January 9, 2012

0094 NICARAGUA (Rio San Juan) - Fortress of the Immaculate Conception (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

Colonized by the Spaniards in the 16th century, Nicaragua was subject to frequent raids by Dutch, French and British pirates, the city of Granada being invaded twice, in 1658 and 1660. Just to protect locals in neighboring Granada from pirate attacks was constructed along the San Juan River (that flows east out of Lake Nicaragua into the Caribbean Sea) a series of fortifications. The Fortress of the Immaculate Conception, located in the village of El Castillo and completed in 1675, was the most important of them.

Responsible for selection of the site was military engineer Martín de Andújar Cantos, who decided to build the fortress at the Raudal del Diablo, (known at that time as the Raudal de Santa Cruz) atop the ruins of the previous Fuerte de Santa Cruz, which dated from the time of King Philip III of Spain. During the Anglo-Spanish War (1762-1763), Nicaragua was a major target of British attacks, because it represented a potential route between the Atlantic and Pacific, the primary objective being capturing the town of Granada.

So in 1762, a British expeditionary force from Jamaica and Miskito Sambu filibusters allies laid siege to the fortress in what would later be called the Battle for the Río San Juan de Nicaragua. The attacking force consisted of 2,000 men and more than 15 boats, while the soldiers at the fortress numbered only around 100. The garrison commander, Lieutenant Colonel Don José de Herrera y Sotomayor, had died unexpectedly only 11 days previously.

When the British commander demanded the unconditional surrender, the sergent who was the second in command of the garrison was about to grant the request, but Herrera's 19-year-old daughter Rafaela strongly opposed the surrender, fired one of the cannons and managed to kill the British commander. Inspired by hers acts of heroism, Lieutenant Juan de Aguilar, the pro tempore garrison commander, led the defenders to victory in a battle that lasted six days.

18 years later, during the American Revolutionary War, the British governor and commander-in-chief of Jamaica proposed a second expedition to Nicaragua to capture Granada, and cut Spanish America in half. During this expedition, which later became known as the San Juan Expedition, Colonel John Polson and Captain Horatio Nelson (the future admiral) succeeded in capturing and occuping the fortress, finally abandoning it after 9 months. The hill which Nelson attacked the fortress is named Lomas de Nelson to this day.

About the stamp

The stamp is part of the series 50th Anniversary of Europa Stamps, issued on December 12, 2005, and consisting of 4 stamps:
Morpho peleides (14.00 NIO)
Amazonia autumnalis (14.00 NIO) - It's on the postcard 0094
• Monumento Ruben Dario (15.00 NIO)
• Antigua Catedral, Managua (25.00 NIO)

Fortress of the Immaculate Conception - Wikipedia

Sender: Christhian Barrantes (direct swap)

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