Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Recent Photos of 18th Century Caribbean Fortifications

Dorothy and I were in the Caribbean in March 2014. You might enjoy photos of 18th Century-ish Spanish and English fortifications we toured.

Castillo del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sometimes in Spanish it is called El Morro. This is the landward approach with a superior field of fire (glacis) versus attackers.

The water gate in red was for dignitaries and lots of other things to enter directly from ships.

 This explains the seaward water gate best. Click to enlarge and read.

The seaward wall looks impossible to climb unless you are a WWII US Ranger trained to ascend Point du Hoc on D-Day.

The seawall again. 

Back to the landward entrance. A bridge piece near the main (only?) gate would be removed so attackers could not use the bridge to get to the gate itself.

Ditch to the left of the bridge.  

This little fellow is interesting because of rope attached to the wheels. Why? To reduce chances for the metal wheel rims to cause a spark and an explosion. Gun powder was loaded with scoops from barrels. Implements were made of wood and IIRC copper or bronze because these can't cause sparks either.

Main guns like these were pointed seaward. Mighty big.

Here's the idea. The ship coming into the harbor must be Spanish or friendly.

Cannons were moved to many locations inside the fort depending on need. This ramp does not look formidable. I assure you it is. People had to stop part way up to catch their breath and let their heart rate drop. Unseen are positions for soldiers to stop and rest off to the sides. It is a looooonnnnng way up and steep!

Barracks room. This is the identical format I've seen at Fort Niagara in northwest New York, USA.

Replica 18th Century muskets. They might have been Charlevilles since these have been readily available since the USA's Bi-Centennial for museums and reenactors.

Remember that cannon pointing seaward at the ship entering the harbor? Now you are aboard that same ship looking back at Castillo del Morro and that cannon.

Whew! We've sailed deeper into the harbor and nobody fired at us. Bravo! Originally the colonial city of San Juan was an island surrounded by fortress walls.

Could we sail through at night? I doubt it!

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The next fort guarding San Juan is San Cristobal. It is a mile or two east of del Morro. A nice walk, kite flying area and popular for picnics. Both Vaubanesque fortresses are very complicated. Check the internet if curious.

The above is San Cristobal's Parade Ground. Soldier barracks are to the left. Officers are to the right. Wide portals into officer quarters enhanced cross drafts to keep officers a bit cooler in this hot climate.

Parade Ground stone slabs are sloped downward to the center for rainwater to flow through drains down to cisterns and a huge room full of water.

Nice cotton uniform. See caption next and the back of the uniform for information.  

Back of the same uniform. 

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Prince of Wales Bastion. The current Prince of Wales visited this fort in the past.  

We are very high on the Island of St. Kitts. There is a volcano to the north and another 180 degrees behind me....

In the distance. This one is so high rain falls here a lot. In fact it produces almost all of the fresh water on the island. For more information see:

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Dorothy and I were aboard Adventure of the Seas for a lovely week of cruising. I hope you enjoyed the above images and found them illuminating. There are other forts in the Caribbean. The above offer a glimpse of two big ones and one small. Some others remain only in outline and in one case on Antigua, our brief bus tour did not take us to the mountain it was on. Next time!

This was displayed in the Voltaire Dining Room on Adventure of the Seas.

Dorothy and yours truly, Bill.
Thank you for looking in. Comments are welcome from you at your pleasure.

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  1. Saw this on TMP, thanks for doing this. Inspiring me to build one for my pirates!

  2. Very nice. We were at San Juan in 2009. You're right, the ramps are challenging! Fort Queen Anne in Nassau is neat too. Sounds like you have a great time.

  3. Looks like a very fun cruise, Bill. I spent a wonderful week in San Juan a few years ago (work!). I stole some time to see those fortifications and thought "what a great set up for a wargame". I stole some time to eat mariscos in the old city as well. Yummy!

  4. Bill,

    Seeking to find some villainous story support.

    Possibly some adversarial players within Raschstein?

    Looking to do a replacement for Stagonia ... with more depth.

  5. Thank you Everyone,
    Murdock, yes, write me off list.
    What do you havew in mind?
    Bill P.


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