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ARRIVAL OF NAPOLEON AT BAYONNE.
Fraser, proceeded by Abrantes to the same destination. Sir John Moore intended that all these separate divisions should unite at Salamanca with a separate corps, under Sir David Baird, which had been landed at Corunna. The troops having commenced their march, the General-in-Chief quitted Lisbon on the 27th of October, and repaired with all his staff to Almeida, where he arrived on the 8th of November, and on the 13th he reached Salamanca, where he halted to obtain intelligence and to assemble his army.
Napoleon had arrived at Bayonne on the 3rd, and immediately applied himself to an enquiry into the preparations which he had ordered to be made for his entry into Spain, when he found, to his mortification, that scarcely any of his commands had been complied with. “Rien ne s'était exécuté comme il l'avait voulu, ni surtout aussi vite, quoiqu'il fût le plus prévoyant, le plus absolu, le plus obéi des administrateurs."* Of 20,000 conscripts ordered to be assembled, there had not come up above one-fourth. Of the shoes, great coats, and other army clothing, there was not above an eighth of his requisitions provided. These shortcomings gave him great displeasure, for they could only be remedied from France. Čorn, cattle, and wine he considered might be obtained in the Peninsula, but not any essentials of army comfort. Having vented his displeasure, “de vive voix et par écrit,” he employed the 4th in reviewing the troops and in forming a complete military clothing establishment, and left Bayonne on the same evening. Mounting on horseback, and escorted by the cavalry of his Guard, he arrived at Vittoria on the 5th, where he established himself with his troops en bivouac, leaving his brother Joseph with his Spanish Court to the occupation of the city, for he considered himself for the moment but as the General in-Chief of the army, and was very desirous of avoiding the low intrigues of the Court Camarilla, whom he despised. He had expressed to the intrusive King his desire that no military operations should be commenced before his arrival, but nobody could hold back Marshal Ney, and accordingly he had been on foot for some weeks, and had entered Logroño on the 25th of October at the point of the bayonet, driving Pignetelli's Spanish division into the mountains of Soria. Marshal Moncey had also pushed the divisions of Wathier and Maurice Mathieu into the castle of Lerin, where they had captured 1,000 men; and the division Villette, belonging to the corps of Marshal Victor, had been sent to Durengo in support of Marshal Lefebvre, who had found himself all of a sudden in presence of Blake's army in position. On receiving this reinforcement he at once sent forward General Villette, on the 31st of October, to turn the Spanish right, while he directed General Sebastiani, at the head of four regiments of the old army, to attack the front. The Spaniards did not stand an instant before these advances, but, as soon as they had fired their muskets, disban led and ran; and the Marshal having killed or wounded some 1,100 of them, entered Bilbao without further difficulty on the next day, 1808.7 NAPOLEON REBUKES LEFEBVRE AND VICTOR.
and sent General Villette forward to occupy Balmaseda. These movements also displeased the Emperor, who desired to see the Spaniards in their mad temerity placed close upon his army, whereas Ney and Moncey on one side, and Lefebvre on the other, had driven them off from the French troops and back upon their resources.
30. THE BATTLES OF ESPINOSA, BURGOS, AND TUDELA. While Napoleon was organising at Vittoria the advance of the French army, General Blake, seeing that Lefebvre rested at Bilbao and that Victor had gone back to Vittoria, advanced boldly, on the 5th of November, at the head of 30,000 men, to attack the division Villette, injudiciously insolated at Balmaseda. The old warrior, however, was not to be caught napping, but instantly drew out his troops from the town in battle array. Blake occupied the heights of Gueñas, which commanded the high road to Bilbao ; Villette dashed at them, and, forcing his way through the centre of the Spaniards, scattered death right and left, and brought off his division. These proceedings came to the ears of the Emperor on his arrival at Vittoria. Indignant at hearing of anything like the retreat of a French division before the Spaniards, which he thought might inspire them with the idea of a success or victory, he sent immediate orders to Lefebvre and Victor to drive Blake's army altogether out of Biscaya, at the same time rebuking both Marshals very severely. At early morning on the 7th the divisions of Villette, Sebastiani, and Leva! were in movement. The mountainous country was so impracticable for horses, that neither cavalry nor artillery accompanied this advance. They encountered the enemy at the village of Sodupe, out of which they drove them back on the position of Gueñas, which Blake had fortified. He had here collected in a strong position 25,000 men, and had his reserve at Reynosa ; Victor, accordingly, marched from Espinosa on the 10th in order to attack the Spaniards in front, while Lefebvre with 15,000 threatened their rear. The centre of the Spanish line was well protected by a battery, to which the French had no guns to oppose, and Romagna having his infantry posted in a wood on the right, made a most gallant resistance. The Spaniards, however, did not wait for the French to reach their rear, but as soon as they saw them coming they turned and fled so fast, that a division of 10,000 who were on the left flank were left behind. The left centre being now broken, Sebastiani soon forced Romagna's division to follow their comrades, and the whole patriot army was in a moment disbanded. It was well for them that they retired so quickly, for the next morning Marshal Victor renewed the attack, which the Asturian levies resisted boldly until their chiefs were either killed or wounded, when, disheartened at their loss, they broke and fled. As soon as Napoleon heard that the patriots were so easily to be disposed of, he determined to attack the centre of their army. He had brought with him out of France Marshal Soult, who, with characteristic activity, took the command of a
ATTACK ON BURGOS, UNDER SOULT.
corps on the 9th and moved the same day on Burgos, taking a strong division of cavalry along with him, under Franceschi. The army against which he advanced consisted of the Walloon Guards and the old regiments of Majorca, Lafra, and Aleantara, with the royal carabineers and Valencian hussars, and was under the command of the Marquis de Belvidere, a young officer of no experience and great presumption. He had posted his troops in position behind the Arlanzon, near the village of Gamonal, resting his left at the brook, and the right on the park of Vellemer across the road into Burgos; and it was garnished with 30 pieces of artillery. As soon as Soult recognised the ground, he sent forward on the morning of the 10th General Monton with 4 regiments of veterans against the village and wood of Gamonal, supported by the division Bonnet, and these in a very short time overthrew the Walloon Guards who were posted there. At sight of this the whole army took to flight, leaving guns and everything behind them, and rushed into Burgos, closely pursued by the French light cavalry under Franceschi, while the dragoons of Milhaud were also let loose upon the fugitives in the Castilian, plains, which commence at the city of Burgos. The inhabitants attempted to defend their streets, but soon abandoned their houses, and the whole was given up indiscriminately to pillage.* As soon as Napoleon heard of Soult's success, he removed his head-quarters to Burgos, where he arrived on the 11th quite incognito, leaving the intrusive King behind him at Vittoria, so as not to commit his character to the excesses of the victorious French troops.
Sir John Moore received information of these events at Salamanca on the 13th, and two nights later the General was awakened with the intelligence that the enemy were already advanced to Valladolid, within twenty leagues of his head-quarters. The British General was utterly at a loss to conceive that the Spanish armies, of whom he was daily receiving the most flattering accounts from Mr. Hookham Frere, the minister accredited by the British Government to the Central Junta, should be the same of whom every day's post brought intelligence of fresh disasters. Colonel Graham (afterwards Lord Lynedoch) was the British Commissioner with the central army, but his report was only a lamentable history of the disgraceful squabbles that aivided the leaders, and gave no reason to the Commander of the British army to expect any effective cooperation ; moreover, the entire line of Spanish armies reaching from Bilboa to Burgos had now been annihilated, and he had no certain communication open with Castaños, Blake, or Romagna, so that he was thrown entirely upon his own resources. He could not rely on the correctness of any information he received, but fortunately his mind was endowed with that quality of forethought which is so 1808.7
*“ A corps of student volunteers from the universities of Leon and Salamanca had joined this army. These youths, the pride and hope of many a generous family, displayed the courage which might be looked for in men of their condition, and twice repulsed the French infantry till the heavy horse came upon their flank, when they fell almost to a man on the spot where they had been stationed." SOUTHEY
FRENCH TROOPS IN THE PENINSULA.
useful in the military character, and he supplied many of these deficiencies by a correct judgment of the probable movements which the enemy might be expected to make under the circumstances.
Napoleon heard at Burgos of the advance of Moore's army into Spain, and directed Soult and Junot to proceed against him, while he sent orders to the two divisions of Laborde and Loison to cross the Bidasoa and occupy the ground which would, in consequence of this advance, be vacated by the two corps. He also directed Marshals Lefebvre and Victor to take up the pursuit of the Spanish Generals. Blake found himself without troops or generals ; the Asturians having fled to Santander, and Romagna having fallen back with what troops he could keep together to Leon. He therefore, with all he could assemble, retired on Reynosa, where the Spanish magazines had been established; but not feeling equal to maintain himself there, he continued his flight towards Leon. As he was making the best of his way in this direction with the wretched remains of an army on the 13th, they came on Soult's line of march, who attacked them, captured their magazines and artillery, and scattered them in all directions. Blake was joined at Arnedo by Romagna, who assumed the command of the army, which at this moment scarcely existed but in name.
Napoleon now prepared to launch his thunderbolt on the armies of Castaños and Palafox in Arragon, and, with this view, directed Marshal Moncey with the 3rd corps to remain firm and quiet at Logrono, while Ney with the 6th was called into Burgos, and on the 14th directed to march by Aranda and Soria, to fall on the Spanish rear. By these movements the front of the French army was now changed. Bessières, commanding the 2nd corps, was left at Burgosin observation, and here, as the great base of operations, magazines were ordered to be established and reinforcements to be assembled. A new organisation was likewise given to the troops collected in the Peninsula. The first corps was given to Victor, Duke of Belluno; the second to Bessières, Duke of Istria; the third to Moncey, Duke of Cornegliano; the fourth to Lefebvre, Duke of Dantzig; the fifth to Mortier, Duke of Treviso; the sixth to Ney, Duke of Elchingen ; the seventh to Gouvion-St.-Cyr; and the eighth to Junot, Duke of Abrantes Marshal Lannes, who had been recently injured by a fall from his horse, was nevertheless ordered to mount again, and, take charge of Moncey's corps, to execute with Ney the manœuvre which the Emperor now prescribed. Accordingly, Ney entered Soria on the 26th, Lannes on the same day crossed the Ebro by the bridge of Lodosa, and came at Calahorra upon the Spanish army retiring on the road to Alfaro. The Marshal, however, deemed it advisable to give his troops some repose before engaging them, and, accordingly, rested for the night of the 22nd at Alfaro, but they were commanded to be in order of march at 3 o'clock in the morning of the 23rd.
The utmost discord reigned among the Generals of the unfortunate Spanish army. The Supreme Junta had appointed the Marquis de la Romagna to the chief command, which, however, as the Marquis
was now fleeing in Leon, was temporarily retained by Castaños, between whom and Palafox a disagreement arose as to the best mode of meeting the French advance. The former prudently recommended that all encounter with the enemy should be avoided ; Palafox, on the contrary, proud of the fame he had acquired, was desirous of acting on the offensive throughout the province of Navarre. Amid such distracted councils it is not surprising that the entire force bad not been assembled when Lannes appeared in their front, early on the 23rd, and forced them to accept a battle. A position was hastily assumed, with its left on the Ebro in front of Tudela, and its right at Cascante, and extending along a range of inconsiderable hills nearly six miles in length. The Arragonese with Palafox were on the right, the Valencians and Catalans in the centre, the heroes of Baylen, under Castaños, on the left. The united force of the Spaniards was 39,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry, with 40 guns. Lannes commanded 30,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, with 60 pieces of cannon, and resolved to force the long-attenuated line of the enemy by penetrating his centre. The division of General Maurice Mathieu was immediately ordered to this attack, while all the cavalry commanded by Lefebvre-Desnouettes advanced in second line under the fire of the artillery. The Spaniards plied the approaching French column with their guns, and launched forward the Spanish guards, whom Castaños had sent up to the assistance of the centre, but these were quickly overborne and taken in flank by Morlot, who had finished already with Palafox, as had La Grange with Castaños; and the patriots here, as elsewhere, being neither well disciplined nor well commanded, fled through Tudela, some towards Tarragona and some towards Zaragoza, leaving 30 guns and no end of prisoners on the field. Ney could not arrive in time to assist in this victory, and only came up to the aid of his comrade at the close of the battle, when Lannes, exhausted by fatigue, gave over the command to Marshals Ney and Moncey. These two leaders were now directed by the Emperor to push the siege of Zaragoza, into which city Palafox had thrown himself with the right and centre of the Spanish army; Castaños retired on Calatayud.
31. NAPOLEON DEFEATS THE PATRIOTS AT SOMO SIERRA,
AND ENTERS MADRID. The battles of Espinosa, Burgos, and Tudela, not only utterly dispersed the Spanish armies of the North, but left the capital open to the conqueror. Napoleon, therefore, having now secured his flanks on both sides from all fear of interruption, resolved to make the central government quail before his arms and accept anew the Sovereign of his selection. Orders were therefore given to march upon Madrid. He appears to have contemned, or held in very light estimation, the interference of the English, regarding whom he received various reports; some placing them in the south at Talavera, some in the north at Gallicia, some at Salamanca, some at