(1741-1769) Notwithstanding, San Felipe was not invincible. The haste of the English attack on the better-defended flank was a grave strategic error, and, when the hostilities resumed in 1762 with the taking of Havana by England, the engineer Antonio de […]
Notwithstanding, San Felipe was not invincible. The haste of the English attack on the better-defended flank was a grave strategic error, and, when the hostilities resumed in 1762 with the taking of Havana by England, the engineer Antonio de Arévalo was ordered to improve the fortification of the castle. From 1762 to 1769 a series of collateral batteries were constructed which, adapted to the peculiar configuration of the hill, make the place almost impregnable.
These batteries, San Carlos and Los Apóstoles in the northern section, the Hornwork also in the north, La Cruz facing northwest, Santa Barbara also in the northwest, La Redención located between La Cruz and Santa Barbara, and San Lázaro defending the southern flank, gave the castle a total of 63 cannons of different firing power that prevented the taking of any one of them without involving the entire complex.
Arévalo also gave San Felipe a system of galleries and covered passages to facilitate the transit of the troops, underground barracks with the capacity to lodge 350 men in case of siege, galleries, and, in the San Lázaro battery, deep water wells with the capacity to provide water to the troops in case of a prolonged siege. Besides, the hill was perforated by a large hall almost at sea level which, dividing up into blind alleys, allowed for the placing of explosives to diminish the enemy troops in their approach to the fortress.
The plan for San Felipe did not correspond to the classical geometry which predominated in Europe because of its adaptation to the configuration of the hill, and for this reason, on repeated occasions at the end of the XVIII century, its demolition and the construction of a new San Felipe more in tune with the ideas of military architecture of the era, were planned; but the lack of a royal justification, its enormous cost and the lack of funds impeded the realization of each and every one of the proposals presented.