160 LETTERS OF CORTES. I sallied across with great speed, followed by five horsemen and a hundred foot, with whom I passed all the (broken) bridges swimming, and reached the main land. Leaving the people who formed this advance party, I returned to the rear, where I found the troops hotly engaged ; it is incalculable how much our people suffered, as well Spaniards as our Indian allies of Tas- caltecal, nearly all of whom perished, together with many native Spaniards and horses, besides the loss of the gold, jewels, cotton cloth, and many other things we had brought away, including the artillery. Having collected all that were alive, I sent them on before, while with three or four horse and about twenty foot that dared to remain with me, I followed in the rear, incessantly engaged with the Indians, until we at length reached a city called Tacuba, [Tlacopan,] beyond the causeway, after en- countering a degree of toil and danger, the extent of which God only knows. As often as I turned against the enemy, I met a shower of arrows and darts and stones, and there being water on both sides, they as- sailed us without exposing themselves, and without fear ; for when we attacked them on the causeway, they im- mediately leapt into the water, receiving little hurt, ex- cept some few, who, when the multitude was so great as to trample upon one another, fell and perished. Thus with great labor and fatigue I brought off all this portion of our force without any of the Spaniards or Indians be- ing wounded or slain, except one of the horse that had gone with me to the rear, where they fought with no less fury than in front or on the flanks, although the hottest part of the fight was in the extreme rear, where our men were constantly exposed to fresh attacks from the inhabitants of the city.
Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/182
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