The Baracoons of Gallinas
From the interior, the Africans were marched to the delta at the mouth of the Gallinas River.
Here they came into Spanish hands. Several of the Amistad Africans would later name these new captors: "Laigo," "Peli," "Belewa" (meaning Great Whiskers), and most prominently, a merchant named "Luiz" (sometimes recorded as "Luis," or "Luisi"). Few of the captives had ever seen Europeans before.
The Spaniards kept them in baracoons -- crude structures, many of them little more than walled, open-air pens, with high, stout walls -- built on the marshy, low-lying islands along the river. The slaves were chained together in pairs by leg irons to discourage escape or revolt.
Meanwhile, beyond the baracoon walls, African and European traders palavered (meaning they bargained), trading the men, women and children waiting in the baracoons for rum, tobacco, muskets, gunpowder, cloth and other goods.
The African slave trade was technically illegal: European nations had all, at various times, signed treaties outlawing the traffic. But the profits from slaving were lucrative, and numerous European slavers flouted the ban. The only nation putting any teeth in the law was Great Britain, which had stationed a naval squadron at the nearby colony of Sierra Leone to try to intercept the numerous slave ships that put in at Gallinas, Sherbro, and other isolated points along the coast. In Gallinas, from watch towers built in the trees, lookouts scanned the coast for British cruisers.
And somewhere out there beyond the surf, the slave ship Tecora made her way towards the river mouth ...