The Portuguese Expedition to Abyssinia in 1541–1543/Chapter X

The Portuguese Expedition to Abyssinia in 1541–1543  (1902)  by Miguel de Castanhoso, translated by R. S. Whiteway
Chapter X

Hakluyt Society second series no. X


Of how D. Christovão pitched his Camp on the skirts of the Hill, and of how he took Order to attack it.Edit

On the morning of the next day, February 1st, 1542, the eve of the day of the Purification of Our Lady, we pitched our camp, and as D. Christovão came with full knowledge of the approaches, as soon as we were in sight he allotted them to the Captains: to Francisco Velho and Manuel da Cunha, with their people and three pieces of artillery, the first approach, with the wall at the foot, the attack to be made at a given signal; to the second he appointed João da Fonseca and Francisco de Abreu, with three other pieces of artillery, and with the same instructions as to the signal; as the last approach was the strongest and most dangerous, he selected it for himself with the remaining people. There remained on guard over the Queen sixty soldiers with matchlocks and pikes, who were angry and discontented that they were excluded from the attack. That day also, late, D. Christovão made a feint of attacking, signalling to the Captains and bringing his artillery close, drawn up in order (posse em ordem); he did this to learn where it would be better to attack with matchlocks, and where the artillery would cause greater damage; and also to induce them to expend their munitions and magazines, which would help us on the following day. It is [34] difficult to believe how thick the stones and arrows fell when we got near; and they let fall rocks from the hill above, which caused us great fear and damage. When D. Christovão had seen all he wanted he retired. When the Moors saw this, it appeared to them that we could not attack them, and their delight was so excessive that all night they made great clamour with many trumpets and kettledrums. The Queen, too, became very sad and distrustful, for it seemed to her as it appeared to the Moors, that there was no more determination in us than that, for she had watched all. As D. Christovão, from what he was told, understood her distrust, he sent to tell her why he had advanced and retreated; and that in the morning her highness would see how the Portuguese fought, and what men they were. That night we spent in careful guard.

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