Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/508

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
496
WHAT IT WAS AND IS.

American steamer Cleopatra, being of comparatively light draft, and not large and unwieldy, runs in between the castle and mole, and was then lying at anchor there.

An immense coral reef extends out to the north-west from the castle for several miles, and from this most of the material for building the fortress was taken. The size of this coral formation is astonishing. Many of the specimens are three feet in thickness—like the trunks of great trees, in fact. As we neared the castle we could see that a section of the entire wall some thirty feet long, the same in height, and twelve or fifteen feet in thickness, being undermined, had broken out, and now leans over towards the city, leaving a great gap, which no attempt has been made to fill. The boat-landing is in the interior of the castle, a crooked passage, evidently excavated in the coral for that purpose, leading up to that point. This passage was formerly flanked by substantial walls, which are now in ruins.

No description of the castle would give any clear idea of its character, without a ground plan or diagram to illustrate it. The immensely thick walls, all the way around, are backed by a range of barracks, dungeons, and offices, whose roof of solid stone, flat, thick, and paved on the top with cement, would support batteries of almost any weight. All the guns in the fortress were originally mounted en barbette, upon this roof. There is nothing like a casemate with protection for the gunners about the castle. The guns—mostly of iron, and ranging from thirty-two to sixty-four pounders, made in 1844-5—are all in bad condition, the carriages nearly valueless from decay, and many dismounted and