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JOSEPH RETURNS IN TRIUMPH TO MADRID.
time, for, finding him still impracticable and wrong-headed, he resolved to act entirely for himself, and on his own resources. He instantly collected such carts as he could, and by these means brought away as many of his wounded as he was able from Talavera, but was, nevertheless, obliged to leave 1,500 to the compassion of the enemy; and, to the credit of his adversary be it said, Marshal Victor showed them every attention and kindness, though, of course, they became prisoners of war. The next step of Sir Arthur was to send off Craufurd to Almaraz to secure the bridge from any attempts of Marshal Soult to interpose between him and the river; and he then moved his army with all expedition across the Tagus by the bridge there. As soon as the British left Oropesa, Cuesta followed them to the same place, and, having barricaded the bridge, prepared to hold it, while Wellesley traversed the mountain passes which intervene between it and Almaraz. On the 6th of August, Mortier came down to the banks of the Tagus, opposite to where the Spanish army was posted, and evinced a determination to force a passage. Having made his reconnoissances, he despatched Caulaincourt with some dragoons across a ford upon the flank of the Spaniards, who stood firm, and immediately threw themselves into square, while the cavalry of Albuquerque in line fell upon that of the French; but, in the meanwhile, a battalion contrived to break through the barricades, and the Spaniards fled in all directions, abandoning 30 pieces of cannon. Cuesta now, at the command of the Junta, relinquished the command of the army, and the task of collecting the fugitives was intrusted to General Equia, who established a trysting-place at Deleytosa on the 13th, where he was enabled to collect a force, and occupy and defend the important pass of Meza del Ebor.
Vanegas, as soon as he found that Sebastiani was marching against him, retired on Almonacid, where he took up a position, flanked by an old Moorish castle, and hoped, with 30,000 men, to check any force which the intrusive King could collect against him. Sebastiani, however, marched forward almost unopposed, crossed the bridge of Toledo on the 10th in the evening, and the next morning sent forward Leval's division to attack Vanegas. Some Germans and Poles, who occupied the left of the French position, soon carried their point, while four French regiments, under Generals Dessoles and Godinot, dispersed the enemy's centre and right. The Spaniards attempted to make a stand at the castle, which was naturally strong, but they were defeated, with a loss of 6,000 or 8,000 killed or prisoners, and 16 guns.
After this, Joseph returned in no small triumph to Madrid. There was no Spanish army left to harass him, and, though he was required to exchange Jourdain for Soult as Major-General, by Napoleon's order, yet he had the corps of Soult, Ney, Mortier, and Victor under his hand to bring the kingdom into subjection. The British Commander-in-Chief at this time removed to the frontier of Spain and Portugal, being resolved to have no further cooperation with the Spanish armies; and on the 3rd of September he cantoned his troops in and about Merida, an excellent position,
THE LINES OF TORRES VEDRAS.
whence he could cover at the same time Portugal and the south of Spain. The Cortes now proposed to confer upon him the supreme command of these armies, but he was unwilling to undertake the task, for, he said, “I have fished in many troubled waters, but Spanish troubled waters I will never try again.”
40. WELLINGTON ORDERS THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE LINES OF
LISBON ON TORRES VEDRAS. The battle of Talavera having put to a practical test the value to be henceforth attached to Spanish co-operation, it became apparent to Sir Arthur Wellesley (who had just been raised to the peerage by his Sovereign for that victory, and was for the future to be spoken of by the title of Lord Wellington), that it was no longer prudent to trust to armies which were wanting in proper organisation, discipline, and skilful leaders, and fully demonstrated to be utterly inefficient against an enemy. At the same time, the state of affairs in the north of Europe, and the recent success of Napoleon at Wagram, afforded the clearest evidence that French troops would now be poured into the Peninsula with the most lavish hand, in order to insure its effectual subjugation. The contest, therefore, henceforth, manifestly depended on the British troops alone, and on the efficiency which could be thrown into the means of defensive warfare. Wellington, accordingly, sat himself down to the task of solving the mighty problem ; how best to resist aggression from an overwhelming power, having regard to the facilities afforded him by the seaboard of Portugal for unlimited supplies, and for the invaluable co-operation of the naval service, whose energy and prowess might be turned to account, either to assist in offensive operations, or to cover and secure the escape of the army, if it should, in the last resort, be obliged to be carried back again to the shores of Great Britain.
Lisbon was in every respect admirably adapted for the base of British military operations, situated as it is upon a magnificent estuary, capable of holding any amount of shipping. The Commander-in-Chief, therefore, concluded that his first object was to insure the defence of all the approaches upon that capital, from both Portuguese Estremadura and the Alemtejo, and to prepare the means of disputing the ground by artificial obstructions against an enemy's advance, if he should be obliged to withdraw from the open country before a too powerful force; and he deemed with great judgment, that Great Britain could here best decide the issue of the contest, which was now imminent, between his army and the hitherto irresistible legions of the French Empire. With these views, Lord Wellington, while his army rested in their cantonments on the Guadiana, repaired with his Chief Engineer, Colonel Fletcher, and his Quartermaster-General, Colonel George Murray, to make a close reconnoissance of the country on both sides of the Tagus, which covered all the approaches to the capital, and which, as extending from sea to sea, afforded the peculiar characteristic that it could
THE LINES OF TORRES VEDRAS.
neither be turned nor passed. This tract, for the most part moun. tainous, is singularly favourable for purposes of defence, more especially for a British army, with its power of extensive maritime co-operation. The Tagus was a mighty artery up which gunboats of considerable size could navigate, and it was a natural obstacle to an attacking force, as it hampered their action and divided their numbers. The portion to the southward, in front of Setubal, was of a milder character of elevation and intersection than that to the northward; but the approaches on that side only led down to the banks of a broad expanse of water, across which no enemy could hope to reach Lisbon, in face of the British navy.
Between the north bank of the Tagus and the sea, below the point where that great river, from its increased depth and breadth, becomes, in a military sense, impassable, four great paved roads lead to Lisbon. Three of these roads wind up the hills, through stronglydefined mountain passes at Mafra, Montechique, and Bucellas, and the fourth leads under the high ground along the river shore. The plan proposed by the engineer was to block up the advance in front of all these “ passes" with formidable detached redoubts, and to connect the passes themselves with a nearly continuous epaulement, so as to form an effective barrier, that should check an enemy's advance, and enable the defenders to retire within a third line across a small nook of the Peninsula which constituted an innermost en. ceinte upon the coast itself, where was constructed a sort of citadel, within which an army might be protected in its embarkation, or in case of being successively driven out of all the other defences. Nature had done much to assist the projected design of an entrenched camp in this locality.
The little river San Lorenzo, adjoining the pass of Mafra on the extreme left, looking north, presented a deep, rugged, and in many parts impracticable ravine, beyond which the Serra de Chypre commanded prominently the road, as it advanced towards it from Torres Vedras. The next adjoining pass was protected by a mountain called Cabeça de Montechique, the acclivity of which was very abrupt, and capable of good defence. The important operation of blocking up the road here was sufficiently simple of execution, but it was also necessary to place redoubts on the commanding positions, in order to enfilade the two paved roads leading through the pass from Torres Vedras on one side and Sobral on the other. The interval between the two principal passes was to be occupied by a good parallel road of communication for the convenience of the defenders, and this also required to be protected by strong isolated works. The next “ pass” in order is that of Bucellas, which is of the strongest character and of the easiest imaginable defence, for the road through it runs by the side of a stream, which here forces its way through two high and steep mountains. The paved road leading into the pass, from Sobral, over the Monte Agraça, which is a very strong bulwark or mountain buttress, affords means for the most determined resistance. From Bucellas rightward, towards the Tagus, an extremely serrated or broken ridge, 1809.7
THE LINES OF TORRES VEDRAS.
with scarcely any interruption, runs in a direct line for two miles, until the heights fall back to the right hand, and subside into the low ground adjoining the river, which they overlook and command. There are here some features in the landscape, both in front and rear, which require to be rendered available in order to render them efficient for defence. A hill between Quintella and Villa-Longa was selected for a strong redoubt in rear, and about five miles in front a position for troops is afforded by an independent ridge beginning at the river bank, close to Allandra, and running thence by Aruda, back to Monte Agraça and Torres Vedras, at which latter place the high ground runs behind the Zizandra to the sea. This was the ground selected for strong isolated forts, which, as far as time would permit them to be completed, were to be such as should demand from an attacking enemy regular siege operations. The most advanced line occupied 25 miles in a direct course, while the interior continuous line displayed about 22 miles of front. Such an extent seemed to require for its defence nearly twice the amount of men which Lord Wellington could expect to assemble, and this, in truth, constituted the only weakness of the Lines of Lisbon. Nearly 50 miles of position with about 150 forts, and probably 600 pieces of artillery, required a large force; but the occasion was peculiar. This could not be regarded as a fortress requiring a garrison commensurate to its walls; it was rather an entrenched camp, placed upon naturally strong positions for defence, and upon so grand a scale as, independent of garrisons, to cover an army of 20,000 men, in every respect equipped for field operations.
These “Lines,” then, being thus far reconnoitred, appeared to fulfil all the conditions required for the protection of Lisbon, by the aid of a naval and military force combined, and it was at once recommended by Wellington to the British Government for adoption for this end and object. Although the enemy threatened no immediate movement upon the capital, yet it was resolved to commence without delay the innermost line, for protecting an embarkation, lest the French Marshals should combine and march rapidly against the British army before the outward lines could be rendered of sufficient strength in their entire extent to keep them at bay. A place was sought out near St. Juliens, at the mouth of the Tagus, for the innermost enceinte and point for embarkation of the British army, in case of disaster or discomfiture. This corner of the Peninsula is distant about 27 miles behind the pass of Mafra, and there is here a small bay about 200 yards in length, partially sheltered from the ocean, in which boats might be collected; although, under certain winds, such a sea rolls into it for days together, that often not one can be launched upon it. Accordingly, the works required to cover the embarkation of an army had to regard these three objects :- 1st, protection to the entire army, with all its artillery and stores, during an uncertain period of inclement weather, with the means of at length embarking in boats ; 2nd, an extent which diminished numbers might defend, should
THE LINES OF TORRES VEDRAS.
gales of wind come on, after a portion only of the army had embarked; and lastly, means enabling a rear-guard to maintain itself to the last moment required.
With these objects, a line of continuous epaulement was traced near the village of Ocyras, 3,000 yards in extent, which was to be raised so as to enclose an entrenched camp of a limited extent; while an outer line extended from Passo d'Arcos, on the Tagus, to the Tower of Janquera, on the coast. This latter was calculated to fulfil the first condition, and the inner one the second ; but again, within this innermost enceinte, Fort St. Juliens, at the mouth of the Tagus (whose ramparts and deep ditches defied an escalade), was armed and strengthened so that, in conjunction with the Tower of Janquera, it might effectually protect the embarkation of a rear guard, should the outer defences fall into the hands of an enemy. On the opposite shore of the Tagus, another embarking place was prepared near the village of Almeda, which, at the same time, was calculated to impede the establishment of batteries to play upon the shipping from the side of Setubal, and could likewise keep open the communication of the river from the sea. Passo d'Arcos was 24 miles distant from the second “Line," and two long days' marches distant from the outer “Line” at Torres Vedras; but measures were suggested to render all the principal routes leading thence only practicable for an enemy's advance, as passing through Lisbon, where means were taken to retard the foe, in order that more time might be spared for the embarkation. The city was 12 miles in rear of Villa-Longa, 15 from Bucellas, and 12 from Montechique; but from the side of the Lorenzo river and Mafra there still remained one road leading direct to Passa d'Arcos. Two out of the four roads of access could be commanded for some distance by the ships in the river; the other approaches are narrow hollow ways open to many defensive expedients. The capital itself is of considerable size, and advantageously situated for defence and subsistence: the buildings which compose it are for the most part substantially built of stone, their doors and windows being secured with strong iron gratings, originally designed with the buildings themselves. Every encouragement was afforded to the inhabitants to avail themselves of the skill of the engineers to defend their houses; and materials to form street barricades and other impediments to the approach of an enemy's troops were provided ; but care was at the same time taken that the inhabitants should not be frightened into an idea that they were to be called upon to undergo a frightful siege, or such an endurance of trials as had recently signalised and destroyed Zaragoza.
A remarkable peculiarity attaching to the lines of Torres Vedras was the mountainous projection impinging at right angles on their front. This was the Serra called the Monte Junto, a lofty rocky mass stretching forward 15 miles in front of the centre, between Torres Vedras and Sobral, with the former of which it was connected by a ridge or spur, called Serra de Baraguodo. This is of so rugged and precipitous a form as to preclude the march of an army with artillery over its summit. It necessarily, therefore, divided