Famous Pirate: Henry Morgan
The Buccaneer King
Despite some of his actions were brutal and illegitimate, Henry Morgan was not a pirate. The Welshman was a magnificent buccaneer , certainly the most famous one . Described as a remarkable leader and a fearsome conqueror, he had a couple of legendary battles and unique tactics which brought him fame and wealth. Because of all his deeds, Morgan was a true hero of the Caribbean and the English nation.
Henry Morgan was born around 1635 in Llanrhymny, Wells. Already as a youngster, Henry was ambitious and very lively person who could not settle with a monotonous life in a quiet place. He decided to move on because he had a dream to be a sailor. Although Morgan wanted to gain wealth and fame as soon as possible, a pirate way of life was not in his interest. Therefore, he joined the England’s naval army to serve as a buccaneer .
It is uncertain how Morgan arrived in Jamaica, but it happened in the in 1655, when island was occupied by the buccaneers. He joined the England forces which attacked and robbed Spanish colonies in the Caribbean . There he built his buccaneer career first as a common solider and soon as a respected sailor. By joining a famous captain, Christopher Myngs and his fleet on some of his expeditions, Morgan gained much more naval experience.
Finally, in 1662, he became a captain of a small privateering vessel. His first successful raid was in 1664, when a group of buccaneer captains harassed together. They plundered many ships and colonies on the coast of Yutacan Peninsula and the rich town Granada in Central America.
All those attacks brought him a great financial income and also an excellent reputation . He bought a plantation on Jamaica and married his cousin , Mary Elizabeth. She was the daughter of Morgan's uncle, Colonel Edward Morgan, the governor of Jamaica. Edward Morgan died soon after, in attack on the Dutch colony. The new governor of Jamaica was Sir Tomas Modyford , who became a very good friend to Henry Morgan . Because of that friendship and his constant success, Morgan was promoted to a vice-admiral of the Jamaican fleet.
Meanwhile, the Spanish activity increased in Cuba, so Mayford choose Morgan to lead the Jamaican fleet. In January 1668, more than 10 ships and over 500 soldiers sailed to Cuba. Once again Morgan turned nightmarish for Spain. The City of Puerto Principe was easily conquered without much loss. Problem was that this raid brought to his army only 50,000 pieces of eight. Many disappointed soldiers left Morgan.
Fearless Henry planned another attack right away despite his army was almost halved. Target was a fortified and a well-guarded town, Puerto Bello. The tactic that Morgan was using during this conflict was crucial . He anchored his ships far from the city and used the canoes to approach the city quietly at the night. The attack was quick, the guards were unaware and two of the three main forts were easily conquered. However, the third one was almost impossible to occupy. Then Morgan came up with a brilliant idea to use the imprisoned monks and nuns as a human shield. With that strategy they succeed to conquer the last obstacle. The Buccaneers captured the town and the governor of Panama was forced to pay a lot for the slaves. 250,000 pieces of eight were taken from that impressive raid.
Next Morgan's terror took place in Venezuela in 1669. With 8 ships and 650 crewmen he conquered the city of Marcaibo. His buccaneers tortured many Venezuelan citizens almost like the cruelest pirates, in order to discover all hidden booty .
At that time, Morgan was the indisputable king of all buccaneers . He had wealth, the most powerful army in the Caribbean , and what is most important, a constant success. In most fights, Morgan performed such achievements that even Spaniards praised his bravery and leadership.
With the powerful force of 1200 buccaneers and 30 ships, his last great attack began in 1670. It was the greatest challenge and his main goal - Panama. First he took fort, San Lorenzo, which allowed his troops to reach Panama through the jungle. However, it turnout that trip was much more exhausting than Morgan expected. He lost many people because of hunger and sickness. However, buccaneers' charismatic captain boosted everyone's moral and they finally reached their goal. An enormous number of Spaniards was gathered in order to defend the rich city, but they could to nothing against the supreme army of buccaneers. The city was taken in the great fight and then entirely plundered and demolished. That happened to be the last Morgan's raid .
Actually, he did not know that he had committed act of piracy . England and Spain had been at peace when last attack occurred, so after his return to Jamaica, Morgan was promptly arrested by the new governor and shipped to England for a trial. However, that trail never happened. Morgan was a powerful and influential man with many great deeds for England behind him. Although a prisoner of state, he has never been punished. Instead, he was honored by the King and promoted to the deputy governor of Jamaica. In the period between 1674 and 1682, he was still military active in defense of the island from the pirates.
Morgan spent rest of his life peacefully with his wife, on a big plantation. When he died in 1688 , almost no buccaneers in the Caribbean were active.