The Defense of Panama

When Don Juan Perez de Guzman, President of Panama, organized the city's defense against Henry Morgan's buccaneers, his "army" consisted of two companies of Spanish regular infantry (each about 100 men), plus militia companies of Spaniards, mulattos, free blacks, mestizos, and zambos (various Spanish-African-Indian racial mixtures) which may have totaled 800 or more. The pure-blooded Spanish militia was largely mounted, carrying pistols and swords, theoretically capable of a battle-winning charge over the open ground north of the city. The remainder served as infantry, many with no weapon better than a crude pike. None of these had sufficient military drill to move in the dense, formidable blocks of pikemen that won battles in Europe. Indeed, few had sufficient discipline to withstand more than one or two volleys of musket fire. Curiously, in battle the native Spaniards were the first to flee (many before the battle even started!) while the free Blacks were among the most stalwart defenders of the city.

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