Since today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, here’s a post from the vault about the only known pirate to threaten Santa Barbara—and attack nearby environs, Hippolyte de Bouchard.
He may not have had the charisma and swagger of Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but as pirates go, he and his crew were rather impressive.
The time was 1818 when the French-born knave led a group of 250 mercenary pirates on two vessels outfitted with 54 guns who sailed under the flag of Argentina. They raided the Presidio in Monterey and headed south to Santa Barbara. On the way, the pirate crew plundered and set fire to Captain Jose Francisco de Ortega’s family ranch in Refugio Canyon. Prisoners were taken on both sides during the incident.
Upon arrival in Santa Barbara, the motley crew was dissuaded from attacking the town, when they spotted a group of some 150 Presidio soldiers, padres and Native Americans hastily assembled and lined up to intercept them. A prisoner exchange was hastily negotiated, the pirates left Santa Barbara without attacking, and sailed on to Mission San Juan Capistrano—where they stole supplies and damaged several buildings.