The French had decided to mercilessly shell the citadel of Gia Dinh. After easily destroying the river barricades and shelling the southeast corner of the Citadel, where most of the Imperial Army’s
cannons had been set up, 500 french troops stormed the Citadel which was protected by just 1,000 Vietnamese soldiers from the Nguyen Empire.
Unfortunately, due to the superiority of the French bombardment, reinforcements could not make it to the citadel to help defend Gia Dinh, now known as Sai Gon. The French, however, did not have the manpower or resources to defend the Citadel for a long period of time, so they decided to blow the Citadel into as many pieces as possible with over 33 kegs of gunpowder. It was said that the fire was so fierce that it smoldered for three years.
This was the second time that the Citadel had been destroyed. The first, which was built in 1790, was dismantled by the Emperor Minh Mang. The adopted son of Le Van Duyet, had rebelled against the Emperor and had captured the Citadel along with much of the southern provinces in 1833. The emperor had decided to dismantle the Citadel as retribution for the rebellion. He then rebuilt the Citadel but with less fortifications so that it could be easily defeated in the case of another rebellion. Unfortunately, this was to be the death knell of the Citadel, as it was easily destroyed by the French in 1859.
Only a small section of the gate still exists today and can be found not far from the tomb of Saigon’s most revered Governor, Le Van Duyet.