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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/36

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18 INTRODUCTION. invitation. In order, however, to prevent any trouble from arising, he went on board his own ship, and made the usual signal for the rest of the fleet to get under weigh, with orders to sail for St. Antonio, where all soon arrived in good condition. Here he reviewed his troops, and found they numbered five hundred and fifty Spaniards, of whom fifty were mariners. He then distributed them into eleven companies of fifty each, and appointed the following captains to command them, viz. Alonso de Avila, Alonso Fernandez Puertocarrero, James de Ordas, Francisco de Montejo, Francisco de Morla, Francisco de Salzedo, Juan de Escalante, Juan Velasquez de Leon, Cristobal de Olid, and Pedro de Alvarado. Cortes himself took the command of one company. Each captain had also command of one of the ships, which were eleven in number. Antonio de Alaminos was appointed chief pilot, having served in that capacity with both Cordova and Grijalva. About two hundred Indians, natives of the island of Cuba, were taken for the purpose of carrying burthens, together with several negroes and native women, and sixteen horses and mares. Their stores amounted to five thousand hams, and six thousand cargas of maize, cassava, and yams, besides fowls, sugar, wine, oil, peas and other leguminous plants. The merchandise consisted of a variety of cheap articles, which were distributed amongst the ships. The burthen of the commander's ship was one hundred tons ; three others were eighty tons each ; and the remainder were brigantines and small vessels without decks. The device of the flag was flames of fire on a white and blue ground, with a red cross in the midst of the blaze, and the following words on the borders in Latin as a motto : " Friends, LET us FOLLOW THE CROSS, AND IF WE HAVE FAITH IN THAT STANDARD, WE SHALL CONQUER."* Such were the preparations made by Hernando Cortes for his great enterprise. Never before, says Gomara, did any cap- tain so feebly attended gain such brilliant victories, or subdue so vast an empire. He took no money with him to pay his men ; on the contrary he was deeply indebted ; and indeed

  • Amici, Crucem sequamur, et in hoc signo vincemus.