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Pedro de Sarmiento Gamboa

SARMIENTO GAMBOA, Pedro de, Spanish mariner, born in Galicia about 1530; died there about, 1590. He was the commander of the naval station in the Pacific in 1578, when Sir Francis Drake committed depredations on the coast of Peru and Mexico, and, in the belief that Drake would return by the Strait of Magellan. Sarmiento was ordered by the viceroy to take possession of that passage and intercept him. He left Callao with eleven vessels in 1579, and after vainly waiting for Drake, who had returned by the Cape of Good Hope, he explored the coast, and, after some encounters with the natives, returned to Spain in 1580. On his reporting the results of his expedition to Philip II., the latter resolved to fortify the strait, and sent, toward the end of 1581, an expedition of twenty-four vessels with 2,500 men from Cadiz, under command of Sarmiento and Diego Flores Valdez. The expedition was unfortunate, as eight vessels were lost in a storm, and Flores, on account of rivalry with Sarmiento, abandoned him with twelve vessels in the entry of the strait and returned to Spain. With only four vessels Sarmiento continued the voyage, arriving in January, 1583. at a favorable point, where he founded a fort and colony, which he called San Felipe (afterward Port Famine). He left a garrison of 300 men, and sailed in 1584: for Europe, but was captured by an English fleet, carried to England, and kept a prisoner till 1588. Meanwhile his colony had dissolved and gradually perished of starvation, one of the survivors being rescued by Cavendish's fleet in 1587, and another by Meriche in 1589. After his liberation Sarmiento made a representation of his experience, and a complaint against Flores, to King Philip II., which was first printed in Madrid in 1708, and again in vol. v., of the collection of American documents that has been in course of publication by the Spanish government since 1864. It seems that Sarmiento's complaint was neglected, as he died soon afterward in poverty.

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