Page:Notes of the Mexican war 1846-47-48.djvu/187

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181
NOTES OF THE MEXICAN WAR.

again is a formidable chevaux-de-frise and a dry ditch; including this ditch the entire works cover about twenty-five acres of land. Upon the ramparts, which are seventy feet in width and extend the entire circumference of the building, are mounted from ninety to one hundred pieces of heavy artillery, some of which I noticed to be the largest in the world, and we wondered how they ever got them from Vera Cruz. All these batteries have full sweep all around this neighborhood.

When this castle was surrendered to Gen. Scott's army it contained fifty-five cannons and seven mortars, both bronze and iron, over twelve thousand cannon balls, fourteen thousand bombs and hand grenades, and over five hundred muskets.

There is also a draw-bridge, leading into the main entrance, over the ditch; so, in case of an unexpected attack on this fort by assault, it can be drawn up in a short time, which, of course, would prevent the assaulting party from getting into the castle.

If the Americans had such a fort and in such a position, no nation in the world would be able to take it from us, unless by starvation. It is considered by engineers to be one of the best constructed castles in the world, and it is surprising that the Mexicans surrendered it up without any opposition. During the occupation by the Mexicans there was, at all times, a sentinel constantly pacing to and fro, day and night, constantly on the watch for robbers.

The flat roof, upon which the cannons rest, is of solid masonry, about fifteen feet in thickness, which is supported by successive arches, seventy feet long by twenty feet wide. The interior of these arches constitute the work-shops, store-rooms and cells for the prisoners. They are entered only from the inside through a massive door, which has a narrow grating over the top. When the door of the cell is closed, the only light and air which can reach it, must either come in through the grating mentioned, or through the loop-hole at the far end, it being some two feet square on the inner side of the wall, and gradually narrowing down to an aperture of some four or five inches by twelve on the outside.