Jose Gaspar - A Real Pirate?

Crow

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Hello All

An old friend of mine and Kanacks and the delightful Corporate investigations employer. Has a rule when researching into the delights of treasure legends. Forget later publications of such stories go to the earliest identifiable version of the story. then try to verify the story with current evens of that time and place in History. Then search through various archives for any supporting evidence of the event behind the legend. I too suspect Jose Caspar based on a real pirate.

However proving of course is no easy task. Does anyone know who this Cuban pirate Domingo was by any chance?

Crow
 

Crow

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Hello Scar

Excellent suggestion.

Quite possible I was thinking along those lines as well. It was rumored via a captured back slave called Congo of his strange rituals and women he had. One of thier bases was heights of north western Cuba and he retired for a time in a cave on the southern tip of Aruba called Cabo Atriva from memory.A good friend of mine hardluck did some research on him. Parts of thier story in some respects similar with some versions of Gaspar legend. In 1822 when the pirate bases was destroyed by the American Navy Mugnoz areas of operations retreated south to Aruba. Some of his former crew could of ended up living Florida?

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Salvor6

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Thanks for posting that Bookaroo. It sheds a lot of light on the Gaspar myth. I see the author lives near me.
 
Oct 6, 2022
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I did not find a reference to Gaspar in Gardner Allen's Our Navy and the West Indian Pirates (Salem, Mass: 1929). Allen, however, in turn points to:

Our Navy and the West Indian Pirates: A Documentary History, Part 5
By Rear Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich, U. S. Navy
Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine, Volume 43, Issue 2, Whole Number 168 in the year 1917


The result of agitating the subject is seen in the following, taken from the report of the Committee on Naval Affairs, March 2, 1822:

The extent, however, to which the system of plunder upon the ocean is carried on in the West India seas, and Gulf of Mexico, is truly alarming and calls imperiously for the prompt and efficient interposition of the general government. Some fresh instance of the Atrocity with which the pirates infesting those seas carry on their depredations, accompanied too by the indiscriminate massacre of the defenceless and unoffending, is brought by almost every mail, so that the intercourse between the northern and southern sections of the Union, by sea, is almost cut off.

The committee are induced to believe that this system of piracy is now spreading itself to a vast extent, attracting to it the idle, vicious, and desperate of all nations, and, more particularly, those who have heretofore been engaged in the Slave trade, from which the vigilance of the American cruisers have driven them; and that, if they are not winked at by the authorities in the Island of Cuba, they are in no respect restrained by their interference.

That the sloop of war Hornet, of 18 guns; the brigs Enterprize and Spark, of 12 guns each; and the schooners Porpoise, Grampus, Shark and Alligator, of 12 guns each, are already cruising in the West India Seas and Gulf of Mexico, for the protection of trade, the suppression of piracy, and traffic in slaves; and that the two gunboats, Nos. 158 and 168, are also cruising along the coasts of Georgia and Florida for the same purposes.

Resolved, That it is expedient, forthwith, to fit out and put in service the corvettes Cyane and John Adams, and the sloops of war Peacock and Erie, for the protection of commerce, and the suppression of piracy in the West India seas, and the Gulf of Mexico, and also to employ the frigate Constellation, should the President of the United States deem the employment of a frigate necessary for the purposes aforesaid.

Nor was the government content with idle words, for we read that "the frigate Macedonian, Captain Biddle, is about to sail from Boston with four smaller vessels and 200 marines, with instructions, it is said, to sweep the land as well as the sea of the pirates of Cuba."

In the meantime, Lawrence Kearney was successfully busy at his wonted pastime:

U. S. Brig "Enterprize," Off Cape Antonia,
7th March, 1822.
Sir:

Our first duty has occurred at Cape Antonio, the most dangerous place for Merchant Vessels to pass.

My vessel being disguised, this morning was passing the Cape about 7 A. M. when a twelve oared Barge was discovered in pursuit. But soon after she made a retreat towards Mangrove Point; and as I could not pursue her with success with the Brig, owing to the shoals, I ordered away my boats.

The following note, this moment received, will inform you of the result:

"To Lieut. Comdt. Kearney,

"Sir,

"I have the pleasure to inform you that we have succeeded in capturing four Boats and two Launches (sloop Rigged). We landed and took them in a creek, which I have not yet satisfactorily examined. I send you a Barge and a Cutter, and remain,

"Yours, &c.
(Signed) Jas. M. McIntosh, Lieut."

A guard of Marines is sent to assist the party to apprehend the Pirates on shore…

I am, very respectfully, &c.
L. Kearnev.

Com. Patterson,
New Orleans

A newspaper of a few weeks later gives us this account:

We have a report which appears to be true, that on the 8th ult. the U. S. brig Enterprise, lieut. Kearney, captured eight sail of piratical vessels, whose united crews amounted to about 160 men. This must be pretty nearly a finishing stroke to the desperadoes: we have not lately heard of so many piratical acts, but cases are just published which happened in December last, in the capture of the brig Exertion, and schooner Constitution, of Boston, that have caused no little feeling. The vessels that seized them were partly manned by the 21 wretches who were recently tried and condemned as pirates at New Orleans, and pardoned by the president of the United States—they boasted of it; and, in thirty days from the time of their liberation, were at their old trade, with a resolution to murder all their prisoners—but instead of this, they were so humane as to put their prisoners ashore on a low sand key, to perish for want of water or to be swept away by the sea."

About this time a large barge was taken by the gunboat Revenge, under Lieutenant G. W. Hamersly, at some point in the West Indies, not specified, probably near the Balize. She was evidently fitted for piratical purposes, a fact which was substantiated by her desertion by her crew."

On March 22, we have a record that the sloop Jay, Thompson, of New York, was boarded near Neuvitas and robbed of her whole cargo. Fortunately, however, the vessel and crew were saved."

About this time the Cuban authorities were aroused to the necessity of putting a stop to the depredations on foreign shipping from a base on Cuban soil, for we read that a descent was made by them upon the Cape Antonio gang, in which a number of the latter were killed and wounded. The captain and lieutenant of one gang, being seized, were tried, convicted, and shot. Another raid resulted in the killing of six pirates and the taking of 15 prisoners. It appears that some goods from a Boston schooner led to the inculpation of five persons who were sent to prison. They are stated to have been young men of good appearance and residents of Havana. This last remark is proof, if proof were needed, that piracy was encouraged by even respectable people in that island.

The instance spoken of is among the very few in which Spanish officials attempted to suppress piracy. There can be no doubt that too many of those gentlemen were directly or indirectly interested in its successful prosecution.


Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo
I am the ggg grandchild of Juan Gomez. Could you reach out to me at pirategasparilla@gmail.com
 

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