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or compel them to listen to terms of accommodation. He attacked them, however without success; and though vast numbers of the Mexicans fell, the Spaniards were at length obliged to retire, 12 soldiers having been killed and 60 wounded. In another unsuccessful sally, the general himself was wounded in the hand. When the Mexicans approached to renew the assault, Montezuma was presented to their view ; and he addressed them with every argument that could mitigate their rage, or persuade them to cease from hostilities. As soon as he had ended his discourse, the Mexicans poured in flights of arrows and vollies of stones with such violence on the ramparts, as to wound the unhappy monarch and strike him to the ground. Cortes followed him to his apartment in order to console him under his misfortune; but Montezuma perceiving his degradation, his spirit revived, and he scorned to prolong his life after his last humiliation. Stripping the bandages from his wounds in a transport of rage, and refusing to take any nourishment, he soon ended his wretched days; refusing with disdain all the solicitations of the Spaniards to embrace the Christian faith.
Upon the death of Montezuma, Cortes lost all hopes of bringing the Mexicans to an accommodation, and prepared for a retreat. But in accomplishing his design, he was engaged in new conflicts. At length they determined to retire secretly in the night; but they had not proceeded far before the Mexicans discovered them, and made dispositions for a formidable attack. When morning dawned, it discovered to Cortes, who had arrived at Tacuba with those of his followers that had survived, his shattered battalion, reduced to less than half its original number, in a dejected and wounded condition ; and the sight caused the tears to trickle from his eyes, which his soldiers observed with satisfaction, concluding that while attentive to the duties of a general he was not insensible to the feelings of a man. Having retired to an adjacent temple for the repose and refreshment of his troops, exhausted with fatigue, he there deliberated what course to pursue ; and at length determined to march towards the Tlascalan territo
ries. In their way thither they encountered many attacks; but upon their arrival, they were received with tenderness and cordiality.
Having obtained several reinforcements, he mustered 550 infantry, of whom 80 were armed with muskets or cross-bows, 40 horsemen, and a train of 9 field-pieces. At the head of these, accompanied by 10,000 Tlascalans and other friendly Indians, Cortes began his march towards Mexico, on the 28th of December, 1520, six months after his disastrous retreat from that city. As he advanced thither, he found that the Mexicans were prepared to oppose his progress. He therefore took possession of Tezeuco, the second city of the empire, situated on the banks of the lake, 20 miles from Mexico. Here he established his head-quarters ; and deposing the chief who was at the head of the community, he placed another cazique in his room, who, together with his adherents, served the Spaniards with inviolable fidelity. Here he employed himself with singular assiduity in preparing a naval armament of 13 brigantines, for aiding his future operations; and in the mean while 4 ships arrived at Vera Cruz from Hispaniola, with 200 soldiers, 8 horses, 2 battering-rams, and a considerable supply of ammunition and arms. Elevated with observing that all his preparatory schemes, either for recruiting his own army, or impairing the force of the enemy, had now produced their full effect, Cortes, impatient to begin the siege of the capital in form, hastened the launching of the brigantines. On the 28th of April, all the Spanish troops, together with the auxiliary Indians, were drawn up on the banks of the canal; and with extraordinary military pomp, rendered more solemn by the celebration of the most sacred rites of religion, the brigantines were launched. As they fell down the canal in order, father Olmeda blessed them, and gave each its name. Every eye followed them with wonder and hope, until they entered the lake, when they hoisted their sails, and bore away before the wind. A general shout of joy was raised; all admiring that buld inventive genius, which, by means so extraordinary that their success almost exceeded belief, had acquired the command of a fleet, without the aid of which Mexico Vol. I.---(5)
would have continued to set the Spanish power and arms at defiance.
Cortes determined to attack the city from three different quarters; from Tepeaca on the north side of the lake, from Tacuba on the west, and from Cuyocan towards the south. Those towns were situated on the principal causeways
which led to the capital, and intended for their defence. He appointed Sandoval to command in the first, Pedro de Alvarado in the second, and Christoval de Olid in the third ; allotting to each a numerous body of Indian auxiliaries, together with an equal division of Spaniards, who by the junction of the troops from Hispaniola, amounted now to 86 horsemen, and 818 foot soldiers; of whom 118 were armed with muskets or cross-bows. The train of artillery consisted of three battering cannon, and 15 field-pieces. He reserved for himself, as the station of the greatest importance and danger, the conduct of the brigantines, each armed with one of his small cannon, and manned with 25 Spaniards.
As Alvarado and Olid proceeded towards the posts assigned them (May 10), they broke down the aqueducts which the ingenuity of the Mexicans had erected for conveying water
into the capital, and by the distress to which this reduced the · inhabitants, gave a beginning to the calamities which they
were destined to suffer. Alvarado and Olid found the towns of which they were ordered to take possession deserted by their inhabitants, who had fled for safety to the capital, where Guatimozin, who was called to the throne upon the death of Montezuma, had collected the chief force of his empire, as there alone he could hope to make a successful stand against the formidable enemies who were approaching to assault him.
The first effort of the Mexicans was to destroy the fleet of brigantines, the fatal effects of whose operations they foresaw and dreaded. Though the brigantines, after all the labour and merit of Cortes in forming them, were of inconsiderable bulk, rudely constructed, and manned chiefly with landmen, hardly possessed of skill enough to conduct them, they must have been objects of terror to a people unacquainted with any navigation but that of their lake, and possessed of no vessel
larger than a canoe. Necessity, however, urged Guatimozin to bazard the attack; and hoping to supply by numbers what he wanted in force, he assembled such a multitude of canoes as covered the face of the lake. They rowed on boldly to the charge, while the brigantines, retarded by a dead calm, could scarcely advance to meet them. But as the enemy drew near, a breeze suddenly sprung up; in a moment the sails were spread, the brigantines, with the utmost ease, broke through their feeble opponents, overset many canoes, and dissipated the armament with such slaughter, as convinced the Mexicans, that the progress of the Europeans in knowledge and arts rendered their superiority greater on this new element, than any had hitherto found it by land.
· From that time Cortes remained master of the lake, and the brigantines not only preserved a communication between the Spaniards in their different stations, though at considerable distances from each other, but were employed to cover the causeways on each side, and keep off the canoes, when they attempted to annoy the troops as they advanced towards the city. Cortes formed the brigantines into three divisions, appointing one to cover each of the stations from which an attack was to be carried on against the city, with orders to second the operations of the officer who commanded there. From all the three stations he pushed on the attack against the city with equal vigour; but in a manner so very different from the conduct of sieges in regular war, that he himself seems afraid it would appear no less improper than singular, to persons unacquainted with his situation. Each morning his troops assaulted the barricades which the enemy had erected on the causeways, forced their way over the trenches which they had dug, and through the canals where the bridges were broken down, and endeavoured to penetrate into the heart of the city, in hopes of obtaining some decisive advantage, which might force the enemy to surrender, and terminate the war at once ; but when the obstinate valour of the Mexicans rendered the efforts of the day ineffectual, the Spaniards retired in the evening to their former quarters. Thus their toil and danger were, in some measure, continually renewed; the Mexicans
repairing in the night what the Spaniards had destroyed through the day, and recovering the posts from which they had driven thein. But necessity prescribed this slow and untoward mode of operation. The number of his troops was so small, that Cortes durst not, with a handful of men, attempt to make a lodgment in a city where he might be surrounded and annoyed by such a multitude of enemies. The remembrance of what he had already suffered by the ill-judged confidence with which he had ventured into such a dangerous situation, was still fresh in his mind. The Spaniards, exhausted with fatigue, were unable to guard the various posts which they daily gained; and though their camp was filled with Indian auxiliaries, they durst not devolve this charge upon them, because they were so little accustomed to discipline, that no confidence could be placed in their vigilanc Besides this, Cortes was extremely desirous to preserve the city as much as possible from being destroyed, both because he destined it to be the capital of his conquests, and wished that it might remain as a monument of his glory. From all these considerations, he adhered obstinately, for a month after the siege was opened, to the system which he had adopted, The Mexicans, in their own defence, displayed valour which was hardly inferior to that with which the Spaniards attacked them. On the land, on water, by night and by day, one furious conflict succeeded another. Several Spaniards were killed, more wounded, and all were ready to sink under the toils of unintermitting service, which were rendered more in, tolerable by the injuries of the season, the periodical rains being now set in with their usual violence.
Astonished and disconcerted with the length and difficulties of the siege, Cortes determined to make one great effort to get possession of the city, before he relinquished the plan which he had hitherto followed, and had recourse to any other mode of attack. With this view, he sent instructions to Alvarado and Sandoval to advance with their divisions to a general assault, and took the command in person (July 3) of that posted on the causeway of Cuyocan. Animated by his presence, and the expectation of some decisive event, the Spaniards