lunes, 12 de noviembre de 2007

1797-Batalla por San Juan, Importancia Histórica del Fortín San Gerónimo

Esta narración en inglés nos despliega con lujo de detalles, aunque con brevedad, lo que ocurrió en PuertoRico en 1797, que pasó a conocerse como La Batalla de San Juan. Fue en la Batalla de San Juan del 1797 donde un grupo de mestizos puertorriqueños, sable en mano, y dirigidos por el legendario Pepe Díaz, rechazaron el ataque de los ingleses, que pretendían extender su dominio hasta la Isla de Puerto Rico. De aquí surge la importancia histórica del Fortín San Gerónimo, desconocida por muchos puertorriqueños, y es precisamente en ese desconocimiento que se fundamenta el latrocinio representado por el adefesio conocido como Paseo Caribe, que es símbolo del disloque que existe en Puerto Rico entre los intereses del Pueblo y los servicios que nuestro gobierno rinde a las personas acaudaladas, todo a espaldas al Pueblo...

Battle for San Juan 1797

On April 17, 1797, a British convoy of approximately 60 ships was sighted off the northern coast of Puerto Rico. By the next day an estimated 6000 British and German (Lowenstein’s Fusiliers and Chasseurs) troops had disembarked at Cangrejos Point and were marching several miles westward towards San Juan. At the same time several British ships, including the ship-of-the-line Prince of Wales (100), positioned themselves at the mouth of the city’s bay to establish a blockade. General Ralph Abercromby and Admiral Henry Harvey’s offer of surrender was unequivocally refused by Governor Ramón de Castro. The fight for San Juan had just begun.

The siege quickly turned into a two-front campaign. On the northwest side of San Juan the British fleet would find itself in a stalemate. It was able to enforce a blockade but the impressive fortifications, especially Fort El Morro, proved impenetrable. The ships found themselves having to remain out of reach of the fort’s artillery thus not be able to enter the bay to force a fight within the city’s protected port.

The eastern front of the siege would be where most of the combats would take place. San Juan, a small island itself, was connected to the main island by the San Antonio bridge. The invading troops would have to cross the bridge or wade through the shallow portion of the lagoon to land on San Juan proper. In the way of such a mobilization were two major obstacles: the small fort protecting the bridge on the San Juan side called Fort San Antonio, and an artillery battery that provided complementary crossfire capability, Fort San Gerónimo. As a result these two defensive positions would receive the bulk of the British artillery fire for over two weeks.

After several days of artillery warfare the British maneuvered west of the San Antonio bridge in an effort to establish a battery that could strike at the heart of San Juan, since the eastern batteries were too far away. To counter that threat a party composed of approximately 70 Disciplined, Urban, and Free Black militia were transported on small boats and under the cover of darkness across the bay. As a diversionary tactic the artillery from San Juan was fired without cannon balls to mask the sound of the oars. Once they reached the shore they attacked the left flank of the new, and not yet completed, battery at Miraflores. Ferocious hand-to-hand fighting ensued in the trenches as they drove into 300 British Pioneer troops. Sargent Francisco Diaz [PEPE DÍAZ], with “sable” (saber) in hand, led the attack overtaking the position and capturing several prisoners including an officer. As British reinforcements were about to counterattack they jumped into their boats and escaped back to the city, this time under the cover of “real” artillery fire from the city. Governor Ramón de Castro would later write that “he observed the action from his position with envy”.
The continuous flow of reinforcements from various towns of Puerto Rico into San Juan, the inability to break through the Fort San Antonio and San Gerónimo line, and the counterattacking pressure of militia and cavalry at the Martín Peña bridge were finally too much for the invaders. The British set brush fires to cover their retreat and by May 2nd the fleet sailed off.

Puede accesar este documento completo en formato PDF file en el grupo de Saneamiento Legislativo en:
Encontrará el documento en la sección "Archivos" del grupo, en la carpeta de Paseo del Caribe.