Skip to content

1st-21st of September, 1762

Before commencing this journal, it is fitting to give a brief description of the location of Manila, and of the destitute condition in which the enemy found its fortifications and defenses, in order that we may present a clear idea of the vigorous resistance that was made even to the last extremity.

The city of Manila, according to the map of Father Murillo, is located in 14° 40′ of north latitude, and 158° 35′ east longitude, on a tongue of land which terminates in a point, and forming the figure of a jug or flagon, whose extremity or neck is formed by the above point itself and contains the royal fort of Santiago. At the west it is terminated by a large bay, at the north by the Pasig River, which bathes its walls. On the land side from south to east, it is defended by four flat bastions with their casemates, and right flanks covered with orillons, and with ditches, covered way, and glacis. Along the sea, the city is fortified by a long curtain with five little flat bastions, a reduct located at a great distance from the wall. The lines of defense have such disproportion from one another, that those bastions cannot be defended reciprocally. It is impossible, further, to prevent the approach by the curtain, because there is neither ditch nor terreplein. Then too, the parapets are only one foot wide, and the curtain six.

The curtain embracing the north side, bathed by the river, and which has a kind of curvature where it forms two reentrant angles, is in the same condition of weakness as that of the sea, and is defended by two small bastions, which present the same defect noted above in their lines of defense.

From the bastion of San Gabriel to the gate of the Parian on the east of the city, is located a false screen or barbacan with its parapet and banquette. It is defective, for it is fallen, and has no gate for the retreat of the soldiers. The gate of the Parian is covered and defended by a small outer work in the form of a crown, and the royal gate by a ravelin so poorly placed and so poorly ordered, that it cannot defend the faces of the collateral bastions of San Andres and of the foundry. The flanks of the two latter bastions are not any more capable of defending the faces of the ravelin. It must be added to the above that all those fortifications are very old and defective : the walls ; the chemise, or revetement, three feet thick at the cordon, without counterfort; the escarp and counter-escarp fallen in part; and almost everything useless.

The covered way is very short and filled with thickets and bushes. Its parapet is in ruins and it has no stockade or palisade. It is so low, that it leaves the most essential parts of the bastions and curtains open clear to the foot. The embrasures are poorly placed. The gates on the sea side, are pierced through, and so old and so used up, that they cannot offer any resistance at all. The esplanades of the boulevards are so irregular and so rough, that it is impossible to maneuver with the artillery, which, besides, was mounted on ship^s carriages so old that they could not be fired without danger of being dismounted.

The royal fort of Santiago is composed of two demi-bastions which dominate the city, and of a third one which points outward and prevents the approach of the enemy. It has two circular platforms, and several flanks intended for the same use. The curtains which unite these bastions have no terreplein, and the places from which to fire are distributed without any measure or proportion.

The garrison of this place consisted of the royal regiment, which has been composed, since its creation, of twenty companies of one hundred men apiece, under the command of captains, lieutenants, and ensigns. These companies have never been full, and have never amounted to fifteen hundred men. When the enemy arrived, this regiment was diminished to such an extent both by the mortality and desertion of some men, and by the different detachments which were told off for the galleons and for other posts, that there were not more than five hundred and fifty-six soldiers. There were only eighty cannoneers, and those even were native Indians, who were but little skilled in the management of artillery. At the arrival of the enemy, four militia companies were formed, of sixty men each, and called commercial troops.^^

Manila never thought that it would be attacked by European nations. It supported the security in which it existed on the distance and remoteness of its position, in relation with Europe, and on the fact that such an example had never happened, although the two crowns had often been at war. In such confidence, they had been satisfied with putting the place in a state of defense against the Moros and neighboring nations who were little skilled in the art of war, the management of large artillery, muskets, and in the terrible artifice of throwing bombs, grenades, shells, etc. For in order that Manila might be defended against European nations, it would have needed four thousand well drilled men and all the corresponding equipment, things which this city has lacked even to the present.