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Government determines upon making Vera Cruz the base of a new Line of Ope.
rations - Vera Cruz-Description of the City-San Juan d'Ulloa-By whom founded - Description of the Fortress-Its Capture by Acle, Lorencillo, and Bodin—Taylor notified of the intention to reduce his Force-Scott ordered to Mexico-Reaches the Rio Grande-Appoints the Island of Lobos as the place of Rendezvous-Description of Lobos—The Arrival of Volunteers-Reconnois. sance by Scott and Conner-Preparations for Disembarking upon the Beach at Vera Cruz-Disembarkation of the Troops-Investment of the City-Gallant co-operation of the Navy-Skirmishes with the Enemy-Investment completed -Scott's Despatch to the War Department-The Batteries opened-Skirmish at Puenta del Medio-Harney's brilliant affair at Medellin-Overtures for the Surrender of Vera Cruz and San Juan d'Ulloa—Commissioners appointed-Ceremony of Capitulation-Scott's Despatch to the War Department-Alvarado -Effects of the Bombardment of Vera Cruz.
With the capture of Monterey ended the campaign of 1846.
But before this brilliant achievement took place, it became evident to the government, that another and even more effective column of invasion would be required to operate from a point affording a nearer approach to the Mexican capital.
General Santa Anna, whose return from exile had been connived at by our government, so far from distracting the Mexican people by internal dissensions, or inclining them to more peaceful views, had succeeded in allaying the feuds of opposing parties, and in rousing and uniting all classes to a more vigorous prosecution of the war.
Finding all hope of reasonable accommodation cut off by this untoward state of things, a new and shorter line was determined on, striking into the heart of the enemy's possessions. While the
line of the Sierra Madre was to be held by General Taylor with diminished forces, the city of Vera Cruz was selected as the base of a new line of operations, for the assault of which preparations were made on a scale commensurate with the formidable character of the undertaking.
Vera Cruz, the only commercial city of importance belonging to the republic of Mexico, is situated in latitude 19 deg. 11 min. 52 sec. N.; longitude 19 deg. 10 min. W. of Washington, and has an average temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Founded about the year 1560 by the Count of Monterey, and upon the exact spot which witnessed the landing of Cortez, forty years before, it became, in 1600, the capital of the department of Vera Cruz.
It contains about one thousand and sixty-three houses, built mostly of stone, two stories high, and of a square shape, with flat roofs and parapets. The population, which in the year 1804 was computed at 16,000, has fallen off gradually to about 5000 souls, which is believed to be about its present number.
The city is surrounded by a stone wall, 3124 varas or yards in circumference, which is defended by nine bastions, capable of supporting 100 guns.
Vera Cruz is small but regularly laid out, well paved, and well lighted. Its police regulations are admirable. It contains a Cathedral, to which are attached the two chapels of Del Pastora and Del Loreto. It has also five convents and three hospitals. The Cathedral occupies the south side of the principal Plaza. On the east is the Government House, dignified by the title of Palace, and on the west and north are ranges of porticoes. The more modern erections for public offices, near the wharf, are among the finest in the city.
Although Vera Cruz itself is situated upon an arid plain, surrounded by billowy sand-hills of various heights, and intervening clusters of thick chaparral, the country at a little distance inland
is fertile and productive. Game, fish, fruit, and vegetables are abundant; and there are few cities in which the necessaries or even the luxuries of life, can be obtained with greater facility.
The harbour or roadstead is a very insecure one, and, from the anchorage being among shoals, affords but little protection during the prevalence of Northers.”
But the pride of the republic, as it was formerly the boast of Old Spain, is the famous fortress of San Juan d'Ulloa.
This almost impregnable structure was commenced in the year 1582, and the immense sum of forty millions of dollars was expended by the Spaniards upon its erection.
It is built upon an island in front of the city, and at a distance from it of one thousand and sixty-two “ varas," or yards. This island had been visited by Don Juan di Orijalva, as early as the year 1518, and from him received the name by which the fortress is now known.
The foundations of this immense structure are laid in the sea, and with a solidity that has defied alike the furious storms of that latitude, and the encroachments of the fierce element by which it is surrounded.
The length of the exterior polygon towards Vera Cruz, is three hundred yards; on the north channel two hundred yards, while the fire upon both the northern and southern channels can be doubled by the use of the additional batteries of Santiago and San Miguel. The stone used in the construction of the fortress, is the Madrepora Astrea, a species of soft coral, the walls and exposed points being further defended by a facing of stone of a harder quality. The complement of guns which it is capable of mounting, is said to be three hundred and seventy. When the Castle was taken by the French in 1838, its batteries were found to contain one hundred and seventy-seven guns of various calibre.
Notwithstanding the formidable character of its works, San