About the first captains who took part in the conquest and pacification of the island of Boriken, now called the island of San Juan.
Translated by Marta Candelas ’23
Upon the return of Miguel de Toro and the forty Christians who went with him to bury Cristóbal and the other four Spanish men killed with him, Governor Juan Ponce proceeded to organize his people to be on the lookout, to defend themselves with the few Christians left while waiting for assistance and more men from this island of Hispaniola, for which he named three captains. The first one was Miguel de Toro, whom I have mentioned before—a robust and useful man who had been knighted by the Catholic King (he came from the low ranks) after having proven his worth as a courageous man in the Mainland, and his efforts, in the company of Captain Alonso de Hojeda, had brought honor to himself. The other captain named by Juan Ponce was Diego de Salazar, also mentioned in the preceding chapter. The third captain was Luis de Almansa. Thirty men each were assigned to these three captains, most of them lame and ill; but they drew strength and courage from their very frailty, since they had no hope other than in God and His help, recalling that solemn adage from Seneca that says, “that it is madness to fear what cannot be avoided.” Stultum est timere quod vitare non possis. Thus, the Indians had killed half of the Christians as I had already said, or most of the best people among them: and Juan Ponce remained always with those left, who could have been less than a hundred, always at the forefront, since he was a spirited man, knowledgeable and solicitous in matters of war; and he had as his captain general, lieutenant, and mayor an hidalgo named Juan Gil. And so, he remained after Ponce’s governance until the island was pacified, and served well; because even after the war on the island of San Juan had ended, he waged war on the Carib Indians from the other neighboring islands, of which there were many, and put them under great strain, in such a way that they could not make head way against him and feared him greatly. In this campaign against the Caribs he had with him as captains Juan de León, a skilled main in matters of sea and land, as in matters of war, a knowledgeable man of pleasant disposition. And lieutenant Juan Gil’s other captain was Juan López, a born leader, and other good men who had remained after the San Juan war who, being skilled and of good heart wherever they were, did very well in what was necessary to the conquest of the Caribs, at sea and on land.