« ZurückWeiter »
REDING APPOINTED LEADER.
CHAP. II. the recent disasters had contributed to over1808.
throw. Efficacious measures were taken to December. re-organize the scattered troops. A reinforce
ment of three battalions was received from Grenada and Majorca ; supplies were sent from Valencia ; men came in from all quarters ; and, before the middle of January, the force collected in Tarragona wore a formidable aspect.
SECOND SIEGE OF ZARAGOZA.
The sufferings of the gallant Zaragozans, chAP. III. during the former siege, had not subdued the spirit of heroic devotion by which they had
a 1808. been animated. Another trial awaited them, not less memorable and glorious, though less fortunate in its result.
After the defeat of Tudela, Palafox retired to Zaragoza, to make preparations for a second siege. He was not present in the action. The intelligence of its issue came upon him like a thunderbolt ; and the refusal of Castanos to throw his troops into Zaragoza, instead of retreating on Madrid, put an end to those feelings of confidence and frankness which had hitherto existed between the Generals,
CONFIDENCE OF THE ZARAGOZANS :
CHAP. III. The multiplied disasters of the Spanish ar
mies, however, so far from shaking the resolu1808.
tion of Palafox or the Zaragozans, appear only to have stimulated them to redoubled exertions in the service of their country. Proclamations were issued, commanding all women, old men, and children, to quit the city. Every inhabitant was imperatively called upon to make sacrifice, if necessary, of his life and property in the common cause; and the whole population were required, by their personal exertions, to contribute to the completion of the fortifications of the city.
The approach of the enemy cut short the preparations for defence. Neither women nor children left the place. Even these refused to seek safety at a distance from their fathers and husbands, and preferred participating in the danger and the glory which awaited them in Zaragoza, to wandering unprotected, through a troubled and a suffering country.
During the former siege, the defenders had been embarrassed by the presence of French residents in the city. These had been strictly guarded, with the double object of preventing any intercourse between them and the besiegers,
and of protecting them against the fatal effects CHAP. III. of popular suspicion, to which, without such precaution, it is more than probable they would December. have fallen victims. In order to prevent the repetition of such danger and inconvenience, Palafox determined that these unfortunate persons should be removed from the city to other places of confinement. This was done, notwithstanding the hostility of the populace, though not until Palafox had issued a proclamation appealing to Spanish honour and humanity, and imploring the gallant Zaragozans not to stain the sacred cause of liberty and justice by the foul murder of these defenceless victims.
The aid of superstition was not wanting to strengthen the confidence of the Zaragozans. They relied on the miraculous protection of Our Lady of the Pillar, who had made their favoured city the seat of her peculiar worship. The successful termination of the former siege had given strength to their belief in the beneficent regards of the patron saint. Omens too had been observed in the sky. Approaching victory had been prefigured by unwonted conformations of the clouds; and celestial voices were heard in the elements offering divine promise of glory and protection.
PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENCE.
CHAP. III. Fortunately, the Zaragozans were not in
1808 duced, by their belief in these flattering porDecember. tents, to disregard any of the human means of
safety in their power. A continued line of exterior defensive works had been planned and executed, as far as time and circumstances permitted. Yet this, imperfect as it was, added little to the real strength of the city; and, in forming a just estimate of the zeal and courage of the defenders, Zaragoza should almost be considered as an unfortified town. The walls, originally built rather for the purpose of civic impost than defence, were surmounted by one hundred and fifty pieces of cannon. Large stores of provisions had been formed. Arms and ammunition were in abundance; and the town contained upwards of twenty thousand regular troops, besides fifteen thousand armed peasants.
All the houses, within seven hundred toises of the place, were demolished, and the materials employed to strengthen the fortifications. The trees round the city were cut down. The greatest activity reigned on all hands :—the women were employed in making clothes for the soldiers,—the monks made cartridges; and all those