Monday, August 25, 2014

El Cazador - The Shipwreck That Changed The World

The El Cazador (meaning The Hunter in English) was a Spanish brig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 1784.

On October 20, 1783 it was sent by Charles III of Spain on a mission to bring much-needed hard currency to the Spanish colony of Louisiana.

The ship sailed to Veracruz, Mexico, where it was loaded with approximately 450.000 Spanish reales.

King Carlos III enlisted his most trusted captain, Gabriel de Campos y Pineda, to captain the ship.

On January 11, 1784, it sailed for New Orleans, and was never heard from again.

Spain’s attempts to locate the ship were unsuccessful and in June 1784, El Cazador was officially listed as missing at sea.

Then, on August 2, 1993, the trawler Mistake, while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico fifty miles south of New Orleans, hung its net on a snag.

The trawler was captained by Jerry Murphy and its home port was Pascagoula, Mississippi.

When the crew hoisted the net and dumped the contents on the deck, they found the net was filled with silver coins.

The coins bore markings from the Spanish mint in Mexico, along with the date 1783.

Treasure from the ship was originally housed in a safe at the old Grand Bay State Bank building in Grand Bay, Alabama.

The Age of Exploration...Simply to utter the phrase is to summon images of majestic ships in full sail, laden with riches and captained by brave souls, ever-alert for signs of plundering pirates.

These are the forces that shaped the New World during the Era of Discovery.

But historians agree that perhaps the greatest influence of all did not come sailing over the waves.

Instead, it was a ship lost to the briny deep that paved the way for the growth of our own fledgling nation.

That ship was the El Cazador, "The Hunter," a Spanish Brig of War loaded with a vast treasury of freshly-minted silver and bound for the New World.

We may never know what mysterious force sank her.

But it is certain that her lost treasure holds the key to the birth of the nation we know today.

Every coin tells a story...but perhaps no coin in history tells a more riveting tale than the coins of El Cazador, "the shipwreck that changed the world".

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