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Activity of the Pirates in Santo Domingo - 21 Jan 1718

Minutes – Activity of the Pirates in Santo Domingo - 21 Jan 1718

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January 21, 1718. Activity of the Pirates in Santo Domingo. AN marine B1 29 ° 474; (10 photocopied sheets).


The pirates have not appeared on the coast of this island since the last armament that has dismissed them, but they have done little less wrong having taken under the Puerto Rico the Concorde of Nantes charged with 500 blacks, Roy Guillaume from Rochefort and the Saint-Antoine de Marseille from Martinique to Santo Domingo. They gathered at the islands of Providence to the number of 18 boats.

They had notice to Jamaica where the pirates have secret connections (being to the greater part of this island) that they had planned to surprise the Petit-Goave which was confirmed to them by one of the brigands named [Jean?] Martel, French of nation armed in one of those pirates who took a boat from Santo Domingo under Cape Tiburon. As this Martel has his sister-in-law married to the Petit-Goave, to whom he has the obligation of life, he charged the owner of this boat to warn him to put his belongings under cover because the pirates had resolved in the feasts of Christmas they call their Christmas (where they are used to make some extravagances and bursts) to come and burn the Petit-Goave.

They send the declaration of his patron that contains the pirate boat that took him was armed with 14 guns and 110 crewmen, that he was given torture to know if he had money in his boat and if there were many ships at Leogane, it was said that they were waiting for 17 pirate ships to go and burn the Petit-Goave.

They note that his patron omitted from his statement a circumstance he told them by word of mouth, that Martel urged him not to name him because it was going on in his life if the English learned that he had revealed the secret of this descent.

Although they could hardly believe in such a reckless enterprise, where they ran the risk of being hanged for the sole satisfaction of doing harm, they could not hope for a great booty. The chief officers, however, thought that this advice should not be despised, that the Spanish pirates, under the name of Greeks, attempted the same enterprise 28 years ago with 300 men, of whom 40 were hanged, and that only one barge of these Pirates had made a descent to Jacmel to loot the Company's store and some houses.

On these examples, M. Chateaumorand considered it prudent to be on his guard and to take precautions to be sure of the surprise. The batteries of the Petit-Goave, which were to be rebuilt anew, were promptly restored by the care of M. de Paty, who used negroes ordered for the ordinary labors of the end of the year, and commanded a greater number of them for to make land entrenchments with fascines [a rough bundle of brushwood or other material used for strengthening an earthen structure, or making a path across uneven or wet terrain] along the edge of the sea which were part of the village. Flanks were observed there to place musketeers and two small batteries of 3 pieces of cannon were erected.

M. de Chateaumorand also had Leogane work to restore the fort of the point. He had some entrenchments made in the neighborhood. He ordered to barricade the seashore as far as possible, and he charged M. de Brack with this care. He thought it expedient to send the little Goave under the battery of the merchant ships which were in the harbor of Leogane, and he put three of the largest vessels at the two entrances, which he had well armed.

He ordered a party of the Militia Cul de Sac and Artibonite to go the day after Christmas at Petit Goave and Leogane where they remained until January 12 without the pirates have presented [did not show; got as far as the French district of Lautibonelle (l’Artibonite or l’Autibonelle) at St Domingue and may have avoided Petit Goave].

It is claimed that they were warned of the preparations they were making to receive them, but it is more likely that the disunity was among them and thwarted their project.

They knew by the skipper of the ship the Saint-Jacques de Bordeaux captured by the pirates on October 22, which his patron they had retained in spite of himself and only released it again, that in fact they were gathered in the number 18 boats at Longueland [Long Island is an island in the Bahamas that is split by the Tropic of Cancer], one of the small islands of Providence. He talks about it for having seen it, but at the same time he knew that they were taking each other's holdings, that they were on suspicion and that they were trying to separate.

The movements they caused, although they did not appear, served at least to awaken the sleeping inhabitants on the confidence of peace. Some who had no arms bought as much as they found for sale, the merchant vessels did not bring enough and they appeared in good condition to reviews that were made the day after their arrival.

Gentlemen of Chateaumorand and Mithon were a part of the time at Petit Goave, where the first, who was very weak of a dangerous disease, was transported on the last day of December, two days after the fever had left him. She picked him up when he arrived, and he had it almost the whole time he was there with a cold on his chest from which he has not left yet. However, he visited the entrenchments and saw the troops under arms. He had reason to be content with the zeal and good will which the inhabitants showed without any complaint of seeing themselves removed from their homes. M. de Chateaumorand had given them lodging with the inhabitants of the neighborhood of Petit Goave and the plain of Leogane to save them the expense of the cabaret, but most of them preferred to stand at the place of assembly to be ready in case of [enemy] descent. There were 500 good men at Petit Goave, cavalry and infantry, not to mention the 3 armed ships and well-stocked batteries.

Only 100 sailors of the vessels taken by the pirates estimated for the service of the batteries, and 20 boys and mulattoes who have been judged fit not to dispose of the houses, have been fed at the King's expense.

We also gave sustenance to 200 Negro slaves who worked at the entrenchments. Having no engineer, Mr. de Paty conducted this work diligently and maintained good discipline while the troops were assembled. The officers also showed great zeal on this occasion. They did the least expense it was possible, however it will amount to 12 to 13,000 pounds both for food for 8 days and for batteries that had to be done in the entrenchments. They beg the Council to approve this extraordinary expense to avoid discussions.

All the efforts made on the occasion of the pirates will not protect the colony from their piracy and its trade is lost if we do not send two frigates or two galleys against these brigands who armed La Concorde and Roy Guillaume who will join their boats. They do not consider them any stronger, and their vessels and their boats would be much more easy to take if they had frigates.

Public news tells them that in England there are 16 ships to destroy, four of them in the first rank. It would be well to hope for a good success if this armament has no other object, which they can scarcely believe, the vessels of the first rank, and such a considerable armament, not seeming to suit this expedition. It is believed that the English want to take their revenge of the 900 men whom the Spaniards have driven out of Campeche and the ships they took from them in this harbor.

Gentlemen of Chateaumorand and Mithon were part of the time at Petit Goave where the first one, who was very weak of a dangerous disease, was transported on the last day of December, two days after.



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