Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

CONDUCT OF VIVES.

Dec.]

87 fire on the flanks of the advancing column. Observing that it did not halt, they became more bold, and approached nearer to the line of march. The French loss during the day amounted to two hundred men.

In the evening, the troops, harassed and tired, arrived at Torderas. St. Cyr determined on pushing on through the defile of Treinta-pasos, in expectation of encountering the Spanish army on the following morning. The road was broken up and obstructed by abattis ; but this strong and defensible defile, about two leagues in extent, was passed without opposition, and the army bivouacked on a plain, about a league in rear of Llinas.

While the French were engaged before Rosas, General Vives had been engrossed with preparations for the siege of Barcelona. He had taken none of the ordinary means for obtaining prompt knowledge of the enemy's movements. He knew nothing of their strength or of their plans. He had neglected to exert the means in his power of opposing their progress. He suffered repeated opportunities to escape him of striking a signal blow,-of not only defeating, but utterly annihilating the French army. He knew nothing of the points to be occupied in the country traversed by the enemy.

He was surrounded by men ignorant as their leader of all military knowledge; and, secure in the belief that the French could not advance without first becoming masters of Gerona, he remained in a state of deplorable inaction, till the opportunity of overpowering the enemy had passed.

At length, intelligence was received that St. Cyr, having sent back his artillery, was continuing his march, and doubt could no longer be entertained that Barcelona was his object. Instead of instantly marching with his whole force, Reding, with about four thousand men, was sent to oppose his progress. Succeeding advices confirmed the intelligence of

88
BATTLE OF LLINAS.

[1808. the enemy's motions. A council of war was held, and Vives set forward with five thousand to join Reding, whom he overtook at Granollers. From that place he set out at midnight, when the French had just passed the defile of Treinta-pasos.

It was the intention of Vives to occupy a position between Llinas and Villalba; but, owing to delays, the head of the column had only reached Cardedeu by six in the morning, when the fires of the enemy's bivouack were discerned, Vives continued his march; but, at eight o'clock, the advanced-guard gave information that the French were already formed in column.

Vives immediately ranged his army, fatigued and dispirited by a long night march, in order of battle. The position chosen was a range of flat eminences; the right was protected by a rugged and precipitous mountain covered with Miquelets, the centre by a deep and difficult ravine, and the left by a thick wood; twelve pieces of artillery were distributed along the line.

St. Cyr determined on immediate attack. The Marques de Lazan was advancing on his rear, and the delay even of an hour might prove fatal. Without artillery, he was exposed to every disadvantage ; and he felt aware that it was only by a combination of skill, promptitude, 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.

[ocr errors]

SPANISH ARMY DEFEATED.

Dec.]

89 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 complete success. The Spanish line was at once broken ; panic spread among the troops, and 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 huódred 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 besieging force under Caldaques. It was bravely repulsed. But, on learning the result of the battle, Caldaques withdrew behind the Llobregat, relinquishing the large magazines which Vives had, with so much unfortunate industry, been long occupied in collecting.

On the seventeenth, St. Cyr entered Barcelona. VOL. II.

8*

HE ENTERS BARCELONA.

90

[1808. On the twentieth, he took up a position on Dec. 20.]

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 head-quarters 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 passed the river simulDec. 21.] taneously, by the fords of San Felici, and San Juan d’Espi ; while Chabran kept up a warın cannonade on the bridge, and excited the enemy's alarm in that quarter. The 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 contribu

Dec.] ST. CYR ADVANCES TO TARRAGONA.

91 ted to the escape of the fugitives. Not more than from one thousand to twelve hundred prisoners were taken. Among these, was Caldaques, who, during the progress of the operations, had been uniformly distinguished by zeal and talent.

The route 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 the recent disasters had contributed to overthrow. Efficacious measures were taken to re-organize the scattered troops. A reinforcement 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.

« ZurückWeiter »