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SPANISH ARMY DEFEATED.

135

December.

it was only by a combination of skill, prompti-CHAP. II. tude, and audacity, that he could surmount the perils by which he was environed.

The army was directed to advance in column, in order, by one powerful and united effort, to break the line of their opponents ; and it was the positive order of the General, that not even a battalion should be deployed. General Pino's division led the column, exposed, during its advance, to the fire of the Spanish artillery. In direct disobedience of the orders of his General, Pino deployed his leading brigade, which advanced against the left of Reding's division, and, after a warm struggle, was compelled to give ground. • This circumstance occasioned considerable derangement in the plans of the French General. He directed Souham's division to attack the right of Reding, and turn it. Pino was ordered to advance with his remaining brigade in column, according to his original instructions. Two battalions were directed to make a false attack on the left, in order to distract the attention of the enemy from the other movements. · These arrangements were crowned with com

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ST. CYR PUSHES ON TO BARCELONA:

December

CHAP. II. plete success. · The Spanish line was at once

broken; panic spread among the troops, and 1808.

they fled in all directions, relinquishing their guns and ammunition without further struggle. In this action, the French made two thousand prisoners, of whom eight hundred were wounded. The killed were about four hundred. The loss of the French amounted to six hundred in killed and wounded.

The triumph, thus easily achieved over his ignorant and vacillating opponent, at once extricated St. Cyr from all his difficulties. Without waiting to collect prisoners, or to engage Lazan, whose approach might be hourly expected, he continued his march to Barcelona. There was nothing in that quarter to oppose him. One column alone of the Spanish army had been enabled to quit the field unbroken. This was joined by Reding, who led it across the Llobregat to Molino del Rey. Vives lost his horse ; and, escaping on foot across the mountains, reached Mataro, where he sought safety on shipboard. In a few days he re-appeared at Tarragona.

While these events were in progress, a sally had been made by Duhesme against the besieg

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ing force under Caldaques. It was bravely re- CHAP. II. pulsed. But, on learning the result of the bat

1808. tle, Caldaques withdrew behind the Llobregat,

December relinquishing the large magazines which Vives had, with so much unfortunate industry, been long occupied in collecting.

On the seventeenth, St. Cyr entered Barcelona. On the twentieth, he took up a position Dec. 20. on the left of the Llobregat, fronting that of the Spaniards. The latter were encamped on the right bank of the river ; their centre ranged along the heights in rear of San Vicensa, their left was at Pelleja, and their right extended towards the little village of Llors. The headquarters of St. Cyr were at San Felici, his left at Cornella, his right at Molino del Rey.

The position of the Spanish army was strong ; but, in order to prevent their being reinforced by the arrival of Lazan, St. Cyr determined to attack them. Their chief attention had been directed to the works defending the bridge at Molino del Rey; but, at daybreak on the twenty-first, the two divisions of Souham and Pino Dec. 21. passed the river simultaneously, by the fords of San Felici, and San Juan d'Espi ; while Chabran

138

BATTLE OF MOLINO IEL REY.

CHAP. II. kept up a warm cannonade on the bridge, and

excited the enemy's alarm in that quarter. The December. Spaniards were attacked with vehemence by

Pino and Souham. Chabot, with three battalions, likewise passed the ford, and took up a position on the left of Pino, threatening the right of the Spanish army. To counteract this manæuvre, Reding extended his line; and, by so doing, weakened it. The consequence was, that the right was driven back behind the centre, and the centre, in its turn, behind the left. All then became confusion. The army fled, without order, towards the bridge ; but in that quarter the retreat to Villa Franca was cut off by Chabot, and that to Martorell by Chabran, who had succeeded in crossing a detachment at a ford. Had Chabran, at that moment, forced the passage of the bridge, all retreat for the Spaniards would have been cut off. But that General did not move till too late, though frequently urged to do so by General Rey.

The country, being rugged, woody, and full of ravines, was unfavourable for cavalry, and contributed to the escape of the fugitives. Not more than from one thousand to twelve hundred prisoners were taken. Among these, was Cal

ST. CYR ADVANCES TO TARRAGONA.

139

December.

daques, who, during the progress of the opera- CHAP. II. tions, had been uniformly distinguished by zeal 7 and talent.

The rout of the Spaniards was complete. About fifteen thousand were afterwards enabled to collect in Tarragona ; but many continued their flight to the Ebro. All the artillery, consisting of about fifty pieces, was taken ; and large stores of ammunition were found by the enemy in Villa Franca.

After this important victory, St. Cyr pushed on his cavalry to the walls of Tarragona. That city had scarcely twenty guns on the ramparts, and disorder and consternation reigned in its population. Vives, on his arrival there, was deprived of his command, and thrown into a dungeon. It was with difficulty that he escaped massacre. Some accused him of treason, others of imbecility ; crimes undoubtedly of very different magnitude and atrocity, yet nearly certain, in such a case, to encounter the same recompense.

Reding, by the almost unanimous voice of the soldiers and the people, was appointed successor to the unfortunate Vives. This measure tended greatly to restore that confidence which

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