Mehr Nasir-Moin ’21 Book XVI, Chapter IX (Of the Major Battles and Skirmishes That Occurred in the Time of the War of San Juan, Also Named Boriquen)

Book XVI, Chapter IX

Of the major battles and skirmishes that occurred in the time of the war of San Juan, also named Boriquen.

Translated by Mehr Nasir-Moin ’21

After the Indians had rebelled and killed almost half of the Christians, and the governor Juan Ponce de León gave the order to name the captains as I have told and to secure the life and health of those who were still alive, the Christians and the Indians fought the first battle in the land of Agueybana, at the mouth of the river Caoyuco, where many Indians died, including Caribs from the neighboring islands and the archers who had joined them, like those from the island who wanted to move to an islet named Ángulo, that is near the Southern part of the island of San Juan, as I have said. And the Christians attacked them at night shortly before dawn, and they wreaked great havoc on them, and this defeat left them very upset and suspicious of the immortality of the Christians. And some Indians said that it was not possible unless those who they had killed had been resuscitated through treachery; and others said wherever there were Christians, the few did as much as the many. The governor Juan Ponce won this battle, with more than ten enemies per Christian; and it occurred a few days after the Indians had rebelled.

From there Juan Ponce went to the town of Caparra, and rearranged the people and captaincies with the additional companies present there, and then he went to set up his camp in Aymaco and sent the captains Luys de Añasco and Miguel de Toro to enter from there with up to fifty men, and he learned how the cacique Mabodomoca was waiting with six hundred men at a certain spot, asking the Christians to come there, that he would take care of them and clear the way for them. And when Juan Ponce learned this, he sent captain Diego de Salazar there, whom they called the captain of the lame and of the young; and though it would seem that he was ridiculed because his men were the weakest, sensible men understood its true meaning as referring to the captain’s person being so brave that he made up for all of the shortcomings and limitations of his soldiers, not because they were weak in spirit, but because some of them lacked the health to withstand the travails of war, and others were young men who had neither maturity nor experience.However, despite these difficulties he arrived where Mabodomoca was with the people I mentioned and fought against him, inflicting such slaughter and punishment on the Indians that night that a hundred and fifty of them died, without any Christians killed or mortally wounded even though some were injured; and he put the remaining enemies to flight. In this battle Juan de León, who was remembered above, left the company to follow after a chieftain who deserted the battle, fleeing, and who wore on his chest a guanín or piece of gold that the Indian chiefs hang on their neck: and as he was a young man he caught up with him and tried to capture him; but the Indian was of great strength, and they fought for more than a quarter of an hour, and there were seen cornered by the edge of a cliff, where the struggle was taking place, by the other Indians who had escaped, and an Indian came to the aid of the one defending himself against Juan de León, who, without assistance , would have lost his life. However, God did not want such a good man to die, and by chance a Christian who was in pursuit of another Indian and saw Juan de Leon struggling against the two I have mentioned and fighting for his life: then the Christian stopped pursuing his pursuit and went to help him, and the Christians killed the two Indians, who were a chieftain, with whom Juan de León was fighting, and the Indian who came to his aid. And this is how Juan de León escaped from the danger in which he found himself.

After this Christian victory and Indian defeat I have described, just as the sun was rising, Governor Juan Ponce de León arrived in the morning with his people and the rearguard, which had gotten separated from Captain Diego de Salazar and knew nothing of them until he found the victors drinking and resting from the exertions of the two-and-a-half or three hours in which they had fought with the enemies. For which all the Christians gave thanks to Our Lord for his favor and miraculous help.

Image retrieved from the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.