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Their Location, Appearance, Etc
The different tribes belonging to this bold and warlike race inhabit Chili and western Patagonia, commencing about latitude thirty degrees, and extending to Terra del Fuego. The Pecherais of that island have also been classed in the same family, and their general conformation of figure and features, except so far as the withering influence of cold and squalid destitution has deteriorated the race, would seem to warrant the conclusion that the two nations were of identical origin.
The mountaineers of Chili are of a much lighter complexion than the aboriginal nations either north or south of them; the tribe of Boroanos in particular have been described as being little, if any, darker than Europeans. The men are tall, hardy, and vigorous, with exceedingly muscular limbs: their faces are broad, and their features rather heavy and coarse, but without the appearance of stupidity or dullness: they have the bright eye and coarse black hair of the Indian. Some of them are noticed with heavy beards, but generally this appendage is thin and scanty, and the common barbarous custom of eradicating it with some substitute for tweezer is resorted to.
Although a considerable difference is observable between the inhabitants of the mountains and the plains, in size, complexion, &c., yet the similarity in language and general appearance is considered sufficient to warrant the conclusion that all originally sprung from the same stock.
Purchas Description of Chill Division of the Tribes
In “Purchas his Pilgrimage,” we find the following quaint description of the physical aspect of the country:
“It is called Chili of the chilling cold, for so the word is said to signify. The hills with their, high looks, cold blasts, and covetous encroaching, drive it almost into the sea: only a narrow valley upon lowly submission to her swelling adversaries, obtaineth room for five and twenty leagues of breadth, where it is most, to extend her spacious length of two hundred leagues on that shore: and to withstand the ocean s fury, she pays a large tribute of many streams, which yet in the night time she can hardly perform; the miserable hills, in their frozen charity, not imparting that natural bounty and duty, till that great arbiter the sun ariseth, and sendeth day with his light-horse troop of sunbeams to break up those icy dungeons and snowy turrets, wherein night, the mountains jailer, had locked the innocent waters. Once, the poor valley is so hampered betwixt the tyrannical meteors and elements, as that she often quaketh with fear, and in these chill fevers shaketh off and loseth her best ornaments.
“And sometimes the neighbor hills are infected with this pestilent fever, and tumble down as dead in the plain, thereby so amazing the fearful rivers, that they run quite out of their channels to seek new, or else stand still with wonder; and the motive heat failing, fall into an uncouth tympany, their bellies swelling into spacious and standing lakes.”
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When the western coast of South America was first visited by Europeans, a portion of Chili was, as before-mentioned, subject to the Peruvian monarchy. The Chilian tribes, according to Molina, were fifteen in number, each independent, and governed by its Ulmen, or cacique. ” These tribes, beginning at the north, and proceeding to the south, were called Copiapins, Coquimbanes, Quillotanes, Mapochinians, Promaucians, Cures, Cauques, Pencones, Araucanians, Clinches, Chilotes, Chinquilanians, Pehuenches, Puelches, and Huilliches.” The first four of these, about the middle of the fifteenth century, were reduced by the Inca Yupanqui, without much opposition, but the Promaucians opposed so vigorous a resistance that the progress of the Peruvian arms was effectually stayed. The conquered provinces were allowed to retain their national government and customs, upon payment of tribute to the Inca.
The Chilians were, at this early period, not only bold and skilful in war, but had made much greater advances in the arts of civilization than any other South American race except the Peruvians. The country was too populous to be sustained by the precarious pursuits of hunting, fishing, &c., and a rude but systematic cultivation of the soil had become universal. The vegetable productions brought under cultivation were mostly the same with those used in Peru, and the native sheep or “camel,” was domesticated, as in that country. This animal furnished the wool for the garments of those who inhabited the western valleys the wilder races of the east and south were clothed in skins, principally of the guanaco, a species of wild goat.
Their houses were generally square, built of brick, or of wood plastered with clay, and thatched with rushes. Culinary utensils were formed of stone, wood, or earthenware. They wrought, with some skill, in the usual metallic productions of the country, using, like the Peruvians, a hardened alloy of copper, with other metals, as a substitute for iron. In common with the latter nation, a system of recording events or statistics by the ” quipu,” was all that was observable as analogous to the art of writing.
Among the Natives Almagro’s Invasion
The Promaucians, whose courage and patriotism had a century before checked the advance of the royal forces of the Inca, were found no less formidable by the first Spanish invaders. Almagro, after his frightful passage of the Cordilleras, in which, as is said, he lost one hundred and fifty Spaniards, and some ten thousand Indian allies, was well received by the tributary provinces of Chili. He collected no small booty in gold, which he distributed among his followers, and continued his march to Coquimbo. Here he was guilty of an act of barbarity too common wherever the Spaniards of that time were successful in their Indian campaigns. Two of his soldiers had been put to death at Guasco, in consequence of some acts of rapacity or violence, and in revenge, Almagro seized and burned alive the chief of the district, with his brother and twenty other of the native inhabitants.
Marching into the province of the Promaucians, the Spaniards found an enemy superior to any before encountered. Not even the terrors of the cavalry and weapons of the Europeans could daunt the brave^ mountaineers, who rallied under the banners of their chiefs for the protection of home and country. A single battle was sufficient to satisfy the invaders that little was to be gained by any further advance, and Almagro, with his troops, returned to Peru, as heretofore related, to seize upon Cuzco as being contained within the grant made to him by the crown.
Expedition Of Pedro De Valdivia
In 1540, Pedro de Valdivia, a bold and active Spanish soldier, and high in the confidence of Pizarro, was commissioned to lead the second expedition against the provinces of Chili. He took with him two hundred Spaniards and a large body of Peruvians, with the intent of forming a colony and commencing a permanent settlement. Some of the domestic animals of Europe were taken for use of the new colony, and a number of women and ecclesiastics were added to the company.
Founding of St. Jago
Crossing the mountains during the favorable season of summer, Valdivia entered Chili, but found on his arrival that the northern tribes, freed from the yoke of the Incas, were disposed to reassert their former independence. The want of union, however, prevented them from being able to stem the progress of the Spaniards. The invader pressed on, crushing all opposition, to Mapocho, the province where he founded the city of St. Jago.
While the new capital was in progress of construction, the natives of the district fell boldly upon the intruders, burned their buildings, and drove them into a fort, which they had constructed in the center of the town. The Spaniards were eventually victorious; but the spirit of the Mapochonians was not broken, and for years afterwards they continued to harass the settlers in every possible manner. The opening of the rich mines of the valley of Quillota reconciled the colonists to every danger and privation; and, for convenient communication with Peru, a vessel was built in the river Chile, which flows through that district.
Valdivia now sent emissaries to Peru, under convoy of thirty mounted men, to beat up for recruits. These messengers were eight in number, and, as a bait to new adventurers, their “spurs, bits, and stirrups he directed to be made of gold.” A body of Copiapans attacked this party on their route, and slew all except two, named Alonzo Monroy and Pedro Miranda, whom they carried to their ulmen or cacique. By the intervention of the chief’s wife their lives were spared, and they were engaged to teach the young prince, her son, the art of riding. The ungrateful Spaniards took advantage of the confidence placed in them, to murder their charge and escape on the horses. They succeeded in reaching Peru, and procured a considerable number of adventurers to try their fortunes in the new and promising regions of the south.
Peace with the Promaucians
The Chilians did not quietly submit to Spanish encroachments. The inhabitants of Quillota, by an artful stratagem, drew the Spaniards connected with the mines into an ambuscade, and murdered nearly the whole number; they followed up their advantage by burning the military stores and the vessel which had been built at the river Chile. Valdivia had the good fortune or skill to overawe or conciliate the Promaucians, and an alliance was formed between the Spaniards and that tribe.
The Araucanians Proper
Pushing his conquests and acquisitions further to the southward, the Spanish commander, in 1550, founded the city of Conception, but as the occupation of this spot led to the important events connected with the Araucanian war, we will follow the order of Molina, and give a brief account of the warlike people with whom the Spaniards were now to contend.
Character and Habits of the Tribe
This author speaks enthusiastically of the noble character of the Araucanians, their physical perfection, and their powers of endurance. He says “they are intrepid, animated, ardent, patient in enduring fatigue, ever ready to sacrifice their lives in the service of their country, enthusiastic lovers of liberty, which they consider as an essential constituent of their existence, jealous of their honor, courteous, hospitable, faithful to their engagements, grateful for services rendered them, and generous and humane towards the vanquished.” Their failings, on the other hand, are “drunkenness, debauchery, presumption, and a haughty contempt for all other nations.”
The district of Arauco, from which the nation takes its name, is but a small province of the country inhabited by the race. This lies in the beautiful region between Conception and Valdivia, extending back among the mountains. The inhabitants dwelt, in primitive simplicity, congregated in no large towns, but thickly scattered over the country in small rural villages. Their domestic and household arrangements were little more refined than we have described as common in Chili. Polygamy was generally practiced, and “the size of their houses proportioned to the number of women they could maintain.”
Houses and Dress
They wore woolen clothing, woven from the fleece of the native sheep, and consisting of close fitting under garments, and over all the national Poncho, a most convenient and easily-constructed cloak, especially adapted to the use of horsemen. The women wore long dresses, with a short cloak, both fastened with ornamental brooches of silver.
Sectional Divisions and Government
The Araucanian system of government is described by Molina as being an hereditary aristocracy. The country was divided from north to south into four sections, the mountainous region at the east, the high land at the base of the Andes, the adjoining plain, and the seacoast. Each division was under the nominal sway of a Toqui, or supreme cacique, but the real power was in the body of the nobility or Ulmenes, who presided over the various sub-divisions of the state, and who decided in grand council upon public matters. Our author does not speak very highly of the judicial institutions of the country. Much trouble ensued from a system of retaliation by which minor offenses were allowed to be punished. The capital crimes were “treachery, intentional homicide, adultery, the robbery of any valuable article, and witchcraft. Nevertheless, those found guilty of homicide can screen themselves from punishment by a composition with the relations of the murdered.” Each father of a family assumed and exercised absolute power over his wives and children, and, by the custom of the country, he was not responsible even for taking their lives.
System of Warfare
In war, as among the ruder North American tribes, the direction and command of the armies was not conferred upon the supreme civil potentate, unless from his known skill and bravery he was deemed fully competent. A war-chief was not unusually appointed from among the inferior officers, and, when this was done, an absolute dictatorship was vested in the chosen leader.
Soon after the arrival of the Spaniards in Chili, the Araucanians began to supply themselves with horses. Those which they obtained in battle multiplied to an immense extent, and the native inhabitants speedily acquired a remarkable degree of skill in their training and management. Swords, lances, slings, bows, pikes, and clubs were the national weapons.
Courage and Military Skill
Such skill in the arts of war, in fortifications, in military regularity and discipline, and such bravery and efficiency in the open field, as was evinced by the Araucanians in their long contests with the Spaniards, entirely exceed any thing recorded of the other American races.
The terrific destruction caused by artillery failed to con fuse or appall them. In the words of Molina: “As soon as the first line is cut down, the second occupies its place, and then the third, until they finally succeed in breaking the front ranks of the enemy. In the midst of their fury, they nevertheless preserve the strictest order, and perform all the evolutions directed by their officers. The most terrible of them are the club-bearers, who, like so many Herculeses, destroy with their iron-pointed maces all they meet in their way.”
After a battle, the prisoners taken were held as slaves until ransomed or exchanged: in some rare instances a single captive would be sacrificed. This was done, (with out torture,) after the performance of a singular preliminary ceremonial. The victim was brought forward ” upon a horse deprived of his ears and tail as a mark of ignominy.” The proper officers then handed him a pointed stake, and a number of small sticks. He was compelled to dig a hole in the earth with the stake; and to throw the sticks severally into it; naming, at each cast, one of the most renowned chiefs of his own country, ” while, at the same time, the surrounding soldiers loaded these abhorred names with the bitterest execrations.” After he had been forced to cover the hole “as if to bury therein the reputation and valor of their enemies,” some one of the principal chiefs destroyed the captive by the blow of a war-club. His heart, it is said, was then taken out, and a little blood sucked from it by the officers standing around; after which, the body was dismembered, the bones were used for flutes, and the skull, (if not cracked,) served for a drinking vessel.
All this sounds excessively barbarous, but Molina tells us that only one or two instances of the kind occurred during a period of nearly two hundred years.
Religious Belief and Superstitions
The religious belief of the Araucanians appears to have borne a strong resemblance to that of many North American tribes. The idea of a supreme being; of good and evil spirits, especially one great demon named Guecubu; of a future state of rewards and punishments, and the immortality of the soul, were universal. A vast number of superstitious signs and omens, some of them singularly analogous to those of ancient European nations, were drawn from earthquakes, storms, the flight of birds, and other natural phenomena.
Each person believed himself under the special care of a guardian angel, or familiar spirit, to whose aid and influence success in any pursuit was generally inferred. The Catholic missionaries were received with respect and kindness, but owing to a natural phlegm or indifference to such abstractions, they met with but little success in their efforts at promulgating their doctrines.
The tradition of a deluge, so universally spread through out the world, was current among these Indians, and in many other respects analogies, whether casual or not, could be traced between their belief and observances and those of the old world. The ceremonies and fanciful conceptions connected with the sepulture of the dead, if correctly re ported, are not unlike many of those recorded of the ancients.
Besides the compound of sorcerer and physician, whose services were required by the sick, as in every other part of America when the country was first discovered, the Araucanians had medical professors who made no pretensions to supernatural powers. These are said to have possessed considerable skill in the diagnosis of diseases, and in the administration of simple remedies. Others devoted their attention to the treatment of broken limbs and ulcers, which they accomplished with no small success.
Patriotism and Public Spirit of the Natives
Among the peculiarities of national character observable in the race the most prominent has ever been an indomitable spirit of patriotism, and a pride in their own country and usages, leading to a supreme contempt for all other nations. They regard their own race as one vast brother hood, every member of which is bound to assist and befriend his neighbor. Molina says: “The benevolence and kindness with which these people treat each other is really surprising. From the mutual affection, which subsists between them, proceeds their solicitude reciprocally to assist each other in their necessities. Not a beggar or an indigent person is to be found throughout the whole Araucanian territory; even the most infirm and incapable of subsisting themselves are decently clothed.
“This benevolence is not, however, confined wholly to their own countrymen; they conduct with the greatest hospitality towards all strangers, of whatever nation, and a traveler may live in any part of their country without the least expense.”
The above account is probably rather highly colored; in deed, this author has been accused of no little exaggeration in his comments upon Araucanian civilization. Nothing is more common than for a writer to be carried away by his subject; the biographer almost universally deifies his hero, and the historian of a particular nation is but too apt to fall into a similar error.
In their houses and persons, the Araucanians have been described as standing in agreeable contrast with most of the aboriginal Americans, by a most remarkable cleanliness. In this respect they might well rival, if not surpass, the most polished society of Europe.
Army Sent to oppose the Progress of the Spaniards
In order to check the advance of the Spaniards, the Araucanians determined not to await an actual invasion of their own territory, but to cross the river Bio-bio, which formed the boundary of their country, and attack them in force at their quarters in the adjoining province of Penco. The great cacique or Toqui, Aillavilu, with several thou sand warriors, was commissioned for this service. The Spanish army was encountered on the banks of the Andalien, and, for the first time in the history of American conquest, experienced the power of an enemy little inferior in skill, and fully equal in courage and determination to the trained soldiery of Europe.
The Indians fought with desperate valor regardless of the murderous effect of the Spanish firearms; but their leader Aillavilu, rashly exposing himself in the hottest of the engagement, was slain, and his followers made an orderly retreat, unpursued by the Spaniards. To secure him self against future danger, Valdivia at once erected a strong fort near his newly founded city of Conception. This was in 1551, and in the following year the bold mountaineers of the south determined upon another great effort to dislodge the dangerous colony.
One Lincoyan, an Ulmen of huge stature and imposing appearance, was created commander of the armies. In three bodies the Araucanians fell upon the Spaniards, and drove them within the fort. Hopeless of affecting any thing against this stronghold, Lincoyan drew off his forces: he is, indeed, accused by historians of a degree of irresolution and timidity unworthy of his race.
Valdivia, left in undisturbed possession of his new territories, went on with the work of building his city, and strengthening his position. In 1552 he felt sufficient confidence in the number of his followers, augmented by fresh arrivals from Peru, to undertake active operations against the Araucanians. Lincoyan was still in command, and his efforts failed to arrest the progress of the invaders, who pressed on to the river Cauten, in the heart of the hostile territory. Here Valdivia laid the first foundations of the future city Imperial, and sent Alderete, one of his officers, to commence the formation of a settlement by the lake of Lauquen.
From this point the Spanish commander made his way to the southern border of the Araucanian territory, where the river Caliacalla divided it from that of the Cunches, experiencing little opposition from the vacillating arid cautious Lincoyan. The Cunches, in great force, were prepared to oppose his entry into their domains; but according to the accounts handed down to us, they were persuaded to lay aside their purpose, by a native woman, named Recloma. Valdivia was therefore enabled to cross the river in safety, and to found a city upon its southern bank, upon which he bestowed his own family name.
On his return, in 1553, he erected forts in the provinces of Puren, Tucapel and Arauco. These operations were not carried on without hostilities with the natives; but, in consequence, as is said, of the inefficiency of the military chief at their head, all their efforts were unsuccessful, and the Spaniards were beginning to despise the power of an enemy who was in after-times to prove invincible.
Foundation of Valdivia, and Establishment of Forts in the Araucanian Territory
Valdivia retired to Conception, from which town he sent forth expeditions in various directions, forming magnificent plans for the entire occupation of the surrounding country. He anticipated little further resistance on the part of the inhabitants, but while he was indulging these hopes, and pondering new schemes of conquest, an influence was at work to counteract his efforts and restore the native independence. Colocolo, an old cacique of Arauco, set himself in earnest to rouse up the whole nation to resistance. He visited province after province, pointing out the dangers of the supine course of Lincoyan, and urging the appointment of some more capable and energetic leader.
A meeting of the Ulmenes was called, after the usual manner, in an open plain, and the merits of various rival candidates for the office of Toqui were stormily discussed. It was at last concluded to leave the decision with Colocolo, who fixed upon a chief not before brought forward; Caupolican, Ulmen of Pilmayquen.
The new general commenced operations against the Spanish fort in Arauco. Having taken prisoners a body of eighty Indians, who had been sent out by the garrison to gather forage, he put an equal number of his own warriors in charge of the supplies, with their arms concealed among the bundles of grass or hay. These were admitted without suspicion into the fort, when, grasping their weapons, they attacked the Spaniards with inconceivable fury. Caupolican did not arrive quite soon enough, with his army, to take advantage of the confusion, which ensued. As he came up, his brave company was driven out, the drawbridge was raised, and the garrison stationed to defend the walls. He therefore invested the place, and, cut ting off all supplies, compelled the Spaniards to evacuate it. This was accomplished without loss, by taking their departure under cover of night: f at midnight they mount ed their horses, and, suddenly opening the gate, rushed out at full speed, and escaped through the midst of their enemies; the Araucanians, who supposed it to be one of their customary sallies, taking no measures to obstruct their flight.”
Following up his advantage Caupolican reduced the fort at Tucapel, and encamped at that place to await the approach of the Spanish army. Valdivia, according to the expectation of the Toqui, promptly collected his forces for a grand struggle with the natives. The numbers of the respective armies are not certainly known; but it appears probable that there were several hundred Spaniards, accompanied by ten times their number of Indian auxiliaries, while the Araucanian forces are set down at nine or ten thousand. As he neared the enemies camp, the Spanish general sent forward ten mounted men under Diego del Oro, on a scout. These were surrounded and cut off by the Indians, and their heads were hung upon trees in sight of the advancing troops.
It was upon the 3d of December 1553, that the grand engagement took place. It was no ordinary Indian skirmish, in which, if the natives could be dislodged from covert, their discomfiture was certain, but a pitched battle, depending no less upon military skill in the maneuvers of the different battalions than upon individual courage and determination. The Spaniards were, it is true, greatly outnumbered, but they had, on the other hand, the immense advantage of firearms and other European weapons, with which they had so long been accustomed to scatter the hordes of rudely-equipped savages who opposed them.
The Araucanians appeared utterly reckless of life: line after line would be swept away by cannon and musketry, but fresh bodies were ready, at the word of command, to rush into the dangerous breach. Molina describes the result as follows: “Three times they retired in good order beyond the reach of the musketry, and, as often, resuming new vigor, returned to the attack. At length, after the loss of a great number of their men, they were thrown into disorder, and began to give way. Caupolican, Tucapel (one of the most distinguished of their generals), and the old, intrepid Colocolo, who was present in the action, in vain attempted to prevent there flight and reanimate their courage. The Spaniards shouted victory, and furiously pressed upon the fugitives.
“At this momentous crisis, a young Araucanian, of but sixteen years of age, called Lautaro, whom Valdivia, in one of his incursions, had taken prisoner, baptized and made his page, quitted the victorious party, began loudly to reproach his countrymen with their cowardice, and exhorted them to continue the contest, as the Spaniards, wounded and spent with fatigue, were no longer able to resist them. At the same time, grasping a lance, he turned against his late master, crying out, Follow me, my countrymen! victory courts us with open arms.
Death of Valdivia
Such resolution and courage on the part of a boy roused the fugitives to new exertions, and turned the scale of battle. The Spanish force was entirely destroyed of the whole army, it is said that only two Indians escaped. Valdivia was taken alive, and brought into the presence of the Toqui. Caupolican seemed disposed to favor the captive general, but an old officer, standing by, ” enraged to hear them talk of sparing his life, dispatched the unfortunate prisoner with a blow of his club.”
A more fanciful tale of the manner of Valdivia s death obtained some credence: Purchas makes mention of it as follows in his synopsis of Chilian conquests and colonization:
“In six and thirty degrees is that famous valley of Arauco, which defend their persons and freedom, maugre all the force and fury of the Spaniards. They have destroyed many of the Spaniards: they took the city Baldivia in the year 1599, and slew the Spaniards. Twice before, if not oftener, they had burnt and spoiled it. Yea, Baldivia himself, the first conqueror of Chili (for Almagro staid not), and of whom that city received name, was taken by these Indians, his horse being slain under him. They bid him fear nothing, he should have gold enough: and making a great banquet for him, brought in the last service, which was a cup full of molten gold, which they forced him to drink, saying, Now glut thy self with gold. This Baldivia had entered Chili with four hundred horse, and easily conquered that part which had been subject to the kings of Peru; but the other, which was the richer part, held out.”
To proceed with the more authentic narrative, Lautaro was immediately raised to the highest subordinate rank in the army, being made “lieutenant-general extraordinary,” and the whole country resounded with his praise.
Invasion of Arauco by Villagran
When news of the fatal overthrow of Valdivia reached the Spanish settlements, the inhabitants abandoned Vildivia, Puren, and other minor establishments, retreating for safety within the walls of Valdivia and Imperial. These two places were invested by Caupolican in force, while the gallant young Lautaro was in trusted with the defense of the mountain pass by which succors from the north would probably arrive.
In accordance with directions left by Valdivia for the conduct of the government in the event of his death, the office of governor devolved upon Francis Villagran-. Immediately upon assuming command, this officer made arrangements for another invasion of Arauco.
He found Lautaro with his division prepared to oppose his entrance into the province. An advanced body of natives was driven in by the Spaniards, after some hours of hard fighting, and the invaders pressed up the mountain path to the spot where the young commander was posted. “This mountain,” says Molina, “which on several occasions has proved fatal to the Spaniards, has on its summit a large plain, interspersed with shady trees. Its sides are full of clefts and precipices, on the part towards the west the sea beats, with great violence, and the east is secured by impenetrable thickets. A winding by-path on the north was the only road that led to the summit of the mountain.”
Villagran had six pieces of artillery, which he succeeded in bringing to bear, with effect, upon the Indians, while his musketeers poured continual volleys among their crowded ranks. By the orders of Lautaro, a select body of warriors charged the battery, and took possession of every cannon. This decided the fortune of the day; the Spaniards and their allies were driven down the mountain in hopeless confusion, pursued by the victorious natives. To add to their difficulties, they found their retreat cut off by a barricade of logs. But a handful of the number survived to carry the heavy news to Conception.
The city was immediately deserted, as incapable of defense; the women, children, and old men, were shipped on board the vessels in the harbor, to be carried to Valparaiso and Imperial, while Villagran, with the able-bodied men, took up his march for Santiago.
The Araucanians plundered and destroyed the abandoned city without opposition. The hurried departure of the Spaniards, and their insufficient means of conveyance, prevented the removal of much accumulated treasure, which consequently fell into the hands of the Indians.
Villagran, as soon as practicable, sent reinforcements to the besieged cities of Valdivia and Imperial, upon which Caupolican drew off his forces, leaving the Spaniards to lay waste the surrounding country. A worse enemy than the European invaders, at this time, desolated the Indian territories: that terrible disease the small-pox was communicated to the natives by some infected Spanish soldiers, and, as usual among a people unacquainted with its peculiarities, spread far and wide, producing a fearful mortality.
In the year 1555, the Court of the Royal Audience, at Lima, in settling various disputed questions connected with Spanish government in Chili, directed Villagran to rebuild the city of Conception. A colony was accordingly transported thither, and a strong fort was erected. This spot, it will be remembered, was to be northward of the Bio-bio, and without the Araucanian territory; but, at the request of the native inhabitants, an army of about two thousand men, under Lautaro, was sent to annihilate the growing settlement.
The young chieftain was a second time completely successful. The Spaniards were slain, or driven to seek safety in their vessels, or by flight through the wilderness, and the buildings were again plundered and razed.
Lautaro’s Fatal Expedition Against Santiago
Flushed with success, Lautaro now determined, with only six hundred warriors, to march a distance of some three hundred miles, and attack the town of Santiago. At the same time, Caupolican again laid siege to Valdivia and Imperial. Lautaro pursued his march peaceably until he reached Promaucia, where he revenged his country upon the treacherous allies of the Spaniards by ravaging and laying waste the district. This course of proceeding has been pronounced grossly impolitic, as by conciliation and kindness he might have secured friends where he now left behind him implacable enemies.
Instead of making an instantaneous attack upon the city, Lautaro deemed it more prudent to erect a fort to which he might retreat, and where he might, at his leisure, reconnoiter the enemy s strongholds, and choose his own time for assault or surprise. He therefore posted himself on the banks of the Claro. Repeated attempts were made by the Spaniards to dislodge him, but again and again they were repulsed with heavy loss. The conduct of these sorties were entrusted to Pedro Villagran, son of the governor, the old chief himself being at the time disabled by sickness.
Upon his recovery, the veteran took with him an army of about two hundred Spaniards, with a thousand Indians, and marched, with great secrecy and caution, for Lautaro’s camp. He succeeded in surprising the enemy, and gained a complete victory. The attack was made just at the dawn of day, when the Indians were totally unprepared: they fought with their usual desperation, and, after all hope of resistance was at an end, sternly refused to surrender. “In vain,” says Molina, “the Spanish commander repeatedly offered them quarter. The Araucanians perished to the last man, and fought with such obstinacy that they sought for death by throwing themselves on the lances of their enemies.”
Lautaro was slain by a dart in the very first of the melee. This was in 1556, and the brave and celebrated chief was consequently but nineteen years of age. His death was universally lamented; even the Spaniards, while exulting in the prospect of future safety, opened to them by his death, both felt and expressed the most enthusiastic admiration for his noble character and distinguished talents. Caupolican, hearing of the melancholy issue of Lautaro s expedition, raised the siege of Imperial, and repaired to the northern frontiers.
Don Garcia de Mendoza
In the month of April, 1557, Don Garcia de Mendoza, upon whom had been conferred the office of Spanish viceroy at Chili, arrived at the harbor of Conception, with a large force of infantry and abundant monuments of war. He first established himself upon the island of Quiriquina, and sent messages to the Araucanian authorities expressing a desire for the establishment of a permanent peace. Caupolican, with the concurrence of his council, sent one Millalauco to confer with the Spanish commandant, especially charging him to note with great accuracy the numbers and resources of the troops. Nothing but general expressions of amity and desire for tranquility resulted from the conference, and Millalauco returned with full reports to Caupolican. The Toqui was immediately upon the alert, and made every preparation for obtaining instant information of the enemy s movements, and for opposing any establishment upon the main land.
In the month of August, Don Garcia landed a detachment in the night, and secured the position of Mount Pinto, overlooking the plain and harbor. Here a fort was constructed, surrounded by a ditch, and defended by artillery. Only four days from the time of landing, the Araucanian chief, with a large army, attacked the fort.
Filling the ditch with logs and fascines, the assailants, in the face of a murderous fire, made desperate efforts to scale the walls. Many succeeded, and threw themselves into the enclosure, willing to meet certain destruction that they might have a brief opportunity for wreaking their long-cherished vengeance upon the Spaniards. Prodigies are related of the personal exploits of Tucapel, who encouraged this audacity by his own example, but who, unlike his companions, succeeded in forcing his way back. After killing, as is said, “four of his enemies with his formidable mace, he escaped by leaping over a precipice, amidst a shower of balls.”
Fort on Mount Pinto Attacked by Caupolican
Reinforcements were sent over from the island, and Caupolican was obliged to draw off his forces, leaving his purpose unaccomplished. The arrival, shortly after, of a great force of Spanish cavalry and Indian auxiliaries, by sea, rendered a repetition of the attempt hopeless.
Thus strengthened, Don Garcia soon commenced offensive operations. He crossed the Bio-bio unopposed, and engaged the Araucanian army, a short distance beyond. The natives, notwithstanding every exertion, and the display of a rash valor never surpassed, were driven off with terrible loss.
Cruelty and barbarity unlike any thing before known in Chili, now marked the success of the conqueror. He cut off the hands of a prisoner named Galverino, who had been a noted warrior, and sent him to his friends as a warning of what was in store for them: other captives he subjected to cruel tortures in order to extort information as to their general s plans and places of retreat, but their fortitude was proof against all the suffering he could inflict.
Caupolican soon rallied his forces for another battle, which was more obstinately contested even than the first; but the result was the same the superiority in weapons, and the efficiency of the cavalry securing success to the Spaniards. The mutilated Galverino, again taken prisoner, was hanged, with twelve of the native Ulmenes.
Don Garcia’s Invasion of Arauco; His Cruelties
Marching into the district of Tucapel, Don Garcia founded the city of Canete upon the spot of Valdivia s former discomfiture. A strong fort was there built and garrisoned, and the command instructed to one Alonzo Reynoso, after which the conqueror returned in triumph to Imperial. From this town he sent large numbers of Spaniards to assist in the defense and establishment of the new city. On the route, these settlers were furiously at tacked by the natives, but after suffering some loss in men and stores, they effected an entrance into the fortification. Caupolican then set himself systematically to reduce the place. In the attempt to secure an advantage by the introduction of a spy within the walls, he was himself completely overreached by the cunning of one of the Indian allies of the Spaniards. This man, discovering the errand of the spy, secured his confidence by pretending hatred against the invaders, and by promising his aid in admitting the besiegers within the walls. Caupolican was regularly entrapped: a gate was left open to give opportunity for an entrance into the fort, but when such a number had entered as could safely be mastered, the passage was closed, and by a sudden and unexpected attack, those within the Avails were cut to pieces, and those without completely routed. Caupolican escaped to the mountains, but three of his officers were taken prisoners, and blown from the muzzles of cannon.
The years 1558 and 1559 were memorable among the Spanish settlers of Chili, for the expedition of Don Garcia to the archipelago of Chiloe. By an artful policy, adopted in accordance with the advice of an Araucanian, the Clinches averted the usual terrors of European invasion. They pretended extreme poverty, sending to the general a present of ” roasted lizards and wild fruits,” and carefully concealing every sign of wealth, particularly in the precious metals. A guide furnished by them to the Spaniards was instructed to lead the army southward by the most desolate and dangerous routes, the more effectually to discourage any plans of settlement and colonization.
Arriving, at last, after unheard-of toil and privation, at the beautiful archipelago, the Spaniards were kindly and generously entertained by the natives. On his return, through the level country of the Huilliches, Don Garcia founded the city of Orsino.
It was during this absence of the viceroy that the brave Caupolican fell into the hands of his enemies. Alonzo Reynoso extorted, by torture of a prisoner, the disclosure of his place of retreat, and sent a corps of mounted men to surprise him. By order of the cruel commandant, this brave and venerated ruler was impaled, and in that position dispatched with arrows.
The office of Toqui was conferred upon a son of the old chief, Caupolican the younger, and the redoubted Tucapel was made second in command. An army of Araucanians, led by the new commander, was immediately upon the march for the city of Conception. Alonzo Reynoso followed, with five hundred men, to attack this body in the rear; but was signally defeated in an engagement north of the river Bio-bio, which he hardly succeeded in recrossing with a remnant of his followers. Instead of following out his original design against Conception, young Caupolican transferred his forces to Imperial, where Don Garcia had fortified himself. He was unable to take the city, although he besieged it closely for a long time, making many furious and desperate attacks. The Spaniards were strengthened by constant arrivals of military adventurers from Spain and Peru, and as their defenses were good, their loss in these engagements was small, as compared with that of the Indian besiegers. An attempt to rouse a rebellion among the Indian allies at the Spanish camp was discovered, and all concerned were put to death. Two of the emissaries of the Toqui were ” impaled in the sight of the Araucanian army, to whom they recommended with their last breath to die in defense of the liberties of their country. One hundred and twenty of the auxiliaries were also hung on the ramparts, exhorting the others to favor the enterprise of their countrymen.”
Caupolican withdrew from the city, and established him self at a place called Quipeo, between Conception and the fortress of Canete, the nature of which was such that it could easily be defended. Here he stoutly resisted all efforts to dislodge him for a long time; but was finally worsted in an incautious sally. His army was mostly destroyed; Tucapel, Colocolo, Lincoyan, and others of his bravest officers, had fallen; and, seeing escape impossible, the young chief put an end to his own life.
Every thing now seemed to favor the Spaniards: they little thought that after such a reverse, and the experience of the misery and horrors of a long and bloody war, the natives would again make head against them. The interval of peace was occupied in restoring the old fortifications and settlements, and in the establishment of new posts. It was at this time that the city of Mendoza, east of the Andes, was founded.
Retreat of the Natives to the Marshes of Lumaco
Nearly all the Araucanian officers, and a large proportion of the young men of the tribe, had perished in the last disastrous campaigns, but the indomitable spirit of the nation survived. A brave chief, named Antiguenu, was chosen Toqui, and the shattered forces of the nation were assembled in the gloomy and almost impenetrable marshes of Lumaco. Here Antiguenu “caused high scaffoldings to be erected to secure his men from the extreme moisture,” and devoted himself to training and instructing such new recruits as could be collected.
Don Garcia had, in the mean time, been superseded in his office of Spanish viceroy, by the former incumbent, Francis Villagran; who, hearing of the late defeat of the natives, supposed that he now occupied an easy and secure position. He was undeceived by the intelligence that the new Toqui was beginning to give his army some practical lessons in the art of war by various predatory visits to the Spanish settlements.
Indian Victory at Mount Mariguenu
The first serious engagement, in this campaign, took place at the summit of Mount Mariguenu, the scene of former disaster to the Spaniards. Antiguenu, familiar with the advantages of the locality, was posted at this spot, and Villagran sent one of his sons, with the most efficient force at his disposal, to attack the enemy in their quarters. The result of the attempt was as fatal as upon former occasions: the leader of the assailants was slain, and nearly the entire Spanish army destroyed. The Toqui followed up his advantage by the seizure and destruction of the fortress at Canete.
About this time Pedro Villagran, by the death of Francis, his father, succeeded to the office of governor. Antiguenu had now at his disposal an army of not far from four thou sand men, and felt sufficiently strong to divide his forces, and make a simultaneous attack upon the city of Conception and the fortress at Arauco.
The city resisted all the attempts of the natives, although close siege was laid to it for two months; but the detachment led into Arauco by Antiguenu in person was more successful. The commandant, Lorenzo Bernal, defended his post with great bravery, holding out against all the assaults of the enemy until reduced by famine to evacuate the fort. The Spaniards were not disturbed in their retreat, the business of destroying the buildings and fortifications, so long a harbor for the enemy in the heart of their own country, fully occupying the attention of the Araucanians.
Several interesting incidents are recorded connected with this siege: upon one occasion, Antiguenu challenged the Spanish commandant to a private personal encounter, and the duel was accordingly fought in sight of both armies. “The battle between these two champions” says the historian, “was continued for two hours without either obtaining any advantage, or injuring the other, till they were at length separated by their men.” Such trials of strength and skill between renowned warriors of either party were not uncommon during the protracted wars of Chili.
Not long after the reduction of Canete and the fort at Arauco, a general engagement took place between the Indians and Spaniards at the junction of the Vergosa and Bio-bio, in which the former were totally routed. Antiguenu with many of his followers fell, or was forced, from a steep bank into the stream, and there perished. A terrible havoc was committed among the discomfited army, not, however, without great loss to the victors, and the Araucanian power seemed, a second time, to be effectually crushed. This was in the year 1664:
The sagacious and prudent Paillataru, a relative of the lamented Lautaro, was the next Toqui, and, like his predecessor, he set himself, at first, to recruit his forces and repair the disasters of war. For years he hazarded no open battle with the whites, but inured his warriors to service by flying incursions.
In 1565 a new Spanish viceroy, Rodrigo de Quiroga, restored the posts at Canete and Arauco, and built a new fort at Quipeo. With little opposition, he laid waste those portions of the Araucanian territory that were within his reach, and dispatched a body of troops to the southward, to bring into subjection the islands of the Chiloan archipelago. The mild and gentle inhabitants of that group submitted without an effort to the dictation of the Spaniards, offering no resistance to the burdens of personal service, &c., imposed upon them by their new masters. In after-times they proved equally tractable in adopting the religion of their conquerors.
General Summary of Succeeding Hostilities
For thirty years from the installation of Paillataru, bloody and desolating wars were, at intervals, waged between the Spaniards and Araucanians. The former, from the steady increase of their numbers, acquired a stronger foothold in the country, and the result of hostilities was generally in their favor. Occasionally some terrible reverse would serve to remind them that .the enemy was, not yet conquered, but that the old spirit still burned with undiminished energy. The Araucanians acquired the use of horses, thereby gaining great facilities for flying incursions. To a certain extent they had, moreover, learned to avail themselves of such firearms as were secured in battle.
Paillataru defeated the Spaniards yet again upon Mount Mariguenu, and, as well as his successor, the mustee or half-breed Paynenancu, proved a thorn in the sides of the colonists. The Ulman of Mariguenu, Cayancaru, was made Toqui in 1585, after the seizure and execution of Paynenancu. This ruler, disappointed in various bold but unsuccessful campaigns, resigned office in favor of his son Nangoniel, who was soon after slain in battle. A noted warrior, named Cadeguala, succeeded him.
The new Toqui, after various other warlike operations, laid siege to the Spanish fort at Puren. Becoming weary of delay, his chivalrous spirit led him to challenge the commandant, Garcia Ramon, to single combat, thereby to decide the fate of the fortress. The two leaders accordingly fought on horseback, with lances, and Cadeguala fell transfixed by his adversary s weapon at the first tilt.
Guanoalca, the next in authority, continued to wage war with the Spaniards, and gained, many advantages. He reduced and took possession of the fortresses at Puren, Trinidad, and Spirito Santo. During this administration, flourished a celebrated female warrior,, named Janequeo, who in 1590, with a horde of the wild and roving Puelches of the eastern districts, harassed the Spanish settlements.
The young chief Quintuguenu, succeeded Guanoalca, upon the death of that Toqui in 1591, and although a brave and noble warrior, was doomed to defeat and death at the spot most famous for his countrymen s victories. He fell on the heights of Mariguenu, where his army was destroyed or dispersed. One Paillaeco was elected in his place, but with reduced forces he could effect little against the Spaniards, encouraged as they were by recent success. The old forts and posts destroyed under the sway of preceding rulers were rebuilt and fortified in the years 1591 and 1592.
Viceroyalty of Martin Loyola
In 1593 Don Martin Loyola, nephew of Ignatius, the originator of the order of Jesuits, arrived at Chili, in vested with the office of governor under the Spanish monarchy. During the period of his authority arose the renowned Paillamachu, next in regular succession to Paillaeco. He was an old man but endowed with singular energy and activity. For two years he kept aloof, recruiting and disciplining his forces at the old retreat among the Lumacan morasses, while the Spaniards had opportunity, unmolested, to restore their ruined cities, to work the rich mines of the mountains, and to strengthen their positions as they would. The Toqui, by an ambassador, gave Loyola distinctly to understand that he and his followers were, as firmly as their forefathers, determined never to be brought into subjection.
Paillamachu s first attempt against his enemies was by sending a detachment (in 1595) to destroy a fortification erected by Loyola at the southward of the Bio-Bio. From this time he continued to attack and plunder the Spanish settlements wherever opportunity offered, avoiding general engagements, and retreating with his booty to his inaccessible fastnesses. On the night of November 2d, 1598, he succeeded in surprising and slaying the Spanish governor, at his encampment (with a slender retinue) in the vale of Caralva. “It would seem,” (by Molina’s account) “that the Araucanian general had formed confident hopes of the success of this bold enterprise, since, in consequence of his previous instructions, in less than forty-eight hours after this event, not only the Araucanian provinces, but those of the Cunches and Huilliches, were in arms, and the whole of the country to the archipelago of Chiloe.”
Renewal of the War
The native armies met with unprecedented success; town after town fell before them, reduced by siege or carried by storm. Conception, Chilian, Canete, the Araucan fort, Valdivia, and other settlements, were destroyed, and the inhabitants slain, driven off, or carried away captives. Villarica, Osorno, and Imperial were conquered, in 1602, after protracted siege, in which the miserable citizens suffered every extremity from famine and terror. “Thus, in a period of little more than three years were destroyed all the settlements which Valdivia and his successors had established and preserved, at the expense of so much blood, in the extensive country between the Bio-Bio and the archipelago of Chiloe, none of which, have been since rebuilt, as what is at present called Valdivia is no more than a fort or garrison.” (Molina’s Civil History of Chili, written about the close of the eighteenth century.)
Great numbers of Spanish prisoners were carried home by the Indians, and experienced great diversity of treatment. Many intermarried with the natives, giving origin to a race of half-breeds, who proved as inimical towards the Spaniards as their dusky ancestors.
The Spaniards Driven from the Country South of the Bio-Bio
The brave and sagacious Paillamachu died in 1603. Repeated, but futile attempts were made by the Spaniards for several years ensuing, to recover their lost territory south of the Bio-bio. The Indians, fortunate in having brave and sagacious rulers, and with all their ancient pride and patriotic enthusiasm fully aroused, successfully resisted every invasion. About the year 1612, a movement was made by a Jesuit, named Louis Valdivia, to put an end to this hopeless warfare, that an opening might be made for the spread of the Christian religion among the independent tribes. The Spanish monarch, Philip the Third, highly approved of the plan, and proposals were forwarded to the Toqui and his council, by means of certain liberated prisoners.
While the treaty of peace was under negotiation, and flattering prospects of quiet appeared to the settlers, an event occurred which put a speedy end to all peaceful intercourse. Ancanamon, the Toqui, had a Spanish woman as one of his wives, who made her escape from his power, and sought protection from the Spanish viceroy. Two other wives of the Toqui, and two of his daughters, won over by her persuasions to embrace her religion, accompanied her in her flight.
The Spaniards refused to deliver up these refugees, with the exception of one who had not professed Christianity, and Ancanamon, enraged at the supposed injury, slew a number of missionaries who had been conducted into his dominions, and with renewed energy continued the prosecution of the war.
About the year 1618, a most fierce and dangerous enemy of the Spaniards had the dictatorship of the Araucanian tribes. This was the celebrated Toqui Lientur. A chain of military posts and strong fortifications had been erected by the Spanish authorities upon the Bio-bio, to prevent Indian incursions, but they availed nothing against the rapid and energetic movements of the native commander. Until his resignation, in 1625, he not only preserved his own country from Spanish occupation, but made continual inroads into the enemy s territory, plundering their villages and destroying the forces brought to oppose him. In his very first expedition, he is said to have seized and carried off no less than four hundred horses.
His successor, the young warrior Putapichion, who had been formerly a slave among the whites, proved a no less formidable adversary. He continued in authority until slain in battle about eight years from the time of his accession; a period marked by many extensive and bloody campaigns, in which the Spaniards, although more successful than during former administrations, could obtain no permanent footing upon Araucanian soil. At the last grand engagement, which, in consequence of his death, resulted favorably for the Spaniards, the manner in which this chief marshaled and brought his forces to action excited the admiration of his enemies.
The obstinacy, with which these wars were carried on during a period of little less than a century, until the peace concluded in 1640, is almost without parallel. The history of the times does not record a series of petty skirmishes, but a succession of desperate campaigns, in which the known valor and obstinacy of the Spaniard were no less conspicuous than the utter carelessness of life and enthusiastic self-devotion of the Indian. The success of either party would, from time to time, seem to threaten the utter extermination of their rivals, but defeat only compelled a retreat, on the one hand within the fortified towns, and on the other into the impenetrable wilderness, until new forces could be raised and new plans of assault concocted.
In the year last mentioned the Marquis of Baydes, Francisco Zuniga, came out to Chili as governor, and exerted himself successfully to obtain an interview with the Toqui Lincopichion, and to conclude terms for a lasting peace.
An immense concourse of both races attended at the time and place appointed for the solemn ratification of the treaty, and days were passed in feats and congratulatory ceremonials. Prisoners were exchanged, trade was established, and free scope was given to the exertions of the devout ecclesiastics who assumed the duty of converting the Indians. These missionaries were well and respect fully treated, but met with no marked success in the propagation of their doctrines.
Ten Years War
The peace lasted until about 1655, when it was succeeded by a ten years war, the particulars of which are only recorded in the most general terms. It is certain that during this season of hostility the Spanish colonists met with such terrible losses, and were, upon many occasions, so signally defeated by the Araucanians, that the preservation of a true history of events would be little flattering to their national pride.
Subsequent Treaties and Hostilities
A new treaty was brought about in 1665, by the governor, Francisco Meneses, and the country was comparatively at rest for more than half a century. The Spaniards began to settle in the Araucanian territory, and, in consequence of their naturally overbearing disposition, became objects of dislike and suspicion to the native inhabitants. Certain Spanish officials denominated the ff Captains of the Friends,” whose nominal duty was the protection of the missionaries, but who assumed unwarranted powers, were especially odious.
In 1722 the discontent of the Indians led them to a renewal of hostilities. They appointed one Villumilla, a bold and ambitious man, to the office of Toqui. This chief exerted himself to rouse up an insurrection through out Chili, but, failing in this, with undiminished resolution, he collected what forces could be mustered, and fell upon the Spanish settlements. He met with no little success, gaining possession of the fortresses of Tucapel, Arauco, and Puren. In the words of the historian, “The war afterwards became reduced to skirmishes of but little importance, which were finally terminated by the celebrated peace of Negrete, a place situated at the confluence of the rivers Bio-bio and Lara.” The more important grievances complained of by the natives were redressed at the settlement of the terms of treaty.
Further difficulties arose under the administration of Don Antonio Gonzago, in consequence of an absurd and futile attempt by that officer to induce or compel the Araucanians to build and inhabit cities in certain prescribed localities. A war ensued in which some bloody battles were fought, and in which the roving Pehuenches were involved, first in behalf of the Spaniards, but afterwards as firm allies of their own countrymen. Peace was concluded in 1773; and among the articles of stipulation, it was agreed that a native minister should be stationed at St. Jago to keep watch over his nation s interests.
This pacification produced the happiest results. Relieved from the danger of hostile incursions, the Spanish settlements north of that natural boundary, the Bio-bio, increased and prospered, while the free tribes at the south were left to the exercise of their own system of government and the enjoyment of their well-earned liberty.
Present Position of the Araucanians
The proud distinction of being the only aboriginal Americans, who have maintained their independence when brought directly in contact with Europeans, still belongs to the Araucanians. They occupy much of their old territory within the modern republic of Chili, a district set down as covering an area of twenty-eight thousand square miles.
It may well be doubted whether the world has ever produced a race of men, who, with no greater advantages, from numbers, and advancement in the arts, have accomplished military exploits worthy to be compared with those record ed in Araucanian history. The different aims and purposes of the contending parties throughout the long and terrible contest with the colonists, enlist our warmest sympathies with the natives. On the one hand, the insatiable thirst for gold, the pride of conquest, or the scarcely less detest able spirit of intolerant bigotry, were the ruling motives and how powerful they have proved, let the history of Spanish America portray while, on the other, the whole end and aim of the rightful owners of the soil, individually and collectively, seem to have been directed with unflinching self-devotion towards the one object of the preservation of liberty and independence.
The principal benefit derived by the modern Araucanians from intercourse with foreigners is in the introduction of horses and cattle. These, with the vicuna and guanaco, constitute their principal riches: they still live in a state of primeval simplicity, and freedom from most of the artificial wants of civilization.