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Bertan > Bertan 18 Fortificaciones en Gipuzkoa: siglos XVI-XIX > Ingeles bertsioa: The fortifications of the first Carlist War

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The fortifications of the first Carlist War

During the First Carlist War (1832-1839) a large number of field (or provisional) fortifications were built on the many hills overlooking the main towns and roads in Gipuzkoa. Depending on their features, they were called forts, batteries, redoubts or blockhouses. In addition, many trenches and other minor fortifications were also built.

78. Plan of the Alza fort (1838).© Juan Antonio Sáez
78. Plan of the Alza fort (1838).© Juan Antonio Sáez
79. South-north cross-section of the Alza fort (1838).© Juan Antonio Sáez
79. South-north cross-section of the Alza fort (1838).© Juan Antonio Sáez
80. Plan of the Windmill Fort (1838).© Juan Antonio Sáez
80. Plan of the Windmill Fort (1838).© Juan Antonio Sáez
81. North-south and east-west cross-section of the Windmill Fort. The windmill after which the fort was named is shown on the right.© Juan Antonio Sáez
81. North-south and east-west cross-section of the Windmill Fort. The windmill after which the fort was named is shown on the right.© Juan Antonio Sáez

A fosse was generally dug around these fortifications and the earth was used to form a polygonal parapet containing between two and five gun emplacements with their corresponding platforms for the guns (between one and three).

82. Oiartzun fort (1838):1-Fosse; 2-Earthwork parapet; 3-Stockade in the parapet with embrasures; 4-Cannon emplacement; 5-Officers' quarters; 6-Troop barracks; 7-Banquette; 8-Berm; 9-Gun platform; 10-Entrance with wooden drawbridge; 11-Double caponier linking the two sections of the fort; 12-Corps de garde; 13-Semaphore mast; 14-Ammunition dump.© Juan Antonio Sáez
82. Oiartzun fort (1838):
1-Fosse;
2-Earthwork parapet;
3-Stockade in the parapet with embrasures;
4-Cannon emplacement;
5-Officers' quarters;
6-Troop barracks;
7-Banquette;
8-Berm;
9-Gun platform;
10-Entrance with wooden drawbridge;
11-Double caponier linking the two sections of the fort;
12-Corps de garde;
13-Semaphore mast;
14-Ammunition dump.© Juan Antonio Sáez

In the middle of the fortification there were normally two buildings. The larger of these acted as a barracks for the garrison and often made use of some existing building. Another, much smaller, building was used to store ammunition. A wooden bridge, which could usually be raised, afforded access to the fortification across the fosse.

83. Carlist troops during the siege of San Sebastian.© Gorka Agirre
83. Carlist troops during the siege of San Sebastian.© Gorka Agirre

Various urban nuclei were fortified and in some field forts and other fortifications were built. This was the case, for example, of Hernani (with the Daoiz, Tolosa, St. Barbara, Yarzagaña, Los Arcos, Iribarren, Aramburu, Oriamendi and O'Donell forts) and Irun (Parque, Conrad, Mendibil and Evans forts) and on the Carlist side, Andoain (with the Holy Cross redoubt and the King's, Dolores and Zumalakarregi forts).

84. Carlist forts near Andoain at the end of the First Carlist War (1839):1-Zumalakarregi Fort; 2-La Cruz Redoubt; 3-King's Fort; 4-Los Dolores Fort. Trenches and batteries are shown in green.© Juan Antonio Sáez
84. Carlist forts near Andoain at the end of the First Carlist War (1839):
1-Zumalakarregi Fort;
2-La Cruz Redoubt;
3-King's Fort;
4-Los Dolores Fort. Trenches and batteries are shown in green.© Juan Antonio Sáez

San Sebastian still had its defensive bastions when the war began in 1833. Consequently, no large-scale investments were needed to fortify the city centre itself. However in the environs of the town and in the port of Pasaia [Pasajes], about twenty fortifications had to be built. These included the Farola, Windmill, Puio, Katxola, Ametzagaña, Cristina, Queen's, St. Martin's, Alza and Lord John Hay forts; the Aranjuez, Torres, Bordandia and English batteries and the Ametza, Rodil, St. Francis, Elizabeth, St. Anthony and Morales redoubts.

After the end of the war the fortifications were destroyed by Royal Order, and for this reason practically no remains can now be seen.

85. La Cruz Redoubt.© Juan Antonio Sáez
85. La Cruz Redoubt.© Juan Antonio Sáez
86. Zumalakarregi Fort.© Juan Antonio Sáez
86. Zumalakarregi Fort.© Juan Antonio Sáez
87. Los Dolores Fort.© Juan Antonio Sáez
87. Los Dolores Fort.© Juan Antonio Sáez
88. King's Fort.© Juan Antonio Sáez
88. King's Fort.© Juan Antonio Sáez
89. The Pretender, Don Carlos and General Tomas Zumalakarregi.© Gorka Agirre
89. The Pretender, Don Carlos and General Tomas Zumalakarregi.© Gorka Agirre
90. View of San Sebastian from a cartographic document of 1839. Notice the semaphore station on the Queen's Battery.© Carlos Mengs
90. View of San Sebastian from a cartographic document of 1839. Notice the semaphore station on the Queen's Battery.© Carlos Mengs
91. Interior of the Fontarabia gate at Irun, just prior to the entrance of the British Legion, May 17, 1837.© Martín Izagirre
91. Interior of the Fontarabia gate at Irun, just prior to the entrance of the British Legion, May 17, 1837.© Martín Izagirre
92. St. Barbara Fort in the First Carlist War. © Carlos Mengs
92. St. Barbara Fort in the First Carlist War. © Carlos Mengs
93. Daoiz Redoubt (Hernani) linked to the fortified area by a double caponier (First Carlist War).© Carlos Mengs
93. Daoiz Redoubt (Hernani) linked to the fortified area by a double caponier (First Carlist War).© Carlos Mengs
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