Correspondence of the Paris Presse.
CASTELLONE, Thursday, Feb. 7, 1861.
Already the other day a powder magazine burst at the south extremity of the Philippstadt Battery, causing considerable loss to the enemy; but I have now to record a far more terrible explosion. Yesterday, about 5 o'clock in the afternoon a shell from the Predmontese lines on the right penetrated into one of the powder magazines, which blew up and set fire to the great reserve store of projectiles, which blew up likewise. The explosion was so terrible that the report was reechoed from the most distant valleys for a long time. A French vessel, although six miles from Gaeta, felt the shock. I had left the village about 4 o'clock to take a stroll through the mountains leading to Castello Onorato, when, reaching the summit of a small hill which commands a view of the gulf and the whole neighborhood, I was almost thrown to the ground by the effect of the explosion which had just taken place to my left. I turned my gaze towards Gaeta, and was horrified at the immense masses of ruin, some pieces high in the air, amidst a black smoke and tongues of flame which lighted up the spires of the town. It was something horrible, and reminded me of PLINY the Younger's description of an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a letter to TACITUS, narrating the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii. I hastily descended into the valley, and on reaching Castellone I was informed that the explosion had not only caused the death of some hundred Neapolitan soldiers, but that also a considerable number of living beings were still under the ruins.
During the stillness of the night we could discern the stifled cries of those unfortunate men, as General CIALDINI had humanely ordered all firing to cease. A Neapolitan messenger arrived requesting an armistice of forty-eight hours. He asked for it in the name of humanity, for, he said, it was impossible to ascertain the number of victims buried in the ruins by the explosion. You will easily agree with me that cool reason of interest might have advised CIALDINI to refuse the request of the military Governor of Gaeta. For a bold and daring General like CIALDINI, it was an admirable opportunity to attempt a coup de main, which probably would have succeeded. Not listening to the voice of interest, the Piedmontese General did not hesitate for a moment to grant a suspension of hostilities, on the sole condition that the besieged should not work at repairing the breach made recently by the Piedmontese. We shall thus have an armistice, which will terminate to-morrow morning, and in forty-eight hours I may have great results to record. I do not believe, as is reported here, that FRANCES II, has made any proposals for a capitulation, which must follow sooner or later. The battery on the sea side has been much damaged by the fire from the Sardinian frigate Garibaldi. Her daring Captain took up a position only 1,000 metres from the curtain, and kept up a continual fire for an hour and a-half.