to Quauhtitlan, 2d
July, 10 miles. To Xoloc, 3d July, 13 miles. To Zacamolco, 4th July,
10 miles. To Otompan, 5th July, 3 miles:--and indeed these dates are
sufficiently confirmed by Diaz himself in the sequel.--E.

[11] According to Clavigero, II. 118, this standard was a net of gold
fixed to a staff ten palms long, which was firmly tied to his back,
and was called by the Mexicans Tlahuizmatlaxopilli.--E.

[12] Cortes entered Mexico with above 1300 men, and there were there under
Alvarado about 75. Of these above 870 were slain, down to the close of
the battle of Otumba; so that about 500 still remained under the
command of Cortes. Diaz reckons only 440; but these were probably
exclusive of such as were entirely disabled from service by their
wounds.--E.

SECTION XI.

_Occurrences from the Battle of Otumba till the march of Cortes to besiege
Mexico_.

Immediately after the victory, we resumed our march for Tlascala, cheered
by our success, and subsisted on a kind of gourds, called _ayotes_, which
we found in the country through which we passed. We halted for the night
in a strong temple, being occasionally alarmed by detached parties of the
Mexicans, who still kept hovering about us, as if determined to see us
out of their country. From this place we were rejoiced at seeing the
mountains of Tlascala, being anxious to ascertain the fidelity of these
allies, and to hear news from our friends at Villa Rica. Cortes warned us
to be exceedingly cautious of giving any offence to the Tlascalans, and
particularly enforced this advice on the soldiers of Narvaez, who were
less accustomed to discipline. He said that he hoped to find our allies
steady in their attachment; but if they should have changed in consequence
of our misfortunes, although we were now only 440 strong, all wounded and
ill armed, we still possessed vigorous bodies and firm minds to carry us
through, if necessary, to the coast. We now arrived at a fountain on the
side of a hill, where we came to a rampart built in ancient times as a
boundary between the state of Tlascala and the dominions of Mexico. We
halted here, and then proceeded to a town called Gualiopar, or Huejotlipan,
where we halted one day, and procured some food for which we were obliged
to pay. Immediately on our arrival being announced at Tlascala, our
friends Maxicatzin, Xicotencatl, Chichimecatl, the chief of Huexatcinco,
and others, came to wait upon Cortes, whom they embraced, yet kindly
blamed him for having neglected their advice to distrust the treachery of
the Mexicans. They wept for the losses we had sustained, yet rejoiced at
our escape, and praised our valiant actions; assuring us that they were
assembling 30,000 of their warriors to have joined us at Obtumba. They
were rejoiced to see Donna Marina and Donna Luisa, and lamented the loss
of the other ladies. Maxicatzin in particular bewailed the fate which had
befallen his daughter and Velasquez de Leon, to whom he had given her.
They invited us to their city, where we were kindly received, and where we
reposed in peace and safety after our many and severe hardships. Cortes
lodged in the house of Maxicatzin, Alvarado in that of Xicotencatl, and
the other officers were distributed among the houses of the nobles, all
the soldiers being likewise supplied with comfortable quarters and
abundant food. Here in the midst of our friends, we recovered from our
wounds and fatigues, all except four who died.

Soon after our arrival, Cortes made inquiry after certain gold to the
value of 40,000 crowns, the share belonging to the garrison of Villa Rica,
which had been sent here from Mexico; and was informed by the Tlascalan
chiefs, and by a Spanish invalid left here when on our march to Mexico,
that the persons who had been sent for it from Villa Rica had been robbed
and murdered on the road, at the time we were engaged in hostilities with
the Mexicans. Letters were sent to Villa Rica, giving an account of all
the disastrous events which had befallen us, and desiring an immediate
supply of all the arms and ammunition that could be spared, and to send us
a strong reinforcement. By the return of the messengers, we were informed
that all was well at Villa Rica and the neighbourhood, and that the
reinforcement should be immediately sent. It accordingly arrived soon
after, consisting in all of _seven_ men, three of whom were sailors, and
all of them were invalids. They were commanded by a soldier named Lencero,
who afterwards kept an inn still known by his name; and for a long while
afterwards, _a Lencero reinforcement_ was a proverbial saying among us. We
were involved in some trouble by the younger Xicotencatl, who had
commanded the Tlascalan army against us on our first arrival in their
country. This ambitious chieftain, anxious to be revenged upon us for the
disgrace he had formerly sustained, on hearing of our misfortunes and our
intended march to Tlascala, conceived a project for surprising us on our
march and putting us all to death. For this purpose, he assembled many of
his relations, friends, and adherents, to whom he shewed how easily we
might all be destroyed, and was very active in forming a party and
collecting an army for this purpose. Although severely reproached by his
father for this treacherous design, he persevered in his plan; but the
intrigue was discovered by Chichimecatl, his determined enemy, who
immediately communicated the intelligence to the council of Tlascala,
before whom Xicotencatl was brought prisoner to answer for his treacherous
intentions. Maxicatzin made a long speech in our favour, representing the
prosperity which their state had enjoyed ever since our arrival, by
freeing them from the depredations of their Mexican enemies, and enabling
them to procure salt from which they had been long debarred. He then
reprobated the proposed treachery of the younger Xicotencatl, against men
who certainly were those concerning whom the prophecy had been handed down
by their ancestors. In reply to this, and to a discourse from his father
to the same purpose, the young man used such violent and disrespectful
language, that he was seized and thrown down the steps of the council-hall
into the street, with such violence that he narrowly escaped with his life.
Such was the faithful conduct of our Tlascalan allies, and Cortes did not
think it prudent to push the matter any farther in our present ticklish
situation.

After remaining twenty two days in Tlascala, Cortes resolved upon
attacking the adjoining provinces of Tepejacac and Zacatula, on account of
some murders the inhabitant of these districts had committed on the
Spaniards; but the soldiers of Narvaez were decidedly averse from entering
into any new war, as the slaughter of Mexico and the battle of Obtumba
made them anxious to renounce Cortes and his conquests, and to return as
soon as possible to their houses and mines in Cuba. Beyond all the rest,
Andres Duero was heartily sick of his junction with Cortes, regretting the
gold he had been forced to leave in the ditches of Mexico. These men,
finding that words were of no avail to persuade Cortes to relinquish his
plans of conquest, made a formal remonstrance in writing, stating the
insufficiency of our force, and demanding leave to return to Cuba. Cortes
urged every reason he could think of to induce them to concur in his
schemes; and we who were his own soldiers, requested him on no account to
permit any one to depart, but that all should remain to serve the cause of
God and the king. The malcontents were forced reluctantly to acquiesce,
murmuring against Cortes and his expeditions, and us who supported him,
who, they said, had nothing but our lives to lose[1]. We now, therefore,
set out on an expedition to chastise these districts, without artillery or
fire-arms of any kind, all of which had been left in the Mexican canals.
Our force consisted of 16 cavalry, 424 of our own infantry, mostly armed
with swords and targets, and about 4000 Tlascalans. We halted at about
three leagues from Tepejacac, but the inhabitants had deserted their
houses on our approach. Having got some prisoners during the march, Cortes
sent them to the chiefs with a message, intimating that he came to demand
justice for the murder of eighteen Spaniards in their territories, and for
their admitting Mexican troops into their country; and threatening them
with fire and sword if they did not immediately submit to his authority.
By our messengers and two Mexicans, they sent back a message, ordering us
to return immediately, or they would put us all to death, and feast upon
our bodies. Upon this it was determined in a council of the officers, that
a full statement of all that had passed, should be drawn up by a royal
notary, denouncing slavery on the Mexicans or their allies who had killed
any Spanish subjects, after having submitted to the authority of the king.
When this was drawn up and authenticated, we sent once more to require
their submission, giving notice of the inevitable consequences of their
disobedience. But they returned an answer like the former. Both sides
being prepared for battle, we came to action with them next day; and as
the enemy were drawn up in open fields of maize, our cavalry soon put the
enemy to flight with considerable loss, though they made an obstinate
resistance. In this battle our Tlascalan allies fought bravely; and, in
the pursuit, we took a good many prisoners, all of whom were made slaves
of. After this victory, the natives sued for peace, and we marched to the
town of Tepejacac to receive their submission; and finding it an eligible
situation, being in a fertile district, and on the road to Villa Rica,
Cortes founded a colony in the place, naming it _Segura de la Frontera._
Municipal officers were appointed, and a branding-iron for marking those
natives who were taken and reduced to slavery. We made excursions from
this place through the surrounding district, and to the towns of Cachula,
Tecamechalco, Guayavas, and some others, taking many prisoners, who were
immediately branded for slaves; and in about six weeks we reduced the
people to order and obedience.

At this time Cortes was informed from Villa Rica, that a vessel had
arrived there commanded by Pedro Barba, his intimate friend, who had been
lieutenant to Velasquez at the Havanna, and had now brought over thirteen
soldiers and two horses; as also letters from Velasquez to Narvaez,
ordering to send Cortes, if alive, to Cuba, that he might be sent to
Castile, such being the orders of the bishop of Burgos. On the arrival of
Barba in the harbour, the admiral appointed by Cortes went on board in a
boat well armed, but with the arms concealed. When on board, the admiral
saluted Barba, inquiring after the health of Velasquez, and the others
inquired for Narvaez, and what had become of Cortes. They were told that
Narvaez was in possession of the country, and had acquired great riches,
while Cortes was a fugitive, wandering about with only twenty followers.
They then invited Barba and the rest on shore; but the moment they entered
the boats, they were ordered to surrender themselves prisoners to Cortes.
The ship was dismantled, and the captain and crew, together with Barba and
his men, sent up to us at Tepejacac, to our great satisfaction; for though
we did not now suffer much in the field, we were very unhealthy from
continual fatigue, five of our men having died of pleurisies of late.
Francisco Lopez, afterwards regidor of Guatimala, came along with this
party. Barba was kindly received by Cortes, whom he informed that another
small vessel might be expected with provisions in about a week. It came
accordingly, having on board Roderigo de Lobera, with eight soldiers and a
horse. These were circumvented like the others, and sent up to us, by
which we were much pleased to procure an accession to our small force.

About this period, Cuitlahuitzin, who had been elected sovereign of Mexico
in place of his brother Montezuma, died of the small-pox, and
Quauhtemotzin, or Gautimotzin, was chosen in his stead, a young man of
twenty-five years of age, of fine appearance, exceedingly brave, and so
terrible to his subjects that every one trembled at his sight. On
receiving notice of the reduction of Tepejacac, he became apprehensive of
losing his other provinces, yet neglected no precautions to preserve the
chiefs in their obedience, and sent considerable bodies of troops to the
provinces nearest to where we were, to watch our motions. But these
Mexican troops injured the cause they were sent to support, becoming very
disorderly, plundering and maltreating the people whom they were sent to
defend, or to keep under subjection. Provoked by these injuries, the
ruling people of these provinces deputed four chiefs to negociate with
Cortes, offering to submit to him, provided he would expel the Mexicans.
Cortes immediately acceded to this proposal, and detached all the cavalry
and crossbow-men of our army under De Oli, with as many of our other
infantry as made up a force of 300 men, to which a considerable number of
Tlascalan allies were joined. While our people were on their march, they
received such formidable accounts of the number and force of the enemy, as
entirely deprived the soldiers of Narvaez of all inclination for military
expeditions. They mutinied, and told De Oli that, if he were determined to
persevere, he might go alone, for they were resolved to quit him. De Oli
remonstrated with them in vain, though supported by all the old soldiers
of Cortes, and was compelled to halt at Cholula, whence he sent word to
Cortes of his situation. Cortes returned an angry answer, ordering him to
advance at all events. De Oli was now in a violent rage at those who had
occasioned this reprimand from the general, and ordered the whole to march
immediately, declaring he would send back all who hesitated, to be treated
by Cortes as their cowardice deserved. On his arrival within a league of
Guacacualco, he was met by some of the native chiefs, who informed him how
he might best come upon the enemy. He accordingly marched against the
Mexican forces, whom he completely defeated and put to flight, after a
sharp action, in which eight of our men were wounded, and two horses
killed. Our allies made a great slaughter of the Mexicans during the
pursuit. The Mexicans fell back to a large town called Ozucar, where they
joined another great body of their countrymen, who fortified themselves in
that post, and broke down the bridges. De Oli pursued with as many of his
troops as could keep up with him; and having passed the river by the
assistance of his friends of Guacacualco, he again attacked the Mexicans,
whom he again defeated and dispersed, losing two more of his horses. He
received two wounds himself on this occasion, and his horse was wounded in
several places. He halted two days after his double victory, receiving the
submission of all the neighbouring chiefs, after which he returned with
his troops to Segura de la Frontera. De Oli was received with applause by
Cortes and all of us; and when we laughed at him for the hesitation of his
men, he joined with us heartily, saying he would take the poor soldiers of
Cortes on the next expedition, and not the rich planters who came with
Narvaez, who thought more of their houses and estates than of military
glory, and were more ready to command than to obey.

Cortes now got information from Villa Rica of the arrival of a ship
commanded by one Comargo, having upwards of seventy soldiers on board, all
very sickly. This vessel had belonged to an expedition sent from Jamaica
by Garray to establish a colony at Panuco; the other captain, Pineda, and
all his soldiers, having been put to death by the natives, and their ship
burnt. On finding, therefore, the ill success of that adventure, and that
his men were afflicted with diseases of the liver from the unhealthy
nature of the country, Camargo had come to Villa Rica for assistance. He
is said to have been perfectly acquainted with the state of affairs in New
Spain; and, on his arrival at Villa Rica, he immediately disembarked his
soldiers, and went to Segura de la Frontera by slow marches, where he and
his men were received with the utmost kindness by Cortes, and every
possible care was bestowed for his and their recovery; but he and several
of his soldiers soon died. By reason of their swollen bodies and
discoloured countenances, we used to call these men _the green paunches_.
That I may not interrupt the thread of my narrative, I shall mention in
this place, that all the rest of this armament which was destined for
Panuco, arrived at our port of Villa Rica at different and irregular
periods, Garray continually sending us reinforcements, which he meant for
Panuco, as he believed his intended colony at that place was going on
successfully. The first of these reinforcements after Camargo consisted of
fifty soldiers with seven horses, under the command of Michael Diaz de Auz.
These men were all plump and jolly, and we gave them the nickname of the
_Sir-loins_. Shortly after him another vessel brought forty soldiers with
ten horses, and a good supply of crossbows and other arms. These were
commanded by an officer named Ramirez, and as all his soldiers wore very
thick and clumsy cotton armour, quite impenetrable by arrows, we called
them the _Pack-horses_.

Being thus unexpectedly reinforced by upwards of an hundred and fifty men,
and twenty horses, Cortes determined to chastise the Indians of Xalatcingo,
Cacatame, and other towns near the road to Villa Rica, who had been
concerned in the murder of those Spaniards who had been sent from Villa
Rica for the treasure. For this purpose he sent a detachment of two
hundred veterans, among whom were twenty horsemen, and twelve armed with
crossbows, under the command of Sandoval, who had likewise along with him
a strong detachment of Tlascalans. Being informed that the Indians of that
district were in arms, and reinforced by Mexican troops, Sandoval sent a
message, offering pardon for the murder of the Spaniards, if they would
submit to our government, and return the treasure. Their answer was, that
they would eat him and all his men, as they had done the others. Sandoval,
therefore, immediately marched into their country, and attacked them in
two places at once, and though both the natives and the Mexicans defended
themselves with great bravery, they were soon defeated with considerable
loss. On going into some of their temples after the victory, our people
found Spanish cloths, arms, saddles, and bridles, hung up as offerings to
their gods. The inhabitants of this district submitted themselves to his
majesties government, but were unable to return the treasure, as it had
been sent to Mexico. Sandoval remained three days in this district
receiving the submission of the inhabitants, whom he referred to Cortes
for their pardon, and then returned to head-quarters, carrying a number of
women and boys along with him, who were all branded as slaves. I was not
on this expedition, being ill of a fever, attended with a vomiting of
blood; but, being bled plentifully, I recovered by the blessing of God. In
pursuance of orders from Sandoval, the chiefs of these tribes and of many
others in the neighbourhood, came to Cortes and submitted themselves to
his authority. Sandoval was sent in the next place to chastise the
inhabitants of a district called Xocotlan, who had murdered nine Spaniards,
having with him an hundred infantry, thirty cavalry, and a strong body of
Tlascalans. On entering the district, he summoned the people to submission
under the usual threats; but, as they had a considerable body of Mexican
forces to aid them, they returned for answer, that they would acknowledge
no other government than that of Mexico. Sandoval, therefore, put his
troops in motion, cautioning the allies not to advance to the attack till
the enemy were broken by our troops, and then to fall upon the Mexicans
especially. Two large bodies of the enemy were found posted in strong and
rocky ground, very difficult for our cavalry, insomuch, that before
Sandoval could drive them from this post, one of his horses was killed,
and nine wounded, as likewise were four of his soldiers. They were at
length driven from this post into the town of Xocotlan, where they took
post in the temples and some large walled courts; but were dislodged from
these and put to flight with great slaughter, our Tlascalan allies giving
good assistance, as they were incited by the hopes of abundant plunder.
Sandoval halted two days in this place, to receive the submission of the
chiefs, who begged pardon for what had passed, promising future obedience,
and to supply us plentifully with provisions. On being ordered to restore
the effects of the Spaniards whom they had slain, they replied that every
thing of that kind had been burnt. They said, likewise that most of the
Spaniards whom they had slain were eaten by them, except five, whom they
sent to Guatimotzin[2].

These expeditions were productive of the best effects, as they extended
the fame of Cortes and the Spaniards through the whole country for valour
and clemency; and our general became more dreaded and respected than
Guatimotzin, the new sovereign of Mexico, insomuch that his authority was
resorted to on all occasions of importance. The small-pox at this time
committed dreadful ravages in New Spain, cutting off vast numbers of the
natives, and among the rest, many of the chiefs and princes of the country
became victims to this dreadful calamity. On these occasions, the
claimants for succession to the vacant chiefships resorted to Cortes, as
sovereign of the country, for his decision, which they uniformly submitted
to. Among the rest, the lordship of Guacacualco and Ozucar became vacant,
and the various claimants submitted their claims to the decision of Cortes,
who decided in favour of a nephew of the late Montezuma, whose sister had
been married to the former cacique of the district.

All the country around Tlascala and to the eastwards being now reduced to
subjection, an order was issued to bring all the prisoners to a large
house in the town of Segura, that the fifths belonging to the king and
Cortes might be deducted, and the rest divided among the troops. The
prisoners consisted of women, boys, and girls, as the men were found too
difficult to keep, and our Tlascalan friends performed every service for
us that we could desire, such as carrying our baggage, ammunition, and
provisions, and all other drudgery. The prisoners were confined all night,
and the repartition took place next morning. In the first place the king's
fifth was set aside, and then that which belonged to Cortes; but when the
shares of the soldiers came to be distributed, there remained only a
parcel of old miserable jades, and it was found that some person had been
in the depot during the night, who had taken away all the young and
handsome women. This occasioned much clamour among the soldiers, who
accused Cortes of injustice, and the soldiers of Narvaez swore no such
thing had ever been heard of in the Spanish dominions as two kings and two
fifths. One Juan de Quexo was very loud in his complaints on this occasion,
declaring that he would make it known in Spain how we had been abused by
Cortes, more especially in regard to the gold at Mexico, where only the
value of 300,000 crowns appeared at the division, whereas 700,000 crowns
worth were produced at the time of our flight. Many of the soldiers loudly
complained of having their women taken from them, after they had given
them clothes and ornaments, saying they had only expected to have paid the
fifth of their values to the king, and then that each would have got back
his own. Cortes protested that better regulations should he adopted in
future, and got the affair hushed up with smooth words and fair promises;
yet he soon attempted even worse than this. It may be remembered, that, on
the fatal night of our retreat from Mexico, all the treasure was produced,
and every soldier was allowed to take as much as he pleased. On this
occasion, many of the soldiers of Narvaez, and some of our own, loaded
themselves with gold. Cortes now learned that a quantity of gold in bars
was in circulation among the troops at La Frontera, who were much engaged
in deep play, and forgot the old adage, that riches and amours should be
concealed. He now issued an order for all the gold to be delivered within
a given time, under severe penalties for disobedience, and promised to
return back a third part to all who delivered their gold, but that all
should be forfeited in case of failure or evasion. Many of the soldiers
refused obedience to this arbitrary order, and from some Cortes took their
gold by way of loan, yet rather by force than with their consent. Many of
our captains, and those who had civil offices in the colony, were
possessed of gold, and at length Cortes was glad to quash the order and
say no more about the matter.

The officers who had come with Narvaez thought the present interval of
tranquillity was a favourable opportunity to renew their solicitations for
leave to return to Cuba, to which Cortes at length consented, and gave
them one of the best ships in the harbour, which was victualled with
salted dogs, fowls, maize, and other provisions of the country. By this
ship, Cortes sent letters to his wife Donna Catalina and her brother Juan
Suarez, giving them an account of all that had happened in New Spain, and
sent them some bars of gold and Mexican curiosities. The following were
among the persons who now returned to Cuba, having their pockets well
lined after all our disasters. Andres de Duero, Augustin Bermudez, Juan
Buono, Bernardino de Quesada, Francisco Velasquez, Gonsalo Carrasco, who
afterwards returned to New Spain, and lives now in La Puebla, Melchior
Velasquez, one Ximenes, who now lives in Guaxaca, and went over at this
time for his sons, the commendator Leon de Cervantes, who went to bring
over his daughters, who were very honourably married after the conquest of
Mexico; one Maldonado of Medelin, an invalid, a person named Vargas, and
Cardinas the pilot, he who talked about the two kings, to whom Cortes gave
the three hundred crowns he had formerly promised for his wife and
daughters. We remonstrated with Cortes for allowing so many persons to
quit the army, considering how weak we were already, on which he observed,
that he did it partly to get rid of their importunities, and partly
because they were unfit for war, and it was better to have a few good
soldiers than many bad ones. Alvarado was sent to see these men safely
shipped off, and he sent at this time Diego de Ordas and Alonzo de Mendoza
to Spain, with instructions of which we were ignorant, except that they
were meant to counteract the malice of the bishop of Burgos, who had
declared us all traitors. De Ordas executed his commission to good purpose,
and got the order of St Jago for himself, and the volcano of Popocatepetl
added to his arms. Cortes sent also Alonzo de Avila, contador of New Spain,
and Francisco Alvarez, to Hispaniola, to make a report to the court of
royal audience, and the brothers of the order of Jeronymites, of all that
had taken place, particularly in regard to Narvaez, and supplicating them
to represent our faithful services to the emperor, and to support our
interests against the enmity and misrepresentations of Velasquez and the
bishop of Burgos. He sent likewise De Solis to Jamaica to purchase horses.
It may be asked how Cortes was able to send agents to Spain, Hispaniola,
and Jamaica, without money. But, although many of our soldiers were slain
in our flight from Mexico, and much treasure lost in the ditches and
canals of Mexico, yet a considerable quantity of gold was saved, as the
eighty loaded Tlascalans were among the first who passed the bridge, and
afterwards delivered all their gold to Cortes[3]. But we poor soldiers had
enough ado to preserve our lives, all badly wounded, and did not trouble
ourselves to inquire what became of the gold, or how much was brought off.
It was even rumoured among us, that the share belonging to the garrison of
Villa Rica, the carriers of which had been robbed and murdered, went after
all to Spain, Jamaica, and other places; but as Cortes lined the pockets
of our captains with plenty of gold, all inquiry on this head was stopped.

It may be wondered how Cortes should send away so valiant a captain as
Alonzo de Avila on an affair of negociation, when he had several men of
business in his army who could have been better spared, such as Alonzo de
Grado, Juan Carceres _the rich_, and several others. The true reason was,
that Avila was too ready to speak out on all occasions to obtain justice
for the soldiers, and therefore Cortes sent him away that he might no
longer be opposed and thwarted in his proceedings; and that he might give
his company to Andres de Tapia, and his office of contador to Alonzo de
Grado.

Having now determined to undertake the siege of Mexico, Cortes left a
garrison of twenty men, mostly sick and invalids in Frontera, under the
command of Juan de Orozco, and marched with the rest of the army into the
country of Tlascala, where he gave orders to cut down a quantity of timber,
with which to construct a number of vessels to command the lake of Mexico.
These ships were to be built under the direction of Martin Lopez, an
excellent shipwright, and a valiant soldier, in which he was assisted by
Andres Nunez, and old Ramirez, who was lame from a wound. Lopez conducted
matters with great spirit, insomuch that in a very short time he had all
the timber cut down, shaped, and marked out for the vessels, ready to be
put together. The iron work, anchors, cables, sails, cordage, and all
other necessaries for the vessels were procured from Villa Rica, whence
all the smiths were sent up to the army to give their assistance. As pitch
was unknown among the natives, four sailors were sent to the pine forests
of Huetzotzinco, to obtain a supply of that article, in which they
succeeded.

On our arrival at Tlascala, we learnt that our good friend and faithful
ally Maxicatzin had fallen a sacrifice to the small-pox. Cortes lamented
the death of this good man as that of a father, and put on mourning out of
respect to his memory, in which he was imitated by many of our officers
and soldiers. As there was some difficulty in regard to the succession,
Cortes conferred the vacant dignity on the legitimate son of the deceased
chief, as he had desired a short time before his death, on which occasion
he had strictly enjoined all his family and dependents to persevere in
their alliance with us, as we were undoubtedly destined to rule their
country according to their ancient traditions. The other chiefs of the
Tlascalans offered their best services, in providing timber for our
vessels, and engaged to aid us with all their military force in
prosecuting the war against Mexico. Cortes accepted their offer with every
mark of gratitude and respect; and even prevailed on the elder Xicotencatl,
one of their principal caciques, to become a Christian, who was
accordingly baptised with great ceremony, by the name of Don Lorenzo de
Vargas.

Just as we were about to begin our march, intelligence came from Villa
Rica of the arrival of a vessel from Spain and the Canaries, loaded with
military stores, horses, and merchandize, and having thirteen soldiers on
board. The owner, who was likewise on board, was one Juan de Burgos, but
the vessel was commanded by Francisco Medel. Cortes sent immediate orders
to purchase the whole cargo, and all the people came up to join us to our
great satisfaction. Among these were one Juan del Espinar, afterwards a
very rich man, and two others named Sagredo, and Monjaraz a Biscayan, who
had two nephews of the same name in our army. Monjaraz never went upon any
expedition or engagement along with us, always feigning to be sick, though
he omitted no opportunity to boast of his courage. Once, while we were
besieging Mexico, he went up to the top of a high temple, as he said to
see how the natives fought; and by some means which we could never find
out, he was killed that day by some of the Indians. Those who had known
him in Hispaniola, said it was a just judgment, for having procured the
death of his wife, a beautiful and honourable woman, by means of false
witnesses.

All the timber for our vessels being in readiness, and every thing
prepared for our expedition against Mexico, it was debated in our council
of war in what place we should establish our head-quarters, in order to
prepare our measures for investing that city. Some strongly recommended
Ayotcingo as most convenient for that purpose, on account of its canals.
Cortes and others preferred Tezcuco, as best adapted for making incursions
into the Mexican territory, and that place was accordingly fixed upon. We
accordingly began our march from Tlascala immediately after the junction
of our last reinforcement from Villa Rica, consisting of the soldiers who
came with Medel and De Burgos.

[1] A long digression is here omitted, in which Diaz severely reprehends
the account given by Gomara of this and other transactions in his
history of the conquest of Mexico, altogether uninteresting to the
English reader.--E.

[2] Clavigero, II. 132, mentions about this time an expedition against
Tochtepec, a considerable town on the river of Papaloapan, in which
Salcedo and a detachment of 80 Spaniards were entirely cut off.--E.

[3] This must have been a very considerable treasure. On one occasion,
Clavigero reckons a load of gold at 800 ounces. The eighty Tlascalans
might therefore carry off 64,000 ounces, which at L4 the ounce, is
worth L256,000 Sterling, and of considerably more efficacious value in
those days than a million is now.--E.

SECTION XII.

_Transactions of Cortes and the Spaniards from their March against Mexico,
to the Commencement of the Siege of that City_.

We began our March from Tlascala on the 26th of December 1520, with the
whole of our Spanish force, and accompanied by ten thousand of our
Tlascalan allies[1], and halted that night within the territories of the
state of Tezcuco, the inhabitants of which place supplied us with
provisions. We marched about three leagues on the 27th, when we halted at
the foot of a ridge of mountains, finding the weather extremely cold.
Early next day we began to ascend the mountains, the bad roads having been
made more difficult by the enemy, by means of ditches and felled trees,
which were removed by the exertions of our allies. We proceeded with the
utmost order and precaution, having an advanced guard of musketeers and
crossbow-men, and our allies cleared the way to enable our cavalry to
advance. After passing the summit of the mountain, we enjoyed the glorious
prospect of the vale of Mexico below, with the lakes, the capital rising
out of the waters, and all its numerous towns and cultivated fields; and
gave thanks to GOD, who had enabled us again to behold this astonishing
scene of riches and population, after passing through so many dangers. We
could distinctly perceive numerous signals made by smoke in all the towns
towards Mexico; and a little farther on, we were resisted by a body of the
enemy, who endeavoured to defend a bad pass at a deep water-run, where the
wooden bridge had been broken down; but we soon drove them away, and
passed over, as the enemy contented themselves with shooting their arrows
from a considerable distance. Our allies pillaged the country as we went
along, which was contrary to the inclination of our general, but he was
unable to restrain them. From some prisoners whom we had taken at the
broken bridge, we were informed that a large body of the enemy was posted
on our line of march, intending to give us battle; but it appeared
afterwards that they had separated in consequence of dissentions among the
chiefs, and we soon learnt that a civil war actually existed between the
Mexicans and the state of Tezcuco. The small-pox also raged at this time in
the country, which had a great effect in our favour, by preventing the
enemy from being able to assemble their forces.

Next morning we proceeded on our march for Tezcuco, which was about two
leagues from the place where we had halted for the night; but we had not
proceeded far, when one of our patroles brought intelligence that several
Indians were coming towards us bearing signals of peace, and indeed we
found the whole country through which we marched this day in perfect
tranquillity. On the arrival of the Indians, we found them to consist of
seven chiefs from Tezcuco, sent as ambassadors by Coanacotzin, the prince
of Tezcuco or Acolhuacan. A golden banner was carried before them on a
long lance, which was lowered on approaching Cortes, to whom the
ambassadors bowed themselves in token of respect. They then addressed our
general in the name of their prince, inviting us to his city, and
requesting to be received under our protection. They denied having taken
any part in the attacks which we had experienced, earnestly entreating
that no injury might be done to their city by our allies, and presented
their golden banner to Cortes, in token of peace and submission. Three of
these ambassadors were known to most of us, as they were relations of
Montezuma, and had been captains of his guards, when we were formerly at
Mexico. The ambassadors were assured by Cortes that he would use his
utmost efforts to protect the country, although they must well know that
above forty Spaniards and two hundred of our allies had been put to death
in passing through their territories when we retreated from Mexico. Cortes
added, that certainly no reparation could now be made for the loss of our
men, but he expected they would restore the gold and other property which
had been taken on that occasion. They asserted that the whole blame of
that transaction was owing to Cuitlahuatzin, the successor of Montezuma,
who had received the spoil and sacrificed the prisoners. Cortes found that
very little satisfaction could be got from them for the past, yet wishing
if possible to make them now our friends, he earnestly entreated the
Tlascalan chiefs to prohibit their warriors from pillaging the country,
and his wishes were strictly complied with, except in regard to provisions.
After this conference was ended, we proceeded to a village named
Guatinchan or Huexotla, at a small distance from Tezcuco, where we halted
for the night.

Next morning, being the 31st December 1520, we marched into Tezcuco, where
neither women or children were to be seen, and even the men had a
suspicious appearance, indicating that some mischief was intended against
us. We took up our quarters in some buildings which consisted of large
halls and inclosed courts, and orders were issued that none of the
soldiers were to go out of their quarters, and that all were to be on the
alert to guard against surprize. On the soldiers being dismissed to their
respective quarters, the Captains Alvarado and De Oli, with some soldiers,
among whom I was, went up to the top of a lofty temple, from which we had
a commanding view, to observe what was going on in the neighbourhood. We
could see all the people everywhere in motion, carrying off their children
and effects to the woods and the reedy borders of the lake, and to great
numbers of canoes. Cortes wished to have secured Coanacotzin, who had sent
us the friendly embassy, which now appeared to have been merely a pretext
to gain time; but it was found that he and many of the principal persons
of Tezcuco had fled to Mexico. We posted strong guards, therefore, in
every direction, and kept ourselves in constant readiness for action.
Cortes soon learnt that factions existed in Tezcuco, and that many of the
chiefs were adverse to their present prince, and remained in their houses,
while those of the opposite faction had withdrawn. Cortes sent for those
chiefs next morning, from whom he learnt, that they considered their
present prince, Coanacotzin, as an usurper, he having murdered his elder
brother, Cuicutzcatzin, who had been placed on the throne by Montezuma and
Cortes, and that Coanacotzin owed his elevation to the favour of
Guatimotzin, the present sovereign of Mexico. They pointed out a youth
named Ixtlilxochitl as the rightful heir of Acolhuacan, who was brought
immediately to Cortes, and installed without delay in the government.
Cortes prevailed upon him to become a Christian, and had him baptised with
great solemnity, standing godfather on the occasion, and giving him his
own name, Don Hernando Cortes Ixtlilxochitl; and to retain him in the
Spanish interest and in our holy faith, he appointed three Spaniards to
attend upon him, Escobar, who was made captain or governor of Tezcuco,
Anthonio de Villa Real, and Pedro Sanches Farfan. In the next place,
Cortes required the new prince of Tezcuco to supply him with a number of
labourers to open up the canals leading to the lake, on purpose to admit
our vessels which were to be put together at Tezcuco. He also informed him
of our intentions to besiege Mexico, for which operation the young prince
engaged to give all the assistance in his power. The work on the canals
was conducted with all expedition, as we never had less than seven or
eight thousand Indians employed[2]. As Guatimotzin, the reigning monarch
of Mexico, frequently sent out large bodies of troops in canoes on the
lake, apparently with the hope of attacking us unprepared, Cortes used
every military precaution to guard against any sudden attack, by assigning
proper posts to our several captains, with orders to be always on the
alert. The people in Huexotla, a town and district only a few miles from
Tezcuco, who had been guilty of murdering some of our countrymen on a
former occasion, petitioned Cortes for pardon, and were taken into favour
on promise of future fidelity.

Before his elevation to the throne of Mexico, Guatimotzin had been prince
or cacique of Iztapalapa, the people of which place were determined
enemies to us and our allies[3]. We had been now twelve days in Tezcuco,
where the presence of so large a force occasioned some scarcity of
provisions, and even our allies began to grow somewhat impatient of our
inactivity. From all these considerations, Cortes determined upon an
expedition to Iztapalapa, against which place he marched at the head of 13
cavalry 220 infantry, and the whole of our Tlascalan allies. The
inhabitants had received a reinforcement of 8000 Mexican warriors, yet
they fell back into the town on our approach, and even fled into their
canoes and the houses which stood in the water, allowing us to occupy that
part of the town which stood on the firm land. As it was now night, we
took up our quarters for the night and posted our guards, unaware of a
stratagem which had been planned for our destruction. On a sudden there
came so great a body of water into the streets and houses, that we had
been all infallibly drowned if our friends from Tezcuco had not given us
instant notice of our danger. The enemy had cut the banks of the canals,
and a causeway also, by which means the place was laid almost instantly
under water. We escaped with some difficulty, two only of our allies being
drowned; but all our powder was destroyed, and we passed a very
uncomfortable night, without food, and all wet and very cold; and were
very much provoked at the laughter and taunts of the Mexicans from the
lake. At daybreak, large bodies of Indians crossed over from Mexico and
attacked us with such violence, that they killed two of our soldiers and
one horse, and wounded many of us, and were repelled with much difficulty.
Our allies also suffered considerable loss on this occasion; but the enemy
were at last repulsed, and we returned to Tezcuco very little satisfied
with the fame or profit of this fruitless expedition. Two days after our
retreat from Iztapalapa, the inhabitants of these neighbouring districts,
Tepetezcuco, Obtumba or Otompan, and some others in that quarter, sent to
solicit pardon for the hostilities they had formerly committed against us,
alleging in excuse that they had acted by the orders of their sovereign
Cuitlahuatzin, the immediate successor of Montezuma. Cortes, knowing that
he was not in a situation to chastise them, granted them pardon on promise
of future obedience. The inhabitants also of a place which we named
Venezuela, or Little Venice, because built in the water, who had been
always at variance with the Mexicans, now solicited our alliance, and
engaged to bring over their neighbours to our party. This circumstance was
of much importance to our views, from the situation of that place on the
lake facilitating our future operations, especially those of our naval
force.

We soon afterwards received intelligence, that large bodies of Mexican
troops had attacked the districts which were in alliance with us, by which
the inhabitants were compelled to fly into the woods for shelter, or to
take refuge in our quarters. Cortes went out with twenty of our cavalry
and two hundred infantry, having Alvarado and De Oli along with him, to
drive in the Mexicans. The real cause of contention on the present
occasion was concerning the crop of maize growing on the borders of the
lake, which was now fit to reap, and from which the natives had been in
use to supply our wants, whereas it was claimed by the Mexicans, as
belonging to the priests of their city. Cortes desired the natives to
inform him when they proposed to cut down this corn, and sent upwards of a
hundred of our men and a large body of our allies to protect the reapers.
I was twice on that duty, and on one of these occasions, the Mexicans came
over to attack us in above a thousand canoes, and endeavoured to drive us
from the maize fields; but we and our allies drove them back to their
boats, though they fought with great resolution, killed one of our
soldiers and wounded a considerable number. In this skirmish, twenty of
the enemy were left dead on the field, and we took live prisoners.

Chalco and Tlalmanalco were two places of material importance to us at
this time, as they lay in the direct road between Tlascala and our
head-quarters at Tezcuco, but both of them were garrisoned by Mexican
troops; and though Cortes was at this time solicited by several important
districts to enable them to throw off the yoke of Mexico, he considered it
as of the first necessity to dislodge the Mexicans from these two towns,
on purpose to open a secure communication with our allies, and to cover
the transport of our ship timber from Tlascala. He sent therefore a strong
detachment of fifteen horse and two hundred infantry under Sandoval and De
Lugo, with orders to drive the Mexicans from that part of the country, and
to open a clear communication with Villa Rica. During the march, Sandoval
placed ten of his men as a rear guard, to protect a considerable number of
our allies who were returning home to Tlascala loaded with plunder. The
Mexicans fell upon this weak rear-guard by surprise during the march,
killing two of our men and wounding all the rest; and though Sandoval made
all the haste he could to their rescue, the Mexicans escaped on board
their canoes with very little loss. He now placed the Tlascalans in
security, by escorting them beyond the Mexican garrisons, and sent forward
the letter of our general to the commandant of Villa Rica, by which he was
enjoined to send what reinforcements he could possibly spare to Tlascala,
there to wait until they were quite certain that the road from thence to
Tezcuco was clear. Sandoval, after seeing the Tlascalans safe upon their
journey, returned towards Chalco, sending word secretly to the inhabitants,
who were very impatient under the Mexican yoke, to be in readiness to join
him. He was attacked on his march through a plain covered with maize and
_maguey_, by a strong body of Mexican troops, who wounded several of his
men; but they were soon repulsed and pursued to a considerable distance by
the cavalry. Sandoval now prosecuted his march to Chalco, where he found
the cacique of that place had recently died of the small-pox, having
recommended his two sons on his deathbed to the protection of Cortes, as
he was convinced we were the bearded men who, according to their ancient
prophecy, were to come from the eastern countries to rule over this land,
and had therefore commanded his sons to receive the investiture of their
state from the hands of Cortes. Sandoval set out therefore for Tezcuco
next day, talking along with him the two young lords of Chalco, and many
of the nobles of that place, carrying a present of golden ornaments to our
general worth about 200,000 crowns. Cortes accordingly received the young
princes of Chalco with great distinction, and divided their fathers
territories between them; giving the city of Chalco and the largest share
of the district to the elder brother, and Tlalmanalco, Aytocinco, and
Chimalhuacan to the younger.

About this time, Cortes sent a message to Guatimotzin, the reigning
sovereign of Mexico, by means of some prisoners whom he enlarged for this
purpose, inviting him in the most conciliatory terms to enter into a
treaty of peace and friendship; but Guatimotzin refused to listen to any
terms of accommodation, and continued to carry on the most determined and
unceasing hostility against us. Frequent and loud complaints were made by
our allies of Huexotla and Coatlichan of the incursions made upon their
territories in the neighbourhood of the lake by the enemy, on the old
quarrel about the fields which had been appropriated for the priests who
served in the temples of Mexico. In consequence of these hostilities so
near our head-quarters, Cortes went with a strong detachment, with which
he came up with the enemy about two leagues from Tezcuco, and gave them so
complete a defeat, that they never ventured to shew themselves there any
more. It was now resolved to bring the timber which had been prepared in
Tlascala for constructing our naval force on the lake of Mexico; for which
purpose Sandoval was sent with a force of 200 infantry, including 20
musketeers and crossbow-men, and 15 cavalry, to serve as an escort. He was
likewise ordered to conduct the chiefs of Chalco to their own district;
and before they set out, Cortes effected a reconciliation between the
Tlascalans and the inhabitants of Chalco, who had been long at variance.
He gave orders likewise to Sandoval, after leaving the chiefs of Chalco in
their own city, to inflict exemplary punishment on the inhabitants of a
place which we call _Puebla Moresca_, who had robbed and murdered forty
of our men who were marching from Vera Cruz to Mexico, at the time when we
went to relieve Alvarado. These people had not been more guilty than those
of Tezcuco, who indeed were the leaders in that affair, but they could be
more conveniently chastised. The place was given up to military execution,
though not more than three or four were put to death, as Sandoval had
compassion upon them. Some of the principal inhabitants were made
prisoners; who assured Sandoval that the Spaniards were fallen upon by the
troops of Mexico and Tezcuco in a narrow pass, where they could only march
in single file, and that it was done in revenge for the death of
Cacamatzin.

In the temples at this place, our men found the walls and idols smeared
with the blood of our countrymen, and the skins of two of their faces with
their beards on were found hung upon the altars, having been dressed like
leather. The skins also of four of our horses were found hung up as
trophies; and they saw written on a piece of marble in the wall of one of
the houses: "Here the unfortunate Juan Yuste and many of his companions
were made prisoners." Yuste was one of the gentlemen who came over with
Narvaez and had served in the cavalry. These melancholy remains filled
Sandoval and his men with grief and rage; but there were no objects on
which to wreak their vengeance, as all the men were fled, and none
remained but women and children, who deprecated their anger in the most
moving terms. Sandoval therefore granted them pardon, and sent them to
bring back their husbands and fathers, with a promise of forgiveness on
condition of submission and future obedience. On questioning them about
the gold they had taken from our people, they assured him it had all been
claimed by the Mexicans[4].

Sandoval continued his route towards Tlascala, near which he was met by a
vast body of Indians commanded by Chichimecatl, accompanied by Martin
Lopez, and employed in transporting the ship timber. Eight thousand men
carried the timber all ready shaped for our thirteen vessels, with the
sails, cordage, and all other materials. Eight thousand warriors attended
in arms to protect the bearers of the timber; and two thousand carried
provisions for the whole[5]. Several Spaniards joined us along with this
escort, and two other principal chiefs of the Tlascalans, Ayotecatle and
Teotlipil. During the march, only some small bodies of the enemy appeared,
and these always at a distance; but it was deemed necessary to use the
utmost vigilance, to avoid the danger of a surprise, considering the great
length of the line of march[6]. Sandoval accordingly sent a strong
detachment of Spanish troops as an advanced guard, and posted others on
the flanks; while he remained with the rear guard which he assigned to the
Tlascalans. This arrangement gave great offence to Chichimecatl; but he
was reconciled to this post, on being told that the Mexicans would most
probably attack the rear, which was therefore the post of honour, because
of more danger. In two days more, the whole escort arrived in safety at
Tezcuco; the allies being all dressed out in their gayest habits, with
great plumes of feathers, and splendid banners, sounding their horns and
trumpets, and beating their drums, as in triumph for the expected fall of
Mexico. They continued marching into Tezcuco for half a day, amid
continual shouts of "Castilla! Castilla! Tlascala! Tlascala! Long live the
emperor Don Carlos!" Our timber was now laid down at the docks which had
been prepared for this purpose; and, by the exertion of Martin Lopez, the
hulls of our thirteen brigantines were very soon completed; but we were
obliged to keep a very careful guard, as the Mexicans sent frequent
parties to endeavour to set them on fire.

The Tlascalan chiefs were very anxious to be employed on some enterprize
against their ancient enemies the Mexicans, and Cortes resolved to indulge
them by an expedition against Xaltocan, a town situated on an island of a
lake to the northward of the great lake of Mexico or Tezcuco, which is now
called the lake of St Christopher. Leaving therefore the charge of the
important post of Tezcuco with Sandoval, who was enjoined to use the
utmost vigilance, and giving orders to Martin Lopez to have the vessels
all ready for launching in fifteen days, he set out on the expedition
against Xaltocan with 250 Spanish infantry, 30 cavalry, the whole force of
the Tlascalans, and a body of warriors belonging to Tezcuco[7]. On
approaching Xaltocan, our army was met by some large bodies of Mexican
troops, whom the cavalry soon dispersed and drove into the woods. The
troops halted for the night in some villages in a very populous country,
and were obliged to keep on the alert, as it was known that the enemy had
a strong force in Xaltocan, to which place a strong body of Mexicans had
been sent in large canoes, and were now concealed among the deep canals in
that neighbourhood. Next morning, on resuming their march, our troops were
exceedingly harassed by the enemy, and several of them wounded, as our
cavalry had no opportunity to charge them, the ground being much
intersected by canals. The only causeway which led from the land to the
town had been laid under water, so that our troops could not approach, and
our musquetry had little or no effect against the enemy in the canoes, as
they were defended by strong screens of timber. Our people began to
despair of success, when some of the natives of Tezcuco pointed out a
ford with which they were acquainted, by which our people were enabled,
under their guidance, to make their way to the causeway leading into the
town leaving Cortes and the cavalry on the main land. Our infantry forced
their way into the town, where they made a considerable slaughter of the
Mexicans, driving the remainder of them and many of the inhabitants of the
town to take shelter in their canoes. They then returned to Cortes,
bringing with them a considerable booty in gold, slaves, and mantles,
having only lost one soldier in this exploit. Next day, Cortes marched
through a thickly peopled and well cultivated country against a large town
named Quauhtitlan, which we found deserted, and in which we halted for the
night. On the ensuing day, we marched to another large town called
Tenayoecan, but which we named _Villa de Serpe_, or the Town of Serpents,
on account of some enormous figures of these animals which were found in
the temples, and which these people worshipped as gods. This place was
likewise deserted by the inhabitants, who had withdrawn with their effects
into places of safety. From thence we marched to Escapuzalco, or the town
of the goldsmiths, which was also deserted, and thence to Tacuba or
Tlacopan, to which our troops had to cut their way through considerable
bodies of the enemy. Our troops halted here for the night, and were
assailed next morning by several successive bodies of the enemy, who had
formed a plan to draw us into an ambuscade, by pretending to take flight
along the fatal causeway of Tacuba, where we had suffered so much on our
retreat from Mexico. This partly succeeded, as Cortes and his troops
pursued them along the causeway across one of the bridges, and were
immediately surrounded by prodigious numbers of the enemy, some on the
land and others in canoes on the water. Cortes soon perceived his mistake,
and ordered a retreat, which was made with the utmost firmness and
regularity, our men constantly keeping a-front to the enemy and giving
ground inch by inch, continually fighting. In the confusion of this
surprise, Juan Volante, who carried the colours, fell from the bridge into
the lake, and the Mexicans were even dragging him away to their canoes;
yet he escaped from them and brought away his colours. In this unfortunate
affair, five of our soldiers were slain, and a great many wounded. Cortes
halted for five days at Tacuba[8], during which there were many skirmishes
with the enemy, and then marched back to Tezcuco, the Mexicans continuing
to harass him by frequent attacks; but having drawn them on one occasion
into an ambuscade, in which they were defeated with considerable slaughter,
they desisted from any farther attack. On arriving at our head-quarters in
Tezcuco, the Tlascalans, who had enriched themselves with plunder during
the expedition, solicited permission to go home that they might secure
their acquisitions in their own country, which Cortes readily consented to.

During four days after our return from this expedition, the Indians of
several neighbouring districts came in with presents and offers of
submission. Although Cortes was well aware that they had been concerned in
the murder of our men after the retreat from Mexico, he received them all
very graciously, and dismissed them with promises of protection. About
this time likewise, several nations who had joined with us in alliance
made strong representations of the outrages which had been committed upon
them by the Mexicans, of which they produced paintings in their manner,
and earnestly entreated succour. But Cortes could not grant them the
required assistance, as our army, besides having suffered loss by several
being killed and many wounded during the late hostilities, was now grown
very unhealthy. He gave them, however, fair promises, but advised them to
rely more upon their own exertions and the assistance of our other allies,
for which purpose he issued orders to all the districts in our alliance to
assemble in arms against the common enemy. They accordingly collected
their forces, and came to action in the field with the Mexicans, and
exerted themselves with so much vigour that they gained the victory. The
province of Chalco was however an object of principal importance to us, as
the possession of that country was essentially necessary to preserve our
communication with Tlascala and Villa Rica, and being likewise a fertile
corn country, contributed largely to the subsistence of our army. As it
was much harassed by the enemy, Cortes sent Sandoval with a detachment of
about 250 of our troops, cavalry and infantry, to clear it of the Mexicans,
and accompanied by a body of warriors from Tezcuco and such of our
Tlascalan allies as still remained with our army. Sandoval set out from
Tezcuco on the 12th of March 1521, and arrived next morning at Tlalmanalco,
where he learnt that the Mexican forces were posted at a large town called
Guaztepeque or Huaxtepec. Being now joined by the warriors of Chalco,
Sandoval halted for the night at the town of Chimalcan; and next morning
gave orders to his musketeers and crossbow-men to attack the enemy, who
were posted in strong ground; the troops who were armed with swords and
targets, were formed into a compact body of reserve; and the cavalry,
being formed in small bodies of three each, were directed to charge as
soon as the firing had made an impression on the enemy. While advancing in
this order, Sandoval perceived the Mexican forces drawn up in three large
columns or dense battalions, and thought proper to change his original
plan, and to endeavour to break through them by a cavalry charge. Placing
himself, therefore, at the head of the cavalry, he immediately proceeded
to the charge, exclaiming, "St Jago! fall on, comrades!" The main body of
the enemy was partly broken by this charge, but immediately closed again
and stood firm; and the nature of the ground was so much in favour of the
Mexicans, that Sandoval found it necessary to endeavour to drive them from
their post in the manner first proposed, into the open ground in the rear.
For this purpose he made the musketeers and crossbow-men attack the enemy
in front, and those armed with swords and targets to turn their flanks,
ordering also the allies to come forward to the attack, and directed the
cavalry to be ready to charge at an appointed signal. Our troops at length
forced them to retreat, but they immediately occupied another strong
position in their rear, so that Sandoval and the cavalry were unable to
make any considerable impression upon them. In one of the charges in this
difficult broken ground, the horse of Gonzalo Dominguez fell with him, and
he was so much injured that he died in a few days afterwards: His loss was
much regretted by the army, as he was esteemed as brave as either Sandoval
or De Oli. Our army broke the enemy a second time, and pursued them to the
town, where they were suddenly opposed by not less than 15,000 fresh
warriors, who endeavoured to surround our troops: But Sandoval caused them
to be attacked on both flanks, when they fled towards the town,
endeavouring however to make a stand behind some recently constructed
works; but our troops followed them up so vigorously that they had no time
to rally, and were constrained to take shelter in the town. As his troops
were much fatigued, and had got hold of a good supply of provisions,
Sandoval thought proper to allow them some repose, and they began to
prepare their victuals, in which they were soon interrupted by an alarm of
the enemy approaching. They were ready for action in a moment, and
advanced to meet the enemy, fortunately in an open place; where, after a
smart action, the enemy were constrained to retreat behind their works;
but Sandoval pushed on the advantage with so much impetuosity, that he
soon drove them from their works, and compelled them to evacuate the town
with the utmost precipitation.

Sandoval took up his quarters in a very extensive and magnificent garden,
which contained a number of large handsome buildings, and many admirable
conveniencies fit for the residence of a great prince; but our soldiers
had not then time to examine all its beauties, as it was more than a
quarter of a league in length. I was not in this expedition, being
confined under cure of a bad wound in my throat, which I received by a
lance in the affair at Iztapalapa, and of which I still carry the marks;
but I saw this fine garden about twenty days afterwards, when I
accompanied Cortes to this place. Not being on this expedition, I do not
in my narrative say _we_ and _us_ on this occasion, but _they_ and _them_;
yet every thing I relate is perfectly true, as all the transactions of
every enterprize were regularly reported at headquarters. Sandoval now
summoned all the neighbouring districts to submit, but to little purpose,
as the people of Acapistlan or Jacapichtla answered by a defiance. This
gave much uneasiness to our allies of Chalco, as they were assured the
Mexicans would immediately attack them again on the Spaniards returning to
Tezcuco. Sandoval was rather averse from engaging in any new enterprize,
as a great number of his men were wounded, and the soldiers of Narvaez
disliked risks of every kind; but our allies of Chalco were anxious to
reduce that place, and were strongly supported in this opinion by Luis
Marin, a wise and valiant officer; and as the distance was only two
leagues, Sandoval acquiesced. On his advance, the enemy assailed him with
their missile weapons, and then retired to their strong post in the town.
Our allies were not very much disposed to attack the works, in which the
Spaniards shewed them the way, some even of the cavalry dismounting to
fight on foot, and leaving the rest in the plain to protect the rear. Our
people at length carried the place, but had a good many wounded in the
assault, even Sandoval himself. Though our allies were rather tardy in the
assault, they made up for it after the place was carried, saving the
Spaniards the trouble of putting the enemy to death; and indeed we often
blamed the ferocious cruelty of our allies, from whom we saved many of our
Indian enemies. At this time indeed, our countrymen thought themselves
better employed in searching for gold and taking good female prisoners,
than in butchering a parcel of poor wretches who no longer attempted any
defence.

Sandoval returned to Tezcuco with many slaves and considerable plunder,
and just as he arrived at head-quarters, even before he had time to make a
report to Cortes of the success of his late expedition, an express arrived
from Chalco with information that they were in a more perilous situation
than before. Guatimotzin was enraged at the defection of the inhabitants
of Chalco, and determined to inflict upon them the most exemplary
chastisement. For this purpose, he sent a force of 20,000 Mexican warriors
across the lake in 2000 canoes, with orders to lay waste the whole
district with fire and sword. On the communication of this intelligence to
Cortes, he was exceedingly enraged at Sandoval, believing that this had
been occasioned by his negligence, and he gave him orders to return
instantly to the defence of Chalco, refusing even to hear his relation of
what he had already done. Sandoval was much hurt at this treatment, yet
went back to Chalco with all possible expedition; but found the business
over before his arrival, as the inhabitants of that province, having
summoned their neighbours to their aid, had already repelled the Mexican
invasion, and Sandoval had only to return to head-quarters with the
prisoners.

At this period a proclamation was issued, by which all the soldiers were
ordered to bring in the Indian prisoners to be branded, and to pay for
them the royal dues. I have already mentioned the treatment we formerly
met with at Tepeaca on a similar occasion, but we were worse used now at
Tezcuco if possible. In the first place a fifth was taken away for the
king; then another fifth for Cortes; and, what was still worse, most of
the good female slaves were abstracted during the night. We had been
promised that all the slaves should be rated according to their value; but
the officers of the crown valued them as they thought proper, and at a
most exorbitant rate. In consequence of this, the poor soldiers for the
future passed their slaves as servants, denying that they were prisoners
of war, to avoid the heavy duty; and such as were in favour with Cortes,
often got their slaves marked privately, paying him the composition. Many
of the slaves who happened to fall to bad masters, or such as had a bad
reputation, used to run away; but their owners always remained debtors for
their estimated value in the royal books, so that many were more in debt
on this account than all the value of their share in the prize gold could
pay for. About this time likewise, a ship arrived at Villa Rica from Spain
with arms and gunpowder, in which came Julian de Alderete, who was sent
out as royal treasurer. In the same vessel came the elder Orduna, who
brought out five daughters after the conquest, all of whom were honourably
married. Fra Melgarejo de Urrea, also, a Franciscan friar, came in this
vessel, bringing a number of papal bulls, to quiet our consciences from
any guilt we might have incurred during our warfare: He made a fortune of
these in a few months, and returned to Spain. Several other persons came
by this vessel, among whom were, Antonio Caravajal, who still lives in
Mexico, though now very old; Geronimo Ruyz de la Mora; one Briones who was
hanged about four years afterwards for sedition at Guatimala; and Alonzo
Diaz, who now resides in Valladolid. We learned by this ship, with
infinite satisfaction, that the bishop of Burgos had been deprived of all
power over the affairs of the West Indies, as his majesty had been much
displeased with his conduct in regard to our expedition, after having
received a true account of our eminent services.

Scarcely were we apprised of the success of the inhabitants of Chalco and
their confederates, when a new urgent message arrived from Chalco for
assistance against a fresh invasion of the Mexicans. The brigantines
intended for securing the command of the lake were now ready to launch,
and we were all anxious to commence the siege of Mexico, yet Cortes was
sensible of the importance of Chalco to the success of our ultimate
operations, and determined to march in person to its support. Leaving the
command in Tezcuco to Sandoval, Cortes marched for Chalco on Friday the
5th of April 1521, at the head of 300 infantry, including twenty
crossbow-men, and fifteen musketeers, with thirty cavalry, and a large
body of the auxiliaries of Tezcuco and Tlascala, meaning to clear the
district of Chalco and the environs of the lake from the Mexicans. In this
expedition, our general was accompanied by the treasurer Alderete,
Melgarejo the Franciscan friar, with the captains Alvarado de Oli, and
Tapia, and I also was on this expedition. We halted during the first night
at Tlalmanalco, and reached Chalco next day, when Cortes convened all the
chiefs of that state, to whom he communicated his intention of proceeding
very soon to attack Mexico, in which they engaged to give him all the
assistance in their power. We continued our march next day to Chimalhuecan
or Chimalacoan, a town in the province of Chalco, where above twenty
thousand warriors had assembled to join us, belonging to our allies of
Chalco, Guaxocingo, Tlascala, Tezcuco, and other places, being the largest
body of our allies that I had hitherto seen together. These were attracted
by the hope of plunder, and by a voracious appetite for human flesh, just
as the vultures and other birds of prey follow our armies in Italy, in
order to feast on dead bodies after a battle.

At this place we were informed that the Mexican forces, and their allies
or subjects in that neighbourhood, were in the field to oppose us. Cortes
therefore issued orders to the army to be always ready for action at a
moments warning, and we proceeded on our march next morning early, after
hearing mass, our route lying between two ridges of rocks, the summits of
which were fortified and filled with large bodies of the enemy[9], who
endeavoured by outcries and reproaches to incite us to attack them. But we
pursued our march to Guaztepeque or Huaxtepec, a large town on the
southern declivity of the mountains, which we found abandoned. Beyond this
place we came to a plain in which water was very scarce, on one side of
which was a lofty rock having a fortress on the summit which was filled
with troops, who saluted us on our approach with showers of arrows and
stones, by which three of our soldiers were wounded at the first discharge.
Cortes ordered us to halt, and sent a party of cavalry to reconnoitre the
rock, who reported on their return that the side where we then were seemed
the most accessible. We were then ordered to the attack, Corral preceding
us with the colours, and Cortes remained on the plain with our cavalry to
protect the rear. On ascending the mountain, the Indians threw down great
fragments of rock, which rolled among us and rebounded over our heads in a
most frightful manner, so that it was wonderful how any of us escaped.
This was a most injudicious attack, and very unlike the usual prudence of
our general. One soldier, named Martin Valenciano, though defended by a
helmet, was killed at my side. As we continued to ascend, three more
soldiers, Gaspar Sanches, one named Bravo, and Alonzo Rodriguez, were
slain, and two others knocked down, most of the rest being wounded, yet we
continued to ascend. I was then young and active, and followed close
behind our ensign, taking advantage of any hollows in the rock for shelter.
Corral was wounded in the head, having his face all covered with blood,
and the colours he bore were all torn to rags. "Senor Diaz," said he to me,
"let us remain under cover, for it is impossible to advance, and it is all
I can do to keep my hold." On looking down, I noticed Pedro Barba the
captain of our crossbows climbing up with two soldiers, and taking
advantage as we had done of the concavities of the rock. I called to him
not to advance, as it was impossible to climb much farther, and utterly
out of our power to gain the summit. He replied in lofty terms, to keep
silence and proceed; on which I exerted myself and got a good way higher,
saying we should see what he would do. At this moment a shower of large
fragments of rocks came tumbling down, by which one of the soldiers along
with Barba was crushed to death, after which he did not stir a step
higher. Corral now called out to those below, desiring them to report to
the general that it was utterly impossible to advance, and that even
retreat was infinitely dangerous. On learning this, and being informed
that most of us were wounded and many killed, as he could not see us on
account of the inequalities of the rock, Cortes recalled us by signal, and
we came back in a very bloody and bruised condition, eight of our party
having been slain. Three even of the cavalry were killed on the plain and
seven wounded, by the masses of rock, which rebounded to a great distance
after their descent from so great a height.

Numerous bodies of Mexicans were lying in wait for us, intending to have
attacked us while engaged in the ascent, and now advanced towards us in
the plain; but we soon drove them before us, on which they took shelter
among some other rocky ridges. We pursued them through some narrow passes
among the rocks, and found they had taken shelter in another very strong
fortress, similar to that from which we had been repulsed. We desisted for
the present, and returned to our former post in search of water, our men
and horses having been unable to procure any during the whole of this day.
We found some appearance of springs at the foot of the rock, but they had
been drawn dry by the great numbers of the enemy, and nothing remained but
mud. Being under the necessity of endeavouring to procure water, we
returned again to the second fortress, which was about a league and a half
from the first, where we found a small village with a grove of mulberry
trees, in which we discovered a very scanty spring. The people above
discharged their missile weapons on our approach, seeming to be much more
numerous than in the former place, and they were so situated that no shot
from us could reach them. For some way up the rock, there were evident
paths, but it seemed to present insurmountable difficulties against any
attack. Fortunately for us there was another rock which commanded that on
which the enemy were posted, and within shot, to which all our fire-arms
and crossbows were detached, and the rest of our infantry proceeded to
climb up the garrisoned rock slowly and with infinite difficulty. The
enemy might easily have destroyed us by rolling down fragments of rocks on
our heads, but their attention was called off from their main defence by
our missiles, though rather at too great distance to produce much effect;
yet having killed several of the enemy, they lost heart and offered to
submit. On this, Cortes ordered five of their chiefs to come down, and
offered to pardon them for their hostile resistance, on condition that
they should induce those in the other fortress to surrender, which they
accordingly engaged for. Cortes then sent the captains Xaramillo and de
Ircio, with the ensign Corral and a party of men, among whom I was, to
ascend the rock which had surrendered, giving us orders not to touch a
grain of maize. I considered this as full permission to do ourselves all
the good in our power. We found this fortress to consist of an extensive
plain on the summit of a perpendicular rock, the entrance to which did not
exceed twice the size of the mouth of an oven. The whole plain was full of
men, women, and children, but they had not a drop of water. Twenty of
their warriors had been slain by our shot, and a great many wounded. All
their property was packed up in bales, among which there was a
considerable quantity of tribute, which had been collected on purpose to
be sent to Mexico. I had brought four of my Indian servants along with me,
whom I began to load, and four of the natives whom I engaged in my service;
but Captain De Ircio ordered me to desist, or he would report me to the
general, putting me in mind that Cortes had forbidden us to touch a grain
of maize. I answered that I had distinctly heard the orders about the
maize, and for that reason I took the bales. But he would not allow me to
carry any thing away, and reported me on our return to Cortes, expecting I
should receive a reprimand; Cortes, however, observed that he was sorry I
had not got the plunder, as the dogs would laugh at us and keep their
property, after all the evil they had done us. De Ircio then proposed to
return; but Cortes said it was not now time. The chiefs now returned from
the other fortress, having induced its garrison to submit; and we returned
to Huaxtepec that we might procure water. Our whole force was lodged for
the night in the buildings belonging to the noble garden which I formerly
mentioned, and I certainly never saw one of such beauty and magnificence.
Our general and others who walked over all its extent, declared that it
was most admirably disposed, and equalled the most magnificent they had
ever seen in Spain.

We marched next day towards the city of Cuernabaca or Quauhnahuac. The
Mexicans who occupied that place came out to fight us, but were soon
defeated and pursued to Teputztlan or Tepatlan, which we took by storm,
and made a considerable booty of Indian women and other spoils. Cortes
summoned the chiefs of this place to come in and submit; and on their
refusal, and on-purpose to impress the inhabitants of other places with
terror, he ordered about the half of this town to be set on fire. At this
time, the chiefs of a town called Yauhtepec came to Cortes and made their
submission. Next day, we returned to Cuernabaca, which is a large town in
a very strong situation, being defended by a deep ravine with a small
rivulet, which precludes all access except by two bridges, which the
inhabitants had broken down on our approach. Cortes was informed of a ford
about half a league above the town which was practicable for the cavalry,
to which he marched, by which the main strength of the enemy was drawn off
to oppose him. We of the infantry searched for means to pass the ravine,
and at length discovered a very dangerous pass by means of some trees
which hung over from both sides, by the help of which about thirty of us
and a considerable number of our Tlascalan allies got across. Three fell
into the ravine, one of whom broke his leg. It was a most terrifying
passage, and at one time I was quite blind with giddiness. Having got over
and formed, we fell unexpectedly on the flank and rear of the enemy, and
being now joined by a party of the cavalry, we soon drove the enemy from
the field into the neighbouring woods and rocks. We found considerable
property in the town, and we were here all lodged in the buildings of a
large garden belonging to the cacique of the district. A deputation of
twenty of the chiefs of the Tlahuican nation now waited on Cortes,
offering to submit their whole country to his authority, and threw all the
blame of their hostilities on the Mexicans.

The object of our next march was against Xochimilco, a large city on the
fresh water lake of Chalco, in which most of the houses are built. As it
was late before we left Quauhnahuac, and the weather was exceedingly
sultry, our troops suffered excessively for want of water, which was not
to be procured on our route. Many of our allies fainted, and one of them,
and also one of our soldiers died of thirst. Seeing the distress of the
army, Cortes ordered a halt in a pine forest, and sent forwards a party in
search of relief. As I saw my friend De Oli about to set off, I took three
of my Indian servants and followed the party, who endeavoured to persuade
me to return; but I was resolute, and De Oli at length consented, telling
me I should have to fight my way. At the distance of about half a league
our cavalry came to some villages on the side of a ridge of mountains,
where they found water in the houses, and one of my servants brought me a
large jar full of water. Having quenched my thirst, I now determined to
return, as the natives had taken the alarm, and were gathering to attack
us. I found Cortes just about to resume the march, and gave him and the
officers, who were with him a hearty draught from my jar. The whole army
now moved forward to the villages, where a scanty supply of water was
procured. It was now near sunset, and the cavalry came in with a report
that the whole country had risen against us, on which account we halted
here for the night, which was very rainy with much wind, as I well
remember, being on the night guard. Several of our soldiers were taken ill
here with inflammation of their mouth and throat, owing to their having
eaten a species of artichoke to quench their thirst.

We resumed our march early next morning, and arrived about eight o'clock
at Xochimilco[10]. I can give no idea of the prodigious force of the enemy
which was collected at this place to oppose us. They had broken down the
bridges, and fortified themselves with many parapets and pallisades, and
many of their chiefs were armed with the swords which we lost during our
flight from Mexico, which they had polished very nicely. The attack at the
bridge lasted above half an hour, several of our people getting across by
swimming, in which attempt some were drowned, and we were assailed at once
in front and rear and on both flanks. At length our cavalry got on firm
ground, after losing several men, and we drove the enemy before us; but
just at this time a fresh reinforcement of at least 10,000 Mexicans
arrived, and received the charge of the cavalry with great intrepidity,
and wounded four of our men. At this moment the good chesnut horse on
which Cortes rode fell under him among a crowd of the enemy, who knocked
him down, and great numbers gathering around were carrying him off, when a
body of our Tlascalan allies came up to his rescue, headed by the valiant
De Oli, and remounted him, after he had been severely wounded in the head.
De Oli also received three desperate sword wounds from the enemy. As all
the streets of the town were full of Mexican warriors, we had to divide
into a number of separate bodies in order to fight them; but we who were
nearest the place in which our general was in such danger, being alarmed
by the uncommon noise and outcry, hurried there, where they found him and
about fifteen of the cavalry in a very embarrassing situation, amid
parapets and canals where the horse had no freedom to act. We immediately
attacked the enemy, whom we forced to give ground, and brought off Cortes
and De Oli. On first passing at the bridge, Cortes had ordered the cavalry
to act in two divisions on purpose to clear our flanks: They returned at
this time all wounded, and reported that the enemy were so numerous and
desperate, that all their efforts wore unavailing to drive them away. At
the time the cavalry came in, we were in an enclosed court, dressing our
wounds with rags and burnt oil; and the enemy sent in such showers of
arrows among us that hardly any escaped being wounded. We all now sallied
out upon the enemy, both cavalry and infantry, and made considerable havoc
among them with our swords, so that we drove them away and they gave over
their attempt to storm our post. Having now some relaxation, Cortes
brought our whole force to the large enclosures in which the temples were
situated; and on some of us ascending to the top of one of the temples,
where we had a commanding view of Mexico and the lake, we perceived about
two thousand canoes full of troops coming to attack us. A body of ten
thousand men were likewise seen in full march by land for the same purpose,
and the enemy had already fully that number in and about the town. We
learned from five chiefs whom we had made prisoners, that this immense
force was destined to assault our quarters that night; for which reason
strong guards were posted at all the places where the enemy were expected
to disembark; the cavalry were held in readiness to charge upon them on
the roads and firm ground; and constant patroles were kept going about
during the night. I was posted along with ten other soldiers to keep guard
at a stone and lime wall which commanded one of the landing-places, and
while there we heard a noise occasioned by the approach of a party of the
enemy, whom we beat off, sending a report to Cortes by one of our number.
The enemy made a second attempt, in which they knocked down two of our men;
but being again repulsed, they made an attempt to land at a different
place, where there was a small gate communicating with a deep canal. The
night was extremely dark, and as the natives were not accustomed to fight
in the night time, their troops fell into confusion; and instead of making
their attack in two opposite places at the same time, they formed in one
body of at least 15,000 men.

When our report reached Cortes, he came to us attended by nine or ten of
the cavalry, and as he did not answer my challenge, I and my comrade
Gonzalo Sanchez, a Portuguese from Algarve, fired three or four shots at
them; on which knowing our voices, Cortes observed to his escort, that
this post did not require to be inspected, as it was in charge of two of
his veterans. He then observed that our post was a dangerous one, and
continued his rounds without saying any more. I was afterwards told that
one of the soldiers of Narvaez was whipped this very night for negligence
on his post. As our powder was all expended, we were ordered to prepare a
good supply of arrows for the crossbows, and were employed all the rest of
the night in heading and feathering these, under the direction of Pedro
Barba, who was captain of the crossbow-men. At break of day the enemy made
a fresh attack and killed one Spaniard, but we drove them back, killing
several of their chiefs, and took a great many prisoners. Our cavalry had
been ordered out to charge the Mexicans, but finding them in great force,
they sent back for assistance. The whole of our army now sallied forth and
completely defeated the enemy, from whom we took several prisoners. From
these men, we learned that the Mexicans intended to weary us out by
reiterated attacks, on which account it was resolved to evacuate the place
next day. In the mean time, having information that the town contained
much wealth, we got some of the prisoners to point out the houses in which
it was contained, which stood in the water of the fresh water lake, and
could only be approached by small bridges over the canals, leading from a
causeway. A considerable number both of our men and of the allies went to
these houses, from which they brought away a great deal of booty in cotton
cloth and other valuable articles, and this example was followed by others.
While thus employed, a body of Mexicans came upon them unexpectedly in
canoes, and besides wounding many of our men, they seized four soldiers
alive, whom they carried off in triumph to Mexico; and from these men
Guatimotzin learnt the smallness of our number, and the great loss we had
sustained in killed and wounded. After questioning them as much as he
thought proper, Guatimotzin commanded their hands and feet to be cut off,
and sent them in this mutilated condition through many of the surrounding
districts, as an example of the treatment he intended for us all, and then
ordered them to be put to death.

On the ensuing morning we had to sustain a fresh attack, as had regularly
been the case during the four days we remained in Xochimilco, but which we
now determined to quit. Before commencing our march, Cortes drew up the
army in an open place a little way out of the town, in which the markets
were held, where he made us a speech, in which he expatiated on the
dangers we had to encounter in our march, and the strong bodies of the
enemy we might expect to oppose our retreat, and then warmly urged us to
leave all our plunder and luggage, that we might not be exposed to danger
in its defence. We remonstrated, however, that it would be a cowardly act
to abandon what we had so hardly won, declaring that we felt confident of
being able to defend our persons and property against all assailants. He
gave way, therefore, to our wishes, and arranged the order of our march,
placing the baggage in the centre, and dividing the cavalry and crossbows
between the van and rear guards, as our musketry was now useless for want
of powder. The enemy harassed us by continual assaults all the way from
Xochimilco to Cuyocan, or Cojohuacan, a city on the borders of the lake,
near one of the causeways leading to Mexico, which we found abandoned, and
where we took up our quarters for two days, taking care of our wounds, and
making arrows for our crossbows. The enemy which had especially obstructed
us on this march, consisted of the inhabitants of Xochimilco, Cuyocan,
Huitzilopochco, Iztapalapa, Mizquic, and five other towns, all of
considerable size, and built on the edge of the lake, near one another,
and not far from Mexico. On the third morning we marched for Tlacopan or
Tacuba, harassed as usual by the enemy, but our cavalry soon forced them
to retire to their canals and ditches. During this march, Cortes attempted
to lay an ambush for the enemy, for which purpose he set out with ten
horsemen and four servants, but had nearly fallen into a snare himself.
Having encountered a party a Mexicans who fled before him, he pursued them
too far, and was suddenly surrounded by a large body of warriors, who
started out from an ambuscade, and wounded all the horses in the first
attack, carrying off two of the attendants of Cortes to be sacrificed at
Mexico, the rest of the party escaping with considerable difficulty. Our
main body reached Tacuba in safety, with all the baggage; but as Cortes
and his party did not appear, we began to entertain suspicions of some
misfortune having befallen him. On this account, Alvarado, De Oli, Tapia,
and I, with some others, went to look for him in the direction in which we
had last seen him. We soon met two of his servants, who informed us of
what had happened, and were shortly afterwards joined by Cortes, who
appeared extremely sad, and even shed tears.

When we arrived at our quarters in Tacuba, which were in some large
enclosed courts, it rained very heavily, and we were obliged to remain
exposed for about two hours. On the weather clearing up, the general and
his officers, with many of the men who were off duty, went up to the top
of the great temple of Tacuba, whence we had a most delightful prospect of
the lake, with all its numerous cities and towns, rising as it were out of
the water. Innumerable canoes were seen in all directions, some employed
in fishing, and others passing with provisions or merchandize of all kinds.
We all gave praise to God, who had been pleased to render us the
instruments for bringing the numerous inhabitants of so fine a country to
the knowledge of his holy name; yet the bloody scenes which we had already
experienced in Mexico, filled us with melancholy for the past, and even
with some apprehension for the future. These recollections made Cortes
exceedingly sad, regretting the many valiant soldiers he had already lost,
and the brave men whom he might still expect to fall before he could be
able to reduce the great, strong, and populous city of Mexico to
submission[11]. Our reverend Father Olmedo, endeavoured to console him,
and one of our soldiers observed, that such was the fortune of war, and
that our general was in a very different situation from Nero, when he
contemplated his capital on fire. Cortes replied, that he felt melancholy
while reflecting on the fatigues and dangers we should still have to pass
through; but that he should soon take effectual measures for bringing the
great object in view to a speedy conclusion. Having no particular purpose
to serve by remaining in Tacuba, some of our officers and soldiers
proposed to take a view of the causeway where we had suffered so severely
on the fatal night of our flight from Mexico; but this was considered
dangerous and imprudent. We accordingly proceeded on our march by
Escapozalco, which was abandoned by the enemy on our approach, to
Terajoccan, which was also deserted, and thence to Coatitlan or Guatitlan,
where we arrived excessively fatigued, as it never ceased raining during
the whole of that day. We took up our quarters in that place for the night,
which was excessively rainy; and, though the enemy gave us some alarms
during the night, I can testify that no proper watch was kept, owing to
the inclemency of the weather, as my post was not visited either by rounds
or corporal. From Coatitlan, we continued our march by a deep miry road,
through four or five other towns, all abandoned, and arrived in two days
at Aculman or Oculman, in the territory of Tezcuco, where we received the
pleasing intelligence that a reinforcement had arrived to us from Spain.
Next day we proceeded to Tezcuco, where we arrived worn out with wounds
and fatigue, and even diminished in our numbers.

Soon after our return to Tezcuco, a conspiracy was formed for the
assassination of our general, at the head of which was one Antonio de
Villafana, an adherent of Velasquez, and some of the other soldiers who
had come over with Narvaez, but whose names I do not choose to mention,
and the conspirators had even communicated their plan to two principal
officers, whom I will not name, one of whom was to have been appointed
captain-general on the death of Cortes. They had even arranged matters for
the appointment of alguazil-major, alcaldes, regidor, contador, treasurer,
veedor, and others of that kind, and of captains and standard-bearer to
the army, all from among the soldiers of Narvaez. All the principal
adherents of Cortes were to have been put to death, and the conspirators
were to have divided our properties, arms, and horses, among themselves.
This business was revealed to Cortes, only two days after our return to
Tezcuco, by the repentance of one of the conspirators, whom he amply
rewarded. The general immediately communicated the intelligence to
Alvarado, De Oli, Sandoval, Tapia, Luis Marin, and Pedro de Ircio, who
were the two alcaldes for the time, also to me, and to all in whom he
reposed confidence. We all accompanied Cortes, well armed, to the quarters
of Villafana, where he found him and many others of the conspirators, and
took him immediately into custody. The others endeavoured to escape, but
were all detained and sent to prison. Cortes took a paper from the bosom
of Villafana, having the signatures of all his accomplices; but which he
afterwards pretended that Villafana had swallowed, to set the minds of the
conspirators at rest, as they were too numerous to be all punished in the
present weak state of our army. Villafana was immediately tried, and made
a full confession; and his guilt being likewise clearly established by
many witnesses, the judges, who were Cortes, the two alcaldes, and De Oli,
condemned him to die. Having confessed himself to the reverend Juan Diaz,
he was hanged from a window of the apartment. No more of the conspirators
were proceeded against; but Cortes thought it prudent to appoint a body
guard for his future security, selected from among those who had been with
him from the first, of which Antonio de Quinones was made captain.

At this period an order was issued for bringing in all our prisoners to
be marked, being the third time since we came to the country. If that
operation were unjustly conducted the first time, it was worse the second,
and this time worse than ever; for besides the two fifths for the king and
Cortes, no less than thirty draughts were made for the captains; besides
which, all the handsome females we had given in to be marked, were stolen
away, and concealed till it became convenient to produce them.

As the brigantines were entirely finished, and the canal for their passage
into the lake was now sufficiently wide and deep for that purpose, Cortes
issued orders to all the districts in our alliance, near Tezcuco, to send
him, in the course of ten days, 8000 arrow-shafts from each district, made
of a particular wood, and as many copper heads. Within the appointed time,
the whole number required was brought to head-quarters, all executed
better than even the patterns. Captain Pedro Barba, who commanded the
crossbows, ordered each of his soldiers to provide two cords and nuts, and
to try the range of their bows. Cortes ordered all the cavalry to have
their lances new-headed, and to exercise their horses daily. He sent
likewise an express to the elder Xicotencatl at Tlascala, otherwise called
Don Lorenzo de Vargas, to send 20,000 of the warriors of Tlascala,
Huixotzinco and Cholula; and he sent similar orders to Chalco and
Tlalmanalco; ordering all our allies to rendezvous at Tezcuco on the day
after the festival of the Holy Ghost, 28th April 1521. And on that day,
Don Hernandez Ixtlilxochitl of Tezcuco, was to join us with all his forces.
Some considerable reinforcements of soldiers, horses, arms, and ammunition
had arrived from Spain and other places, so that when mustered mustered on
the before-mentioned day by Cortes, in the large enclosures of Tezcuco,
our Spanish force amounted to the following number: 84 cavalry, 650
infantry, armed with sword and buckler, or pikes, and 194 musketeers and
crossbow-men, in all 928 Spaniards. From this number he selected 12
musketeers or crossbow-men, and 12 of the other infantry, for rowers to
each of the vessels, in all 312 men, appointing a captain to each vessel;
and he distributed 20 cannoneers through the fleet, which he armed with
such guns as we had that were fit for this service. Many of our men had
been formerly sailors, yet all were extremely averse from acting as rowers
on the present occasion; for which reason the general made inquiry as to
those who were natives of sea-ports, or who had formerly been fishers or
seafaring men, all of whom he ordered to the oars; and though some of them
pled their gentility as an exemption, he would hear of no excuse. By these
means he obtained 150 men for this service, who were in fact in a much
better situation than we who bore the brunt and danger of the war on land,

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