San Carlos Fortress            

Perote, Mexico                
San Carlos Fortress was built by the colonial Spanish from 1770 to 1776. The fort was intended as a guard post and place to store treasure safely from bandits before it was shipped to the mother country. The fort is alternately known as Fort of San Carlos, Perote Castle, the Castle of San Carlos, Perote Prison, San Carlos de Perote Fortress, and San Carlos de Perote Castle, depending on whom you ask and what kind of mood they're in.

The Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) got rid of most of the Spanish domination of Mexico, but some Spanish troops remained at the Castle of San Juan de Ulua, which overlooked the harbor at Veracruz. Guadalupe Victoria (1786-1843), Mexican revolutionary and later the first President of Mexico, founded the Perote Military College at San Carlos Fortress on October 11 1843, partially as a means of keeping a strong military presence in close proximity to these leftover Spaniards. Victoria died of epilepsy in Perote later that year, and was buried at the fort.

Another issue that may have led to the founding of the Perote Military College was the situation with Texas. By 1829 American settlers in Texas, part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, outnumbered Mexican residents, and the area operated semi-independently from the government of Mexico...until 1834, when Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (1794-1876) became a dictator of Mexico and decided to stamp out these silly independent Texan notions. American settlers in Texas threw off the Mexican yoke in the Texas Revolution (1835-1836) and declared the Republic of Texas, which would become the 28th state of the Union in 1845. Apparently Santa Anna was willing to play along with the "Republic of Texas" business, but once the US claimed Texas for good, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the US.

US President James K. Polk (1795-1849) had a strong desire to expand the boundaries of the United States, so he was all too happy to go to war with Mexico. The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) cost Mexico about 55% of its land, and proved to be proportionally the deadliest conflict in which the US has ever involved itself: Though only around 1.5% of the 115,000 men that made up the mostly volunteer US Army died in battle, a total of 35% to 40% of the army died in total, if one includes later deaths by war-related injury and disease. Celebrated Civil War General and US President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), who fought in the Mexican-American War as an army lieutenant, later said that the war was "one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation," and that the US Civil War (1861-1865) was an instance of the Mexican-American War's bad karma playing itself out on the US.

During this fun conflict, San Carlos Fortress was used as a prison for Texan prisoners of war. On April 22 1847 US troops captured San Carlos Fortress, which held 54 cannon and mortars and 500 muskets.

Mexico belatedly declared war on the Axis Powers toward the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), and San Carlos Fortress was used as a prison for German and Italian citizens who were foolish enough to exist in Mexico.

San Carlos Fortress was officially made a state prison in 1949, a function it retained until March of 2007. The fort is now open to the public.

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San Carlos Fortress?
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Thanks to Google Maps for the image!