*I have been busy moving to College Station, TX and have also been wondering about how to end it. Here is the grand finale!*
March 22 – Strong veerable winds. Fair weather. The ship is ours once again, though we feel no cheer. The following is an account of our battle.
During the morning watch a great commotion was heard. The Dutch raised an alarm and we heard many screams and gun-shots. At first we cheer’d for we believed an English warship had come to rescue us from our wretched captivity. But we could hear no cannon, nor English voices. Instead we heard Dutch cries as they lost their nerve and answering groans. After the battle our surgeon inform’d us that all the Dutch expir’d from the malady. He was much overworked and so used the same saws and knives on all the wounded. His loblolly men [surgeon’s assistants], finding bandages in short supply, took strips from the sick and used them on the other injured. Thus we might know how the Dutch who had been hurt from falling were similarly transformed.
As the commotion grew louder and more pressing, one of our Dutch guards climb’d to the gun deck [the first level belowdecks] and open’d the hatch to observe the battle on the upper deck. As he peer’d out, two strong hands grip’d his shoulders and drag’d him upwards to the deck. Our other guards pull’d his legs down and there follow’d a terrible struggle with the poor Dutch-man screaming and gouts of blood dripping all the while. His friends won after a time and he fell back down, his face miserably torn and having lost his nose and an eye. ‘Twas a pitiable sight to see even a Dutch-man in such a state. His friends ended his suffering with a bullet through the forehead.
Seeing more danger on the upper deck than from us in the hold, and hearing fewer Dutch voices above, our guards allow’d us onto the gun deck to refit ourselves at the armory. Having knowledge of what we were to face, I took a boarding ax and a brace of pistols. We design’d to climb to the upper deck and thence fight to gain the quarter deck, from where we could have some advantage in height.
Our captain led the charge, and we saw a horrifying scene once we climb’d to the upper deck. It was not unlike a butcher’s shoppe, with bloody flesh and entrails lying in great heaps. Most of the Dutch were already dead, though some had begun to rise again. A small number, included with our surgeon and some of his mates, had found themselves safe in the rigging, while one poor fellow clung to the bowsprit and so was nearly drown’d by every wave. Most of the survivors were Curaçao men who knew the danger.
Resolving to gain the quarterdeck and the helm with it, we fought through the press of zombis. ‘Tis a struggle to fight at sea, for the roll of the ship can be harmful to one’s balance and footing. We lost several men who stumbled or fell into grasping arms. I myself was pitch’d forward and fell at the feet of one of the creatures and surely would have perish’d had Francois not remov’d its head with a pole-ax. We soon gain’d the quarterdeck and those arm’d with pole-axes guarded the stairs and struck down any creature who ventur’d close. We soon had the patereroes [swivel guns] loaded and did great harm. I saw one of the creatures torn in two by a discharge, yet it crawl’d forward until a musket ball struck it down. Our best musketeer, Andrew MacDougall, climb’d the rigging of the mizzenmast with several boys. He fired while each boy loaded a spent musket and so always kept him furnish’d.
After an hour the action was decided. We formed ranks and slowly walk’d the length of the deck, taking care to crush the skull of every dead man. The remaining Dutch join’d us and entreated that we take them to Elizabeth City for imprisonment. Schaars, who had inflicted upon us much indignity, had been torn asunder early in the fight. He had visited our sick bay on the upper deck and was among the first to die, and the creatures ate his flesh while our surgeon escaped. We buried our dead at sea and made certain they were weighed down with round-shot. We then set a course for Elizabeth City and sanctuary.
[The next journal entries are routine. To summarize, the Taylor arrived in Elizabeth City two days afterward. The Dutch privateers were imprisoned while her officers took on new crewmen and resupplied. The ship’s officers reported the events to the Virginia colonial administrators, who believed the reports to merely be accounts of vicious Indian and privateer attacks. The sailors also related their experiences to the locals, who simply dismissed them as typically exaggerated but entertaining sailors’ stories. However, part of one entry must be included.]
April 3 – We saw a sail between us and the land during the second dogwatch. Our lookout spied Dutch colours and recognized her figurehead as the Daphne’s. With a more numerous crew and better prepared to fight, we decided to take the privateer and thus revenge ourselves upon the Dutch. We quickly gained the weather gage and saw she was handled in a sluggish fashion. As we bore down on her we heard many musket shots on her decks, yet no gun or musket fired at us, nor were there any other ships in the lanes. We were still many yards out when we spied smoke and flames. Not desiring to endanger our ship, we were constrain’d to fall abaft. We who had spyglasses observ’d a great melee on the Daphne and saw many of the creatures. We did not want a part in another fight with them and so design’d to leave when a great explosion rent the Daphne into flame and splinters. A careless or frighted Dutch-man had likely set the powder stores afire. We sent off our boats to find survivors for all seamen live in fear of such events. Few bodies were left intact and even the creatures which survived must have sunk to the deep. We found but one survivor who was badly scorch’d with powder but not bitten. He recounted his account and explain’d that the Dutch had taken water at our former camp. He was not able to fully recount the events for he soon lost his senses and expir'd from his wounds soon after. To a man, we resolv’d to avoid that accursed spot. We shall not afflict ourselves for what can’t be recall’d, but instead pursue the remainder of this voyage.
[The Taylor put into Jamaica two weeks later to sell its cargo of stolen goods. The combined profits of the cargo and captured prizes were enough to provide a substantial profit for all involved. Stretton returned to Bristol and used his share to purchase several merchantmen. He then thrived by trading Bristol’s famous red-streak cider for Irish wool and whiskey. He never returned to the Virginia colony, nor would he ever allow his ships to conduct trade there. Recent research has followed the coordinates listed in his journal entries to plot his course throughout the Americas. If his original coordinates are correct, then the Taylor made landfall in a region close to the Roanoke colony. It had mysteriously disappeared without a trace approximately seventy years before his account.]