It will be very unlikely that the unveiling of eight plans recently found in the General Military Archive of Madrid, will not attract the attention of those present at the upcoming Third National Workshop of Fortifications and Museology, at the Castillo de San Severino, scheduled since 11 and until June 13 next.
And as a reward for the disciplined job of patiently scrutinizing old stationery, the young Matanceros archaeologists Odlanyer Hernández de Lara, Johanset Orihuela, Boris Rodríguez Tápanes, were able to dust off -surprise through- eight exquisite plans of a singular fortress projected between 1818 and 1854 to be built in the middle of the yumurina bay.
Battery La Laja is the name of the Spanish project that for almost twenty years was kneaded – in the middle of a rigid secret – by military engineers for the bass of a sort of curious promontory of the same name, known since the 17th century according to letters. nautical and with a depth of just two to four meters in the heart of the inlet, offered strategic defensive position.
«Of course, the sighting did not come at once,» says Odlanyer Hernández de Lara, online.
«I was looking for materials on the battery of Peñas Altas and for those things in life the first plane of La Laja slips, which, although known among historians, could not be documented. Then came the long and elusive search, until finally seven planes appeared.»
In what conditions are they?
“ They are in excellent state of conservation. Admittedly, they are hand-painted works of art in various colors that show the skill of the military engineers of yesteryear. In all cases you can identify who made them and, above all, the intention for almost half a century to fortify La Laja. The striking thing is that with these discoveries the development of the art of fortification and architectural thought can be regulated during the first half of the 19th century by observing how the projects are changing according to the ideas of the moment and the war technology.
«In addition, we found two projects of lighthouses that if they had been built would have contributed greatly to Matanzas´s landscape.»
For what you mention, they are detailed plans. Is it not a simple sketch, a simple idea, almost «a war game»?
“There´s no way. There are eight plans perfectly detailed to the point, for example, that the one corresponding to 1818, under the name AGM, CUB-104-18, which assigned the General Military Archive of Madrid, detailed tells how it would be executed on the La Laja bass, a company that it would lead to the leveling of the limestone rock and in this way shape a rock on which the ashlars and supporting columns would be mounted.
«The battery of La Laja, in addition to thick walls of almost a yard thick, would have four barracks, one of which contained stairs. At the bottom was the cistern, behind it there would be the ramps to access the upper part of the platform, at the level of the second floor and guard corps of the troops.
«The construction of this battery included four smaller units next to the front of the campaign, a small chapel with a window to the officer’s room and a corridor to the guardroom that would be the largest piece, that is, a work of 40 meters in breadth and, of course, heavily armed.”
Would you dare to sketch a theory of why, although so striking, the project of La Laja was not carried out?
«It could be assumed that the bureaucracy, the fact that also at that time the military authorities dealt with the demolition of the La Vigía fort and the complexities of the project would have hindered the singular engineering work. You have to inquire.
» Anything more, about the headlights and the surprises?
«If we continue to offer details, we end up unveiling the surprises reserved for the National Fortifications workshop. Meanwhile, imagine that engineering work in the middle of the bay and if we want, we can add a striking lighthouse.