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Mail from the Past

COLOMBIA | Wednesday, 4 January 2006 | Views [1220]

This was a letter written by a sailor to his wife after the fall of Cartagena in 1739:

"When I left you heaven knows it was with an aching heart to be hauled from you by a gang of ruffians but, however, I soon overcame that when I found that we were about to go in earnest to right my native country, and against a parcel of impudent Spaniards, by whom I have often been ill treated and god knows my heart I have longed these four years past to cut of some of their ears, and was in hopes I should have sent you one for a sample now, but our good Admiral, God bless him, was too merciful. We have taken Porto Belo with such courage and bravery that I never saw before; for my own part my heart was raised to the clouds and would have scaled the moon had a Spaniard been there to come at him, as we did the battery. Jack Cox is my messmate; you know he was always a heavy-assed dog and sleepy headed, but had you seen him climb the walls of the battery, you would never forget him, for a cat could not exceed him in nimbleness, and so in short it was with all of us. I belief I myself could now overcome ten Spaniards for I remember when I was in Spain that the Spanards called the English Galen den mare, but we shall now make them know that we are the Cox of the Seas for our Admiral is of true game breed. Had you seen us English sailors, now what alteration, what countenances, what bravery can exceed us? They tell us we shall meet a French squadron by and by, but I wish it may be so. And by g-d we'll jerk them. Our dear cox of an Admiral has true English blood in his veins; and thank God all our captains and officers have to a man. Now we are in earnest, but lying in harbours and letting our timber rot and our provision to be devoured with rats; was bad as I have seen. When our cannon had left off firing by order, our men coud hardly forbear going on. My dear, I have got some token of success to show you; I wish I could have sent some of them to you. Our dear Admiral ordered every man some Spanish dollars to be immediately given, which is like a man of honour, for I had rather have 10 dollars in hand than to have 100 for seven years together, and perhaps compound it at last. I am and so is every man of us resolved either to lose our lives or conquer our enemies. True British spirit revives and by g-d we will support our King and country so long as a drop of blood remains. Jo Wilks is as good a sailor as the best of them, and can now bear a hand with an able sailor and has vowed never to take the shuttle in hand till we have reduced the pride of Spain. Help them who will the more, the better true blues will never flinch. I can't help mentioning the soldiers we took with us from Jamaica who were as hearty cox as ever took musket in hand and behaved with glorious courage, but all for the honour of England. I wish we could see one of those plunderers, the garda costas, especially him by whom I was once met with when I lost 16 months wages. If I did not cut off the captain's ears may I be damned. My dear, I am well, getting money wages secure, and all revenge on my enemies, fighting for my King and Country"

Photos show the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas that these lads shinned up, and some of the defenses on the city walls.

Tags: Sightseeing

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