« 前へ次へ »
soliciting him to continue in the dictatorship, until the province of Venezuela should be united again with New Grenada.
The Royalist party were, by this time, aware of all the difficulties in which their struggle against the Independent provinces was involved ; and hoping for new allies in the slaves which peopled them, they sent agents secretly among them to organize their irregular bands. Among these emissaries were Palomo, a negro, who was a notorious thief and murderer, and a man of the name of Puy, who was abhorred in every quarter; in short, the persons pitched upon for the purpose were every way worthy of their mission and the object it proposed. The new plot was revealed to Bolivar by some intercepted despatches; though it was not in his power wholly to prevent its execution. Any country that has long been the theatre of war, must contain numbers who are ready for plunder and devastation, particularly when they can put on the false mask of a pretended “good cause;" the activity of the Independent general did not long permit them to pursue their ill designs with impunity. The execrable Puy, who was far more bloodthirsty than any of his comrades, repaired to Barinas, where, fearing that its inhabitants would rise en masse against him, he seized and shot five hundred of them. The remainder owed their rescue entirely to the sudden appearance of Bolivar on the spot. In a few days the Royalist agent again fell upon the town, and massacred the remnant of his victims. Exasperated by the infamous conduct of his adversaries, Bolivar assumed a character totally foreign to his generous principles and habits, and ordered eight hundred Royalists to be shot. This severe retaliation occasioned the death of the Independents who were imprisoned in Puerto Cabello; but whom the Governor had hitherto spared. In the midst of these shocking scenes, Bolivar was eagerly prosecuting a' more honourable warfare : he routed one of the principal Royalist commanders near the Tuy, whilst Rivas was obtaining minor advantages over the motley horde commanded by Rosette, a mulatto; and Yanez, a Royalist partisan, was totally defeated at Ospinos, and perished on the field of battle. Rosette, and Bovès another Royalist leader, were not, however, to be discouraged by these reverses; they were strengthened by considerable reinforcements, and immediately resumed the offensive, by marching to Caracas and attacking Bolivar himself. Here he was so ably seconded by Marino and Montilla, that he completely defeated the Royalists at Bocachica; and being joined by Urdaneta and Morino on the 28th of May, he obtained another signal victory over the Spaniards, who were under the command of the gallant Cagigal. These repeated successes were unfortunately the occasion of disaster to the Independents; for their over-eagerness in the pursuit of their foes led the respective generals to separate, and Bolivar was consequently attacked in an unfavourable position in the plains of Cura, where the Spanish cavalry had ample space for operations : the Independents fought manfully for several hours, but were at last obliged to resign the contest. This victory reanimated the hopes of their opponents; and Cagigal, Bovès, and Calzadas, having effected a junction, menaced Marino's division, which was compelled to retreat before far superior numbers into Cumana. The reverses which now attended the Independents' operations led to consequences in the highest degree disastrous. The people, being deprived of the benefits which induced them to approve or tolerate a military government, began to discern its
disadvantages, and were become sensible that the very rapidity of military movements, and the arbitrary measures which follow in their train, were irreconcilable with the spirit of liberty. They soon learned to look upon the ill-success of those who fought in defence of that liberty with an eye of indifference. These impressions incapacitated the Republicans from recruiting their forces at this period. They were obliged to raise the siege of Puerto Cabello and embark for Cumana, where Bolivar arrived with the shattered remnant of his forces. The Spaniards reentered La Guyra and Caracas, and the inhabitants of Valencia, notwithstanding a gallant defence, were forced to capitulate. The conquerors have been charged with violating the terms of this surrender, and putting the eloquent Espejo and other officers of the garrison to death, after the town had surrendered. . A short time before all these reverses, a young man, who was descended from one of the first families of Santa Fe, had hallowed the cause of independence by an act of devotion which is well worthy of being handed down to posterity. Ricante was in command of the fort of San Matteo, and an action was contesting at some distance from it. One of the Royalist chiefs determined to make himself master of the fort, the garrison of which was extremely scanty, and made his way towards it at the head of a strong detachment. Ricante, perceiving that resistance was useless, sent away all his soldiers, who joined their countrymen on the field of battle. The Spaniards, conceiving the fort to be evacuated, entered it without opposition ; but the gallant youth, setting fire to the powder, buried himself and his enemies beneath the ruins of a post which he was unable to defend !
It was not in the power of adversity to shake the dauntless patriotism of Bolivar; he reappeared at the head of a considerable force in the province of Barcelona, and was doomed to experience fresh reverses in the unfortunate conflict of Araguita ; whence bis next movement was to embark for Carthagena, where he might devise the means of restoring the tottering fortunes of his country. Rivas and Bermudez, in the mean while, had taken up positions which enabled them to keep together the troops under their command, and were in a short time joined by many who were determined not to succumb under the Spanish yoke, or were hopeless of escape excepting from the success of a cause which they had openly espoused. Moralès and Bovès made several fruitless attempts to overcome them, until, their ranks being considerably increased, they were in a situation to act with decision; which they did, by attacking and defeating them at Urica, on the 5th of December, and then occupying Mathurin, which had been the headquarters of the Independents. Rivas was taken prisoner and shot: whilst Bermudez took refuge in the island of Margarita, where he remained until the arrival of the Spanish general Morillo. When the expedition under the orders of this celebrated commander approached to lay siege to Carthagena, Bolivar quitted it, and repaired to Tunja, where the Congress of New Grenada was then sitting. Here he put himself in motion with a few troops, and made himself master of Santa Fè de Bogota ; from whence he marched towards Santa Martha, in his attempt on which he was foiled through the jealousy of Don M. Castillo, the governor of Carthagena. Enraged at the refusal of the reinforcements which the Congress had assigned to him, he was on the eve of entering Carthagena sword in hand, when he found that Mo
rillo had begun operations against that important post. Bolivar now dismissed every feeling of resentment from his mind, united his troops to those of the garrison, and set sail for Jamaica, from whence, he trusted, he would be enabled to return with forces adequate to effect the raising of the siege; but the failure of pecuniary resources crippled his efforts and prevented his arriving in time to save Carthagena from falling into Spanish hands. This place had undergone the most lamentable sufferings : and its very conquerors were deeply affected at the misery to which famine and disease had reduced its brave defenders; who eyacuated it on the 6th of December, 1815, after spiking the guns, embarked in thirteen vessels, and, forcing their way through the enemy's gun-boats, made for Aux Cayes.
The hopes of the Independents seemed now at their last gasp. Their enemies in the old world, the enemies of freedom in all hemispheres, thought it strange that the Americans should conceive the idea of possessing a country of their own. America had witnessed her worst reverses, emerging from her most signal successes; and Spain, in her turn, beheld her victorious career in a foreign clime pregnant with the ultimate ruin of her hopes. She would have thought her triumph incomplete had she refrained from humbling the vanquished; and forgot that her arrogance might estrange those colonists who had hitherto adhered to her cause. The encouragement which these new allies held out to them, excited the indefatigable warriors, whom the fatal rout at Urica had not tamed into submission, to form themselves into corps of guerillas, and place themselves under the command of Monagas, Zaraza, and other chiefs. A short time demonstrated the formidable character which such bodies may assume; the suddenness of their incursions, and the rapidity of their movements, justly entitled them to the appellation of “ The Tartars of America," and enabled thera to rekindle the dying embers of their liberties. Arismendi, after various successes, took possession of the island of Margarita; and Bolivar, skilfully availing himself of this fortunate turn of affairs, lost no time in hastening the equipment of an expedition which was collecting at the expense of some private individuals. Among these was Brion, a man of large property, whom none could exceed in devotion to the cause of freedom: to him was intrusted the command of two ships of war and thirteen transports, which composed the naval force of this expedition. Towards the close of March 1816, Bolivar, who had been joined by two battalions of black troops, from Pétion, the Haytian president at Port au Prince, set sail with his little army. On his way, he captured two vessels under Spanish convoy, one of them a king's ship, of 14 guns and 140 men, after an action in which Brion was wounded; he afterwards disembarked at Margarita, and drove the Spaniards from every part of the island, excepting the fort of Pampatar. At Carupano he strengthened his force with several corps of guerillas, and compelled the Spaniards to evacuate that post; thence he marched to Occumare, where, after resting his troops at Choroni, he left his advance, under the command of Mac Gregor, who made himself master of Maraçay and the Cabrera. The future depended on instant energy and decision; and Bolivar circulated a strong manifesto throughout the province of Caracas, in which he developed his intentions, and strove to rekindle the dormant patriotism of those for whose sake he had once more hoisted his standard. This manifesto, instead of awakening the enthusiasm which it ought to have inspired, served but to rouse the apprehensions of the sordid-minded. In vain had the general himself led the way, by enfranchising his negroes, and ranging them as volunteers under the banners of liberty; the principal colonists were more alarmed by the fear of losing their slaves, than anxious to be avenged of the Spaniards, and betrayed their own cause in their eagerness to preserve their rich plantations. The opposition which ensued was productive of the most disastrous consequences. Bolivar, calculating on the co-operation of the inhabitants, had weakened himself, by leaving Mac Gregor in another province; he was consequently incapable of sustaining the assault of the Spaniards under Moralès, and after an obstinate resistance, in which he lost his best officers, was forced to retreat in disorder. The two Haytian battalions gallantly covered the retreat of their brethren in arms; whilst those of them who escaped the sword of their adversaries, found a miserable grave where they had expected a generous asylum; being pitilessly butchered by their own countrymen, in whose defence they had ventured their lives. On the other hand, Mac Gregor, unable to contend single-handed against the victorious Spaniards, was compelled to retire to Barcelona ; which he succeeded in gaining, though harassed on all sides by light troops.
Arismendi was more fortunate in his operations : as his position was more favourable, he laid hold of Pampatar, left not a Spaniard remaining in Margarita, and embarked with a part of his force for Barcelona, where the Independent troops were to form a junction. At this period, Bolivar, who was anxious to resume the offensive with greater effect, set out from Aux Cayes, where, it is asserted, he escaped assassination in consequence of a mistake made by a Royalist emissary, who stabbed the master of the house in which Bolivar resided, instead of the general himself. On his arrival in Margarita, Bolivar issued a proclamation, convoking the representatives of Venezuela in a General Congress ; and thence passed over to Barcelona, where he established a Provisional Government. Morillo now advanced to this place, with four thousand men, supported by his whole naval force, and on the 15th of February, 1817, paid dearly for a temporary success he gained over his antagonist, who rendered it entirely useless by setting fire to his own ships. The 16th, 17th, and 18th, were occupied in a desperate conflict, which terminated in Bolivar's obtaining possession of the enemy's camp; though the struggle so completely crippled him, that he was unable to pursue the Spaniard, before he was reinforced by a considerable detachment. Morillo, who had suffered greatly during his retreat, was met and defeated by General Paez, in the plains of BancoLargo. Other successes attended the Independent forces under Piar, in the district of Corona, as well as in Caycara under Zaraza, who had raised a force much needed by his party, by breaking in the wild horses of America for his cavalry.
Bolivar, having been chosen supreme director of Venezuela, towards the close of this year (1817) fixed his head-quarters at Angostura, where he was enabled to organize the civil and military affairs of his government. On the last day in December, he took his departure, with two thousand horsemen and two thousand five hundred foot; ascended the Orinoco, was joined on his route by Generals Cedeno and Paez ; and after a march of two-and-forty days, appeared before the ramparts of Calobozo, three hundred leagues from Angostura. After several engagements, which were fought on the 12th of February, 1818, and the two subsequent days, he forced Morillo to abandon that place; he pursued and attacked him on the 16th and 17th, at Sombrero, whence he compelled him to take refuge in Valencia. The exhaustion and diminution of his own troops, after such a series of hard fighting, as well as the necessity of providing against any operations in his rear, induced him to desist from farther pursuit, and detach Cedeno and Paez to take possession of San Fernando de Apure. His force being thus reduced to one thousand two hundred cavalry and about five hundred foot, Morillo suddenly attacked him on his advance to San Vittoria, near Caracas. A continued conflict was thence kept up from the 13th to the 17th of March, at La Cabrera, Maraçay and La Puerta ; during which the Spanish commander was wounded. Cedeno, as well as Paez, who had received some reinforcements from England, now rejoined Bolivar, who, on the 26th, became the assailant in his turn, attacked the heights of Ortiz, and carried the Spanish position, which was defended by La Torre. The enemy, however, in his retreat, directed his march on Calobozo, and captured it on the 30th of the same month. On the 17th of April, Bolivar narrowly escaped from being delivered up to the Spaniards by one of his own officers ; for this villain, a Colonel Lopez, made his way with twelve men to the spot where his general was reposing, and scarcely gave him time to get away in an almost naked state.
No sooner had Bolivar rejoined his corps,than he was vigorously assailed by Antonio Pla, a Spanish officer, who cut off four hundred of his men. Some days afterwards, Morillo, having collected the garrisons of several places, effected a junction with La Torre, and on the 2nd of May attacked Paez, in the plains of Sebanos de Coxedo: the conflict which ensued was equally disastrous to either party, and put an end to the campaign in the interior of the country. Some of Bolivar's officers had, in the mean while, laid hold of several places on the coast : Marino had possessed himself of Cariaco, whilst Admiral Brion, after dispersing the Spanish flotilla, and sending some pieces of artillery, ten thousand musquets, and other warlike stores, up the Orinoco, surprised the post of Guiria, on the 30th of August.
On the 15th of February, 1819, Bolivar presided at the opening of the Congress of Venezuela at Angostura; where he submitted the plan of a Republican Constitution, and solemnly laid down his authority : though a strong representation of the exigencies of the times was again pressed upon him, and became his inducement to resume it. Availing himself of the rainy season to reorganize his forces, he set out on the 26th of February towards New Grenada in search of Morillo, who had selected the Isle of Achagas, which is formed by the Apure, as an impregnable position. The Royalist troops in that province had been routed by General Santander, and Bolivar anticipated that their coalition would decide the fate of the campaign : when, therefore, he had been reinforced by two thousand English troops, and had defeated La Torre, he used every exertion to this end, and succeeded in effecting the junction on the 13th of June. After receiving deputations from several towns of New Grenada, he resolved upon attempting the passage of the Cordilleras. Fatigue and privations of every kind were endured with exemplary fortitude in the advance of his forces through this wild, precipitous, and barren region, where they lost their artillery