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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 allies40, 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 employed41. 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 allies42. 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 Mexicans43.

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 whole44. 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 march45. 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 Tezcuco46. 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 Tacuba47, 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 enemy48, 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 Xochimilco49. 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 submission50. 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, as will appear in the sequel. When all this was arranged, and the crews embarked along with their commanders, each brigantine hoisted a royal standard, and every one a distinguishing flag. Cortes likewise gave the captains written instructions for their guidance, dividing them into squadrons, each of which was to co-operate with a particular leader of the land forces.

Cortes now issued the following general orders to the army: 1. No person to blaspheme the Lord Jesus, his Virgin Mother, the Holy Apostles, or any of the Saints, under heavy penalties. 2. No soldier to maltreat any of our allies in their persons or properties. 3. No soldier to be absent from quarters on any pretence. 4. Every soldier to keep his arms, both offensive and defensive, in the best order. 5. No soldier to stake his horse or arms in gaming. 6. No soldier to sleep out of his armour, or without his arms beside him, except when disabled by wounds or sickness. Lastly, the penalty of death was denounced for sleeping on guard, for a sentinel quitting his post, for absence from quarters without leave, for quitting the ranks in the field, or for flight in battle.

At this time our allies of Tlascala arrived under the command of Xicotencatl the younger, who was accompanied by his two brothers. Some of the warriors of Huexotzinco and Cholula came along with the Tlascalans, but not in any great numbers51, yet the alacrity of our allies was such that they joined us a day previous to that which was appointed by Cortes. They marched in with great military parade, each of the chiefs carrying a standard with their national device, a white spread eagle, and they were all in high spirits, shouting out, Castilla! Castilla! Tlascala! Tlascala! From the arrival of their van, till the rear came in, took up three hours. Cortes received them with great courtesy, promising to make them all rich on their return to their native country, and dismissed them with many compliments to their respective quarters.

Cortes made the following arrangement of our land army for the investment of Mexico, distributing our forces in three separate divisions, under the respective commands of Alvarado, De Oli, and Sandoval, reserving to himself to act where his presence might be most necessary, and taking in the mean time the command of the fleet. Pedro de Alvarado, under whom I served, had 150 infantry, 30 cavalry, 18 musketeers and crossbow-men, and 8000 Tlascalans, and was ordered to take post at Tacuba, having three captains under his command, his brother Jorge de Alvarado, Pedro Guttierrez, and Andres de Monjara, having each a company of 50 infantry, with a third of the musketeers and crossbow-men, the cavalry being commanded by Alvarado in person.-Christoval de Oli commanded the second division, having under him Andres de Tapia, Francisco Verdugo, and Francisco de Lugo, with 175 infantry, 30 cavalry, 20 musketeers and crossbows, and 8000 of our Indian allies. This division was ordered to take post at Cuyoacan or Cojohuacan.-The third division, under the command of Gonzalo de Sandoval, who had under him captains Luis Marin and Pedro de Ircio, consisted of 150 infantry, 24 cavalry, 14 musketeers and crossbows, and above 8000 Indian warriors, was to take post at Iztapalapa. The division of Alvarado and De Oli were ordered to march from Tezcuco by the right, going round the northern side of the lake, and the third, under Sandoval, by the left, to the south end of the lake; and his march being much shorter, he was ordered to remain in Tezcuco until Cortes should sail out with the fleet52.

Before setting out on their march, Alvarado and De Oli directed our Indian allies to go on a day before us, that we might not be interrupted by their numbers, and ordered them to wait for us when they reached the Mexican territory. While on their march, Chichimecatl remarked that Xicotencatl, the commander in chief of the Tlascalans was absent; and it was found that he had secretly gone off from Tezcuco for Tlascala on the preceding night, in order to take possession of the territory and property of Chichimecatl, thinking this a good opportunity during the absence of that chief and his warriors, and being in no apprehension of any opposition, now that Maxicatzin was dead. Chichimecatl returned immediately to Tezcuco, to inform Cortes of what had taken place; and our general sent five chiefs of Tezcuco and two Tlascalan chiefs, to request Xicotencatl to return. He answered, that if his old father and Maxicatzin had listened to him, they would not have been now domineered over by Cortes and the Spaniards, and absolutely refused to go back. On this haughty answer being reported to Cortes, he immediately sent off an alguazil with four horsemen and five Tezcucan chiefs, ordering them to seize and hang Xicotencatl wherever they could find him. Alvarado interceded strongly for his pardon, but ineffectually; for though Cortes seemed to relent, the party who arrested Xicotencatl in a town subject to Tezcuco, hung him up by private orders from Cortes, and some reported that this was done with the approbation of the elder Xicotencatl, father to the Tlascalan general. This affair detained us a whole day, and on the next the two divisions of Alvarado and De Oli marched by the same route, halting for the night at Aculma or Alcolman, a town belonging to the state of Tezcuco, where a very ruinous quarrel was near taking place between our two commanders and their divisions. De Oli had sent some persons before to take quarters for his troops, and had appropriated every house in the place for his men, marking them by setting up green boughs on the terraces; so that when Alvarado arrived with his division, we had not a single house for us to lodge in. Our soldiers were much irritated at this circumstance, and stood immediately to their arms to fight with those of De Oli, and the two commanders even challenged each other; but several of the more prudent of the officers on both sides interposed, and a reconciliation was effected, yet Alvarado and De Oli were never afterwards good friends. An express was sent off immediately to apprize Cortes of this misunderstanding, who wrote to all the people of any influence in the two divisions, greatly condemning the circumstances of this disagreement, which might have produced fatal consequences to our whole army, and earnestly recommended a reconcilement. We continued our march for two days more, by several Mexican cities, which were abandoned by their inhabitants; and passing through Coatitlan, Tenajoccan and Itzcapuzalco, where our allies waited for us, we proceeded for Tacuba, otherwise called Tlacopan.



SECTION XI. Occurrences from the Battle of Otumba till the march of Cortes to besiege Mexico | A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol.IV | SECTION XIII. Narrative of Occurrences from the commencement of the Siege of Mexico to its Reduction, and the Capture of Guatimotzin