"At night the scene was far more direful than in the day. The cheerful light of the sun was gone; there was nothing but the flashes of artillery or the baleful gleams of combustibles thrown into the city, and the conflagration of the houses. The fire kept up from the Christian batteries was incessant: there were seven great lombards in particular, called the Seven Sisters of Ximenes, which did tremendous execution. The Moorish ordnance replied in thunder from the walls; Gibralfaro was wrapped in volumes of smoke rolling about its base; and Hamet and his Gomeres looked out with triumph upon the tempest of war they had awaked. Truly they were so many demons incarnate," concludes the pious Fray Antonio Agapida, "who were permitted by Heaven to enter into and possess this infidel city for its perdition."
The attack on Malaga by sea and land was kept up for several days with tremendous violence, but without producing any great impression, so strong were the ancient bulwarks of the city. The count de Cifuentes was the first to signalize himself by any noted achievement. A main tower, protecting what is at present called the suburb of Santa Ana, had been shattered by the ordnance and the battlements demolished, so as to yield no shelter to its defenders. Seeing this, the count assembled a gallant band of cavaliers of the royal household and advanced to take it by storm. They applied scaling-ladders and mounted sword in hand. The Moors, having no longer battlements to protect them, descended to a lower floor, and made furious resistance from the windows and loopholes. They poured down boiling pitch and rosin, and hurled stones and darts and arrows on the assailants. Many of the Christians were slain, their ladders were destroyed by flaming combustibles, and the count was obliged to retreat from before the tower. On the following day he renewed the attack with superior force, and after a severe combat succeeded in planting his victorious banner on the tower.
The Moors now assailed the tower in their turn. They undermined the part toward the city, placed props of wood under the foundation, and, setting fire to them, drew off to a distance. In a little while the props gave way, the foundation sunk, and the tower was rent; part of its wall fell with a tremendous noise; many of the Christians were thrown out headlong, and the rest were laid open to the missiles of the enemy.
By this time, however, a breach had been made in the wall of the suburb adjoining the tower, and troops poured in to the assistance of their comrades. A continued battle was kept up for two days and a night by reinforcements from camp and city. The parties fought backward and forward through the breach of the wall and in the narrow and winding streets adjacent with alternate success, and the vicinity of the tower was strewn with the dead and wounded. At length the Moors gradually gave way, disputing every inch of ground, until they were driven into the city, and the Christians remained masters of the greater part of the suburb.
This partial success, though gained with great toil and bloodshed, gave temporary animation to the Christians; they soon found, however, that the attack on the main works of the city was a much more arduous task. The garrison contained veterans who had served in many of the towns captured by the Christians. They were no longer confounded and dismayed by the battering ordnance and other strange engines of foreign invention, and had become expert in parrying their effects, in repairing breaches, and erecting counter-works.
The Christians, accustomed of late to speedy conquests of Moorish fortresses, became impatient of the slow progress of the siege. Many were apprehensive of a scarcity of provisions from the difficulty of subsisting so numerous a host in the heart of the enemy's country, where it was necessary to transport supplies across rugged and hostile mountains or subjected to the uncertainties of the sea. Many also were alarmed at a pestilence which broke out in the neighboring villages, and some were so overcome by these apprehensions as to abandon the camp and return to their homes.
Several of the loose and worthless hangers-on that infest all great armies, hearing these murmurs, thought that the siege would soon be raised, and deserted to the enemy, hoping to make their fortunes. They gave exaggerated accounts of the alarms and discontents of the army, and represented the troops as daily returning home in bands. Above all, they declared that the gunpowder was nearly exhausted, so that the artillery would soon be useless. They assured the Moors, therefore, that if they persisted a little longer in their defence, the king would be obliged to draw off his forces and abandon the siege.
The reports of these renegados gave fresh courage to the garrison; they made vigorous sallies upon the camp, harassing it by night and day, and obliging every part to be guarded with the most painful vigilance. They fortified the weak parts of their walls with ditches and palisadoes, and gave every manifestation of a determined and unyielding spirit.