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the cottonwood apparently as strong as a concrete column, but really one mass of pulp. Of less height but as picturesque are the various palms that reach their many-fingered leaves above the jungle mass, the most common being the corozo, from a species of which is obtained the palm oil of commerce.
On the other hand, the sea route affords the best view of the old fort or castle, standing above the river mouth in apparently impregnable position.
It is nearly a hundred years since the Spaniards evacuated San Lorenzo, in common with other isthmian posts, and the fort has not been used for a garrison since then. The little village of Chagres, at the foot of the castled hill, is the seat of an alcaldia, the capital of the district around about. It has neither industries nor commerce, except for local purposes.
The fort that one sees today is not that which the pirates under Morgan successfully stormed, but a castle of later
period, resembling much the old forts at the The Old Fort. entrance to New York harbor. It represents
the architecture of a period just prior to the introduction of rifled ordnance. No other ruin in Panama is more complete than this, because one may see every line of the old castle. There are two lines of defense, an outer wall, and the castle proper, the latter to be entered by a drawbridge, and the place for the bridge is still seen in the old tower. In the courtyard is the water reservoir, and at various places in the walls are found especially strong rooms where it is believed ammunition for the gun service was stored.
In a cave-like gallery under a cover of heavy masonry, with no pavement but the mud, and very few holes to let
in light or air, is the place where the soldiers Prison. of the garrison used to sleep. Two short
galleries running off from this larger one were used as prisons. There remain here some of the old manacles, and one may see the instruments and means by which prisoners were made secure in the old fort a century or more ago. They are similar to the instruments used in English madhouses about the time that Dickens wrote. The favorite form seemed to be to seat a man against the wall and place his neck in an iron collar built in two sections, one fastened to the wall and the other hinged upon this. About the only exercise one could take while in this position would be thinking, and the prisoners had many hours for this pursuit. There are also manacles for the ankles and arms, ball and chain, and other refined methods of hold. ing one secure. Each of these cells has a little window at the daylight end, through which nothing larger than a dachshund could possibly escape. The only other chance then of getting away was through the barracks where the garrison sleeps. The tourist is strongly advised to visit Fort San Lorenzo, because it will make him so much more contented with the time in which he lives.
The Chagres River was explored in 1527, and within a few years it was used by boats making for the royal port at Nombre de Dios, about 50 miles eastward of the river mouth. Its use became more general when Porto Bello was made the royal port, because this place is only 30 miles from the river mouth, and also because the river and sea route were free from the attacks made continually along the trails by the cimarrones. Yet Chagres was only an outpost. Here some canoes broke cargo to load upon the armed sailing vessels that plied between Porto Bello and San Juan de Nicaragúa, but more frequently they rounded the point and made for the royal port under their own sail. The north coast waters can be safely navigated by canoes eight months
of the year.
The depredations of Drake and his followers along the north coast of the isthmus, and the ease with which he landed his troops at the mouth of the Chagres led to the building of Fort San Lorenzo as a guard to this back door of Panama. Juan Bautista Antonelli, a Roman engineer, made the plans both for this fort and for the defenses of Porto Bello. It is believed his plans were not carried out fully, because the fort built was not substantial, and but for its position on a steep hill would have afforded little protection. The work was completed about 1601, and yet only one generation later (1637) Thomas Gage reports the place as crumbling to ruin. He did not stop there, however, and may have been deceived as to its real condition by seeing portions of the walls, which were made of mud filled between rows of stakes, falling away. It is probable, too, that it had been strengthened after the taking of Porto Bello in 1668, because at that time Morgan warned the Governor of Panama that he intended to take that city.
On January 6, 1671, Morgan sent ahead of his regular fleet of 37 ships and 2,000 men, one of his officers, Capt. Joseph Brodley with four hundred men charged with capturing San Lorenzo, which was garrisoned by 300 men. Esquemeling describes the fort as follows:
This castle is built upon a high mountain, at the entry of the river, and surrounded on all sides with strong palisades or wooden walls, being very well terrepleined, and filled with earth, which renders them as secure as the best walls made of stone or brick. The top of this mountain is in a manner divided into two parts, between which lies a ditch, of the depth of thirty foot. The castle itself has but one entry, and that by a drawbridge which passes over the ditch aforementioned. On the land side it has four bastions, that on the sea containing only two more. That part thereof that looks towards the south is totally inaccessible and impossible to be climbed, through the infinite asperity of the mountain. The north side is surrounded by the river, which hereabouts runs very broad. At the foot of the said castle, or rather mountain, is seated a strong fort, with eight great guns, which commands and impedes the entry of the river. Not much lower are to be seen two other batteries, whereof each hath six pieces of cannon, to defend likewise the mouth of the said river. At one side of the castle are built two great storehouses, in which are deposited all sorts of warlike ammunition, and merchandize, which are brought thither from the inner parts of the country. Near these houses is a high pair of stairs, hewn out of the rock, which serves to mount to the top of the castle. On the west side of the said fortress lies a small port, which is not above seven or eight fathoms deep, being very fit for small vessels and of very good anchorage. Besides this, there lies before the castle, at the entry of the river, a great rock, scarce to be perceived above water, unless at low tide.
The assault of the pirates was made from behind-that is, from the land side, and was being repelled successfully, until one of the pirates shot a burning arrow into the group of thatched buildings in the center of the enclosure, and set them afire. The Spaniards were unable to hold out against both foes, and finally after the death of their commander what was left of the three hundred (only 30 men, 20 of whom were wounded) surrendered. Morgan came up a few days later and made San Lorenzo the base for his expedition up the Chagres against Panama. Upon his return from Panama he dismantled the guns of the fort and had them carried aboard his ships, demolished as much of the masonry as he conveniently could, and in general tried to destroy San Lorenzo.
The fort was restored after the taking by the pirates and made stronger. Yet it was forced to yield to the overwhelming force of Admiral Vernon on March 24, 1740, when he si. lenced its guns in order to establish there one of his bases for the contemplated expedition against Panama.
Under Colombian rule forts of the isthmus would be well kept up and garrisoned at times, and again they would
be practically abandoned. San Lorenzo went through the common experience, but usually there was a garrison at the mouth of the Chagres. Restrepo says that in 1810 the 3,800 regular troops of the viceroy of Santa Fe de Bogota were distributed among the fortifications of Guayaquil, Panama, castle of Chagres, and plaza of Porto Bello. These stations 80 securely held helped to delay the revolution in Panama ten years.
When Panama ceased to be the great trade route in the middle of the 18th century, the Chagres naturally became of little consequence. It enjoyed a revival, however, in 1844 when the Chagres mouth became one of the ports of call for the Royal Mail steamships plying between Southampton
and Latin America. All the emigration from the United States and Europe that flowed towards the newly opened lands of Oregon and California passed this way, and San Lorenzo looked down upon the largest settlement that had ever clustered at the base of its hill, for the village of Chagres often sheltered as many as 2,000 people in one night. In November, 1851, the first steamship discharged its passengers at Colon and since then the Chagres mouth and San Lorenzo have been interesting only historically, not important at all.
Other Historic Places. The founding of Nombre de Dios in 1519, upon the abandonment of the Darien crossing, is ref erred to on page 108.
It remained the royal port, the place whence Nombre de the galleons took their gold and silver to Spain, Dios. until 1597, when in obedience to a decree of
1584, and after the sack by Drake, the whole population removed to Porto Bello. There were four good reasons for this—the harbor is not so safe as that at Porto Bello, the place is not so easily defended, it is farther from Panama, and it had become so unhealthful that is was commonly called “the sepulchre of Spaniards."
During the years when it was the royal port some defenses were built along the water's edge, made of rows of sticks, probably bamboo, with earth filled between the rows. The time had not yet come when English and French pirates were bold enough to attack well defended cities, and therefore not much attention was paid to the fortifications. In fact, Drake was one of the earliest of the privateers who attacked fortified places. In 1572, he disembarked near Nombre de Dios and, approaching the city by some small boats which he had carried with him from England, got safely past the cannon at the water's edge, merely by answering the sentry's challenge in Spanish, and after a brisk fight in the plaza, in which he was wounded, took the town. The wounding of the leader, however, caused a panic and the English made for their ships, carrying Drake with them. A large store of treasure within their reach was untouched. A few months later Drake landed again near Nombre de Dios, and made his way through the jungle to a place nearby, where he lay in wait for the treasure train from Panama. The pack-train was apprised of the nearness of the marauders by the defection of a cimarrone, and again Drake had to leave without booty. In March, 1573, however, he made another attack on a pack-train near Nombre de Dios, and carried away a large quantity of gold and silver.
After this the place was strengthened so as to resist the attack it was expected Drake would make in 1585, during an expedition to the West Indies. He did not go near the place, but in 1595 he set sail from England with 27 ships and 2,500 men for the avowed purpose of taking Panama. The Spaniards prepared for the advance. The plan was to take Nombre de Dios, and hold the mouth of the Chagres, then to send two expeditions inland, one by trail and the other by