A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 739 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.
15,000 Peruvians, under the command of Paullu[62], the brother of the Inca Manco, the nominal emperor of Peru, who had succeeded to Atahualpa and Huasear.  Two roads lead from Peru to Chili; one of which by the maritime plain, is the arid desert of Atacama, destitute of water and provisions; while the other passes for about 120 miles over the immense ridge of the Andes, and is attended by excessive inconveniences and almost insurmountable difficulties Almagro chose this road because it was the shortest from Cuzco; and in this march his army had to endure infinite fatigue, and almost incessant conflicts with the barbarous tribes in the several districts through which he had to pass.  He at length reached the eastern side of the vast chain of the Andes at the commencement of winter, almost destitute of provisions, and ill supplied with clothing to protect his people under the inclemencies of the region he had still to penetrate.  At the season of the year which he unfortunately chose, snow falls almost continually among the Andes, and completely fills and obliterates the narrow paths that are even difficultly passable in summer.  The soldiers, however, animated by their general, and ignorant of the dangers they had to encounter, advanced with inconceivable toil to the summit of the rugged ascent.  But by the severity of the weather, and the want of provisions, 150 of the Spaniards perished by the way; and 10,000 of the Peruvians, less able to endure the rigours of that frozen region, were destroyed.  Not one of all the army would have escaped, had not Almagro pushed resolutely forward with a small party of horse to Copaipo, whence he sent back succours and provisions to his army still engaged in the defiles of the mountains.  By these means, those of the most robust constitutions, who had been able to resist the inclemency of the weather, were enabled to extricate themselves from the snow, and at length reached the plains of Copaipo, the most northerly province in Chili, where they were kindly received and entertained by the inhabitants, through respect for the Peruvians.

[Footnote 61:  The beginning of that year according to Ovale.—­E.]

[Footnote 62:  By Orale this Peruvian prince is called Paullo Topo, and the high priest of the Peruvians, Villacumu, is said to have been likewise sent in company with Almagro.—­E.]

As the Inca Paullu was well acquainted with the object of this expedition, he obliged the inhabitants of Copaipo to deliver up to him all the gold in their possession, which he immediately presented to Almagro, to the value of 500,000 ducats.  Almagro was highly pleased with this first fruit of his labours, and immediately distributed the whole among his soldiers, to whom also he remitted immense debts which they owed him, as he had advanced them all the funds which were necessary to fit them out for the expedition.  Almagro soon learnt that the reigning Ulmen of Copaipo had usurped the government of that province in prejudice of his nephew and ward, who had fled to the woods.  Calling the lawful heir into his presence, he arrested the guilty chief, and reinstated the lawful heir in the government, with the universal applause of the natives, who attributed this conduct entirely to motives of justice and a wish to redress the injured.

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