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116

SURRENDER OF FERROL.

CHAPTER II.

OPERATIONS OF THE FRENCH ARMIES.

January

CHAP. II. CORUNNA capitulated on the twentieth of Jan

uary, and was immediately occupied by the 1809.

French troops. A division of the army was detached against Ferrol, which, notwithstanding its extreme strength, was treacherously surrendered.

In these places the French became masters of an immense supply of arms, artillery, ammunition, and stores of all descriptions, which enabled them to overrun the remainder of the province. Soult was then ordered to advance into Portugal, leaving the corps of Ney to secure the subjugation of Gallicia. But it is necessary we should now turn our attention to the events passing in the interior of Spain.

GALLUZO'S ARMY.

117

de December

The advance of the French armies had com- CHAP. II. pelled the Supreme Junta to retire from Aran-7 juez to Talavera, and subsequently to Seville, in December. which city they assembled on the seventeenth of Dec. 17 December. A strong edict was issued, pronouncing sentence of death against every officer or soldier who should fail immediately to rejoin his colours. All who harboured them were declared liable to confiscation of property; but amnesty was offered to those who, within fifteen days, should present themselves to the nearest authority, with the view of being forwarded to the army.

This decree was not without effect. A considerable number of the fugitives, from the Spanish armies on the Ebro, were again collected under General Galluzo, on the south of the Tagus, who made dispositions for defending the four bridges, by which alone the river can be crossed from the side of Talavera. Of these communications, that of Almaraz is the most important. On the approach of Lefebvre's corps, Galluzo attempted to destroy the bridge, but without success; and the French, under a demonstration of crossing at Arzobisbo, effected their passage

118

THE FRENCH CROSS THE TAGUS.

CHAP. II. at Almaraz; and, taking the Spanish divisions,

· too much separated, in detail, drove them as far December. as Merida. There the progress of Lefebvre was

arrested, by an order to march northward in pursuit of Sir John Moore. Galluzo, whose incapacity had already been sufficiently established,

was superseded in command by Cuesta. 1809. Towards the close of January, the EstramaJanuary.

duran army, having greatly recruited its strength, was enabled to assume the offensive. It was posted with its van-guard on the left branch of the Alamonte, between Truxillo and Xaraicejo, about half a league to the south-west of the latter place. The French had pushed their advanced parties close to the Spanish army; but they were repulsed and driven beyond Miravete. Cuesta then took possession of the pass upon that mountain ; and the French, not being in

sufficient force to maintain their position on the . left of the Tagus, crossed the river, and fell back on Talavera.

While these events were passing in Estramadura, the Duke del Infantado, with the wreck of the army of Castanos, augmented by the levies recently raised in Granada and Andalusia, advanced THE DUKE DEL INFANTADO'S ARMY.

119

December.

from Cuenca, in hope of surprising a body of CHAP. II. French cavalry at Aranjuez and Tarancon. Infor

1808. mation of this movement no sooner reached Vic- o tor at Toledo, than he set out with his corps in search of Infantado and his army. The French directed their march on Ocana, and reached that town without gaining any intelligence relative to the object of their pursuit. But on the morning of the thirteenth, either by accident, or by some Dec. 13. blunder of the guides, the French suddenly found themselves in front of a body of the Spanish army, under Venegas, which occupied the crest of a hill near the village of Ucles. The Spaniards were driven from their position by the bayonet, and fled in great disorder towards Alcazar. Here again fortune was against them. The division of General Ruffin had accidentally deviated from the line of march, and, unawares, had gained the rear of the enemy. The retreat of the fugitive Spaniards was thus cut off. The consequences were disastrous. Several thousands were made prisoners. The loss, in killed and wounded, was very great, and forty guns were captured by the enemy. The small remnant which escaped, throwing away their arms, dispersed in various directions. Had Latour

120

VENEGAS DEFEATED AT UCLES.

December

Rocca.

CHAP. 11. Maubourg's division of cavalry, which had been

- in march from day-dawn, not been prevented 1808. com by fatigue from following up the pursuit, the consequences would have been still more fatal.

The inhuman barbarity with which the prisoners, made in this unfortunate battle, were treated, merits record. These unhappy wretches were marched to Madrid. Many of them sank under their fatigue-others died of inanition. When they could proceed no farther, they were shot without mercy. The inhabitants of Ucles had taken no part in the action, yet their town was made the theatre of atrocities which humanity shrinks from relating. Plunder, murder, torture, and violation, were among the evils inflicted on this unhappy people.

Immediately after the defeat of Ucles, Victor, with his corps, entered the province of Cuenca; and, after some operations, terminating in no marked result, retired to Madrilejos and Consuegra, where his troops went into cantonments.

We now turn to the operations in Catalonia.

At this period, the events in that principality may rather be considered as an important episode, in the general progress of the war, than as

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