Military History Of Puerto Rico
The military history of Puerto Rico is marked by several important events, ranging from Indian raids to continuous attacks of the world’s most powerful colonial empires. Thus, to say that the military of Puerto Rico has experience in battle is a gross understatement. The growth and development of the military forces of Puerto Rico can be attributed to two main factors.
First, the strategic location of the island and it being the sea link between the Old World and the New World made Puerto Rico an ideal place for keeping a constant eye on ships that were going back to Spain. Second, the island had very poor reserves of precious resources, such as gold and silver, making it an ideal military base, less popular with the determined settlers searching for fortune.
After the French attack in 1528, Puerto Rico established its first true fortification, named “La Fortaleza”, in the year 1537. However, it was soon realized by the military that the fort was inadequate to ensure the defense of the island. Consequently, a new, bigger fortress was built on the eastern promontory of the island in the year 1589. This newer fort was officially named as the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, and was commonly called El Morro, orThe Promontory. This fortress was attacked a number of times in the military history of Puerto Rico. However, it was considerable destroyed only once.
George Clifford, the Earl of Cumberland, finally conquered the fortress by a successful land invasion in 1598. This event was followed by the building of another much bigger fortification to defend against any land attack in future. The Castillo de San Cristóbal was built by the Spanish in the year 1634.
All these developments in the military history of Puerto Rico exemplify the most important shortcoming of the military outpost of Puerto Rico. While Spain invested heavily in the construction of these fortifications, it completely closed its eyes to the civil needs of the island. Consequently, the inert population of the island remained to be 7,500 even over 2 centuries after Christopher Columbus hung the flag of Spain here.
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