The ruins of the "new" Ft. San Lorenzo, built to replace the wooden fort destroyed by Morgan, sit high above the mouth of the Chagres River.

In colonial times, the Spanish built many open-air cliff-top forts of sun-baked brick, from the Caribbean to Guam and the Philippines. They were safe from the English shipboard cannons which could not aim that high.

San Lorenzo

By James Stanley Gilbert


Cloud-crested San Lorenzo guards

The Chagres' entrance still,

Tho' o'er each stone dense moss has grown,

And earth his moat doth fill.

His bastions, feeble with decay,

Steadfastly view the sea,

And sternly wait the certain fate

The ages shall decree.


His reservoir is filled with slime,

Where noxious insects breed;

Corroding rust its greedy lust

On shot and gun doth feed;

The moaning wind sobs dismally

Thro' crumbling port and hold;

The staring owl and reptile foul

Thrive on his donjon's mold.


Left there, a sentry lone to strive

Against some Morgan's crew—

To guard our wives and childrens' lives

Should the past itself renew;

To breast and buffet every storm,

To falter not nor fail;

His charge to keep; nor toil nor sleep

Against him to prevail.


Stills standeth San Lorenzo there,

Aye faithful at his post,

Tho' scoffing trees in every breeze

Their prime and vigor boast.

His garrison is but the shades

Of soldiers of the past,

But it pleaseth him, alone and grim,

To watch until the last!