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DETERMINED RESISTANCE BY THE SPANIARDS.
carnage that the Spaniards again fled to Ecija, a town on one of the roads to Seville, twelve leagues distant from the bridge where the fight commenced. Cordova was immediately given over to pillage, and the public buildings, churches, and even the splendid cathedral itself, were recklessly plundered of their sacred treasures.
13. FRENCH REPULSED FROM VALENCIA-THEY INVEST
As soon as the insurrection at Valencia had been made known at Madrid, Marshal Moncey was directed to march with 6,000 men to Cuenca, on the road to that city, and, quitting Madrid on the 4th, arrived there on the 11th; but, instead of the preparations that had been ordered for his troops, he found nothing collected, and affairs in a very unpleasant position. The Spanish division ordered to join him here had altogether disbanded, and were already in arms against the French between Cuenca and Valencia. The Marshal had been directed to put himself in communication with General Chabran, who, with 4,200 men, had been ordered to Tortosa, to be at his disposition, if reqnired. This state of things being made known to Murat, he despatched Brigadier Excelmans with a detachment of cavalry from Madrid, who, on the road, came to a misunderstanding with the patriots in the village of Salinas, near Tarancon, who were at once disarmed and sent prisoners to Valencia. The information derived from that city was very sad. Some 200 French mercbants, residents there, had gone for refuge into the citadel, where the insurgents, headed by one Balthazer Calvo, a monk of San Isidore, seized them on the 5th of June, and put them all to death. The Marshal now learned that the Spaniards were posted in the mountains, near Requena, and, considering it requisite to collect all his force before attempting to force that pass, he remained at Cuenca till the 18th, arranging with Chabran to meet him before Requena on the 25th; but that General had been led away after insurgents as far as Castellon de-la-Plana, and, having found himself beset by the armed peasants, he had fallen back with difficulty upon Barcelona. Ignorant of this, Moncey arrived at Requena on the 20th, and the next day found himself in presence of an armed multitude posted behind the Cabriel at the bridge of Paynzo, near Minglanilla, where they had thrown up a rough earthwork, in which they had placed 4 guns. This river runs through a rocky defile, and it was most difficult to force a pas- } sage. The Marshal ordered forward Brigadier Couin, who had 2 guns and a howitzer, up the rocks, from which he opened fire in rear of the Spaniards, while two other detachments forded the river, and appeared at the same time on the enemy's flanks. Moncey now putting himself at the head of two battalions, carried the bridge, and the Spaniards, seeing their guns lost, fled to Las Cabrillas, where there is a path through the hill, fit only for goats, which opens upon La Veza de Requena. Here the insurgents were assembled in force, under Don Josef Caro, with 12 guns. On the 24th, at midday the French arrived in face of the position which had been assumed
CUENCA PILLAGED BY THE FRENCH.
at Venta-Quemada. The Marshal, as soon as he reconnoitred the ground, ordered Brigadier Harispe, his Cbief of the Staff, to take with him the most active men from his force, and, relieving them of their packs, to despatch them on every side among the hills. The sight of these men leaping from rock to rock, and taking a deadly aim from the heights among the mass of soldiers and peasantry below, filled them with alarm, so that they scarcely waited for the advance of the main body, but fled in every direction. Moncey arrived before Valencia without further opposition on the 27th, and on the following day assaulted the gates, but without success, and with the loss of 300 of his men. The Junta, as soon as they heard of the rout at Las Cabrillas, called out the people to defend the city, and supplied them with arms. A strong battery of the artillery was established at Puerta de Quarte, by which the French were expected to arrive. The water was let into the ditches, and the guns from the citadel directed upon the road of approach. General Caro took post at the sluices which held up the waters of the Guadalquivir, to defend the water-head against the French, but was constrained to give way, and fell back into the city, when he assumed the command with complete success. In the night, the Marshal, seeing the hopelessness of his task, ordered a retreat, and marched away from Valencia to face the Captain-General Cerbellon, who was posted on the banks of the Xucar with 7,000 or 8,000 men; and he reached that river on the 1st of July. He was not impeded in crossing it, and, accordingly, moved on to San Clemente, where he arrived on the 10th, and effected a junction with General Freire.
A division, under General Caulaincourt, had been sent up from Madrid, to reinforce General Chabran, but, on arriving at Cuenca, they heard of his departure for the north. In disappointment, that town was given up to two hours' pillage. These atrocious acts, in the end, cost an inconceivable number of French lives at the hands of the insurgents; for the events of the 2nd of May at Madrid, the sack at Cordova, and the sack of Cuenca united the Spanish nation in deadly hatred against the invaders, whlie it roused the desire of plunder in all ranks of the French army, from the Marshals to the drummers, and materially injured its conduct and discipline.
As soon as the news of these events reached Napoleon at Bayonne, he sent orders to General Lefebvre-Desnouettes to collect together from the vicinity of Pampeluna some 4,000 men, and repair, without a moment's delay, to Zaragoza. He entered Tudela on the 7th of June, where he encountered 500 Spanish soldiers, under the Marquis de Lagan, elder brother of Palafox, who had destroyed the bridge, and now attempted to prevent the passage of the Ebro. The French had little difficulty in forcing their way as far as Mallen, which they reached on the 13th, and found Palafox in position at the head of 9,000 men and 8 guns, all mixed and undisciplined levies. Lefebvre, advancing on their flank, soon forced them to turn about and flee, when he sent after them a regiment of Polish lancers, who gave the fugitives no quarter. On the 16th, he arrived before Zara96
PREPARATIONS TO DEFEND ZARAGOZA.
goza, and entered the city pêle-mêle with the fugitives, the battalion penetrating even to Santa Engracia; but they were perfectly appalled when they perceived the preparations made to receive them. Although there was great confusion, there was a unanimous spirit of resistance, and the regular troops could not stand against the shower of missiles which poured upon their heads. The General, seeing that he could effect nothing in the narrow streets of this old town without artillery of greater calibre than the light 4-pounders which he had brought with him, ordered his troops to fall back. The apparent retreat of the enemy added to the universal enthusiasm of the citizens, and Palafox made new dispositions to take every advantage of the circumstance. In order to gratify the impatience of the defenders, he placed himself at the head of as many as he could get into form, and quitted the walls to endeavour to make for the open near Belchite, where he also collected some of the scattered soldiers. He now heard that a corps of 3,000 or 4,000 Arragonese were advancing on the road from Catalayud, and he sent to Colonel Versaquis, who was in command, to join him, but he found that they had already marched in another direction, to threaten the communications of the French with Tudela. They were, however, encountered on the 23rd by Lefebvre-Desnouettes, who drove them back on Catalayud, sorely diminished in number, and with the loss of their 3 guns. As soon as Palafox heard this, he re-entered Zaragoza on the 1st of July, well convinced that he should do better against the enemy behind stone walls than in the open country. Meanwhile, the French were preparing vigorous measures, and a siege train was forming at Pampeluna and Bayonne, with which General Verdier came up to Zaragoza on the same day, and took the direction of offensive operations. He had, however, but 8,000 men with which to undertake the siege, and therefore contented himself, at this time, with investing the city, which, by seizing the Monte-Torrero, and throwing a bridge over the river, he was enabled to complete by the 12th of July.
By the end of May, General Iuhesme found himself completely shut up in Barcelona. He, nevertheless, in compliance with reiterated orders, sent out General Chabran with his division to lend a hand to Marshal Moncey. The insurgents kept vigilant watch over every movement of Duhesme's force to cross the Llobegret, and secure Montserrat. On the 5th, he sent General Schwarz with this object, who crossed that river, and reached the village of Bruch ; but on a sudden the tocsin sounded, and armed multitudes covered the sides of the hills with marksmen, barricaded the villages, broke up the roads, and destroyed the bridges. The General could not stir a yard without a contest, and returned back to Barcelona on the 7th, with his men exhausted by fatigue. General Duhesme felt the essential necessity of exerting the high hand, and on the 10th put himself at the head of his troops, and cleared the country; thence having cari ied death and destruction among the insurgents, he returned to Baicelona, where the population, though somewhat awed, were by no means disposed to remain quiet.
1808.] GENERAL BLAKE ASSUMES THE SPANISH COMMAND.
14. INSURRECTION IN LEON — AFFAIR AT CABEZON. To return to the north. Marshal Bessières had his headquarters at Burgos. The insurrection in the Asturias and Galicia had already attained consistency, and Napoleon had ordered the military possession of Santander, to restrain its progress. General Merle was sent there on the 2nd of June, but, on reaching Reynosa on the 5th, he was recalled in haste, for Valladolid was in a ferment. Bessières thought it of greater moment to hold this city, the seat of the Captain-General's government, and the stronghold of the priesthood of Spain, than a military post in the north, and, accordingly, had ordered General Lasalle to march with a division, which reached Torrequemada on the 6th, at nightfall. Here is a long bridge over the Pisuerga ; and, while the French were going along it, a fire of musketry opened suddenly from every side; a passage was forthwith forced, and the bridge and city captured, pillaged, and burned. The effect of this severity was, that on the 7th, at Palencia, which Lasalle next entered, the inhabitants, headed by the Bishop, implored pardon. At Valladolid, in the meanwhile, affairs had become serious. Don Miguel de Cevallos had retired thither with some new levies from Segovia, whence the French had driven out a body of insurgents; but a suspicion of treason having been raised against the distinguished patriot, he was seized and murdered as he entered the city. This had such an effect on General Cuesta, the Captain-General, that, though unwilling to take the lead against the French, he now found himself constrained to head the insurrection. He accordingly collected 5,000 or 6,000 men, with some guns, and ou the reported advance of General Lasalle to Merle, he sallied out of the city, and took up a position at Cabezon, two leagues in front of the city. Very stupidly, however, instead of forming up on the left bank of the Pisuerga, with the bridge across the river before him, he placed himself on the right bank, with the bridge behind him. The two French divisions in this district had effected a junction on the 11th, at Dueña, and were now sent forward to summon Cuesta to give way before them and lay down his arms. The poor Captain-General could not venture to surrender, and yet was in the very worst condition to fight. Accordingly, on the 12th, at early morning, Lasalle moved forward, and, with very little difficulty, forced his way into the city of Valladolid, Cuesta retiring with what troops he could collect on the road to Benevente, where he posted himself to collect fugitives and peasants behind the Esla.
The province of Gallicia was already the depôt of the arms, clothing, and accoutrements which had been sent out from England with Lieut.-Colonel Doyle and other British officers, who had arrived there to organise an army. The Captain-General, Don Antonio Filangieri, was old and unfit to respond to the call to arms made by unanimous consent in this province; he, therefore, made way for General Blake, a man of Irish extraction, but of some military experience, and who had recently been promoted by the King to the
rank of Marechal-de-Campo. A post was immediately assumed at Lago, where a camp was speedily formed, to which all the Spaniards who had been prisoners in England, and had been released, were now sent to be regimented. The Spanish troops, also, which had been sent to the north of Portugal under Napoleon's orders, were now drawn to the camp at Lago. It contained one particular regiment, known by the name of “Los Immemoriales,” because its origin dated from the period of Ferdinand and Isabella ; and there were other “crack regiments” of the old monarchy. Blake took the command of this army by the end of June, and effected a junction with Cuesta at Benevente on the 6th of July. The Spanish Generals gave out their intention of marching at once upon Valladolid.
15. BATTLE OF MEDINA DE RIO-SECO. Bessières was duly informed of all that had occurred in the north, and determined to anticipate this attack by advancing himself against the Spanish army, and, with this object, he quitted Burgos on the 9th of July, with the reserve of his army. He here united to himself the divisions Mouton, Lasalle, and Merle, forming an army of about 11,500 men, with 1,500 horse and 30 guns, and with this force marched out of Palencia at early morning of the 13th, to meet the enemy. The march was made in the dawn, because of the extreme heat, but at daybreak on that day he formed up his troops in line on the road-side, and went forward to reconnoitre the Spanish army, which was found to be in position at Medina de Rio-Seco, to the number of 30,000 infantry, with 32 guns and a small force of cavalry. This army, though numerically superior to the French, was one newly collected and very imperfectly organised, and it was a rash resolve to bring them into collision with the veteran battalions of France. Blake, indeed, urged his superior officer, Cuesta, to decline a battle and to fall back on the frontiers of Gallicia, where Bessières would not venture to follow them under present cir. cumstances. Cuesta, who had become a patriot against his will, was now unwilling to temporize, and, brave but headstrong, insisted on satisfying the general enthusiasm by advancing against the enemy, so that Blake was obliged to submit. The Spanish first line was formed on some steep hills in front of Medina, having their right towards Val de Nebro, with their cavalry in a narrow valley on their left towards Palacio, but the second line had not yet passed the Rio-Seco, and were composed of the best troops. Bessières, accordingly, determined to crush the first line before the second could come up, and he forthwith sent forward a regiment of cavalry under Lasalle to drive back the miserable force of Spanish horse in the plain, who, giving way and flying rapidly, he came direct upon the left flank of the Spanish front line, which he attacked. After a very slight resistance these gave way and retreated hastily down the scarped road leading into Medina. Here they came upon the second line marching into position, which Cuesta was hastening forward; these stopped and rallied the fugitives, who returned to occupy