Expulsis Piratis!


Heralding the much anticipated arrival of Woodes Rogers in Nassau , a gunfight erupted in Nassau Harbour in the early morning hours yesterday. A substantial British Naval fleet could be seen approaching Nassau from the North West before sunset. Two vessels, the Rose and the Shark entered the Harbour under cover of dark to find a Spanish prize ablaze. Charles Vane and several other rogue Pirates, had torched the ship prior to the arrival of Rogers and the British envoy in an attempt to encourage their retreat.

Woodes Rogers, aboard the Delicia remained anchored behind Hog Island . As the Rose and the Shark entered the western entrance of the Harbour, they were besieged by cannon fire from the ship of Charles Vane. The normally calm night air was filled with the crack and blaze of the cannon fire, and the sulpher smoke of the gunpowder. The burning Spanish ship lighting the battle for all ashore to see. Cannon volleys lasting hours into the night. Many people in Nassau poured out of taverns, and gaming houses, to watch the fierce fight, some toasting to Vane and his band of rebel rogues, some whispering the name Woodes Rogers famed Captain and Privateer bearing a pardon from the King. The Harbour front flowed with rum drenched quarrels, and sparing most of the night several ending by the edge of a sword. Rogers aboard the Delicia, observing the pirates fiery welcome to the Island , strengthens his resolve and sends a dispatch to the town announcing his intentions and offering amnesty to all who swear off piracy.

When the smoke cleared over Fort Nassau at dawn, and the rum wore off, Charles Vane had silently escaped through the narrow channel at the Eastern tip of Hog Island . Woodes Rogers climbed aboard his longboat as the sun crested the horizon and Royal proclamation in hand came ashore on the Harbour near Fort Nassau . Immediately Rogers climbed to the top of Fort Nassau , many residents commenting on his limp and battle scarred face. At the summit of the Fort he proclaimed himself on behalf of the King “Our Captain General and Governor-in-Chief in and over our Bahama Islands in America ”. Rogers proceeded to read the Royal Proclamation of pardon to 300 local Pirates. Although many Pirates did swear the oath, many were drunk, and few ever upheld an oath. Many more had left the island previously in anticipation of the arrival of Rogers and the British Fleet.

The markets and taverns in Nassau were rolling in roumor this morning as news of the new Governor and the Pirate Pardon reached the merchants. Pirate booty had been traded freely on the streets of Nassau for decades, and now the new Governor had his sights on the Pirates and their great influx of wealth. The consensus among the Traders and the Seamen was that the Governor would not last the month. “Surely Charles Vane or Edward Teach will return and sack the Fort and reclaim the Bahamas as the Pirate Republic, and we can all get back to business!” said one merchant exasperated. The Governor it seems has different plans.

Woodes Rogers immediately looked to secure the loyalty of 6 local men known not to engage in piracy, and along with 6 of his trusted crew formed the Council of Twelve. He assigned each of the men specific posts and laid the foundation for a future government. An archipelago most recently ruled by anarchy at once has a soft shell of structure. On the streets of Nassau the reality of the day is hard to avoid. Streets and gutters are littered with refuse, the smell of rot and decay lingers in the salty air. Buildings battered by cannon barrages, the skeletons of old ships littering the shallow harbour floor. Limp bodies draped over rum barrels, some drunk….some dead. The Fort a mere façade against the horde that threatens to decend on Nassau . Some residents concealing their eager anticipation of a new order on the Island , talk quietly about an economy based on agriculture and fisheries. Others laugh openly about the self proclaimed governor, swilling rum and patting their swords, as they swear their own treacherous oaths to continue their piracy ‘till death. The Trade Winds changed direction in Nassau today, a new Captain is at the helm. Just under the surface however a strong current still flows, as evidenced by the river of flotsam flowing downstream from the Harbour.