While Don Garcia was engaged in this expedition into the south of Chili, Alonzo Reynoso the commandant of Canete used every effort to discover the place in which Caupolican lay concealed, both offering rewards for information and even employing torture to extort intelligence from the natives. He at length found a person who engaged to point out the place in which the Araucanian general had concealed himself ever since his last defeat. A detachment of cavalry was accordingly sent under the guidance of this traitor, and coming upon him by surprise one morning at day-break, succeeded in taking that great and heroic champion a prisoner, after a gallant resistance from ten faithful followers who continued to adhere to him under his misfortunes. During this combat, his wife incessantly exhorted him to die rather than surrender; and on seeing him made prisoner, she indignantly threw towards him her infant son, saying she would retain nothing that belonged to a coward. The detachment returned to Canete with their prisoner, amidst the rejoicings of the inhabitants, and Reynoso immediately ordered the redoubted toqui to be impaled and shot to death with arrows. On hearing his sentence, Caupolican addressed Reynoso as follows, without the smallest change of countenance, and preserving all his wonted dignity. “My death, can answer no possible end, except that of inflaming the inveterate hatred already entertained by my countrymen against the Spaniards. Far from being discouraged by the loss of an unfortunate leader, other Caupolicans will arise from my ashes, who will prosecute the war against you with better fortune. If however you spare my life, from the great influence I possess in Araucania, I may be of great service to the interests of your sovereign, and in aiding the propagation of your religion, which you say is the chief object of the destructive war you wage against us. But, if you are determined that I must die, send me into Spain; where, if your king thinks proper to condemn me, I may end my days without occasioning new disturbances to my unhappy country.”
This attempt of the unfortunate toqui to prevail on Reynoso to spare his life was in vain, as the sentence was ordered to be carried into immediate execution. A priest, who had been employed to converse with Caupolican, pretending to have converted him to the Christian faith, hastily administered the sacrament of baptism; after which the prisoner was conducted to the scaffold erected for his public execution. When he saw the instrument of punishment, which till then he did not clearly comprehend, and noticed a negro who was ready to execute the cruel sentence, he became exasperated, and hurled the executioner from the scaffold with a furious kick, indignantly exclaiming, “Is there no sword and some less unworthy hand to put a man like me to death? In this punishment there is no semblance of justice: It is base revenge!” He was however overpowered by numbers, and compelled to undergo the cruel and ignominious punishment to which he had been condemned. The name of Reynoso is still held in detestation, not only by the Araucanians, but even by the Spaniards themselves, who have ever reprobated his conduct, as cruel, unnecessary, and impolitic, and contrary to those principles of generosity on which they pride themselves as a nation.