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Execution of the Spanish Pirates

 

Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for being such a trooper and typing a ton of old news articles! Without her this project wouldn't be here!

 

 EXECUTION OF THE SPANISH PIRATES

(From the Boston Post, June 12)

Pursuant to previous arrangement, captain Don Peero Gibert, and Juan Montenegro, Manual Castillo, Angel Garcia, and, Manual Boyga were yesterday morning summoned to prepare for their immediate execution, agreeably to their sentence, for having, while belonging to the schooner Panda, committed piracy, by robbing the brig Mexican, of Salem, of $20,000, and afterwards attempting to destroy the crew and all evidence of their crime, by setting fire to the vessel. It is understood, that, when the prisoners became thoroughly convinced that there was no longer any grounds to hope for a further respite, they entered into a mutual agreement to commit suicide on Wednesday night. Angel Garcia made the first attempt, in the evening, by trying to open the veins in each arm, with a fragment of a bottle, but was discovered before he could effect his purpose, and a stricter guard was afterwards maintained upon all of them during the remainder of the night, and every thing removed with which they might be supposed to renew any attempt upon their own lives. Yesterday morning, however, at about 9 o'clock, while the avenues of the jail resounded with the heavy steps of a host of acting marshals, and the "busy note of preparation" struck solemnly upon the ears of the spectators within reach of its echo, Boyga succeeded in inflicting a deep gash on the left side of his neck, with a piece of tin. The officer's eye had been withdrawn from him scarcely a minute, before he was discovered lying on his pallet, with a peculiar trembling of his knees, which induced the officers to examine if any thing had suddenly happened to him. They found him covered with blood and nearly insensible; medical aid was at hand, and the wound was immediately sewed up, but Boyga, who had fainted from the loss of blood, never revived again. Two Catholic clergymen, the Rev Mr. Varella, a Spanish gentleman, and pastor if the Spanish congregation at New York, and the Rev. Mr. Curtin, of his city, were in close attendance upon the prisoners during the whole morning; and at quarter past ten, under the escort of the marshal and his deputies, accompanied them to the gallows, erected on an insulated angle of land in rear of the jail.

When the procession arrived at the foot of the ladder, leading up to the platform of the gallows, the Rev. Mr. Varella looking directly at Capt. Gibert, said--"Spaniards, ascend to heaven." Gibert mounted with a quick step, and was followed by his comrades at a more moderate pave, but without the least perceptible indication of hesitancy. Boyga, unconscious of his situation and destiny was carried up in a chair, and seated beneath the rope prepared for him. Gibert, Montenegro, Garcia, and Castillo all smiled subduedly as they took their appointed stations on the platform. Judging only from Gibert's air, carriage, and unembarrassed eye, as he glanced at the surrounding multitude, and surveyed the mechanism of his shameful death, he might have well been mistaken for an officer in attendance, instead of one of the doomed. With the exception of repeating his prayers after the clergymen, he spoke but little. Soon after he ascertained his position on the stage, he left it, and passing over to the spot where the apparently lifeless Boyga was seated on a chair, he bent over his shoulder and kissed him very affectionately. He then resumed his station, but occasionally turned around me Mr. Peyton, the interpreter, and the clergymen. Addressing his followers, he said--"Boys, We are going to die, but let us be firm, for we are innocent." To Mr. Peyton, removing his linen collar, and handing it to him, he said-- "This is all I have to part with. Take it as a keepsake. I die innocent, but I die like a noble Spaniard. Goodbye, brother. We die with the hope of meeting you in heaven." Montenegro and Garcia, although exhibiting no terror, vociferated their innocence, exclaiming--"Americans, we are culpable. We are innocent, but we forgive all who have injured us." Castillo addressed himself to an individual, whom he recognized in the front ranks of the officers below the stage, and said-- "Adieu, my friend--I shall see you in heaven--I do not care so much about dying, as to have the Americans think I am guilty," (culpable) ---

Several lines here are unreadable.

The marshal having read the warrant for their execution, and stated that DeSoto was respited for 60 days, and Ruiz for 30, the ropes were adjusted around the necks of the prisoners, and a slight hectic flush spread over the countenance of each; but not an eye quailed, nor a limb trembled, nor a muscle quivered. As the cap was about to be drawn over Gibert's head, the Spanish priest fervently embraced him, and during the operation of covering of the faces of the others, the Rev. Mr. Curtin advanced to the railing of the stage, and read a brief declaration on the behalf of the prisoners, addressed to the citizens of American assembled, setting forth, that as at the trial they had declared their innocence, so did they now continue to do so. Boyga's cap and rope were adjusted 

as he sat, supported by an officer, in the chair, which was so placed as to fall with the drop. At a quarter before 11, after every preparation was completed, and while they were repeating top themselves in scarcely audible tones, their prayers, dep. Marshal Bass suddenly cut the small cord, which restrained the spring, and the platform fell without even the creaking of a hinge. In falling, Boyga's chair struck against the bodies of the Captain and Garcia. Boyga struggled slightly once after his descent, and Montenegro and Castillo but little; Capt. G. did not die quite so easily, the rope being placed behind his neck. Garcia struggled most and longest--about three minutes. After being suspended 30 minutes, the physicians in attendance, pronounced them dead, and they were cut down, and placed in black coffins, in readiness in the yard.

After the execution was over, Ruiz, confined in his cell, attracted considerable attention, by his maniac shouts and singing. At one time, holding up a piece of blanket, stained with Boyga's blood, he gave utterance to his ravings in a short of recilative, the burden of which was--"this is the red flag my companions died under."

The crowd assembled on this occasion, is estimated at from 20,000 to 30,000, and occupied every point that afforded the least opportunity for witnessing the execution. The roofs of a couple of shed, contiguous to the jail yard, gave way beneath the pressure of the numbers who had seated themselves on them, and there were two or three avalanches of men and boys, some of them were considerably injured. The sensation created by their fall was the only appearance of disorder manifested by the multitude during the whole scene. One of the proprietors has preferred a verbal claim against the U. S. Marshal, for damages done by the crowd to his shantee!!!

Some hundred or two, forgetful of the approach of the rising tide, posted themselves, quite early, on the foundation of a branch of the Lowell railroad, and, unable to retreat, as the crowd on shore increased in density, they were compelled to retain their position, till the flowing tide came up even above their knees. About a dozen were hemmed into a corner up to their middle in mud and water, but no worse accident happened to them.

Nothing could exceed the regularity of the proceedings with the area, on which the execution took place, under the direction of marshal Sibley.--The calm and unassuming deportment of the Catholic clergymen was very generally acknowledged by all present, and met the entire approbation of the Marshal, and his deputies, with whom they necessarily had much intercourse.

The Spanish Consul having requested that the bodies might not be given to the faculty, they wre interred last night, under the personal direction of marshal Sibley, in the Catholic burial ground at Charleston.

There being no murder committed with the piracy, the laws of the United States do not authorize the courts to order the bodies to be given to the surgeons for dissection.

We have heard, from a first authority, which may be implicitly relied on, and who had it directed from Perez, that when Garcia was ordered on board of the Mexican, he asked DeSoto "if the crew were to be dispatched," DeSoto replied--No, do not touch a hair on their heads--for human life is sweet." To this Garcia simply answered,--"Dead cats don't mew."

Perez also said that Montenegro refused to g on board the Mexican until Capt. Gibert threatened to shoot him.

Copyright Clayton Betzing, 2001

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