Buccaneers - Pirates of the Caribbean by Anthony Thomas
In the history of Jamaica
and the Caribbean, the Buccaneers was the most notorious and feared group
of armed men. Led by the Legendary Henry Morgan and operating out of their
base in Port Royal, Jamaica, this group of outcasts became the fiercest
and most ruthless fighting force the Caribbean ever seen. For several decades,
they were a constant source of terror to the Spanish, both on land and
at sea. So good were they, that they were hire by the British as Soldiers
of Fortune to defend their territories and fight their wars. Good or bad,
however, it is to the Buccaneers, the real pirates of the Caribbean, that
the English owed their possession of Jamaica. Otherwise, Jamaica, today,
would be another Spanish speaking island in the Caribbean.
The formative years
In the late 1620s, ragtag
group of men consisting of escape criminals, castaways, and runaway bondsmen
were living in the remote areas of Hispaniola (Haiti). One thing these
men had in common, was their sworn hatred of the Spanish. They sustained
themselves by hunting wild cattle and pigs and traded their meat and byproducts
for ammunitions and goods with the ships that occasionally traded along
the coast. This group of outcasts would soon become the Pirates of the
Persistently hunted by the
Spanish, this group of bandits was eventually driven from Hispaniola to
the nearby Island of Tortuga. From Tortuga they took to the open seas where
they were known initially as the "Confederacy of the Brethren of the Coast".
They were eventually called the Buccaneers from the French word "boucan"
which is the frame they used to cure their meat. The Spanish would soon
come to regret their harassment of the Buccaneers and would pay dearly
for their actions.
Of The Caribbean- At World's End Poster
The rise of sea piracy
At first the Buccaneers would
use mainly canoes for their exploits, but as they seized Spanish ships
with frequent surprise attacks, they fleet grew larger and more sophisticated.
With the looted guns and ammunitions, they fortified their base of Tortuga.
With each successful raid, these pirates of the Caribbean gained new recruits.
They grew stronger and bolder and raided ships further and further away
from their base. The Buccaneers were battle-hardened and well acclimated
to the climate and their surroundings. They were fearless, ruthless, lawless,
and cold blooded. It was reported they cut out the tongues of men who refused
to disclosed location of treasures and very often would roast men alive.
Although not very disciplined, they operated under a strict code of conduct
which included "No prey, no pay".
With their new found success,
the Buccaneers moved their base to Port Royal, Jamaica and found what their
need most: a ready market for their Spanish loot and place for their amusement.
At first they were welcome, since they were only menacing the Spanish whom
the English were constantly fighting. But in 1964 a new Governor was appointed
in Jamaica and was given orders to put an end to sea piracy - mainly because
England wanted to negotiate trade with Spain. The Buccaneers were driven
out of Port Royal back to their old base of Tortuga. In a few months, however,
things changed in their favor. The second war broke out the English and
the Dutch but the English did not have any fleet to protect the West Indies.
The Governor had to commission the Buccaneers he had just driven out of
Jamaica for the important task of naval defense.
Henry Morgan and Port
Although the Buccaneers helped
defend Jamaica and aided in attacks on a few Dutch islands, they soon resorted
to their old ways of quarrelling over their loots. In the end they were
too undisciplined to be relied on as a defensive fighting force. That is
until the governor found a strong, resourceful leader named Henry Morgan
who could weld the unruly Buccaneers together into one of the best and
fiercest fighting forces the Caribbean had ever known.
The conquests of Henry Morgan
are legendary and sometimes incredible. The attack on Porto Bello, Panama
stood out as an example. With just a few dozen men, but with masterful
and brutal tactics combined with brave fighting, Henry Morgan led the Buccaneers
to capture the well-fortified city. Having captured the city, he locked
all officers and soldiers in one in a castle. He then promptly used the
vast quantity of gun powder he found to blow up the entire castle with
all its prisoners. In Maracaibo, Venezuela, Morgan used courage and crafty
tactics and defeated an army that outnumbered his three to one. He forced
his way through a well defended narrow strait and plundered the town. Later,
on he retreat form his conquest, he used fire ships to dispersed a fleet
of ships he found blocking his escape.
Undoubtedly, however, Morgan's
crowning achievement was the successful attack on Panama City, Spain's
jewel in the region. After eight days of hacking their way through the
thick jungle of Panama, they ran out of food and water. The Buccaneers,
scorched by the blazing sun, drenched by tropical downpours, bitten by
mosquitoes and other tropical insects, were in no position to fight the
well-armed force of the Spanish. It was only Morgan's iron will and masterful
leadership that held his tired, ragged, and starving comrades together.
On the ninth day, they got a glimpse of Panama City but the battle was
far from over. The Buccaneers were attacked with horsemen, foot soldiers,
and stampeding bulls that outnumbered them many times over. But Henry Morgan
outflanked his enemy with his mastery, bravery, and tactics and entirely
crushed them. In the end the Buccaneers were rewarded with their biggest
cache of gold and jewelry ever and Henry Morgan was knighted and promoted
to lieutenant Governor of Jamaica.
After each conquest, the
Buccaneers would take their share of the spoil back to Port Royal where
they celebrated. Under Henry Morgan, the Buccaneers rose to the peak of
their infamy and Port Royal became known as the "richest and wickedest
city in the world". It was a place for eating, drinking, and all kinds
of excesses including rape. It was reported that drunken men gave huge
sums of money to women just to see them naked. Port Royal was, not just
where the Buccaneers lived, it was were they partied. It was their own
The decline and end of
By the early 1680s, the plantation
owners of Jamaica felt that the Buccaneers were doing more harm than good
and wanted the group to stop their piracy. Furthermore, Jamaica badly wanted
to do major trading with Spain who wanted the attacks on their ships to
stop. But most of the Buccaneers refused to stop and ended up in the gallows,
ironically, at the order of Henry Morgan who was now Lieutenant Governor.
Henry Morgan eventually died in 1688, and was buried at Port Royal. But
God must not have looked kindly on the wickedness of Henry Morgan nor Buccaneers.
In 1692, Port Royal was destroyed by a massive earthquake that buried it,
along with its vast wealth, below the sea.
Despite Henry Morgan death
and the destruction of Port Royal, sea piracy continued, nonetheless. Although
none could rival Henry Morgan, there were many other notorious pirates
who flourished in the Jamaica and the Caribbean. Chief among these were
Edward Teach better known as "Black Beard" and Jack Rackham, also known
as "Calico Jack" because of his fondness for calico underwear. After terrorizing
the Caribbean for more than two years, he made the mistake of hanging around
too long during one of his vacations on Jamaica North coast. He was eventually
captured in Bloody Bay, Negril during one of his frequent rum-punch party.
He was hang off coast of Port Royal in a place named after him - Rackham's
Although you might not have
Port Royal as a place to see on your vacation, it is definitely a place
worth visiting. If you enter Jamaica through Kingston, you could make Port
Royal the first stop on your Jamaica vacation, since it is just further
out on the palisadoes peninsula from the Norman Manley airport.
in Runaway Bay