Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
anchored his ships at the point marked with the dotted cross on the map.
At nightfall he sent a party under Frobisher to attack the fort on the right of the inner harbour. This attack failed. But Drake had meant it to; it was only made to draw off the attention of the Spaniards while he quietly landed another storming party on the long, narrow strip of beach which Sir Frederick Treves in his book (The Cradle of the Deep) calls
This party was under command of Carleil, a brave and dashing leader. For about two miles it made its way along the narrow strip of land as silently as possible, though under great difficulty owing to thick bush and mangrove swamp.
But the Spaniards were not altogether fools. They had some cavalry vedettes out watching this spit of land, and directly they saw Carleil’s men coming along they galloped back to the town and gave the alarm. The defenders had built a rampart and ditch across the neck of the land, and had manned it with 300 musketeers and some small cannon.
A gap was left in the wall by which their cavalry could come in, and so soon as these had returned with their warning the opening was closed up with tubs filled with earth. And there were two vessels afloat close to the rampart, filled with more soldiers who could bring a flank fire to bear on the attackers. So Carleil’s men found themselves in for a very tough and nasty job.
On finding how strongly the enemy were posted ready for them, they might very reasonably have said: “This is not good enough; we will slip quietly back to our ships.”
But that was not their way; they were Britishers, and their business was to break down the power of Spain.
So this is what they did, as Sir Frederick Treves describes it:
“As Carleil advanced, the Spaniards poured a torrent of shot upon the narrow way, the British kept silence and never fired. They crawled along the water’s edge so as to be out of range until they were close under the wall. Then, at a given signal, they made a rush for the gap through the blizzard of bullets.
“Down went the wine butts like ninepins. A volley was fired in the very face of the horrified defenders of the breach, and with a yell the British fell upon them with pike and cutlass. Carleil, with his own hand, cut down the standard-bearer. The Spaniards, without more ado, turned heel and fled, helter-skelter, for the city. . . .
“The British tore after them like a pack of baying wolves. The flying crowd made an attempt to stand, but were swept down. . . .
“In a moment the market-place was gained, but every street leading from it was blocked with earthworks.
“Over these mounds went the Spaniards, and the buccaneers after them as if it were a hurdle race. Behind each barricade Indians were posted with poisoned arrows, but Drake’s men jumped on their backs or their heads as they crouched, and gave them a taste of the long pikes if they had the heart to stand. . . .
“Whenever a stand was made by the garrison the pikes charged, and the breathless Cartagenians, scattered and bleeding, bolted down the dark alleys or hid under carts. In one of these street-fights the Spanish commander was taken by Captain Goring. . . .
“The town was taken, and taken handsomely; the fort that had defied Frobisher was seized and blown tip, and after a pleasant stay in Cartagena of six weeks – during which time Drake