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John Hawkins and the Battle of San Juan De Ulua (1569)[edit | edit source]
Your armed forces:
A slow galleon: Jesus von Lübeck
A merchant ship: Minion
Four pinnaces: William and John, Swallow, Angel, Judith
Spain is at war with France and England.
You have a mighty fleet, but the flagship is a clumsy, hardly manoeuvrable galleon of Spanish build. As soon as you near the Nothern coast of South America, you face an important decision: Do you want to merchandise peacefully or do attacks?
If you decide for peaceful merchandise, then you can use the smaller Spanish harbours to load supplies or hire a new crew. The bigger, richer harbours stay inaccessible for you. Unfortunately, only small profit can be expected from a peaceful trade, especially considering your numerous crew and the rather slow speed of your flagship.
Attacks, on the other hand, offer a good possibility to gain profit quickly, but your fleet is not powerful enough to attack the really big towns such as Santiago, Santo Domingo or Panama. For possible mending the landing stages of the buccaneers at the headland of Florida and on the Bahamas are available for you. You will hardly be able to pick up stock there, but Spanish ships wait for being plundered. The biggest difficulty to overcome is to sell the captured goods and replace members of the crew, who were killed in a fight.
John Hawkins inherited a shipowner company at the age of 21 and then travelled twice the West Indies (1562 and 1564), where he sold European goods and Africans slaves in small Spanish settlements. In 1567 he organised his third and largest expedition with the galleon Jesus von Lübeck.
After arriving at the Northern coast of South America, Hawkins noticed, that the Spanish were less and less apt to trade with him. The Spanish government in Europe had heard from the travels of Hawkins and urged the inhabitants of the colonies to abide the laws. Hawkins was forced several times to start the trade with a weapon in his hand and he was taken under fire from the forts in other ports and by this restrained from entering the harbour of the town.
Disappointed by the Spanish colonies, Hawkins started his way to Havana, but a ferocious storm brought him to the Gulf of Campeche. The only harbour that he could use to repair his ships was San Juan de Ulua, the landing stage lying on an island before Vera Cruz. To the detriment of Hawkins, the Spanish Treasure Fleet, equipped with galleons and troups armed to the teeth, reached the isle only one day after him.
After a few days of preparation the Spanish attacked Hawkins in the harbour, destroyed most of his ships and put the rest to flight. The sad survivals set forth to England without water and food. Hawkins reached England on board of the Minion with a crew of only 15 men.
After this journey Hawkins became the archenemy of Spain and served England as treasurer and revisor of the marine, as Admiral of the Victory in the campaign against the Spanish Armada, as leader of attacks against Spanish-South America, and finally as a member of the parliament. He died in 1595 at the age of 63.
Francis Drake and the Silver Train Ambush (1573)[edit | edit source]
Your armed forces:
A merchant ship: Pasha
A pinnace: Swan
Spain is at war with England.
Only a man of a virtual daredevil courage would dare to attack the Spanish waters of the South Caribbean with two ships and ridiculous 73 men at a time when the Spanish are at the summit of their might. It seems almost impossible to make a profit from this reckless adventure. A careful man would rely on a trading strategy, would enter small harbours and augment his wealth and his crew before he starts to plunder other ships. Only a man with Drake's courage would trust his luck and fate to this extend and attack and plunder ships and towns immediately and directly.
This is an extremely difficult expedition, even for the fighters of you. You must be able to rely on your protruding and charismatic abilites as a leader, to overwhelm the enemies in a fight man against man, before they manage to fully destroy your very meagre forces. Use the fighting spirit of your crew and be always keen to hold up the moral of your crew. Avoid open combats and try to pick a fight with the hostile leaders with the rapier and defeat them as fast as possible instead. There is no need to mention that skilled fencing is of great use.
Drake arrived at the North-Eastern coast of South America with two small ships in June 1572. In only five days he managed to attack Nombre de Dios and to fetch great amounts of silver out of the governor's house, before he was put out of action with a musket. Soon after that he seized a ship at Cartagena (the town itself was impregnable for him).
In September he reached the Gulf of Darién, where he raised his stock with Spanish ships. Shortly after that, he tried to attack the Silver Train between Panama and Nombre de Dios. In this winter he should not succeed yet: The Spanish were alert. Drake returned to his remote secret base in the island of pines (near the South-Western peak of Cuba) and reconsidered the situation. From the ranks of well-disposed buccaneers and Cimaroon rebels he recruted reinforcements. (Cimaroons were African slaves who had escaped the Spanish.)
In March 1573 he sailed again towards Darién, and with this he finally managed to ambush the Silver Train in Nombre de Dios and capture the gold treasure. Unfortunately, he had to leave behind great amounts of silver, as they were to heavy for the transport! Drake sailed quickly to England and finally reached Plymouth at 9th August 1573, a Sunday. With him were only 30 Englishmen, but each of the survivors enjoyed lifelong wealth.
From 1577 - 1580 beleaguered the Pacific Coast of Spanish-South America and returned to England in the course of a circumnavigation of the world passing Asia. As admiral he defeated the Spanish Armada together with Hawkins in 1588. After an attack on some Spanish treasure galleons which took refuge in San Juan, he died in 1596 at the age of 56 after a serious illness.
Piet Heyn and the Treasure Fleet (1628)[edit | edit source]
Your armed forces:
Four fast galleons: Vergulde Valk, Hollandia, Dolfijn, Haarlem
Two sloops: Tijger, Postpaard
The Netherlands are at war with Spain and is confederate with England. Also England and France are at war with Spain.
You command a mighty and also clumsy squadron, the vanguard of a Dutch fleet of buccaneers. The Spanish fleet is an excellent aim. Unfortunately the year is already nearing its end. Therefore you need to start your search instantly in front of the coast of Havanna or in the Florida Straits. You will definitely meet a number of smaller ships, with a bit of luck and endurance you can make it to find galleons loaded with rich treasures. If you miss the Treasure Fleet, then don't hesitate to attack a few Spanish ports instead. Your ships might be hard to manoeuvre, but this will be compensated by your strength. In the given situation are a good plan, the patient execution and a great portion of luck the key to success.
Piet Heyn was already a famous captain when he sailed under admiral Willekens. In 1623 he headed the attack which led to the conquest of the Spanish colony San Salvador (Bahia) at the coast of Brazil. Even though this campaign lasted only one year, the Dutch acquired valuable knowledge about the production of sugar from sugarcane. In the following decade they spread this knowledge in the whole Caribbean. In 1626 San Salvador produced again sugar for Spain, which led to another attack by Heyn! In 1628 Heyn sailed with a mighty naval force consisting of nine big warships and five sloops towards the West Indies. He crossed Spanish waters and then went on to the Northern coast of Cuba. Near Havanna he finally sighted the Spanish Treasure Fleet, consisting of fourty to fifty ships. Without much thought, he summoned up nine stragglers, while the rest of the ships took flight in all directions and two stranded.
Four of the royal treasure galleons took flight to the bay of Mantanzas near the Cuban coast. Heyn followed them, steered his own ships next to the ones of the Spanish into the shallow water and boarded after a few broadsides. The much stricken and demoralised Spanish men surrendered or escaped to the land, and so the Dutch came to own 46 tons of silver. This loss ruined the Spanish economy and provided the Dutch government with urgently need funds at a decisive point of the Thirty Years' War. Whole Amsterdam burst into jubilation when a fast pinnace entered the harbour with the happy news of Heyn's fabulous victory.
L’Olonnais and the Sacking of Maracaibo (1666)[edit | edit source]
Your armed forces:
France is at war with England and Spain and allied with the Netherlands. Also England and the Netherlands are at war.
Your strength is the number of your men, but your sea power leaves a lot to be desired. As with L’Olonnais’ your prospects are therefore best, if you attack harbours and avoid battles on open sea. You are able to capture all settlements, except for the strongest Spanish towns.
Unfortunately, the moral of your men is not so well. These seamem coming from Tortuga cannot wait to get rich. They are not about to put up with long, fruitless travels. However, your aim needs to be chosen wisely. One single disappointment and a mutiny can hardly be averted!
This expedition is a challenge, but it doesn't pose you insurmountable difficulties. Consider the situation carefully and the execute your plan fast and confidently.
Jean-David Nau came from Les Sables d’Olonne in Brittany to the West Indies to be educated to be a servant at a planter's. After finishing this training he went to Tortuga right away and commanded his own raids as a pirate whithin only a few years. Nau, named L'Olonnais (the man from d'Olonne), was one of the most cruel and unhuman pirate of the seven seas.
In 1666 his brutal reputation was enough to collect a fleet of small ships which sailed to Maracaibo loaded with men. He surprised the guards at the fortresses and took the town by storm. Despite the bloody plundering, which took two weeks, the band of pirates only captured small amounts of gold and silver.
His next aim was Gibraltar. The Spanish held a strong militia there, but after a tough fight, hindered by swampy terrain, the pirates of L'Olonnais prevailed again. The town was plundered thouroughly, their inhabitants were tortured and assassinated, the buildings were burnt down to the foundation. Six months after he had left Panama, L'Olonnais entered Tortuga with such big treasures that he could have returned to France as a wealthy man. But his greed had no end. So it happened that L'Olonnais went to another expedition to the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. Despite the barbarism and cruelty getting more and more out of hand, he only found small amounts of gold, so that soon his convoying ships sailed away and left behind his small group desperate and fasting. L’Olonnais and his men then moved to the inland and attacked indian villages to search for food.
The last misdeed was his perdition. Jean-David Nau's crew rebelled against him an mutinied. Finally his men deserted, when the group was ambushed by the Indian who searched for revenge. Put out of action by poison arrows, he was finally beaten to death.
Henry Morgan, the King's Buccaneer (1671)[edit | edit source]
Your armed forces:
One frigate: Satisfaction
Two merchantmen: Lilly, Dolphin
One barque: Mayflower
Two sloops: Fortune, William
One pinnace: Prosperous
Both England and France are at war with Spain.
You possess an impressive armed force, which can be used both in water and on land. You can hire additional men, raise the stock of your provisions or attack directly and with good chances of success almost any place in the Caribbean. At the moment, the greatest difficulty is the sufficient nutrition of your men. Furthermore you need to collect enough treasures on your travels to keep up the moral of your men. This mission might seem easy, but it can turn out to be a real challenge!
Henry Morgan was a successful buccaneer and leader of pirates. Earlier campaigns of plunder had led him to Puerto Principe and Gran Granada (on the other side of Nicaragua), where he seized enormous booty. He overcame the battlement of Puerto Bello and followed the tracks of L’Olonnais to Maracaibo and Gibraltar, although both places held little prey and violent fights against the Spanish defensive forces were inevitable.
At 24th August 1670 Morgan sailed as admiral of the buccaneers under the patronage of the governor of Jamaica, Modyford. He allied with the French pirates from Tortuga and West-Hispanola, by which the number of his men increased to 2000 men. Now he was strong enough for any venture. His aim was Panama, the wealthiest town of the Spanish empire overseas. He sailed upstream, then marched with his men over land and reached the frontiers of the town in January 1671. Here the governor of the province, Don Juan Perez de Guzman, had assembled his troups and the militia.
On the plains in front of the gates of the town a tough fight broke out. Finally the Spanish lost, the town was seized, plundered and burnt down to the foundation. But the prey was disappointingly meagre. Many of the richest Spanish had left the town with their families and their goods and chattels, instead of waiting and being forced to defend them against the pirates.
The plundering of Panama was the crowning achievement of his career as a pirate. He wisely retired as long as he prevailed. Although Modyford was impeached from his governor position and jailed due this affair, Morgan was knighted. As a rich man of high honours he retired in Jamaica. He died in 1688 at the age of 53 as a consequence of excessive alcohol consumption.
Baron de Pointis and the Last Expedition (1697)[edit | edit source]
Your armed forces:
France is at war with England and Spain.
You armed forces are the mightiest in the Caribbean. Therefore you can choose any aim you like and attack it. But the actual question is, how many of the expected treasures can you carry away? To make it more thrilling you should choose the difficulty grade "swashbuckler". After all, de Pointis and also du Casse were wounded in combat of the real expedition!
In March 1697 Baron de Pointis was in Saint Domingue (the French colonies in the Western Hispanola). At the times of Louis XIV. France was at war with England and Spain; men, ships and money were rare. The aim of the baron: Cartagena. And due to this undertaking: to hit Spain where it hurts and capture considerable prey to cover the costs of the war.
Jean Baptiste du Casse, in office of the French colonial governor since 1691, received the command to support de Pointis. He recruited hundreds of local pirates and buccaneers and delegated the commandership to Jean Bernard Louis Desjeans, who had sailed with the French buccaneer fleets during the 80s of the 17th century.
The French expedition reached the coastal waters of Cartagena in April and started without delay to decimise the Spanish defense. Forts lying outside were captured without further ado, often with buccaneers in the advance party, while the fleet moved up for support. Isolated and demoralised, the Spanish retreated to the town. The French opened the fire with mighty 36-pound siege howitzer and destroyed the bases of the town.
On 6th May 1697 the governor Don Diego de los Rios y Quesada Cartagena gave up. Baron de Pointis carried away all treasures that could be found in the town and payed the pirates the same part as his own men (which turned out to be a starvation wage compared to the payments of the buccaneers). Worried about a mighty English squadron, which obviously was close in on him, Pointis made his way home with a treasure of 20 million livres value.
The pirates, enraged about their miserable quota, devastated the still completely crush down town again. Now the disastrous time of plundering, pillaging, raping and torturing started and the pirates finally made it to squeeze further 5 million livres out of the inhabitants. In the meantime, Pointis was headed off by Neville's English fleet South of Jamaica, but during the night the French outflanked the Englishmen and escaped.
The plundering of Cartagena in 1697 was the last big expedition, where pirates took part. Without Pointis’ mighty and well-equipped troups this event could not have happened. Now the nations stationed regular military and marine units in the Caribbean. The freedom of the seas for pirates came to an end.
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