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SECTION IX. Expedition of Narvaez to supersede Cortes in the command, and occurrences till the Defeat of that Officer by Cortes at Chempoalla

The Bishop of Burgos, who was president of the council of the Indies, bore unlimited sway in that department of the Spanish government during the absence of the emperor in Flanders. Owing to the representations of Velasquez against Cortes, he sent orders to him to seize and make us all prisoners at every hazard, as rebellious subjects. Velasquez therefore fitted out a fleet of nineteen ships from the Island of Cuba, in which he embarked an army of fourteen hundred soldiers, eighty of whom were cavalry, eighty musketeers, and eighty crossbow-men, with twenty pieces of cannon, and all necessary ammunition and appointments, giving the command in chief to Pamphilo de Narvaez. Such was his animosity against Cortes and us for having thrown off our dependance upon him, that he made a journey of above seventy leagues from the Havanna on purpose to expedite the preparations. At this time, the royal audience of St Domingo and the brethren of the order of St Jerorimo, being satisfied of our loyalty and great exertions in the service of God and the emperor, sent over the oydor Lucas Vasquez de Aillon to Cuba, with positive injunctions to stop the sailing of the armament against us; but as Velasquez was confident in the support of the bishop of Burgos, he gave no heed to the orders communicated to him by Aillon, who therefore went along with the armament, that he might endeavour as much as possible to prevent injury to the public service by his mediation and influence, and be at hand if necessary, to take possession of the country for the emperor, in virtue of his office.

Narvaez arrived safe with his whole fleet in the harbour of St Juan de Ulua, except that he lost one small vessel during the voyage. Soon after his arrival, the soldiers who had been sent by Cortes to that part of the country in search of mines, went on board, and it is said gave thanks to God for being delivered from the command of Cortes and the dangers of the city of Mexico. Finding them in this mood, Narvaez ordered them to be plentifully supplied with wine, to make them more communicative. Cervantes the jester, who was one of these soldiers, under pretence of facetiousness, exposed to him all the discontents of our soldiers respecting the distribution of the treasure we had obtained, and informed him also of the bad state of the garrison in Villa Rica under Sandoval. The arrival of this new armament was soon communicated to Montezuma, who concealed the intelligence for some time from Cortes, and opened a private correspondence with Narvaez, to whom he sent many rich presents. Narvaez, in his correspondence with Montezuma, said every thing that was bad against Cortes and his troops, representing the whole of us as outcasts and robbers, and that the emperor, hearing of our evil conduct, and that we detained the great Montezuma in custody, had sent the present expedition for the express purpose of liberating him and putting us all to death. This intelligence gave great satisfaction to Montezuma, who thought we must necessarily be all destroyed, as he had got an exact account of their force represented to him in paintings: He accordingly transmitted very magnificent presents to Narvaez, and could ill conceal the satisfaction he had derived from the intelligence. Montezuma concealed the news of this armament from Cortes, who observed and was astonished at the alteration which it had produced on the kings manners and behaviour. At length however, from the circumstance of Cortes making him two visits in one day, Montezuma became apprehensive of the general procuring intelligence from any other quarter, and told him the news, pretending only to have just heard of it himself. Cortes expressed the utmost joy at the intelligence, and Montezuma shewed him the representations which had been transmitted to him, by which he learnt every thing he wished to know on the subject. He immediately left the king and communicated the intelligence to the troops, who got immediately under arms, and fired several vollies in token of our joy. We soon noticed, however, that Cortes was exceedingly pensive when alone, of which we could not divine the cause; till he soon afterwards convinced us, and explained that the armament was evidently designed against us; and he now, partly by promises and partly by gifts, as from his bounty of what was ours by good right, made interest with us to stand firmly by him in the approaching contest with Narvaez.

From what had been told him by Cervantes and our other deserters, Narvaez was induced to send a deputation to Sandoval, demanding him to surrender the port of Villa Rica. He appointed three persons on this errand, Guavera a clergyman of abilities, Amarga, a relation of Velasquez, and one Vergara, a scrivener. Sandoval had received information of the arrival of the armament, and prepared to defend his post, as he rightly guessed that it was destined to act against us. He sent off all his invalids to an Indian village at some distance, and exhorting his soldiers to stand by him, he erected a gibbet, and placed a guard on the road to Chempoalla. On the arrival of the deputation from Narvaez at Villa Rica, they were astonished to meet none but Indians, as Sandoval had ordered all the soldiers to remain in their quarters, and remained at home himself; they knew not well how to proceed, but at length guessing by the appearance of the house that it belonged to the governor, they went in. Guavera immediately began the conversation, by representing the greatness of the force under Narvaez, and its object, which was to arrest Cortes and all his followers as traitors, and concluded by summoning Sandoval to surrender himself and his post to general Narvaez. Sandoval was much displeased, and told him, if it were not for the protection of his holy function, he would punish his insolence in calling those traitors who were more faithful subjects than either Narvaez or his employer Velasquez. He desired him to carry his demand to Cortes at Mexico, who would settle the business with him at that place. Guavera insisted to execute the commission on which he was sent, and ordered the scrivener Vergara to produce the authority under which they acted. But Sandoval stopped him, saying, "I know not whether your papers be true or false; but if you attempt to read any here I will order you to receive a hundred lashes." On this, Guavera exclaimed, "Why do you mind these traitors? read your commission." Sandoval, calling him a lying rascal, ordered them all to be seized: On which a number of Indians, who had been previously instructed, came in and threw nets over them, and instantly set out with them on their backs for Mexico, to which they were carried post by relays of Indians, through the several large and populous towns by the way, with a rapidity that confounded them, hardly knowing whether they were alive or dead, the whole seeming as if done by enchantment. Sandoval sent Pedro de Solis to accompany them, by whom he wrote a hasty letter to Cortes, giving him an account of all he knew. When the general got notice of their arrival in Mexico, he ordered us all under arms, released them immediately from their trammels, and made an apology for the rudeness of Sandoval, whom he greatly blamed. He entertained them with great hospitality and respect, giving them plenty of gold, and sent them back in a few days as gentle as lambs, who had come out against him as furious as lions.

Our general was one whose resources were never exhausted, and it must not be concealed that his officers and soldiers supported him through all his difficulties by our valour in the field and our wisdom in council. On this occasion, we determined that it was proper to send letters to Narvaez and others of the new army, which they might receive previous to the return of Guavera. In these, we earnestly urged that no rash steps might be taken to endanger our general interest, by inciting the Indians to rise upon us; and held out every inducement of interest and friendship to the followers of Narvaez to bring them over to our party, not forgetting to treat secretly with such as we thought might be easiest wrought upon, as both Guavera and Vergara had informed Cortes that Narvaez was by no means on good terms with his officers, among whom gold well applied would work wonders. In his letters to Narvaez, Cortes adjured him by their former friendship, not to give encouragement to the Mexicans to rise and destroy us, seeing that they were ready to have recourse to any extremity to liberate Montezuma, whose dispositions were much altered for the worse since the arrival of this new armament, and the opening a correspondence between him and Narvaez. He was convinced, he said, that the expressions which Narvaez had been reported to use, could never have come from so wise a man, but must have been fabricated by such wretches as the buffoon Cervantes; and he concluded by offering an unlimited submission to the authority of Narvaez. Cortes wrote also to the secretary Andres de Duero, and Lucas Vasques the oydor, taking care to accompany his letters with valuable presents of gold. On receiving the letter from Cortes, Narvaez turned it into ridicule, handing it about among his officers, speaking of us all as traitors whom he would put to death without mercy. He declared he would cut off and eat the ears of Cortes, and a great deal of such braggart nonsense, and of course made no answer to the letters. Just at this time Father Olmedo arrived, bringing with him the private letters and presents. He went in the first place to wait upon Narvaez, intending to assure him that Cortes would be proud to serve under his command; but Narvaez would not listen to him, and did nothing but abuse both Cortes and him. He accordingly desisted from that part of his commission which related to an agreement with Narvaez, and applied himself to the distribution of presents among the officers with so much judgment and success, that he soon won over all the principal officers to our party. If the oydor Vasques was originally disposed to favour Cortes, he was entirely so on seeing the magnificent presents which were now distributed with so much liberality; which formed a striking contrast with the avarice of Narvaez, who used to enjoin his major domo to take heed that not a mantle were missing, as he had marked down every article committed to his charge. This penuriousness set all his officers against him, which he attributed to the intrigues of Vasques; and as there was a difference between them, because Narvaez neglected to inform him respecting every thing sent in by order of Montezuma, of which he ought to have been informed as oydor, an irreconcileable quarrel ensued; and depending on the favour of the bishop of Burgos, Narvaez caused the oydor to be arrested, and sent prisoner to Cuba or Spain, I know not which. But during the voyage, Vasques prevailed on the captain of the ship to land him in Hispaniola, where he so represented the treatment he had received to the Audience and the Jeronimites, that they complained to the council of Castile, but ineffectually, owing to the influence of the bishop of Burgos in favour of Narvaez. About this time too, a gentleman named Oblanco, made remonstrances to Narvaez respecting his violence, saying a good deal in favour of Cortes and his troops, with which Narvaez was so much offended that he threw him into prison; which Oblanco took so much to heart that he died three days after.

Soon after the arrival of Father Olmedo, Guevara and his two companions returned from Mexico, and launched out in praise of Cortes, reporting the many expressions of respect he had used in speaking of Narvaez; and, commending the services he had already performed to our emperor, they expatiated on the advantages which would result from uniting their forces, instead of fomenting a civil war. All this put Narvaez into such a rage that he refused to see them any more, and commanded them to be silent on this hateful subject. They carried their discourse therefore among their comrades; and when they saw how well furnished with gold these men had returned from Mexico, they began seriously to wish themselves in the army of Cortes.

Narvaez now quitted the coast with his army and took possession of the town of Chempoalla; immediately on his arrival seizing by force the young women who had been given to the officers of Cortes by their parents, with all the gold and mantles which had been left in the custody of the fat cacique along with the ladies, when we set out on our march to Mexico. When the cacique complained of this to Narvaez, and of the robberies committed by his soldiers, saying that Cortes and his soldiers conducted themselves in quite a different manner, a bragging fellow called Salvatierra exclaimed, "See what fear these Indians are in for the sorry fellow Cortes!" yet this boaster, who was so ready with his tongue, was the most cowardly wretch I ever beheld, when we came afterwards to attack the army of Narvaez. About this time, Narvaez transmitted to Cortes a copy of the commission he had received from the governor of Cuba, the particulars of which I shall detail hereafter. Cortes received regular intelligence of every thing done by Narvaez, partly from the friends he had made in the adverse army and partly from Sandoval, who now informed him that five persons of consideration had joined from the army of Narvaez, who alleged for their reason, that being the relations of the oydor Vasquez, who had met with such injurious treatment, they had little hopes of being themselves well used; and he added, that these persons said Narvaez meant very soon to march to Mexico against us. On this being made known to such of us as Cortes used generally to consult with, he agreed with us in opinion that it was advisable for us to march immediately against Narvaez and his army, leaving the command in Mexico with Alvarado; and we left under his charge all those men who were not inclined to be of the present hazardous expedition, and all whom we suspected to have an inclination for the party of Narvaez or Velasquez. We also left with Alvarado a sufficient supply of provisions, in case the Mexicans should refuse to supply him, and because the late harvest had been deficient, in consequence of too dry a season. Our quarters were strengthened by the addition of a good pallisade, and, besides four heavy guns, we left a garrison of eighty-three men, twenty-four of whom were armed with muskets or cross-bows: a very inadequate force, surely, for keeping the great and populous city of Mexico in awe.

Previous to our departure, Cortes paid a visit to Montezuma, who questioned him very anxiously about the difference between him and Narvaez, as both were vassals of the same sovereign, and desired an explanation of the charges which the new comers had made against us, that we were outcasts and traitors. He likewise asked if he could serve us in any way, expressing an apprehension of our safety, considering the great superiority under Narvaez. Cortes replied in a cheerful manner, that he had not sooner informed him of our intended departure, lest it might give him concern; that we certainly were all subjects to the same monarch, but that the report of our being traitors and fugitives was utterly false, as we had come into his country with full authority from our sovereign. As to the other party destroying us by their superiority in numbers, that did not depend on them, but on the will of our Lord and his holy mother, who would support us. He added, that our sovereign ruled over many different countries, the inhabitants of some of which were more valiant than those of others; that we were all true Castilians, while the commander of our opponents was a Biscayan, and his majesty would soon see the difference between us, as he trusted by the blessing of God to bring them all back as prisoners. He concluded by recommending in the strongest terms to Montezuma, to use his utmost endeavours to prevent any insurrection in the city during our absence; as, on his return, he would assuredly punish all in a most exemplary manner who behaved amiss. Montezuma promised to do every thing which Cortes required, and even offered to assist us with five thousand of his warriors, which Cortes politely declined, knowing indeed that the king had not that in his power, if he even wished to have done so. Then requesting Montezuma to cause due respect to be paid to that part of the great temple which had been consecrated to the Christian worship, he embraced Montezuma with much cordiality and took leave. He then called Alvarado and the garrison which was to remain in Mexico, all of whom he strictly enjoined to be extremely watchful, and to take special care not to allow Montezuma to escape; promising to make them all rich on his return, if he found they had done their duty. On this occasion of leaving Mexico, he left the clergyman Juan Diaz with Alvarado, and some other persons whose fidelity he questioned.

We began our march from Mexico in the beginning of May 152021, making our first halt at Cholula. From that place we sent a message to the senate of Tlascala, requiring them to assist us with four thousand of their warriors. They sent us twenty loads of fowls, saying that they were ready at any time to join us in war against Indians, but begged to be excused if we were marching against our own countrymen. At this time likewise, Cortes sent orders to Sandoval to join our little army with the whole of his garrison that was fit for duty, at a place named Tampinequeta or Mitalaquita22, twelve leagues from Chempoalla. We marched in regular order without baggage, having always two confidential soldiers in advance about a days journey, who were directed not to keep the main road, but to go always by those in which cavalry could not march, and whose especial business was to inquire for intelligence respecting the motions of Narvaez, which they were to communicate without delay to Cortes. When we had proceeded a considerable way on our march, one of our advanced parties fell in with four Spaniards belonging to the army of Narvaez, who were bringing to Cortes a copy of his commission and instructions as captain-general in New Spain. On being brought to the general, they saluted him respectfully, and he immediately dismounted in order to hear what they had to say. Alonzo de Mata, who was at the head of the deputation, produced his papers and began to read them; but Cortes stopt him short, demanding if he were a royal notary; as in that case, by shewing his commission, he would be implicitly obeyed, but if he had no such authority, he certainly would not be allowed to read any pretended orders. "The commands of his majesty," said Cortes, "I shall submit to with the utmost humility; but, I desire that the original may be produced." Mata was confounded at these words, as he held no office whatever under the crown, and was entirely at a loss how to proceed. But Cortes relieved him from his embarrassment, telling him our destination, and that he was ready to receive any message from his general, of whom he always spoke with great respect, but would listen to no orders that were not sanctioned by the royal authority. We halted for some time at this place, and Cortes had some private conferences with these agents of Narvaez, with whom he used such powerful arguments that he made them his firm friends. They returned to Chempoalla, quite loud in their praises of Cortes, crying up his generosity to the skies, and made a magnificent report of the riches of our soldiers, many of whom had ornaments of gold on their arms, and some of them gold chains and collars about their necks.

Next day, Sandoval joined with the garrison of Villa Rica, to the number of about seventy men, with whom came the five Spaniards who had deserted from Narvaez, who were very graciously received by Cortes. Sandoval reported that he had sent two of his soldiers, a little time before into the quarters of Narvaez, who went disguised like Indians, having each a load of fruit for sale, and their complexions so completely resembled the natives that they were never suspected. They went immediately to the quarters of the braggart Salvatierra, who gave them a string of yellow beads for their fruit, and sent them to cut grass for his horse on the banks of a small rivulet. They brought home the last load of grass in the evening, and having fed the horse, they remained about the place till night, listening to the conversation of Salvatierra, whom they heard observing to some of his companions, how luckily they had come at the present moment to deprive the traitor Cortes of the 700,000 crowns which he had obtained from Montezuma. When it was dark, our disguised soldiers got privately out of the house, and took away Salvatierras horse with the saddle and bridle, and meeting another horse by the way, which happened to be lame, they brought it along with them. Cortes laughed heartily at this exploit; and we learned afterwards that Salvatierra gave much amusement to the soldiers of Narvaez, by his absurd behaviour on discovering the trick which had been played upon him.

It was now resolved in a general consultation of our little army, to send a letter in all our names to Narvaez, by the hands of Father Olmedo, of which the following is the purport: "We had rejoiced on hearing of the arrival of so noble a person with so fine an army, by which we expected great advantages to have been derived to our holy religion and to the service of our sovereign; but on the contrary he had reviled us as traitors, and had occasioned the whole country to revolt. Our general had already offered to resign to him whatever provinces or territories he might be inclined to occupy, but nothing would serve him except treating our general and us as rebels, who had proved ourselves by our actions faithful subjects to the emperor. If he came by the authority of a commission from his majesty, we demanded to see the original within three days, for which purpose we had advanced to this place, and were ready to obey it in all humility and reverence: but, if he had no such authority, we required him to return immediately to Cuba, and not to make any attempt to throw the country which we had conquered into confusion; as otherwise we should deem it our bounden duty to send him as a prisoner to his majesty, to be dealt with according to his royal pleasure. We declared that he was answerable for all the lamentable consequences which might follow from his unlawful conduct; and that we had sent this letter by its present conveyance, since no royal notary could undertake to deliver our remonstrance in due form, after the violence which he had committed against his majesties oydor Vasquez, a treasonable act, the perpetrator of which our general was bound to apprehend and bring to justice, and for which we now cited him to appear and answer for his conduct." This letter was concluded in terms of great respect, and was signed by Cortes, all the captains, and several of the most confidential of the soldiers. It was sent by the reverend Father Olmedo, accompanied by a soldier named Ulagre, whose brother was in the army of Narvaez as commander of his artillery. Olmedo waited on Narvaez with great respect on his arrival at Chempoalla; and proceeded afterwards to execute the secret commission with which he had been entrusted, by a liberal distribution of gold among certain officers of the army of Narvaez, among whom were Rodrigo Mira, Ulagre, and Andres de Duero, which last he invited to pay a visit to Cortes. Narvaez soon began to suspect the real object of Olmedo, and was much inclined to have made him a prisoner: but Duero, who had much influence over Narvaez, both on account of his situation and because they were in some degree related, represented the impropriety of such an outrage against a person of his holy functions, and dissuaded him from doing so. He also suggested to him the great probability of his being able to gain over the soldiers of Cortes to his party, by means of a little policy. By these arguments he appeased Narvaez for the present, and went immediately to Olmedo whom he informed of all that had passed.

Shortly afterwards, Narvaez sent for Olmedo, who requested to speak with him in private; when he told him good-humouredly that he knew his intentions of making him a prisoner, in which he was much to blame, as there was no one whatever more devoted to his service, and he knew that there were many persons with Cortes, who would gladly see their commander delivered up to his excellency; in proof of which he had a letter which Cortes had written at the suggestion of these very persons who wished to deliver him up; which letter was so full of ridiculous absurdities that he was frequently tempted to throw it away, but would now with his permission lay it before him. He accordingly went, as he pretended for the letter, which he alleged was with his baggage, but in reality to bring Duero and others along with him, that they might witness its delivery. In order to contrive an interview with Cortes, Duero proposed that a communication should be opened between Narvaez and him; and Augustin Bermudez, a secret friend of Cortes, proposed that Duero and Salvatierra should be sent on this business, well knowing the character of Salvatierra to be disinclined to any such employment. It was at last settled that Duero should wait upon Cortes, and invite him to a conference with Narvaez at a convenient place between the two armies, where they might treat of an accommodation and arrange their future measures: And it was resolved that Narvaez should make him prisoner at the conference, for which twenty of his most confidential soldiers were prepared. Duero carried intelligence immediately to Cortes, and Father Olmedo remained at the quarters of Narvaez, having scraped acquaintance with Salvatierra, under pretence of relationship, with whom he dined every day.

On first learning the arrival of Narvaez, Cortes sent one of his soldiers named Barrientos, who had served in Italy and was well acquainted with the management of the pike, to the province of the Chinantlans, who had lately entered into alliance with us. That nation used lances or pikes much longer than ours, having heads of sharpened stone, and Barrientos was directed to obtain 300 of these lances for our use. There was plenty of excellent copper in the country of the Chinantlans, and Barrientos was directed to get two heads of this metal for each lance, and these were executed so ingeniously that they were better made even than the pattern sent. He also obtained a promise of 2000 warriors of that nation to join us, who were to be armed in the same manner, but they did not arrive till after we had overcome Narvaez. All this being settled, Barrientos arrived at our quarters attended by 200 Chinantlans carrying the lances he had procured. On trial these were found excellent, and we were immediately exercised in their use. A muster was now made of our force, which amounted to two hundred and six men, including fife and drum, with five mounted cavalry, two artillery-men, few cross-bows, and fewer musketeers. This being the force, and such the weapons, with which we marched against and defeated the vastly superior army of Narvaez.

I have formerly mentioned that the secretary Duero and the contador Lares had negociated the appointment of Cortes as general of our expedition, and that they were to enjoy equal shares with him in all the treasure he should acquire. Lares was some time dead, and Duero seeing how wealthy Cortes had become, used the colour of the proposed treaty between Narvaez and Cortes, in order to have an opportunity of an interview with Cortes, that he might remind him of their agreement. Cortes not only promised faithfully to perform his engagement, but promised him an equal command with himself, and an equal share of territory when the conquest of the country was completed. It was accordingly agreed upon between them, in concurrence with Augustin Bermudez, who was alguazil-major of the army of Narvaez, and many other officers whom I do not name, to get Narvaez put out of the command in favour of Cortes. In order to confirm these in his interest, and to gain over others, Cortes was more liberal than ever in his presents, and on the present occasion loaded the two Indians who attended on Duero with gold. On one of the days of intercourse, after Cortes and Duero had been a considerable time together in private, and had dined, Duero asked him on mounting his horse to go away, if he had any farther commands. To this Cortes replied, "Remember what has been settled between us, or if you don't, I shall be in your quarters before three days, and you shall be the first person at whom I will throw my lance." Duero answered laughing, that he would not fail, and immediately set off for the quarters of Narvaez, where he is reported to have said that Cortes and all his men were ready to submit to the command of Narvaez. Soon after this, Cortes sent for Juan Velasquez de Leon, a person of much consideration, who had always been greatly attached to him, though a near relation of the governor of Cuba. On coming to his quarters, Cortes addressed him in smooth and persuasive terms, which he could always assume at pleasure:-"Duero has informed me that Narvaez is anxious to see you at his quarters, and that it is generally believed I am completely ruined if you go there. Now my worthy friend, I desire you to put on your gold chain, mount your grey mare, take all your gold along with you and more which I will give you; go immediately and fix yourself with Narvaez, and distribute the gold which I confide to you according to my directions." Velasquez was perfectly willing to do as he was desired, but objected to the measure of carrying his own treasure along with him, and after a secret conference with Cortes he set out for Chempoalla. De Leon arrived there by day-break, and as the Indians were rejoiced to see him, the news soon reached Narvaez, who came out to meet and embrace him. After paying his compliments, Velasquez said his only object there was to endeavour to make an amicable arrangement between Narvaez and Cortes; upon which Narvaez took him aside and asked him how he could propose to treat for such a traitor? Velasquez desired that no such injurious epithet might be used in his presence, as Cortes was a most zealous and faithful officer. Narvaez then offered to make him second in command under himself if he would renounce Cortes; but Velasquez declared he would never quit one who had done such signal services for God and the emperor.

By this time all the principal officers in the army of Narvaez had come up to salute Velasquez, who was an universal favourite, as he was very polite and well bred, and had a fine person and handsome countenance. At this time he cut a fine martial figure, as he had a massy gold chain which made two turns round his body and over his shoulders, so that he impressed every one with respect. Bermudez the alguazil-major and Duero wished much to have had some private communication with Velasquez; but just at this time Captain Gamarra, Juan Yuste, Juan Buono, and Salvatierra the braggadocio, persuaded Narvaez to give private orders for taking Velasquez into custody, for having spoken so boldly in defence of Cortes; but the others who had come over to the interest of Cortes, strongly represented the impropriety and impolicy of such rash conduct, and Narvaez again spoke in a friendly manner to Velasquez, whom he invited to dine with him, and entreated his assistance to bring Cortes and the rest of us into his power. Velasquez now agreed to forward this design, but represented Cortes as headstrong and resolute, advising that Narvaez and he should divide the country between them, each taking separate provinces. At this time Olmedo came up, and advised Narvaez to order his troops under arms, that Velasquez might see them and report to Cortes, who would be terrified when he knew their strength. The troops were accordingly turned out in review order, and Velasquez complimented Narvaez on their number and martial appearence, wishing him an increase of his power. Narvaez said he hoped Velasquez was now satisfied how easily he could crush Cortes and his despicable force; to which Velasquez replied, he hoped they knew how to defend themselves.

Velasquez dined next day with Narvaez, where a captain in his army who was nephew to the governor of Cuba happened to be, who used very insulting language respecting Cortes. On this Velasquez requested of Narvaez, that such insulting language might not be allowed in his hearing; but the other gentleman continued his abuse, and even took great liberties with Velasquez himself; who, laying his hand on his sword, asked permission from Narvaez to chastise that base liar. The other officers who were present interfered to prevent mischief, and advised both Velasquez and Olmedo to retire. Velasquez accordingly mounted his excellent grey mare, in his helmet and coat of mail, with his gold chain about his shoulders, and took leave of Narvaez, who returned his salute with apparent coldness. The young captain was again very violent in his abuse; on which Velasquez swore by his beard, that he should see in a few days what stuff he was made of. Then, taking a hasty leave of the bystanders, he put spurs to his good grey mare and was soon out of sight, as he had some hint or suspicion that Narvaez might send after him, and even saw some horsemen following him apparently for that purpose, but he was too well mounted for their pursuit.

In about two hours after Velasquez had left our camp to visit Narvaez, the drum beat to arms, and our little army set forwards on our march for Chempoalla. We killed two wild hogs on our way, which our soldiers considered as a good omen of our ultimate success. We halted for the night on the side of a rivulet, having the ground for a bed, stones for our pillows, and heaven for our canopy, and arrived next day at the place where the city of Vera Cruz is now built, which was then an Indian village in a grove of trees. Being mid-day and the weather extremely sultry, we stopped here for rest and refreshment, being much fatigued by the weight of our lances and armour. While here, a report was brought from one of our out-posts that some horsemen were in sight, who turned out to be Velasquez and Olmedo, who were received by Cortes, and all of us with much joy, and we all came round them to hear the news. Velasquez told Cortes in what manner he had executed his commission and distributed the presents among the officers of Narvaez. Then our merry Father Olmedo gave an account by what finesse he had persuaded Narvaez to read our letter; how he had made the foolish braggart Salvatierra believe they were cousins, and of the ridiculous bravadoes he uttered, as how he would kill Cortes and all of us in revenge for the loss of his horse; then how he had prevailed on Narvaez to turn out his troops in review, merely to laugh at him; and in all these stories he mimicked Narvaez and Salvatierra most admirably, so that we laughed and enjoyed ourselves as if going to a wedding-feast, though we well knew that on the morrow we must conquer or die, having to attack five times our number. Such is the fortune of war! After the heat of the day was over, we proceeded on our march, and halted for the night at a river about a league from Chempoalla, where there is now a bridge and a dairy farm.

After the departure of Father Olmedo and Velasquez from the quarters of Narvaez, some of his officers gave him warning of the secret practices going on, and advised him to be on his guard, as Cortes had many friends in his army. The fat cacique of Chempoalla, being terrified for being called to account by Cortes for delivering up the women and mantles that had been confided to his care, was extremely vigilant in watching all our motions. Finding that we drew near Chempoalla, he said to Narvaez, "Why are you so careless! Malinatzin and his teules will come upon you by surprise and put you all to death." Narvaez, being confident in his vast superiority, laughed heartily at the fears of the fat cacique, yet did not neglect the warning. In the first place, he declared war against us as rebels, with fire, sword, and rope, and then drew up his whole army, cavalry, artillery, and infantry, in a plain about a quarter of a league from Chempoalla, where he resolved to wait for us; all of which we learned from a soldier, named El Galleguillo, who either deserted to us, or was sent by Duero to Cortes. The day happened to be very rainy, and the troops of Narvaez, being unaccustomed to hardships, and despising our small number, became restless and dissatisfied with their situation, on which his officers advised him to march them back to quarters, which he did, placing all his guns in a line before the house in which he lodged. He likewise placed a grand guard of forty cavalry on the road by which we were expected to advance, and some cavalry videts and active foot soldiers at the ford where we must pass on our way to Chempoalla. Twenty of his cavalry were also appointed to patrole during the whole night around his quarters. All this was done by the advice of his officers, who were anxious to get under cover, and who alleged it was absurd to suppose that Cortes would venture to attack them with so pitiful a handful of men, and that he only advanced from ostentation, or to induce them to come to an agreement. On returning to quarters, Narvaez publickly offered a reward of two thousand crowns to whoever should kill Cortes or Sandoval; and he stationed as spies at the ford, Gonzalo Carrasco, who now dwells in La Puebla, and a soldier named Hurtado. He also filled his own quarters, and those of Salvatierra, Gamarra, and Buono, with musketeers, crossbow-men, and soldiers armed with partizans or halberts.

On arriving at the river which runs through the rich meadows about a league from Chempoalla, having appointed trusty out-guards, Cortes summoned all his officers and soldiers round him, and addressed us as follows: "Gentlemen! you well know that the governor of Cuba selected me as your general, although there are many among you as worthy of the command. You also know that it was publickly proclaimed and believed among us, that we were to conquer and colonize this country, whereas our instructions were only to barter with the natives for gold. You will recollect my determination to have returned to Cuba, to give an account of my mission to Velasquez, when I was required by you to remain and colonize the country for his majesties service, appointing me your captain-general and chief magistrate, till his majesties pleasure was made known, and that we have in consequence essentially served God, and the interest of our sovereign. I beg leave to remind you, that we have written to the king, giving him a full account of this country, and all that we have done and suffered for his service, requesting that the government might not be conferred on any unworthy person, and how we transmitted all the treasure to his majesty that we had obtained. You likewise know, that fearing the arts and influence of the bishop of Burgos and his favourite Velasquez, we came to a resolution to maintain his majesties rights and government in this country, till his royal mandate, duly authenticated, should be produced to us. I must now remind you to what dangers you have been exposed in various sanguinary battles, what hardships you have suffered from hunger and fatigue, and the inclemencies of the weather, having often been obliged to sleep on the ground in rain, wind, and snow, during all which, above fifty of your companions have died, and many of your own wounds are still unhealed. I recal to your remembrance, your numerous sufferings by sea and land, and the perils of Tabasco, Tlascala, and Cholula, where the boilers were already on the fires in which your limbs were to have been prepared for the barbarous repast of your savage enemies. And lastly, your hazardous entry into Mexico, the seizure of its powerful sovereign, and its occupation in the face of an immense and warlike population for more than six months. Let me now state the reward of all these dangerous and brilliant services. Narvaez is sent here by your enemies the governor of Cuba and bishop of Burgos, to strip you of your well-earned fame and dear-bought treasures. By aspersing your characters with the great Montezuma he has occasioned the defection of the natives who had submitted to our government, and he proclaims exterminating war against us with fire, sword, and rope, as if we were infidel Moors." He said a great deal more to the same purpose, exalting our merits and valour to the skies, and after a profusion of compliments and promises, he concluded by observing that this Narvaez, who had come to deprive us of our lives and properties, and had imprisoned the royal oydor for endeavouring to defend us, only held his command through the favour of our great enemy the bishop of Burgos; and it became us therefore, as faithful subjects, to make a bold stand in defence of the royal rights, and our own lives and properties: He therefore now wished to know our determination on the subject.

The whole officers and soldiers declared unanimously that we were ready to follow him, and determined to conquer or die. We desired, therefore, that we might hear no more said about an accommodation with Narvaez, or a partition of the country; as in that case we would plunge our swords into his body, and elect another chief. Cortes highly extolled our spirited declaration, saying that he expected no less from men of our valour; adding a multitude of fine promises and flattering assurances that he would make us all rich and great. Then adverting to the approaching attack, he earnestly enjoined us to observe the strictest discipline, and the most profound silence, observing that success in battle often depended a great deal more on prudent conduct and precise obedience, than on the most determined bravery: He well knew, he said, that our ardour would prompt every one of us to strive who should be most forward in the battle, but it was indispensably necessary that we should be distributed into companies, having each our distinct duties to perform. The first thing necessary to be done, was to seize the enemies artillery, and for this duty he selected seventy soldiers, among whom I was one, over whom he appointed to the command his relation Pizarro, an active young man, but then as little known to fame as the kingdom of Peru. Our farther orders were, as soon as we had got possession of the guns, that we were to join and support the detachment which was to attack the quarters of Narvaez. This duty was assigned to Sandoval at the head of seventy select men; and, as he was alguazil-major of our army, he was provided with a formal warrant to arrest the body of Pamphilo de Narvaez, for having imprisoned an officer of his majesty, and to put him to death in case of resistance. Cortes also promised a reward of three thousand crowns to the first soldier who should lay hands on Narvaez, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Juan Velasquez de Leon was appointed with a third body of seventy men, to seize his relation Diego Velasquez; and Cortes retained a body of reserve of twenty men, to act whatever he might see occasion, and in particular to support the intended attack on the quarters of Narvaez and Salvatierra, which were in the lofty temple of Chempoalla23. Having thus arranged the troops and instructed our leaders, he addressed us in a short speech, saying, That he well knew the army of Narvaez was four times more numerous than we, but they were unaccustomed to arms, and many of them ill; he trusted therefore in this unexpected attack, that God would give us victory, and that it was better to die gloriously than to live dishonoured. I have often reflected on this circumstance, that in all his addresses to us, he never once mentioned a word respecting those in the army of Narvaez who were our friends; in which he acted the part of a wise commander, making us to rely entirely on our own prowess, without counting on any assistance. Our three detachments were now formed, having each their captains at their head, explaining to us our particular duties, while we mutually encouraged each other to hope for victory. Pizarro, our leader, directed us to rush forwards upon the guns, with our lances at the charge, and immediately on getting possession, the artillery-men who were attached to our division, were to point and fire them against the quarters of Narvaez. Those who happened at this moment to be deficient in defensive armour, would have given every thing they had in the world for a morion, a helmet, or a breast-plate. Our countersign for the engagement was Spiritu Santo, that of Narvaez Santa Maria. Just before marching, Captain Sandoval, who had always been my intimate friend, called me aside, and made me promise, if I survived the capture of the guns, I should seek out and attach myself to him during the rest of the battle.

All things being arranged, we remained waiting the order to march, and reflecting with much anxiety on what was before us. I was stationed at an advanced post, where soon afterwards a patrole came to me, asking if I had heard any thing, to which I answered that I had not. A corporal came up to my post soon after, who said that Galleguillo, the deserter from Narvaez, was missing, and was suspected of having come among us as a spy, for which reason Cortes had given orders to march immediately. The drum was soon heard beating for us to fall in, and the captains were calling over their companies. We joined the column, and soon after found the missing soldier sleeping under some mantles to relieve his fatigue, as he had not been accustomed to hardships. We marched on at a quick pace, and in profound silence, and on arriving at the river, surprised the two videts of Narvaez, one of whom we made prisoner, and the other flying into the town before us, spread the alarm of our approach. Owing to rain the river was deeper than usual, and the ford was difficult to pass, from loose stones and the weight of our armour. Carrasco the videt, whom we had taken, exclaimed to Cortes, "Do not advance, Senior Cortes, for Narvaez and all his force is drawn out to receive you." We proceeded, however, with all expedition, and on coming to the town, heard the other man who had escaped giving the alarm, and Narvaez calling on his officers to turn out. Our company was at the head of the column; and rushing on with charged lances, we soon made ourselves masters of the guns, the artillery-men having only time to discharge four, one only of which took effect, and killed three of our men. Our whole force now advanced, and brought down seven of the enemies cavalry; but we could not for some time quit the guns, as the enemy kept up a smart discharge of musketry and arrows from the quarters of Narvaez. Sandoval and his company pressed forwards to climb the steps of the temple, in which attempt he was resisted by the enemy, with musketry, partizans, and lances, and was even forced down six or seven steps. At this time, seeing that the artillery was no longer in danger of being rescued, our company, with Captain Pizarro at their head, went to the assistance of Sandoval, when we jointly made the enemy give ground in their turn; and at this critical moment I heard Narvaez crying out, "Santa Maria assist me! they have slain me, and beat out one of my eyes!" On hearing this we shouted out, "Victory! victory! for the Espiritu Santo! Narvaez is dead!" Still we were unable to force our way into the temple, till Martin Lopez, who was very tall, set the thatch on fire, and forced those within to rush down the steps to save themselves from being burnt to death. Sanches Farfan laid hold on Narvaez, whom we carried prisoner to Sandoval, along with several other captive captains, continually shouting, "Victory! victory! Long live the king and Cortes! Narvaez is slain!"

While this was going on with us, Cortes and the rest of our army were engaged with some of the enemy who occupied some other lofty temples. When the cause of our shouts was understood, Cortes notified to them the fall of their commander, proclaiming that all who did not instantly submit should be put to death; yet those who were in the temple, commanded by Diego Velasquez and Salvatierra would not submit, till Sandoval with half of our body, and the captured guns, forced his way into the temple and made them all prisoners. Sandoval now returned to take charge of Narvaez, who was doubly ironed; and we now, had in custody besides him, Salvatierra, Diego Velasquez, Gamarra, Juan Yuste, Juan Buono, and many other principal persons. At this time Cortes came in unobserved, extremely fatigued; and addressing Sandoval, said it was impossible to describe the labour he had experienced; then asked, "What has become of Narvaez?" Sandoval told him that Narvaez was here safe. Cortes then said, "Son Sandoval, keep good watch over him and the other officers." After which he hastened away, and caused proclamation to be made, that all should lay down their arms and submit. The whole of this happened during the night, during which there were frequent showers, with intervals of moon-shine; but at the moment of attack it was extremely dark, with multitudes of fire flies, which the soldiers of Narvaez mistook for the lighted matches of our musketry. Narvaez was badly wounded, and had one of his eyes beaten out, on which account he requested to send for Master Juan the surgeon; and while he was getting his eye dressed Cortes entered the room, when Narvaez said to him: "Senior Cortes! thank your good fortune for having made me your prisoner." Cortes answered, That his thanks were due to God and his valiant soldiers, who had succeeded in more difficult achievements since they came to New Spain; and he considered the arrest of the royal oydor was more daring than our present attack. He then left the room, with strict injunctions to Sandoval to keep strict guard. Narvaez and the rest of the captured officers were removed into a more secure apartment, where I and some other confidential soldiers were appointed for their guard, and Sandoval gave me a private order to allow no one to speak with Narvaez.

Cortes knew that forty of the enemies cavalry were still at an outpost on the river, and that it was necessary to keep a good look out, lest they might attack us for the rescue of their officers. He sent, therefore, De Oli and De Ordas to speak with them, on two horses which were found fastened in a wood, and guided by one of the soldiers of Narvaez. By their arguments and fair promises, the horsemen were all persuaded to submit, and came back with them for that purpose to the town. It was now clear day, and Cortes was seated in an arm-chair, with an orange-coloured mantle over his shoulders, and his arms by his side, surrounded by his officers and soldiers. He received the salutations of the cavaliers, as they came up successively to kiss his hand, with amazing affability, embracing them all most cordially, and politely complimenting them. Among these were Bermudez, Duero, and several others, who were secretly his friends already. Each of the cavaliers, after paying his respects, went to the quarters assigned for their lodgings. Ever since day-break, the drums, fifes, and timbals of the army of Narvaez never ceased their music in honour of Cortes, though none of us had spoken a word to them on the subject. A comical fellow of a negro, who belonged to the band, danced for joy, shouting out; "Where are your Romans now? They never achieved so glorious a victory with such small numbers!" We could not silence these noisy fellows, till Cortes ordered them to be confined. In this action, a gentleman of Seville, and standard-bearer to Narvaez, Roxas, one of his captains, and two others, were killed, and many wounded; one also of the three who deserted from us to him was killed, and several wounded. The fat cacique also, who took refuge in the quarters of Narvaez on our approach, was wounded, and Cortes ordered him to his house, to be there well taken care of. As for Salvatierra, who had made so many boasts, his own soldiers said they never saw so pitiful a fellow. When he heard our drum he was in a terrible fright, and when we shouted out victory, he declared he had a pain at his stomach, and could fight no more. Diego Velasquez, who was wounded, was taken by his relation Juan Velasquez de Leon to his own quarters, where he was well taken care of, and treated with the utmost attention24.

The reinforcement of warriors which Cortes had been promised from Chinantla, marched into Chempoalla soon after the conclusion of the action, under the command of Barrientos, who had marshalled them in a very shewy manner, in regular files, lancemen and archers alternately, 1500 in number, accompanied with colours, drums, and trumpets, and making a most warlike appearance, to the great astonishment of the soldiers of Narvaez, who thought they were double the number. Our general received them with much courtesy, and as their services were no longer needed, he made them handsome presents, and dismissed them with thanks.

The army of Narvaez being now secured, Cortes sent F. de Lugo to order all the captains and pilots of the fleet to come to Chempoalla, and directed all the ships to be dismantled, to cut off all communication with Cuba. One Barahona, afterwards an inhabitant of Guatimala, had been confined by Narvaez, and was now set at liberty, who was in a very weak state when he joined us. The captains and pilots of the fleet came on shore to pay their respects, and Cortes bound them all by oath not to leave him, appointing Pedro Cavallero, one of their number, admiral of the whole fleet now in his possession; and, as more ships were expected from Cuba, gave him orders to dismantle them all as they arrived, and to send the captains and pilots to head-quarters. All these important matters being arranged, and his authority completely established, Cortes proceeded to such measures as seemed proper for extending and securing the conquest and discovery of New Spain. For this purpose, Velasquez de Leon was appointed to conduct an expedition to the river of Panuco, with 220 soldiers, 20 of which were taken from among ourselves, and 100 from the soldiers of Narvaez: And was to be accompanied by two ships, on purpose to extend the discovery of the coast. Diego de Ordas, was appointed with a similar force, to establish a colony in the province of Guacocualco, or Coatzacualco; and as that country was well adapted for breeding cattle, he was directed to send to Jamaica for horses, mares, bulls, and cows, for the purpose of establishing an independent supply in the country. All the prisoners were released, except Narvaez and Salvatierra, who still had the pain in his stomach. Cortes also gave orders to restore all their horses and arms to the soldiers of Narvaez, which gave us all much dissatisfaction, but we were obliged to submit. On this occasion I had to resign a good horse with a saddle and bridle, two swords, three daggers, and a shield. Avila and Father Olmedo, speaking on this subject to Cortes, said he resembled Alexander the Great, who was always more generous to the vanquished, than to his own conquering soldiers. Indeed as fast as Cortes received gold or other valuables, he gave away all to the captains of the other army, quite forgetful of us who had made him what he was. Cortes protested that he and all he had was entirely devoted to our service, as he would shew by his future conduct; but that his present procedure was necessary for our common interest and safety, we being so few, and the others so numerous. Avila, who was of a lofty disposition, remonstrated in an imperious manner, and Cortes was forced to dissemble with him at the time, knowing him to be a brave man; he pacified him therefore with presents and flattering promises, to prevent any violence, but took care in future to employ him in distant business, as his agent first in Hispaniola, and afterwards in Spain.

There happened to come over in the army of Narvaez, a negro who was ill of the small-pox, a most unfortunate circumstance for the people of New Spain, as the disease spread with astonishing rapidity through the country, and destroyed the natives by thousands, as they used to throw themselves into cold water in the height of the disease, with the nature of which they were utterly unacquainted. Thus multitudes of unfortunate souls were hurried into eternity, without an opportunity of being received into the bosom of the holy Catholic church. At this time, such of our soldiers as had been in distant garrisons, applied to Cortes to receive their shares of the gold which had been got in Mexico. As far as I can remember, he referred them to a place in Tlascala, desiring that two persons might be sent to receive it at that place; and I shall have occasion to mention the result hereafter.



SECTION VIII. Arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico, Description of that Court and City, and Transactions there, till the Arrival of Narvaez on the coast to supersede Cortes, by order of Velasquez | A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol.IV | SECTION X. Occurrences, from the Defeat of Narvaez, 26th May 1520, to the Expulsion of the Spaniards from Mexico, on the 1st, and the Battle of Otumba on the 4th of July of the same Year