Of the major buildings in the fortress in the environs of the bastion it’s worth focusing your attention on the Zamość Arsenal and the former Gunpowder Magazine.
Its name historically referred to “a gunpowder mill with grinders for making gunpowder or a gunpowder magazine; that is a store”. In larger fortified towns or fortresses gunpowder mills were already in use in the late Middle Ages. Gunpowder was made from a mixture of sulphur, saltpetre and coal brought to the production site. As artillery and other firearms developed, gunpowder magazines in their role as gunpowder stores started to be found with increasing frequency in various types of fortified buildings, such as forts, parts of bastions, casemates in fortresses specially adapted for storing gunpowder stored in barrels of various sizes. Soldiers working in gunpowder stores walked around in special wooden clogs or felt footwear. All tools were made of wood or bronze, as these did not give off sparks. The people working in these stores were in nearly complete darkness as these buildings just had narrow windows letting in a tiny amount of light. The Zamość gunpowder magazine shared these characteristics. This was a military building for storing gunpowder, gunpowder charges, cannon and rifle balls. It probably did not contain a gunpowder mill, since there was one in the “Szczebrzeska” dyke located outside the fortress’ main fortifications. The mill was put in motion under the supervision of lieutenant Ignacy Prądzyński, deputy commander of the fortress during the uprising in 1830-1831 against the Russians. Traces of its foundations were visible in the approach to bastion three.
The Gunpowder Magazine’s existence in bastion 3 was first confirmed in the “Overall plan for Zamość fortress” from 1837 (Engineer Berezovskij was in charge of building it)”, Moscow, Central State Military History Archive (CGWIA) F. 349 op.12 d. 7040]. The building was built using bricks with the dimensions: 27x13.5x7 cm plus, based on the Russian version of the standard for French fortification bricks and had a “thermos” structure (i.e. a building within a building) with seven ogival recesses with embrasures. It was probably completed in 1840 and fulfilled its storage function until the end of the 1850s. In later years, (probably once the fortress had been decommissioned in 1866 or in the 1870s) it was partly dismantled, leaving a quadriaxial building. The gunpowder and ammunition store in this part of the fortifications was closed down, doubtless due to the cessation of the modernisation of Zamość fortress, which included setting up gunpowder stores. These were reinforced with concrete In the second half of the 19th century and fitted with armoured doors and safeguards for the window openings. In Russian fortifications gunpowder stores were often located outside the grounds of fortifications, as is the case in Modlin fortress or Warsaw fortress. In the latter, in the second half of the 19th century, there were four artillery stores in the Citadel, two on the site of Grochów fort and separate rifle ammunition stores, with a total of ten in the fortress grounds.
After Zamość fortress had been decommissioned some of its buildings were still occupied by the army. This was also the case for the Gunpowder Magazine. Now the most important interesting aspect of this building is the writing in Russian carved on each side up to a height of about 170 cm on the building’s brick facades, which was left there by Russian army soldiers and officers stationed in Zamość in the late 19th century. By some of the inscriptions you can see dates with the year and day referring to the 1880s and 90s and the early 20th century. Based on some of these inscriptions we can assume that from 1885 the building was used by the Russian army’s veterinary corps stationed in Zamość fortress.
Dr. Jacek Feduszka