Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

92

ZARAGOZA,

[1808.

CHAPTER III.

SECOND SIEGE OF ZARAGOZA.

The sufferings of the gallant Zaragozans, during the former siege, had not subdued the spirit of heroic devotion by which they had 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.

The multiplied disasters of the Spanish armies, however, so far from shaking the resolution 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 pre

CONFIDENCE OF

THE ZARAGOZANS.

Dec.]

92 ferred 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 of popular suspicion, to which, without such precaution, it is more than probable they would 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.

Fortunately, the Zaragozans were not induced, by their belief in these flattering portents, 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 cir

1

94

PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENCE. [1808. cumstances 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 not employed in labouring at the works, practised the use of arms.

Measures were likewise taken for the defence of the city, in case the enemy, which was scarcely to be doubted, should effect an entrance. Traverses were cut across the streets. The doors and windows on the ground-floor were strongly barricaded. Communications were made between the houses; and parapets were constructed on the roofs. Every householder had in his dwelling an ample store of provisions, to enable him to continue his resistance when the enemy should gain possession of the streets. Thus prepared, the Zaragozans awaited the approach of the besiegers.

In the meanwhile, the corps of Marshal Moncey, which had been ordered to blockade the city, remained at Alagon, collecting materials, and awaiting the arrival of his heavy artillery from Pamplona. On the nineteenth of December it was joined by the

corps of Mortier, and on the twentieth the Dec, 20.]

united army appeared before Zaragoza. It

THE TORRERO TAKEN.

Dec.),

95 consisted of about thirty-five thousand infantry, and was accompanied by a battering train of sixty pieces. A corps of cavalry was stationed at Fuentes, to keep the surrounding country in subjection.

The city was approached on both sides of the Ebro. Gazan's division, having passed the river at Tauste, marched, by the road of Castejon, to Cuera and Villa Nuevo. That of Suchet took post on the right of the Ebro, near a convent about a league distant from Zaragoza, after driving in the Spanish outposts.

During the night, the enemy erected a battery, which commanded the Torrero, and, in the morning, opened fire on the fort. Unfortunately, a quantity of ammunition was blown up, by the bursting of a shell, which occasioned considerable disorder in the garrison. The French took advantage of this. A column crossed the canal by an aqueduct, of which, on the evening before, they had become masters, and entering the fort by the gorge, succeeded in maintaining the place against the efforts of the garrison. At the same time, a brigade of Morlot's division advanced up the ravine of the Huerba, and, passing the canal under the aqueduct on which it crosses that river, gained possession of a work commanding the sluices of the canal. Two guns were taken in this work. Three guns and one hundred prisoners in the fort. General St. Marc succeeded in withdrawing the rest of the garrison.

On the twenty-second, General Gazan advanced against the suburb, on the left of the river. He was encountered by about four thousand of the garrison, posted in the woods and gardens, from which, after a warm contest, he succeeded in dislodging them. Gazan then attempted to carry the suburb by a coupde-main. In this he failed. Repulsed in all his efforts, after a long and fruitless contention, he, at length, withdrew his troops, pursued by the garrison, and with the loss of near one thousand men. The chief

96 PALAFOX REFUSES TO SURRENDER. [1808. loss of the besieged consisted of a corps of Swiss, almost all of whom were killed or taken prisoners in a large building considerably in advance of the suburb.

For several days all was quiet. The enCavallero.]

emy were now aware that it was necessary to make a regular investment of the place; and the works, in all quarters, were pushed on with vigour. The besieged on their part endeavoured by incessant labour to complete the works of defence; batteries, were constructed to enfilade the principal approaches, the magazines were rendered bomb-proof, every outlet was palisaded and traversed; and, thus prepared, they waited with calm fortitude for the approaching struggle. Dec. 30.]

On the thirtieth, Marshal Moncey ad

dressed a letter to Palafox, summoning him to surrender the city, now entirely invested, and to spare the effusion of blood which must necessarily follow any further attempt at hopeless resistance. Moncey likewise informed him that Madrid had fallen; and that Napoleon, at the head of a great army, was then in the act of chasing the English to their ships.

To this Palafox replied, that if Madrid had fallen, Madrid had been sold. The works of Zaragoza were yet entire ; but, were they levelled with the ground, the people and the garrison would rather be buried in the ruins of their city, than disgraced by surrender.

In the meanwhile, General Gazan succeeded in effecting the blockade of the suburb. One of his brigades extended on the right of the Zuera road, the other on the left to the bridge over the Gallego, on the road to Barcelona. On the right bank, Suchet held the ground comprised between the high*

* To unmilitary readers it may be necessary to explain, that the high Ebro means the portion of the river above the city; the lov Ebro, that below it.

« ZurückWeiter »