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Title: A History of the Peninsula war, Vol. I 1807-1809 - From the Treaty of Fontainbleau To the Battle of Corunna
Author: Oman, Charles
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A History of the Peninsula war, Vol. I 1807-1809 - From the Treaty of Fontainbleau To the Battle of Corunna" ***



  * Italics are denoted by underscores as in _italics_, and small caps
    are represented in upper case as in SMALL CAPS.

  * Obvious printer errors have been silently corrected.

  * Original spelling was kept, but variant spellings were made
    consistent when a predominant usage was found.

  * To aid referencing places and names in present-day maps and
    documents, outdated and current spellings of some proper names

         Aguilar del Campo, now Aguilar de Campóo,
               Albuquerque, now Alburquerque,
                   Alcaniz, now Alcañiz,
                  Alemtejo, now Alentejo,
                Aljafferia, now Aljafería,
               Aljubarotta, now Aljubarrota,
                   Almanza, now Almansa,
                  Ampurdam, now Ampurdán,
              Arens de Mar, now Arenys de Mar,
                 Arguelles, now Argüelles,
                    Baylen, now Bailén,
                   Bergara, now Vergara,
                  Bidassoa, now Bidasoa,
                    Biscay, now Vizcaya,
                    Busaco, now Buçaco,
                Cacabellos, now Cacabelos,
                   Cascaes, now Cascais,
            Castro Gonzalo, now Castrogonzalo,
               Compostella, now Compostela,
               Constantino, now Constantín (Baralla, Lugo),
        Cordova or Cordoue, now Córdoba,
                   Corunna, now La Coruña,
            Despeña Perros, now Despeñaperros,
                    Elvina, now Elviña,
               Estremadura, now Extremadura (for Spain),
                                Estremadura (for Portugal),
                   Freneda, now Freineda,
                     Gihon, now Gijón,
       Guadalaviar (river), now Turia,
                 Guarraman, now Guarromán,
            Huerba (river), now Huerva,
                 La Baneza, now La Bañeza,
                   Liñares, now Linares,
                      Loxa, now Loja,
                  Mulhaçen, now Mulhacén,
              Nava (river), now Navia,
           Noguera (river), now Noguera Ribagorzana,
               Oña (river), now Oñar,
         Pallaresa (river), now Noguera Pallaresa,
                 Pampeluna, now Pamplona,
                   Penilla, now Pinilla,
           Peñas de Europa, now Picos de Europa,
             Pezo-de-Ragoa, now Peso da Régua,
                   Porcuña, now Porcuna,
                  Praganza, now Pregança,
                  Puycerda, now Puigcerdá,
                   Requeña, now Requena,
                   Reynosa, now Reinosa,
    San Estevan del Puerto, now Santisteban del Puerto,
                  Sanguesa, now Sangüesa,
                 Saragossa, now Zaragoza,
                   Setuval, now Setúbal,
                  Siguenza, now Sigüenza,
                     Tagus, now Tajo,
                    Tajuna, now Tajuña,
                    Toreño, now Toreno,
                  Truxillo, now Trujillo,
              Valdestillos, now Vasdestillas,
                 Valmaceda, now Valmaseda,
                  Vellimar, now Villímar,
                    Vierzo, now Bierzo,
                  Vincente, now Vicente,
                  Vittoria, now Vitoria,
                   Zornoza, now Amorebieta-Echano.

  * Some maps and illustrations have been moved so that they do not
    break up paragraphs and lie near the text they illustrate. Their
    page numbers in the Lists of Maps and Portraits have been modified

  * Footnotes have been renumbered into a single series. Each footnote
    is placed at the end of the paragraph that includes its anchor.

  * In p. 53, the anchor placement for footnote 54 is conjectured.
    None found in the printed original.





  VOL. I








It is many years since an attempt has been made in England to deal
with the general history of the Peninsular War. Several interesting
and valuable diaries or memoirs of officers who took part in the
great struggle have been published of late[1], but no writer of the
present generation has dared to grapple with the details of the whole
of the seven years of campaigning that lie between the _Dos Mayo_
and Toulouse. Napier’s splendid work has held the field for sixty
years. Meanwhile an enormous bulk of valuable material has been
accumulating in English, French, and Spanish, which has practically
remained unutilized. Papers, public and private, are accessible whose
existence was not suspected in the ’thirties; an infinite number of
autobiographies and reminiscences which have seen the light after fifty
or sixty years of repose in some forgotten drawer, have served to fill
up many gaps in our knowledge. At least one formal history of the first
importance, that of General Arteche y Moro, has been published. I fancy
that its eleven volumes are practically unknown in England, yet it is
almost as valuable as Toreño’s _Guerra de la Independencia_ in enabling
us to understand the purely Spanish side of the war.

  [1] I need only mention the diaries of Sir Harry Smith, Blakeney,
  Shaw, and Tomkinson on our side, and Foy’s private diary and the
  Memoirs of Fantin des Odoards, St. Chamans, and Thiébault on the

I trust therefore that it will not be considered presumptuous for one
who has been working for some ten or fifteen years at the original
sources to endeavour to summarize in print the results of his
investigations; for I believe that even the reader who has already
devoted a good deal of attention to the Peninsular War will find a
considerable amount of new matter in these pages.

My resolve to take in hand a general history of the struggle was
largely influenced by the passing into the hands of All Souls College
of the papers of one of its most distinguished fellows, the diplomatist
Sir Charles Vaughan. Not only had Vaughan unique opportunities for
observing the early years of the Peninsular War, but he turned them
to the best account, and placed all his observations on record.
I suppose that there was seldom a man who had a greater love for
collecting and filing information. His papers contain not only his
own diaries and correspondence, but an infinite number of notes made
for him by Spanish friends on points which he desired to master, and
a vast bulk of pamphlets, proclamations, newspapers, and tables of
statistics, carefully bound together in bundles, which (as far as I
can see) have not been opened between the day of his death and that
on which they passed, by a legacy from his last surviving relative,
into the possession of his old college. Vaughan landed at Corunna in
September, 1808, in company with Charles Stuart, the first English
emissary to the Central Junta. He rode with Stuart to Madrid and
Aranjuez, noting everything that he saw, from Roman inscriptions to
the views of local Alcaldes and priests on the politics of the day.
He contrived to interview many persons of importance--for example,
he heard from Cuesta’s own lips of his treasonable plot to overthrow
the Junta, and he secured a long conversation with Castaños as to
the Capitulation of Baylen, from which I have extracted some wholly
new facts as to that event. He then went to Aragon, where he stayed
three weeks in the company of the Captain-General Joseph Palafox.
Not only did he cross-question Palafox as to all the details of his
famous defence of Saragossa, but he induced San Genis (the colonel
who conducted the engineering side of the operations) to write him a
memorandum, twelve pages long, as to the character and system of his
work. Vaughan accompanied Palafox to the front in November, but left
the Army of Aragon a day before the battle of Tudela. Hearing of the
disaster from the fugitives of Castaños’s army, he resolved to take
the news to Madrid. Riding hard for the capital, he crossed the front
of Ney’s cavalry at Agreda, but escaped them and came safely through.
On arriving at Madrid he was given dispatches for Sir John Moore,
and carried them to Salamanca. It was the news which he brought that
induced the British general to order his abortive retreat on Portugal.
Moore entrusted to him not only his dispatch to Sir David Baird,
bidding him retire into Galicia, but letters for Lord Castlereagh,
which needed instant conveyance to London. Accordingly Vaughan rode
with headlong speed to Baird at Astorga, and from Astorga to Corunna,
which he reached eleven days after his start from Tudela. From thence
he took ship to England and brought the news of the Spanish disasters
to the British Ministry.

Vaughan remained some time in England before returning to Spain, but
he did not waste his time. Not only did he write a short account
of the siege of Saragossa, which had a great vogue at the moment,
but he collected new information from an unexpected source. General
Lefebvre-Desnouettes, the besieger of Saragossa, arrived as a prisoner
in England. Vaughan promptly went to Cheltenham, where the Frenchman
was living on parole, and had a long conversation with him as to the
details of the siege, which he carefully compared with the narrative
of Palafox. Probably no other person ever had such opportunities for
collecting first-hand information as to that famous leaguer. It will
please those who love the romantic side of history, to know that
Vaughan was introduced by Palafox to Agostina, the famous ‘Maid of
Saragossa,’ and heard the tale of her exploit from the Captain-General
less than three months after it had occurred. The doubts of Napier and
others as to her existence are completely dissipated by the diary of
this much-travelled Fellow of All Souls College.

Vaughan returned to Spain ere 1809 was out, and served under various
English ambassadors at Seville and Cadiz for the greater part of the
war. His papers and collections for the later years of the struggle are
almost as full and interesting as those for 1808 which I have utilized
in this volume.

I have worked at the Record Office on the British official papers of
the first years of the war, especially noting all the passages which
are omitted in the printed dispatches of Moore and other British
generals. The suppressed paragraphs (always placed within brackets
marked with a pencil) contain a good deal of useful matter, mainly
criticisms on individuals which it would not have been wise to publish
at the time. There are a considerable number of intercepted French
dispatches in the collection, and a certain amount of correspondence
with the Spaniards which contains facts and figures generally unknown.
Among the most interesting are the letters of General Leith, who was
attached to the head quarters of Blake; in them I found by far the best
account of the operations of the Army of Galicia in Oct.-Nov., 1808,
which I have come upon.

As to printed sources of information, I have read all the Parliamentary
papers of 1808-9, and the whole file of the _Madrid Gazette_, as well
as many scores of memoirs and diaries, French, English, and Spanish.
I think that no important English or French book has escaped me;
but I must confess that some of the Spanish works quoted by General
Arteche proved unprocurable, both in London and Paris. The British
Museum Library is by no means strong in this department; it is even
short of obvious authorities, such as the monographs of St. Cyr and
of Cabanes on the War in Catalonia. The memoirs of the Peninsular
veterans on both sides often require very cautious handling; some
cannot be trusted for anything that did not happen under the author’s
eye. Others were written so long after the events which they record,
that they are not even to be relied upon for facts which must have been
under his actual observation. For example, General Marbot claims that
he brought to Bayonne the dispatch from Murat informing Napoleon of
the insurrection of Madrid on May 2, and gives details as to the way
in which the Emperor received the news. But it is absolutely certain,
both from the text of Murat’s letter and from Napoleon’s answer to it,
that the document was carried and delivered by a Captain Hannecourt.
The aged Marbot’s memory had played him false. There are worse cases,
where an eye-witness, writing within a short time of the events which
he describes, gives a version which he must have known to be incorrect,
for the glorification of himself or some friend. Thiébault and Le
Noble are bad offenders in this respect: Thiébault’s account of some
of the incidents in Portugal and of the combat of Aldea del Ponte, Le
Noble’s narrative of Corunna, seem to be deliberately falsified. I have
found one English authority who falls under the same suspicion. But
on both sides the majority of the mistakes come either from writers
who describe that which did not pass under their own eyes, or from
aged narrators who wrote their story twenty, thirty, or forty years
after the war was over. Their diaries written at the time are often
invaluable correctives to their memoirs or monographs composed after
an interval; e.g. Foy’s rough diary lately published by Girod de l’Ain
contains some testimonials to Wellington and the British army very much
more handsomely expressed than anything which the General wrote in his
formal history of the early campaigns of 1808.

I hope to insert in my second volume a bibliography of all the works
useful for the first two years of the war. The inordinate size to which
my first volume has swelled has made it impossible to include in it a
list of authorities, which covers a good many pages.

It will be noticed that my Appendices include several extensive tables,
giving the organization of the French and Spanish armies in 1808.
For part of them I am indebted to General Arteche’s work; but the
larger half has been constructed at great cost of time and labour from
scattered contemporary papers--from returns to be found in the most
varied places (some of the most important Spanish ones survive only in
the Record Office or in Vaughan’s papers, others only in the _Madrid
Gazette_). No one, so far as I know, had hitherto endeavoured to
construct the complete table of the Spanish army in October, or of that
of the exact composition of Napoleon’s ‘grand army’ in the same month.
I hope my Appendices therefore may be found of some use.

More than one friend has asked me during the last few months whether
it is worth while to rewrite the history of the Peninsular War when
Napier’s great work is everywhere accessible. I can only reply that I
no more dream of superseding the immortal six volumes of that grand
old soldier, than Dr. S. R. Gardiner dreamed of superseding Clarendon’s
_History of the Great Rebellion_ when he started to write the later
volumes of his account of the reign of Charles I. The books of Napier
and Clarendon must remain as all-important contemporary narratives,
written by men who saw clearly one aspect of the events which they
describe; in each the personal element counts for much, and the
political and individual sympathies and enmities of the historian have
coloured his whole work. No one would think of going to Clarendon for
an unprejudiced account of the character and career of Oliver Cromwell.
But I do not think that it is generally realized that it is just as
unsafe to go to Napier for an account of the aims and undertakings of
the Spanish Juntas, or the Tory governments of 1808-14. As a narrator
of the incidents of war he is unrivalled: no one who has ever read them
can forget his soul-stirring descriptions of the charge of the Fusilier
brigade at Albuera, of the assault on the Great Breach at Badajoz, or
the storming of Soult’s positions on the Rhune. These and a hundred
other eloquent passages will survive for ever as masterpieces of
vigorous English prose.

But when he wanders off into politics, English or Spanish, Napier is
a less trustworthy guide. All his views are coloured by the fact that
he was a bitter enemy of the Tories of his own day. The kinsman not
only of Charles James Fox, but of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, he could
never look with unprejudiced eyes on their political opponents. Canning
and Spencer Perceval were in his ideas men capable of any folly, any
gratuitous perversity. Castlereagh’s splendid services to England
are ignored: it would be impossible to discover from the pages of
the _Peninsular War_ that this was the man who picked out Wellington
for the command in Spain, and kept him there in spite of all manner
of opposition. Nor is this all: Napier was also one of those strange
Englishmen who, notwithstanding all the evidence that lay before them,
believed that Napoleon Bonaparte was a beneficent character, thwarted
in his designs for the regeneration of Europe by the obstinate and
narrow-minded opposition of the British Government. In his preface, he
goes so far as to say that the Tories fought the Emperor not because
he was the dangerous enemy of the British Empire, but because he
was the champion of Democracy, and they the champions of caste and
privilege. When the tidings of Napoleon’s death at St. Helena reached
him (as readers of his _Life_ will remember), he cast himself down on
his sofa and wept for three hours! Hence it was that, in dealing with
the Tory ministries, he is ever a captious and unkind critic, while
for the Emperor he displays a respect that seems very strange in an
enthusiastic friend of political liberty. Every one who has read the
first chapters of his great work must see that Bonaparte gets off with
slight reproof for his monstrous act of treachery at Bayonne, and for
the even more disgusting months of hypocritical friendship that had
preceded it. While pouring scorn on Charles IV and Ferdinand VII, the
silly father and the rebellious son, whose quarrels were the Emperor’s
opportunity, Napier forgets to rise to the proper point of indignation
in dealing with the false friend who betrayed them. He almost writes
as if there were some excuse for the crimes of robbery and kidnapping,
if the victim were an imbecile or a bigot, or an undutiful son. The
prejudice in favour of the Emperor goes so far that he even endeavours
to justify obvious political and military mistakes in his conduct of
the Peninsular War, by throwing all the blame on the way in which his
marshals executed his orders, and neglecting to point out that the
orders themselves were impracticable.

On the other hand, Napier was just as over-hard to the Spaniards as
he was over-lenient to Bonaparte. He was one of those old Peninsular
officers who could never dismiss the memory of some of the things that
he had seen or heard. The cruelties of the Guerillas, the disgraceful
panic on the eve of Talavera, the idiotic pride and obstinacy of
Cuesta, the cowardice of Imaz and La Peña, prejudiced him against
all their countrymen. The turgid eloquence of Spanish proclamations,
followed by the prosaic incapacity of Spanish performance, sickened
him. He always accepts the French rather than the Spanish version
of a story, forgetting that Bonaparte and his official writers were
authorities quite as unworthy of implicit credence as their opponents.
In dealing with individual Spaniards--we may take for example Joseph
Palafox, or the unfortunate Daoiz and Velarde--he is unjust to the
extreme of cruelty. His astounding libel on La Romana’s army, I have
had occasion to notice in some detail on page 416 of this work.
He invariably exaggerates Spanish defeats, and minimizes Spanish
successes. He is reckless in the statements which he gives as to their
numbers in battle, or their losses in defeat. Evidently he did not
take the trouble to consult the elaborate collection of morning-states
of armies and other official documents which the Spanish War Office
published several years before he wrote his first volume. All his
figures are borrowed from the haphazard guesses of the French marshals.
This may seem strong language to use concerning so great an author,
but minute investigation seems to prove that nearly every statement of
Napier’s concerning a battle in which the Spaniards were engaged is
drawn from some French source. The Spaniards’ version is ignored. In
his indignation at the arrogance and obstinacy with which they often
hampered his hero Wellington, he refuses to look at the extenuating
circumstances which often explain, or even excuse, their conduct.
After reading his narrative, one should turn to Arguelles or Toreño or
Arteche, peruse their defence of their countrymen, and then make one’s
ultimate decision as to facts. Every student of the Peninsular War, in
short, must read Napier: but he must not think that, when the reading
is finished, he has mastered the whole meaning and importance of the
great struggle.

The topographical details of most of my maps are drawn from the
splendid Atlas published by the Spanish War Office during the last
twenty years. But the details of the placing of the troops are my own.
I have been particularly careful in the maps of Vimiero and Corunna to
indicate the position of every battalion, French or English.

I am in duty bound to acknowledge the very kind assistance of three
helpers in the construction of this volume. The first compiled the
Index, after grappling with the whole of the proofs. The second, Mr.
C. E. Doble, furnished me with a great number of suggestions as to
revision, which I have adopted. The third, Mr. C. T. Atkinson, of
Exeter College, placed at my disposition his wide knowledge of British
regimental history, and put me in the way of obtaining many details as
to the organization of Wellesley’s and Moore’s armies. I am infinitely
obliged to all three.

  C. OMAN.

  _March 31, 1902_.



  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
    I. The Treaty of Fontainebleau                                     1
   II. The Court of Spain                                             12
  III. The Conquest of Portugal                                       26
   IV. The French aggression in Spain: Abdication of Charles IV       33
    V. The Treachery at Bayonne                                       43
   VI. The Second of May: Outbreak of the Spanish Insurrection        57


    I. Military geography of the Peninsula: Mountains, Rivers,
         Roads                                                        72
   II. The Spanish Army in 1808                                       89
  III. The French Army in Spain                                      103
   IV. The tactics of the French and their adversaries during the
         Peninsular War                                              114


    I. Opening of hostilities: the French Invasions of Andalusia
         and Valencia                                                123
   II. Operations in the North: the siege of Saragossa               140
  III. Operations in the North: battle of Medina de Rio Seco         163
   IV. Dupont in Andalusia: the Capitulation of Baylen               176


    I. The outbreak of the Portuguese Insurrection                   206
   II. Landing of the British: combat of Roliça                      220
  III. Vimiero                                                       242
   IV. The Convention of Cintra                                      263
    V. The French evacuate Portugal                                  279
   VI. The Court of Inquiry                                          291


   I. Duhesme’s operations: first siege of Gerona (June-July,
        1808)                                                        301
  II. The struggle continued: the second siege of Gerona
        (July-August, 1808)                                          322


    I. The French retreat to the Ebro                                334
   II. Creation of the ‘Junta General’                               342
  III. The ‘Junta General’ in Session                                354
   IV. An episode in the Baltic                                      367


    I. French and Spanish preparations                               376
   II. The preliminary fighting: arrival of Napoleon                 391
  III. The misfortunes of Joachim Blake: Zornoza and Espinosa
         de los Monteros                                             402
   IV. Napoleon crosses the Ebro: the rout of Gamonal: Soult’s
         pursuit of Blake                                            417
    V. Tudela                                                        431
   VI. Passage of the Somosierra: Napoleon captures Madrid           450


    I. Napoleon at Madrid                                            473
   II. Moore at Salamanca                                            486
  III. Moore’s advance to Sahagun                                    513
   IV. Napoleon’s pursuit of Moore: Sahagun to Astorga               539
    V. Soult’s pursuit of Moore: Astorga to Corunna                  559
   VI. The battle of Corunna                                         583


     I. Godoy’s Proclamation of Oct. 5, 1806                         603
    II. The Treaty of Fontainebleau                                  604
   III. Papers relating to the ‘Affair of the Escurial’              606
    IV. Abdication of Charles IV                                     607
     V. The Spanish Army in 1808                                     607
    VI. The first French ‘Army of Spain’                             612
   VII. Papers relating to the Treachery at Bayonne                  616
  VIII. Papers relating to the Capitulation of Baylen                618
    IX. Papers relating to the Convention of Cintra                  625
     X. List of Members of the Central Junta                         630
    XI. The Spanish Armies, Oct.-Nov. 1808                           631
   XII. The second French ‘Army of Spain’                            640
  XIII. The Army of Sir John Moore, its strength and its losses      646

  INDEX                                                              649


   1. MADRID                                                          60
   2. SARAGOSSA                                                      160
   3. MEDINA DE RIO SECO                                             168
   4. ANDALUSIA AND BAYLEN                                           184
   5. VIMIERO                                                        249
   6. CATALONIA                                                      304
   7. NORTHERN SPAIN                                                 384
   8. ESPINOSA                                                       413
   9. TUDELA                                                         435
  10. CORUNNA                                                        584
  LARGE MAP OF SPAIN                                  _At end of volume_


  CHARLES IV                                              _Frontispiece_
  MARIA LUISA QUEEN OF SPAIN                                          17
  MANUEL GODOY, PRINCE OF THE PEACE                                   41


The coins on the binding of the book are--the first a half-dollar of
the last issue of Charles IV, the second a siege-piece struck at Gerona
in 1808. That on the title-page is a peseta struck at Valencia, with a
patriotic legend on the reverse, RENUEVA VAL. SU JURAM. SELLADO CON SU





‘I am not the heir of Louis XIV, I am the heir of Charlemagne,’ wrote
Napoleon, in one of those moments of epigrammatic self-revelation
which are so precious to the students of the most interesting epoch
and the most interesting personality of modern history[2]. There are
historians who have sought for the origins of the Peninsular War far
back in the eternal and inevitable conflict between democracy and
privilege[3]: there are others who--accepting the Emperor’s own version
of the facts--have represented it as a fortuitous development arising
from his plan of forcing the Continental System upon every state in
Europe. To us it seems that the moment beyond which we need not search
backward was that in which Bonaparte formulated to himself the idea
that he was not the successor of the greatest of the Bourbons, but of
the founder of the Holy Roman Empire. It is a different thing to claim
to be the first of European monarchs, and to claim to be the king of
kings. Louis XIV had wide-reaching ambitions for himself and for his
family: but it was from his not very deep or accurate knowledge of
Charlemagne that Napoleon had derived his idea of a single imperial
power bestriding Europe, of a monarch whose writ ran alike at Paris and
at Mainz, at Milan and at Hamburg, at Rome and at Barcelona, and whose
vassal-princes brought him the tribute of all the lands of the Oder,
the Elbe, and the middle Danube[4].

  [2] He works out the idea in his letter to Talleyrand of May 16,

  [3] Such is the main thesis of chapter I of Napier’s _Peninsular

  [4] It is curious to note how often the name of Charlemagne
  occurs in Napoleon’s letters during the early months of 1806. It
  is especially common in his correspondence about the relations of
  the Papacy and the Empire.

There is no need for us to trace back the growth of Napoleon’s
conception of himself as the successor of Charlemagne beyond the winter
of 1805-6, the moment when victorious at Austerlitz and master for
the first time of Central Europe, he began to put into execution his
grandiose scheme for enfeoffing all the realms of the Continent as
vassal states of the French Empire. He had extorted from Francis of
Austria the renunciation of his meagre and time-worn rights as head
of the Holy Roman Empire, because he intended to replace the ancient
shadow by a new reality. The idea that he might be Emperor of Europe
and not merely Emperor of the French was already developed, though
Prussia still needed to be chastised, and Russia to be checked and
turned back on to the ways of the East. It was after Austerlitz but
before Jena that the foundations of the Confederation of the Rhine
were laid[5], and that the Emperor took in hand the erection of that
series of subject realms under princes of his own house, which was to
culminate in the new kingdom of Spain ruled by ‘Joseph Napoleon the
First.’ By the summer of 1806 the system was already well developed:
the first modest experiment, the planting out of his sister Eliza and
her insignificant husband in the duchy of Lucca and Piombino was now
twelve months old. There had followed the gift of the old Bourbon
kingdom of Naples to Joseph Bonaparte in February, 1806, and the
transformation of the Batavian Republic into Louis Bonaparte’s kingdom
of Holland in June. The Emperor’s brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, had
been made Grand-Duke of Berg in March, his sister, Pauline, Duchess
of Guastalla in the same month. It cannot be doubted that his eye was
already roving all round Europe, marking out every region in which the
system of feudatory states could be further extended.

  [5] The negotiations for the Confederation were completed in
  July, and it was formally constituted on Aug. 1, 1806.

At the ill-governed realms of Spain and Portugal it is certain that he
must have taken a specially long glance. He had against the house of
the Bourbons the grudge that men always feel against those whom they
have injured. He knew that they could never forgive the disappointed
hopes of 1799, nor the murder of the Duc d’Enghien, however much they
might disguise their sentiments by base servility. What their real
feelings were might be guessed from the treacherous conduct of their
kinsmen of Naples, whom he had just expelled from the Continent.
The Bourbons of Spain were at this moment the most subservient and
the most ill-used of his allies. Under the imbecile guidance of his
favourite Godoy, Charles IV had consistently held to the league with
France since 1795, and had thereby brought down untold calamities upon
his realm. Nevertheless Napoleon was profoundly dissatisfied with
him as an ally. The seventy-two million francs of subsidies which he
was annually wringing from his impoverished neighbour seemed to him
a trifle. The chief gain that he had hoped to secure, when he goaded
Spain into war with England in 1804, had been the assistance of her
fleet, by whose aid he had intended to gain the control of the narrow
seas, and to dominate the Channel long enough to enable him to launch
his projected invasion against the shores of Kent and Sussex. But the
Spanish navy, always more formidable on paper than in battle, had
proved a broken reed. The flower of its vessels had been destroyed at
Trafalgar. There only remained in 1806 a few ships rotting in harbour
at Cadiz, Cartagena, and Ferrol, unable even to concentrate on account
of the strictness of Collingwood’s blockade. Napoleon was angry at his
ally’s impotence, and was already reflecting that in hands more able
and energetic than those of Charles IV Spain might give aid of a very
different kind. In after years men remembered that as early as 1805 he
had muttered to his confidants that a Bourbon on the Spanish throne
was a tiresome neighbour--too weak as an ally, yet dangerous as a
possible enemy[6]. For in spite of all the subservience of Charles IV
the Emperor believed, and believed quite rightly, that a Bourbon prince
must in his heart loathe the unnatural alliance with the child of the
Revolution. But in 1806 Bonaparte had an impending war with Prussia on
his hands, and there was no leisure for interfering in the affairs of
the Peninsula. Spain, he thought, could wait, and it is improbable
that he had formulated in his brain any definite plan for dealing with

  [6] See, for example, the very interesting story told by Marshal
  Jourdan in his _Mémoires_ (p. 9) of the long conversation which
  the emperor had with him at Verona on June 16, 1805: ‘Tant pour
  l’affermissement de ma dynastie que pour la sûreté de France,’
  concluded Napoleon, ‘un Bourbon sur le trône d’Espagne est un
  voisin trop dangereux.’

The determining factor in his subsequent action was undoubtedly
supplied in the autumn of 1806 by the conduct of the Spanish government
during the campaign of Jena. There was a moment, just before that
decisive battle had been fought, during which European public opinion
was expecting a check to the French arms. The military prestige of
Prussia was still very great, and it was well known that Russia had not
been able to put forth her full strength at Austerlitz. Combined it
was believed that they would be too much for Napoleon. While this idea
was still current, the Spanish king, or rather his favourite Godoy,
put forth a strange proclamation which showed how slight was the bond
of allegiance that united them to France, and how hollow their much
vaunted loyalty to the emperor[7]. It was an impassioned appeal to the
people of Spain to take arms _en masse_, and to help the government
with liberal gifts of men, horses and money. ‘Come,’ it said, ‘dear
fellow countrymen, come and swear loyalty beneath the banners of the
most benevolent of sovereigns.’ The God of Victories was to smile on a
people which helped itself, and a happy and enduring peace was to be
the result of a vigorous effort. It might have been pleaded in defence
of Charles IV that all this was very vague, and that the anonymous
enemy who was to be crushed might be England. But unfortunately for
this interpretation, three whole sentences of the document are filled
with demands for horses and an instant increase in the cavalry arm
of the Spanish military establishment. It could hardly be urged with
seriousness that horsemen were intended to be employed against the
English fleet. And of naval armaments there was not one word in the

  [7] For the full text of this bombastic appeal see Appendix, No.
  I. Godoy speaks throughout in his own name, not in that of his

This document was issued on Oct. 5, 1806: not long after there arrived
in Madrid the news of the battle of Jena and the capture of Berlin.
The Prince of the Peace was thunderstruck at the non-fulfilment of
his expectations and the complete triumph of Napoleon. He hastened to
countermand his armaments, and to shower letters of explanation and
apology on the Emperor, pointing out that his respected ally could
not possibly have been the ‘enemy’ referred to in the proclamation.
That document had reached Napoleon on the very battle-field of Jena,
and had caused a violent paroxysm of rage in the august reader[8].
But, having Russia still to fight, he repressed his wrath for a
moment, affecting to regard as satisfactory Godoy’s servile letters
of explanation. Yet we can hardly doubt that this was the moment at
which he made up his mind that the House of Bourbon must cease to
reign in Spain. He must have reflected on the danger that southern
France had escaped; a hundred thousand Spaniards might have marched
on Bordeaux or Toulouse at the moment of Jena, and there would have
been no army whatever on the unguarded frontier of the Pyrenees to
hold them in check. Supposing that Jena had been deferred a month,
or that no decisive battle at all had been fought in the first stage
of the struggle with Prussia, it was clear that Godoy would have
committed himself to open war. A stab in the back, even if dealt with
no better weapon than the disorganized Spanish army, must have deranged
all Napoleon’s plans, and forced him to turn southward the reserves
destined to feed the ‘Grand Army.’ It was clear that such a condition
of affairs must never be allowed to recur, and we should naturally
expect to find that, the moment the war of 1806-7 was ended, Napoleon
would turn against Spain, either to dethrone Charles IV, or at least to
demand the dismissal from office of Godoy. He acknowledged this himself
at St. Helena: the right thing to have done, as he then conceded, would
have been to declare open war on Spain immediately after Tilsit[9].

  [8] ‘Je jurai dès lors qu’ils me la paieraient, que je les
  mettrais hors d’état de me nuire,’ said Napoleon to De Pradt,
  eighteen months later (_Mémoires sur la Révolution d’Espagne_, p.
  16). The archbishop’s story is amply borne out by the repeated
  allusions to this unhappy proclamation in Napoleon’s official
  justification of his conduct in Spain. The Spanish ambassador at
  Berlin, Don Benito Pardo, was told by Napoleon at the time that
  he had forgiven the Proclamation, but could not forget it.

  [9] _Correspondance de Napoléon_, xxxii. 59.

After eight years of experience of Bonaparte as an ally, the rulers
of Spain ought to have known that his silence during the campaigns of
Eylau and Friedland boded them no good. But his present intentions
escaped them, and they hastened to atone for the proclamation of
Oct. 5 by a servile obedience to all the orders which he sent them.
The most important of these was the command to mobilize and send
to the Baltic 15,000 of their best troops [March, 1807]. This was
promptly done, the depleted battalions and squadrons being raised to
war-strength, by drafts of men and horses which disorganized dozens
of the corps that remained at home[10]. The reason alleged, the fear
of Swedish and English descents on the rear of the Grand Army, was
plausible, but there can be no doubt that the real purpose was to
deprive Spain of a considerable part, and that the most efficient, of
her disposable forces. If Godoy could have listened to the interviews
of Napoleon and Alexander of Russia at Tilsit, he would have been
terrified at the offhand way in which the Emperor suggested to the
Czar that the Balearic Isles should be taken from Spain and given to
Ferdinand of Naples, if the latter would consent to cede Sicily to
Joseph Napoleon[11]. To despoil his allies was quite in the usual
style of Bonaparte--Godoy cannot have forgotten the lot of Trinidad
and Ceylon--but he had not before proposed to tear from Spain, not a
distant colony, but an ancient province of the Aragonese crown. The
project was enshrined in the ‘secret and supplementary’ clauses of the
Treaty of Tilsit, which Napoleon wished to conceal till the times were

  [10] The demand was made in the most peremptory fashion, and
  in almost threatening language. Napoleon writes to Talleyrand
  that the Spanish division in Tuscany, which was to form part of
  the expeditionary corps, must march in twenty-four hours after
  receiving its orders. ‘If they refuse, everything is at an end,’
  a most sinister phrase (Napoleon to Talleyrand, March 25, 1807).

  [11] This was Article IV of the Seven ‘Secret Articles’ of the
  Treaty of Tilsit. See for this proposal the notes in Vandal’s
  _Napoléon et Alexandre Ier_, vol. i.

It was only when Bonaparte had returned to France from his long
campaign in Poland that the affairs of the Iberian Peninsula began to
come seriously to the front. The Emperor arrived in Paris at the end
of July, 1807, and this was the moment at which he might have been
expected to produce the rod, for the chastisement which the rulers of
Spain had merited by their foolish proclamation of the preceding year.
But no sign of any such intention was displayed: it is true that early
in August French troops in considerable numbers began to muster at
Bayonne[12], but Bonaparte openly declared that they were destined to
be used, not against Spain, but against Portugal. One of the articles
of the Peace of Tilsit had been to the effect that Sweden and Portugal,
the last powers in Europe which had not submitted to the Continental
System, should be compelled--if necessary by force--to adhere to it,
and to exclude the commerce of England from their ports. It was natural
that now, as in 1801, a French contingent should be sent to aid Spain
in bringing pressure to bear on her smaller neighbour. With this idea
Godoy and his master persisted in the voluntary blindness to the signs
of the times which they had so long been cultivating. They gave their
ambassador in Lisbon orders to act in all things in strict conjunction
with his French colleague.

  [12] The first notice of the ‘Corps of Observation of the
  Gironde’ is to be found in a dispatch of Masserano, the Spanish
  ambassador at Paris, dated July 30, which gives notice of the
  approaching concentration at Bayonne. But the quiet movement of
  troops in this direction had begun long before the Russian war
  was over.

On August 12, therefore, the representatives of Spain and France
delivered to John, the Prince-Regent of Portugal (his mother, Queen
Maria, was insane), almost identical notes, in which they declared that
they should ask for their passports and leave Lisbon, unless by the
first of September the Regent had declared war on England, joined his
fleet to that of the allied powers, confiscated all British goods in
his harbours, and arrested all British subjects within the bounds of
his kingdom. The prince, a timid and incapable person, whose only wish
was to preserve his neutrality, answered that he was ready to break
off diplomatic relations with England, and to close his ports against
British ships, but that the seizure of the persons and property of the
British merchants, without any previous declaration of war, would be
contrary to the rules of international law and morality. For a moment
he hoped that this half-measure would satisfy Napoleon, that he might
submit to the Continental System without actually being compelled to
declare war on Great Britain. But when dispatches had been interchanged
between the French minister Rayneval and his master at Paris, the
answer came that the Regent’s offer was insufficient, and that the
representatives of France and Spain were ordered to quit Lisbon at
once. This they did on September 30, but without issuing any formal
declaration of war.

On October 18, the French army, which had been concentrating at Bayonne
since the beginning of August, under the harmless name of the ‘Corps of
Observation of the Gironde,’ crossed the Bidassoa at Irun and entered
Spain. It had been placed under the orders of Junot, one of Napoleon’s
most active and vigorous officers, but not a great strategist after the
style of Masséna, Soult, or Davoust. He was a good fighting-man, but a
mediocre general. The reason that he received the appointment was that
he had already some knowledge of Portugal, from having held the post
of ambassador at Lisbon in 1805. He had been promised a duchy and a
marshal’s bâton if his mission was carried out to his master’s complete

It is clear that from the first Napoleon had intended that Portugal
should refuse the ignominious orders which he had given to the
Prince-Regent. If he had only been wishing to complete the extension of
the Continental System over all Southern Europe, the form of obedience
which had been offered him by the Portuguese government would have
been amply sufficient. But he was aiming at annexation, and not at
the mere assertion of his suzerainty over Portugal. The fact that he
began to mass troops at Bayonne before he commenced to threaten the
Regent is sufficient proof of his intentions. An army was not needed
to coerce the Portuguese: for it was incredible that in the then
condition of European affairs they would dare to risk war with France
and Spain by adhering too stiffly to the cause of England. The Regent
was timid and his submission was certain; but Napoleon took care to
dictate the terms that he offered in such an offensive form that the
Portuguese government would be tempted to beg for changes of detail,
though it sorrowfully accepted the necessity of conceding the main
point--war with England and the acceptance of the Continental System.
The Prince-Regent, as might have been expected, made a feeble attempt
to haggle over the more ignominious details, and then Napoleon withdrew
his ambassador and let loose his armies.

Shortly after Junot had crossed the Bidassoa there was signed at
Fontainebleau the celebrated secret treaty which marks the second
stage of the Emperor’s designs against the Peninsula. It was drawn up
by Duroc, Napoleon’s marshal of the palace, and Eugenio Izquierdo,
the agent of Godoy. For the official ambassador of Spain in Paris,
the Prince of Masserano, was not taken into the confidence of his
master[13]. All delicate matters were conducted by the favourite’s
private representative, an obscure but astute personage, the director
of the Botanical Gardens at Madrid, whose position was legitimized by
a royal sign-manual giving him powers to treat as a plenipotentiary
with France. ‘Manuel is your protector: do what he tells you, and by
serving him you serve me,’ the old king had said, when giving him his

  [13] Talleyrand declares in his _Mémoires_ (i. 349) that Napoleon
  kept Champagny, his own minister of foreign affairs, in equal

The Treaty of Fontainebleau is a strange document, whose main purpose,
at a first glance, seems to be the glorification of Godoy. It is
composed of fourteen articles[14], the most important of which contain
the details of a projected dismemberment of Portugal. The country was
to be cut up into three parts. Oporto and the northern province of
Entre-Douro-e-Minho were to become the ‘Kingdom of Northern Lusitania,’
and to be ceded to a Bourbon, the young King of Etruria, whom Napoleon
was just evicting from his pleasant abode at Florence. All Southern
Portugal, the large province of Alemtejo and the coast region of
Algarve, was to be given as an independent principality to Godoy, under
the title of ‘Prince of the Algarves’[15]. The rest of Portugal, Lisbon
and the provinces of Beira, Estremadura and Tras-os-Montes were to be
sequestrated till the conclusion of a general peace, and meanwhile were
to be governed and administered by the French. Ultimately they were to
be restored, or not restored, to the house of Braganza according as the
high contracting parties might determine.

  [14] See the text in Appendix, No. II.

  [15] In the curious exculpatory memoirs which Godoy published
  in 1835-6, with the aid of d’Esménard, he endeavours to make
  out that he never desired the principality, and that Napoleon
  pressed it upon him, because he wished to remove him from about
  the person of Charles IV. ‘The gift of the principality of the
  Algarves was a banishment’ (i. 54). This plea will not stand
  in the face of the fact that Godoy had solicited just such
  preferment as far back as the spring of 1806; see Arteche,
  _Guerra de la Independencia_, i. 148. His real object was to
  secure a place of refuge at the death of Charles IV.

Instead therefore of receiving punishment for his escapade in the
autumn of 1806, Godoy was to be made by Napoleon a sovereign prince!
But Spain, as apart from the favourite, got small profit from this
extraordinary treaty: Charles IV might take, within the next three
years, the pompous title of ‘Emperor of the Two Americas,’ and was to
be given some share of the transmarine possessions of Portugal--which
meanwhile (treaties or no) would inevitably fall into the hands of
Great Britain, who held the command of the seas, while Napoleon did not.

It is incredible that Bonaparte ever seriously intended to carry out
the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau: they were not even to be
divulged (as Article XIV stipulated) till it was his pleasure. Godoy
had deserved badly of him, and the Emperor was never forgiving. The
favourite’s whole position and character (as we shall presently show)
were so odious and disgraceful, that it would have required an even
greater cynicism than Napoleon possessed, to overthrow an ancient and
respectable kingdom in order to make him a sovereign prince. To pose
perpetually as the regenerator of Europe, and her guardian against
the sordid schemes of Britain, and then to employ as one’s agent for
regeneration the corrupt and venal favourite of the wicked old Queen of
Spain, would have been too absurd. Napoleon’s keen intelligence would
have repudiated the idea, even in the state of growing autolatry into
which he was already lapsing in the year 1807. What profit could there
be in giving a kingdom to a false friend, already convicted of secret
disloyalty, incapable, disreputable, and universally detested?

But if we apply another meaning to the Treaty of Fontainebleau we
get a very different light upon it. If we adopt the hypothesis that
Bonaparte’s real aim was to obtain an excuse for marching French
armies into Spain without exciting suspicion, all its provisions
become intelligible. ‘This Prince of the Peace,’ he said in one of his
confidential moments, ‘this mayor of the palace, is loathed by the
nation; he is the rascal who will himself open for me the gates of
Spain[16].’ The phantom principality that was dangled before Godoy’s
eyes was only designed to attract his attention while the armies of
France were being poured across the Pyrenees. It is doubtful whether
the Emperor intended the project of the ‘Principality of the Algarves’
to become generally known. If he did, it must have been with the
intention of making the favourite more odious than he already was to
patriotic Spaniards, at the moment when he and his master were about
to be brushed away by a sweep of the imperial arm. That Napoleon was
already in October preparing other armies beside that of Junot, and
that he purposed to overrun Spain when the time was ripe, is shown in
the Treaty itself. Annexed to it is a convention regulating the details
of the invasion of Portugal: the sixth clause of this paper mentions
that it was the emperor’s intention to concentrate 40,000 more troops
at Bayonne--in case Great Britain should threaten an armed descent on
Portugal--and that this force would be ready to cross the Pyrenees by
November 20. Napoleon sent not 40,000 but 100,000 men, and pushed them
into Spain, though no English invasion of Portugal had taken place, or
even been projected. After this is it possible to believe for a moment
in his good faith, or to think that the Treaty of Fontainebleau was
anything more than a snare?

  [16] ‘Le Prince de la Paix, véritable maire du palais, est en
  horreur à la nation. C’est un gredin qui m’ouvrira lui-même les
  portes de l’Espagne’ (Fouché, _Mémoires_, i. 365).

Those who could best judge what was at the back of the emperor’s mind,
such as Talleyrand and Fouché, penetrated his designs long before the
treaty of Fontainebleau had been signed. Talleyrand declares in his
memoirs[17] that the reason for which he was deprived of the portfolio
of Foreign Affairs in August, 1807, was that he had disliked the scheme
of invading Spain in a treacherous fashion, and warned his master
against it. No improbability is added to this allegation by the fact
that Napoleon at St. Helena repeatedly stated that Talleyrand had
first thought of the idea, and had recommended it to him ‘while at
the same time contriving to set an opinion abroad that he was opposed
to the design.’ On the other hand, we are not convinced of the Prince
of Benevento’s innocence merely by the fact that he wrote in his
autobiography that he was a strenuous opponent of the plan. He says
that the emperor broached the whole scheme to him the moment that he
returned from Tilsit, asseverating that he would never again expose
himself to the danger of a stab in the back at some moment when he
might be busy in Central Europe[18]. He himself, he adds, combated the
project by every possible argument, but could not move his master an
inch from his purpose. This is probably true; but we believe it not
because Talleyrand wrote it down--his bills require the endorsement of
some backer of a less tarnished reputation--but because the whole of
the Spanish episode is executed in the true Napoleonesque manner. Its
scientific mixture of force and fraud is clearly the work of the same
hand that managed the details of the fall of the Venetian Republic, and
of the dethroning of Pope Pius VII. It is impossible to ascribe the
plot to any other author.

  [17] Talleyrand, _Mémoires_, i. 308-329.

  [18] Ibid., i. 378, 379.



Junot’s army was nearing the Portuguese frontier, and the reserve at
Bayonne was already beginning to assemble--it was now styled ‘the
Second Corps of Observation of the Gironde’--when a series of startling
events took place at the Spanish Court. On October 27, the very day
that the treaty of Fontainebleau was signed, Ferdinand, Prince of the
Asturias, was seized by his father and thrown into confinement, on a
charge of high treason, of having plotted to dethrone or even to murder
his aged parent. This astonishing development in the situation need
not be laid to Napoleon’s charge. There have been historians who think
that he deliberately stirred up the whole series of family quarrels at
Madrid: but all the materials for trouble were there already, and the
shape which they took was not particularly favourable to the Emperor’s
present designs. They sprang from the inevitable revolt against the
predominance of Godoy, which had long been due.

The mere fact that an incapable upstart like Godoy had been able to
control the foreign and internal policy of Spain ever since 1792 is a
sufficient evidence of the miserable state of the country. He was a
mere court favourite of the worst class: to compare him to Buckingham
would be far too flattering--and even Piers Gaveston had a pretty
wit and no mean skill as a man-at-arms, though he was also a vain
ostentatious fool. After a few years, we may remember, the one met the
dagger and the other the axe, with the full approval of English public
opinion. But Godoy went on flourishing like the green bay-tree, for
sixteen years, decked with titles and offices and laden with plunder,
with no other support than the queen’s unconcealed partiality for
him, and the idiotic old king’s desire to have trouble taken off his
hands. Every thinking man in Spain hated the favourite as the outward
and visible sign of corruption in high places. Every patriot saw that
the would-be statesman who made himself the adulator first of Barras
and then of Bonaparte, and played cat’s-paw to each of them, to the
ultimate ruin and bankruptcy of the realm, ought to be removed. Yet
there was no sign of any movement against him, save obscure plots in
the household of the Prince Royal. But for the interference of Napoleon
in the affairs of Spain, it is possible that the Prince of the Peace
might have enjoyed many years more of power. Such is the price which
nations pay for handing over their bodies to autocratic monarchy and
their souls to three centuries of training under the Inquisition.

It is perhaps necessary to gain some detailed idea of the unpleasant
family party at Madrid. King Charles IV was now a man of sixty years
of age: he was so entirely simple and helpless that it is hardly an
exaggeration to say that his weakness bordered on imbecility. His elder
brother, Don Philip, was so clearly wanting in intellect that he had to
be placed in confinement and excluded from the throne. It might occur
to us that it would have been well for Spain if Charles had followed
him to the asylum, if we had not to remember that the crown would then
have fallen to Ferdinand of Naples, who if more intelligent was also
more morally worthless than his brother. Till the age of forty Charles
had been entirely suppressed and kept in tutelage by an autocratic
father: when he came to the throne he never developed any will or mind
of his own, and remained the tool and servant of those about him. He
may be described as a good-natured and benevolent imbecile: he was not
cruel or malicious or licentious, or given to extravagant fancies.
His one pronounced taste was hunting: if he could get away from his
ministers to some country palace, and go out all day with his dogs,
his gun, and his gamekeepers, he was perfectly happy. His brother of
Naples, it will be remembered, had precisely the same hobby. Of any
other tastes, save a slight interest in some of the minor handicrafts,
which he shared with his cousin Louis XVI, we find no trace in the old
king. He was very ugly, not with the fierce clever ugliness of his
father Charles III, but in an imbecile fashion, with a frightfully
receding forehead, a big nose, and a retreating jaw generally set in
a harmless grin. He did not understand business or politics, but was
quite capable of getting through speeches and ceremonies when properly
primed and prompted beforehand. Even his private letters were managed
for him by his wife and his favourite. He had just enough brains to be
proud of his position as king, and to resent anything that he regarded
as an attack on his dignity--such as the mention of old constitutional
rights and privileges, or any allusion to a Cortes. He liked, in fact,
to feel himself and to be called an absolute king, though he wished to
hand over all the duties and worries of kingship to his wife and his
chosen servants. Quite contrary to Spanish usage, he often associated
Maria Luisa’s name with his own in State documents, and in popular
diction they were often called ‘los Reyes,’ ‘the Kings,’ as Ferdinand
and Isabella had been three hundred years before.

The Queen was about the most unfit person in Europe to be placed on
the throne at the side of such an imbecile husband. She was his first
cousin, the daughter of his uncle Don Philip, Duke of Parma-Bourbon
on the mother’s side also, for she was the child of the daughter of
Louis XV of France. Maria Luisa was self-confident, flighty, reckless,
and utterly destitute of conscience of any sort. Her celebrated
portrait by Goya gives us at once an idea of the woman, bold,
shameless, pleasure-loving, and as corrupt as Southern court morality
allows--which is saying a good deal. She had from the first taken the
measure of her imbecile husband: she dominated him by her superior
force of will, made him her mere mouthpiece, and practically ruled
the realm, turning him out to hunt while she managed ministers and

For the last twenty years her scandalous partiality for Don Manuel
Godoy had been public property. When Charles IV came to the throne
Godoy was a mere private in the bodyguard--a sort of ornamental corps
of gentlemen-at-arms. He was son of a decayed noble family, a big
handsome showy young man of twenty-one--barely able to read and write,
say his detractors--but a good singer and musician. Within four years
after he caught the Queen’s eye he was a grandee of Spain, a duke,
and prime minister! He was married to a royal princess, the Infanta
Teresa, a cousin of the King, a mésalliance unparalleled in the whole
history of the house of Bourbon. Three years later, to commemorate his
part in concluding the disgraceful peace of Basle, he was given the
odd title of ‘Prince of the Peace,’ ‘Principe de la Paz’: no Spanish
subject had ever before been decorated with any title higher than that
of duke[19]. In 1808 he was a man of forty, beginning to get a little
plump and bald after so many years of good (or evil) living, but still
a fine personable figure. He had stowed away enormous riches, not
only from the gifts of the King and Queen, but by the sale of offices
and commissions, the taking of all sorts of illicit percentages, and
(perhaps the worst symptom of all) by colossal speculations on the
stock exchange. A French ambassador recorded the fact that he had to
keep the treaty of peace of 1802 quiet for three days after it was
signed, in order that Godoy might complete his purchases ‘for a rise’
before the news got about[20]. Godoy was corrupt and licentious, but
not cruel or even tyrannical: though profoundly ignorant, he had the
vanity to pose as a patron of art and science. His foible was to be
hailed as a universal benefactor, and as the introducer of modern
civilization into Spain. He endeavoured to popularize the practice of
vaccination, waged a mild and intermittent war with the Inquisition,
and (a most astonishing piece of courage) tried to suppress the custom
of bull-fighting. The last two acts were by far the most creditable
items that can be put down to his account: unfortunately they were also
precisely those which appealed least to the populace of Spain. Godoy
was a notable collector of pictures and antiquities, and had a certain
liking for, and skill in, music. When this has been said, there is
nothing more to put down in his favour. Fifteen years of power had so
turned his head that for a long time he had been taking himself quite
seriously, and his ambition had grown so monstrous that, not contented
with his alliance by marriage with the royal house, he was dreaming of
becoming a sovereign prince. The bait by which Napoleon finally drew
him into the trap, the promise that he should be given the Algarves
and Alemtejo, was not the Corsican’s own invention. It had been an old
idea of Godoy’s which he broached to his ally early in 1806, only to
receive a severe rebuff. Hence came the joy with which he finally saw
it take shape in the treaty of Fontainebleau[21]. When such schemes
were running in his head, we can perfectly well credit the accusation
which Prince Ferdinand brought against him, of having intended to
change the succession to the crown of Spain, by a _coup d’état_ on the
death of Charles IV. The man had grown capable of any outburst of pride
and ambition. Meanwhile he continued to govern Spain by his hold over
the imbecile and gouty old king and his worthless wife, who was now far
over fifty, but as besotted on her favourite as ever. It was his weary
lot to be always in attendance on them. They could hardly let him out
of their sight. Toreño relates a ridiculous story that, when Napoleon
invited them to dinner on the first night of their unhappy visit to
Bayonne, he did not ask the Prince of the Peace to the royal table.
Charles was so unhappy and uncomfortable that he could not settle down
to his meal till the emperor had sent for Godoy, and found a place for
him near his master and mistress[22].

  [19] The princes that occur in Spanish politics, e.g. Eboli or
  Castelfranco, were holders of Italian, generally Neapolitan,

  [20] Foy, _Guerre de la Péninsule_, ii. 267.

  [21] See the proofs from papers in the Spanish Foreign Office,
  quoted in Arteche’s _Guerra de la Independencia_, i. 148.

  [22] Toreño, i. 86. The story is confirmed by Savary, in his
  _Mémoires_, ii. 221.

The fourth individual with whose personality it is necessary to be
acquainted when studying the court of Spain in 1808 is the heir to the
throne, Ferdinand, Prince of the Asturias. Little was known of him,
for his parents and Godoy had carefully excluded him from political
life. But when a prince is getting on for thirty, and his father has
begun to show signs of failing health, it is impossible that eyes
should not be turned on him from all quarters. Ferdinand was not an
imbecile like his father, nor a scandalous person like his mother; but
(though Spain knew it not) he was coward and a cur. With such parents
he had naturally been brought up very badly. He was ignominiously
excluded from all public business, and kept in absolute ignorance of
all subjects on which a prince should have some knowledge: history,
military science, modern politics, foreign languages, were all sealed
books to him. He had been educated, so far as he was trained at all,
by a clever and ambitious priest, Juan Escoiquiz, a canon of Toledo.
An obscure churchman was not the best tutor for a future sovereign: he
could not instruct the prince in the more necessary arts of governance,
but he seems to have taught him dissimulation and superstition[23].
For Ferdinand was pious with a grovelling sort of piety, which made
him carry about strings of relics, spend much of his time in church
ceremonies, and (as rumour said) take to embroidering petticoats for
his favourite image of the Virgin in his old age.


The prince had one healthy sentiment, a deep hatred for Godoy, who had
from his earliest youth excluded him from his proper place in the court
and the state. But he was too timid to resent the favourite’s influence
by anything but sulky rudeness. If he had chosen, he could at once
have put himself at the head of the powerful body of persons whom the
favourite had disobliged or offended. His few intimate friends, and
above all his tutor Escoiquiz, were always spurring him on to take some
active measures against the Prince of the Peace. But Ferdinand was too
indolent and too cautious to move, though he was in his secret heart
convinced that his enemy was plotting his destruction, and intended to
exclude him from the throne at his father’s death.

  [23] That Escoiquiz was a clever man, and not the mere intriguer
  that he is often called, is (I think) shown not only by the
  impression which he made upon Napoleon (who called him, in jest,
  _le petit Ximénès_) and on De Pradt at Bayonne, but still more by
  his work, the _Conversation avec Napoléon_. If he invented it,
  he must have been a genius, so well has he caught the Emperor’s
  style; if he only reproduced it he was at least an admirable and
  picturesque reporter.

To give a fair idea of the education, character, and brains of this
miserable prince it is only necessary to quote a couple of his letters.
The first was written in November, 1807, when he had been imprisoned
by his father for carrying on the famous secret correspondence with
Napoleon. It runs as follows:--


I have done wrong: I have sinned against your majesty, both as
king and as father; but I have repented, and I now offer your
majesty the most humble obedience. I ought to have done nothing
without your majesty’s knowledge; but I was caught unawares. I
have given up the names of the guilty persons, and I beg your
majesty to pardon me for having lied to you the other night,
and to allow your grateful son to kiss your royal feet.

  (Signed) FERNANDO.

San Lorenzo (The Escurial), Nov. 5, 1807.

  [24] Observe ‘Papa Mio’ instead of ‘Padre Mio.’ The Spanish text
  I have printed as Appendix 3 of this volume. Some say that Godoy
  dictated the wording of the letter, and did not merely insist
  that a letter of some sort must be written to secure a pardon. In
  any case the terms were such as no self-respecting person could
  have signed. The sentence ‘pido à V. M. me perdone por haberle
  mentido la otra noche,’ the most vile in the whole composition,
  are omitted by the courtly De Pradt when he translates it into

It is doubtful whether the childish whining, the base betrayal of his
unfortunate accomplices, or the slavish tone of the confession forms
the most striking point in this epistle.

But the second document that we have to quote gives an even worse idea
of Ferdinand. Several years after he had been imprisoned by Napoleon
at Valençay, a desperate attempt was made to deliver him. Baron Colli,
a daring Austrian officer, entered France, amid a thousand dangers,
with a scheme for delivering the prince: he hoped to get him to the
coast, and to an English frigate, by means of false passports and
relays of swift horses. The unfortunate adventurer was caught and
thrown into a dungeon at Vincennes[25]. After the plot had miscarried
Ferdinand wrote as follows to his jailor:--

‘An unknown person got in here in disguise and proposed to Señor
Amezaga, my master of the horse and steward, to carry me off from
Valençay, asking him to pass on some papers, which he had brought, to
my hands, and to aid in carrying out this horrible undertaking. My
honour, my repose, and the good opinion due to my principles might all
have been compromised, if Señor Amezaga had not given proof of his
devotion to His Imperial Majesty and to myself, by revealing everything
to me at once. I write immediately to give information of the matter,
and take this opportunity of showing anew my inviolable fidelity to the
Emperor Napoleon, and the horror that I feel at this infernal project,
whose author, I hope, may be chastised according to his deserts.’

  [25] There is a very black underplot in the story of Baron
  Colli. When he was caught the French police sent a spy with
  his credentials to Valençay, to see how far the persons about
  Ferdinand could be induced to compromise themselves. But the
  prince’s terror, and abject delation of the supposed baron,
  stopped further proceedings.

It is not surprising to find that the man who was capable of writing
this letter also wrote more than once to congratulate Joseph Bonaparte
on his victories over the ‘rebels’ in Spain.

It had been clear for some time that the bitter hatred which the
Prince Royal bore to Godoy, and the fear which the favourite felt
at the prospect of his enemy’s accession to the throne, would lead
to some explosion ere long. If Ferdinand had been a man of ordinary
ability and determination he could probably have organized a _coup
d’état_ to get rid of the favourite, without much trouble. But he
was so slow and timid that, in spite of all the exhortations of his
partisans, he never did more than copy out two letters to his father
which Escoiquiz drafted for him. He never screwed up his courage to the
point of sending them, or personally delivering them into his father’s
hands. They were rhetorical compositions, setting forth the moral and
political turpitude of Godoy, and warning the King that his favourite
was guilty of designs on the throne. If Charles IV had been given them,
he probably could not have made out half the meaning, and would have
handed them over for interpretation to the trusty Manuel himself. The
only other move which the prince was induced to make was to draw out
a warrant appointing his friend and confidant, the Duke of Infantado,
Captain-General of New Castile. It was to be used if the old king, who
was then labouring under one of his attacks of gout, should chance to
be carried off by it. The charge of Madrid, and of the troops in its
vicinity, was to be consigned to one whom Ferdinand could trust, so
that Godoy might be check-mated.

But the Prince of the Asturias took one other step in the autumn of
1807 which was destined to bring matters to a head. It occurred to
him that instead of incurring the risks of conspiracy at home he
would do better to apply for aid to his father’s all-powerful ally.
If Napoleon took up his cause, and promised him protection, he would
be safe against all the machinations of the Prince of the Peace: for
a frank and undisguised terror of the Emperor was the mainspring of
Godoy’s foreign and domestic policy. Ferdinand thought that he had a
sure method of enlisting Bonaparte’s benevolence: he was at this moment
the most eligible _parti_ in Europe: he had lost his first wife, a
daughter of his uncle of Naples, and being childless was bound to marry
again[26]. By offering to accept a spouse of the Emperor’s choice he
would give such a guarantee of future loyalty and obedience that his
patron (who was quite aware of Godoy’s real feelings towards France)
would withdraw all his support from the favourite and transfer it to
himself. Acting under the advice of Escoiquiz, with whom he was always
in secret communication, Ferdinand first sounded the French ambassador
at Madrid, the Marquis de Beauharnais, a brother-in-law of the Empress
Josephine. Escoiquiz saw the ambassador, who displayed much pleasure
at his proposals, and urged him to encourage the prince to proceed
with his plan[27]. The fact was that the diplomatist saw profit to
his own family in the scheme: for in default of eligible damsels of
the house of Bonaparte, it was probable that the lady whom the Emperor
might choose as Queen of Spain would be one of his own relatives--some
Beauharnais or Tascher--a niece or cousin of the Empress. A wife for
the hereditary prince of Baden had been already chosen from among them
in the preceding year.

  [26] Godoy had the impudence to propose to the prince that
  he should marry Donna Luisa, the younger sister of his own
  unfortunate wife, and the cousin of the King. Ferdinand found
  courage to refuse this alliance.

  [27] The intrigues of Escoiquiz had begun as early as March,
  1807, the month in which the letters to the King against Godoy
  were drafted. The negotiation with Beauharnais began in June.
  These dates are strongly against the idea that Bonaparte was at
  the bottom of the whole affair; his hand does not appear till
  July-August. Indeed he was far away in Eastern Germany when
  Escoiquiz began his interviews with the ambassador.

When therefore Escoiquiz broached the matter to the ambassador in June,
1807, the latter only asked that he should be given full assurance
that the Prince of the Asturias would carry out his design. No private
interview could be managed between them in the existing state of
Spanish court etiquette, and with the spies of Godoy lurking in every
corner. But by a prearranged code of signals Ferdinand certified to
Beauharnais, at one of the royal levées, that he had given all his
confidence to Escoiquiz, and that the latter was really acting in his
name. The ambassador therefore undertook to transmit to his master at
Paris any document which the prince might entrust to him. Hence there
came to be written the celebrated letter of October 11, 1807, in which
Ferdinand implored the pity of ‘the hero sent by providence to save
Europe from anarchy, to strengthen tottering thrones, and to give to
the nations peace and felicity.’ His father, he said, was surrounded
by malignant and astute intriguers who had estranged him from his son.
But one word from Paris would suffice to discomfit such persons, and
to open the eyes of his loved parents to the just grievances of their
child. As a token of amity and protection he ventured to ask Bonaparte
for the hand of some lady of his august house. He does not seem to have
had any particular one in his eye, as the demand is made in the most
general terms. The choice would really have lain between the eldest
daughter of Lucien Bonaparte, who was then (as usual) on strained terms
with his brother, and one of the numerous kinswomen of the Empress

Godoy was so well served by his numerous spies that the news of the
letter addressed to Bonaparte was soon conveyed to him. He resolved to
take advantage to the full of the mistake which the prince had made
in opening a correspondence with a foreign power behind the back of
his father. He contrived an odious scene. He induced the old king to
make a sudden descent on his son’s apartments on the night of October
27, with an armed guard at his back, to accuse him publicly of aiming
at dethroning or even murdering his parents, and to throw him into
solitary confinement. Ferdinand’s papers were sequestrated, but there
was found among them nothing of importance except the two documents
denouncing Godoy, which the prince had composed or copied out under
the direction of his adviser Escoiquiz, and a cypher code which was
discovered to have belonged to the prince’s late wife, and to have been
used by her in her private letters to her mother, the Queen of Naples.

There was absolutely nothing that proved any intention on the part of
Ferdinand to commit himself to overt treason, though plenty to show
his deep discontent, and his hatred for the Prince of the Peace. The
only act that an honest critic could call disloyal was the attempt to
open up a correspondence with Napoleon. But Godoy thought that he had
found his opportunity of crushing the heir to the throne, and even of
removing him from the succession. He caused Charles IV to publish an
extraordinary manifesto to his subjects, in which he was made to speak
as follows:--

‘God, who watches over all creation, does not permit the success of
atrocious designs against an innocent victim. His omnipotence has just
delivered me from an incredible catastrophe. My people, my faithful
subjects, know my Christian life, my regular conduct: they all love me
and give me constant proof of their veneration, the reward due to a
parent who loves his children. I was living in perfect confidence, when
an unknown hand delated to me the most enormous and incredible plot,
hatched in my own palace against my person. The preservation of my
life, which has been already several times in danger, should have been
the special charge of the heir to my throne, but blinded, and estranged
from all those Christian principles in which my paternal care and
love have reared him, he has given his consent to a plot to dethrone
me. Taking in hand the investigation of the matter, I surprised him
in his apartments and found in his hands the cypher which he used
to communicate with his evil counsellors. I have thrown several of
these criminals into prison, and have put my son under arrest in his
own abode. This necessary punishment adds another sorrow to the many
which already afflict me; but as it is the most painful of all, it is
also the most necessary of all to carry out. Meanwhile I publish the
facts: I do not hide from my subjects the grief that I feel--which can
only be lessened by the proofs of loyalty which I know that they will
display’[28] [Oct. 30, 1807].

  [28] The manuscript of this decree was in the handwriting of
  Godoy himself.

Charles was therefore made to charge his son with a deliberate plot to
dethrone him, and even to hint that his life had been in danger. The
only possible reason for the formulating of this most unjustifiable
accusation must have been that Godoy thought that he might now dare to
sweep away the Prince of the Asturias from his path by imprisonment
or exile. There can be no other explanation for the washing in public
of so much of the dirty linen of the palace. Ferdinand, by his craven
conduct, did his best to help his enemy’s designs: in abject fear he
delated to the King the names of Escoiquiz and his other confidants,
the dukes of Infantado and San Carlos. He gave full particulars of his
attempt to communicate with Napoleon, and of all his correspondence
with his partisans--even acknowledging that he had given Infantado that
undated commission as Captain-General of New Castile, to come into
effect when he himself should become king, which we have already had
occasion to mention. This act, it must be owned, was a little unseemly,
but if it had really borne the sinister meaning that Godoy chose to
put upon it, we may guess that Ferdinand would never have divulged it.
In addition the prince wrote the disgusting letter of supplication to
his father which has been already quoted, owning that ‘he had lied the
other night,’ and asking leave to kiss his majesty’s royal feet. It
is beyond dispute that this epistle, with another similar one to the
Queen, was written after a stormy interview with Godoy. The favourite
had been allowed by his master and mistress to visit Ferdinand in
prison, and to bully him into writing these documents, which (as he
hoped) would ruin the prince’s reputation for ever with every man of
heart and honour. Godoy was wrong here: what struck the public mind far
more than the prince’s craven tone was the unseemliness of publishing
to the world his miserable letters. That a prince royal of Spain should
have been terrified by an upstart charlatan like Godoy into writing
such words maddened all who read them.

Napoleon was delighted to see the royal family of Spain putting itself
in such an odious light. He only intervened on a side issue by sending
peremptory orders that in any proceedings taken against the Prince of
the Asturias no mention was to be made of himself or of his ambassador,
i.e. the matter of the secret appeal to France (the one thing for which
Ferdinand could be justly blamed) was not to be allowed to transpire.
It was probably this communication from Paris which saved Ferdinand
from experiencing the full consequences of Godoy’s wrath[29]. If any
public trial took place, it was certain that either Ferdinand or some
of his friends would speak of the French intrigue, and if the story
came out Napoleon would be angry. The mere thought of this possibility
so worked upon the favourite that he suddenly resolved to stop the
impeachment of the prince. In return for his humiliating prayers for
mercy he was given a sort of ungracious pardon. ‘The voice of nature,’
so ran the turgid proclamation which Godoy dictated to the old king,
‘disarms the hand of vengeance; I forgive my son, and will restore
him to my good graces when his conduct shall have proved him a truly
reformed character.’ Ferdinand was left dishonoured and humiliated: he
had been accused of intended parricide, made to betray his friends and
to confess plots which he had never formed, and then pardoned. Godoy
hoped that he was so ruined in the eyes of the Spanish people, and
(what was more important) in the eyes of Napoleon, that there would be
no more trouble with him, a supposition in which he grievously erred.
After a decent interval the prince’s fellow conspirators, Escoiquiz and
Infantado, were acquitted of high treason by the court before which
they had been sent, and allowed to go free. Of the dreadful accusations
made in the Proclamation of Oct. 30 nothing more was heard.

  [29] Cf. Foy and Toreño, who agree on this point. Napoleon
  insinuates as much in his letter to Ferdinand of April 16, 1808:
  ‘I flatter myself that I contributed by my representations to the
  happy ending of the affair of the Escurial’ (_Nap. Corresp._,

The whole of the ‘Affair of the Escurial,’ as the arrest, imprisonment,
and forgiveness of Ferdinand came to be called, took place between the
twenty-seventh of October and the fifth of November, dates at which
it is pretty certain that Napoleon’s unscrupulous designs against the
royal house of Spain had long been matured. The open quarrel of the
imbecile father and the cowardly son only helped him in his plans, by
making more manifest than ever the deplorable state of the Spanish
court. It served as a useful plea to justify acts of aggression which
must have been planned many months before. If it had never taken place,
it is still certain that Napoleon would have found some other plea for
sweeping out the worthless house of Bourbon from the Peninsula. He
had begun to collect armies at the roots of the Pyrenees, without any
obvious military necessity, some weeks before Ferdinand was arrested.
When that simple fact is taken into consideration we see at once the
hollowness of his plea, elaborated during his exile at St. Helena[30],
that it was the disgraceful explosion of family hatred in the Spanish
royal house that first suggested to him the idea of removing the whole
generation of Bourbons, and giving Spain a new king and a new dynasty.

  [30] Las Cases, ii. 206.


It may perhaps be worth while to give, for what it is worth,
a story which I find in the _Vaughan Papers_ concerning the
causes of the final quarrel between Godoy and the Prince of
the Asturias, ending in the arrest of the latter and the whole
‘Affair of the Escurial.’ Among Vaughan’s large collection
of miscellaneous papers is a long document addressed to him
by one of his Spanish friends, purporting to give the secret
history of the rupture; the narrative is said by the author to
have been obtained from the mouth of the minister Caballero,
who would certainly have had the best means of gaining court
intelligence in October, 1807. The tale runs as follows: ‘The
Queen had for many years been accustomed to make secret visits
to Godoy’s palace under cover of the dark, escorted only by a
lady-in-waiting and a single body-servant. The sentinels round
the palace had been designedly so placed that none of them
covered the postern door by which her majesty was accustomed
to pass in and out. One night in the autumn of 1807 the whole
system of the palace-guards was suddenly changed without the
Queen’s knowledge, and when she returned from her excursion
she ran into the arms of a corporal’s guard placed in front of
the privy entrance. The men, fortunately for Maria Luisa, did
not recognize the three muffled figures who fell into their
clutches, and allowed them to buy their way in for an _onza
d’oro_, or gold twenty-dollar piece. But when Godoy and the
Queen talked the matter over, and found that King Charles had
ordered the inconvenient alterations in the sentinels, they
came to the conclusion that Ferdinand had deliberately induced
his father to change the posts of the guard, with the object
either of stopping his mother’s exits or of making a public
scandal by causing her to be arrested at this strange place and
hour. The Prince chanced to have had a private conversation
with his father on the previous day, and this might well have
been its result.’ In high wrath, the story proceeds, the Queen
and the favourite resolved to crush Ferdinand at once, and
to get him excluded from the succession. They chose the very
inadequate excuse of the letter of the Prince to Napoleon,
of which they had perfect cognizance from the very moment of
its being written. But, we are assured, they were quite wrong
in their suspicions, the originator of the movement of the
sentries, which had so disconcerted them, having been Baron
Versage, the newly appointed colonel of the Walloon Guards.
He had got the King’s leave to rearrange the watching of the
palace, and going round it had spied the private door, which he
had blocked with a new picquet, quite unaware of the purpose
for which it had been used for so many years. This Versage,
it will be remembered, served under Palafox, and was killed
in Aragon during the first year of the war. I should imagine
the whole tale to be an ingenious fiction, in spite of the
name of Caballero cited in its support: of that personage
Napoleon wrote [_Nap. Corresp._ 14,015] ‘il a une très mauvaise
réputation; c’est tout dire que de dire qu’il était l’homme de
confiance de la Reine.’ But the story was current in Spain very
soon after the alleged adventure took place.



There is certainly no example in history of a kingdom conquered in so
few days and with such small trouble as was Portugal in 1807. That a
nation of three million souls, which in earlier days had repeatedly
defended itself with success against numbers far greater than those
now employed against it, should yield without firing a single shot
was astonishing. It is a testimony not only to the timidity of the
Portuguese Government, but to the numbing power of Napoleon’s name.

The force destined by the Treaty of Fontainebleau for the invasion of
Portugal consisted of Junot’s ‘Army of the Gironde,’ 25,000 strong,
and of three auxiliary Spanish corps amounting in all to about the
same numbers. Of these one, coming from Galicia[31], was to strike at
Oporto and the Lower Douro; another, from Badajoz[32], was to take
the fortress of Elvas, the southern bulwark of Portugal, and then to
march on Lisbon by the left bank of the Tagus. These were flanking
operations: the main blow at the Portuguese capital was to be dealt by
Junot himself, strengthened by a third Spanish force[33]; they were to
concentrate at Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo, and make for Lisbon by the
high-road that passes by Almeida and Coimbra.

  [31] Composed of 6,500 men under General Taranco, marching from

  [32] Composed of 9,500 men under Solano, Captain-General of
  Andalusia, and marching from Badajoz.

  [33] Composed of 9,500 men under Caraffa.

The Army of the Gironde crossed the Bidassoa on October 18: by the 12th
of November it had arrived at Salamanca, having covered 300 miles in
twenty-five days--very leisurely marching at the rate of twelve miles
a day. The Spaniards would not have been pleased to know that, by
Napoleon’s orders, engineer officers were secretly taking sketches of
every fortified place and defile that the army passed, and preparing
reports as to the resources of all the towns of Old Castile and Leon.
This was one of the many signs of the Emperor’s ultimate designs. On
the 12th of November, in consequence we cannot doubt of the outbreak
of the troubles of October 27 at the Spanish court, Junot suddenly
received new orders, telling him to hurry. He was informed that every
day which intervened before his arrival at Lisbon was time granted to
the Portuguese in which to prepare resistance,--possibly also time in
which England, who had plenty of troops in the Mediterranean, might
make up her mind to send military aid to her old ally. Junot was
directed to quicken his pace, and to strike before the enemy could
mature plans of defence.

For this reason he was told to change his route. The Emperor had
originally intended to invade the country over the usual line of attack
from Spain, by Almeida and Coimbra, which Masséna was to take three
years later, in 1810. But when the events at the Escurial showed that a
crisis was impending in Spain, Napoleon changed his mind: there was the
fortress of Almeida in the way, which might offer resistance and cause
delay, and beyond were nearly 200 miles of difficult mountain roads.
Looking at his maps, Napoleon saw that there was a much shorter way to
Lisbon by another route, down the Tagus. From Alcantara, the Spanish
frontier town on that river, to Lisbon is only 120 miles, and there is
no fortress on the way. The maps could not show the Emperor that this
road was for half of its length a series of rocky defiles through an
almost unpeopled wilderness.

Orders were therefore sent to Junot to transfer his base of operations
from Salamanca to Alcantara, and to march down the Tagus. The Spaniards
(according to their orders) had collected the magazines for feeding
Junot’s force at Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo. But for that Napoleon
cared little. He wrote that the army must take the shortest road
at all costs, whatever the difficulty of getting supplies. ‘I will
not have the march of the army delayed for a single day,’ he added;
‘20,000 men can feed themselves anywhere, even in a desert.’ It was
indeed a desert that Junot was ordered to cross: the hill-road from
Ciudad Rodrigo to Alcantara, which hugs the Portuguese frontier, has
hardly a village on it; it crosses ridge after ridge, ravine after
ravine. In November the rains had just set in, and every torrent was
full. Over this stony wilderness, by the Pass of Perales, the French
army rushed in five days, but at the cost of dreadful privations.
When it reached Alcantara half the horses had perished of cold, all
the guns but six had been left behind, stranded at various points on
the road, and of the infantry more than a quarter was missing--the
famished men having scattered in all directions to find food. If
there had been a Portuguese force watching Alcantara, Junot must
have waited for many days to get his army together again, all the
more so because every cartridge that his men were carrying had been
spoiled by the wet. But there were no enemies near; Junot found at
the great Tagus bridge only a few Spanish battalions and guns on the
way to join his army. Confiscating their munitions to fill his men’s
pouches, and their food to provide them with two days’ rations, Junot
rushed on again upon the 19th of November. He found, to his surprise,
that there was no road suitable for wheeled traffic along the Tagus
valley, but only a poor track running along the foot of the mountains
to Castello Branco, the sole Portuguese town in this part of the
frontier. The march from Alcantara to Abrantes proved even more trying
than that from Ciudad Rodrigo to Alcantara. It was through a treeless
wilderness of grey granite, seamed with countless ravines. The rain
continued, the torrents were even fuller than before, the country even
more desolate than the Spanish side of the border. It was only after
terrible sufferings that the head of the column reached Abrantes on
November 23: the rear trailed in on the 26th. All the guns except four
Spanish pieces of horse artillery had fallen behind: the cavalry was
practically dismounted. Half the infantry was marauding off the road,
or resting dead-beat in the few poor villages that it had passed. If
there had been even 5,000 Portuguese troops at Abrantes the French
would have been brought to a stop. But instead of hostile battalions,
Junot found there only an anxious diplomatist, named Barreto, sent by
the Prince-Regent to stop his advance by offers of servile submission
to the Emperor and proffers of tribute. Reassured as to the possibility
that the Portuguese might have been intending armed resistance, Junot
now took a most hazardous step. Choosing the least disorganized
companies of every regiment, he made up four battalions of picked men,
and pushed on again for Lisbon, now only seventy-five miles distant.
This time he had neither a gun nor a horseman left, but he struggled
forward, and on the 30th of November entered the Portuguese capital at
the head of 1,500 weary soldiers, all that had been able to endure to
the end. They limped in utterly exhausted, their clothes in rags, and
their cartridges so soaked through that they could not have fired a
shot had they been attacked. If the mob of Lisbon had fallen on them
with sticks and stones, the starving invaders must have been driven
out of the city. But nothing of the kind happened, and Junot was able
to install himself as governor of Portugal without having to strike
a blow. It was ten days before the last of the stragglers came up
from the rear, and even more before the artillery appeared and the
cavalry began to remount itself with confiscated horses. Meanwhile
the Portuguese were digesting the fact that they had allowed 1,500
famished, half-armed men to seize their capital.

While Junot had been rushing on from Salamanca to Alcantara, and from
Alcantara to Abrantes, Lisbon had been the scene of much pitiful
commotion. The Prince-Regent had long refused to believe that Napoleon
really intended to dethrone him, and had been still occupying himself
with futile schemes for propitiating the Emperor. Of his courtiers
and generals, hardly one counselled resistance: there was no talk of
mobilizing the dilapidated army of some 30,000 men which the country
was supposed to possess, or of calling out the militia which had done
such good service in earlier wars with Spain and France. Prince John
contented himself with declaring war on England on the twentieth of
October, and with garrisoning the coast batteries which protect Lisbon
against attacks from the sea. Of these signs of obedience he sent
reports to Napoleon: on the eighth of November he seized the persons of
the few English merchants who still remained in Portugal; the majority
had wisely absconded in October. At the same time he let the British
Government know that he was at heart their friend, and only driven by
brute force to his present course: he even permitted their ambassador,
Lord Strangford, to linger in Lisbon.

In a few days the Regent began to see that Napoleon was inexorable: his
ambassador from Paris was sent back to him, and reported that he had
passed on the way the army of Junot marching by Burgos on Salamanca.
Presently an English fleet under Sir Sydney Smith, the hero of Acre,
appeared at the mouth of the Tagus, and declared Lisbon in a state of
blockade--the natural reply to the Regent’s declaration of war and
seizure of English residents. Other reasons existed for the blockade:
there had lately arrived in the Tagus a Russian squadron on its
homeward way from the Mediterranean. The Czar Alexander was at this
time Napoleon’s eager ally, and had just declared war on England;
it seemed wise to keep an eye on these ships, whose arrival appeared
to synchronize in a most suspicious way with the approach of Junot.
Moreover there was the Portuguese fleet to be considered: if the
Prince-Regent intended to hand it over to the French, it would have to
be dealt with in the same way as the Danish fleet had been treated a
few months before.

Lord Strangford retired on board Sydney Smith’s flagship, the
_Hibernia_, and from thence continued to exchange notes with the
miserable Portuguese Government. The Regent was still hesitating
between sending still more abject proposals of submission to Bonaparte,
and the only other alternative, that of getting on board his fleet and
crossing the Atlantic to the great Portuguese colony in Brazil. The
news that Junot had reached Alcantara only confused him still more; he
could not make up his mind to leave his comfortable palace at Mafra,
his gardens, and the countless chapels and shrines in which his soul
delighted, in order to dare the unaccustomed horrors of the deep. On
the other hand, he feared that, if he stayed, he might ere long find
himself a prisoner of state in some obscure French castle. At last
his mind was made up for him from without: Lord Strangford on the
twenty-fifth of November received a copy of the Paris _Moniteur_ of the
thirteenth of October, in which appeared a proclamation in the true
Napoleonesque vein, announcing that ‘the house of Braganza had ceased
to reign in Europe.’ The celerity with which the paper had been passed
on from Paris to London and from London to Lisbon was most fortunate,
as it was just not too late for the prince to fly, though far too late
for him to think of defending himself. Junot was already at Abrantes,
but during the four days which he spent between that place and Lisbon
the die was cast. Abandoning his wonted indecision, the Regent hurried
on shipboard his treasure, his state papers, his insane mother, his
young family, and all the hangers-on of his court. The whole fleet,
fifteen men-of-war, was crowded with official refugees and their
belongings. More than twenty merchant vessels were hastily manned and
freighted with other inhabitants of Lisbon, who determined to fly with
their prince: merchants and nobles alike preferred the voyage to Rio de
Janeiro to facing the dreaded French. On the twenty-ninth of November
the whole convoy passed out of the mouth of the Tagus and set sail for
the West. When he toiled in on the thirtieth, Junot found the birds
flown, and took possession of the dismantled city.

Junot’s Spanish auxiliaries were, as might have been expected from the
national character and the deplorable state of the government, much
slower than their French allies. Solano and the southern army did not
enter Portugal till the second of December, three days after Lisbon
had fallen. Taranco and the Galician corps only reached Oporto on the
thirteenth of December. To neither of them was any opposition offered:
the sole show of national feeling which they met was that the Governor
of Valenza closed his gates, and would not admit the Spaniards till he
heard that Lisbon was in the enemy’s hands, and that the Prince-Regent
had abandoned the country.

Junot at first made some attempt to render himself popular and to keep
his troops in good discipline. But it was impossible to conciliate the
Portuguese: when they saw the exhausted condition and comparatively
small numbers of the army that had overrun their realm, they were
filled with rage to think that no attempt had been made to strike a
blow to save its independence. When, on the thirteenth of December,
Junot made a great show out of the ceremony of hauling down the
Portuguese flag and of hoisting the tricolour on the public buildings
of the metropolis, there broke out a fierce riot, which had to be
dispersed with a cavalry charge. But this was the work of the mob:
both the civil and the military authorities showed a servile obedience
to Junot’s orders, and no one of importance stood forward to head the

The first precautionary measure of the French general was to dissolve
the Portuguese army. He ordered the discharge of all men with less than
one and more than six years’ service, dissolved the old regimental
_cadres_, and reorganized the 6,000 or 7,000 men left into nine new
corps, which were soon ordered out of the realm. Ultimately they
were sent to the Baltic, and remained garrisoned in Northern Germany
for some years. At the time of the Russian War of 1812 there were
still enough of these unhappy exiles left to constitute three strong
regiments. Nearly all of them perished in the snow during the retreat
from Moscow.

Further endeavour to make French rule popular in Portugal was soon
rendered impossible by orders from Paris. The Emperor’s mandate
not only bade Junot confiscate and realize all the property of the
15,000 persons, small and great, who had fled to Brazil with the
Prince-Regent; it also commanded him to raise a fine of 100,000,000
francs, four millions of our money, from the little kingdom. But the
emigrants had carried away nearly half the coined money in Portugal,
and the rest had been hidden, leaving nothing but coppers and
depreciated paper money visible in circulation. With the best will in
the world Junot found it difficult to begin to collect even the nucleus
of the required sum. The heavy taxes and imposts which he levied had
no small effect in adding to the discontent of the people, but their
total did little more than pay for the maintenance of the invaders.
Meanwhile the troops behaved with the usual licence of a French army in
a conquered country, and repeatedly provoked sanguinary brawls with the
peasantry. Military executions of persons who had resisted requisitions
by force began as early as January, 1808. Nothing was wanting to
prepare an insurrection but leaders: of their appearance there was
no sign; the most spirited members of the upper classes had gone off
with the Regent. Those who had remained were the miserable bureaucrats
which despotic governments always breed. They were ready to serve the
stranger if they could keep their posts and places. A discreditable
proportion of the old state servants acquiesced in the new government.
The Patriarch of Lisbon issued a fulsome address in praise of Napoleon.
The members of the provisional government which the Regent had
nominated on his departure mostly submitted to Junot. There was little
difficulty found in collecting a deputation, imposing by its numbers
and by the names of some of its personnel, which travelled to Bayonne,
to compliment Bonaparte and request him to grant some definite form
of government to Portugal. The Emperor treated them in a very offhand
way, asked them if they would like to be annexed to Spain, and on
their indignant repudiation of that proposal, sent them off with a few
platitudes to the effect that the lot of a nation depends upon itself,
and that his eye was upon them. But this interview only took place in
April, 1808, when events in Spain were assuming a very different aspect
from that which they displayed at the moment of Junot’s first seizure
of Lisbon.



The ‘Affair of the Escurial’ added some complications to the situation
of affairs in Spain from Napoleon’s point of view. But there was
nothing in it to make him alter the plans which he was at this moment
carrying out: if the Bourbons were to be evicted from Spain, it
made the task somewhat easier to find that the heir to the throne
was now in deep disgrace. It would be possible to urge that by his
parricidal plots he had forfeited any rights to the kingdom which he
had hitherto possessed. In dealing with the politics of Spain he might
for the future be disregarded, and there would be no one to take into
consideration save the King and Queen and Godoy. All three were, as the
Emperor knew, profoundly unpopular: if anything had been needed to make
the nation more discontented, it was the late scandalous events at the
Escurial. Nothing could be more convenient than that the favourite and
his sovereigns should sink yet further into the abyss of unpopularity.

Napoleon therefore went steadily on with his plans for pushing more
and more French troops into Spain, with the object of occupying all
the main strategical points in the kingdom. The only doubtful point in
his schemes is whether he ultimately proposed to seize on the persons
of the royal family, or whether he intended by a series of threatening
acts to scare them off to Mexico, as he had already scared the Prince
of Portugal off to Rio de Janeiro. It is on the whole probable that
he leaned to the latter plan. Every week the attitude of the French
armies became more aggressive, and the language of their master more
haughty and sinister[34]. The tone in which he had forbidden the court
of Spain to allow any mention of himself or his ambassador to appear,
during the trial of Prince Ferdinand and his fellow conspirators, had
been menacing in the highest degree. After the occupation of Portugal
no further allusion had been made to the project for proclaiming Godoy
Prince of the Algarves. His name was never mentioned either to the
Portuguese or to the officers of Junot. The favourite soon saw that he
had been duped, but was too terrified to complain.

  [34] It is impossible to doubt that Napoleon’s scheme was already
  in progress as early as October. On Nov. 13 he sent orders for
  the secret arming and provisioning of all the frontier fortresses
  of France (_Nap. Corresp._, 13,343). On Nov. 24 he directed his
  chamberlain, De Tournon, to spy out the condition of Pampeluna
  and the other Spanish border strongholds, and to discover the
  exact distribution of the Spanish army (13,354). Such moves could
  have but one meaning.

But it was the constant influx into Spain of French troops which
contributed in the most serious way to frighten the Spanish court.
Junot had entered Lisbon on Nov. 30, and the news that he had mastered
the place without firing a shot had reached the Emperor early in
December. But long before, on the twenty-second of November, the French
reserves, hitherto known as the ‘Second Corps of Observation of the
Gironde,’ which had been collected at Bayonne in November, crossed the
Spanish frontier. They consisted of 25,000 men--nearly all recently
levied conscripts--under General Dupont. The treaty of Fontainebleau
had contained a clause providing that, if the English tried to defend
Portugal by landing troops, Napoleon might send 40,000 men to aid Junot
_after giving due notice to the King of Spain_. Instead of waiting
to hear how the first corps had fared, or apprising his ally of his
intention to dispatch Dupont’s corps across the frontier, the Emperor
merely ordered it to cross the Bidassoa without sending any information
to Madrid. The fact was that whether the preliminary condition stated
in the treaty, an English descent on Portugal, did or did not take
place, Bonaparte was determined to carry out his design. A month later
the Spaniards heard, to their growing alarm, that yet a third army
corps had come across the border: this was the ‘Corps of Observation
of the Ocean Coast,’ which had been hastily organized under Marshal
Moncey at Bordeaux, and pushed on to Bayonne when Dupont’s troops
moved forward. It was 30,000 strong, but mainly composed of conscript
battalions of the levy of 1808, which had been raised by anticipation
in the previous spring, while the Russian war was still in progress. On
the eighth of January this army began to pass the Pyrenees, occupying
all the chief towns of Biscay and Navarre, while Dupont’s divisions
pressed on and cantoned themselves in Burgos, Valladolid, and the
other chief cities of Old Castile. They made no further advance towards
Portugal, where Junot clearly did not require their aid.

The Spanish government was terror-stricken at the unexpected appearance
of more than 60,000 French troops on the road to Madrid. If anything
more was required to cause suspicion, it was the news that still more
‘corps of observation’ were being formed at Bordeaux and Poitiers.
What legitimate reason could there possibly be for the direction of
such masses of troops on Northern Spain? But any thought of resistance
was far from the mind of Godoy and the King. Their first plan was to
propitiate Napoleon by making the same request which had brought the
Prince of the Asturias into such trouble in October--that the hand of
a princess of the house of Bonaparte might be granted to the heir of
the Spanish throne. The Emperor was making an ostentatious tour in
Italy while his forces were overrunning the provinces of his ally--as
if the occupation of Castile and Biscay were no affair of his. His
most important act in November was to evict from Florence the ruling
sovereign, the King of Etruria, and the Regent, his mother, thus
annexing the last surviving Bourbon state save Spain to the French
crown. He wrote polite but meaningless letters to Madrid, making no
allusion to the boon asked by Charles IV. The fact was that Napoleon
could now treat Ferdinand as ‘damaged goods’; he was, by his father’s
own avowal, no more than a pardoned parricide, and it suited the policy
of the Emperor to regard him as a convicted criminal who had played
away his rights of succession. If Napoleon visited his brother Lucien
at Mantua, it was not (as was thought at the time) with any real
intention of persuading him to give his daughter to the craven suitor
offered her[35], but in order to tempt her father to accept the crown
of Portugal--even perhaps that of Spain. But Lucien, who always refused
to fall in with Napoleon’s family policy, showed no gratitude for the
offer of a thorny throne in the Iberian Peninsula, and not without
reason, for one of the details of the bargain was to be that he should
divorce a wife to whom he was fondly attached.

  [35] Note on this point Talleyrand’s _Mémoires_, i. 333, and
  _Nap. Corresp._, 13,402 (Napoleon to Joseph Bonaparte, Dec. 17,

It was only after returning from Italy in January that the Emperor
deigned to answer the King of Spain’s letter, now two months old, in
precise terms. He did not object to the principle of the alliance,
but doubted if he could give any daughter of his house to ‘a son
dishonoured by his own father’s declaration.’ This reply was not very
reassuring to Godoy and his master, and worse was to follow. In the
end of January the _Moniteur_, which the Emperor always used as a
means for ventilating schemes which were before long to take shape in
fact, began a systematic course of abusing the Prince of the Peace as
a bad minister and a false friend. More troops kept pouring across the
Pyrenees without any ostensible reason, and now it was not only at
the western passes that they began to appear, but also on the eastern
roads which lead from Roussillon into Catalonia and Valencia. These
provinces are so remote from Portugal that it was clear that the army
which was collecting opposite them could not be destined for Lisbon.
But on February 10, 1808, 14,000 men, half French, half Italians, under
General Duhesme, began to drift into Catalonia and to work their way
down towards its capital--Barcelona. A side-light on the meaning of
this development was given by Izquierdo, Godoy’s agent at Paris, who
now kept sending his master very disquieting reports. French ministers
had begun to sound him as to the way in which Spain would take a
proposal for the cession to France of Catalonia and part of Biscay, in
return for Central Portugal. King Charles would probably be asked ere
long to give up these ancient and loyal provinces, and to do so would
mean the outbreak of a revolution all over Spain.

In the middle of February Napoleon finally threw off the mask, and
frankly displayed himself as a robber in his ally’s abode. On the
sixteenth of the month began that infamous seizure by surprise of the
Spanish frontier fortresses, which would pass for the most odious act
of the Emperor’s whole career, if the kidnapping at Bayonne were not to
follow. The movement started at Pampeluna: French troops were quartered
in the lower town, while a Spanish garrison held, as was natural, the
citadel. One cold morning a large party of French soldiers congregated
about the gate of the fortress, without arms, and pretended to be
amusing themselves with snowballing, while waiting for a distribution
of rations. At a given signal many of them, as if beaten in the mock
contest, rushed in at the gate, pursued by the rest. The first men
knocked down the unsuspecting sentinels, and seized the muskets of the
guard stacked in the arms-racks of the guard-room. Then a company of
grenadiers, who had been hidden in a neighbouring house, suddenly ran
in at the gate, followed by a whole battalion which had been at drill a
few hundred yards away. The Spanish garrison, taken utterly by surprise
and unarmed, were hustled out of their quarters and turned into the

  [36] In _Nap. Corresp._, 13,588, will be found the orders to
  General D’Armagnac to get possession of the citadel by menaces
  if he can, but if he cannot, by the actual use of force. ‘S’il
  arrivait que le commandant-général de Navarre se refusât à rendre
  la citadelle, vous employeriez les troupes du Maréchal Moncey
  pour l’y forcer.’

A high-spirited prince would have declared war at once, whatever the
odds against him, on receiving such an insulting blow. But this was
not to be expected from persons like Godoy and Charles IV. Accordingly
they exposed themselves to the continuation of these odious tricks. On
February 29 General Lecchi, the officer commanding the French troops
which were passing through Barcelona, ordered a review of his division
before, as he said, its approaching departure for the south. After
some evolutions he marched it through the city, and past the gate of
the citadel; when this point was reached, he suddenly bade the leading
company wheel to the left and enter the fortress. Before the Spaniards
understood what was happening, several thousand of their allies were
inside the place, and by the evening the rightful owners, who carried
their opposition no further than noisy protestations, had been evicted.
A few days later the two remaining frontier fortresses of Spain, San
Sebastian, at the Atlantic end of the Pyrenees, and Figueras, at the
great pass along the Mediterranean coast, suffered the same fate: the
former place was surrendered by its governor when threatened with an
actual assault, which orders from Madrid forbade him to resist [March
5]. Figueras, on the other hand, was seized by a _coup de main_,
similar to that at Pampeluna; 200 French soldiers, having obtained
entrance within the walls on a futile pretext, suddenly seized the
gates and admitted a whole regiment, which turned out the Spanish
garrison [March 18][37]. It would be hard, if not impossible, to find
in the whole of modern history any incident approaching, in cynical
effrontery and mean cunning, to these first hostile acts of the French
on the territory of their allies. The net result was to leave the two
chief fortresses, on each of the main entries into Spain from France,
completely in the power of the Emperor.

  [37] It will hardly be believed that Napier, in his blind
  reverence for Napoleon, omits to give any details concerning the
  seizure of the fortresses, merely saying that they were ‘taken
  by various artifices’ (i. 13). It is the particulars which are
  scandalous as well as the mere fact.

Godoy and his employers were driven into wild alarm by these acts of
open hostility. The favourite, in his memoirs[38], tells us that he
thought, for a moment, of responding by a declaration of war, but that
the old king replied that Napoleon could not be intending treachery,
because he had just sent him twelve fine coach-horses and several
polite letters. In face of his master’s reluctance, he tells us that he
temporized for some days more. The story is highly improbable: Charles
had no will save Godoy’s, and would have done whatever he was told. It
is much more likely that the reluctance to take a bold resolve was the
favourite’s own. When the French troops still continued to draw nearer
to Madrid, Godoy could only bethink himself of a plan for absconding.
He proposed to the King and Queen that they should leave Madrid and
take refuge in Seville, in order to place themselves as far as possible
from the French armies. Behind this move was a scheme for a much longer
voyage. It seems that he proposed that the court should follow the
example of the Regent of Portugal, and fly to America. At Mexico or
Buenos Ayres they would at least be safe from Bonaparte. To protect
the first stage of the flight, the troops in Portugal were directed to
slip away from Junot and mass in Estremadura. The garrison of Madrid
was drawn to Aranjuez, the palace where the court lay in February and
March, and was to act as its escort to Seville. It is certain that
nothing would have suited Napoleon’s plans better than that Charles IV
should abscond and leave his throne derelict: it would have given the
maximum of advantage with the minimum of odium. It is possible that the
Emperor was working precisely with the object of frightening Godoy into
flight. If so his scheme was foiled, because he forgot that he had to
deal not only with the contemptible court, but with the suspicious and
revengeful Spanish nation. In March the people intervened, and their
outbreak put quite a different face upon affairs.

  [38] _Memoirs of Godoy_, i. 122. Cf. Arteche, i. 251.

Meanwhile the Emperor was launching a new figure upon the stage. On
February 26 his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, the new Grand-Duke
of Berg, appeared at Bayonne with the title of ‘Lieutenant of the
Emperor,’ and a commission to take command of all the French forces in
Spain. On March 10 he crossed the Bidassoa and assumed possession of
his post. Murat’s character is well known: it was not very complicated.
He was a headstrong, unscrupulous soldier, with a genius for heading a
cavalry charge on a large scale, and an unbounded ambition. He was at
present meditating on thrones and kingdoms: Berg seemed a small thing
to this son of a Gascon innkeeper, and ever since his brothers-in-law
Joseph, Louis, and Jerome Bonaparte had become kings, he was determined
to climb up to be their equal. It has frequently been asserted that
Murat was at this moment dreaming of the Spanish crown: he was
certainly aware that the Emperor was plotting against the Bourbons, and
the military movements which he had been directed to carry out were
sufficient in themselves to indicate more or less his brother-in-law’s
intentions. Yet on the whole it is probable that he had not received
more than half-confidences from his august relative. His dispatches are
full of murmurs that he was being kept in the dark, and that he could
not act with full confidence for want of explicit directions. Napoleon
had certainly promised him promotion, if the Spanish affair came to a
successful end: but it is probable that Murat understood that he was
not to be rewarded with the crown of Charles IV. Perhaps Portugal, or
Holland, or Naples (if one of the Emperor’s brothers should pass on
to Madrid) was spoken of as his reward. Certainly there was enough at
stake to make him eager to carry out whatever Bonaparte ordered. In his
cheerful self-confidence he imagined himself quite capable of playing
the part of a Machiavelli, and of edging the old king out of the
country by threats and hints. But if grape-shot was required, he was
equally ready to administer an unsparing dose. With a kingdom in view
he could be utterly unscrupulous[39].

  [39] That Murat did not dream of the Spanish crown is, I think,
  fairly well demonstrated by his descendant, Count Murat, in his
  useful _Murat, Lieutenant de l’Empereur en Espagne_ (1897). But
  that after once reading the dispatches, _Nap. Corresp._, 13,588
  and 13,589, he failed to see that his brother-in-law’s intention
  was to seize Spain, is impossible.

On March 13 Murat arrived at Burgos, and issued a strange proclamation
bidding his army ‘treat the estimable Spanish nation as friends, for
the Emperor sought only the good and happiness of Spain.’ The curious
phrase could only suggest that unless he gave this warning, his troops
would have treated their allies as enemies. The scandalous pillage
committed by many regiments during February and March quite justified
the suspicion.

The approach of Murat scared Godoy into immediate action, all the
more because a new _corps d’armée_, more than 30,000 strong, under
Marshal Bessières, was already commencing to cross the Pyrenees,
bringing up the total of French troops in the Peninsula to more than
100,000 men. He ordered the departure of the King and his escort, the
Madrid garrison, for Seville on March 18. This brought matters to a
head: it was regarded as the commencement of the projected flight to
America, of which rumours were already floating round the court and
capital. A despotic government, which never takes the people into its
confidence, must always expect to have its actions interpreted in the
most unfavourable light. Except Godoy’s personal adherents, there was
not a soul in Madrid who did not believe that the favourite was acting
in collusion with Napoleon, and deliberately betraying his sovereign
and his country. It was by his consent, they thought, that the French
had crossed the Pyrenees, had seized Pampeluna and Barcelona, and were
now marching on the capital. They were far from imagining that of all
the persons in the game he was the greatest dupe, and that the recent
developments of Napoleon’s policy had reduced him to despair. It was
correct enough to attribute the present miserable situation of the
realm to Godoy’s policy, but only because his servility to Bonaparte
had tempted the latter to see how far he could go, and because his
maladministration had brought the army so low that it was no longer
capable of defending the fatherland. Men did well to be angry with
the Prince of the Peace, but they should have cursed him as a timid,
incompetent fool, not as a deliberate traitor. But upstarts who guide
the policy of a great realm for their private profit must naturally
expect to be misrepresented, and there can be no doubt that the
Spaniards judged Godoy to be a willing helper in the ruin of his master
and his country.

Aranjuez, ordinarily a quiet little place, was now crowded with the
hangers-on of the court, the garrison of Madrid, and a throng of
anxious and distraught inhabitants of the capital: some had come out to
avoid the advancing French, some to learn the latest news of the King’s
intentions, others with the deliberate intention of attacking the
favourite. Among the latter were the few friends of the Prince of the
Asturias, and a much greater number who sympathized with his unhappy
lot and had not gauged his miserable disposition. It is probable
that as things stood it was really the best move to send the King to
Seville, or even to America, and to commence open resistance to the
French when the royal person should be in safety. But the crowd could
see nothing but deliberate treason in the proposal: they waited only
for the confirmation of the news of the departure of the court before
breaking out into violence.

    AT THE AGE OF 25]

On the night of the seventeenth of March Godoy was actually commencing
the evacuation of Aranjuez, by sending off his most precious
possession, the too-celebrated Donna Josepha Tudo, under cover of
the dark. The party which was escorting her fell into the midst of a
knot of midnight loiterers, who were watching the palace. There was a
scuffle, a pistol was fired, and as if by a prearranged plan crowds
poured out into the streets. The cry went round that Godoy was carrying
off the King and Queen, and a general rush was made to his house. There
were guards before it, but they refused to fire on the mob, of which
no small proportion was composed of soldiers who had broken out of
their barracks without leave. In a moment the doors were battered down
and the assailants poured into the mansion, hunting for the favourite.
They could not find him, and in their disappointment smashed all his
works of art, and burnt his magnificent furniture. Then they flocked to
the palace, in which they suspected that he had taken refuge, calling
for his head. The King and Queen, in deadly terror, besought their
ill-used son to save them, by propitiating the mob, who would listen to
his voice if to no other. Then came the hour of Ferdinand’s triumph;
stepping out on to the balcony, he announced to the crowd that the King
was much displeased with the Prince of the Peace, and had determined to
dismiss him from office. The throng at once dispersed with loud cheers.

Next morning, in fact, a royal decree was issued, declaring Godoy
relieved of all his posts and duties and banished from the court.
Without the favourite at their elbow Charles and his queen seemed
perfectly helpless. The proclamation was received at first with
satisfaction, but the people still hung about the palace and kept
calling for the King, who had to come out several times and salute
them. It began to look like a scene from the beginning of the French
Revolution. There was already much talk in the crowd of the benefit
that would ensue to Spain if the Prince of the Asturias, with whose
sufferings every one had sympathized, were to be entrusted with some
part in the governance of the realm. His partisans openly spoke of the
abdication of the old king as a desirable possibility.

Next day the rioting commenced again, owing to the reappearance of
Godoy. He had lain concealed for thirty-six hours beneath a heap of
mats, in a hiding-place contrived under the rafters of his mansion; but
hunger at last drove him out, and, when he thought that the coast was
clear, he slipped down and tried to get away. In spite of his mantle
and slouched hat he was recognized almost at once, and would have been
pulled to pieces by the crowd if he had not been saved by a detachment
of the royal guard, who carried him off a prisoner to the palace. The
news that he was trapped brought thousands of rioters under the royal
windows, shouting for his instant trial and execution. The imbecile
King could not be convinced that he was himself safe, and the Queen,
who usually displayed more courage, seemed paralysed by her fears
for Godoy even more than for herself. This was the lucky hour of the
Prince of the Asturias; urged on by his secret advisers, he suggested
abdication to his father, promising that he would disperse the mob and
save the favourite’s life. The silly old man accepted the proposal with
alacrity, and drew up a short document of twelve lines, to the effect
‘that his many bodily infirmities made it hard for him to support any
longer the heavy weight of the administration of the realm, and that he
had decided to remove to some more temperate clime, there to enjoy the
peace of private life. After serious deliberation he had resolved to
abdicate in favour of his natural heir, and wished that Don Ferdinand
should at once be received as king in all the provinces of the Spanish
crown. That this free and spontaneous abdication should be immediately
published was to be the duty of the Council of Castile.’



The news of the abdication of Charles IV was received with universal
joy. The rioters of Aranjuez dispersed after saluting the new
sovereign, and allowed Godoy to be taken off, without further trouble,
to the castle of Villaviciosa. Madrid, though Murat was now almost at
its gates, gave itself up to feasts and processions, after having first
sacked the palaces of the Prince of the Peace and some of his unpopular
relations and partisans. Completely ignorant of the personal character
of Ferdinand VII, the Spaniards attributed to him all the virtues and
graces, and blindly expected the commencement of a golden age--as if
the son of Charles IV and Maria Luisa was likely to be a genius and a

Looking at the general situation of affairs, there can be no doubt that
the wisest course for the young king to have taken would have been to
concentrate his army, put his person in safety, and ask Napoleon to
speak out and formulate his intentions. Instead of taking this, the
only manly course, Ferdinand resolved to throw himself on the Emperor’s
mercy, as if the fall of Godoy had been Napoleon’s object, and not
the conquest of Spain. Although Murat had actually arrived at Madrid
on March 23, with a great body of cavalry and 20,000 foot, the King
entered the city next day and practically put himself in the hands of
the invader. He wrote a fulsome letter to Napoleon assuring him of his
devotion, and begging once more for the hand of a princess of his house.

His reception in Madrid by the French ought to have undeceived
him at once. The ambassador Beauharnais, alone among the foreign
ministers, refrained from acknowledging him as king. Murat was equally
recalcitrant, and moreover most rude and disobliging in his language
and behaviour. The fact was that the Grand-Duke had supposed that he
was entering Madrid in order to chase out Godoy and rule in his stead.
The popular explosion which had swept away the favourite and the old
king, and substituted for them a young and popular monarch, had foiled
his design. He did not know how Bonaparte would take the new situation,
and meanwhile was surly and discourteous. But he was determined that
there should at least be grounds provided for a breach with Ferdinand,
if the Emperor should resolve to go on with his original plan.

Accordingly, he not only refused to acknowledge the new king’s title,
but hastened to put himself in secret communication with the dethroned
sovereigns. They were only too eager to meet him halfway, and Maria
Luisa especially was half-mad with rage at her son’s success. At first
she and her husband thought of nothing but escaping from Spain: they
begged Murat to pass on to the Emperor letters in which they asked
to be permitted to buy a little estate in France, where they might
enjoy his protection during their declining years. But they begged
also that ‘the poor Prince of the Peace, who lies in a dungeon covered
with wounds and contusions and in danger of death,’ might be saved and
allowed to join them, ‘so that we may all live together in some healthy
spot far from intrigues and state business[40].’

  [40] See the letters of March 22-7 in Toreño, Appendix, i. 436-45.

Murat saw that the angry old queen might be utilized to discredit her
son, and promised to send on everything to Napoleon. At the first
word of encouragement given by the Grand-Duke’s agent, De Monthion,
Maria Luisa began to cover many sheets with abuse of her son. ‘He is
false to the core: he has no natural affection: he is hard-hearted and
nowise inclined to clemency. He has been directed by villains and will
do anything that ambition suggests: he makes promises, but does not
always keep them[41].’ Again she writes:--‘From my son we have nothing
to expect but outrages and persecution. He has commenced by forgery,
and he will go on manufacturing evidence to prove that the Prince of
the Peace--that innocent and affectionate friend of the Emperor, the
Duke of Berg, and every Frenchman!--may appear a criminal in the eyes
of the Spanish people and of Napoleon himself. Do not believe a word
that he says, for our enemies have the power and means to make any
falsehood seem true[42].’ In another letter she says that the riots of
Aranjuez were no genuine explosion of popular wrath, but a deliberate
plot got up by her son, who spent countless sums on debauching the
soldiery and importing ruffians from Madrid. He gave the signal for the
outburst himself by putting a lamp in his window at a fixed hour--and
so forth[43].

  [41] Letter of March 27, in Toreño, Appendix, i. 441.

  [42] Ibid., p. 436.

  [43] Letter of March 26 in Toreño, i. 439.

Finding the Queen in this state of mind, Murat saw his way to dealing a
deadly blow at Ferdinand: with his counsel and consent Charles IV was
induced to draw up and send to Bonaparte a formal protest against his
abdication. He was made to declare that his resignation had not been
voluntary, but imposed on him by force and threats. And so he ‘throws
himself into the arms of the great monarch who has been his ally, and
puts himself at his disposition wholly and for every purpose[44].’
This document placed in Napoleon’s hands the precise weapon which
he required to crush King Ferdinand. If the Emperor chose to take
it seriously, he could declare the new monarch a usurper--almost a
parricide--the legality of whose accession had been vitiated by force
and fraud.

  [44] The Protest of Charles IV will be found printed in Appendix
  No. 4.

As a matter of fact Bonaparte’s mind had long been made up. The
revolution of Aranjuez had been a surprise and a disappointment to
him: his designs against Spain were made infinitely more difficult
of realization thereby. While he had only the weak and unpopular
government of Godoy and Charles IV to deal with, he had fancied that
the game was in his hands. It had been more than probable that the
Prince of the Peace would take fright, and carry off the King and
Queen to America--in which case he would, as it were, find Spain left
derelict. If, however, the emigration did not take place, and it
became necessary to lay hands on Charles and his favourite, Napoleon
calculated that the Spaniards would be more pleased to be rid of Godoy
than angry to see force employed against him. He was so profoundly
ignorant of the character of the nation, that he imagined that a few
high-sounding proclamations and promises of liberal reforms would
induce them to accept from his hands any new sovereign whom he chose to
nominate. It was clear that the accession of a young and popular king
would make matters far more difficult. It was no longer possible to
pose as the deliverer of Spain from the shameful predominance of Godoy.
Any move against Ferdinand must bear the character of an open assault
on the national independence of the kingdom.

But Bonaparte had gone too far to recede: he had not moved 100,000
men across the Pyrenees, and seized Pampeluna and Barcelona, merely
in order that his troops might assist at the coronation ceremonies of
another Bourbon king. In spite of all difficulties he was resolved
to persevere in his iniquitous plan. He would not recognize the new
monarch, but would sweep him away, and put in his place some member
of his own family. But his chosen instrument was not to be Murat, but
one of the Bonapartes. He knew too well the Duke of Berg’s restless
spirit and overweening ambition to trust him with so great a charge
as Spain. And he was right--with only Naples at his back Joachim was
powerful enough to do his master grave harm in 1814. The tool was to
be one of his own brothers. It was on the night of March 26 that the
news of the abdication of Charles IV reached him: on the morning of
the twenty-seventh he wrote to Amsterdam offering Louis Bonaparte the
chance of exchanging the Dutch for the Spanish crown. The proposal was
made in the most casual form--‘You say that the climate of Holland does
not suit you. Besides the country is too thoroughly ruined to rise
again. Give me a categorical answer: if I nominate you King of Spain
will you take the offer; can I count on you?[45]’ Louis very wisely
refused the proffered crown: but his weaker brother Joseph, tired of
Naples and its brigands, made no scruples when the same proposal was
laid before him.

  [45] _Nap. Corresp._, xvi. 500; see also in _Documents
  historiques, publiés par Louis Bonaparte_ (Paris, 1829), ii. 290.

This letter to Louis of Holland having been written on the first
news of the events at Aranjuez, and four days before Murat began to
send in his own plans and the letters of protest from the King and
Queen of Spain, it is clear that the Emperor had never any intention
of recognizing Ferdinand, and was only playing with him during the
month that followed. It was not in mere caution that Beauharnais, the
ambassador, and Murat, the military representative, of France, were
bidden never to address the new sovereign as king but as Prince of the
Asturias, and to act as if Charles IV were still legally reigning until
they should have specific directions from Paris[46].

  [46] It is scarcely necessary to say that the letter which
  Napoleon is said to have sent Murat on March 29, and which is
  printed in the _Mémorial de Ste-Hélène_, is (as Lanfrey and
  Count Murat have shown) a forgery composed by Napoleon himself
  long after. It is quite inconsistent with the offer to Louis
  Bonaparte, and with other letters to Murat of the same week.

This state of semi-suspended relations lasted for a fortnight, from
Ferdinand’s arrival in Madrid on March 24, down to his departure from
it on April 10. They were very uncomfortable weeks for the new king,
who grew more alarmed as each day passed without a letter from Paris
ratifying his title, while French troops continued to pour into Madrid
till some 35,000 were assembled in it and its suburbs.

A very few days after his accession Ferdinand was informed that it
was probable that Napoleon was intending a visit to Madrid, and was
at any rate coming as far as Bayonne. He immediately sent off his
eldest brother Don Carlos (the hero of the unhappy wars of 1833-40) to
compliment his patron, and if necessary to receive him at the frontier
[April 5]. Two days later there appeared in Madrid a new French
emissary, General Savary--afterwards Duke of Rovigo--who purported
to come as Bonaparte’s harbinger, charged with the duty of preparing
Madrid for his arrival. He carried the farce so far that he asked for
a palace for the Emperor’s residence, produced trunks of his private
luggage[47], and began to refurnish the apartments granted him. That
he bore secret orders for Murat we know from the latter’s dispatches,
but this was only half his task. Napoleon had confided to him verbal
instructions to lure Ferdinand to come out to meet him in the north
of Spain, among the French armies massed in Biscay and Navarre--if
possible even to get him to Bayonne on French soil. In his St. Helena
memoirs Napoleon denies this, and Savary in his autobiography also
states that he did not act the part of tempter or make any promises
to the young king: the journey to Bayonne, he says, was a silly
inspiration of Ferdinand’s own. But neither Bonaparte nor Savary are
witnesses whom one would believe on their most solemn oath. The former
we know well: the latter had been one of the persons most implicated
in the shocking murder of the Duc d’Enghien. When we find the Spanish
witnesses, who conversed with Savary during his short stay in Madrid,
agreeing that the general promised that Napoleon would recognize
Ferdinand as king, give him an imperial princess as wife, and take him
into favour, we need not doubt them. It is not disputed that Savary,
unlike Murat and Beauharnais, regularly addressed his victim by the
royal title, and it is certain that he started in his company and
acted as his keeper during the journey[48]. The move that he at first
proposed was not a long one: the general said that according to his
advices the Emperor must be due at Burgos on April 13: it would be time
enough to start to meet him on the tenth. Burgos lies well inside the
frontiers of Castile, and if it was packed with French troops, so was
Madrid: one place was no more dangerous than the other.

  [47] It is said that they afterwards turned out to be full of
  smuggled goods, a private speculation of Savary or his underlings.

  [48] Savary, in his mendacious autobiography, denies that he
  persuaded Ferdinand to start for Bayonne. But he is refuted by
  two contemporary documents. The young king, in his letter of
  adieu to his father, states that Savary has convinced him of the
  necessity of going; while Murat in a dispatch to Bonaparte says
  that ‘Savary has in no small degree contributed to induce the new
  court to quit Madrid’ [April 8].

Exactly how far the perjuries of Savary went, or how far he was
apprised of his master’s final intentions, we cannot tell, but it is
certain that on April 10 he set out from Madrid in the King’s company:
with them went Escoiquiz, Ferdinand’s clerical confidant, Cevallos
the minister of foreign affairs, and half a dozen dukes and marquises
chosen from among the King’s old partisans. To administer affairs in
his absence Ferdinand nominated a ‘Junta’ or council of regency, with
his uncle Don Antonio, a simple and very silly old man, at its head[49].

  [49] For Don Antonio’s habits we have on Talleyrand’s authority
  some very curious stories. He spent most of his time of captivity
  at Valençay sitting in the library, mutilating illustrated books
  with his scissors, not to make a scrap-book, but to destroy any
  engravings that sinned against morals or religion!

On reaching Burgos, on April 12, the party found masses of French
troops but no signs of Napoleon. Savary appeared vexed, said that his
calculation must have been wrong, and got the King to go forward two
more stages, as far as Vittoria, at the southern foot of the Pyrenees
[April 14]. Here Ferdinand received a note from his brother Don Carlos,
whom he had sent ahead, saying that Bonaparte had been lingering
at Bordeaux, and was not expected at Bayonne till the fifteenth.
Ferdinand, always timid and suspicious, was getting restive: he had
nothing on paper to assure him of Napoleon’s intentions, and began
to suspect Savary’s blandishments. The latter doubted for a moment
whether he should not have the court seized by the French garrison of
Vittoria, but finally resolved to endeavour to get a letter from his
master, which would suffice to lure Ferdinand across the frontier. He
was entrusted with a petition of the same cast that Napoleon had been
in the habit of receiving from his would-be client, full of servile
loyalty and demands for the much-desired Bonaparte princess.

The four days during which Savary was absent, while the royal party
remained at Vittoria, were a period of harassing doubt to Ferdinand.
He was visited by all manner of persons who besought him not to go on,
and especially by Spaniards lately arrived from Paris, who detailed all
the disquieting rumours which they had heard at the French court. Some
besought him to disguise himself and escape by night from the 4,000
troops of the Imperial Guard who garrisoned Vittoria. Others pointed
out that the Spanish troops in Bilbao, which was still unoccupied by
the French, might be brought down by cross-roads, and assume charge
of the king’s person halfway between Vittoria and the frontier, in
spite of the 600 French cavalry which escorted the cavalcade. Guarded
by his own men Ferdinand might retire into the hills of Biscay. But
to adopt either of the courses proposed to him would have compelled
the King to come to an open breach with Bonaparte, and for this he had
not sufficient courage, as long as there was the slightest chance of
getting safely through his troubles by mere servility.

On April 18 Savary reappeared with the expected communication from
Bayonne. It was certainly one of the strangest epistles that one
sovereign ever wrote to another, and one of the most characteristic
products of Napoleon’s pen. It was addressed to the Prince of the
Asturias, not to the King of Spain, which was an ominous preface.
But on the other hand the Emperor distinctly stated that ‘he wished
to conciliate his friend in every way, and to find occasion to give
him proofs of his affection and perfect esteem.’ He added that ‘the
marriage of your royal highness to a French princess seems conformable
to the interests of my people, and likely to forge new links of union
between myself and the house of Bourbon.’ The core of the whole was
the explicit statement that ‘if the abdication of King Charles was
spontaneous, and not forced on him by the riot at Aranjuez, I shall
have no difficulty in recognizing your royal highness as King of Spain.
On these details I wish to converse with your royal highness.’ This was
a double-edged saying: Napoleon had in his pocket Charles’s protest,
complaining that the abdication had been forced upon him by fears for
his personal safety: but Ferdinand was not aware of the fact; indeed
he so little realized his parent’s state of mind that he had written
to him before quitting Madrid in the most friendly terms. If he had
fathomed the meaning of Napoleon’s carefully constructed sentence, he
would have fled for his life to the mountains.

These were the main clauses of Napoleon’s letter, but they are embedded
in a quantity of turgid verbiage, in which we are only uncertain
whether the hypocrisy or the bad taste is the more offensive. ‘How
perilous is it for kings to permit their subjects to seek justice for
themselves by deeds of blood! I pray God that your royal highness may
not experience this for yourself some day! It is not for the interest
of Spain that the Prince of the Peace should be hunted down: he is
allied by marriage to the royal house and has governed the realm for
many years. He has no friends now: but if your royal highness were to
fall into similar disgrace you would have no more friends than he. You
cannot touch him without touching your parents. You have no rights to
the crown save those which your mother has transmitted to you: if in
trying the Prince you smirch her honour, you are destroying your own
rights. You have no power to bring him to judgement: his evil deeds are
hidden behind the throne.... O wretched Humanity! Weakness, and Error,
such is our device! But all can be hushed up: turn the Prince out of
Spain, and I will give him an asylum in France.’

In the next paragraph Napoleon tells Ferdinand that he should never
have written to him in the preceding autumn without his father’s
knowledge--‘in that your royal highness was culpable; but I flatter
myself that I contributed by my remonstrances in securing a happy end
to the affair of the Escurial.’ Finally Ferdinand might assure himself
that he should have from his ally precisely the same treatment that his
father had always experienced--which again is a double-edged saying, if
we take into consideration the history of the relations of Charles IV
and France.

The King and his confidant Escoiquiz read and reread this curious
document without coming to any certain conclusion: probably they
thought (as would any one else who did not know the Emperor thoroughly)
that the meeting at Bayonne would open with a scolding, and end
with some tiresome concessions, but that Ferdinand’s title would be
recognized. Savary’s commentary was reassuring: Spanish witnesses say
that he exclaimed ‘I am ready to have my head taken off if, within a
quarter of an hour of your majesty’s arrival at Bayonne, the Emperor
has not saluted you as King of Spain and the Indies.... The whole
negotiation will not take three days, and your majesty will be back in
Spain in a moment[50].’

  [50] Cevallos, p. 36.

On April 19, therefore, the royal party set out amid the groans of
the populace of Vittoria, who tried to hold back the horses, and to
cut the traces of the King’s coach: on the twentieth they reached
Bayonne. Napoleon entertained them at dinner, but would not talk
politics: after the meal they were sent home to the not very spacious
or magnificent lodgings prepared for them. An hour later the shameless
Savary presented himself at the door, with the astounding message that
the Emperor had thought matters over, and had come to the conclusion
that the best thing for Spain would be that the house of Bourbon should
cease to reign, and that a French prince should take their place. A
prompt acquiescence in the bargain should be rewarded by the gift of
the kingdom of Etruria, which had just been taken from Ferdinand’s
widowed sister and her young son.

The possibility of such an outrage had never occurred to the young king
and his counsellors: when something of the kind had been suggested
to them at Vittoria, they had cried out that it was insulting to the
honour of the greatest hero of the age to dream that he could be
plotting treachery[51]. And now, too late, they learnt the stuff of
which heroes were made. Even with Savary’s words ringing in their ears,
they could not believe that they had heard aright. It must be some mere
threat intended to frighten them before negotiations began: probably
it meant that Spain would have to cede some American colonies or some
Catalonian frontier districts. Next morning, therefore, Ferdinand sent
his minister Cevallos to plead his cause: Napoleon refused to bargain
or compromise: he wanted nothing, he said, but a prompt resignation
of his rights by the Prince of the Asturias: there was nothing left
to haggle about. It was gradually borne in upon Ferdinand that the
Emperor meant what he had said. But though timid he was obstinate,
and nothing like an abdication could be got out of him. He merely
continued to send to Napoleon one agent after another--first the
minister Cevallos, then his tutor and confidant Escoiquiz, then Don
Pedro Labrador, a councillor of state, all charged with professions
of his great readiness to do anything, short of resigning the Spanish
throne, which might satisfy his captor. Cevallos and Escoiquiz have
left long narratives of their fruitless embassies. That of the latter
is especially interesting: he was admitted to a long conference with
Bonaparte, in which he plied every argument to induce him to leave
Ferdinand on the throne, after marrying him to a French princess and
exacting from him every possible guarantee of fidelity. The Emperor
was ready to listen to every remonstrance, but would not move from
his projects. He laughed at the idea that Spain would rise in arms,
and give him trouble. ‘Countries full of monks, like yours,’ he said,
‘are easy to subjugate. There may be some riots, but the Spaniards
will quiet down when they see that I offer them the integrity of
the boundaries of the monarchy, a liberal constitution, and the
preservation of their religion and their national customs[52].’

  [51] It was the Duke of Infantado who made this exclamation. See
  Urquijo’s letter to Cuesta in Llorente’s collection of papers on
  the Bayonne business.

  [52] Escoiquiz, p. 318. Every student of Napoleon should read the
  whole of the wonderful dialogue between the Emperor and the Canon
  of Toledo.

When such were Napoleon’s ideas it was useless to argue with him. But
Ferdinand refused to understand this, and kept reiterating all sorts
of impracticable offers of concession and subservience, while refusing
to do the one thing which the Emperor required of him. Napoleon, much
irritated at the refusal of such a poor creature to bow to his will,
has left a sketch of him during these trying days. ‘The Prince of the
Asturias,’ he wrote, ‘is very stupid, very malicious, a very great
hater of France.... He is a thoroughly uninteresting person, so dull
that I cannot get a word out of him. Whatever one says to him he makes
no reply. Whether I scold him, or whether I coax him, his face never
moves. After studying him you can sum him up in a single word--he is a
sulky fellow[53].’

  [53] Napoleon to Talleyrand, May 6, 1808.

As Ferdinand would not budge, Bonaparte had now to bring his second
device to the front. With the old king’s protest before him, the
Emperor could say that Charles IV had never abdicated in any real sense
of the word. He had been made to sign a resignation ‘with a pistol
levelled at his head,’ as a leading article in the _Moniteur_ duly
set forth. Such a document was, of course, worth nothing: therefore
Charles was still King of Spain, and might sign that surrender of
his rights which Ferdinand denied. Napoleon promptly sent for the old
king and queen, who arrived under a French escort on April 30, ten
days after their son’s captivity began. At Bayonne they rejoined their
dearly-loved Godoy, whom Murat had extorted from the Junta of Regency,
under cover of a consent sent by Ferdinand to Napoleon from Vittoria
two days before he crossed the frontier.

Charles IV arrived in a state of lachrymose collapse, sank on
Napoleon’s breast and called him his true friend and his only support.
‘I really do not know whether it is his position or the circumstances,
but he looks like a good honest old man,’ commented the Emperor. ‘The
Queen has her past written on her face--that is enough to define her.
As to the Prince of the Peace, he looked like a prize bull, with a dash
of Count Daru about him.’ Godoy and the Queen had only one thought, to
avenge themselves on Ferdinand: after what had taken place they could
never go back to rule in Spain, so they cared little what happened to
the country. As to the King, his wife and his favourite pulled the
strings, and he gesticulated in the fashion that they desired. The
Emperor treated them with an ostentatious politeness which he had
always refused to the new king: at the first banquet that he gave them
occurred the absurd scene (already mentioned by us), in which Charles
refused to sit down to table till Godoy had been found and put near him.

Two days after their arrival Napoleon compelled Ferdinand to appear
before his parents: he himself was also present. The interview[54]
commenced by King Charles ordering his son to sign a complete and
absolute renunciation of the Spanish throne. Bonaparte then threw in
a few threatening words: but Ferdinand, still unmoved, made a steady
refusal. At this the old king rose from his chair--he was half-crippled
with rheumatism--and tried to strike his son with his cane, while the
Queen burst in with a stream of abuse worthy of a fishwife. Napoleon,
horrified at the odious scene, according to his own narrative of it,
hurried Ferdinand, ‘who looked scared,’ out of the room.

  [54] Of this interview we have the version of Napoleon himself
  in a dispatch to Murat, dated May 1; another by Cevallos,
  Ferdinand’s minister; a third by De Pradt (afterwards Archbishop
  of Mechlin), then present at Bayonne.

The same night [May 1], Ferdinand’s advisers bethought them of a new
and ingenious move--we need not ascribe it to his own brains, which
were surely incapable of the device. He wrote to King Charles to the
effect that he had always regarded the abdication at Aranjuez as free
and unconstrained, but that if it had not been so, he was ready to lay
down his crown again and hand it back to his father. But the ceremony
must be done in an open and honourable way at Madrid, before the
Cortes. If his parent personally resumed the reins of power, he bowed
to his authority: but if his age and infirmities induced him to name a
regent, that regent should be his eldest son.

This proposal did not suit the Emperor at all, so he dictated to the
old king a long letter, in which the Napoleonesque phraseology peeps
out in a score of places. Charles refuses all terms, says that his
son’s conduct had ‘placed a barrier of bronze between him and the
Spanish throne,’ and concludes that ‘only the Emperor can save Spain,
and he himself would do nothing that might stir up the fire of discord
among his loved vassals or bring misery on them’ [May 2]. Ferdinand
replied with an equally long letter justifying at large all his conduct
of the past year [May 4].

When things stood at this point there arrived from Madrid the news of
the bloody events of the second of May, which we have to relate in the
next chapter. This brought Napoleon up to striking point, and once
more he intervened in his own person. He sent for Ferdinand, and in
the presence of his parents accused him of having stirred up the riot
in the capital, and informed him that if he did not sign an abdication
and an acknowledgement of his father as the only true king by twelve
that night ‘he should be dealt with as a traitor and rebel.’ This is
Napoleon’s own version[55], but Spanish witnesses say that the words
used were that ‘he must choose between abdication and death[56].’

  [55] Dispatch to Murat of May 5.

  [56] ‘Prince, il faut opter entre la cession et la mort’
  (Cevallos, p. 60).

To any one who remembered the fate of the Duc d’Enghien such a phrase
was more than an idle threat. It brought the stubborn Ferdinand to his
knees at last. That evening he wrote out a simple and straightforward
form of abdication--‘without any motive, save that I limited my former
proposal for resignation by certain proper conditions, your majesty has
thought fit to insult me in the presence of my mother and the Emperor.
I have been abused in the most humiliating terms: I have been told
that unless I make an unconditional resignation I and my companions
shall be treated as criminals guilty of conspiracy. Under such
circumstances I make the renunciation which your majesty commands, that
the government of Spain may return to the condition in which it was on
March 19 last, the day on which your majesty _spontaneously_ laid down
your crown in my favour[57]’ [May 6].

  [57] Toreño, Appendix, i. 466, 467.

Ferdinand having abdicated, Napoleon at once produced a treaty which
King Charles had ratified on the previous day, twenty-four hours before
his son gave in. By it the old man ‘resigned all his rights to the
throne of Spain and the Indies to the Emperor Napoleon, the only person
who in the present state of affairs can re-establish order.’ He only
annexed two conditions: ‘(1) that there should be no partition of the
Spanish monarchy; (2) that the Roman Catholic religion should be the
only one recognized in Spain: there should, according to the existing
practice, be no toleration for any of the reformed religions, much less
for infidels.’ If anything is wanting to make the silly old man odious,
it is the final touch of bigotry in his abdication. The rest of the
document consists of a recital of the pensions and estates in France
conferred by the Emperor on his dupe in return for the abdication.
It took five days more to extort from Don Ferdinand a formal cession
of his ultimate rights, as Prince of the Asturias, to the succession
to the throne. It was signed on May 10, and purported to give him in
return a palace in France and a large annual revenue. But he was really
put under close surveillance at Talleyrand’s estate of Valençay, along
with his brother Don Carlos, and never allowed to go beyond its bounds.
The Emperor’s letter of instructions to Talleyrand is worth quoting
for its cynical brutality. He wrote to his ex-minister, who was much
disgusted with the invidious duty put upon him: ‘Let the princes be
received without any show, but yet respectably, and try to keep them
amused. If you chance to have a theatre at Valençay there would be no
harm in importing some actors now and then. You may bring over Mme de
Talleyrand [the notorious Mme Grand of 1800], and four or five ladies
in attendance on her. If the prince should fall in love with some
pretty girl among them, there would be no harm in it, especially if you
are quite sure of her. The prince must not be allowed to take any false
step, but must be amused and occupied. I ought, for political safety,
to put him in Bitche or some other fortress-prison: but as he placed
himself into my clutches of his own free will, and as everything in
Spain is going on as I desire, I have resolved merely to place him in a
country house where he can amuse himself under strict surveillance....
Your mission is really a very honourable one--to take in three[58]
illustrious guests and keep them amused is a task which should suit a
Frenchman and a personage of your rank[59].’ Napoleon afterwards owned
that he was framing what he called ‘a practical joke’ on Talleyrand, by
billeting the Spaniards on him. The Prince of Benevento had wished to
make no appearance in the matter, and the Emperor revenged himself by
implicating him in it as the jailor of his captives. Talleyrand’s anger
may be imagined, and estimated by his after conduct.

  [58] The _third_ prisoner was Ferdinand’s uncle, Don Antonio.

  [59] This letter, eliminated by the editors of the
  _Correspondance de Napoléon_, may be found in Lecestre, _Lettres
  inédites de Napoléon I_, i. p. 207.

At Valençay the unfortunate Ferdinand was destined to remain for nearly
six years, not amusing himself at all according to Napoleon’s ideas
of amusement, but employed in a great many church services, a little
partridge shooting, and (so his unwilling jailor tells us) the spoiling
of much paper, not with the pen but with the scissors; for he developed
a childish passion for clipping out paper patterns and bestowing them
on every one that he met. One could pardon him everything if he had
not spoilt his attitude as victim and martyr by occasionally sending
adulatory letters to the Emperor, and even to his own supplanter,
Joseph Bonaparte the new King of Spain.



When King Ferdinand had taken his departure to Bayonne, the position
of Murat in Madrid became very delicate. He might expect to hear at
any moment, since the Emperor’s plans were more or less known to him,
either that the Spanish king had been made a prisoner, or that he had
taken the alarm, escaped from his escort, and fled into the mountains.
In either case trouble at Madrid was very probable, though there was
no serious military danger to be feared, for of Spanish troops there
were only 3,000 in the city, while some 35,000 French were encamped in
or about it. But there might be a moment of confusion if the Junta of
Regency should take violent measures on hearing of the King’s fate,
or the populace of Madrid (and this was much more likely) burst into

From the tenth of April, the day of the King’s departure for the north,
down to the twenty-ninth there was no serious cause for apprehension.
The people were no doubt restless: they could not understand why the
French lingered in Madrid instead of marching on Portugal or Gibraltar,
according to their expressed intention. Rumours of all kinds, some
of which hit off fairly well the true projects of Bonaparte, were
current. Murat’s conduct was not calculated to reassure observers;
he gave himself the airs of a military governor, rather than those
of an officer engaged in conducting an allied army through friendly
territory. Some of his acts gave terrible offence, such as that of
insisting that the sword of Francis I, taken at Pavia in 1525, the
pride for three centuries of the royal armoury, should be given up to
him[60]. His call on the Junta for the surrender of the Prince of
the Peace, whom he forwarded under French escort to Bayonne, could
not fail to be unpopular. But the first real signs of danger were
not seen till the twenty-second of April, when Murat, in obedience
to his master, intended to publish the protest of Charles IV against
his abdication. It was to be presented to the Junta in the form of a
letter to its president, Don Antonio. Meanwhile French agents were
set to print it: their Spanish underlings stole and circulated some
of the proofs. Their appearance raised a mob, for the name of Charles
IV could only suggest the reappearance of Godoy. An angry crowd broke
into the printing office, destroyed the presses, and hunted away the
Frenchmen. Murat at once made a great matter of the affair, and began
to threaten the Junta. ‘The army which he commanded could not without
dishonouring itself allow disorders to arise: there must be no more
anarchy in Spain. He was not going to allow the corrupt tools of the
English government to stir up troubles.’ The Junta replied with rather
more spirit than might have been expected, asked why an army of 35,000
French troops had now lingered more than a month around the capital,
and expressed an opinion that the riot was but an explosion of loyalty
to Ferdinand. But they undertook to deal severely with factious
persons, and to discourage even harmless assemblies like that of the

  [60] Napoleon, disapproving of Murat’s action on this point,
  committed himself to two astounding historical statements. ‘Why
  trouble about the sword,’ he wrote; ‘Francis I was a Bourbon [!]
  and he was taken by the Italians, not the Spaniards’ [!!] (_Nap.
  Corresp._, 13,724).

Meanwhile Murat wrote to the Emperor that it was absurd that he could
not yet establish a police of his own in Madrid, that he could not
print what he pleased, and that he had to negotiate with the Junta when
he wished his orders published, instead of being able to issue them
on his own authority[61]. He was answered in a style which must have
surprised him. Napoleon was ashamed, he said, of a general who, with
50,000 men at his back, asked for things instead of taking them. His
letters to the Junta were servile; he should simply assume possession
of the reins of power, and act for himself. If the _canaille_ stirred,
let it be shot down[62]. Murat could only reply that ‘if he had not yet
scattered rioters by a blast of grape, it was only because there were
no mobs to shoot: his imperial majesty’s rebuke had stunned him “like a
tile falling on his head” by its unmerited severity[63].’

  [61] Murat to Napoleon, April 22.

  [62] Napoleon to Murat, April 26.

  [63] Murat to Napoleon, April 30.

Within three days of this letter there was to be plenty of grape-shot,
enough to satisfy both Emperor and Grand-Duke. They probably had the
revolt of Cairo and the 13th Vendémiaire in their mind, and were
both under the impression that a good _émeute_ pitilessly crushed by
artillery was the best basis of a new régime.

On the night of April 29 the first clear and accurate account of what
was happening at Bayonne arrived at Madrid. Napoleon had intercepted
all the letters which Don Ferdinand had tried to smuggle out of his
prison. He read them with grave disapproval, for his guest had not
scrupled to use the expression ‘the cursed French,’ and had hinted at
the propriety of resistance. He had not yet been cowed by the threat
of a rebel’s death. But on the twenty-third one of the Spaniards at
Bayonne succeeded in escaping in disguise, crossed the mountains by a
lonely track, and reached Pampeluna, whence he posted to Madrid. This
was a certain Navarrese magistrate named Ibarnavarro, to whom Ferdinand
had given a verbal message to explain Napoleon’s plans and conduct
to the Junta, and to inform them that he would never give in to this
vile mixture of force and fraud. He could not send them any definite
instructions, not knowing the exact state of affairs at Madrid, and a
premature stroke might imperil the life of himself, his brother, and
his companions: let them beware therefore of showing their warlike
intentions till preparations had been fully made to shake off the yoke
of the oppressor.

This message Ibarnavarro delivered on the night of April 29-30 to the
Junta[64], who had summoned in to hear it a number of judges and other
magnates of the city. Next morning, of course, the information, in a
more or less garbled shape, spread all round Madrid: there were foolish
rumours that the Biscayans had already taken arms, and that 30,000 of
them were marching on Bayonne to save the King, as also that certain
of the coast towns had invited the English to land. On the thirtieth
leaflets, both written and printed, were being secretly circulated
round the city, setting forth the unhappy condition of the King, and
bidding his subjects not to forget Numancia[65]. It is astonishing that
riots did not break out at once, considering the growing excitement
of the people, and the habitual insolence of the French soldiery.
But leaders were wanting, and in especial the Junta of Regency and
its imbecile old president made no move whatever, on the pretext,
apparently, that any commotion might imperil the lives of Napoleon’s

  [64] Ibarnavarro’s story, written down by himself on September
  27, 1808, can be found printed in full on pp. 457-9 of the
  Appendix to Toreño’s first volume.

  [65] For a specimen see the document on p. 462 of Count Murat’s
  _Murat en Espagne_ (Paris, 1897).

It was Murat himself who brought matters to a head next day, by
ordering the Junta to put into his hands the remaining members of the
royal family, Ferdinand’s youngest brother Don Francisco, a boy of
sixteen, and his sister the widowed and exiled Queen of Etruria, with
her children. Only Don Antonio, the incapable president of the Junta,
and the Archbishop of Toledo, the King’s second-cousin, were to be left
behind: the rest were to be sent to Bayonne. Knowing what had happened
to Don Ferdinand and Don Carlos, the people were horrified at the
news; but they trusted that the Regency would refuse its leave. To its
eternal disgrace that body did nothing: it did not even try to smuggle
away the young Don Francisco before Murat should arrest him.

[Illustration: Madrid in 1808.]

On the morning, therefore, of May 2 the streets were filled with
people, and the palace gates in especial were beset by an excited mob.
It was soon seen that the news was true, for the Queen of Etruria
appeared and started for the north with all her numerous family. She
was unpopular for having sided with her mother and Godoy against Don
Ferdinand, and was allowed to depart undisturbed. But when the carriage
that was to bear off Don Francisco was brought up, and one of Murat’s
aides-de-camp appeared at the door to take charge of the young prince,
the rage of the crowd burst all bounds. The French officer was stoned,
and saved with difficulty by a patrol: the coach was torn to pieces.
Murat had not been unprepared for something of the kind: the battalion
on guard at his palace was at once turned out, and fired a dozen
volleys into the unarmed mob, which fled devious, leaving scores of
dead and wounded on the ground.

The Grand-Duke thought that the matter was over, but it had but just
begun. At the noise of the firing the excited citizens flocked into
the streets armed with whatever came to hand, pistols, blunderbusses,
fowling-pieces, many only with the long Spanish knife. They fell upon,
and slew, a certain number of isolated French soldiers, armed and
unarmed, who were off duty and wandering round the town, but they also
made a fierce attack on Murat’s guard. Of course they could do little
against troops armed and in order: in the first hour of the fight there
were only about 1,000 men at the Grand-Duke’s disposal, but this small
force held its own without much loss, though eight or ten thousand
angry insurgents fell upon them. But within seventy minutes the French
army from the suburban camps came pouring into the city, brigade after
brigade. After this the struggle was little more than a massacre: many
of the insurgents took refuge in houses, and maintained a fierce but
futile resistance for some time; but the majority were swept away in a
few minutes by cavalry charges. Only at one point did the fight assume
a serious shape. Almost the entire body of the Spanish garrison of
Madrid refrained from taking any part in the rising: without the orders
of the Junta the chiefs refused to move, and the men waited in vain for
the orders of their officers. But at the Artillery Park two captains,
Daoiz and Velarde, threw open the gates to the rioters, allowed them
to seize some hundreds of muskets, and when the first French column
appeared ran out three guns and opened upon it with grape[66]. Though
aided by no more than forty soldiers, and perhaps 500 civilians,
they beat off two assaults, and only succumbed to a third. Daoiz was
bayonetted, Velarde shot dead, and their men perished with them; but
they had poured three volleys of grape into a street packed with the
enemy, and caused the only serious losses which the French suffered
that day.

  [66] Napier (i. 15) says that Daoiz and Velarde were ‘in a state
  of excitement from drink,’ a disgraceful French calumny. How
  could he bear to reproduce such a libel on these unfortunate

The whole struggle had occupied not more than four hours: when it was
over Murat issued an ‘order of the day,’ sentencing all prisoners taken
with arms in their hands, all persons discovered with arms concealed
in their houses, and all distributors of seditious leaflets, ‘the
agents of the English government,’ to be shot. It seems that at least a
hundred persons were executed under this edict, many of them innocent
bystanders who had taken no part in the fighting. Next morning Murat
withdrew his Draconian decree, and no further fusillades took place.
It is impossible, in the conflict of authorities, to arrive at any
clear estimate of the numbers slain on each side on May 2[67]. Probably
Toreño is not far out when he estimates the whole at something over a
thousand. Of these four-fifths must have been Spaniards, for the French
only lost heavily at the arsenal: the number of isolated soldiers
murdered in the streets at the first outbreak of the riot does not seem
to have been very large.

  [67] The Junta, to soothe the feelings of Madrid, gave out that
  only 150 Spaniards had fallen. The _Moniteur_ said that 2,000
  criminals had been cut down or executed! Murat reported a loss of
  eighty men only, while Napier says that he has excellent French
  authority and eye-witnesses to the effect that 750 fell.

Many French authors have called the rising a deliberate and
preconcerted conspiracy to massacre the French garrison. On the other
hand Spanish writers have asserted that Murat had arranged everything
so as to cause a riot, in order that he might have the chance of
administering a ‘whiff of grape-shot,’ after his master’s plan.
But it is clear that both are making unfounded accusations: if the
insurrection had been premeditated, the Spanish soldiery would have
been implicated in it, for nothing would have been easier than to
stir them up. Yet of the whole 3,000 only forty ran out to help the
insurgents. Moreover, the mob would have been found armed at the first
commencement of trouble, which it certainly was not. On the other hand,
if Murat had been organizing a massacre, he would not have been caught
with no more than two squadrons of cavalry and five or six companies
of infantry under his hand. These might have been cut to pieces before
the troops from outside could come to their help. He had been expecting
riots, and was prepared to deal with them, but was surprised by a
serious insurrection on a larger scale than he had foreseen, and at a
moment when he was not ready.

For a few days after May 2, Murat at Madrid and his master at Bayonne
were both living in a sort of fools’ paradise, imagining that ‘the
affairs of Spain were going off wonderfully well,’ and that ‘the
party of Ferdinand had been crushed by the prompt suppression of its
conspiracy.’ The Grand-Duke had the simplicity or the effrontery to
issue a proclamation in which he said ‘that every good Spaniard had
groaned at the sight of such disorders,’ and another in which the
insurrection was attributed to ‘the machinations of our common enemy,
i.e. the British government[68].’ On May 4 Don Antonio laid down the
presidency of the Junta without a word of regret, and went off to
Bayonne, having first borrowed 25,000 francs from Murat. The latter, by
virtue of a decree issued by Charles IV, then assumed the presidency
of the Junta of Regency. The rest of the members of that ignoble body
easily sank into his servile instruments, though they had at last
received a secret note smuggled out from Bayonne, in which Ferdinand
(the day before his abdication) told them to regard his removal into
the interior of France as a declaration of war, and to call the nation
to arms. To this they paid no attention, while they pretended to take
the document of resignation, which Bonaparte had forced him to sign,
as an authentic and spontaneous expression of his will. The fact is
that twenty years of Godoy had thoroughly demoralized the bureaucracy
and the court of Spain: if the country’s will had not found better
exponents than her ministers and officials, Napoleon might have done
what he pleased with the Peninsula.

  [68] Proclamations of May 2 and 3: there are originals in the
  _Vaughan Papers_.

At present his sole interest seems to have lain in settling the details
of his brother Joseph’s election to the Spanish throne. Ferdinand’s
final resignation of all his rights having been signed on May 10, the
field was open for his successor. The Emperor thought that some sort of
deputation to represent the Spanish nation ought to be got together,
in order that his brother might not seem to receive the crown from his
own hands only. Murat was first set to work to terrorize the Junta
of Regency, and the ‘Council of Castile,’ a body which practically
occupied much the same position as the English Privy Council. At his
dictation the Junta yielded, but with an ill grace, and sent petitions
to Bayonne asking for a new monarch, and suggesting (as desired) that
the person chosen might be Joseph Bonaparte, King of Naples [May
13]. Murat had just been informed that as all had gone well with the
Emperor’s plans he should have his reward: he might make his choice
between the thrones of Naples and of Portugal. He wisely chose the
former, where the rough work of subjection had already been done by his

But resolved to get together something like a representative body
which might vote away the liberty of Spain, Napoleon nominated, in
the Madrid Gazette of May 24, 150 persons who were to go to Bayonne
and there ask him to grant them a king. He named a most miscellaneous
crowd--ministers, bishops, judges, municipal officers of Madrid, dukes
and counts, the heads of the religious orders, the Grand Inquisitor and
some of his colleagues, and six well-known Americans who were to speak
for the colonies. To the eternal disgrace of the ruling classes of
Spain, no less than ninety-one of the nominees were base enough to obey
the orders given them, to go to Bayonne, and there to crave as a boon
that the weak and incompetent Joseph Bonaparte might be set to govern
their unhappy country, under the auspices of his brother the hero and
regenerator. Long before the degrading farce was complete, the whole
country was in arms behind them, and they knew themselves for traitors.
The election of King Joseph I was only taken in hand on June 15, while
twenty days before the north and south of Spain had risen in arms in
the name of the captive Ferdinand VII.

It took a week for the news of the insurrection of May 2 to spread
round Spain: in the public mouth it of course assumed the shape of
a massacre deliberately planned by Murat. It was not till some days
later that the full details of the events at Bayonne got abroad. But
ever since the surprise of the frontier fortresses in February and
March, intelligent men all over the country had been suspecting that
some gross act of treachery was likely to be the outcome of the French
invasion. Yet in most of the districts of Spain there was a gap of some
days between the arrival of the news of the King’s captivity and the
first outbreak of popular indignation. The fact was that the people
were waiting for the lawful and constituted authorities to take action,
and did not move of themselves till it was certain that no initiative
was to be expected from those in high places. But Spain was a country
which had long been governed on despotic lines; and its official
chiefs, whether the nominees of Godoy or of the knot of intriguers who
had just won their way to power under Ferdinand, were not the men to
lead a war of national independence. Many were mere adventurers, who
had risen to preferment by flattering the late favourite. Others were
typical bureaucrats, whose only concern was to accept as legitimate
whatever orders reached them from Madrid: provided those orders were
couched in the proper form and written on the right paper, they did not
look to see whether the signature at the bottom was that of Godoy or
of the Infante Don Antonio, or of Murat. Others again were courtiers
who owed their position to their great names, and not to any personal
ability. It is this fact that accounts for the fortnight or even three
weeks of torpor that followed the events of the second and sixth of
May. Murat’s orders during that space travelled over the country, and
most of the captains-general and other authorities seemed inclined to
obey them. Yet they were orders which should have stirred up instant
disobedience; the Mediterranean squadron was to be sent to Toulon,
where (if it did not get taken on the way by the British) it would
fall into the hands of Napoleon. A large detachment of the depleted
regular army was to sail for Buenos Ayres, with the probable prospect
of finding itself ere long on the hulks at Portsmouth, instead of on
the shores of the Rio de la Plata. The Swiss regiments in Spanish pay
were directed to be transferred to the French establishment, and to
take the oath to Napoleon. All this could have no object save that of
diminishing the fighting power of the country.

The first province where the people plucked up courage to act without
their officials, and to declare war on France in spite of the dreadful
odds against them, was the remote and inaccessible principality of
the Asturias, pressed in between the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian
hills. Riots began at its capital, Oviedo, as early as the first
arrival of the news from Madrid on May 9, when Murat’s edicts were
torn down in spite of the feeble resistance of the commander of the
garrison and some of the magistrates. The Asturias was one of the few
provinces of Spain which still preserved vestiges of its mediaeval
representative institutions. It had a ‘Junta General,’ a kind of local
‘estates,’ which chanced to be in session at the time of the crisis.
Being composed of local magnates and citizens, and not of officials and
bureaucrats, this body was sufficiently in touch with public opinion to
feel itself borne on to action. After ten days of secret preparation,
the city of Oviedo and the surrounding country-side rose in unison
on May 24: the partisans of the new government were imprisoned, and
next day the estates formally declared war on Napoleon Bonaparte, and
ordered a levy of 18,000 men from the principality to resist invasion.
A great part of the credit for this daring move must be given to the
president of the Junta, the Marquis of Santa Cruz, who had stirred
up his colleagues as early as the thirteenth by declaring that ‘when
and wherever one single Spaniard took arms against Napoleon, he would
shoulder a musket and put himself at that man’s side.’ The Asturians
had knowledge that other provinces would follow their example; there
was only one battalion of regular troops and one of militia under arms
in the province; its financial resources were small. Its only strength
lay in the rough mountains that had once sheltered King Pelayo from
the Moors. It was therefore an astounding piece of patriotism when the
inhabitants of the principality threw down the challenge to the victor
of Jena and Austerlitz, confiding in their stern resolution and their
good cause. All through the war the Asturias played a very creditable
part in the struggle, and never let the light of liberty go out, though
often its capital and its port of Gihon fell into French hands.

One of the first and wisest measures taken by the Asturian Junta was an
attempt to interest Great Britain in the insurrection. On May 30 they
sent to London two emissaries (one of whom was the historian Toreño)
on a Jersey privateer, whose captain was persuaded to turn out of his
course for the public profit. On June 7 they had reached London and had
an interview with Canning, the Foreign Secretary of the Tory government
which had lately come into power. Five days later they were assured
that the Asturias might draw on England for all it required in the way
of arms, munitions, and money. All this was done before it was known in
England that any other Spanish province was stirring, for it was not
till June 22 that the plenipotentiaries of the other juntas began to
appear in London.

The revolt of other provinces followed in very quick succession.
Galicia rose on May 30, in spite of its captain-general, Filanghieri,
whose resistance to the popular voice cost him his popularity and,
not long after, his life. Corunna and Ferrol, the two northern
arsenals of Spain, led the way. This addition to the insurgent
forces was very important, for the province was full of troops--the
garrisons that protected the ports from English descents. There were
eighteen battalions of regulars and fourteen of militia--a whole
army--concentrated in this remote corner of Spain. Napoleon’s plan
of removing the Spanish troops from the neighbourhood of Madrid had
produced the unintended result of making the outlying provinces very
strong for self-defence.

It is more fitting for a Spanish than an English historian to descend
into the details of the rising of each province of Spain. The general
characteristics of the outburst in each region were much the same:
hardly anywhere did the civil or military officials in charge of the
district take the lead. Almost invariably they hung back, fearing
for their places and profits, and realizing far better than did the
insurgents the enormous military power which they were challenging.
The leaders of the movement were either local magnates not actually
holding office--like the celebrated Joseph Palafox at Saragossa--or
demagogues of the streets, or (but less frequently than might have
been expected) churchmen, Napoleon was quite wrong when he called the
Spanish rising ‘an insurrection of monks.’ The church followed the
nation, and not the nation the church: indeed many of the spiritual
hierarchy were among the most servile instruments of Murat. Among them
was the primate of Spain, the Archbishop of Toledo, who was actually
a scion of the house of Bourbon. There were many ecclesiastics among
the dishonoured ninety-one that went to Bayonne, if there were others
who (like the Bishop of Santander) put themselves at the head of their
flocks when the country took arms.

It was a great misfortune for Spain that the juntas, which were
everywhere formed when the people rose, had to be composed in large
part of men unacquainted with government and organization. There were
many intelligent patriots among their members, a certain number of
statesmen who had been kept down or disgraced by Godoy, but also a
large proportion of ambitious windbags and self-seeking intriguers. It
was hard to constitute a capable government, on the spur of the moment,
in a country which had suffered twenty years of Godoy’s rule.

An unfortunate feature of the rising was that in most of the provinces,
and especially those of the south, it took from the first a very
sanguinary cast. It was natural that the people should sweep away in
their anger every official who tried to keep them down, or hesitated
to commit himself to the struggle with France. But there was no reason
to murder these weaklings or traitors, in the style of the Jacobins.
There was a terrible amount of assassination, public and private,
during the first days of the insurrection. Three captains-general were
slain under circumstances of brutal cruelty--Filanghieri in Galicia,
Torre del Fresno in Estremadura, Solano at Cadiz. The fate of Solano
may serve as an example: he tried to keep the troops from joining the
people, and vainly harangued the mob: pointing to the distant sails
of the English blockading squadron he shouted, ‘There are your real
enemies!’ But his words had no effect: he was hunted down in a house
where he took refuge, and was being dragged to be hung on the public
gallows, when the hand of a fanatic (or perhaps of a secret friend
who wished to spare him a dishonourable death) dealt him a fatal
stab in the side. Gregorio de la Cuesta, the Governor-General of Old
Castile, who was destined to play such a prominent and unhappy part in
the history of the next two years, nearly shared Solano’s fate. The
populace of Valladolid, where he was residing, rose in insurrection
like those of the other cities of Spain. They called on their military
chief to put himself at their head; but Cuesta, an old soldier of the
most unintelligent and brainless sort, hated mob-violence almost more
than he hated the French. He held back, not from a desire to serve
Bonaparte, but from a dislike to being bullied by civilians. The
indignant populace erected a gallows outside his house and came to hang
him thereon. It was not, it is said, till the rope was actually round
his neck that the obstinate old man gave in. The Castilians promptly
released him, and put him at the head of the armed rabble which formed
their only force. Remembering the awful slaughter at Cabezon, at Medina
de Rio Seco, and at Medellin, which his incapacity and mulish obstinacy
was destined to bring about, it is impossible not to express the wish
that his consent to take arms had been delayed for a few minutes longer.

All over Spain there took place, during the last days of May and
the first week of June, scores of murders of prominent men, of old
favourites of Godoy, of colonels who would not allow their regiments
to march, of officials who had shown alacrity in obeying the orders of
Murat. In the Asturias and at Saragossa alone do the new juntas seem
to have succeeded in keeping down assassination. The worst scenes took
place at Valencia, where a mad priest, the Canon Baltasar Calvo, led
out a mob of ruffians who in two days [June 6-7] murdered 338 persons,
the whole colony of French merchants residing in that wealthy town. It
is satisfactory to know that when the Junta of Valencia felt itself
firmly seated in the saddle of power, it seized and executed this
abominable person and his chief lieutenants. In too many parts of Spain
the murderers went unpunished: yet remembering the provocation which
the nation had received, and comparing the blood shed by mob-violence
with that which flowed in Revolutionary France, we must consider the
outburst deplorable rather than surprising.

When the insurrection had reached its full development, we find that
it centred round five points, in each of which a separate junta had
seized on power and begun to levy an army. The most powerful focus
was Seville, from which all Andalusia took its directions: indeed
the Junta of Seville had assumed the arrogant style of ‘supreme Junta
of Spain and the Indies,’ to which it had no legitimate title. The
importance of Andalusia was that it was full of troops, the regular
garrisons having been joined by most of the expeditionary corps which
had returned from southern Portugal. Moreover it was in possession of a
full treasury and a fleet, and had free communication with the English
at Gibraltar. On June 15 the Andalusians struck the first military blow
that told on Napoleon, by bombarding and capturing the French fleet
(the relics of Trafalgar) which lay at their mercy within the harbour
of Cadiz.

The second in importance of the centres of resistance was Galicia,
which was also fairly well provided with troops, and contained the
arsenals of Ferrol and Corunna. The risings in Asturias, and the
feebler gatherings of patriots in Leon and Old Castile, practically
became branches of the Galician insurrection, though they were directed
by their own juntas and tried to work for themselves. It was on the
army of Galicia that they relied for support, and without it they would
not have been formidable. The boundaries of this area of insurrection
were Santander, Valladolid, and Segovia: further east the troops of
Moncey and Bessières, in the direction of Burgos and Aranda, kept the
country-side from rising. There were sporadic gatherings of peasants
in the Upper Ebro valley and the mountains of Northern Castile, but
these were mere unorganized ill-armed bands that half a battalion could
disperse. It was the same in the Basque Provinces and Navarre: here too
the French lay cantoned so thickly that it was impossible to meddle
with them: their points of concentration were Vittoria and the two
fortresses of Pampeluna and San Sebastian.

The other horn of the half-moon of revolt, which encircled Madrid, was
composed of the insurrections in Murcia and Valencia to the south and
Aragon to the north. These regions were much less favourably situated
for forming centres of resistance, because they were very weak in
organized troops. When the Aragonese elected Joseph Palafox as their
captain-general and declared war on France, there were only 2,000
regulars and one battery of artillery in their realm. The levies which
they began to raise were nothing more than half-armed peasants, with no
adequate body of officers to train and drill them. Valencia and Murcia
were a little better off, because the arsenal of Cartagena and its
garrison lay within their boundaries, but there were only 9,000 men
in all under arms in the two provinces. Clearly they could not hope to
deliver such a blow as Galicia or Andalusia might deal.

The last centre of revolt, Catalonia, did not fall into the same
strategical system as the other four. It looked for its enemies not
at Madrid, but at Barcelona, where Lecchi and Duhesme were firmly
established ever since their _coup de main_ in February. The Catalans
had as their task the cutting off of this body of invaders from its
communication with France, and the endeavour to prevent new forces
from joining it by crossing the Eastern Pyrenees. The residence of the
insurrectionary Junta was at Tarragona, but the most important point in
the province for the moment was Gerona, a fortress commanding the main
road from France, which Napoleon had not had the foresight to seize at
the same moment that he won by treachery Barcelona and Figueras. While
the Spaniards could hold it, they had some chance of isolating the army
of Duhesme from its supports. In Catalonia, or in the Balearic Isles
off its coast, there were in May 1808, about 16,000 men of regular
troops, among whom there were only 1,200 soldiers of the cavalry arm.
There was no militia, but by old custom the _levée en masse_ might
always be called out in moments of national danger. These irregulars,
_somatenes_ as they were called (from _somaten_, the alarm-bell which
roused them), turned out in great numbers according to ancient custom:
they had been mobilized thirteen years before in the French War of
1793-5 and their warlike traditions were by no means forgotten. All
through the Peninsular struggle they made a very creditable figure,
considering their want of organization and the difficulty of keeping
them together.

The French armies, putting aside Duhesme’s isolated force at Barcelona,
lay compactly in a great wedge piercing into the heart of Spain. Its
point was at Toledo, just south of Madrid: its base was a line drawn
from San Sebastian to Pampeluna across the Western Pyrenees. Its
backbone lay along the great high road from Vittoria by Burgos to
Madrid. The advantageous point of this position was that it completely
split Central Spain in two: there was no communication possible
between the insurgents of Galicia and those of Aragon. On the other
hand the wedge was long and narrow, and exposed to be pierced by a
force striking at it either from the north-east or the north-west. The
Aragonese rebels were too few to be dangerous; but the strong Spanish
army of Galicia was well placed for a blow at Burgos, and a successful
attack in that direction would cut off Madrid from France, and leave
the troops in and about the capital, who formed the point of the
intrusive wedge, in a very perilous condition. This is the reason why,
in the first stage of the war, Napoleon showed great anxiety as to what
the army of Galicia might do, while professing comparative equanimity
about the proceedings of the other forces of the insurrection.

Having thus sketched the strategic position of affairs in the Peninsula
during the first days of June, we must set ourselves to learn the main
characteristics of the military geography of Spain, and to estimate the
character, organization, and fighting value of the two armies which
were just about to engage. Without some knowledge of the conditions
of warfare in Spain, a mere catalogue of battles and marches would be
absolutely useless.





Of all the regions of Europe, the Iberian Peninsula possesses the best
marked frontier. It is separated from France, its only neighbour, by
one broad range of mountains, which defines its boundaries even more
clearly than the Alps mark those of Italy. For the Alps are no single
chain, but a system of double and triple chains running parallel to
each other, and leaving between them debatable lands such as Savoy and
the Southern Tyrol. Between Spain and France there is no possibility
of any such claims and counter-claims. It is true that Roussillon,
where the eastern end of the Pyrenean range runs into the sea, was
Spanish down to 1659, but that was a political survival from the Middle
Ages, not a natural union: there can be no doubt that geographically
Roussillon is a French and not an Iberian land: the main backbone of
the boundary chain lies south and not north of it.

The Pyrenees, though in height they cannot vie with the Alps, and
though they are not nearly so jagged or scarped as the greater chain,
are extremely difficult to cross, all the more so because the hand of
man has seldom come to help the hand of nature in making practicable
lines of access between France and Spain. In the whole length between
the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean there are only two short fronts
where intercommunication is easy, and these lie at the extreme east
and west, where the mountains touch the sea. In the 250 miles which
intervene there is hardly one good pass practicable for wheeled traffic
or for the march of an army: most are mere mule-paths, rarely used
save by smugglers and shepherds. The only one of these minor routes
employed in the war was that which leads from Jaca in Aragon to Oloron
in Béarn, and that was not much used: only on one single occasion
in 1813 does it appear prominently in history, when Clausel’s French
division, fleeing before Wellington and pressed up against the foot of
the mountains, escaped across it with some difficulty.

The only passes that were systematically employed during the war were
those which lie close to the water at each end of the Pyrenean chain.
At the eastern end there are three which lead from Roussillon into
Catalonia. One hugs the water’s edge, and crawls along under the cliffs
from Perpignan to Rosas: this was not in 1808 the most important of the
three, though it is the one by which the railway passes to-day. Inland
there are two other roads over difficult crests--one ten, the other
forty miles from the shore--the former from Bellegarde to Figueras, the
other from Mont-Louis to Puycerda and Vich. The first was the pass most
used in the war, being less exposed than the Rosas route to English
descents from the sea: the coast road could actually be cannonaded by
warships at some corners. It was blocked indeed by the fortress of
Figueras, but that stronghold was only in Spanish hands for a very
short period of the war. The inmost, or Mont-Louis-Puycerda road was
bad, led into nothing more than a few upland valleys, and was very
little employed by the French. It would have been of importance had it
led down into the lowlands of Aragon, but after taking a long turn in
the hills it harks back towards the Catalan coast, and joins the other
two roads near Gerona--a fortress which is so placed as practically to
command every possible access into Eastern Spain.

Taking all three of these paths into Catalonia together, they do
but form a sort of back door into the Iberian Peninsula. They only
communicate with the narrow eastern coast-strip from Barcelona to
Valencia. There is no direct access from them into Castile, the heart
of the country, and only a roundabout entrance by Lerida into Aragon.
The great mass of the Catalan and Valencian Sierras bars them out from
the main bulk of the Spanish realm. Catalonia and Valencia, wealthy and
in parts fertile as they are, are but its back premises.

The true front door of the kingdom is formed by the passes at the
other, the western, end of the Pyrenees. Here too we have three
available routes, but they differ in character from the roads at the
edge of the Mediterranean, in that they open up two completely separate
lines of advance into Spain, and do not (like the Catalan defiles)
all lead on to the same goal. All three start from Bayonne, the great
southern fortress of Gascony. The first keeps for some time close to
the seaside, and after crossing the Bidassoa, the boundary river of
France and Spain, at Irun, leaves the fortress of San Sebastian a few
miles to its right and then charges the main chain of the mountains. It
emerges at Vittoria, the most northerly town of importance in the basin
of the Ebro. A few miles further south it crosses that stream, and then
makes for Burgos and Madrid, over two successive lines of Sierras. It
opens up the heart of both Old and New Castile. The other two roads
from Bayonne strike inland at once, and do not hug the Biscayan shore
like the Irun-Vittoria route. They climb the Pyrenees, one by the pass
of Maya, the other, twenty miles further east, by the more famous pass
of Roncesvalles, where Charlemagne suffered disaster of old, and left
the great paladin, Roland, dead behind him. The Maya and Roncesvalles
roads join, after passing the mountains, at the great fortress of
Pampeluna, the capital of Navarre. From thence several lines are
available for the invader, the two chief of which are the roads into
Old Castile by Logroño and into Aragon by Tudela. Pampeluna is quite as
valuable as Vittoria as the base for an attack on Central Spain.

The whole Iberian Peninsula has been compared, not inaptly, to an
inverted soup-plate: roughly it consists of a high central plateau,
surrounded by a flat rim. But no comparison of that kind can be pressed
too hard, and we must remember that the rim is variable in width:
sometimes, as on the north coast, and in the extreme south-east of the
peninsula, it is very narrow, and much cut up by small spurs running
down to the sea. But as a rule, and especially in Central Portugal,
Andalusia, Murcia, and Valencia, it is broad and fertile. Indeed if we
set aside the northern coast--Biscay, Asturias, and Galicia--we may
draw a sharp division between the rich and semi-tropical coast plain,
and the high, wind-swept, and generally barren central plateau. All
the wealth of the land lies in the outer strip: the centre is its most
thinly inhabited and worthless part. Madrid, lying in the very midst
of the plateau, is therefore not the natural centre of the land in
anything save a mathematical sense. It is a new and artificial town of
the sixteenth century, pitched upon as an administrative capital by
the Hapsburg kings; but in spite of the long residence of the court
there, it never grew into a city of the first class. Summing up its
ineligibilities, an acute observer said that Madrid combined ‘the soil
of the Sahara, the sun of Calcutta, the wind of Edinburgh, and the
cold of the North Pole.’ Though in no sense the natural capital of
the country, it has yet a certain military importance as the centre
from which the road-system of Spain radiates. There is, as a glance at
the map will show, no other point from which all the main avenues of
communication with the whole of the provinces can be controlled. An
invader, therefore, who has got possession of it can make any combined
action against himself very difficult. But he must not flatter himself
that the capture of Madrid carries with it the same effect that the
capture of Paris or Berlin or Vienna entails. The provinces have
no such feeling of dependence on the national capital as is common
in other countries. France with Paris occupied by an enemy is like
a body deprived of its head. But for Andalusians or Catalonians or
Galicians the occupation of Madrid had no such paralysing effect. No
sentimental affection for the royal residence--and Madrid was nothing
more--existed. And a government established at Seville or Cadiz, or
any other point, would be just as well (or as ill) obeyed as one that
issued its orders from the sandy banks of the Manzanares.

The main geographical, as well as the main political, characteristics
of Spain are determined by its very complicated mountain-system. It
is a land where the rivers count for little, and the hills for almost
everything, in settling military conditions. In most countries great
rivers are connecting cords of national life: their waters carry the
internal traffic of the realm: the main roads lie along their banks.
But in Spain the streams, in spite of their length and size, are
useless. They mostly flow in deep-sunk beds, far below the level of the
surrounding country-side. Their rapid current is always swirling round
rocks, or dashing over sandbanks: often they flow for mile after mile
between cliffs from which it is impossible to reach the water’s edge.
In the rainy season they are dangerous torrents: in the summer all save
the very largest dwindle down into miserable brooks. A river in Spain
is always a sundering obstacle, never a line of communication. Only for
a few scores of miles near their mouths can any one of them be utilized
for navigation: the Douro can be so employed as far as Freneda on the
frontier of Portugal, the Tagus in good seasons as far as Abrantes, the
Guadalquivir to Seville. For the rest of their long courses they are
not available even for the lightest boats.

Spanish rivers, in short, are of importance not as lines of transit,
but as obstacles. They form many fine positions for defence, but
positions generally rendered dangerous by the fact that a very few
days of drought may open many unsuspected fords, where just before
there had been deep and impassable water. Rivers as broad as the Tagus
below Talavera and the Douro at Toro were occasionally crossed by whole
armies in dry weather. It was always hazardous to trust to them as
permanent lines of defence.

It is the mountains which really require to be studied in detail from
the military point of view. Speaking generally we may describe the
Iberian system--as distinct from the Pyrenees--as consisting of one
chain running roughly from north to south, so as to separate the old
kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, while at right angles to this chain run
a number of others, whose general courses are parallel to each other
and run from east to west. There is no single name for the mountains
which separate Castile and Aragon, nor do they form one continuous
range. They are a number of separate systems, often divided from each
other by wide gaps, and sometimes broadening out into high tablelands.
The central nucleus, from which the rest run out, lies between the
provinces of New Castile and Valencia, from Guadalajara in the former
to Morella in the latter. Here there is a great ganglion of chaotic
sierras, pierced by hardly a single practicable road. Northward, in
the direction of Aragon, they sink down into the plain of the Ebro:
southward they spread out into the lofty plateau of Murcia, but rise
into higher and narrower ranges again as they get near the frontier of

This block of chains and plateaus forms the central watershed of Spain,
which throws westward the sources of the Douro, Tagus, Guadiana, and
Guadalquivir, and eastward those of the Xucar and Segura. The basins
of these streams and their tributaries form three-fourths of the
Iberian Peninsula. The rest consists mainly of the great valley of the
Ebro: this hardly falls into the system, and is somewhat exceptional.
It has been described as serving as a sort of wet-ditch to the main
fortification of the peninsula. Starting in the western extension of
the Pyrenees, quite close to the Bay of Biscay, it runs diagonally
across Spain, more or less parallel to the Pyrenees, and falls into the
Mediterranean between Catalonia and Valencia. It is more low-lying than
the rest of the main valleys of Spain, is broader, and is not so much
cramped and cut up by mountains running down to it at right angles to
its course.

Behind the Ebro lie, chain after chain, the parallel sierras which
mark off the divisions of the great central plateau of Spain. Arteche
compares them to the waves of a great petrified sea, running some
higher and some lower, but all washing up into jagged crests, with deep
troughs between them.

The first and most northerly of these waves is that which we may call
the range of Old Castile, which separates the basin of the Ebro from
that of the Douro. At one end it links itself to the Pyrenean chain in
the neighbourhood of Santander: at the other it curves round to join
the more central sierras in the direction of Soria and Calatayud. It is
the lowest of the chains which bound the central plateau of Spain, and
is pierced by three practicable roads, of which the most important is
that from Vittoria to Burgos.

Between this chain on the east and the Cantabrian mountains on the
north lies the great plain of Old Castile and Leon, the heart of the
elder Spanish monarchy, in the days when Aragon was still independent
and Andalusia remained in the hands of the Moor. It is a fairly
productive corn-producing land, studded with ancient cities such as
Burgos, Palencia, Valladolid, Toro, Zamora, Salamanca. The _Tierra de
Campos_ (land of the plains), as it was called, was the granary of
Northern Spain, the most civilized part of the kingdom, and the only
one where there existed a fairly complete system of roads. For want of
the isolated mountain chains which cut up most provinces of the Iberian
Peninsula, it was hard to defend and easy to overrun. If the mountains
that divide it from the Ebro valley are once passed, there is no way of
stopping the invader till he reaches the border of Asturias, Galicia,
or New Castile. The whole plain forms the valley of the Upper Douro
and its tributaries, the Adaja, Pisuerga, Esla, Tormes, and the rest.
It narrows down towards Portugal, as the mountains of Galicia on the
one side and Estremadura on the other throw out their spurs to north
and south. Hence the Lower Douro valley, after the Portuguese frontier
has been passed, is a defile rather than a plain. Before Oporto and
the estuary are reached, there are many places where the mountains on
either side come right down to the river’s edge.

The second chain is much more important, and more strongly marked:
it divides Old from New Castile, the valley of the Douro from that
of the Tagus. In its central and western parts it is really a double
range, with two narrow valleys between its chief ridges. These valleys
are drained by the Zezere and Alagon, two tributaries of the Tagus
which flow parallel for many scores of miles to the broad river which
they feed. If we call this great system of mountains the chain of New
Castile it is only for convenience’ sake: the Spaniards and Portuguese
have no common name for them. In the east they are styled the Sierra
de Ayllon; above Madrid they are known as the Guadarrama--a name
sometimes extended to the whole chain. When they become double, west
of Madrid, the northern chain is the Sierra de Gata, the southern the
Sierra de Gredos. Finally in Portugal the extension of the Sierra de
Gata is called the Sierra da Estrella, the southern parallel ridge
the Sierra do Moradal. The whole system forms a very broad, desolate,
and lofty belt of hills between the Tagus and Douro, through which
the practicable passes are few and difficult. Those requiring notice
are (1) the Somosierra Pass, through which runs the great northern
road from Burgos to Madrid: its name is well remembered owing to the
extraordinary way in which Napoleon succeeded in forcing it (against
all the ordinary rules of war) in the winter of 1808. (2) There is
a group of three passes, all within twelve miles of each other,
across the Guadarrama, through which there debouch on to Madrid the
main roads from North-western Spain--those from (_a_) Valladolid and
Segovia, (_b_) from Astorga, Tordesillas, and Arevalo, (_c_) from
Salamanca by Avila. After this group of passes there is a long space
of impracticable hills, till we come to the chief road from north to
south, parallel to the Portuguese frontier: it comes down the valley
of the Alagon from Salamanca, by Baños and Plasencia, on to the great
Roman bridge of Alcantara, the main passage over the Middle Tagus.
This is a bad road through a desolate country, but the exigencies of
war caused it to be used continually by the French and English armies,
whenever they had to transfer themselves from the valley of the Douro
to that of the Tagus. Occasionally they employed a still worse route,
a little further west, from Ciudad Rodrigo by Perales to Alcantara.
When we get within the Portuguese frontier, we find a road parallel to
the last, from Almeida by Guarda to Abrantes, also a difficult route,
but like it in perpetual use: usually, when the French marched from
Salamanca to Alcantara, Wellington moved in a corresponding way from
near Almeida to Abrantes. This road runs along the basin of the Zezere,
though not down in the trough of the river, but high up the hillsides
above it. Spanish and Portuguese roads, as we shall see, generally
avoid the river banks and run along the slopes far above them.

The next great chain across the Peninsula is that which separates the
barren and sandy valley of the Upper Tagus from the still more desolate
and melancholy plateau of La Mancha, the basin of the Guadiana. Of
all the regions of Central Spain, this is the most thinly peopled
and uninviting. In the whole valley there are only two towns of any
size, Ciudad Real, the capital of La Mancha, and Badajoz, the frontier
fortress against Portugal. The mountains north of the Guadiana are
called first the Sierra de Toledo, then the Sierra de Guadalupe, lastly
on the Portuguese frontier the Sierra de San Mamed. Their peculiarity,
as opposed to the other cross-ranges of the Peninsula, is that at their
eastern end they do not unite directly with the mountains of Valencia,
but leave a broad gap of upland, through which the roads from Madrid to
Murcia and Madrid to Valencia take their way. When the Sierra de Toledo
once begins roads are very few. There are practically only three--(1)
Toledo by San Vincente to Merida, a most break-neck route winding among
summits for forty miles; (2) Almaraz by Truxillo to Merida, the main
path from Tagus to Guadiana, and the most used, though it is difficult
and steep; (3) Alcantara by Albuquerque to Badajoz, a bad military road
parallel to the Portuguese frontier, continuing the similar route from
Salamanca to Alcantara.

Leaving the barren basin of the Guadiana to proceed southward, we find
across our path a range of first-rate importance, the southern boundary
of the central plateaux of Spain: dropping down from its crest we are
no longer among high uplands, but in the broad low-lying semi-tropical
plain of Andalusia, the richest region of Spain. The chain between the
fertile valley of the Guadalquivir and the barren plateau of La Mancha
is known for the greater part of its course as the Sierra Morena, but
in its western section it takes the name of Sierra de Constantino. The
passes across it require special notice: the most eastern and the most
important is that of Despeña Perros, through which passes the high road
from Madrid to Cordova, Seville, and Cadiz. At its southern exit was
fought the fight of Baylen, in which the armies of Napoleon received
their first great check by the surrender of Dupont and his 20,000 men
on July 23, 1808. Higher up the defile lies another historic spot, on
which Christian and Moor fought the decisive battle for the mastery
of Spain in the early years of the thirteenth century, the well-known
fight of Las Navas de Tolosa. The Despeña Perros has two side-passes
close to its left and right: the former is that of San Estevan del
Puerto: the latter is known as the ‘King’s Gate’ (Puerto del Rey). All
these three defiles present tremendous difficulties to an assailant
from the north, yet all were carried in a single rush by the armies of
Soult and Sebastiani in 1810. The central pass of the Sierra Morena
lies ninety miles to the left, and is of much less importance, as it
starts from the most arid corner of La Mancha, and does not connect
itself with any of the great roads from the north. It leads down on to
Cordova from Hinojosa. Again sixty miles to the west three more passes
come down on to Seville, the one by Llerena, the second by Monasterio,
the third by Fregenal: they lead to Badajoz and Merida. These are
easier routes through a less rugged country: they were habitually used
by Soult in 1811 and 1812, when, from his Andalusian base at Seville,
he used to go north to besiege or to relieve the all-important fortress
of Badajoz.

Last of all the great Spanish chains is that which lies close along the
Mediterranean Sea, forming the southern edge of the fertile Andalusian
plain. It is the Sierra Nevada, which, though neither the longest nor
the broadest of the ranges of the south, contains the loftiest peaks in
Spain, Mulhaçen and La Veleta. This chain runs from behind Gibraltar
along the shore, till it joins the mountains of Murcia, leaving only a
very narrow coast-strip between its foot and the southern sea. Three
roads cut it in its western half, which, starting from Granada, Ronda,
and Antequera all come down to the shore at, or in the neighbourhood
of, the great port of Malaga. The parts of the coast-line that are far
from that city are only accessible by following difficult roads that
run close to the water’s edge.

We have still to deal with two corners of the Iberian Peninsula,
which do not fall into any of the great valleys that we have
described--Galicia and Northern Portugal in the north-west, and
Catalonia in the north-east. The geographical conditions of the former
region depend on the Cantabrian Mountains, the western continuation of
the Pyrenees. This chain, after running for many miles as a single
ridge, forks in the neighbourhood of the town of Leon. One branch
keeps on in its original direction, and runs by the coast till it
reaches the Atlantic at Cape Finisterre. The other turns south-west
and divides Spain from Portugal as far as the sea. The angle between
these forking ranges is drained by a considerable river, the Minho.
The basins of this stream and its tributary the Sil, form the greater
part of the province of Galicia. Their valleys are lofty, much cut up
by cross-spurs, and generally barren. The access to them from Central
Spain is by two openings. The main one is the high road from Madrid to
Corunna by Astorga; it does not follow the course of either the Sil or
the Minho, but charges cross-ridge after cross-ridge of the spurs of
the Galician hills, till at last it comes down to the water, and forks
into two routes leading the one to Corunna, the other to the still more
important arsenal of Ferrol. The other gate of Galicia is a little to
the south of Astorga, where a pass above the town of Puebla de Sanabria
gives access to a steep and winding road parallel to the Portuguese
frontier, which finally gets into the valley of the Minho, and turns
down to reach the port of Vigo. It will be remembered that Sir John
Moore, in his famous retreat, hesitated for some time at Astorga
between the Vigo and Corunna roads, and finally chose the latter. His
judgement was undoubtedly correct, but the best alternative was bad,
for in winter even the Madrid-Corunna road, the main artery of this
part of Spain, is distressing enough to an army. It does not follow any
well-marked valley, but cuts across four separate ranges, every one of
which in January was a nursery of torrents in its lower slopes, and
an abode of snow in its upper levels. Besides the roads with which we
have already dealt there is a third important line of communication in
Galicia, that by the narrow coast-plain of the Atlantic, from Corunna
by Santiago to Vigo, and thence into Portugal as far as Oporto. This
would be a good road but for the innumerable river-mouths, small and
great, which it has to cross: the road passes each stream just where
it ceases to be tidal, and at each is fronted at right angles by a
defensible position, which, if held by a competent enemy, is difficult
to force from the front, and still more difficult to turn by a detour
up-stream. Nevertheless it was by this route that Soult successfully
invaded Northern Portugal in the spring of 1809. It must be remembered
that he was only opposed by bands of peasants not even organized into
the loosest form of militia.

The geography of Catalonia, the last Iberian region with which we have
to deal, is more simple than that of Galicia. The land is formed by a
broad mountain belt running out from the eastern end of the Pyrenees,
parallel to the Mediterranean. From this chain the slopes run down
and form on the eastern side a coast-plain, generally rather narrow,
on the western a series of parallel valleys drained by tributaries of
the Segre, the most important affluent of the Ebro. They all unite
near Lerida, an important town and a great centre of roads. But two
considerable rivers, the Ter and the Llobregat, have small basins
of their own in the heart of the central mountain mass, which open
down into the coast-plain by defiles, the one blocked by the peak
of Montserrat, the other by the town of Gerona. During the greater
part of the Peninsular War the French held the larger share of the
shoreland, dominating it from the great fortress of Barcelona, which
they had seized by treachery ere hostilities began. In 1811 they
captured Tarragona also, the second capital of the sea coast. But they
never succeeded in holding down all the small upland plains, and the
minor passes that lead from one to the other. Hunted out of one the
Spanish army took refuge in the next, and, though it dwindled down
ultimately to a mass of guerilla bands, was never caught _en masse_
and exterminated. There were too many bolt-holes among the network
of hills, and the invaders never succeeded in stopping them all, so
that down to the end of the war the patriots always maintained a
precarious existence inland, descending occasionally to the shore to
get ammunition and stores from the English squadrons which haunted the
coast. They were supplied and reinforced from the Balearic Isles, which
Napoleon could never hope to touch, for his power (like that of the
witches of old) vanished when it came to running water. The survival
of the Catalan resistance after the French had drawn a complete cordon
around the hill-country, holding the whole coast-plain on the one hand,
and Lerida and the Segre valley on the other, is one of the incidents
of the war most creditable to Spanish constancy.

Having dealt with the physical geography of Spain, it is necessary
for us to point out the way in which the natural difficulties of the
country had influenced its main lines of communication. Roads always
take the ‘line of least resistance’ in early days, and seek for easy
passes, not for short cuts. The idea that ‘time is money,’ and that
instead of going round two sides of a triangle it may be worth
while to cut a new path across its base, in spite of all engineering
difficulties, was one very unfamiliar to the Spaniard. Nothing shows
more clearly the state of mediaeval isolation in which the kingdom
still lay in 1808 than the condition of its roads. Wherever the country
presented any serious obstacles, little or no attempt had been made to
grapple with them since the days of the Romans. The energetic Charles
III, alone among the kings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
had done something to improve the system of intercommunication. He
had, for example, superseded the old break-neck road from the plains
of Leon into Galicia, by building the fine new _chaussée_ from Astorga
to Villafranca by Manzanal; but among the line of Hapsburg and Bourbon
sovereigns Charles was a rare exception. Under the imbecile rule
of his son (or rather of Godoy) improvements ceased, and internal
communications were as much neglected as any other branch of state
management. What roads there were, when the war of 1808 broke out, were
in a state of dreadful neglect. The Spaniard was still too prone to
go round an intolerable distance rather than attempt a serious piece
of engineering work. Let us take, for example, the northern coast of
Spain: the Cantabrian range is no doubt a most serious obstacle to
intercourse between Castile and Leon, on the one side, and the maritime
provinces of Asturias and Biscay on the other. But who would have
conceived it possible that in a length of 300 miles of mountain, there
should be no more than five roads practicable for wheeled traffic and
artillery? Yet this was so: to get down from the central plateau to
the coast there are only available these five routes--one from Leon
to Oviedo, one from Burgos to Santander, one from Burgos to Bilbao,
one from Vittoria to Bilbao, and one from Vittoria to San Sebastian
and Irun. There were many other points at which a division travelling
in light order without guns or baggage could cross the watershed--as
was shown in Blake’s flight from Reynosa and Ney’s invasion of the
Asturias. But for an army travelling with all its _impedimenta_ such
bypaths were impracticable.

Let us take another part of the Peninsula--its eastern side. The
ancient separation between Aragon and Castile is fully reflected by
the utter isolation of the two for intercommunication. To get from
Madrid to the east coast there are only three roads suitable for
wheeled traffic: one goes by the main gap in the hills by Chinchilla to
Murcia, another by Requeña to Valencia. The third passes by Calatayud
to Saragossa and ultimately to Barcelona. Between it and the Valencia
road there is a gap of no less than 120 miles unpierced by any good
practicable line of communication[69]. This being so, we begin to
understand how it was that the operations on the eastern side of Spain,
during the whole of the struggle, were a sort of independent episode
that never exercised any great influence on the main theatre of the
war, or, on the other hand, was much affected by the progress of the
strife in Castile or Portugal. Soult’s conquest of Andalusia did not
help Suchet to conquer Valencia. On the other hand, when the latter
did, in January, 1812, succeed in his attempt to subdue the eastern
coast-line, it did not much affect him that Wellington was storming
Ciudad Rodrigo and pressing back the French in the west. He was able
to hold on to Valencia till the allies, in 1813, got possession of the
upper valley of the Ebro and the great road from Madrid to Saragossa
and Lerida, after the battle of Vittoria. It was only then that his
flank was really turned, and that he was compelled to retreat and to
abandon his southern conquests.

  [69] The bad cross-roads Cuenca-Teruel and Molina-Teruel hardly

Summing up the general characteristics of the road-system of Spain, we
note first that the main routes are rather at right angles to the great
rivers than parallel to them. The sole exception is to be found in the
valley of the Ebro, where the only good cross-road of Northern Spain
does follow the river-bank from Logroño and Tudela on to Saragossa and

Just because the roads do not cling to the valleys, but strike across
them at right angles, they are always crossing watersheds by means of
difficult passes. And so there is hardly a route in the whole Peninsula
where it is possible to find fifty miles without a good defensive
position drawn across the path. Moreover, the continual passes make
the question of supplies very difficult: in crossing a plain an army
can live, more or less, on the supplies of the country-side; but among
mountains and defiles there is no population, and therefore no food
to be had. Hence an army on the move must take with it all that it
consumes, by means of a heavy wagon train, or an enormous convoy of
pack-mules. But only the best roads are suitable for wheeled traffic,
and so the lines practicable for a large host are very restricted in
number. The student is often tempted to consider the movements of the
rival generals very slow. The explanation is simply that to transfer
an army from one river-basin to another was a serious matter. It was
necessary to spend weeks in collecting at the base food and transport
sufficient to support the whole force till it reached its goal. In 1811
or 1812 the French and English were continually moving up and down the
Portuguese frontier parallel to each other, the one from Salamanca to
Badajoz, the other from Almeida or Guarda to Elvas. But to prepare for
one of these flittings was such a serious matter that by the time that
the army was able to move, the enemy had usually got wind of the plan,
and was able to follow the movement on his own side of the frontier.
There were months of preparation required before a few weeks of active
operations, and when the concentration was over and the forces massed,
they could only keep together as long as the food held out, and then
had to disperse again in order to live. This was what was meant by the
old epigram, that ‘in Spain large armies starve, and small armies get

Half the strategy of the campaigns of 1811-12-13 consisted in one of
the combatants secretly collecting stores, concentrating his whole
army, and then dashing at some important part of his adversary’s
line, before the other could mass his forces in a corresponding way.
If prompt, the assailant might gain a fortnight, in which he might
either try to demolish the enemy in detail before he could concentrate,
or else to take from him some important position or town. In 1811
Marmont and Dorsenne played this trick on Wellington, during the short
campaign of El Bodon and Aldea da Ponte. They relieved Ciudad Rodrigo,
and nearly caught some divisions of the English army before the rest
could join. But missing the instant blow, and allowing Wellington time
to draw in his outlying troops, they failed and went home. In 1812,
on the other hand, the British general successfully played off this
device on the French. He first concentrated in the north, and captured
Ciudad Rodrigo in eleven days, before Marmont could mass his scattered
divisions; then going hastily south he took Badajoz in exactly the same
way, storming it after only nineteen days of siege. Soult drew his army
together at the news of Wellington’s move, but had to bring troops from
such distances, and to collect so much food, that he arrived within
three marches of Badajoz only to hear that the place had just fallen.

In dealing with the main geographical facts of the war it is fair to
recollect that an invasion of Spain from France is one of the most
difficult of undertakings, because the whole river and mountain system
of the Peninsula lies _across_ the main line of advance from Bayonne
to Cadiz, which the invader must adopt. While the French conquest
must be pushed from north to south, both the streams and the Sierras
of Spain all run at right angles to this direction, i.e. from east to
west. In advancing from the Pyrenees to Madrid, and again from Madrid
to Seville and Cadiz, the invader has to cross every main river--Ebro,
Douro, Tagus, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir--and to force the passes of
every main range. Moreover, as he advances southward, he has to keep
his flanks safe against disturbance from the two mountainous regions,
Catalonia and Portugal, which lie along the eastern and western coasts
of the Peninsula. Unless the whole breadth of Spain, from the Atlantic
to the Mediterranean, be occupied step by step as the invader moves on
towards the Straits of Gibraltar, he can always be molested and have
his lines of communication with France threatened. In the end it may
be said that Napoleon’s whole scheme of conquest was shipwrecked upon
the blunder of attacking Andalusia and Cadiz while Portugal was still
unsubdued. Wellington’s constant sallies out of that country upon the
French flank, in Leon and Estremadura, detained such large forces to
protect the valleys of the Central Douro and Tagus that enough men were
never found to finish the conquest of the south and east. And finally
one crushing victory at Salamanca, in the plains of Leon, so threatened
the invader’s line of touch with France, that he had to abandon the
whole south of Spain in order to concentrate an army large enough to
force Wellington back from Burgos and the great northern road.

On the other hand, one tremendous advantage possessed by the French
in the central years of the war must be remembered. It is manifest
that Madrid is the only really important road-centre in Spain, and
that its undisturbed possession by the French in 1809-11 gave them
the advantage of being able to operate from a single point, against
enemies who lay in a vast semicircle around, with no good cross-roads
to join them and enable them to work together. The small ‘Army of the
Centre,’ which was always kept in and around Madrid, could be used as a
reserve for any other of the French armies, and transferred to join it
in a few marches, while it was infinitely more difficult to unite the
various forces lying on an outer circle at Astorga, Almeida, Abrantes,
and Cadiz, which the Spaniards and the British kept in the field. In
short, in estimating the difficulties of the two parties, the advantage
of the central position must be weighed against the disadvantage of
long and exposed lines of communication.

One of the cardinal blunders of Napoleon’s whole scheme for the
conquest of the Peninsula was that he persisted in treating it as if
it were German or Italian soil, capable of supporting an army on the
march. His troops were accustomed to live on the country-side while
crossing Central Europe, and therefore made no proper preparations
for supplying themselves by other means than plunder. But in Spain
there are only a few districts where this can be done: it may be
possible to get forward without an enormous train of convoys in
Andalusia, the coast plain of Valencia, and certain parts of the rather
fertile plateau of Leon, the wheat-bearing _Tierra de Campos_. But
over four-fifths of the Peninsula, an army that tries to feed on the
country-side will find itself at the point of starvation in a few days,
and be forced to disperse in order to live.

Till he had seen Spain with his own eyes Napoleon might perhaps
have been excused for ignoring the fact that his ordinary method of
‘making war support itself’ was not in this case possible. But even
after he had marched from Bayonne to Madrid, and then from Madrid to
Astorga, in 1808, he persisted in refusing to see facts as they were.
We find him on his way back to Paris from the campaign uttering the
extraordinary statement that ‘Spain is a much better country than he
had ever supposed, and that he had no idea what a magnificent present
he had made to his brother Joseph till he had seen it[70].’ Of his
utter failure to grasp the difficulties of the country we may get a
fair conception from his orders, given at the same time, to Marshal
Soult, who was at that moment occupied in pushing Sir John Moore
towards Corunna. He told the Duke of Dalmatia that if he reached Lugo
on January 9, and the English got away safely by sea, he was to march
on Oporto, where he ought to arrive on the first of February; after
seizing that city he was to go on to Lisbon, which he might reach on or
about February 10. As a matter of fact Soult saw the English depart,
and occupied Corunna on January 19, but his army was so utterly worn
out, and his stores so entirely exhausted, that with the best will in
the world he could not move again till February 20, only took Oporto on
March 29, and had not yet started for Lisbon when Wellesley suddenly
fell on him and drove him out of the country on May 12, 1809. The
Emperor, in short, had given Soult orders executable perhaps, according
to the distance, in Lombardy or Bavaria, but utterly absurd when
applied to a country where roads are few and bad, with a defile or a
river crossing the path at every few miles, and where food has to be
carefully collected before a move, and taken on with the army by means
of enormous convoys. Moreover the month was January, when every brook
had become a raging mountain stream, and every highland was covered
with snow! With such conceptions of the task before him, it is not
wonderful that Napoleon was continually issuing wholly impracticable
orders. The one that we have just quoted was sent out from Valladolid:
how much worse would the case be when the Emperor persisted in
directing affairs from Paris or Vienna, the last news that had reached
him from the front being now several weeks old! With all his genius he
never thoroughly succeeded in grasping the state of affairs, and to the
very last continued to send directions that would have been wise enough
in Central Europe, but happened to be inapplicable in the Iberian

  [70] He said this to De Pradt (_Révolutions d’Espagne_, p. 224).

It is only fair to Napoleon to add that his Spanish enemies, who ought
at least to have known the limitations of their own road-system, and
the disabilities of their half-starved armies, used habitually to
produce plans of operations far more fantastically impossible than
any that he ever drafted. They would arrange far-reaching schemes,
for the co-operation of forces based on the most remote corners of
the Peninsula, without attempting to work out the ‘logistics’ of the
movement. The invariable result was that such enterprises either ended
in disaster, or at the best came to a stop after the first few marches,
because some vital point of the calculation had already been proved to
have been made on erroneous data.



When the English student begins to investigate the Peninsular War
in detail, he finds that, as regards the Spanish armies and their
behaviour, he starts with a strong hostile prejudice. The Duke of
Wellington in his dispatches, and still more in his private letters
and his table-talk, was always enlarging on the folly and arrogance
of the Spanish generals with whom he had to co-operate, and on the
untrustworthiness of their troops. Napier, the one military classic
whom most Englishmen have read, is still more emphatic and far more
impressive, since he writes in a very judicial style, and with the most
elaborate apparatus of references and authorities. When the reader
begins to work through the infinite number of Peninsular diaries of
British officers and men (for there are a very considerable number of
writers from among the rank and file) the impression left upon him is
much the same. It must be confessed that for the most part they had a
very poor opinion of our allies.

Before allowing ourselves to be carried away by the almost unanimous
verdict of our own countrymen, it is only fair to examine the state and
character of the Spanish army when the war broke out. Only when we know
its difficulties can we judge with fairness of its conduct, or decide
upon its merits and shortcomings.

The armed force which served under the banners of Charles IV in the
spring of 1808 consisted of 131,000 men, of whom 101,000 were regulars
and 30,000 embodied militia. The latter had been under arms since 1804,
and composed the greater part of the garrisons of the seaports of
Spain, all of which had to be protected against possible descents of
English expeditions[71].

  [71] See Appendix, containing the state of the Spanish army in

Of the 101,000 men of the regular army, however, not all were available
for the defence of the country. While the war with Russia was still in
progress, Bonaparte had requested the Spanish government to furnish
him with a strong division for use in the North [March, 1807], and in
consequence the Marquis of La Romana had been sent to the Baltic with
15,000 men, the picked regiments of the army. There remained therefore
only 86,000 regulars within the kingdom. A very cursory glance down
the Spanish army-list of 1808 is sufficient to show that this force
was far from being in a satisfactory condition for either offensive or
defensive operations.

It is well worth while to look at the details of its composition. The
infantry consisted of three sorts of troops--the Royal Guard, the line
regiments, and the foreign corps in Spanish pay. For Spain, more than
any other European state, had kept up the old seventeenth-century
fashion of hiring foreign mercenaries on a large scale. Even in the
Royal Guard half the infantry were composed of ‘Walloon Guards,’ a
survival from the day when the Netherlands had been part of the broad
dominions of the Hapsburg kings. The men of these three battalions
were no longer mainly Walloons, for Belgium had been a group of
French departments for the last thirteen years. There were Germans
and other foreigners of all sorts in the ranks, as well as a large
number of native Spaniards. There were also six regiments of Swiss
mercenaries--over 10,000 bayonets--and in these the men in the ranks
did really come from Switzerland and Germany, though there was a
sprinkling among them of strangers from all lands who had ‘left their
country for their country’s good.’ There were also one Neapolitan and
three Irish regiments. These latter were survivals from the days of
the ‘Penal Laws,’ when young Irishmen left their homes by thousands
every year to take service with France or Spain, in the hope of getting
some day a shot at the hated redcoats. The regiments bore the names
of Hibernia, Irlanda, and Ultonia (i.e. Ulster). They were very much
under their proper establishment, for of late years Irish recruits
had begun to run short, even after the ’98: they now took service in
France and not in Spain. The three Irish corps in 1808 had only 1,900
men under arms, instead of the 5,000 which they should have produced;
and of those the large majority were not real Irish, but waifs of all
nationalities. Of late native Spaniards had been drafted in, to keep
the regiments from dying out. On the other hand we shall find that not
only the foreign regiments but the whole Spanish army was still full
of officers of Irish name and blood, the sons and grandsons of the
original emigrants of two generations back. An astounding proportion
of the officers who rose to some note during the war bore Irish names,
and were hereditary soldiers of fortune, who justified their existence
by the unwavering courage which they always showed, in a time when
obstinate perseverance was the main military virtue. We need only
mention Blake, the two O’Donnells, Lacy, Sarsfield, O’Neill, O’Daly,
Mahony, O’Donahue. If none of them showed much strategical skill, yet
their constant readiness to fight, which no series of defeats could
tame, contrasts very well with the spiritless behaviour of a good many
of the Spanish generals. No officer of Irish blood was ever found among
the cowards, and hardly one among the traitors[72].

  [72] The minister O’Farrill and General Kindelan were the chief

The ten foreign corps furnished altogether about 13,000 men to the
Spanish regular army. The rest of the infantry was composed of
thirty-five regiments of troops of the line, of three battalions
each, and twelve single-battalion regiments of light infantry. They
were theoretically territorial, like our own infantry of to-day, and
mostly bore local names derived from the provinces--Asturias, Toledo,
Estremadura, and so forth. All the light infantry corps belonged to
the old kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre, which were therefore scantily
represented in the nomenclature of the ordinary line regiments.
There were altogether 147 battalions of Spanish infantry, excluding
the foreign troops, and if all of these had been up to the proper
establishment of 840 men, the total would have amounted to 98,000
bayonets. But the state of disorganization was such that as a matter of
fact there were only 58,000 under arms. The regiments which Napoleon
had requisitioned for service in the North had been more or less
brought up to a war-footing, and each showed on an average 2,000 men
in the ranks. But many of the corps in the interior of Spain displayed
the most lamentable figures: e.g. the three battalions of the regiment
of Estremadura had only 770 men between them, Cordova 793, and Navarre
822--showing 250 men to the battalion instead of the proper 840.
Theoretically there should have been no difficulty in keeping them
up to their proper strength, as machinery for recruiting them had
been duly provided. Voluntary enlistment was the first resource: but
when that did not suffice to keep the ranks full, there was a kind
of limited conscription called the _Quinta_[73] to fall back upon.
This consisted in balloting for men in the regimental district, under
certain rules which allowed an enormous number of exemptions--e.g. all
skilled artisans and all middle-class townsfolk were free from the
burden--so that the agricultural labourers had to supply practically
the whole contingent. Substitutes were allowed, if by any means the
conscript could afford to pay for them. The conscription therefore
should have kept the regiments up to their proper strength, and if
many of them had only a third of their complement under arms, it was
merely due to the general demoralization of the times. Under Godoy’s
administration money was always wanting, more especially since Napoleon
had begun to levy his monthly tribute of 6,000,000 francs from the
Spanish monarchy, and the gaps in the ranks probably represented
enforced economy as well as corrupt administration.

  [73] So called because it was originally supposed to take the
  _fifth_ man.

The 30,000 embodied militia, which formed the remainder of the Spanish
infantry, had been under arms since 1804, doing garrison duty; they
seem in many respects to have been equal to the line battalions in
efficiency. They bore names derived from the towns in whose districts
they had been raised--Badajoz, Lugo, Alcazar, and so forth. Their
officering was also strictly local, all ranks being drawn from the
leading families of their districts, and seems to have been quite
as efficient as that of the line. Moreover their ranks were, on the
average, much fuller than those of the regular regiments--only two
battalions in the total of forty-three showed less than 550 bayonets on

It is when we turn to the cavalry that we come to the weakest part of
the Spanish army. There were twelve regiments of heavy and twelve of
light horse, each with a nominal establishment of 700 sabres, which
should have given 16,800 men for the whole force. There were only about
15,000 officers and troopers embodied, but this was a small defect. A
more real weakness lay in the fact that there were only 9,000 horses
for the 15,000 men. It is difficult for even a wealthy government,
like our own, to keep its cavalry properly horsed, and that of Charles
IV was naturally unable to cope with this tiresome military problem.
The chargers were not only too few, but generally of bad quality,
especially those of the heavy cavalry: of those which were to be
found in the regimental stables a very large proportion were not fit
for service. When the five regiments which Napoleon demanded for the
expedition to Denmark had been provided with 540 horses each and sent
off, the mounts of the rest of the army were in such a deplorable
state that some corps had not the power to horse one-third of their
troopers: e.g. in June, 1808, the Queen’s Regiment, No. 2 of the
heavy cavalry, had 202 horses for 668 men; the 12th Regiment had 259
horses for 667 men; the 1st Chasseurs--more extraordinary still--only
185 horses for 577 men. It resulted from this penury of horses that
when Napoleon made a second demand for Spanish cavalry, asking for a
division of 2,000 sabres to aid Junot in invading Portugal, that force
had to be made up by putting together the mounted men of no less than
ten regiments, each contributing two or at the most three squadrons and
leaving the rest of its men dismounted at the dépôt.

Even if the cavalry had all been properly mounted, they would have been
far too few in proportion to the other arms, only 15,000 out of a total
force of 130,000--one in eight; whereas in the time of the Napoleonic
wars one in six, or even one in five, was considered the proper
complement. In the Waterloo campaign the French had the enormous number
of 21,000 cavalry to 83,000 infantry--one to four. What with original
paucity, and with want of remounts, the Spaniards took the field in
1808, when the insurrection began, with a ridiculously small number of
horsemen. At Medina de Rio Seco they had only 750 horsemen to 22,000
foot-soldiers, at Baylen only 1,200 to 16,000. Later in the war they
succeeded in filling up the ranks of the old cavalry regiments, and
in raising many new ones. But the gain in number was not in the least
accompanied by a gain in efficiency. For the whole six years of the
struggle the mounted arm was the weakest point of their hosts. Again
and again it disgraced itself by allowing itself to be beaten by half
its own numbers, or by absconding early in the fight and abandoning
its infantry. It acquired, and merited, a detestable reputation, and
it is hard to find half a dozen engagements in which it behaved even
reasonably well[74]. When Wellington was made generalissimo of the
Spanish armies in 1813 he would not bring it up to the front at all,
and though he took 40,000 Spaniards over the Pyrenees, there was
not a horseman among them. It is hard to account for the thorough
worthlessness of these squadrons, even when we make allowance for all
the difficulties of the time: Spain was notoriously deficient in decent
cavalry officers when the war began. The horses were inferior to the
French, and the equipment bad. From early disasters the troopers
contracted a demoralization which they could never shake off. But
granting all this, it is still impossible to explain the consistent
misbehaviour of these evasive squadrons. The officers, no doubt, had a
harder task in organizing their new levies than those of the infantry
and artillery, but it is curious that they should never have succeeded
in learning their business even after four or five years of war.

  [74] The successful and opportune charge of the _regimiento del
  Rey_ at Talavera was about the only case which ever came under
  English eyes.

The artillery of the Spanish army, on the other hand, earned on the
whole a good reputation. This was not the result of proper preparation.
When the struggle began it consisted of thirty-four batteries of field
artillery, six of horse, and twenty-one garrison batteries (_compañias
fijas_), with a total of 6,500 men. Forty batteries--that is to say
240 guns or somewhat less, for in some cases there seem to have been
only four instead of six pieces in the battery--was according to the
standard of 1808 a mediocre allowance to an army of 130,000 men, only
about two-thirds of what it should have been[75]. But this was not the
worst. Deducting four fully-horsed batteries, which had been taken
off by Napoleon to Denmark, there remained in Spain four horse and
thirty-two field batteries. These were practically unable to move, for
they were almost entirely destitute of horses. For the 216 guns and
their caissons there were only in hand 400 draught animals! When the
war began, the artillery had to requisition, and more or less train,
3,000 horses or mules before they could move from their barracks! I
do not know any fact that illustrates better the state of Spanish
administration under the rule of Godoy. The raising of the great
insurrectionary armies in the summer of 1808 ought to have led to an
enormous increase to the artillery arm, but the trained men were so few
that the greatest difficulty was found in organizing new batteries.
Something was done by turning the marine artillery of the fleet into
land troops, and there were a few hundreds of the militia who had been
trained to work guns. But the officers necessary for the training and
officering of new batteries were so scarce, that for many months no
fresh forces of the artillery arm could take the field. In the autumn
of 1808, at the time of the battles of Espinosa and Tudela, if we
carefully add up the number of guns brought into action by the five
armies of Galicia, Estremadura, Aragon, the ‘Centre’ (i.e. Andalusia
and Castile), and Catalonia, we do not find a piece more than the 240
which existed at the outbreak of the war. That is to say, the Spaniards
had raised 100,000 new levies of infantry, without any corresponding
extension of the artillery arm. During the campaign the conduct of the
corps seems on the whole to have been very good, compared with that of
the other arms. This was to be expected, as they were old soldiers to a
much greater extent than either the infantry or the cavalry. They seem
to have attained a fair skill with their weapons, and to have stuck
to them very well. We often hear of gunners cut down or bayonetted
over their pieces, seldom of a general bolt to the rear. For this very
reason the personnel of the batteries suffered terribly: every defeat
meant the capture of some dozens of guns, and the cutting up of the men
who served them. It was as much as the government could do to keep up
a moderate number of batteries, by supplying new guns and amalgamating
the remnants of those which had been at the front. Each batch of lost
battles in 1808-10 entailed the loss and consequent reconstruction of
the artillery. If, in spite of this, we seldom hear complaints as to
its conduct, it must be taken as a high compliment to the arm. But
as long as Spanish generals persisted in fighting pitched battles,
and getting their armies dispersed, a solid proportion of artillery
to infantry could never be established. Its average strength may be
guessed from the fact that at Albuera the best army that Spain then
possessed put in line 16,300 men with only fourteen guns, less than
one gun per thousand men--while Napoleon (as we have already noted)
believed that five per thousand was the ideal, and often managed in
actual fact to have three. In the latter years of the war the pieces
were almost always drawn by mules, yoked tandem-fashion, and not ridden
by drivers but goaded by men walking at their side--the slowest and
most unsatisfactory form of traction that can be imagined. Hence came,
in great part, their inability to manœuvre.

  [75] Napoleon had an ideal proportion of five guns per 1,000 men.
  But, as we shall show in the next chapter, while dealing with the
  French armies, he never succeeded in reaching anything like this
  standard in the Peninsula. Yet his opponents were always worse

Of engineers Spain in 1808 had 169 officers dispersed over the kingdom.
The corps had no proper rank and file. But there was a regiment of
sappers, 1,000 strong, which was officered from the engineers. There
was no army service corps, no military train, no organized commissariat
of any kind. When moving about a Spanish army depended either on
contractors who undertook to provide horses and wagons driven by
civilians, or more frequently on the casual sweeping in by requisition
of all the mules, oxen, and carts of the unhappy district in which it
was operating. In this respect, as in so many others, Spain was still
in the Middle Ages. The fact that there was no permanent arrangement
for providing for the food of the army is enough in itself to account
for many of its disasters. If, like the British, the Spaniards had
possessed money to pay for what they took, things might have worked
somewhat better. Or if, like the French, they had possessed an
organized military train, and no scruples, they might have contrived
to get along at the cost of utterly ruining the country-side. But
as things stood, depending on incapable civil commissaries and the
unwilling contributions of the local authorities, they were generally
on the edge of starvation. Sometimes they got over the edge, and then
the army, in spite of the proverbial frugality of the Spanish soldier,
simply dispersed. It is fair to the men to say that they generally
straggled back to the front sooner or later, when they had succeeded in
filling their stomachs, and got incorporated in their own or some other
regiment. It is said that by the end of the war there were soldiers who
had, in their fashion, served in as many as ten different corps during
the six years of the struggle.

Summing up the faults of the Spanish army, its depleted battalions,
its small and incompetent cavalry force, its insufficient proportion
of artillery, its utter want of commissariat, we find that its main
source of weakness was that while the wars of the French Revolution
had induced all the other states of Europe to overhaul their military
organization and learn something from the methods of the French,
Spain was still, so far as its army was concerned, in the middle of
the eighteenth century. The national temperament, with its eternal
relegation of all troublesome reforms to the morrow, was no doubt
largely to blame. But Godoy, the all-powerful favourite who had also
been commander-in-chief for the last seven years, must take the main
responsibility. If he had chosen, he possessed the power to change
everything; and in some ways he had peddled a good deal with details,
changing the uniforms, and increasing the number of battalions in each
regiment. But to make the army efficient he had done very little:
the fact was that the commander-in-chief was quite ignorant of the
military needs and tendencies of the day: all his knowledge of the army
was gained while carpet-soldiering in the ranks of the royal bodyguard.
It was natural that the kind of officers who commended themselves to
his haughty and ignorant mind should be those who were most ready to
do him homage, to wink at his peculations, to condone his jobs, and to
refrain from worrying him for the money needed for reforms and repairs.
Promotion was wholly arbitrary, and was entirely in the favourite’s
hands. Those who were prepared to bow down to him prospered: those who
showed any backbone or ventured on remonstrances were shelved. After
a few years of this system it was natural that all ranks of the army
became demoralized, since not merit but the talents of the courtier
and the flatterer were the sure road to prosperity. Hence it came to
pass that when the insurrection began, the level of military ability,
patriotism, and integrity among the higher ranks of the army was very
low. There were a few worthy men like Castaños and La Romana in offices
of trust, but a much greater proportion of Godoy’s protégés. One cannot
condone the shocking way in which, during the first days of the war,
the populace and the rank and file of the army united to murder so
many officers in high place, like Filanghieri, the Captain-General of
Galicia, Torre del Fresno, the Captain-General of Estremadura, and
Solano, who commanded at Cadiz. But the explanation of the atrocities
is simple: the multitude were resenting the results of the long
administration of Godoy’s creatures, and fell upon such of them as
refused to throw in their lot immediately with the insurrection. The
murdered men were (rightly or wrongly) suspected either of an intention
to submit to Joseph Bonaparte, or of a design to hang back, wait on
the times, and make their decision only when it should become obvious
which paid better, patriotism or servility. The people had considerable
justification in the fact that a very large proportion of Godoy’s
protégés, especially of those at Madrid, did swear homage to the
intruder in order to keep their places and pensions. They were the base
of the miserable party of _Afrancesados_ which brought so much disgrace
on Spain. The misguided cosmopolitan liberals who joined them were much
the smaller half of the traitor-faction.

Godoy and his clique, therefore, must take the main responsibility
for the state of decay and corruption in which the Spanish army was
found in 1808. What more could be expected when for so many years
an idle, venal, dissolute, ostentatious upstart had been permitted
to control the administration of military affairs, and to settle
all promotions to rank and office? ‘Like master like man’ is always
a true proverb, and the officers who begged or bought responsible
positions from Godoy naturally followed their patron’s example in
spreading jobs and peculation downwards. The undrilled and half-clothed
soldiery, the unhorsed squadrons, the empty arsenals, the idle and
ignorant subalterns, were all, in the end, the result of Godoy’s long
domination. But we do not wish to absolve from its share of blame the
purblind nation which tolerated him for so long. In another country he
would have gone the way of Gaveston or Mortimer long before.

When this was the state of the Spanish armies, it is no wonder that
the British observer, whether officer or soldier, could never get over
his prejudice against them. It was not merely because a Spanish army
was generally in rags and on the verge of starvation that he despised
it. These were accidents of war which every one had experienced in his
own person: a British battalion was often tattered and hungry. The
Spanish government was notoriously poor, its old regiments had been
refilled again and again with raw conscripts, its new levies had never
had a fair start. Hence came the things which disgusted the average
Peninsular diarist of British origin--the shambling indiscipline, the
voluntary dirt, the unmilitary habits of the Spanish troops. He could
not get over his dislike for men who kept their arms in a filthy, rusty
condition, who travelled not in orderly column of route but like a
flock of sheep straggling along a high road, who obeyed their officers
only when they pleased. And for the officers themselves the English
observer had an even greater contempt: continually we come across
observations to the effect that the faults of the rank and file might
be condoned--after all they were only half-trained peasants--but that
the officers were the source and fount of evil from their laziness,
their arrogance, their ignorance, and their refusal to learn from
experience. Here is a typical passage from the Earl of Munster’s

‘We should not have been dissatisfied with our allies, _malgré_ their
appearance and their rags, if we had felt any reason to confide in
them. The men might be “capable of all that men dare,” but the
appearance of their officers at once bespoke their not being fit to
lead them in the attempt. They not only did not look like soldiers,
but even not like gentlemen, and it was difficult from their mean and
abject appearance, particularly among the infantry, to guess what class
of society they could have been taken from. Few troops will behave well
if those to whom they should look up are undeserving respect. Besides
their general inefficiency we found their moral feeling different from
what we expected. Far from evincing devotion or even common courage
in their country’s cause, they were very often guilty, individually
and collectively, of disgraceful cowardice. We hourly regretted that
the revolution had not occasioned a more complete _bouleversement_ of
society, so as to bring forward fresh and vigorous talent from all
classes. Very few of the regular military showed themselves worthy of
command. Indeed, with the exception of a few self-made soldiers among
the Guerillas, who had risen from among the farmers and peasantry, it
would be hard to point out a Spanish officer whose opinion on the most
trivial military subject was worth being asked. We saw old besotted
generals whose armies were formed on obsolete principles of the _ancien
régime_ of a decrepit government. To this was added blind pride and
vanity. No proofs of inferiority could open their eyes, and they rushed
from one error and misfortune to another, benefiting by no experience,
and disdaining to seek aid and improvement’ [pp. 194-5].

A voice from the ranks, Sergeant Surtees of the Rifle Brigade, gives
the same idea in different words.

‘Most of the Spanish officers appeared to be utterly unfit and
unable to command their men. They had all the pride, arrogance, and
self-sufficiency of the best officers in the world, with the very least
of all pretension to have a high opinion of themselves. It is true they
were not all alike, but the majority were the most haughty, and at the
same time the most contemptible creatures in the shape of officers that
ever I beheld’ [p. 109].

As a matter of fact the class of officers in Spain was filled up
in three different ways. One-third of them were, by custom, drawn
from the ranks. In an army raised by conscription from all strata
of society excellent officers can be procured in this way. But in
one mainly consisting of the least admirable part of the surplus
population, forced by want or hatred of work into enlisting, it was
hard to get even good sergeants. And the sergeants made still worse
sub-lieutenants, when the colonel was forced to promote some of them.
No wonder that the English observer thought that there were ‘Spanish
officers who did not look like gentlemen.’ This class were seldom
or never allowed to rise above the grade of captain. The remaining
two-thirds of the officers received their commissions from the war
office: in the cavalry they were supposed to show proofs of noble
descent, but this was not required in the infantry. There was a
large sprinkling, however, of men of family, and for them the best
places and the higher ranks were generally reserved--a thing feasible
because all promotion was arbitrary, neither seniority nor merit
being necessarily considered. The rest were drawn from all classes of
society: for the last fifteen years any toady of Godoy could beg or
buy as many commissions for his protégés as he pleased. But a large,
and not the worst, part of the body of officers was composed of the
descendants of soldiers of fortune--Irishmen were most numerous, but
there were also French and Italians--who had always been seen in great
numbers in the Spanish army. They held most of the upper-middle grades
in the regiments, for the promoted sergeants were kept down to the
rank of captain, while the nobles got rapid promotion and soon rose
to be colonels and generals. On the whole we cannot doubt that there
was a mass of bad officers in the Spanish army: the ignorant fellows
who had risen from the ranks, the too-rapidly promoted scions of the
noblesse, and the nominees of Godoy’s hangers-on, were none of them
very promising material with which to conduct a war _à outrance_ for
the existence of the realm.

In 1808 there was but one small military college for the training of
infantry and cavalry officers. Five existed in 1790, but Godoy cut them
down to one at Zamora, and only allowed sixty cadets there at a time,
so that five-sixths of the young men who got commissions went straight
to their battalions, there to pick up (if they chose) the rudiments of
their military education. From want of some common teaching the drill
and organization of the regiments were in a condition of chaos. Every
colonel did what he chose in the way of manual exercise and manœuvres.
A French officer says that in 1807 he saw a Spanish brigade at a
review, in which, when the brigadier gave the order ‘Ready, present,
fire!’ the different battalions carried it out in three different
times and with wholly distinct details of execution.

Not only was the Spanish army indifferently officered, but even of
such officers as it possessed there were not enough. In the old line
regiments there should have been seventy to each corps, i.e. 2,450 to
the 105 battalions of that arm. But Godoy had allowed the numbers to
sink to 1,520. When the insurrection broke out, the vacant places had
to be filled, and many regiments received at the same moment twenty
or thirty subalterns taken from civil life and completely destitute
of military training. Similarly the militia ought to have had 1,800
officers, and only possessed 1,200 when the war began. The vacancies
were filled, but with raw and often indifferent material.

Such were the officers with whom the British army had to co-operate.
There is no disguising the fact that from the first the allies could
not get on together. In the earlier years of the war there were some
incidents that happened while the troops of the two nations lay
together, which our countrymen could never forgive or forget. We
need only mention the midnight panic in Cuesta’s army on the eve of
Talavera, when 10,000 men ran away without having had a shot fired at
them, and the cowardly behaviour of La Peña in 1811, when he refused to
aid Graham at the bloody little battle of Barossa.

The strictures of Wellington, Napier, and the rest were undoubtedly
well deserved; and yet it is easy to be too hard on the Spaniards. It
chanced that our countrymen did not get a fair opportunity of observing
their allies under favourable conditions; of the old regular army
that fought at Baylen or Zornoza they never got a glimpse. It had
been practically destroyed before we came upon the field. La Romana’s
starving hordes, and Cuesta’s evasive and demoralized battalions
were the samples from which the whole Spanish army was judged. In
the Talavera campaign, the first in which English and Spanish troops
stood side by side, there can be no doubt that the latter (with few
exceptions) behaved in their very worst style. They often did much
better; but few Englishmen had the chance of watching a defence like
that of Saragossa or Gerona. Very few observers from our side saw
anything of the heroically obstinate resistance of the Catalonian
_miqueletes_ and _somatenes_. Chance threw in our way Cuesta and La
Peña and Imaz as types of Peninsular generals, and from them the
rest were judged. No one supposes that the Spaniards as a nation are
destitute of all military qualities. They made good soldiers enough
in the past, and may do so in the future: but when, after centuries
of intellectual and political torpor, they were called upon to fight
for their national existence, they were just emerging from subjection
to one of the most worthless adventurers and one of the most idiotic
kings whom history has known. Charles IV and Godoy account for an
extraordinary amount of the decrepitude of the monarchy and the
demoralization of its army.

It is more just to admire the constancy with which a nation so
handicapped persisted in the hopeless struggle, than to condemn it for
the incapacity of its generals, the ignorance of its officers, the
unsteadiness of its raw levies. If Spain had been a first-rate military
power, there would have been comparatively little merit in the six
years’ struggle which she waged against Bonaparte. When we consider her
weakness and her disorganization, we find ourselves more inclined to
wonder at her persistence than to sneer at her mishaps.




In dealing with the history of the imperial armies in the Peninsula,
it is our first duty to point out the enormous difference between the
troops who entered Spain in 1807 and 1808, under Dupont, Moncey, and
Murat, and the later arrivals who came under Bonaparte’s personal
guidance when the first disastrous stage of the war was over.

Nothing can show more clearly the contempt which the Emperor
entertained, not only for the Spanish government but for the Spanish
nation, than the character of the hosts which he first sent forth
to occupy the Peninsula. After Tilsit he was the master of half a
million of the best troops in the world; but he did not consider the
subjugation of Spain and Portugal a sufficiently formidable task to
make it necessary to move southward any appreciable fraction of the
Grand Army. The victors of Jena and Friedland were left in their
cantonments on the Rhine, the Elbe, and the Oder, while a new force,
mainly composed of elements of inferior fighting value, was sent across
the Pyrenees.

This second host was at Napoleon’s disposition mainly owing to the fact
that during the late war he had been anticipating the conscription.
In the winter of 1806-7 he had called out, a year too soon, the men
who were due to serve in 1808. In the late autumn of 1807, while his
designs in Spain were already in progress, he had summoned forth the
conscription of 1809. He had thus under arms two years’ contingents of
recruits raised before their proper time. The dépôts were gorged, and,
even after the corps which had been depleted in Prussia and Poland had
been made up to full strength, there was an enormous surplus of men in

To utilize this mass of conscripts the Emperor found several ways. Of
the men raised in the winter of 1806-7 some thousands had been thrown
into temporary organizations, called ‘legions of reserve,’ and used
to do garrison duty on the Atlantic coast, in order to guard against
possible English descents. There were five of these ‘legions’ and two
‘supplementary legions’ in the army sent into Spain: they showed a
strength of 16,000 men. None of them had been more than a year under
arms, but they were at any rate organized units complete in themselves.
They formed the greater part of the infantry in the corps of Dupont.

A shade worse in composition were twenty ‘provisional regiments’ which
the Emperor put together for Spain. Each regimental dépôt in the south
of France was told to form four companies from its superabundant mass
of conscripts. These bodies, of about 560 men each, were united in
fours, and each group was called a ‘provisional regiment.’ The men of
each battalion knew nothing of those of the others, since they were all
drawn from separate regiments: there was not a single veteran soldier
in the ranks: the officers were almost all either half-pay men called
back to service, or young sub-lieutenants who had just received their
commissions. These bodies, equally destitute of _esprit de corps_ and
of instruction, made up nearly 30,000 men of the army of Spain. They
constituted nearly the whole of the divisions under Bessières and
Moncey, which lay in Northern Spain at the moment of the outbreak of
the war.

But there were military units even less trustworthy than the
‘provisional regiments’ which Napoleon transferred to Spain in the
spring of 1808. These were the five or six _régiments de marche_, which
were to be found in some of the brigades which crossed the Pyrenees
when the state of affairs was already growing dangerous. They were
formed of companies, or even smaller bodies, hastily drawn together
from such southern dépôts, as were found to be still in possession of
superfluous conscripts even after contributing to the ‘provisional
regiments.’ They were to be absorbed into the old corps when the
pressing need for instant reinforcements for the Peninsula should come
to an end. In addition to all these temporary units, Bonaparte was
at the same moment making a vast addition to his permanent regular
army. Down to the war of 1806-7 the French regiments of infantry
had consisted of three battalions for the field and a fourth at the
dépôt, which kept drafting its men to the front in order to fill up
the gaps in the other three. Napoleon had now resolved to raise the
establishment to five battalions per regiment, four for field service,
while the newly created fifth became the dépôt battalion. When the
Peninsular War broke out, a good many regiments had already completed
their fourth field-battalion, and several of these new corps are to
be found in the rolls of the armies which had entered Spain. The
multiplication of battalions had been accompanied by a reduction of
their individual strength: down to February, 1808, there were nine
companies to each unit, and Junot’s corps had battalions of a strength
of 1,100 or 1,200 bayonets. But those which came later were six-company
battalions, with a strength of 840 bayonets when at their full

All the troops of which we have hitherto spoken were native Frenchmen.
But they did not compose by any means the whole of the infantry which
the Emperor dispatched into Spain between October, 1807, and May, 1808.
According to his usual custom he employed great numbers of auxiliaries
from his vassal kingdoms: we note intercalated among the French units
seven battalions of Swiss, four of Italians, two each of Neapolitans
and Portuguese[76], and one each of Prussians, Westphalians,
Hanoverians, and Irish. Altogether there were no less than 14,000
men of foreign infantry dispersed among the troops of Junot, Dupont,
Bessières, Moncey, and Duhesme. They were not massed, but scattered
broadcast in single battalions, save the Italians and Neapolitans, who
formed a complete division under Lecchi in the army of Catalonia.

  [76] These last were the rear battalions of the unfortunate
  Portuguese legion which was in march for the Baltic; they were
  still on this side of the Pyrenees when the war began, and were
  hastily utilized against Saragossa.

The cavalry of the army of Spain was quite as heterogeneous and
ill compacted as the infantry. Just as ‘provisional regiments’ of
foot were patched up from the southern dépôts of France, so were
‘provisional regiments’ of cavalry. The best of them were composed
of two, three, or four squadrons, each contributed by the dépôt of
a different cavalry regiment. The worst were _escadrons de marche_,
drawn together in a haphazard fashion from such of the dépôts as had
a surplus of conscripts even after they had given a full squadron
to the ‘provisional regiments.’ There were also a number of foreign
cavalry regiments, Italians, Neapolitans, lancers of Berg, and Poles.
Of veteran regiments of French cavalry there were actually no more than
three, about 1,250 men, among the 12,000 horsemen of the army of Spain.

When we sum up the composition of the 116,000 men who lay south of the
Pyrenees on the last day of May, 1808, we find that not a third part
of them belonged to the old units of the regular French army. It may be
worth while to give the figures:--

Of veterans we have--

                                                  _Infantry._  _Cavalry._

  (1) A detachment of the Imperial Guard,
  which was intended to serve as the Emperor’s
  special escort during his irruption into Spain        3,600      1,750

  (2) Twenty-six battalions of infantry of the
  line and light infantry, being all first, second,
  or third battalions, and not newly raised fourth
  battalions                                           25,800

  (3) Three old regiments of cavalry of the line                   1,250

  (4) Three newly raised fourth battalions of
  infantry regiments of the line                        1,800

  This gives a total of regularly organized            -----------------
  French troops of the standing army of                31,200      3,000
  (5) Five legions of reserve, and two
  ‘supplementary legions of reserve’                   16,000

  (6) Fifteen ‘provisional regiments’ from the
  dépôts of Southern France [the remaining five
  had not crossed the frontier on May 31]              31,000

  (7) Six _régiments de marche_ of conscripts           3,200

  (8) Eighteen battalions of Italian, Swiss,
  German, and other auxiliaries                        14,000

  (9) Sixteen ‘provisional regiments’ of cavalry,
  and a few detached ‘provisional squadrons,’ and
  _escadrons de marche_                                            9,500

  (10) Three regiments of foreign cavalry                          1,000

  This makes a total of troops in temporary            -----------------
  organization, or of foreign origin, of               64,200     10,500

Napoleon, then, intended to conquer Spain with a force of about 110,000
men, of which no more than 34,000 sabres and bayonets belonged to
his regular army; the rest were conscripts or foreign auxiliaries.
But we must also note that the small body of veteran troops was
not distributed equally in each of the corps, so as to stiffen the
preponderating mass of conscripts. If we put aside the division of
Imperial Guards, we find that of the remaining 25,000 infantry of old
organization no less than 17,500 belonged to Junot’s army of Portugal,
which was the only one of the corps that had a solid organization.
Junot had indeed a very fine force, seventeen old line battalions to
two battalions of conscripts and three of foreigners. The rest of
the veteran troops were mainly with Duhesme in Catalonia, who had a
good division of 5,000 veterans. In the three corps of Dupont, Moncey,
and Bessières on the other hand old troops were conspicuous by their
absence: among the 19,000 infantry of Dupont’s corps, on which (as it
chanced) the first stress of the Spanish war was destined to fall,
there was actually only two battalions (1,700 men) of old troops. In
Moncey’s there was not a single veteran unit; in Bessières’, only
four battalions. This simple fact goes far to explain why Dupont’s
expedition to Andalusia led to the capitulation of Baylen, and why
Moncey’s march on Valencia ended in an ignominious retreat. Countries
cannot be conquered with hordes of undrilled conscripts--not even
countries in an advanced stage of political decomposition, such as the
Spain of 1808.


Baylen, as we shall see, taught Napoleon his lesson, and the second
army which he brought into the Peninsula in the autumn of 1808, to
repair his initial disasters, was very differently constituted from the
heterogeneous masses which he had at first judged to be sufficient for
his task. It was composed of his finest old regiments from the Rhine
and Elbe, the flower of the victors of Jena and Friedland. Even when
the despot had half a million good troops at his disposition, he could
not be in force everywhere, and the transference of 200,000 veterans to
Spain left him almost too weak in Central Europe. In the Essling-Wagram
campaign of 1809 he found that he was barely strong enough to conquer
the Austrians, precisely because he had left so many men behind him
in the Peninsula. In the Russian campaign of 1812, vast as were the
forces that he displayed, they were yet not over numerous for the
enterprise, because such an immense proportion of them was composed of
unwilling allies and disaffected subjects. If the masses of Austrians,
Prussians, Neapolitans, Portuguese, Westphalians, Bavarians, and so
forth had been replaced by half their actual number of old French
troops from Spain, the army would have been far more powerful. Still
more was this the case in 1813: if the whole of the Peninsular army had
been available for service on the Elbe and Oder at the time of Lützen
and Bautzen, the effect on the general history of Europe might have
been incalculable. Truly, therefore, did the Emperor call the Spanish
War ‘the running sore’ which had sapped his strength ever since its

A word as to the tactical organization of the French army in 1808 is
required. The infantry regiments of normal formation consisted, as we
have seen, of four field battalions and one dépôt battalion; the last
named never, of course, appeared at the front. Each field battalion
was composed of six companies of 140 men: its two flank companies, the
grenadiers and voltigeurs, were formed of the pick of the corps[77]:
into the grenadiers only tall, into the voltigeurs only short men
were drafted. Thus a battalion should normally have shown 840 and a
regiment 3,360 men in the field. But it was by no means the universal
rule to find the whole four battalions of a regiment serving together.
In the modern armies of France, Germany, or Russia, a regiment in
time of peace lives concentrated in its recruiting district, and can
take the field in a compact body. This was not the case in Napoleon’s
ever-wandering hosts: the chances of war were always isolating single
battalions, which, once dropped in a garrison or sent on an expedition,
did not easily rejoin their fellows. Many, too, of the new fourth
battalions raised in 1807 had never gone forward to Germany to seek the
main body of their regiments. Of the corps which were brought down to
Spain in the late autumn of 1808 there were more with three battalions
than with four concentrated under the regimental eagle. Some had only
two present, a few no more than one[78]. But the Emperor disliked to
have single isolated battalions, and preferred to work them in pairs,
if he could not get three or four together. The object of this was
that, if one or two battalions got much weakened in a campaign, the
men could be fused into a single unit, and the supernumerary officers
and sergeants sent back to the dépôt, where they would form a new
battalion out of the stock of conscripts. But the fresh organization
might very likely be hurried, by some sudden chance of war, to
Flushing, or Italy, or the Danube, while the eagle and the main body
remained in Spain--or vice versa.

  [77] French generals were much addicted to the pernicious
  practice of massing the grenadier companies of all the regiments
  of a division, or an army corps, in order to make a picked
  battalion or brigade, to be used as a reserve. Junot had four
  such battalions (_grenadiers réunis_) at Vimiero, and Victor
  three at Barossa.

  [78] To take a later example, of the three _corps d’armée_ (II,
  VI, VIII) with which Masséna invaded Portugal in 1810, there
  were only _three_ regiments with four battalions present; while
  seventeen had three, eight had two, and ten a single battalion

There was therefore, in consequence of the varying strength of the
regiments, no regularity or system in the brigading of the French
troops in Spain: in one brigade there might be five or six isolated
battalions, each belonging to a separate regiment; in another three
from one regiment and two from a second; in a third four from one
regiment and one from another. Nor was there any fixed number of
battalions in a brigade: it might vary from three (a very unusual
minimum) up to nine--an equally rare maximum. Six was perhaps the most
frequent number. A division was composed of two, or less frequently of
three, brigades, and might have any number from ten up to sixteen or
eighteen battalions--i.e. it varied, allowing for casual losses, from
6,000 to 10,000 men. This irregularity was part of Napoleon’s system:
he laid it down as an axiom that all military units, from a brigade to
an army corps, ought to differ in strength among themselves: otherwise
the enemy, if he had once discovered how many brigades or divisions
were in front of him, could calculate with accuracy the number of
troops with which he had to do.

Much confusion is caused, when we deal with Napoleon’s army, by the
strange system of numeration which he adopted. The infantry, whether
called ‘line regiments’ or ‘light infantry regiments,’ were drilled and
organized in the same way. But the Emperor had some odd vagaries: he
often refused to raise again a regiment which had been exterminated,
or taken prisoners _en masse_. Hence after a few years of his reign
there were some vacant numbers in the list of infantry corps. The
regiments, for example, which were garrisoning the colonies at the time
of the rupture of the Peace of Amiens, fell one after another into the
hands of the English as the war went on. They were never replaced, and
left gaps in the army list. On the other hand the Emperor sometimes
raised regiments with duplicate numbers, a most tiresome thing for the
military historian of the next age. It is impossible to fathom his
purpose, unless he was set on confusing his enemies by showing more
battalions than the list of existing corps seemed to make possible. Or
perhaps he was thinking of the old legions of the Roman Empire, of
which there were always several in existence bearing the same number,
but distinguished by their honorary titles. Those who wish to read the
story of one of these duplicate regiments may follow in the history of
Nodier the tale of the raising and extermination of Colonel Oudet’s
celebrated ‘9th Bis’ of the line[79].

  [79] Nodier, _Souvenirs de la Révolution_, ii. 233-5.

There is another difficulty caused by a second freak of the Emperor:
all regiments ought, as we have said, to have shown four field
battalions. But Bonaparte sometimes added one or even two more, to
corps which stood high in his favour, or whose dépôts produced on some
occasions a very large surplus of conscripts. Thus we find now and
then, in the morning state of a French army corps, a fifth or even
a sixth[80] battalion of some regiment. But as a rule these units
had not a very long existence: their usual fate was to be sent home,
when their numbers ran low from the wear and tear of war, in order
to be incorporated in the normal _cadres_ of their corps. On the
authority of that good soldier and admirable historian, Foy, we are
able to state that on the first of June, 1808, Napoleon had 417 field
battalions, over and above the dépôts, on his army rolls. If the 113
regiments of the line, and the thirty-two light infantry regiments had
all been in existence and complete, there should have been 580 field
battalions. Clearly then some corps had disappeared and many others
had not more than three battalions ready. But the units were always
being created, amalgamated, or dissolved, from week to week, so that
it is almost impossible to state the exact force of the whole French
army at any given moment. The most important change that was made
during the year 1808 was the conversion of those of the provisional
regiments which escaped Dupont’s disaster into new permanent corps.
By combining them in pairs the 114th-120th of the line and the 33rd
léger were created[81]. In the succeeding five years more and more
corps were raised: the annexation of Holland and Northern Germany in
1810-11 ultimately enabled the Emperor to carry the total of his line
regiments up to 156 [1813], and of his light infantry regiments up to

  [80] In the campaign of 1810 the 26th, 66th, and 82nd regiments
  in Masséna’s army had 5th and 6th battalions in the field.

  [81] This was done on July 7 (see _Nap. Corresp._, 14,164). Nos.
  1 and 2 became the 114th of the line, 3 and 4 the 115th, 5 and
  6 the 116th, 7 and 8 the 33rd léger, 9 and 10 the 117th, 11 the
  118th, 13 and 14 the 119th, 17 and 18 the 120th. When the 6th,
  7th, and 8th were captured at Baylen, new conscripts had to be
  brought from France to complete the 116th and replace the 33rd

  [82] See Rousset’s excellent _La Grande Armée de 1813_.

Of the French cavalry we need not speak at such length. When the
Spanish war broke out, Bonaparte was possessed of about eighty
regiments of horsemen, each taking the field with four squadrons of
some 150 to 200 men. There were twelve regiments of cuirassiers, two of
carabineers, thirty of dragoons, twenty-six of _chasseurs à cheval_,
ten of hussars, i.e. fourteen regiments of heavy, thirty of medium, and
thirty-six of light horse. The cuirassiers were hardly ever seen in
Spain--not more than two or three regiments ever served south of the
Pyrenees[83]. On the other hand the greater part of the dragoons were
employed in the Peninsula--there were in 1809 twenty-five of the thirty
regiments of them in the field against the English and Spaniards.
More than half of the hussars also served in Spain. To the veteran
corps of regulars there were added, at the outset of the war, as will
be remembered, a great number of ‘provisional regiments,’ but these
gradually disappeared, by being incorporated in the older _cadres_, or
in a few cases by being formed into new permanent units. There was also
a mass of Polish, German, and Italian cavalry; but these auxiliaries
did not bear such a high proportion to the native French as did the
foreign part of the infantry arm. By far the most distinguished of
these corps were the Polish lancers, whom the English came to know only
too well at Albuera. The Italians were almost exclusively employed on
the east coast of Spain, in the army of Catalonia. The Germans--mostly
from Westphalia, Berg, and Nassau--were scattered about in single
regiments among the cavalry corps of the various armies. They were
always mixed with the French horse, and never appeared in brigades
(much less in divisions) of their own.

  [83] The most distinguished of these was the 13th Cuirassiers,
  a regiment of new formation, which served throughout the war in
  Aragon and Catalonia, and was by far the best of Suchet’s mounted
  corps. For its achievements the reader may be referred to the
  interesting _Mémoires_ of Colonel de Gonneville.

The average strength of a French cavalry regiment during the years
1809-14 was four squadrons of about 150 men each. It was very seldom
that a corps showed over 600 men in the ranks: not unfrequently it
sank to 450[84]. When it grew still further attenuated, it was usual
to send back the _cadres_ of one or two squadrons, and to complete to
full numbers the two or three which kept the field. These figures do
not hold good for the raw ‘provisional regiments’ which Bonaparte used
during the first year of the war: they sometimes rose to 700 or even
800 strong, when the dépôts from which they had been drawn chanced to
be exceptionally full of recruits[85]. But such large corps are not to
be found in the later years of the war. By 1812, when Napoleon, busied
in Central Europe, ceased to reinforce his Spanish armies, the average
of a cavalry regiment had shrunk to 500 men. In 1813 it was seldom that
400 effective sabres could be mustered by any mounted corps.

  [84] In Masséna’s army of 1810 the largest cavalry regiment (25th
  Dragoons) had 650 men. In Suchet’s army in the same year there
  was one exceptionally strong regiment (4th Hussars) with 759

  [85] The 2nd Provisional Dragoons of Moncey’s corps had no less
  than 872 men in June, 1808.

As to the scientific arms of the French service, the artillery and
engineers, there is no doubt that throughout the war they deserved very
well of their master. Artillery cannot be improvised in the manner that
is possible with infantry, and the batteries which accompanied Dupont’s
and Moncey’s conscripts into Spain in 1808 were veterans. Without them
the raw infantry would have fared even worse than it did, during the
first year of the struggle. The proportion of guns which the French
employed during the wars of the Empire was generally very large in
comparison with the size of their armies--one of the many results of
the fact that Bonaparte had originally been an artillery officer. He
raised, as was remarked, the number of gunners in the French service
to a figure as large as that of the whole regular army of Louis XVI at
the moment when the Revolution broke out. But in Spain the difficulties
of transport and the badness of the roads seem to have combined to
keep down the proportion of guns to something very much less than
was customary in the more favourable _terrain_ of Italy or Germany.
A large part, too, of the pieces were of very light metal--four- and
even three-pounders, which were found easier to transport across the
mountains than six- or eight-pounders, though much less effective in
the field. In many of the campaigns, therefore, of the Peninsular War
the French artillery stood in a proportion to the total number of men
present, which was so low that it barely exceeded that customary among
the British, who were notoriously more ‘under-gunned’ than any other
European army save that of Spain. Junot at Vimiero had twenty-three
guns to 13,500 men: Victor at Talavera had eighty guns to about 50,000
men: Masséna in 1810 invaded Portugal with some 70,000 men and 126
guns; at Fuentes d’Oñoro he only showed forty-two guns to 40,000
bayonets and sabres[86]. Soult at Albuera had (apparently) forty guns
to 24,000 men: in the autumn campaign of 1813 the same marshal had 125
guns to 107,000 men. It will be noted that the proportion never rises
to two guns per thousand men, and occasionally does not much exceed one
gun per thousand[87]. This contrasts remarkably with the 350 guns to
120,000 men which Bonaparte took out for the campaign of Waterloo, or
even with the 1,372 guns to 600,000 men of the Russian expedition and
1,056 guns to 450,000 men of the ill-compacted army of 1813.

  [86] In this case the low proportion was due to want of horses,
  not to bad roads. Even the forty-two guns were only produced when
  Bessières had lent Masséna many teams.

  [87] I take these figures respectively from Thiébault, Fririon,
  Lapène, Le Clerc, and Rousset.



An account of the numbers and the organization of an army is of
comparatively little interest, unless we understand the principles on
which its leaders are accustomed to handle it on the day of battle, and
its value as a fighting machine.

Speaking generally, the tactics of the French infantry during the
Peninsular War were those which had been developed fifteen years
before, during the first struggles of the Revolution. They nearly
always attacked with a thick cloud of tirailleurs covering one or two
lines of battalions in column. The idea was that the very numerous
and powerful skirmishing line would engage the enemy sufficiently to
attract all his attention, so that the massed battalions behind arrived
at the front of battle almost without sustaining loss. The momentum
of the columns ought then to suffice to carry them right through the
enemy’s lines, which would already have suffered appreciably from
the fire of the tirailleurs. This form of attack had won countless
victories over Prussian, Austrian, and Russian; and many cases had been
known where a hostile position had been carried by the mere impetus
of the French columns, without a shot having been fired save by their
skirmishers. But this method, which Wellington called ‘the old French
style,’ never succeeded against the English. It had the fatal defect
that when the column came up through the tirailleurs and endeavoured
to charge, it presented a small front, and only the first two ranks
could fire. For the normal French battalion advanced in column of
companies, or less frequently of double companies, i.e. with a front
of forty or at most of eighty men, and a depth of nine or of eighteen,
since the company was always three deep, and there were six companies
to a battalion. The rear ranks only served to give the front ranks
moral support, and to impress the enemy with a sense of the solidity
and inexorable strength of the approaching mass. Sometimes a whole
regiment or brigade formed one dense column. Now if the enemy, as was
always the case with the British, refused to be impressed, but stood
firm in line, held their ground, and blazed into the head of the mass,
the attack was certain to fail. For 800 men in the two-deep line,
which Wellington loved, could all use their muskets, and thus poured
800 bullets per volley into a French battalion of the same strength,
which only could return 160. The nine-deep, or eighteen-deep, column
was a target which it was impossible to miss. Hence the front ranks
went down in rows and the whole came to a standstill. If, as was often
the case, the French battalion tried to deploy in front of the English
line, so as to bring more muskets to bear, it seldom or never succeeded
in accomplishing the manœuvre, for each company, as it straggled out
from the mass, got shot down so quickly that the formation could never
be completed. No wonder that Foy in his private journal felt himself
constrained to confess that, for a set battle with equal numbers on a
limited front, the English infantry was superior. ‘I keep this opinion
to myself,’ he adds, ‘and have never divulged it; for it is necessary
that the soldier in the ranks should not only hate the enemy, but also
despise him[88].’ Foy kept his opinion so closely to himself that he
did not put it in his formal history of the Peninsular War: it has only
become public property since his journals were published in 1900.

  [88] Diary of Foy, in Girod de l’Ain’s _Vie Militaire du Général
  Foy_, p. 98.

But the fact that with anything like equal numbers the line must beat
the column was demonstrated over and over again during the war. It had
first been seen at Maida in 1806, but that obscure Calabrian battle
was hardly known, even by name, save to those who had been present.
It was at Talavera, and still more at Busaco and Albuera, that it
became patent to everybody that the attack in battalion column, even
if preceded by a vigorous swarm of skirmishers, could never succeed
against the English. At the two former fights the French attacked
uphill, and laid the blame of their defeat upon the unfavourable
ground. But when at Albuera three English brigades drove double their
own numbers from the commanding ridge on which Soult had ranged them,
simply by the superiority of their musketry fire, there was no longer
any possibility of disguising the moral. Yet to the end of the war,
down to Waterloo itself, the French stuck to their old formation: at
the great battle in 1815, as Wellington tersely said, ‘The French came
on once more in the old style, and we beat them in the old style.’

But when Napoleon’s armies were opposed to troops who could not stand
firm to meet them in a line formation, they generally succeeded. The
Spaniards, in their earlier battles, often tried to resist in a line of
deployed battalions, but their _morale_ was not good enough when the
attacking column drew close to them, and they generally gave way at the
critical moment and let their assailants break through[89]. The same
had often been the case with the Austrians and Prussians, who in their
earlier wars with Napoleon used the line formation which Frederick the
Great had popularized fifty years before. The great king had accustomed
his troops to fight in a three- or four-deep line, with a comparatively
small provision of skirmishers to cover their front, for it was by the
fire of the whole battalion that his troops were intended to win. The
masses of tirailleurs which the French sent forward in front of their
columns generally succeeded in engaging the Prussian or Austrian line
so closely, that the columns behind them came up without much loss, and
then broke the line by their mere momentum and moral effect. Hence in
their later wars the German powers copied their enemies, and took to
using a very thick skirmishing line backed by battalion columns in the
French style.

  [89] The reader who wishes to see a logical explanation of the
  phenomenon may find it in the remarks of the Spanish Colonel
  Moscoso (1812) in Arteche, ii. 394. He explains that the
  skirmishing line of his compatriots was always too thin to
  keep back the tirailleurs. The latter invariably pushed their
  way close up to the Spanish main body, and while presenting in
  their scattered formation no definite mark for volleys, were yet
  numerous enough to shoot down so many of their opponents as to
  shake the Spanish formation before the columns in the rear came

Wellington never found any reason to do so. His method was to conceal
his main line as long as possible by a dip in the ground, a hedge,
or a wall, or to keep it behind the crest of the position which it
was holding. To face the tirailleurs each battalion sent out its
light company, and each brigade had assigned to it several detached
companies of riflemen: from 1809 onward some of the 60th Rifles and one
or two foreign light corps[90] were broken up and distributed round
the various divisions for this special purpose. This gave a line of
skirmishers strong enough to hold back the tirailleurs for a long time,
probably till the supporting columns came up to help them. It was only
then that the British skirmishing line gave way and retired behind
its main body, leaving the deployed battalions in face of the French
column, of which they never failed to give a satisfactory account.
The covering screen of light troops often suffered terribly; e.g., at
Barossa, Brown’s ‘light battalion’ lost fourteen out of twenty-one
officers and more than half its rank and file[91], while holding off
the French advance from the line which was forming in its rear. But the
combat always went well if the enemy’s skirmishers could be kept back,
and his supporting columns forced to come to the front, to engage with
the regiments in two-deep formation which were waiting for them.

  [90] e.g. _Brunswick-Oels_ and the _Chasseurs Britanniques_.

  [91] See Blakeney, _A Boy in the Peninsular War_, edited by
  Sturges (1899), pp. 189, 190, for an account of this bloody

Charges with the bayonet are often heard of in narratives--especially
French narratives--of the Peninsular War. But it was very seldom that
the opposing troops actually came into collision with the white weapon.
There were occasions, almost invariably in fighting in villages or
enclosed ground, on which considerable numbers of men were killed
or wounded with the bayonet, but they were but few. It is certain,
however, that the 43rd at Vimiero, the 71st and 88th at Fuentes
d’Oñoro, and the 20th at Roncesvalles, engaged in this fashion[92];
and other cases could be quoted. But as a rule a ‘bayonet charge’ in
a French historian merely means the advance of a column up to the
enemy’s position without firing: it does not imply actual contact
or the crossing of weapons. An English charge on the other hand was
practically an advance in line with frequent volleys, or independent
file-firing. At Albuera, or Barossa, or Salamanca it was the ball not
the bayonet which did the work; the enemy was shot down, or gave way
without any hand-to-hand conflict.

  [92] The reader who is curious as to details of actual
  bayonet-fighting may consult Grattan for the 88th, and the
  anonymous ‘T.S.’ of the 71st for Fuentes d’Oñoro, and Steevens of
  the 20th for Roncesvalles. The charge of Tovey’s company of the
  latter corps, on the last-mentioned occasion, much resembled one
  of the incidents of Inkerman.

French cavalry tactics had by 1808 developed into as definite a system
as those of the infantry. Napoleon was fond of massing his horsemen
in very large bodies and launching them at the flank, or even at the
centre, of the army opposed to him. He would occasionally use as many
as 6,000 or 8,000, or (as at Waterloo) even 12,000 men for one of
these great strokes. Two or three of his famous battles were won by
tremendous cavalry charges--notably Marengo and Dresden, while Eylau
was just saved from falling into a disaster by a blow of the same
kind. But cavalry must be used at precisely the right moment, must be
skilfully led and pushed home without remorse, and even then it may be
beaten off by thoroughly cool and unshaken troops. It is only against
tired, distracted, or undisciplined battalions that it can count on a
reasonable certainty of success. All through the war the Spanish armies
supplied the French horsemen with exactly the opportunities that they
required: they were always being surprised, or caught in confusion
while executing some complicated manœuvre; and as if this was not
enough, they were often weak enough in _morale_ to allow themselves to
be broken even when they had been allowed time to take their ground
and form their squares. The battles of Gamonal (1808), Medellin, Alba
de Tormes, and Ocaña (1809), the Gebora, and Saguntum (1811) were good
examples of the power of masses of horse skilfully handled over a
numerous but ill-disciplined infantry.

On the other hand, against the English the French cavalry hardly ever
accomplished anything worthy of note. It is only possible to name two
occasions on which they made their mark: the first was at Albuera,
where, profiting by an opportune cloud-burst which darkened the face
of day, two regiments of lancers came in upon the flank of a British
brigade (Colborne’s of the second division), and almost entirely cut it
to pieces. The second incident of the kind was at Fuentes d’Oñoro, in
the same summer, when Montbrun’s cavalry charged with some effect on
Houston’s division and hustled it back for some two miles, though they
never succeeded in breaking its squares.

On the other hand the cases where the French horsemen found themselves
utterly unable to deal with the British infantry were very numerous--we
need only mention Cacabellos (during Moore’s retreat), El Bodon,
Salamanca, and several skirmishes during the retreat from Burgos in
1812. After such experiences it was no wonder that Foy, and other old
officers of the army of Spain, looked with dismay upon Napoleon’s great
attempt at Waterloo to break down the long line of British squares
between La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont, by the charges of ten or twelve
thousand heavy cavalry massed on a short front of less than a mile[93].
The Emperor had never seen the British infantry fight, and was
entirely ignorant of their resisting power.

  [93] See Foy’s diary in Girod de l’Ain, p. 277.

Of fights between cavalry and cavalry, where the two sides were
present in such equal numbers as to make the struggle a fair test
of their relative efficiency, there were but few in the Peninsular
War. In the early years of the struggle Wellington was very scantily
provided with horsemen, and never could afford to engage in a cavalry
battle on a large scale. Later on, when he was more happily situated
in this respect, he showed such a marked reluctance to risk great
cavalry combats that the old saying that he was ‘pre-eminently an
infantry general’ seems justified. That he could use his horsemen
vigorously enough, when he saw his opportunity, he showed at Assaye,
long before he had made his name known in Europe. Yet the only one
of his great battles in Spain where his dragoons took a prominent
part in the victory was Salamanca, where Le Marchant’s brigade struck
such a smashing blow on the flank of the French army. We have his own
authority[94] for the fact that he hesitated to mass great bodies of
horse, because he doubted the tactical skill of his officers, and the
power of the regiments to manœuvre. ‘I considered our cavalry,’ he
wrote ten years after the war was over, ‘so inferior to the French from
want of order, that although I considered one squadron a match for two
French, I did not like to see four British opposed to four French: and
as the numbers increased and order, of course, became more necessary, I
was the more unwilling to risk our men without having a superiority in
numbers. They could gallop, but could not preserve their order.’

  [94] Letter to Lord William Russell, July 31, 1826.

Foy, in his excellent history of the Spanish War, emits an opinion
in words curiously similar to those of Wellington, stating that
for practical purposes the English troopers were inferior to the
French on account of their headlong impetuosity and want of power to
manœuvre[95]. When two such authorities agree, there must clearly
have been some solid foundation for their verdict. Yet it is hard to
quote many combats in their support: there were cases, no doubt, where
English regiments threw their chances away by their blind fury in
charging, as did the 23rd Light Dragoons at Talavera, the 13th Light
Dragoons near Campo Mayor on March 25, 1811, and Slade’s brigade at
Maguilla on June 11, 1812. Yet with the memory before us of Paget’s
admirable operations at Sahagun and Benavente in December, 1808, of
Lumley’s skilful containing of Latour Maubourg’s superior numbers at
Albuera, and his brilliant success at Usagre over that same general in
1811, as well as Cotton’s considerable cavalry fight at Villa Garcia in
1812, it seems strange to find Wellington disparaging his own troopers.
No doubt we must concede that the British horsemen did not show that
marked superiority over their rivals of the same arm which Wellington’s
infantry always asserted. But fairly balancing their faults and their
merits, it would seem that there was something wanting in their general
no less than in themselves. A lover of the cavalry arm would have got
more profit out of the British horse than Wellington ever obtained. It
is noticeable that not one of the successful fights cited above took
place under the eye or the direction of the Duke.

  [95] Foy, i. 288-90.

As to the Spanish cavalry, it was (as we have already had occasion to
remark) the weakest point in the national army. In the first actions
of the war it appeared on the field in such small numbers that it had
no chance against the French. But later on, when the juntas succeeded
in raising large masses of horsemen, their scandalous conduct on a
score of fields was the despair of Spanish generals. We need only
mention Medellin and Ocaña as examples of their misbehaviour. No French
cavalry-general ever hesitated to engage with double of his own number
of Spanish horse. When vigorously charged they never failed to give
way, and when once on the move it was impossible to rally them. It
was often found on the night of a battle that the mass of the cavalry
was in flight twenty miles ahead of the infantry, which it had basely

Napoleon, as every student of the art of war knows, had started his
career as an officer of artillery, and never forgot the fact. He
himself has left on record the statement that of all his tactical
secrets the concentration of an overwhelming artillery fire on a given
point was the most important. ‘When once the combat has grown hot,’
he wrote, ‘the general who has the skill to unite an imposing mass of
artillery, suddenly and without his adversary’s knowledge, in front
of some point of the hostile position, may be sure of success.’ His
leading idea was to secure an overwhelming artillery preparation for
his infantry attacks: for this reason his typical battle began with
the massing of a great number of guns on the points of the enemy’s
line which he intended ultimately to break down. In this respect he
abandoned entirely the vicious tactics that prevailed in the earlier
years of the revolutionary war, when the cannon, instead of being
concentrated, were distributed about in twos and threes among the
infantry battalions. We shall find that his method had been perfectly
assimilated by his subordinates: when the ground allowed of it, they
were much given to collecting many guns at some salient point of the
line, and bringing a concentrated fire to bear on the weak spot in
the enemy’s position. At Ocaña a battery of this kind had a great
share in the credit of the victory; at Albuera it saved Soult’s routed
troops from complete destruction. The names of artillery generals like
Senarmont and Ruty need honourable mention for such achievements. If
the French artillery had less effect against the English than against
most of Napoleon’s foes, it was because of Wellington’s admirable
custom of hiding his troops till the actual moment of battle. Austrian,
Russian, or Prussian generals occupied a hillside by long lines drawn
up on the hither slope, of which every man could be counted. Hence they
could be thoroughly searched out and battered by the French guns, long
before the infantry was let loose. Wellington, on the other hand, loved
to show a position apparently but half-defended, with his reserves, or
even his main line, carefully hidden behind the crest, or covered by
walls and hedges, or concealed in hollows and ravines. Hence the French
artillery-preparation was much embarrassed: there were no masses to
fire at, and it was impossible to tell how any part of the line was
held. By the end of the war the French marshals grew very chary of
attacking any position where Wellington showed fight, for they never
could tell whether they were opposed by a mere rearguard, or by a whole
army skilfully concealed.

The English armies, unlike the French, always took with them a
comparatively small proportion of artillery, seldom so much as two guns
to the thousand men, as Foy remarks. But what there was was excellent,
from its high discipline and the accuracy of its fire. The Duke
preferred to work with small and movable units, placed in well-chosen
spots, and kept dark till the critical moment, rather than with the
enormous lines of guns that Bonaparte believed in. His horse artillery
was often pushed to the front in the most daring way, in reliance on
its admirable power of manœuvring and its complete steadiness. At
Fuentes d’Oñoro, for example, it was made to cover the retreat of the
right wing before the masses of French cavalry, in a way that would
have seemed impossible to any one who was not personally acquainted
with Norman Ramsay and his gunners. Hence came the astounding fact that
during the whole war the Duke never in the open field lost an English
gun. Several times cannon were taken and retaken; once or twice guns
not belonging to the horse or field batteries were left behind in a
retreat, when transport failed. But in the whole six years of his
command Wellington lost no guns in battle. Foy gives an unmistakable
testimony to the English artillery in his history, by remarking that in
its material it was undoubtedly superior to the French[96]: the same
fact may be verified from the evidence of our own officers, several of
whom have left their opinion on record, that after having inspected
captured French cannon, limbers, and caissons they much preferred their

  [96] Foy, i. 296.

This statement, it must be remembered, only applies to the field and
horse artillery. The English siege artillery, all through the war,
was notably inferior to the French. Wellington never possessed a
satisfactory battering train, and the awful cost at which his sieges
were turned into successes is a testimony to the inadequacy of his
resources. The infantry were sent in to win, by sheer courage and
at terrible expense of life, the places that could not be reduced
by the ill-equipped siege artillery. There can be no doubt that in
poliorcetics the enemy was our superior: but with a very small number
of artillery officers trained to siege work, an insignificant body
of Royal Engineers[97], and practically no provision of trained
sappers[98], what was to be expected? It was not strange that the
French showed themselves our masters in this respect. But the fault
lay with the organization at head quarters, not with the artillery and
engineer officers of the Peninsular army, who had to learn their trade
by experience without having received any proper training at home.

  [97] It was usual to supplement the meagre supply of engineers by
  officers who volunteered from the line.

  [98] There were only the ‘Royal Military Artificers’ in very
  small numbers. The rank and file of the engineer corps did not
  yet exist.





While the provinces of Spain were bursting out, one after another,
into open insurrection, Murat at Madrid and Bonaparte at Bayonne were
still enjoying the fools’ paradise in which they had dwelt since the
formal abdication of Ferdinand VII. The former was busy in forcing
the Junta of Regency to perform the action which he elegantly styled
‘swallowing the pill,’ i.e. in compelling it to do homage to Napoleon
and humbly crave for the appointment of Joseph Bonaparte as King of
Spain. He imagined that his only serious trouble lay in the lamentable
emptiness of the treasury at Madrid, and kept announcing smooth things
to his master--‘The country was tranquil, the state of public opinion
in the capital was far happier than could have been hoped: the native
soldiery were showing an excellent disposition, the captains-general
kept sending in good reports: the new dynasty was likely to be popular,
and the only desire expressed by the people was to see their newly
designated king arrive promptly in their midst[99].’ Letters of this
kind continued to flow from the pen of the Duke of Berg till almost the
end of the month. Even after details of the insurrection of Aragon and
the Asturias began to reach him, he could write on May 31 that a strong
flying column would suffice to put everything right. About this time he
was seized by a violent fever and took to his bed, just as things were
commencing to grow serious. On his convalescence he left for France,
after putting everything in charge of Savary, the man who of all
Frenchmen most deserved the hatred of Spain. About the middle of June
he recrossed the French frontier, and after a few weeks went off to
Naples to take up his new kingship there. Spain was never to see him
again: the catastrophe which he had, by his master’s orders, brought
about, was to be conducted to its end by other hands.

  [99] Murat to Napoleon, May 18.

While Murat lay sick at the suburban palace of Chamartin, and while
Napoleon was drafting acts and constitutions which the assembly of
notables at Bayonne were to accept and publish, the first acts of war
between the insurgents and the French army of occupation took place.

We have already had occasion to point out that the main military
strength of the insurrection lay in Galicia and Andalusia, the two
districts in which large bodies of regular troops had placed themselves
at the disposition of the newly organized juntas. In Valencia,
Catalonia, and Murcia the movement was much weaker: in Old Castile,
Aragon, and the Asturias it had hardly any other forces at its disposal
than hordes of half-armed peasants. Clearly then Galicia and Andalusia
were the dangerous points for the French, and the former more than the
latter, since an army descending from its hills, and falling on the
long line of communications between France and Madrid, might cause the
gravest inconvenience. If there had been any organized Spanish forces
in Aragon, there would have been an equal danger of an attack directed
from Saragossa against the eastern flank of the French communications.
But while Galicia was possessed of a numerous army of regular troops,
Aragon had nothing to show but a mass of hastily assembled peasants,
who were not yet fully provided with arms and were only just beginning
to be told off into battalions.

Napoleon, at the moment when he began to order his troops to move, was
under the impression that he had to deal with a number of isolated
riots rather than with a general insurrection of the Spanish nation.
His first orders show that he imagined that a few flying columns would
be able to scour the disaffected districts and scatter the bands of
insurgents without much trouble. Instead of a strategical plan for
the conquest of Spain, we find in his directions nothing more than
provisions for the launching of a small column against each point where
he had been informed that a rising had broken out. He presupposes that
the kingdom as a whole is quiet, and that bodies of 3,000 or 4,000
men may march anywhere, without having to provide for the maintenance
of their communications with Madrid, or with each other. Only in a
friendly country would it have been possible to carry out such orders.

There were at the Emperor’s disposition, at the end of May, some
116,000 men beyond the Pyrenees: but the 26,000 troops under Junot in
Portugal were so completely cut off from the rest, by the insurrection
in Castile and Estremadura, that they had to be left out of
consideration. Of the remainder the corps of Dupont and Moncey, 53,000
strong, lay in and about Madrid: Bessières, to whom the preservation
of the main line of communications with France fell, had some 25,000
between Burgos and San Sebastian: Duhesme, isolated at Barcelona, and
communicating with France by Perpignan and not by Bayonne, had only
some 13,000 at his disposal in Catalonia. Up to the first week in June
the Emperor thought that the 91,000 men of these four corps would be
enough to pacify Spain.

His first design was somewhat as follows: Bessières was to keep a firm
hand on the line of communications, but also to detach a division of
4,000 men under Lefebvre-Desnouettes against Saragossa, and a brigade
under Merle to pacify Santander and the northern littoral. The Emperor
does not at first seem to have realized that, with the army of Galicia
hanging on his western flank, Bessières might not be able to spare men
for such distant enterprises. He dealt with the corps as if it had
nothing to face save the local insurgents of Aragon and Old Castile.
From the large body of troops which lay about Madrid, Toledo, and
Aranjuez, two strong columns were to be dispatched to strike at the
two main centres of the insurrection in Southern Spain. Dupont was to
take the first division of his army corps, with two brigades of cavalry
and a few other troops, and march on Cordova and Seville. This gave
him no more than about 13,000 men for the subjugation of the large and
populous province of Andalusia. The other two infantry divisions of his
corps remained for the present near Madrid[100].

  [100] For details of his force see the note on pp. 182-3.

On the other side of the capital, Marshal Moncey with a somewhat
smaller force--one division of infantry from his own army corps and
one brigade of cavalry, 9,000 men in all--was to move on Valencia,
and to take possession of that city and of the great naval arsenal of
Cartagena. His expedition was to be supported by a diversion from the
side of Catalonia, for Duhesme (in spite of the small number of his
army) was told to send a column along the sea-coast route, by Tarragona
and Tortosa, to threaten Valencia from the north. Moncey’s remaining
infantry divisions, which were not detailed for the expedition that
he was to lead, remained near Madrid, available (like Dupont’s second
and third divisions) for the reinforcement of Bessières or the
strengthening of the two expeditionary columns, as circumstances might

Clearly Dupont and Moncey were both sent forth to undertake impossible
tasks. Napoleon had not comprehended that it was not provincial
_émeutes_ that he had to crush, but the regular resistance of a nation.
To send a column of 12,000 men on a march through 300 miles of hostile
territory to Cadiz, or a column of 9,000 men on a march of 180 miles
to Valencia, presupposes the idea that the expeditions are affairs of
police and not strategical operations. Our astonishment grows greater
when we consider the character of the troops which Dupont and Moncey
commanded. In the army of the former there was _one_ veteran French
battalion--that of the Marines of the Guard, six of raw recruits of the
Legions of Reserve, two of Paris Municipal Guards (strangely distracted
from their usual duties), one of the contingent of the Helvetic
Confederation, and four of Swiss mercenaries in the Spanish service,
who had just been compelled to transfer their allegiance to Napoleon.
The cavalry consisted of four ‘provisional regiments’ of conscripts.
It was a military crime of the first order to send 13,000 troops of
this quality on an important expedition. Moncey’s force was of exactly
the same sort--eight battalions of conscripts formed in ‘provisional
regiments’ and two ‘provisional regiments’ of dragoons, plus a
Westphalian battalion, and two Spanish corps, who deserted _en masse_
when they were informed that they were to march against Valencia in
company with the marshal’s French troops. He had not one single company
or squadron of men belonging to the old imperial army.

Bessières was much more fortunate, as, among the 25,000 men of whom he
could dispose, there were four veteran battalions of the line and two
old regiments of cavalry; moreover there were sent ere long to his aid
three of the battalions of the Imperial Guard which lay at Madrid, and
four hundred sabres of the dragoons, chasseurs, and gendarmes of the
same famous corps.

The march of the two expeditionary columns began on May 24, a date
at which Murat and his master had but the faintest notion of the
wide-spreading revolt which was on foot. Moncey and Dupont were both
officers of distinction: the marshal was one of the oldest and the
most respected officers of the imperial army: he had won the grade
of general of division in the days of the Republic, and did not owe
his first start in life to Napoleon. Of all the marshals he was by
several years the senior. He passed as a steady, capable, and prudent
officer of vast experience. Dupont on the other hand was a young man,
who had first won a name by his brilliant courage at the combat of
Dirnstein in the Austrian war of 1805. Since then he had distinguished
himself at Friedland: he was on the way to rapid promotion, and, if
his expedition to Andalusia had succeeded, might have counted on a
duchy and a marshal’s bâton as his reward. Napoleon knew him as a brave
and loyal subordinate, but had never before given him an independent
command. He could hardly guess that, when left to his own inspirations,
such a brilliant officer would turn out to be dilatory, wanting in
initiative, and wholly destitute of moral courage. It is impossible to
judge with infallible accuracy how a good lieutenant will behave, when
first the load of responsibility is laid upon his shoulders. On May 24,
Dupont quitted Toledo with his 13,000 men: in the broad plains of La
Mancha he met with no opposition. Everywhere the people were sullen,
but no open hostility was shown. Even in the tremendous defiles of the
Sierra Morena he found no enemy, and crossed the great pass of Despeña
Perros without having to fire a shot. Coming out at its southern end
he occupied Andujar, the town at the main junction of roads in Eastern
Andalusia, on June 5. Here he got clear intelligence that the whole
country-side was up in arms: Seville had risen on May 26, and the rest
of the province had followed its example. There was a large assembly
of armed peasants mustering at Cordova, but the regular troops had not
yet been brought up to the front. General Castaños, whom the Junta had
placed in chief command, was still busily engaged in concentrating his
scattered battalions, forming them into brigades and divisions, and
hastily filling up with recruits the enormous gaps which existed in the
greater part of the corps. The regulars were being got together at a
camp at Carmona, south of the Guadalquivir, and not far from Seville.
The organization of new battalions, from the large number of volunteers
who remained when the old regiments were completed, took place
elsewhere. It would be weeks, rather than days, before the unorganized
mass took shape as an army, and Dupont might count on a considerable
respite before being attacked. But it was not only with the forces
of Castaños that he had to reckon: at Cordova, Seville, Granada, and
all the other towns of Andalusia, the peasants were flocking in to be
armed and told off into new regiments. There was every probability
that in a few days the movement would spread northward over the Sierra
Morena into La Mancha. An insurrection in this district would sever
Dupont’s communications with Madrid, for he had not left behind him any
sufficient detachments to guard the defiles which he had just passed,
or to keep open the great post-road to the capital across the plains of
New Castile. When he started he had been under the impression that it
was only local troubles in Andalusia that he had to suppress.

Dupont was already beginning to find that the insurgents were in much
greater numbers than he had expected when he crossed the Sierra Morena,
but till he had made trial of their strength he considered that it
would be wrong to halt. He had close before him the great city of
Cordova, a most tempting prize, and he resolved to push on at least so
far before taking it upon himself to halt and ask for reinforcements.
His continued movement soon brought about the first engagement of the
war, as at the bridge of Alcolea he found his advance disputed by a
considerable hostile force [June 7].

The military commandant of the district of Cordova was a certain Don
Pedro de Echávarri, a retired colonel whom the local Junta had just
placed in command of its levies. His force consisted of 10,000 or
12,000 peasants and citizens, who had only received their arms three
days before, and had not yet been completely told off into regiments
and companies. On the 4th of June he had been sent a small body of
old troops--one battalion of light infantry (Campo Mayor), and one
of militia (the 3rd Provincial Grenadiers of Andalusia)--1,400 men
in all, and with them eight guns. To have abandoned Cordova without
a fight would have discouraged the new levies, and probably have led
to Echávarri’s own death; for the armed mob which he commanded would
have torn him to pieces as a traitor if he had refused to give battle.
Accordingly he resolved to defend the passage of the Guadalquivir
at the point where the high-road from Andujar crossed it, six miles
outside Cordova. He barricaded the bridge and placed his guns and the
two old battalions on the hither side of the river, in a position
commanding the defile. On each flank of them some thousands of the
Cordovan insurgents were drawn up, while the remainder of the levy,
including all the mounted men, were sent across the bridge, and hidden
in some hills which overhung the road by which the French were coming.
They were ordered to show themselves, and to threaten to fall upon the
enemy from the flank, when he should have developed his attack upon
the bridge. If Echávarri had been guided by military considerations he
would not have dared to offer battle with such a raw and motley force
to 12,000 French troops--even if the latter were but the conscripts of
Dupont. But political necessity compelled him to make the attempt.

When Dupont found the position of Alcolea occupied, he cannonaded
the Spaniards for a time, and then launched his vanguard against the
bridge. The leading battalion (it was one of those formed of the Paris
Municipal Guards) stormed the barricades with some loss, and began to
cross the river. After it the rest of Pannetier’s brigade followed,
and began to deploy for the attack on the Spanish position. At this
moment the Cordovan levies beyond the river showed themselves, and
began to threaten a flank attack on Dupont. The latter sent his cavalry
against them, and a few charges soon turned back the demonstration, and
scattered the raw troops who had made it. Meanwhile Dupont’s infantry
advanced and overpowered the two regular battalions opposed to them:
seeing the line broken, the masses of insurgents on the flanks left the
field without any serious fighting. The whole horde gave way and poured
back into Cordova and right through the city, whose ruined walls they
made no attempt to defend. They had lost very few men, probably no more
than 200 in all, while the French had suffered even less, their only
casualties being thirty killed and eighty wounded, wellnigh all in the
battalion which had forced the barricades at the bridge.

There would be no reason to linger even for a moment over this
insignificant skirmish, if it had not been for the deplorable events
which followed--events which did more to give a ferocious character
to the war than any others, save perhaps the massacre by Calvo at
Valencia, which was taking place (as it chanced) on that very same day,
June 7.

Dupont, after giving his army a short rest, led it, still ranged in
battle array, across the six miles of plain which separated him from
Cordova. He expected to find the defeated army of Echávarri rallying
itself within the city. But on arriving in front of its gates, he found
the walls unoccupied and the suburbs deserted. The Cordovans had
closed their gates, but it was rather for the purpose of gaining time
for a formal surrender than with any intention of resisting. Dupont
had already opened negotiations for the unbarring of the gates, when a
few scattered shots were fired at the French columns from a tower in
the wall, or a house abutting on it. Treating this as a good excuse
for avoiding the granting of a capitulation, Dupont blew open one of
the gates with cannon, and his troops rushed into the empty streets
without finding any enemy to defeat. The impudent fiction of Thiers to
the effect that the entry of the French was seriously resisted, and
that desperate street-fighting took place, is sufficiently disproved
by the fact that in the so-called storming of Cordova the French lost
altogether two killed and seven wounded.

Nevertheless the city was sacked from cellar to garret. Dupont’s
undisciplined conscripts broke their ranks and ran amuck through the
streets, firing into windows and battering down doors. Wherever there
was the least show of resistance they slew off whole households: but
they were rather intent on pillage and rape than on murder. Cordova was
a wealthy place, its shops were well worth plundering, its churches
and monasteries full of silver plate and jewelled reliquaries, its
vaults of the strong wines of Andalusia. All the scenes of horror that
afterwards occurred at Badajoz or San Sebastian were rehearsed for the
first time at Cordova; and the army of Dupont had far less excuse than
the English marauders and murderers of 1812 and 1813. The French had
taken the city practically without loss and without opposition, and
could not plead that they had been maddened by the fall of thousands of
their comrades, or that they were drunk with the fury of battle after
many hours of desperate fighting at the breaches. Nevertheless, without
any excuse of this sort, Dupont’s army behaved in a way that would have
suited better the hordes of Tilly and Wallenstein. Their commanders
could not draw them away from their orgies and outrages till the next
day: indeed, it seems that many of the French officers disgraced
themselves by joining in the plunder. While the men were filling their
haversacks with private property, there were found colonels and even
generals who were not ashamed to load carts and coaches with pictures,
tapestries, and metal-work from churches and public buildings, and bags
of dollars from the treasury, where no less than 10,000,000 reals of
specie had been found. Laplanne, whom Dupont appointed commandant of
the place, took 2,000 ducats of blackmail from the Count of Villanueva,
on whom he had billeted himself, in return for preserving his mansion
from pillage. When the French left Cordova, nine days later, they had
with them more than 500 wheeled vehicles seized in the place which were
loaded with all sorts of plunder[101].

  [101] It is astonishing to find that Napier (i. 114) expressly
  denies that Cordova was sacked. Foy (iii. 231), the best of the
  French historians, acknowledges that ‘unarmed civilians were
  shot, churches and houses sacked, and scenes of horror enacted
  such as had not been seen since the Christian drove out the
  Moor in 1236.’ Captain Baste, the best narrator among French
  eye-witnesses, speaks of assassination, general pillage, and
  systematic rape. Cabany, Dupont’s laudatory biographer, confesses
  (p. 89) to drunkenness and deplorable excesses, and allows that
  Dupont distributed 300,000 francs as a ‘gratification’ among his
  general officers. Many of the details given above are derived
  from the official narrative of the Cordovan municipal authorities
  printed in the _Madrid Gazette_.

Dupont had hardly settled down in Cordova, and begun to substitute
crushing military contributions for unsystematic pillage, when he found
himself cut off from his base. The valley of the Upper Guadalquivir,
and the slopes of the Sierra Morena, on both the southern and the
northern sides of the passes, rose in arms in the second week of
June. The French had left no detachments behind to preserve their
communications: between Cordova and Toledo there were only a few posts
where stragglers and sick had been collected, some isolated officers
busy on surveying or on raising contributions, and some bodies of ten
or twenty men escorting couriers or belated trains of wagons bearing
food or ammunition to the front. Most of these unfortunate people were
cut up by the insurgents, who displayed from the first a most ferocious
spirit. The news of the sack of Cordova drove them to the commission
of inhuman cruelties; some prisoners were blinded, others tortured
to death: Foy says that the brigadier-general Réné, surprised while
crossing the Morena, was thrown into a vat of boiling water and scalded
to death[102]. The parties, which escaped massacre hastily drew back
towards Madrid and Toledo, and soon there was not a French soldier
within 150 miles of Dupont’s isolated division.

That general did not at first realize the unpleasantness of his
position. He had been sufficiently surprised by the opposition offered
at Alcolea, and the rumours of the concentration of the army of
Castaños, to make him unwilling to advance beyond Cordova. He wrote
to Murat asking for reinforcements, and especially for troops to keep
open his lines of communication. There were, he said, at least 25,000
regular troops marching against him: the English might disembark
reinforcements at Cadiz: the whole province was in a flame: it was
impossible to carry out the Grand-Duke of Berg’s original orders to
push straight on to Seville. But matters were even worse than he
thought: in a few days he realized, from the non-arrival of couriers
from Madrid, that he was cut off: moreover, his foraging parties, even
when they were only a few miles outside Cordova, began to be molested
and sometimes destroyed.

  [102] Foy, iii. 233. Cabany (p. 96), on the other hand, says that
  he was sawn in two between planks. Gille, in his _Mémoires d’un
  Conscrit de 1808_ (p. 85), gives other distressing details.

After waiting nine days, Dupont very wisely resolved to fall back, and
to endeavour to reopen communications with his base. On June 16 he
evacuated Cordova, much to the regret of his soldiers, who resented the
order to abandon such comfortable quarters. On the nineteenth, dragging
with him an enormous convoy of plunder, he reached Andujar, the great
junction of roads where the routes from the passes of the Morena come
down to the valley of the Guadalquivir. It would have been far wiser
to go still further back, and to occupy the debouches of the defiles,
instead of lingering in the plain of Andalusia. He should have retired
to Baylen, the town at the foot of the mountains, or to La Carolina,
the fortress in the upland which commands the southern exit of the
Despeña Perros. But he was vainly dreaming of resuming the attempt to
conquer the whole south of Spain when reinforcements should arrive, and
Andujar tempted him, since it was the best point from which he could
threaten at once Cordova, Jaen, and Granada, the three chief towns of
Eastern Andalusia. Here, therefore, he abode from June 19 to July 18, a
wasted month during which the whole situation of affairs in Spain was

Here we must leave Dupont, while we treat of the doings of the other
French generals during the month of June. While the invasion of
Andalusia was running its course, both Moncey and Bessières had been
seriously engaged.

The first named of the two marshals was placed in charge of one-half of
the offensive part of Napoleon’s plan for the subjugation of Spain,
while Bessières was mainly responsible for the defensive part, i.e.
for the maintaining of the communications between Madrid and Bayonne.
It is with Moncey’s expedition against Valencia, therefore, that we
must first deal. Although he started a few days later than Dupont,
that marshal was (like his colleague) still dominated by the idea that
possessed both Napoleon and Murat--that the insurrections were purely
local, and that their suppression was a mere measure of police. This
notion accounts for his choice of route: there are two roads from
Madrid to Valencia, a long and fairly easy one which passes through
the gap between the mountains of Murcia and those of Cuenca, by San
Clemente, Chinchilla, and the plain of Almanza, and a shorter one,
full of dangerous defiles and gorges, which cuts through the heart
of the hills by Tarancon, Valverde, and Requeña. The former crosses
the watershed between the valley of the Tagus and those of the rivers
flowing into the Mediterranean Sea at the easiest point, the latter at
one of the most difficult ones. But Moncey, thinking only of the need
to deal promptly with the Valencian insurgents, chose the shorter and
more difficult route.

He left Madrid on June 4: a week later he was near Cuenca, in the
midst of the mountains. Not a shot had yet been fired at him, but as
he pressed eastward he found the villages more and more deserted, till
at last he had reached a region that seemed to have become suddenly
depopulated. He turned a little out of his way on the eleventh to
occupy the city of Cuenca[103], the capital of this wild and rugged
country, but resumed his advance on the eighteenth, after receiving
from Madrid peremptory orders to press forward[104]. There lay before
him two tremendous defiles, which must be passed if he was to reach
Valencia. The first was the deep-sunk gorge of the river Cabriel, where
the highway plunges down a cliff, crosses a ravine, and climbs again
up a steep opposing bank. The second, thirty miles further on, was the
Pass of the Cabrillas, the point where the road, on reaching the edge
of the central plateau of Spain, suddenly sinks down into the low-lying
fertile plain of Valencia.

  [103] Cuenca lies twenty-five miles off the main Madrid-Valencia
  road, well to the north of it.

  [104] Moncey’s delay of a week at Cuenca provoked Savary (now
  acting for the invalided Murat) to such an extent, that he sent
  forward the cavalry-general Excelmans, nominally to take charge
  of Moncey’s vanguard, really to spur the cautious marshal on to
  action. But Excelmans was captured on the way by peasants, and
  sent a prisoner to Valencia.

If the Conde de Cervellon, the general whom the Valencian Junta had put
in charge of its army, had concentrated on these defiles the 7,000 or
8,000 regular troops who were to be found in the province and in the
neighbouring district of Murcia, it is probable that Moncey would never
have forced his way through the mountains; for each of the positions,
if held in sufficient force, is practically impregnable. But the
Spaniards had formed a deeply rooted notion that the invader would come
by the easy road over the plains, by San Clemente and Almanza, and not
through the mountains of Cuenca. The whole of the troops of Murcia and
the greater part of those of Valencia had been directed on Almanza,
where there was a good position for opposing an army descending from
Castile. Only a small detachment had been sent to watch the northern
road, and its commander, Don Pedro Adorno, had stationed at the bridge
of the Cabriel no more than one battalion of Swiss mercenaries (No.
1 of Traxler’s regiment) and 500 armed peasants with four guns. The
position was too extensive to be held by 1,500 men: Moncey found that
the river was fordable in several places, and detached a small column
to cross at each, while two battalions dashed at the bridge. In spite
of the steepness of the ravine the French got over at more than one
point, and climbed the opposite slope, whereupon the peasants fled,
and half the Swiss battalion was surrounded and captured while it was
trying to cover the retreat of the guns[105]. Adorno, who was lying
some miles to the rear, at Requeña, when he should have been present
in full force at the bridge, ought now to have fallen back to cover
Valencia, but in a moment of panic he fled across country to join the
army at Almanza [June 21].

  [105] Moncey induced a good many of these mercenaries to take
  service with him; but they deserted him when the time of trouble

This disgraceful flight left the Valencian Junta almost destitute of
troops for the defence of the still stronger defile of the Cabrillas,
which Moncey had yet to force before he could descend into the plain.
The Junta hurried up to it two regiments of recruits--one of which is
said to have been first practised in the manual exercise the day before
it went into action[106]. These, with 300 old soldiers, the wrecks of
the combat at the Cabriel, and three guns, tried to hold the pass.
Moncey turned both flanks of this very inadequate defending force, and
then broke through its centre. Many of the Spaniards dispersed, 500
were slain or captured, and the rest fled down the pass to Valencia.
After riding round the position, Moncey remarked that it was so strong
that with 6,000 steady troops he would undertake to hold it against
Napoleon himself and the Grand Army [June 24].

  [106] Arteche, _Guerra de la Independencia_, ii. 150.

Two days later, after a rapid march down the defile and across the
fertile Valencian plain, Moncey presented himself before the gates of
its capital, and demanded its surrender. But he found that there was
still much fighting to be done: a small column of regulars had arrived
in the city, though the main army from Almanza was still far distant.
With three battalions of old troops and 7,000 Valencian levies, Don
José Caro, a naval officer and brother of the celebrated Marquis of
La Romana, had taken up a position four miles outside the city at San
Onofre. He had covered his front with some irrigation canals, and
barricaded the road. Moncey had to spend the twenty-seventh in beating
back this force into Valencia, not without some sharp fighting.

On the next day he made a general assault upon the city. Valencia was
not a modern fortress: it had merely a wet ditch and an enceinte of
mediaeval walls. There were several points where it seemed possible
to escalade the defences, and the marshal resolved to storm the
place. But he had forgotten that he had to reckon with the auxiliary
fortifications which the populace had constructed during the last
three days. They had built up the gates with beams and earth,
barricaded the streets, mounted cannon on the walls where it was
possible, and established several batteries of heavy guns to sweep the
main approaches from the open country. The city being situated in a
perfectly level plain, and in ground much cut up by irrigation canals,
it had been found possible to inundate much of the low ground. As the
river Guadalaviar washed the whole northern side of the walls, Moncey’s
practicable points of attack were restricted to certain short spaces on
their southern front.

The marshal first sent a Spanish renegade, a Colonel Solano, to summon
the place. But the Valencians were exasperated rather than cowed by
their late defeats; their leaders--especially Padre Rico, a fighting
priest of undoubted courage and capacity--had worked them up to a high
pitch of enthusiasm, and they must have remembered that, if they
submitted, they would have to render an account for Calvo’s abominable
massacre of the French residents. Accordingly the Junta returned
the stirring answer that ‘the people of Valencia preferred to die
defending itself rather than to open any sort of negotiations.’ A mixed
multitude of 20,000 men, of whom some 8,000 were troops of one sort
and another[107], manned the walls and barricades and waited for the

  [107] But only 1,500 were regulars; the rest were newly
  incorporated levies.

After riding round the exposed front of the city, Moncey resolved to
attack only the south-eastern section. He formed two columns, each of
a brigade, of which one assailed the gate of San José near the river,
while another marched on the gate of Quarte, further to the south.
Considering the weak resistance that he had met at the Cabriel and at
the Pass of the Cabrillas, he had formed a sanguine expectation that
the Valencians would not make a firm stand, even behind walls and
barricades. In this he was wofully deceived: the French had yet to
learn that the enemy, though helpless in the open, was capable of the
most obstinate resistance when once he had put himself under cover of
bricks and earth. The first assault was beaten off with heavy loss,
though Moncey’s conscripts showed great dash, reached the foot of the
defences, and tried to tear down the palisades with their hands. The
marshal should have seen at once that he had too large a business in
hand for the 8,000 men of whom he could dispose. But he persevered,
bringing forward his field artillery to batter the gates and earthworks
before a second assault should be made. It was to no purpose, as they
were soon silenced by the guns of position which the besieged had
prepared for this very purpose. Late in the afternoon Moncey risked a
second general attack, embracing the gate of Santa Lucia as well as the
other points which he had before assailed. But the stormers were beaten
off with even heavier loss than on the first assault, and bodies of
the defenders, slipping out by posterns and side-gates, harassed the
retreating columns by a terrible flanking fire.

Clearly the game was up: Moncey had lost at least 1,200 men, a sixth of
his available infantry force[108]. He was much to blame for pressing
the attack when his first movement failed, for as Napoleon (wise after
the event) said in his commentary on the marshal’s operations: ‘On ne
prend pas par le collet une ville de quatre-vingt mille âmes.’ If the
first charge did not carry the walls, and the garrison stood firm, the
French could only get in by the use of siege artillery, of which they
did not possess a single piece.

  [108] Foy, generally a very fair calculator of French casualties,
  gives the marshal’s losses at 2,000 men in all, which seems
  rather a high figure. Napier (i. 95) says that he had 800 wounded
  to carry, which supposes a total loss of 1,100 or 1,200. Thiers’
  estimate of 300 is as obviously absurd as most of the other
  figures given by that historian. No such loss would have stopped
  a French army--even an army of conscripts.

Moncey’s position was now very dangerous: he knew that the country was
up in arms behind him, and that his communications with Madrid were
completely cut. He was also aware that Cervellon’s army from Almanza
must be marching towards him, unless it had taken the alternative
course of pressing in on his rear, to occupy the difficult passes by
which he had come down into the Valencian coast-plain. His conscripts
were dreadfully discouraged by their unexpected reverse: he was
hampered by a great convoy of wounded men, whose transport would cause
serious delays. Nothing had been heard of the diversion which General
Chabran, with troops detached from Duhesme’s army in Catalonia, had
been ordered to execute towards the northern side of Valencia. As a
matter of fact that general had not even crossed the Ebro. Retreat was
necessary: of the three possible lines on which it could be executed,
that along the coast road, in the direction where Chabran was to be
expected, was thought of for a moment, but soon abandoned: it was too
long, and the real base of the marshal’s corps was evidently Madrid,
and not Barcelona. The route by Tarancon and the Cabrillas, by which
the army had reached Valencia, was terribly difficult: clearly it would
be necessary to force again the defiles which had been cleared on the
way down to the coast. And it was possible that 9,000 or 10,000 regular
troops might now be occupying them.

Accordingly, Moncey resolved to retire by the third road, that
through the plains by Almanza and San Clemente. If, as was possible,
Cervellon’s whole army was now blocking it, they must be fought and
driven off: a battle in the plain would be less dangerous than a battle
at the Cabrillas or the bridge of the Cabriel. Before daylight on June
29, therefore, the marshal moved off on this road.

Luck now came to his aid: the incapable Spanish commander had made up
his mind that the French would retreat by the way that they had come,
and had sent forward General Llamas with all the troops of Murcia
to seize the defile of the Cabrillas. He himself followed with the
rest of the regulars, but halted at Alcira, behind the Xucar. Thus
while Moncey was marching to the south, the main body of his enemies
was moving northward. Cervellon refused to fight in the absence of
Llamas, so nothing was left in the marshal’s way save bands of peasants
who occupied the fords of the Xucar and the road between Jativa and
Almanza: these he easily brushed away in a couple of skirmishes. Nor
did a small column detached in pursuit from Valencia dare to meddle
seriously with his rearguard. So without even exchanging a shot with
the Spanish field-army, which Cervellon had so unwisely scattered and
sent off on a false track, Moncey was able to make his way by Jativa,
Almanza, and Chinchilla back towards La Mancha [July 2-6].

At San Clemente he met with reinforcements under General Frère,
consisting of the third division of Dupont’s original corps, some
5,000 strong. This division had been sent to search for him by Savary,
who had been filled with fears for his safety when he found that the
communications were cut, and that Cuenca and all the hill-country had
risen behind the expeditionary force. After vainly searching for Moncey
on the northern road, in the direction of Requeña, Frère at last got
news that he had taken the southern line of retreat, and successfully
joined him on July 8. At San Clemente the marshal intended to halt
and to wait for Cervellon’s arrival, in the hope of beating him in
the open. But a few days later he received news from Madrid, to the
effect that Savary wished to draw back the French forces nearer to the
capital, and that Frère, at least, must move in to Ocaña or Toledo.
Much displeased at finding a junior officer acting as the lieutenant of
the Emperor--for Savary was but a lieutenant-general, while he himself
was a marshal--Moncey threw up the whole scheme of waiting to fight
the Valencian army, and marched back to the immediate neighbourhood of
Madrid [July 15].

There can be no doubt that the marshal had extraordinary luck in this
short campaign. If he had been opposed by a general less timid and
incapable than the Conde de Cervellon, he might have found arrayed
against him, at the bridge of the Cabriel, or at the Cabrillas, a
considerable body of regulars--eight or nine thousand men--with a
numerous artillery, instead of the insignificant forces which he
actually defeated. Again, while he was trying to storm Valencia,
Cervellon might have attacked him in the rear with great chance of
success; or the Spaniard might have kept his forces united, and opposed
Moncey as he retreated from before Valencia. Instead of doing so he
split up his army into detachments, and the greater part of it was sent
off far from the central point of his operations, and did not fire
a shot. Truly such a general was, as Thucydides remarks concerning
the Spartans of old, ‘very convenient for his adversaries.’ A less
considerate enemy would have had a fair chance of bringing Moncey’s
campaign to the same disastrous end that befell that of Dupont.



Having watched the failure of the expeditions by which Napoleon had
hoped to complete the conquest of Southern Spain, we must turn our eyes
northward, to Madrid and the long line of communications which joined
the capital to the French base of operations at Vittoria, Pampeluna,
and San Sebastian. At the moment when the Valencian and Andalusian
expeditions were sent out from Madrid and Toledo, Murat had still
under his hand a large body of troops, the second and third division
of Moncey’s corps, the second and third of Dupont’s, and the 5,000
horse and foot of the Imperial Guard--in all more than 30,000 men.
Bessières, if the garrison of the northern fortresses and some newly
arrived reinforcements are added to his original force, had more than
25,000. With these the grand-duke and the marshal had to contain the
insurrection in Northern Spain, and to beat back the advance of the
army of Galicia.

The furthest points to the north and east to which the wave of
insurrection had washed up were Logroño and Tudela in the Ebro
valley, Santander on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, and Palencia and
Valladolid in Old Castile. All these places lay in Bessières’ sphere of
action, and he promptly took measures to suppress the rising at each
point. On June 2 a column sent out from Vittoria reoccupied Logroño,
slaying some hundreds of half-armed peasants, and executing some of
their leaders who had been taken prisoners. On the same day a stronger
force, six battalions and two squadrons under General Merle, marched
from Burgos on Santander. Driving before him the insurgents of the
Upper Ebro valley, Merle advanced as far as Reynosa, and was about
to force the defiles of the Cantabrian Mountains and to descend on
to Santander, when he received orders to return and to take part in
suppressing the more dangerous rising in the plains of Old Castile.
News had arrived that the captain-general, Cuesta, was collecting a
force at Valladolid, which threatened to cut the road between Burgos
and Madrid. To deal with him Bessières told off Merle, and another
small column of four battalions and two regiments of _chasseurs_ under
his brilliant cavalry-brigadier, Lasalle, one of the best of Napoleon’s
younger generals. After sacking Torquemada (where some peasants
attempted an ineffectual resistance) and ransoming the rich cathedral
town of Palencia, Lasalle got in touch with the forces of Cuesta at
the bridge of Cabezon, where the main road from Burgos to Valladolid
crosses the river Pisuerga. On the eleventh of June Merle joined him:
on the twelfth their united forces, 9,000 strong, fell upon the levies
of the Captain-general.

Throughout the two years during which he held high command in the
field, Gregorio de la Cuesta consistently displayed an arrogance
and an incapacity far exceeding that of any other Spanish general.
Considering the state of his embryo ‘army of Castile,’ it was insane
for him to think of offering battle. He had but four cannon; his only
veteran troops were 300 cavalry, mainly consisting of the squadrons
which had accompanied Ferdinand VII as escort on his unhappy journey
to Bayonne. His infantry was composed of 4,000 or 5,000 volunteers of
the Valladolid district, who had not been more than a fortnight under
arms, and had seen little drill and still less musketry practice. It
was absolutely wicked to take them into action. But the men, in their
ignorance, clamoured for a battle, and Cuesta did not refuse it to
them. His dispositions were simply astounding; instead of barricading
or destroying the bridge and occupying the further bank, he led his
unhappy horde across the river and drew them up in a single line, with
the bridge at their backs.

On June 12 Lasalle came rushing down upon the ‘army of Castile,’ and
dashed it into atoms at the first shock. The Spanish cavalry fled
(as they generally did throughout the war), the infantry broke, the
bridge and the guns were captured. Some hundreds of the unfortunate
recruits were sabred, others were drowned in the river. Cuesta fled
westwards with the survivors to Medina de Rio Seco, abandoning to its
fate Valladolid, which Lasalle occupied without opposition on the same
evening. The combat by which this important city was won had cost the
French only twelve killed and thirty wounded.

This stroke had completely cleared Bessières’ right flank: there
could be no more danger from the north-west till the army of Galicia
should think proper to descend from its mountains to contest with
the French the dominion of the plains of Leon and Old Castile. The
marshal could now turn his attention to other fronts of his extensive
sphere of command. After the fight of Cabezon Merle’s division was
sent northward, to conquer the rugged coastland of the province of
Santander. There were frightful defiles between Reynosa and the shore
of the Bay of Biscay: the peasants had blocked the road and covered
the hillsides with _sungahs_. But the defence was feeble--as might be
expected from the fact that the district could only put into the field
one battalion of militia[109] and a crowd of recent levies, who had
been about three weeks under arms. On June 23 Merle finished clearing
the defiles and entered Santander, whose bishop and Junta fled, with
the wreck of their armed force, into the Asturias.

  [109] ‘Provincial of Laredo,’ 571 bayonets.

Meanwhile the troops under Bessières had been equally active, but with
very different results, on the Middle Ebro and in the direction of
Aragon. It was known at Burgos and at Bayonne that Saragossa had risen
like the rest of the Spanish cities. But it was also known that there
was hardly a man of regular troops in the whole kingdom of Aragon:
here, as in Old Castile or in Santander, the invaders would have to
deal only with raw levies, who would probably disperse after their
first defeat. Saragossa itself, the central focus of the rising, was no
modern fortress, but a town of 60,000 souls, surrounded by a mediaeval
wall more fitted to assist in the levy of _octroi_ duties, than in a
defence against a regular army. Accordingly the column under Lefebvre
Desnouettes, which was directed to start from Pampeluna against the
Aragonese insurgents, was one of very moderate size--3,500 infantry,
1,000 horse, and a single battery of field artillery[110]. But it was
to be joined a few days later by another brigade[111] and battery,
which would bring its total force up to something more than 6,000 men.

  [110] They were a battalion each of the 15th, 47th, and 70th of
  the line, all old troops, and the 2nd ‘Supplementary Regiment of
  the legions of Reserve,’ two battalions strong, with a regiment
  of Polish lancers and the 5th _escadron de marche_.

  [111] The 1st regiment of the Vistula (two batts.) and the 6th
  _bataillon de marche_.

The resources of the kingdom of Aragon were large, but the patriots
were, when the war broke out, in a condition most unfavourable for
strenuous action. The province was one of those which had been denuded
of its usual garrison: there only remained part of a cavalry regiment,
the ‘King’s Dragoons,’ whose squadrons had been so depleted that it had
only 300 men and ninety horses, with a weak battalion of Volunteers of
Aragon--some 450 men--and 200 gunners and sappers. In addition there
had straggled into Saragossa about 500 men from various Spanish corps
at Madrid, Burgos, and elsewhere, who had deserted their colours when
the news of the insurrection reached them. This was a small _cadre_
on which to create a whole army, but the feat was accomplished by the
energetic young man who put himself at the head of the rising in the
middle valley of the Ebro. Joseph Palafox, the second son of a noble
family of Aragon, had been one of the suite which accompanied Ferdinand
VII to Bayonne, and was an indignant spectator of the abominable
treachery which there took place. When the tragedy was over he was
fortunate enough to escape to Spain: he retired to his native district,
took a prominent part in rousing the Aragonese, and was chosen by
them as Captain-general when the weak or incapable Guillelmi was
deposed. He was only twenty-eight years of age, and had no military
experience, for he had only served in the peaceful ranks of the king’s
bodyguard[112]. He had been a courtier rather than a soldier, yet at
the critical moment of his life it cannot be denied that he displayed
a courage and energy which justified the high opinions which the
Aragonese entertained of him. He kept Saragossa clean from the plague
of political assassination, which was so rife in every other corner of
Spain. He wisely got his appointment as Captain-general confirmed by
the Cortes of Aragon, which he summoned to meet in its ancient form. He
found out the most capable leaders of the populace, and always asked
their advice before taking any important step. But his main virtue was
his untiring activity: considering the procrastination and want of
organizing power displayed by most of the Spanish generals, his talent
for rapid work seems remarkable. He was only placed in power on May 26,
and by June 8 he was already engaged with the French. In this short
time he had raised and organized seven regiments of new levies--7,400
men in all. They were stiffened with the deserters from Madrid, and
commanded by such retired and half-pay officers as could be got
together. There were some scores of cannon in the arsenal of Saragossa,
but hardly any gunners, and a very small store of ammunition. Palafox
started a powder factory and a manufactory of small arms, turned the
workmen of the Canal of Aragon into a corps of sappers, and made a
general levy of horses to remount his single regiment of dragoons,
and to provide his artillery with draught animals. This was but the
commencement of Palafox’s activity: ere Saragossa was saved he had
raised the whole kingdom, and got more than 30,000 men under arms[113].

  [112] Palafox has been so often abused that I take the
  opportunity of quoting the description of him given by Sir
  Charles Vaughan, one of the three or four Englishmen who saw
  him at Saragossa in the day of his power, and the only one who
  has left his impressions on record. He lived with Palafox for
  some five weeks in October-November, 1808. ‘This distinguished
  nobleman is about thirty-four years of age [an overstatement by
  six years]; his person is of middling stature, his eyes lively
  and expressive, and his whole deportment that of a perfectly
  well-bred man. In private life, so far as my daily intercourse
  gave me an opportunity of judging, his manners were kind,
  unaffected, and ingratiating. From the great readiness with
  which he dispatched business, and from the letters and public
  papers which were written by him with apparent great ease in my
  presence, I was led to form a very favourable opinion of his
  talents. There was a quickness in his manner of seizing objects,
  an impatience until they were accomplished. He was fond of
  talking of the events of the siege, and anxious to introduce to
  us men of every class who had distinguished themselves. There
  was a vivacity in his manner and conversation, an activity in
  his exertions as an officer, that is rarely met in a Spaniard.
  It was always a most cheering and interesting thing to ride with
  him through the streets of Saragossa. The joy and exultation of
  the people as he passed evidently sprung from the heart. To have
  acquitted himself to their satisfaction was no mean reward, and
  forms a sufficient answer to all the unworthy attempts (which
  I have been disgusted to witness) to depreciate his character’
  (_Vaughan Papers_, from an unpublished journal of 1808).

  [113] Napier is always hard on Spanish officers and
  administrators, but I think that of the whole class Palafox
  receives the most undeserved contumely from his pen. He holds him
  to have been a mere puppet, whose strings were pulled by obscure
  Saragossan demagogues like the celebrated Tio Jorge. He even
  doubts his personal courage. Both Spanish and French historians
  unite in taking the Captain-general quite seriously, and I think
  they are right. His best testimonial is the harsh and vindictive
  treatment that he received at Napoleon’s hands.

Already by the eighth of June he had hurried out a small force to
meet Lefebvre Desnouettes at Tudela, the frontier town on the Ebro,
which in the Middle Ages had been known as ‘the key of Aragon.’ This
force, which consisted of 2,000 of his new levies, was placed under the
command of his own elder brother the Marquis of Lazan, who had escaped
from Madrid under the pretext that he would bring pressure to bear upon
the Captain-general and induce him to submit to Murat. The marquis,
though joined by 3,000 or 4,000 peasants and citizens of Tudela, was
easily routed by the French column, and forced back to Mallen sixteen
miles nearer to Saragossa. Lefebvre followed him, after having executed
a certain number of the notables of Tudela and sacked the town.
Reinforced by more of his brother’s new levies, Lazan offered battle
again at Mallen, in a bad position, where his men had little protection
against the enemy’s artillery and the charges of his Polish lancers. He
was naturally routed with severe losses. But even then the Aragonese
were not broken in spirit: Palafox himself marched out with the
remainder of his new levies, some of whom had not been five days under
arms. At Alagon, only seventeen miles from the gates of Saragossa, he
drew up 6,000 infantry (of whom 500 were regulars) 150 dragoons and
four guns, trying to cover himself by the line of the Canal of Aragon
and some olive groves. It is hardly necessary to say that his artillery
was overpowered by the fourteen pieces of the French, and that his
infantry gave back when furiously assailed by the Poles. Palafox
charged at the head of his two squadrons of dragoons, but was wounded
in the arm and had his horse killed under him. His routed followers
carried him back into the city, where the majority took refuge, while
the more faint-hearted fled beyond it to Alcaniz and other points in
Upper Aragon.

Elated by three easy victories, Lefebvre thought that there was nothing
more to do but to enter Saragossa in triumph. He was much deceived:
the citizens were standing at bay behind their flimsy defences, having
recovered in a single night from the dismay caused by the arrival of
the broken bands who had fought at Alagon. The military conditions
were not unlike those which Moncey had to face in another region,
a fortnight later: Saragossa like Valencia lies in an extensive
plain, with its northern side washed by the waters of the Ebro, and
its eastern by those of the shallow and fordable Huerba: but its
southern and western fronts are exposed to attack from the open. It
was surrounded by a brick wall of ten to twelve feet high, interrupted
in several places by convents and barracks whose blank back-faces
continued the line of the _enceinte_[114]. Inside the wall were the
crowded lanes in which dwelt the 60,000 citizens, a tangle of narrow
streets save the one broad Coso which intersects the place from east
to west. The houses were mostly solid and lofty structures of brick
and stone, with the heavy barred windows and doors usual in Spain.
The strength, such as it was, of Saragossa consisted not in its outer
shell, but in the closely packed houses, convents, and churches, each
of which might serve at need as a small fortress. Many of them were
solid enough to resist any form of attack save that of being battered
by artillery. When barricades had been thrown across the lanes from
side to side, each square of buildings would need to be assaulted
and captured piecemeal. But none of the French officers who arrived
in front of Saragossa on June 15, 1808, had any conception that the
problem about to be presented to them was that of street-fighting
carried on from house to house. There had been many sieges since the
war of the French Revolution began, but none carried on in this manner.
In Italy or Germany no one had ever heard of a city which tried, for
want of bastions and curtains, to defend itself by barricades: such
places always saved themselves by an obvious and blameless surrender.

  [114] The chief of these buildings inserted in the wall were the
  convents or Santa Engracia and the Misericordia, and the cavalry

But if a siege was coming, there was one position just outside the town
which was clearly destined to play a chief part in it. Just across the
Huerba lay a broad flat-topped hill, the Monte Torrero, which rose to
the height of 180 feet, and overlooked all the south side of the place.
It was such a splendid vantage-ground for siege-batteries, that the
defenders were bound to hold it, lest it should fall into the power
of the French. It should have been crowned by a strong detached fort,
or even by an entrenched camp. But Palafox in the short time at his
disposal had only been able to throw up a couple of open batteries upon
it, and to loophole the extensive magazines and workshops of the Canal
of Aragon, which were scattered over the summit of the hill, while the
canal itself flowed, as a sort of outer defence, around its further

Saragossa had two other outlying defences: the one was the Aljafferia,
an old square castle with four towers at its corners, which had been
the abode of Moorish emirs, and of Aragonese kings, but now served
as the prison of the Inquisition. It lay a couple of hundred yards
outside the western gate (Puerto del Portillo) of the city. It was a
solid brick structure, but quite unsuited to resist a serious artillery
attack. The second outwork was the suburb of San Lazaro beyond the
Ebro: it was connected with Saragossa by a new and handsome bridge,
known as the ‘Puente de Piedra,’ or ‘Stone Bridge.’ Cannon were
mounted at its southern end so as to sweep its whole length.

On June 15, Lefebvre-Desnouettes appeared before the city, driving
before him some Spanish outposts which he had met upon the way. He
resolved at once to carry the place by storm, a task which, considering
the weakness of its walls, did not seem impossible, and all the more
so because the gates stood open, each defended only by an earthwork
containing two or three guns. The French general, neglecting the Monte
Torrero and its commanding slopes, attacked only the western front
between the gate of Portillo, near the Ebro, and the gate of Santa
Engracia, close to the banks of the Huerba. His French brigade assailed
the northern and his Polish regiment the southern half of this long
line of walls and buildings. His two field-batteries were run up into
the fighting line, to batter the earthworks and to reply to the Spanish
guns. The only reserve which he kept in hand consisted of his brigade
of cavalry.

The resistance offered to Lefebvre was of the most irregular sort:
Palafox himself was not present, and his second-in-command, Bustamante,
seems to have done little in the way of issuing orders. The 6,000
half-trained levies which had fought at Alagon had not recovered their
organization, and were hopelessly mixed in the line of defence with
4,000 or 5,000 armed citizens of all ages and classes who had gone to
the walls, each parish under the charge of two or three local leaders,
who paid little obedience to the commands of the regular officers.

The Captain-General himself had started out that morning at the head
of 150 dragoons, and 200 infantry, all regulars, by the road beyond
the Ebro. He had told his subordinates that he was intending to raise
in Upper Aragon a force with which he would fall on Lefebvre’s line
of communications, and so compel him to abandon his attack on the
city. But there is no doubt that he had really conceived grave doubts
as to the possibility of Saragossa defending itself, and intended to
avoid being captured within its walls. He wished to have the power of
continuing the struggle outside, in case the French should penetrate
into the city. On the morning after the fight at Alagon, bruised and
wounded, he was in a pessimistic frame of mind, as his resolve shows.
But there is no occasion to brand him, as does Napier, with timidity:
his previous and his subsequent conduct preclude such a charge. It was
merely an error of judgement: the Captain-General should have stayed
behind to defend his capital, and have sent his brother Lazan, or some
other officer whom he could trust, to raise the country-side in the
rear of the French[115]. His retirement might well have discouraged
the Saragossans and led to deplorable results; but as a matter of
fact, Lefebvre’s attack began so soon after he had ridden out over the
bridge, that the news of his departure had not yet got abroad, and the
populace were still under the impression that he was among them. It was
not till the fighting was over that he was missed.

  [115] That Palafox and those about him despaired of the defence
  is honestly confessed in the Marquis de Lazan’s _Campaña del
  verano de 1808_. He and his brother ‘had not believed that an
  open town defended by untrained peasants could defend itself,’
  and the news of Lefebvre’s first repulse astonished as much as it
  pleased them.

Lefebvre-Desnouettes before Saragossa was in exactly the same position
as Moncey before Valencia, and acted in the same way, pushing forward
a rather reckless attack on the city in full confidence that the
Spaniards would not stand before an assault pressed home. He had,
moreover, the advantages of being able to attack a wider front, of
having no ditches and inundations to cramp his operations, and of
dealing with walls even weaker than those of Valencia, and defended by
artillery of which very few were pieces of heavy calibre.

The first attack was delivered in the most dashing, not to say
foolhardy, style. At the gate of Santa Engracia a squadron of Polish
lancers, who led the van, charged into and over the small battery which
covered the ingress into the city. Their wild rush carried them right
into the place, in spite of a dropping fire of musketry directed upon
them from every house that they passed. Turning into a broad lane to
the left, these headstrong horsemen rode forward, losing men at every
step, till they were brought to a stand in the Plaza del Portillo,
where the majority were shot down; a very few succeeded in escaping by
the way along which they had come. The Polish infantry, which should
have followed closely on the heels of the lancers, penetrated no
further than the earthwork at the gate, where it got closely engaged
with the Spaniards who held the neighbouring convent of Santa Engracia.
Exposed in the open street to a heavy fire from behind walls and
windows, the leading battalion gave way, and retired into the olive
groves and buildings outside the gate.

Meanwhile the French brigade of Lefebvre’s division attacked the gates
of Portillo and the Carmen and the adjoining cavalry barracks. At
the last-named post they scaled the walls, which were particularly
low and weak at this point, and got into the city. But at the gates
the batteries in the narrow ingress held them back. After a sharp
skirmish, a general rush of peasants, soldiers, and citizens, swept
out the invaders from the cavalry barracks, and the front of defence
was restored. Lefebvre would have done well to pause before renewing
his assault: but (like Moncey at Valencia) he was loth to believe that
the enemy would face a persistent attempt to break in. He accordingly
ordered both the columns to renew their attacks: for some time it
seemed likely that he might succeed, for the French forced both the
Carmen and the Portillo gates and reoccupied the cavalry barracks,
while the Poles burst in for a second time at Santa Engracia. But it
proved impossible to make any further advance into the city, where
every house was full of musketeers and the narrow lanes were blocked
with artillery, which swept them from end to end. When it became clear
that the enemy were making no further progress, the Spaniards rallied
behind the Bull-Ring on the Portillo front, and in the convent of Santa
Engracia on the southern front, and swept out the decimated battalions
of Lefebvre by a determined charge[116].

  [116] The Spaniards have called this first attack on Saragossa
  the action of the Eras del Rey, the name of the meadows outside
  the Portillo and Carmen gates, in which the French columns massed
  themselves for the attack.

It is not surprising to find that the assailants had suffered very
heavily in such a desperate attack on walls and barricades teeming with
defenders worked up to a high pitch of patriotic frenzy. Lefebvre lost
700 men, and left behind him at the Portillo gate several guns which
had been brought up too close to the place, and could not be dragged
off under the dreadful musketry fire from the walls, and the flanking
discharges from the neighbouring castle of Aljafferia. The Spaniards,
fighting under cover except at the moment of their final charges, had
suffered comparatively little: their loss is estimated at not much over
300 men. They might well be proud of their success: they had certainly
showed a heroic spirit in fighting so obstinately after three crushing
defeats in the open field. That a practically unfortified town should
defend itself by street-fighting was a new idea: and that peasants
and citizens (there were not 900 regulars in the place) should not
only hold out behind walls, but execute desperate charges _en masse_,
would till that day have been regarded as impossible by any soldier
of Napoleon. Every thinking man in the French army must have looked
with some dismay on the results of the fight, not because of the loss
suffered, for that was a mere trifle, but because of the prospect of
the desperate national resistance which had evidently to be faced.

Meanwhile, Lefebvre-Desnouettes retired for some thousands of yards
from the city, and pitched his camp facing its western front. He sent
pressing letters asking for reinforcements both to Madrid and to
Bayonne, and attempted no offensive action for ten days. If he sent
a formal summons of surrender to the Saragossans, it was to waste
time and allow fresh troops to arrive, rather than with any hope that
he could intimidate the citizens. He was himself more likely to be
attacked during the next few days than to make any forward movement.
But he was already beginning to receive reinforcements: on June 21
there arrived two battalions of the 2nd Regiment of the Vistula, and
more troops were behind.

Palafox, on the other hand, received much unexpected encouragement
from the combat of the sixteenth. On receiving the news of it at
Belchite on the following morning, he sent back his brother, the
Marquis de Lazan, giving him the command of the city, and bidding him
tell the Saragossans that he would endeavour to raise the siege in a
very few days. There was already a considerable body of insurgents
in arms in South-western Aragon, under the Baron de Versage, who had
raised at Calatayud two battalions of new levies[117], and gathered in
some fugitives from the Spanish garrison of Madrid. Palafox ordered
the baron to join him with every man that he could bring, and their
two detachments met at Almunia on June 21, and from thence marched
towards Saragossa by the road which leads down the valley of the Xalon
by Epila. At the last-named place they were only fifteen miles from
Lefebvre-Desnouettes’ camp, and were already threatening the French
communications with Logroño and Vittoria. But their army was still very
small--no more than 550 regular infantry, 1,000 men of Versage’s new
regiments, 350 cavalry, and a couple of thousand levies of all kinds,
among whom were noted a company of eighty armed Capuchin friars and a
body of mounted smugglers.

  [117] He called them the ‘Regiment of Ferdinand VII,’ and the
  ‘Second Regiment of the kingdom of Aragon.’

The French general had now to make up his mind whether he would raise
the siege and fall upon Palafox with his whole army, or whether he
would dare to divide his scanty resources, and maintain the attack on
the city with one part, while he sent a containing force against the
Captain-General’s bands. He resolved to take the latter course--a most
hazardous one considering the fact that he had, even with his last
reinforcements, not much more than 6,000 sound men in his camp. He
dispatched the Polish Colonel Chlopiski with the first regiment of the
Vistula, one French battalion, a squadron of lancers and four guns to
hold back Palafox, while with the 3,000 men that remained he executed
several demonstrations against outlying parts of the defences of
Saragossa, in order to distract the attention of the citizens.

This very risky plan was carried out with complete success. While
the Saragossans were warding off imaginary attacks, Chlopiski made
a forced march and fell upon Palafox at Epila on the night of June
23-24. The Aragonese army was completely surprised and routed in a
confused engagement fought in the dark. Several hundred were cut up,
and the town of Epila was sacked: Palafox fell back in disorder towards
Calatayud and the mountains, while Chlopiski returned to the siege.

The Captain-General, much disconcerted by this disaster, resolved that
he would fight no more battles in the open, but merely reinforce the
city with the best of his soldiers and resist behind its walls. So
sending back Versage and his levies to the hills, he made an enormous
detour with his handful of veteran troops and a few hundred irregulars,
and re-entered Saragossa by the northern side, which still remained
open. He had great difficulty in holding his followers together, for
many (and especially his untrustworthy cavalry) wished to retire on
Valencia and to abandon the struggle in Aragon. But by appealing
to their patriotism--‘he would give every man who insisted on it a
passport for Valencia, but those who loved him would follow him’--he
finally carried off the whole force, and took somewhat over 1,000 men
back to the besieged city [July 1].

During his absence the condition of affairs in Saragossa had been
considerably altered. On the one hand the defences had been much
improved: the gates had been strongly stockaded, and the walls had
been thickened with earth and sandbags, and furnished with a continuous
_banquette_, which had hitherto been wanting. On the other hand the
French were beginning to receive reinforcements: on the twenty-sixth
General Verdier arrived with three battalions of his division (the
second of Bessières’ corps)[118] and two _bataillons de marche_, in
all some 3,000 or 3,500 men. From this time forward small bodies of
troops began to reach the besiegers at short intervals, including two
more Polish battalions[119], one battalion of French regulars, two
Portuguese battalions (the last of the unfortunate division which was
on its way across Spain towards the Baltic), 1,000 National Guards
of the Hautes Pyrénées and Basses Pyrénées, hastily sent across the
frontier from Bayonne, and three squadrons of cavalry[120]. What was
more important than the mere numbers was that they brought with them
siege-guns, in which Lefebvre had hitherto been entirely deficient.
These pieces came from the citadel of Pampeluna, and were part of those
resources of which the French had so treacherously taken possession in
the preceding February.

  [118] They belonged to the 14th Provisional Regiment, and the
  accompanying corps were the 4th and 7th _bataillons de marche_.

  [119] 3rd Regiment of the Vistula.

  [120] 3rd, 6th, and 9th _escadrons de marche_.

Verdier on his arrival superseded Lefebvre-Desnouettes, who was
considerably his junior, and took charge of the siege. His first act
was to develop an attack on the Monte Torrero, the hill in the suburbs,
beyond the Huerba, which dominates, at a distance of 1,800 yards,
the southern front of the city. The Spaniards had neither encircled
it with continuous lines, nor crowned it with any closed work. It
was protected only by two small batteries and some trenches covering
the most obvious points of attack. The garrison was composed of no
more than 500 men, half peasants, half regulars of the Regiment of
Estremadura, of which three weak battalions had arrived from Tarrega
on the previous day (June 27)[121]. Verdier sent three columns, each
of one battalion, against the more accessible parts of the position,
and drove out the small defending force with ease. His task was made
lighter by a piece of casual luck: on the night before the assault the
main powder-magazine of the Saragossans, situated in the Seminary,
was ignited by the carelessness of a workman, and blew up, killing
many persons and wrecking the Seminary itself and many houses in its
vicinity. A few hours after this disaster had taken place, and while
the whole city was busy in extinguishing the conflagration, the French
attack was delivered; hence the original garrison got no help from
within the walls. But its own conduct was deplorably weak: the colonel
in command[122] headed the rush to the rear, a piece of cowardice for
which he was imprisoned and (after the siege had been raised) was sent
before a court-martial and shot.

  [121] The Regiment of Estremadura was so weak at the outbreak of
  hostilities that its three battalions had only 770 men. It had
  been hastily brought up to 900 bayonets before entering the city.

  [122] His name was Vincente Falco; he belonged to the artillery.

On the evening of the twenty-eighth Verdier began to construct heavy
breaching batteries on the slopes of the Monte Torrero, commanding
all the southern side of the city. Others were thrown up on the
south-western front, opposite the points which had been unsuccessfully
assaulted twelve days before. On the thirtieth of June the works were
armed with thirty siege-guns, four mortars, and twelve howitzers, which
opened simultaneously on Saragossa at midnight, and continued to play
upon the place for twenty-four hours, setting many houses on fire, and
breaching the flimsy ramparts in half a dozen places. The old castle
of the Aljafferia was badly injured, and the gates of Portillo and the
Carmen knocked out of shape: there were also large gaps in the convent
of the Augustinians, and in the Misericordia, whose back wall formed
part of the _enceinte_. All the unarmed population was forced to take
refuge in the cellars, or the more solidly built parts of the churches,
while the fighting-men were trying to construct barricades behind the
worst breaches, and to block up with sandbags, beams, and barrels all
the lanes that opened upon them.

Palafox entered Saragossa on the morning of July 2, just in time
to see Verdier launch his whole available infantry force upon the
shattered western and southern fronts of the city. The assault was
made under much more favourable conditions than that of June 16, since
the strength of the storming columns was more than doubled, and the
defences had been terribly mishandled by the bombardment. On the other
hand the garrison was in no degree shaken in spirit: the fire of the
last twenty-four hours had been much more dangerous to buildings than
to men, and the results of the first assault had given the defenders
a confidence which they had not felt on the previous occasion. Hence
it came to pass that of the six columns of assault not one succeeded
in making a permanent lodgement within the walls. Even the isolated
castle of Aljafferia and the convent of San José, just outside the
Porta Quemada, were finally left in the hands of the besieged, though
the latter was for some hours held by the French. The hardest fighting
was at the Portillo gate, where the assaulting battalions more than
once reached the dilapidated earthwork that covered the ingress to the
north-western part of the city. It was here that there occurred the
well-known incident of the ‘Maid of Saragossa.’ The gunners at the
small battery in the gate had been shot down one after another by the
musketry of the assailants, the final survivors falling even before
they could discharge the last gun that they had loaded. The infantry
supports were flinching and the French were closing in, when a young
woman named Agostina Zaragoza, whose lover (an artillery sergeant) had
just fallen, rushed forward, snatched the lighted match from his dying
hand, and fired the undischarged twenty-four-pounder into the head of
the storming column[123]. The enemy was shaken by a charge of grape
delivered at ten paces, the citizens, shamed by Agostina’s example,
rushed back to reoccupy the battery, and the assault was beaten off.
Palafox states that the incident occurred before his own eyes: he gave
the girl a commission as sub-lieutenant of artillery, and a warrant for
a life-pension: she was seen a year later by several English witnesses,
serving with her battery in Andalusia[124].

  [123] Sir Charles Vaughan was introduced to the heroine by
  Palafox while he was staying in Saragossa in October. He
  describes her as ‘a handsome young woman of the lower class,’ and
  says that when he met her she was wearing on her sleeve a small
  shield of honour with the name ‘Zaragoza’ inscribed on it. The
  fact that the dead sergeant was her lover is given by Palafox
  in his short narrative of the siege, which ought to be a good
  authority enough.

  [124] Napier, with all his prejudice against the Spaniards, does
  not venture to absolutely reject the story. ‘Romantic tales
  of women rallying the troops and leading them forward at the
  most dangerous period of the siege were current; their truth
  may be doubted. Yet when suddenly environed with horrors, the
  sensitiveness of women, driving them to a kind of frenzy, might
  have produced actions above the heroism of men’ (i. 45). W.
  Jacob, M.P., in his _Travels in the South of Spain in 1809-10_
  (p. 123), says that he met Agostina at Seville, wearing a blue
  artillery tunic, with one epaulette, over a short skirt; she was
  present when Lord Wellesley entered Seville, and was welcomed by
  the Junta.

The fruitless attack of July 2 cost the French 200 killed and 300
wounded. The Saragossan garrison lost somewhat less, in spite of
the bombardment, since they had been fighting under cover against
enemies who had to expose themselves whenever they got near the wall.
Verdier resolved for the future to shun attempts at escalade, and to
begin a regular siege. He commenced on the third of July to construct
parallels, for a main attack on the southern side of the place, and
a secondary attack on the north-western. He also threw a detachment
across the Ebro [July 11], to close the hitherto undisturbed access to
the city through the suburb of San Lazaro and the stone bridge. The
force which could be spared for this object from an army of no more
than 12,000 or 13,000 men was not really sufficient to hold the left
bank of the Ebro, and merely made ingress and egress difficult without
entirely preventing it. On two or three occasions when considerable
bodies of Spaniards presented themselves, the French could do no more
than skirmish with them and try to cut off the convoys which they were
bringing to the city. They could not exclude them, and for the whole
remainder of the siege the communications of the Saragossans with the
open country were never entirely closed[125].

  [125] Foy exaggerates considerably when he says that from July
  12 onward ‘the blockade of Saragossa was complete’ (iii. 300).
  Reinforcements entered on several subsequent occasions.

By July 15, Verdier’s trenches were commencing to work up close
to the walls, and the next ten days of the month were occupied in
desperate struggles for the convents of San José, of the Capuchins and
Trinitarians, which lie outside the city near the Carmen and Porta
Quemada gates. By the twenty-fourth the French had occupied them,
connected them with their approaches, and begun to establish in them
breaching batteries. Another, but less powerful, attack was directed
against the Portillo gate. The mortars and howitzers bombarded the
city continuously from the first to the third. But it was not till the
dawn of August 4 that the heavy guns were ready to begin their task of
battering down the gates and walls of Saragossa. After five hours of
steady firing the Spanish batteries were silenced, and several breaches
had been made, mostly in or about the Convent of Santa Engracia, at the
southernmost point of the city. The streets behind it had been terribly
shattered by the previous bombardment, and many buildings destroyed,
notably the central hospital, from which the Spaniards had to remove,
under a terrible hail of shells, more than 500 sick and wounded, as
well as a number of lunatics and idiots: the institution had been used
as an asylum before the outbreak of the war. Many of these unfortunate
creatures were destroyed by the besiegers’ fire[126], as were also no
small number of the wounded and of their doctors and nurses.

  [126] Caballero and Toreño put the distressing scenes at the
  hospital and the escape of the lunatics during the assault on the
  4th, but Arteche seems more correct in placing them during the
  bombardment of the preceding day.

Palafox and his brother the marquis remained near Santa Engracia,
trying to encourage their followers to repair the barricades behind
the breaches, and to loophole and strengthen those of the houses
which still stood firm. But amid the dreadful and unceasing storm
of projectiles it was hard to keep the men together, and most of
the projected retrenchments were battered down before they could be
finished. At two o’clock in the afternoon of the fourth, Verdier let
loose his storming columns, composed of four Polish and nine French
battalions[127]. They were directed in three bodies against three
separate breaches, the easternmost in the Convent of Santa Engracia,
the second at the gate of the same name, the third more to the left,
in the wall near the gate of the Carmen. All three were successful
in forcing their way into the city: the defences had been completely
shattered, and at one point 300 continuous yards of the outer wall had
fallen. The Spaniards clung for some time to the cloisters and church
of Santa Engracia, but were at last expelled or exterminated, and 1,000
yards of the _enceinte_ with the adjoining buildings were in the hands
of the French.

  [127] I find in the _Vaughan Papers_ the following note: ‘General
  Lefebvre-Desnouettes was residing at Cheltenham on parole,
  having been taken prisoner at Benavente by Lord Paget. I went to
  Cheltenham on May 27, 1809, for the express purpose of seeing
  the general. He told me that he had advanced at first with no
  more than 3,000 men, but that after General Verdier joined him,
  the French force employed against Saragossa was 15,000 men. I
  understood that in the attack of July 2 and the previous fighting
  they lost 2,000 men, and that their total loss in the whole siege
  was 4,000, including three generals wounded.’ _Nap. Corresp._
  (xvii. 389, 426) calls the whole force before Saragossa on August
  2, 17,300 men. But there seems to have been present in all only--

  (1)  Lefebvre-Desnouettes’ column:
            { 2nd of the Vistula (1st and 2nd batts.)      1376
  Brigade   { 70th of the line (3rd batt.)                  379
  Grandjean { 4th _bataillon de marche_                     581
            { 6th ditto                                     655 =   2991

            { 1st of the Vistula (1st and 2nd batts.)      1243
  Brigade   { 1st supplementary regiment of the Legions
  Habert    { of Reserve (1st and 2nd batts.)              1030
            { 47th of the line (3rd batt.)                  420
            { 15th ditto (4th batt.)                        411 =   3104

            { Regiment of Polish Lancers                    717
  Cavalry   { 5th _escadron de marche_                      217 =    934

  (2) Division of Gomez Freire:
        14th Provisional Regiment (1st, 2nd, and
          3rd batts.)                                      1173
        7th _bataillon de marche_                           334
        5th Portuguese infantry                             265
        Portuguese Cazadores                                288 =   2060

  (3) Column of Colonel Piré (arrived June 29):
        3rd of the Vistula (1st and 2nd batts.)            1332
        National Guards _d’élite_ (two batts.)              971
        3rd, 8th, and 9th _escadrons de marche_             275 =   2578

  (4) Bazancourt’s Brigade (arrived August 1):
        14th of the line (1st and 2nd batts.)              1488
        44th ditto (1st and 2nd batts.)                    1614
        11th _escadron de marche_                           205 =   3307

  (5)  Artillery and train                                  561 =    561
                                            Total                 15,535

  These are mainly Belmas’s figures. He mentions a battalion of
  the 16th of the line as present at the great assault. There
  must be some error here, as that regiment was not in Spain. It
  is probably a misprint for the 70th of the line, which is not
  mentioned by him as present, though it certainly was so.

It was at this moment, apparently, that Verdier sent in a
_parlementaire_ with the laconic note--‘Head Quarters, Santa Engracia.
Capitulation?’ To which Palafox returned the well-known reply--‘Head
Quarters, Saragossa. War to the knife[128].’

  [128] The story sounds theatrical, but is vouched for by good
  authorities, Vaughan and Palafox himself, who chose the words
  for the type of the reverse of the medal that was issued to the
  defenders of Saragossa (see Arteche, ii. 394).

All through the afternoon of the fourth of August, the French slowly
pushed their way up the streets which lead northward towards the
Coso, the main thoroughfare of Saragossa. They could only get forward
by storming each house, and turning each barricade that offered
resistance, so that their progress was very slow. While inflicting
terrible losses on the Spaniards, they were also suffering very heavily
themselves. But they drove a broad wedge into the city, till finally
they reached and crossed the Coso, halfway between the southern wall
and the river. In the streets beyond the Coso their impetus seemed to
have exhausted itself: many of the men were too tired to press forward
any longer; others turned aside to plunder the churches and the better
sort of houses[129]. Verdier tried to cut his way to the great bridge,
so as to divide the defenders into two separate bodies, and was so far
successful that many of the Spaniards began to troop off across the
river into the suburb of San Lazaro. But he himself was wounded, his
main column lost its way in the narrow side-streets, and the attack
died down.

  [129] Napier maintains (i. 45) that the city was saved only
  because the French fell to pillaging, a contention which seems
  very unjust to the Saragossans.

In the late afternoon there was almost a suspension of hostilities, and
the firing slackened for a space. But at last the Aragonese, encouraged
by the exhaustion of their enemies, began to resume the offensive.
The fugitives who had crossed to the northern side of the Ebro were
hustled together and driven back by their leaders, while a loaded gun
was placed on the bridge to prevent their return. The garrison of
the eastern front, which had not been seriously attacked, sent all
the reinforcements that it could spare into the centre of the town.
At dusk masses of Spaniards debouched from the neighbourhood of the
two cathedrals, and began to assail the positions held by the French
beyond the line of the Coso. The first charge into the open street is
recorded to have been led by a monk[130] and sixteen peasants, every
one of whom were killed or wounded; but endless reinforcements poured
out of every lane, and the exhausted French began to lose ground.
The fighting was of that deadly sort in which the question has to be
settled, whether the defenders of the houses in a street can shoot down
their assailants, exposed in the roadway, before the latter can burst
into each separate dwelling and exterminate its garrison in detail.
Often the French held the upper stories long after the Spaniards had
seized the ground floor, and the staircases had to be stormed one after
the other. It was natural that in such struggles the defenders should
receive no quarter. Though the fight raged with many variations of
fortune in all the central parts of the city, there was after a time
no doubt that the Aragonese were gaining ground. The French detachments
which had penetrated furthest into the place were gradually cut off and
exterminated; the main bodies of the columns drew back and strengthened
themselves in two large stone buildings, the convents of San Francisco
and San Diego. At nightfall they retained only a wedge-like section of
the city, whose apex near San Francisco just touched the southern side
of the Coso, while its base was formed by the line of wall between the
gates of Santa Engracia and the Carmen.

  [130] Perhaps his name, Fray Ignacio de Santaromana, deserves as
  much remembrance as that of Agostina. His conduct in a critical
  moment was just as inspiring and told as much as hers (see
  Arteche, ii. 406).

The French had lost nearly 2,000 men in the struggle: the engineer
Belmas gives the total as 462 killed and 1,505 wounded[131], more than
a fifth of the troops which had actually been engaged in the assault.
Among the Saragossans, who before the street-fighting began had been
subjected to a severe bombardment for many hours, the casualties must
have been nearly as great. But they could spare combatants more easily
than their enemies: indeed they had more men than muskets, and as each
defender fell there was a rush of the unarmed to get possession of his

  [131] Arteche accuses Belmas of giving only 505 wounded,
  remarking that Verdier stated the higher number of 900. But my
  edition of Belmas (Paris, 1836) distinctly says ‘quinze cent
  cinq blessés’ (ii. 64). Napier gives no figures at all: Thiers,
  understating French losses in his usual style, speaks of 300 dead
  and 900 wounded.

During the night of August 4-5 both sides, fatigued though they were,
set to work to cover themselves with barricades and works constructed
with the débris of ruined houses. In the morning both French and
Spaniards had rough but continuous lines of defence, those of the
latter circling round those of the former, with nothing but the
width of a narrow street between them. Wherever there was anything
approaching an open space cannon had been brought up to sweep it. Where
the houses still stood firm, communications had been made between them
by breaking holes through the party walls. In the streets the corpses
of both sides lay thick, for under the deadly cross-fire no one dared
venture out to remove them: in a day or two the sanitary conditions
would be horrible.

Meanwhile both besiegers and besieged were too exhausted to undertake
any more serious operations, and the fighting sank to little more than
a desultory fusillade between enemies equally well protected by their
defences. Such interest as there was in the operations of August 5-6
lay outside the walls of Saragossa. On the afternoon of the day of
the great assault a column of Spanish troops from Catalonia--two line
battalions and 2,000 or 3,000 new levies and armed peasants--arrived at
Villamayor on the north of the Ebro, only seven miles from the city.
It escorted a much-desired convoy of ammunition, for the supplies in
the city were running very low. While the fighting was still raging
in the streets Palafox rode out of the suburb of San Lazaro with 100
dragoons and joined this force. On the next morning (August 5) he
skirmished with the French troops which lay beyond the Ebro, and passed
into the city one veteran battalion and a few wagons of munitions. He
then proposed to attack the detached French brigade (that of Piré)
with his whole remaining force on the next day, in order to clear the
northern front, and to send the rest of his convoy--no less than 200
wagons--into Saragossa. But on the same night he received news of the
battle of Baylen and the surrender of Dupont’s army. Moreover, he was
informed that a division of the army of Valencia, under Saint-March,
was on the way to reinforce him. This induced him to halt for two days,
to see whether the French would not raise the siege without further

Verdier had got the same intelligence at the same hour, with orders
to be ready to retreat at a moment’s notice, and to avoid entangling
himself in further engagements. He was preparing to withdraw, when on
the seventh he received supplementary dispatches from Madrid, with
directions to hold on for the present, and to keep the Saragossans
occupied, without, however, compromising himself too much. Accordingly
he resumed the bombardment, and began to throw into the city an immense
number of shells: for he saw that when his retreat was definitely
ordered, he would not be able to carry off with him the vast stores of
munitions that he had accumulated in his camp.

  [Illustration: Saragossa.]

Seeing that the French did not move, Palafox attacked the covering
force on the left bank of the Ebro on August 8. His enemies were very
inferior in numbers and had been told not to risk anything, considering
the delicate state of affairs. Accordingly the relieving force crossed
the river Gallego, pushed back Piré’s 2,000 men in a long skirmishing
fight, and ultimately established themselves on ground just outside
the suburb of San Lazaro: the convoy, under cover of the fighting,
successfully entered the city over the great bridge. That night Verdier
withdrew Piré’s brigade across the river, thus leaving the whole
northern front of the place free from blockade. Clearly this could only
mean that he was about to raise the siege, but for five days more he
continued to ravage the central parts of the city with his bombs, and
to bicker at the barricades with the Saragossans. But on the thirteenth
the Spaniards noted that his camps seemed to be growing empty, and on
the fourteenth a series of explosions told them that he was abandoning
his siege works. Santa Engracia and the other points held inside the
city were all destroyed on that day, and the ammunition which could not
be carried off was blown up. The guns which had been pressed forward
into the ruined streets were spiked and left behind, as it would have
been impossible to extricate them under the Spanish fire. Of those in
the outer batteries some were thrown into the canal, others disabled by
having their trunnions knocked off, others merely spiked. Altogether
no less than fifty-four pieces, all more or less injured, but many
susceptible of repair, were left behind to serve as trophies for the

Finally Verdier withdrew by slow marches up the Ebro to Tudela, where
he took post on August 17. He had lost in all over 3,500 men in his
long-continued struggle with the heroic city. The Aragonese must have
suffered at least as much, but the figures are of course impossible to
verify. They said that their casualties amounted to no more than 2,000,
but this must surely be an understatement, for Palafox says that by
August 1 there were of his original 7,000 levies only 3,500 left under
arms. Even allowing for heavy diminution by desertion and dispersion,
this implies very serious losses in action, and these seven Aragonese
battalions formed only a part of the garrison, which counted 13,000 men
on August 13. Probably the unembodied citizens and peasants suffered
in a still heavier proportion than troops which had received even a
small measure of organization. If the whole losses came to 4,500 it
would not be surprising--but nothing can be stated with certainty.
Yet whatever were their sufferings, the Saragossans had turned over
a new page in the history of the art of war. They had defended for
two months an unfortified place, by means of extemporized barricades,
retrenchments, and earthworks, and had proved their ability to resist
even a formidable train of siege artillery. If the news of Dupont’s
disaster had not arrived in time to save them, they would no doubt have
succumbed in the end, as must any besieged place which is not sooner or
later relieved from the outside. But meanwhile they had accomplished
a rare feat: almost unaided by regular troops, almost destitute of
trained artillerymen and engineers, they had held at bay a force which
Napoleon at the commencement of the siege would have supposed to be
equal to the task of conquering not only Aragon, but the whole eastern
side of the Iberian Peninsula.



While Lefebvre-Desnouettes and Verdier were making their long series of
attacks on Saragossa, matters were coming to a head in the north-west
of Spain. The army of Galicia had at last descended into the plains,
and commenced to threaten the right flank of Bessières and the
communications between Burgos and Madrid. This forward movement was due
neither to the Galician Junta, nor to the officer whom they had placed
in command of their army, but to the obstinate persistence of Cuesta,
who had not in the least learnt the lesson of caution from his defeat
at Cabezon, and was eager to fight a pitched battle with all the forces
that could be collected in Northern Spain.

The resources at hand were not inconsiderable: in Galicia, or on the
way thither from Portugal, were no less than thirty-nine battalions
of regular infantry--though most of them were very weak: there were
also thirteen battalions of embodied militia, some thirty guns, and a
handful of cavalry (not more than 150 sabres). The Junta had placed
in command, after the murder of the captain-general Filanghieri, a
comparatively young general--Joachim Blake, one of those many soldiers
of fortune of Irish blood who formed such a notable element in the
Spanish army. When the insurrection broke out he had been merely
colonel of the regiment named ‘the Volunteers of the Crown’: he had
never had more than three battalions to manage before he found himself
placed at the head of the whole Galician army. Though a most unlucky
general--half a dozen times he seems to have been the victim of ill
fortune, for which he was hardly responsible--Blake was in real merit
far above the average of the Spanish commanders. He had neither the
slackness nor the arrogance which were the besetting sins of so many
of the Peninsular generals: and his dauntless courage was not combined
with recklessness or careless over-confidence. He showed from the first
very considerable organizing power: all his efforts were directed to
the task of inducing the Junta and the people of Galicia to allow him
to draft the crowds of recruits who flocked to his banner into the old
regiments of the line and the militia, instead of forming them into new
corps. With some trouble he carried his point, and was able to bring
up to their full complement most of the old battalions: of new units
very few[132] were created. When he took the field it was only the old
_cadres_ thus brought up to strength that accompanied him, not raw and
unsteady troops of new organization.

  [132] The best known was the _batallon literario_, composed of
  the students of the University of Santiago.

After hastily concentrating and brigading his army at Lugo, Blake led
them to the edge of the mountains which divide Galicia from the plains
of Leon. It was his original intention to stand at bay on the hills,
and force the French to attack him. With this object he occupied the
passes of Manzanal, Fuencebadon, and Puebla de Sanabria, the only
places where roads of importance penetrate into the Galician uplands
[June 23]. His whole field force, distributed into four divisions and a
‘vanguard brigade’ of light troops, amounted to some 25,000 men fit for
the field: in addition, 8,000 or 10,000 new levies were being organized
behind him, but he refused--with great wisdom--to bring them to the
front during his first movements.

On Blake’s left flank were other Spanish troops: the Junta of the
Asturias had raised some 15,000 men: but these--unlike the Galician
army--were utterly raw and untrained. Of old troops there was but one
single militia battalion among them. The Junta had dispersed them in
small bodies all along the eastern and southern side of the province,
arraying them to cover not only the high road from Madrid and Leon to
Oviedo, but every impracticable mule-path that crosses the Cantabrian
Mountains. By this unwise arrangement the Asturian army was weak at
every point: it was impossible to concentrate more than 5,000 men for
the defence of any part of the long and narrow province. The fact was
that the Junta looked solely to the defence of its own land, and had
no conception that the protection of the Asturias should be treated as
only a section of the great problem of the protection of the whole of
Northern Spain.

While the Galicians and the Asturians were taking up this purely
defensive attitude, they had forgotten to reckon with one factor in
their neighbourhood. Right in front of them lay the old Captain-General
of Castile, with the wrecks of the army that had been so signally
routed at Cabezon. He had retired to Benavente on the Esla, and there
had halted, finding that he was not pursued by Lasalle. Here he
reorganized his scattered Castilian levies into three battalions, and
raised three more in the province of Leon. He had still 300 or 400
regular cavalry, but not a single gun. Quite undismayed by his late
defeat, he persisted in wishing to fight in the plain, and began to
send urgent messages both to Blake and to the Juntas of Asturias and
Galicia, begging them to send down their armies from the hills, and
aid him in making a dash at Valladolid, with the object of cutting off
Bessières’ communications with Madrid, and so disarranging the whole
system of Napoleon’s plan for the conquest of Spain.

The Asturians, partly from a well-justified disbelief in Cuesta’s
ability, partly from a selfish desire to retain all their troops for
the defence of their own province, refused to stir. They sent the
Captain-General a modest reinforcement, two battalions of the newly
raised regiment of Covadonga, but refused any more aid. Instead, they
suggested that Cuesta should fall back on Leon and the southern slope
of the Asturian hills, so as to threaten from thence any advance of the
French into the plains of Leon.

But the Galician Junta showed themselves less unyielding. Despite of
the remonstrances of Blake, who was set on maintaining the defensive,
and holding the passes above Astorga, they consented to allow their
army to move down into the plain of Old Castile and to join Cuesta.
After some fruitless remonstrances Blake moved forward with the bulk of
his host, leaving behind him his second division to hold the passes,
while with the other three and his vanguard brigade he marched on
Benavente [July 5].

On July 10 the armies of Galicia and Castile met at Villalpando, and a
brisk quarrel at once broke out between their commanders. Cuesta was
for attacking the French at once: Blake pointed out that for an army
with no more than thirty guns and 500 or 600 cavalry to offer battle
in the plains was sheer madness. The Irish general had the larger
and more effective army, but Cuesta was thirteen years his senior as
lieutenant-general, and insisted on assuming command of the combined
host in accordance with the normal rules of military precedence. After
some fruitless resistance Blake yielded, and the whole Spanish army
moved forward on Valladolid: all that Cuesta would grant on the side
of caution was that the third Galician division, 5,000 strong, should
be left as a reserve at Benavente. Even this was a mistake: if the two
generals were to fight at all, they should have put every available man
in line, and have endeavoured at all costs to induce the Asturians also
to co-operate with them. They might have had in all for the oncoming
battle 40,000 men, instead of 22,000, if the outlying troops had been

A blow from the north-west was precisely what Napoleon at Bayonne
and Savary at Madrid had been expecting for some weeks. Both of them
were perfectly conscious that any check inflicted on Bessières in
Old Castile would wreck the whole plan of invasion. So much of the
marshal’s _corps d’armée_ had been distracted towards Saragossa, that
it was clearly necessary to reinforce him. From Madrid Savary sent up
half of the troops of the Imperial Guard which had hitherto been in
the capital--three battalions of fusiliers (first regiment) and three
squadrons of cavalry[133]. Napoleon afterwards blamed him severely for
not having sent more, saying that from the mass of troops in and about
Madrid he might have spared another complete division--that of Gobert,
the second division of Moncey’s corps. Without its aid the Emperor
half-expected that Bessières might be checked, if the Galicians came
down in full force[134]. He himself sent up from Bayonne nearly all the
troops which were at that moment under his hand, ten veteran battalions
just arrived from Germany, forming the division of General Mouton.

  [133] Oddly enough, in the Duke of Rovigo’s own _Mémoires_ the
  statement is made that these troops arrived too late to fight at
  Rio Seco, a curious error (ii. 248).

  [134] See the dispatch of July 13, to Savary, and that of the
  same day to King Joseph (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,191).

The reinforcements being hurried on to Bessières by forced marches,
that general found himself on July 9 at the head of a force with
which he thought that he might venture to attack Blake and Cuesta. If
they had brought with them all their troops, and had called in the
Asturians, it is probable that the marshal would have found himself too
weak to face them: fortunately for him he had only five-ninths of the
army of Galicia and Cuesta’s miserable levies in front of him. His
own fighting force was formed of odd fragments of all the divisions
which formed his _corps d’armée_: large sections of each of them were
left behind to guard his communications with France, and others were
before Saragossa. Bessières marched from Burgos with the brigade of the
Imperial Guard: at Palencia he picked up Lasalle’s cavalry with half
Mouton’s newly arrived division of veterans (the second brigade was
left at Vittoria) and a small part of Merle’s division, which had been
hastily brought over the mountains from Santander to join him. There
was also present the larger half of Verdier’s division, of which the
rest was now in Aragon with its commander[135].

  [135] Bessières’ army seems to have consisted of the following


  (1) One regiment of the Fusiliers of the Imperial
        Guard (three batts.)                                1,900
  Three squadrons of cavalry of the Imperial Guard                   300

  (2) From Verdier’s Division:
  Ducos’      {13th Provisional Regiment (four batts.)      2,000
  Brigade     {14th Provisional Regiment (one batt.)[a]       500

  Sabathier’s {17th Provisional Regiment (four batts.)    }
  Brigade     {18th Provisional Regiment (four batts.)[b] } 2,800

  (3) From Merle’s Division:
  D’Armagnac’s {47th of the Line (one batt.)[c] }
  Brigade      {3rd Swiss Regiment (one batt.)  }           1,600

  (4) From Mouton’s Division:
  Reynaud’s   {4th Léger (three batts.)         }
  Brigade     {15th of the Line (two batts.)[d] }           3,000

  (5) Lasalle’s Cavalry Brigade:
  10th Chasseurs}
  22nd Chasseurs}                                                    850
                                                           ------  -----
                                                           11,800  1,150

  We may add 750 men for the five batteries of artillery and
  the train, and so get a total strength of 13,700. Napoleon
  (_Corresp._, 14,213) called the force 15,000.

  [a] The other three batts. of the 14th were with Verdier at
  Saragossa. This odd battalion was in the battle attached to
  D’Armagnac’s brigade. Merle was given Ducos’ and D’Armagnac’s
  brigades to make up a division.

  [b] These battalions were much weakened by detachments.

  [c] A very strong battalion: it was 1,200 strong on June 1, and
  must still have had 1,000 bayonets.

  [d] Both regiments were incomplete, having dropped men at
  Vittoria and Burgos.

On the evening of July 13, Lasalle’s light cavalry got in touch with
the outposts of the Spaniards near Medina de Rio Seco, and reported
that Blake and Cuesta were present in force. On the next morning
Bessières marched before daybreak from Palencia, and just as the
day was growing hot, discovered the enemy drawn up on rising ground
a little to the east of the small town which has given its name to
the battle. Blake had 15,000 infantry and 150 cavalry with twenty
guns[136]; Cuesta 6,000 infantry and 550 cavalry, but not a single
cannon. They outnumbered Bessières by nearly two to one in foot
soldiery, but had little more than half his number of horse, and only
two-thirds as many guns.

  [136] In the _Vaughan Papers_ I find a ‘Journal of the operations
  of General Blake,’ by some officer of his staff, unnamed. It
  gives the force of the Galician army at Rio Seco as follows:--

                               _Veteran rank and file._

      Gen. Count Maceda       75     81     76   1,678     277  =   2,187
  1st Division:
      Gen. Cagigal           186    194    166   4,795    1315  =   6,470
  4th Division:
      Marquis Portago        188    185    144   3,208    2281  =   5,818
  Head-quarters Guard:
      Volunteers of Navarre   29     30     43     681      --  =     754
                             ---    ---    ---  ------   -----     ------
                             478    490    429  10,362   3,873  =  15,229

  This total only differs by 26 from that given by Arteche (ii. 654).

A more prudent general than Cuesta would have refused to fight at all
with an army containing in its ranks no less than 9,000 recruits, and
almost destitute of cavalry. But if fighting was to be done, a wise man
would at any rate have chosen a good position, where his flanks would
be covered from turning movements and inaccessible to the enemy’s very
superior force of horsemen. The old Captain-General cared nothing for
such caution: he had merely drawn up his army on a gentle hillside,
somewhat cut up by low stone walls, but practicable for cavalry at
nearly every point. His flanks had no protection of any kind from the
lie of the ground: behind his back was the town of Medina de Rio Seco,
and the dry bed of the Sequillo river, obstacles which would tend to
make a retreat difficult to conduct in orderly fashion. But a retreat
was the last thing in Cuesta’s thoughts.

  [Illustration: Battle of Medina de Rio Seco. July 14, 1808.]

Bad as was the position selected, the way in which it was occupied was
still more strange. The Captain-General had divided his host into two
halves, the one consisting of the first division of the army of
Galicia and of the vanguard brigade, the other of the fourth Galician
division and the raw ‘Army of Castile.’ Blake with the first-named
force was drawn up in a short, compact formation, three lines deep,
at the south-eastern front of the hill, the ‘Plateau of Valdecuevas,’
as it is called. His right looked down into the plain, his left, in
the centre of the plateau, stood quite ‘in the air.’ But nearly a mile
to his left rear, and quite out of sight, lay the other half of the
army, just too far off to protect Blake’s exposed flank if it should be
attacked, and in a very bad position for defending itself. Why Cuesta
ranged his left wing (or second line, if it may so be called) low down
on the reverse slope of the plateau, and in a place where it could not
even see Blake’s corps, it is impossible to conceive. Toreño hazards
the guess that, in his arrogant confidence, he placed Blake where he
would have to bear the stress of the battle, and might probably lose
ground, intending to come up himself with the left wing and restore the
fight when his colleague should be sufficiently humbled. Such a plan
would not have been outside the scope of the old man’s selfish pride.

Bessières, marching up from the east, came in sight of the Spaniards
in the early morning. He at once deployed his whole army, and advanced
in battle array over the plain. In front was a slight cavalry screen
of Lasalle’s chasseurs; next came Mouton’s division, deployed to the
right, and Merle’s division, with Sabathier’s brigade, to the left of
the country-road which leads, over the plateau, towards Medina de Rio
Seco. The Imperial Guard, horse and foot, and the bulk of Lasalle’s
cavalry brigade were in reserve behind the centre. On getting near
the enemy’s position, Bessières soon discovered the two halves of the
Spanish army and the broad gap which lay between them. His mind was at
once made up: he proposed to contain Cuesta with a small force, and
to fall upon and envelop Blake with the rest of his army before the
Captain-General of Castile could come to his aid. This excellent plan
was carried out to the letter, thanks to the incapacity of Cuesta.

Not far east of the plateau of Valdecuevas lay an isolated eminence,
the mound of Monclin: on it the marshal drew up the greater part of
his artillery (twenty guns) which began to batter Blake’s front line:
the Galician batteries replied, and held their own though outnumbered
by two to one. Then Sabathier’s eight weak battalions deployed and
commenced a cautious attack upon Blake’s front: this was not to be
pressed home for a time. Meanwhile Merle’s seven battalions pushed into
the fight, continuing Sabathier’s line to the south-west and trying to
envelop Blake’s southern flank. They forced the Galicians to throw back
their right wing, and to keep continually extending it, in order to
avoid being turned. The Spaniards fought not amiss, and for some hour
or more the battle was almost stationary.

Meanwhile, far to the French right, Mouton’s five battalions were
executing a cautious demonstration against Cuesta’s forces, across
the northern folds of the plateau. The old general allowed himself to
be completely occupied by this trifling show of attack, and made no
movement to aid Blake’s wing. The gap between him and his colleague was
not filled up. Then came the sudden development of Bessières’ plan:
Sabathier and Merle were told to attack in earnest, and while Blake was
deeply engaged with their fifteen battalions, Lasalle rode into the
open space on the left of the Galicians, formed up the 22nd _chasseurs
à cheval_ at right angles to the Spanish line, and charged in furiously
upon Blake’s flank. The unfortunate troops on whom the blow fell were
deployed in line, and utterly unprepared for a cavalry shock from the
side. The first battalion which received the attack broke at once and
ran in upon the second[137]: in a few minutes Blake’s whole left wing
fell down like a pack of cards, each corps as it fled sweeping away
that next to it. The French infantry, advancing at the same moment, ran
in with the bayonet, seized the Spanish guns, and hustled the Galicians
westward along the plateau in a mob. Blake’s troops were only saved
from complete destruction by the steadiness of a Navarrese battalion,
which formed square to cover the retreat, and at the cost of one-third
of its strength allowed the other corps to get a long start in their
flight. They retired due west, and crossed the Sequillo to the south of
the town of Rio Seco before they could be rallied.

  [137] The flank battalion which started the rout was the
  ‘Regiment of Buenos Ayres,’ a provisional corps which had been
  formed out of the prisoners lately returned from England, who
  had been captured during our unlucky South American expedition,
  before Whitelock’s final fiasco (see the ‘Journal of Blake’s
  Operations,’ in the _Vaughan Papers_).

It was now the turn of Cuesta to suffer. The moment that Blake was
disposed of, Bessières marched over the hill towards the other half
of the Spanish army: leaving some of Lasalle’s cavalry and Sabathier’s
brigade to pursue the routed corps, he formed the whole of his
remaining troops in a line, bringing up the reserve of the Imperial
Guard to make its centre, while Mouton formed the right wing and the
two brigades of Merle the left. Cuesta, outnumbered and attacked down
hill, would have done wisely to retreat and to seek for shelter in and
behind the town of Rio Seco in his immediate rear. But he had prepared
a new surprise for the enemy; as they descended upon him they were
astonished to see his front line, the eight battalions which formed
the fourth Galician division, form itself into columns of attack and
slowly commence to climb the hill with the object of attacking their
right and centre. Meanwhile Cuesta’s handful of cavalry rode out on
the northern end of the line and fell upon the skirmishers of Mouton’s
division, whom it chased back till it was met and driven off by the
three squadrons of the Imperial Guard.

The uphill charge of the fourth Galician division was a fine but an
utterly useless display of courage. They were attacking nearly double
their own numbers of victorious troops, who outflanked them on both
wings and tore them to pieces with a concentric fire of artillery
to which they could not respond. The regiments at each end of the
line were soon broken up, but in the centre two battalions of picked
grenadiers[138] actually closed with the French, captured four guns
of the Imperial Guard, and forced back the supporting infantry of the
same corps for a short space, till Bessières hurled upon them the three
squadrons of the Guard-Cavalry, which broke them and swept them down
hill again.

  [138] In accordance with the unwise practice prevailing in most
  Continental armies, Blake had massed the grenadier companies of
  all his line regiments into two battalions, to act as a select

Seeing his attack fail, Cuesta bade his last reserve, the raw Castilian
and Leonese levies, retreat behind the river and the town of Medina de
Rio Seco, which they did without much loss, covered to a certain extent
by the two Asturian battalions, the only part of Cuesta’s own force
which was seriously engaged.

The ‘Army of Castile,’ therefore, had no more than 155 casualties, but
the two Galician divisions had suffered heavily. They left behind them
on the field nearly 400 dead, and over 500 wounded, with some 1,200
prisoners. The ten guns of Blake’s wing had all been captured, and with
them several pairs of colours. In addition more than a thousand of the
Galician recruits had dispersed, and could not be rallied. Altogether
Blake’s army had lost over 3,000 men. The French, as might have been
expected, had suffered comparatively little: they had 105 killed and
300 wounded, according to Foy; other historians give even smaller

A vigorous pursuit might have done much further harm to the defeated
Spaniards; but Bessières’ men had been marching since two in the
morning, and fighting all through the mid-day. They were much fatigued,
and their commander did not press the chase far beyond the river.
But the town of Rio Seco was sacked from cellar to garret, with much
slaying of non-combatants and outrages of all kinds[139], a fact very
discreditable to the marshal, who could have stopped the plunder had he

  [139] When Stuart and Vaughan passed through Medina in September,
  they were given many harrowing details by the local authorities.

The defeated generals met, a little to the west of the battle-field,
and after a bitter altercation, in which Blake used the plainest words
about Cuesta’s generalship, parted in wrath. The Galicians retired by
the way they had come, and joined the division which had been left
behind three days before; they then went back to the passes above
Astorga, abandoning a considerable amount of stores at Benavente.
Cuesta took the army of Castile to Leon, retiring on the Asturias
rather than on Galicia.

Bessières’ well-earned victory was creditable to himself and his
troops, but the way had been made easy for him by the astounding
tactical errors of the Captain-General of Castile. The rank and file of
the Spanish army had no reason to be ashamed of their conduct: it was
their commander who should have blushed at the reckless way in which he
had sacrificed his willing troops. Handled by Cuesta the best army in
the world might have been defeated by inferior numbers.

The strategical results of the battle of Rio Seco were great and
far-reaching. All danger of the cutting of the communications between
Madrid and Bayonne was averted, and Napoleon, his mind set at rest
on this point, could now assert that Dupont’s position in Andalusia
was henceforth the only hazardous point in his great scheme of
invasion[140]. It would clearly be a very long time before the army of
Galicia would again dare to take the offensive, and meanwhile Madrid
was safe, and the attempt to conquer Southern Spain could be resumed
without any fear of interruption. Bessières, after such a victory,
was strong enough not to require any further reinforcements from the
central reserve in and about the capital.

  [140] See his remarks in the document of July 21, _Nap.
  Corresp._, 14,223.

The most obvious result of Rio Seco was that King Joseph was now able
to proceed on his way to Madrid, and to enter the city in triumph.
After receiving the homage of the Spanish notables at Bayonne, and
nominating a ministry, he had crossed the frontier on July 9. But he
had been obliged to stop short at Burgos, till Bessières should have
beaten off the attack of Blake and Cuesta: his presence there had been
most inconvenient to the marshal, who had been forced to leave behind
for his protection Rey’s veteran brigade of Mouton’s division, which he
would gladly have taken out to the approaching battle.

When the news of Medina de Rio Seco arrived at Burgos, the usurper
resumed his march on Madrid, still escorted by Rey’s troops. He
travelled by short stages, stopping at every town to be complimented
by reluctant magistrates and corporations, who dared not refuse
their homage. The populace everywhere shut itself up in its houses
in silent protest. Joseph’s state entry into Madrid on July 20 was
the culminating point of the melancholy farce. He passed through the
streets with a brilliant staff, between long lines of French bayonets,
and amid the blare of military music. But not a Spaniard was to be seen
except the handful of courtiers and officials who had accepted the new
government. The attempts of the French to produce a demonstration, or
even to get the town decorated, had met with passive disobedience. Like
Charles of Austria when he entered Madrid in 1710, Joseph Bonaparte
might have exclaimed that he could see ‘a court, but no people’ about
him. But he affected not to notice the dismal side of the situation,
assumed an exaggerated urbanity, and heaped compliments and preferment
on the small section of _Afrancesados_ who adhered to him.

The usurper had resolved to give himself as much as possible the air
of a Spanish national king. Of all his Neapolitan court he had brought
with him only one personage, his favourite Saligny, whom he had made
Duke of San Germano. The rest of his household was composed of nobles
and officials chosen from among the herd which had bowed before him at
Bayonne. There were among them several of the late partisans of King
Ferdinand, of whom some had frankly sold themselves to his supplanter,
while others (like the Duke of Infantado) were only looking for an
opportunity to abscond when it might present itself. The first list
of ministers was also full of names that were already well known in
the Spanish bureaucracy. Of the cabinet of Ferdinand VII, Cevallos the
minister of Foreign Affairs, O’Farrill at the War Office, Piñuela at
the ministry of Justice, were base enough to accept the continuation
of their powers by the usurper. Urquijo, who took the Secretaryship of
State, was an old victim of Godoy’s, who had once before held office
under Charles IV. Mazarredo, who was placed at the ministry of Marine,
was perhaps the most distinguished officer in the Spanish navy. But
Joseph imagined that his greatest stroke of policy was the appointment
as minister of the Interior of Gaspar de Jovellanos, the most prominent
among the Spanish liberals, whose reputation for wisdom and patriotism
had cost him a long imprisonment during the days of the Prince of the
Peace. The idea was ingenious, but the plan for strengthening the
ministry failed, for Jovellanos utterly refused to take office along
with a clique of traitors and in the cabinet of a usurper. Yet even
without him, the body of courtiers and officials whom Joseph collected
was far more respectable, from their high station and old experience,
than might have been expected--a fact very disgraceful to the Spanish

In less troublous times, and with a more legitimate title to the
crown, Joseph Bonaparte might have made a very tolerable king. He
was certainly a far more worthy occupant of the throne than any of
the miserable Spanish Bourbons: but he was not of the stuff of which
successful usurpers are made. He was a weak, well-intentioned man, not
destitute of a heart or a conscience: and as he gradually realized all
the evils that he had brought on Spain by his ill-regulated ambition,
he grew less and less satisfied with his position as his brother’s
tool. He made long and untiring efforts to conciliate the Spaniards,
by an unwavering affability and mildness, combined with a strict
attention to public business. Unfortunately all his efforts were
counteracted by his brother’s harshness, and by the greed and violence
of the French generals, over whom he could never gain any control. It
is a great testimony in his favour that the Spanish people despised
rather than hated him: their more violent animosity was reserved for
Napoleon. His nominal subjects agreed to regard him as a humorous
character: they laughed at his long harangues, in which Neapolitan
phrases were too often mixed with the sonorous Castilian: they insisted
that he was blind of one eye--which did not happen to be the case.
They spoke of him as always occupied with the pleasures of the table
and with miscellaneous amours--accusations for which there was a very
slight foundation of fact. They insisted that he was a coward and a
sluggard--titles which he was far from meriting. He was, they said,
perpetually hoodwinked, baffled, and bullied, alike by his generals,
his ministers, and his mistresses. But they never really hated him--a
fact which, considering the manner of his accession, must be held to be
very much to his credit.

But the first stay of the ‘Intrusive King,’ as the Spaniards called
him, in his capital, was to be very short. He had only arrived there
on July 20: his formal proclamation took place on the twenty-fourth.
He had hardly settled down in the royal palace, and commenced a
dispute with the effete ‘Council of Castile’--which with unexpected
obstinacy refused to swear the oath to him and to the constitution of
Bayonne--when he was obliged to take to flight. On the twenty-fourth
rumours began to be current in Madrid that a great disaster had taken
place in Andalusia, and that Dupont’s army had been annihilated. On the
twenty-eighth the news was confirmed in every particular. On August 1,
the King, the court, and the 20,000 French troops which still remained
in and about the capital, marched out by the northern road, and took
their way towards the Ebro. This retreat was the result of a great
council of war, in which the energetic advice of Savary, who wished to
fight one more battle in front of the capital, with all the forces that
could be concentrated, was overruled by the King and the majority of
the generals. ‘A council of war never fights,’ as has been most truly



We left General Dupont at Andujar, on the upper course of the
Guadalquivir, whither he had retired on June 19 after evacuating
Cordova. Deeply troubled by the interruption of his communications
with Madrid, and by the growing strength displayed by the Spanish army
in his front, he had resolved that it was necessary to draw back to
the foot of the Sierra Morena, and to recover at all costs his touch
with the main French army in the capital. He kept sending to Murat (or
rather to Savary, who had now superseded the Grand-Duke) persistent
demands for new orders and for large reinforcements. Most of his
messengers were cut off on the way by the insurgents, but his situation
had become known at head quarters, and was engrossing much of Savary’s
attention--more of it indeed than Napoleon approved. The Emperor wrote
on July 13 that the decisive point was for the moment in Castile, and
not in Andalusia, and that the best way to strengthen Dupont was to
reinforce Bessières[141].

  [141] See Foy (iv. 45), and _Nap. Corresp._, 14,192, where the
  Emperor goes so far as to say: ‘Si le Général Dupont éprouvait
  un échec, cela ait de peu de conséquence. Il n’aurait d’autre
  résultat que de lui faire repasser les montagnes’ (i.e. the
  Sierra Morena).

Such had not been Savary’s opinion: frightened at the isolation in
which Dupont now lay, he sent to his assistance the second division
of his corps, 6,000 men under General Vedel, all recruits of the
‘legions of reserve,’ save one single battalion of Swiss troops. The
division was accompanied by Boussard’s cavalry, the 6th Provisional
Dragoons, some 600 strong. Vedel made his way through La Mancha without
difficulty, but on entering the Despeña Perros defiles found his
passage disputed by a body of insurgents--2,000 peasants with four
antique cannon--who had stockaded themselves in the midst of the pass.
A resolute attack scattered them in a few minutes, and on reaching La
Carolina on the southern slope of the mountains Vedel got in touch
with Dupont, who had hitherto no notice of his approach [June 27].

Instead of leaving the newly arrived division to guard the passes,
Dupont called it down to join him in the valley of the Guadalquivir.
With the assistance of Vedel’s troops he considered himself strong
enough to make head against the Spanish army under Castaños, which was
commencing to draw near to Andujar. Keeping his original force at that
town--a great centre of roads, but a malarious spot whose hospitals
were already crowded with 600 sick,--he placed Vedel at Baylen, a
place sixteen miles further east, but still in the plain, though the
foot-hills of the Sierra Morena begin to rise just behind it. To
assert himself and strike terror into the insurgents, Dupont ordered
one of Vedel’s brigades to make a forced march to Jaen, the capital
of a province and a considerable focus of rebellion. This expedition
scattered the local levies, took and sacked Jaen, and then returned in
safety to Baylen [July 2-3].

Meanwhile Castaños was drawing near: he had now had a month in which to
organize his army. Like Blake in Galicia, he had used the recruits of
Andalusia to fill up the gaps in the depleted battalions of the regular
army. But less fortunate than his colleague in the north, he had not
been able to prevent the Juntas of Seville and Granada from creating a
number of new volunteer corps, and had been obliged to incorporate them
in his field army, where they were a source of weakness rather than of
strength. His total force was some 33,000 or 34,000 men, of whom 2,600
were cavalry, for in this arm he was far better provided than was the
army of the North. The whole was organized in four divisions, under
Generals Reding, Coupigny, Felix Jones (an Irish officer, in spite of
his Welsh name), and La Peña. In addition there was a flying brigade of
new levies under Colonel Cruz-Murgeon, which was pushed forward along
the roots of the mountains, at a considerable distance in front of the
main body: it was ordered to harass Dupont’s northern flank and to cut
his communications with Baylen and La Carolina.

With 16,000 or 17,000 men, including nearly 3,500 cavalry, Dupont
ought to have been able to contain Castaños, if not to beat him.
The proportion of his forces to those of the enemy was not much
less than that which Bessières had possessed at Medina de Rio Seco.
But, unfortunately for himself and his master, Dupont was far from
possessing the boldness and the skill of the marshal. By assuming not
a vigorous offensive but a timid defensive along a protracted front,
he threw away his chances. The line which he had resolved to hold was
that of the Upper Guadalquivir, from Andujar to the next passage up
the river, the ferry of Mengibar, eight miles from Baylen. This gave a
front of some fifteen miles to hold: but unfortunately even when drawn
out to this length the two divisions of Barbou and Vedel did not cover
all the possible lines of attack which Castaños might adopt. He might
still march past them and cut them off from the defiles of the Morena,
by going a little higher up the river and crossing it near Baeza and
Ubeda. Dupont was wrong to take this line of defence at all: unless he
was prepared to attack the army of Andalusia in the open, he should
have retired to Baylen or to La Carolina, where he would have been able
to cover the passes for as long as he might choose, since he could not
have had either of his flanks turned.

Meanwhile he was gratified to hear that further reinforcements were
being sent to him. Unreasonably disquieted about Andalusia, as Napoleon
thought, Savary proceeded to send a third division to aid Dupont. This
was Gobert’s, the second of Moncey’s corps: it started from Madrid
not quite complete, and left strong detachments at the more important
towns along the road through La Mancha. Though originally seventeen
battalions strong, it reached the northern slope of the Sierra Morena
with only ten. Savary had not intended it to go any further: he had
told Dupont that it was to be used to cover his retreat, if a retreat
became necessary, but not for active operations in Andalusia. But
disregarding these directions Dupont commanded Gobert to cross the
Morena and come down to join Vedel: this he did, bringing with him
nine ‘provisional battalions[142]’ and the second provisional regiment
of cuirassiers, perhaps 5,000 men in all. There were now over 20,000
French on the south side of the mountain, a force amply sufficient to
deal with Castaños and his 33,000 Andalusians [July 7]. But they were
still widely scattered. Dupont lay at Andujar with 9,000 or 10,000
sabres and bayonets: Vedel was sixteen miles away at Baylen, with 6,000
men, of whom 2,000 under General Liger-Belair were pushed forward to
the ferry of Mengibar. Gobert was at La Carolina, at the foot of the
passes, with five battalions about him, and a sixth encamped on the
summit of the defile. He had sent forward the remainder of his division
(the four battalions of the sixth provisional regiment, and half the
second provisional cuirassiers) to join Dupont at Andujar, so that he
had not more than 2,800 bayonets and 350 cavalry with him.

  [142] Of Gobert’s division the 5th provisional regiment and
  the Irish battalion never marched south. The 6th, 7th, and 8th
  provisional regiments--twelve battalions--formed the column;
  they left one battalion at Madridejos, another at Manzanares.
  One more remained in the pass at the Puerto del Rey; nine and
  the cuirassiers (700 strong) descended into the plains. See for
  details Cabany’s _Baylen_, p. 115.

Castaños, meanwhile, had brought up his whole army, with the exception
of the flying corps of Cruz-Murgeon, to a line close in front of
Andujar: the heads of his columns were at Arjona and Arjonilla, only
five miles from Dupont. On July 11 the Spanish generals held a council
of war at Porcuña, and drew out their plan of operations. Since the
enemy seemed to be still quiescent, they resolved to attack him in
his chosen position behind the river. Castaños, in person--with the
divisions of Jones and La Peña, 12,000 strong--undertook to keep
Dupont employed, by delivering an attack on Andujar, which he did not
intend to press home unless he got good news from his second and third
columns. Meanwhile, six miles up the river, Coupigny with the second
division, nearly 8,000 strong, was to attempt to cross the Guadalquivir
by the ford of Villa Nueva. Lastly, Reding with the first division, the
best and most numerous of the whole army, 10,000 strong, was to seize
the ferry of Mengibar and march on Baylen. Here he was to be joined by
Coupigny, and the two corps were then to fall upon the rear of Dupont’s
position at Andujar, while Castaños was besetting it in front. It was
their aim to surround and capture the whole of the French division,
if its general did not move away before the encircling movement was
complete. Meanwhile the flying column of Cruz-Murgeon, about 3,000
strong, was to cross the Guadalquivir below Andujar, throw itself into
the mountains in the north, and join hands with Reding and Coupigny
behind the back of Dupont.

This plan, though ultimately crowned with success, was perilous in the
highest degree. But Castaños had seriously underestimated the total
force of Dupont, as well as misconceived his exact position. He was
under the impression that the main body of the French, which he did
not calculate at more than 12,000 or 14,000 men, was concentrated at
Andujar, and that there were nothing more than weak detachments at
Mengibar, Baylen, or La Carolina. These, he imagined, could not stand
before Reding, and when the latter had once got to the northern bank of
the river, he would easily clear the way for Coupigny to cross. But as
a matter of fact Vedel had 6,000 men at Mengibar and Baylen, with 3,000
more under Gobert within a short march of him. If the Spanish plan had
been punctually carried out, Reding should have suffered a severe check
at the hands of these two divisions, while Dupont could easily have
dealt with Castaños at Andujar. Coupigny, if he got across at Villa
Nueva, while the divisions on each side of him were beaten off, would
have been in a very compromised position, and could not have dared to
push forward. But in this curious campaign the probable never happened,
and everything went in the most unforeseen fashion.

On July 13 the Spanish plan began to be carried out, Reding marching
for Mengibar and Coupigny for Villa Nueva. Castaños kept quiet at
Arjonilla, till his lieutenants should have reached the points which
they were to attack. On the same day Dupont received the news of
Moncey’s repulse before Valencia, and made up his mind that he must
persevere in his defensive attitude, without making any attempt to
mass his troops and fall upon the enemy in his front[143]. Just at
the moment when his enemies were putting the game into his hands, by
dividing themselves into three columns separated from each other by
considerable gaps, he relinquished every intention of taking advantage
of their fault.

  [143] Dupont considered that Savary’s intention was to stop
  all offensive movements whatever: ‘Le général-en-chef me fait
  entrevoir que nous aurons peut-être à garder notre position
  jusqu’à ce que Valence et Saragosse soient soumises’ (Dupont to
  Vedel, July 13).

On July 14 Reding appeared in front of the ferry of Mengibar, and
pushed back beyond the river the outlying pickets of Liger-Belair’s
detachment. He made no further attempt to press the French, but Dupont,
disquieted about an attack on this point, ordered Gobert to bring down
the remains of his division to Baylen, to join Vedel. Next morning
the Spaniards began to develop their whole plan: Castaños appeared
on a long front opposite Andujar, and made a great demonstration
against the position of Dupont, using all his artillery and showing
heads of columns at several points. Coupigny came down to the river
at Villa Nueva, and got engaged with a detachment which was sent
out from Andujar to hold the ford. Reding, making a serious attempt
to push forward, crossed the Guadalquivir at Mengibar and attacked
Liger-Belair. But Vedel came up to the support of his lieutenant, and
when the Swiss general found, quite contrary to his expectation, a
whole division deployed against him, he ceased to press his advance,
and retired once more beyond the river.

Nothing decisive had yet happened: but the next day was to be far more
important. The operations opened with two gross faults made by the
French: Dupont had been so much impressed with the demonstration made
against him by Castaños, that he judged himself hopelessly outnumbered
at Andujar, and sent to Vedel for reinforcements. He bade him send a
battalion or two, or even a whole brigade, if the force that he had
fought at Mengibar seemed weak and unenterprising[144]. This was an
error, for Castaños only outnumbered the French at Andujar by two or
three thousand men, and was not really to be feared. But Vedel made a
worse slip: despising Reding overmuch, he marched on Baylen, not with
one brigade, but with his whole division, save the original detachment
of two battalions under Liger-Belair which remained to watch Mengibar.
Starting at midnight, he reached Andujar at two on the afternoon of
the sixteenth, to find that Castaños had done no more than repeat his
demonstration of the previous day, and had been easily held back.
Cruz-Murgeon’s levies, which the Spanish general had pushed over the
river below Andujar, had received a sharp repulse when they tried to
molest Dupont’s flank. Coupigny had made an even feebler show than his
chief at the ford of Villa Nueva, and had not passed the Guadalquivir.

  [144] Dupont to Vedel, evening of July 15.

But Reding, on the morning of the sixteenth, had woken up to unexpected
vigour. He had forded the river near Mengibar, and fallen on
Liger-Belair’s detachment for the second time. Hard pressed, the French
brigadier had sent for succour to Baylen, whither Gobert had moved down
when Vedel marched for Andujar. The newly arrived general came quickly
to the aid of the compromised detachment, but he was very weak, for he
had left a battalion at La Carolina and sent another with a squadron
of cuirassiers to Liñares, to guard against a rumoured movement of
the Spaniards along the Upper Guadalquivir. He only brought with him
three battalions and 200 cavalry, and this was not enough to contain
Reding. The 4,000 men of the two French detachments were outnumbered
by more than two to one; they suffered a thorough defeat, and Gobert
was mortally wounded. His brigadier, Dufour, who took over the command,
fell back on Baylen, eight miles to the rear. Next morning, though not
pressed by Reding, he retired towards La Carolina, to prevent himself
being cut off from the passes, for he credited a false rumour that the
Spaniards were detaching troops by way of Liñares to seize the Despeña

Dupont heard of Gobert’s defeat on the evening of the sixteenth. It
deranged all his plans, for it showed him that the enemy were not
massed in front of Andujar, as he supposed, but had a large force
far up the river. Two courses were open to him--either to march on
Baylen with his whole army in order to attack Reding, and to reopen
the communications with La Carolina and the passes, or to fall upon
Castaños and the troops in his immediate front. An enterprising officer
would probably have taken the latter alternative, and could not have
failed of success, for the whole French army in Andalusia save the
troops of Belair and Dufour was now concentrated at Andujar, and not
less than 15,000 bayonets and 3,000 sabres were available for an attack
on Castaños’ 12,000 men[145]. Even if Coupigny joined his chief, the
French would have almost an equality in numbers and a great superiority
in cavalry and guns. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the
Spaniards would have suffered a defeat, and then it would have been
possible to expel Reding from Baylen without any danger of interference
from other quarters.

  [145] Dupont’s available force at this moment consisted of the
  following troops. The numbers given are their original strength,
  from which deductions must of course be made:--

  Infantry--Barbou’s Division:

  Chabert’s    { 4th Legion of Reserve (three batts.)              3,084
  Brigade      { 4th Swiss Regiment (one batt.)                      709
               { Marines of the Guard (one batt.)                    532

  Pannetier’s  { 3rd Legion of Reserve (two batts.)                2,057
  Brigade      { Garde de Paris (two batts.)                       1,454

  Schramm’s    } Swiss regiments of Reding and Preux (four batts.) 2,000
  Brigade      }

    Vedel’s Division:

  Poinsot’s    { 5th Legion of Reserve (three batts.)              2,695
  Brigade      { 3rd Swiss Regiment                                1,174

  Cassagnes’   { 1st Legion of Reserve (one batt.) [two batts.
  Brigade      {   detached under Liger-Belair]                    1,003

    From Gobert’s Division:
      6th Provisional Regiment (four batts.)                       1,851

  Cavalry--Frésia’s Division:

  Privé’s      { 1st Provisional Dragoons                            778
  Brigade      { 2nd ditto                                           681

  Dupré’s      { 1st Provisional _Chasseurs à Cheval_                556
  Brigade      { 2nd ditto                                           623

  Boussard’s   { 6th Provisional Dragoons                            620
  Brigade      {

    From Rigaud’s Brigade:
      Half the 2nd Provisional Cuirassiers                           341
  Artillery, &c. (36 guns)                                           900

  Allowing a deduction of 3,000 men for sick and previous losses,
  there remain 15,000 bayonets and 3,000 sabres.

But, in a moment of evil inspiration, Dupont chose to deprive himself
of the advantage of having practically his whole army concentrated
on one spot, and determined to copy the error of the Spaniards by
splitting his force into two equal halves. He resolved to retain his
defensive position in front of Andujar, and to keep there his original
force--Barbou’s infantry and Frésia’s horse. But Vedel with his own
men, the four battalions from Gobert’s division which were at Andujar,
and 600 cavalry, was sent off to Baylen, where he was directed to rally
the beaten troops of Dufour and Liger-Belair, and then to fall upon
Reding and chase him back beyond the Guadalquivir[146].

  [146] ‘Je vous prie, mon cher général, de vous porter le plus
  rapidement possible, sur Baylen, pour y faire votre jonction avec
  le corps qui a combattu aujourd’hui à Mengibar, et qui s’est
  replié sur cette ville.... J’espère que demain l’ennemi sera
  rejeté sur Mengibar, au delà du fleuve, et que les postes de
  Guarroman et de la Caroline resteront en sûreté; ils sont d’une
  grande importance’ (Dupont to Vedel, night of July 16). In these
  orders lies the foundation of the disaster.

On the morning, therefore, of July 17 Vedel set out with some 6,000
men and marched to Baylen. Arriving there he found that Dufour had
evacuated the place, and had hurried on to La Carolina, on the false
hypothesis that Reding had pushed past him to seize the passes. As a
matter of fact the Spaniard had done nothing of the kind: after his
success at Mengibar, he had simply retired to his camp by the river,
and given his men twenty-four hours’ rest. It was a strange way to
employ the day after a victory--but his quiescence chanced to have the
most fortunate effect. Vedel, on hearing that Dufour had hastened
away to defend La Carolina and the passes, resolved to follow him.
He was so inexcusably negligent that he did not even send a cavalry
reconnaissance towards Mengibar, to find out whether any Spanish force
remained there. Had he done so, he would have found Reding’s whole
division enjoying their well-earned siesta! In the direction of La
Carolina and the passes there was no enemy save a small flanking column
of 1,800 raw levies under the Count of Valdecañas, which lay somewhere
near Liñares.

  [Illustration: Battle of Baylen July 19, 1808, at the moment of
    Dupont’s third attack.]

  [Illustration: Part of Andalusia, between Andujar and the Passes.
    July 19, 1808.]

On the night of the seventeenth, Vedel and his men, tired out by a long
march of over twenty miles, slept at Guarroman, halfway between Baylen
and La Carolina. Dufour and Liger-Belair had reached the last-named
place and Santa Elena, and had found no Spaniards near them. On the
morning of the eighteenth Vedel followed them, and united his troops
to theirs. He had then some 10,000 or 11,000 men concentrated in and
about La Carolina, with one single battalion left at Guarroman to keep
up his touch with Dupont. The latter had been entirely deceived by the
false news which Vedel had sent him from Baylen--to the effect that
Reding and his corps had marched for the passes, in order to cut the
French communications with Madrid. Believing the story, he forwarded
to his subordinate an approval of his disastrous movement[147], and
bade him ‘instantly attack and crush the Spanish force before him, and
after disposing of it return as quickly as possible to Andujar, to deal
with the troops of the enemy in that direction.’ Unfortunately, as we
have seen, there was no Spanish corps at all in front of Vedel; but by
the time that he discovered the fact it was too late for him to rejoin
Dupont without a battle[148]. His troops were tired out with two
night marches: there were no supplies of food to be got anywhere but at
La Carolina, and he decided that he must halt for at least twelve hours
before returning to join Dupont.

  [147] ‘J’ai reçu votre lettre de Baylen. D’après le mouvement
  de l’ennemi, le général Dufour a très-bien fait de regagner de
  vitesse sur La Caroline et sur Ste-Hélène, pour occuper la tête
  des gorges. Je vois avec plaisir que vous vous hâtez de vous
  réunir à lui, afin de combattre avec avantage.... Si vous trouvez
  l’ennemi à La Caroline ou sur tout autre point, tâchez de le
  battre, pour venir me rejoindre et repousser ce qui est devant
  Andujar’ (Dupont to Vedel, night of July 17).

  [148] Vedel had now with him the following troops:--

  (1) His own whole division [he had rallied the two detached
        battalions of Liger-Belair]                                6,800

  (2) Nine battalions of Gobert’s division (four from Baylen,
        three which had fought at Mengibar under Dufour, two
        from Liñares and La Carolina)                              4,350

  (3) Cavalry { 6th Provisional Dragoons                             620
              { Half 2nd Provisional Cuirassiers                     340

      Artillery, &c. (18 guns)                                       500

  Deduct 2,500 for losses in action at Mengibar and sick, and about
  10,000 remain.

Meanwhile, on the morning of the eighteenth, Reding’s 9,500 men, of
whom 750 were cavalry, had been joined by Coupigny and the second
Andalusian division, which amounted to 7,300 foot and 500 horse.
Advancing from Mengibar to attack Baylen, they found to their surprise
that the place was unoccupied: Vedel’s rearguard had left it on the
previous afternoon. Reding intended to march on Andujar from the rear
on the next day, being under the full belief that Vedel was still with
Dupont, and that the troops which had retired on La Carolina were only
the fragments of Gobert’s force. For Castaños and his colleagues had
drawn up their plan of operations on the hypothesis that the enemy were
still concentrated at Andujar.

Reding therefore, with some 17,000 men, encamped in and about Baylen,
intending to start at daybreak on July 19, and to fall on Dupont from
behind, while his chief assailed him in front. But already before
the sun was up, musket-shots from his pickets to the west announced
that the French were approaching from that direction. It was with the
head and not with the rear of Dupont’s column that Castaños’ first
and second divisions were to be engaged, for the enemy had evacuated
Andujar, and was in full march for Baylen.

On the night of the seventeenth Dupont had received the news that Vedel
had evacuated Baylen and gone off to the north-east, so that a gap of
thirty miles or more now separated him from his lieutenant. He had
at first been pleased with the move, as we have seen: but presently
he gathered, from the fact that Castaños did not press him, but only
assailed him with a distant and ineffective cannonade, that the main
stress of the campaign was not at Andujar but elsewhere. The Spanish
army was shifting itself eastward, and he therefore resolved that
he must do the same, though he would have to abandon his cherished
offensive position, his entrenchments, and such part of his supplies as
he could not carry with him. Having made up his mind to depart, Dupont
would have done wisely to start at once: if he had gone off early on
the morning of the eighteenth, he would have found Reding and Coupigny
not established in position at Baylen, but only just approaching from
the south. Probably he might have brushed by their front, or even have
given them a serious check, if he had fallen on them without hesitation.

But two considerations induced the French general to wait for the
darkness, and to waste fourteen invaluable hours at Andujar. The first
was that he hoped by moving at night to escape the notice of Castaños,
who might have attacked him if his retreat was open and undisguised.
The second was that he wished to carry off his heavy baggage train:
not only had he between 600 and 800 sick to load on his wagons, but
there was an enormous mass of other impedimenta, mainly consisting of
the plunder of Cordova. French and Spanish witnesses unite in stating
that the interminable file of 500 vehicles which clogged Dupont’s march
was to a very great extent laden with stolen goods[149]. And it was
the officers rather than the men who were responsible for this mass of
slow-moving transport.

  [149] Against Cabany’s defence of Dupont on this point there
  must be set the impression of almost every French witness from
  Napoleon downwards.

It was not therefore till nine in the evening of the eighteenth that
the French general thought fit to move. After barricading and blocking
up the bridge of Andujar--he dared not use gunpowder to destroy it for
fear of rousing Castaños--he started on his night march. He had with
him thirteen battalions of infantry and four and a half regiments of
cavalry, with twenty-four guns, in all about 8,500 foot soldiers and
2,500 horse, allowing for the losses which he had sustained in sick
and wounded during the earlier phases of the campaign[150]. His march
was arranged as follows:--Chabert’s infantry brigade led the van:
then came the great convoy: behind it were the four Swiss battalions
under Colonel Schramm, which had lately been incorporated with the
French army. These again were followed by Pannetier’s infantry brigade
and Dupré’s two regiments of _chasseurs à cheval_. The rearguard
followed at some distance: it was composed of two and a half regiments
of heavy cavalry, placed under the command of General Privé, with
the one veteran infantry battalion which the army possessed, the 500
Marines of the Guard, as also six _compagnies d’élite_ picked from
the ‘legions of reserve.’ From the fact that Dupont placed his best
troops in this quarter, it is evident that he expected to be fighting
a rearguard action, with Castaños in pursuit, rather than to come
into contact with Spanish troops drawn up across his line of march.
He was ignorant that Reding and Coupigny had occupied Baylen on the
previous day--a fact which speaks badly for his cavalry: with 2,500
horsemen about him, he ought to have known all that was going on in his
neighbourhood. Probably the provisional regiments, which formed his
whole mounted force, were incapable of good work in the way of scouting
and reconnaissances.

  [150] Of the troops which we have recapitulated on page 182 there
  still remained with Dupont the whole of Barbou’s infantry, four
  of the five regiments of Frésia’s cavalry (the fifth had marched
  with Vedel), half of the 2nd Provisional Cuirassiers, and the
  two Swiss regiments of Reding and Preux. The original total of
  these corps had been 13,274. There remained about 11,000, for
  that number can be accounted for after the battle. The official
  Spanish dispatch gave 8,242 unwounded prisoners and 2,000

The little town of Baylen is situated in a slight depression of a
saddle-backed range of hills which runs southward out from the Sierra
Morena. The road which leads through it passes over the lowest point in
the watershed, as is but natural: to the north and south of the town
the heights are better marked: they project somewhat on each flank, so
that the place is situated in a sort of amphitheatre. The hill to the
south of Baylen is called the Cerrajon: those to the north the Cerro
del Zumacar Chico, and the Cerro del Zumacar Grande. All three are bare
and bald, without a shrub or tree: none of them are steep, their lower
slopes are quite suitable for cavalry work, and even their rounded
summits are not inaccessible to a horseman. The ground to the west of
them, over which the French had to advance, is open and level for a
mile and a half: then it grows more irregular, and is thickly covered
with olive groves and other vegetation, so that a force advancing over
it is hidden from the view of a spectator on the hills above Baylen
till it comes out into the open. The wooded ground is about two and
a half miles broad: its western limit is the ravine of a mountain
torrent, the Rumblar (or Herrumblar, as the aspirate-loving Andalusians
sometimes call it). The road from Andujar to Baylen crosses this
stream by a bridge, the only place where artillery can pass the rocky
but not very deep depression.

It is necessary to say a few words about the ground eastward from
Baylen, as this too was not unimportant in the later phases of the
battle. Here the road passes through a broad defile rather than a
plain. It is entirely commanded by the heights on its northern side,
where lies the highest ground of the neighbourhood, the Cerro de San
Cristobal, crowned by a ruined hermitage. The difference between the
approach to Baylen from the west and from the east, is that on the
former side the traveller reaches the town through a semicircular
amphitheatre of upland, while by the latter he comes up a V-shaped
valley cut through the hills.

Reding and Coupigny were somewhat surprised by the bicker of musketry
which told them that the French had fallen upon their outposts. But
fortunately for them their troops were already getting under arms,
and were bivouacking over the lower slopes of the hills in a position
which made it possible to extemporize without much difficulty a line
of battle, covering the main road and the approaches to Baylen. They
hastily occupied the low amphitheatre of hills north and south of the
town. Reding deployed to the right of the road, on the heights of the
Cerro del Zumacar Chico, Coupigny to its left on the Cerrajon. Their
force was of a very composite sort--seventeen battalions of regulars,
six of embodied militia, five of new Andalusian levies. The units
varied hopelessly in size, some having as few as 350 men, others as
many as 1,000. They could also dispose of 1,200 cavalry and sixteen
guns. The greater part of the latter were placed in battery on the
central and lowest part of the position, north and south of the high
road and not far in front of Baylen. The infantry formed a semicircular
double line: in front were deployed battalions near the foot of the
amphitheatre of hills; in rear, higher up the slope or concealed behind
the crest, was a second line in columns of battalions. The cavalry were
drawn up still further to the rear. Finally, as a necessary precaution
against the possible arrival of Vedel on the scene from La Carolina,
Reding placed seven battalions far away to the east, on the other side
of Baylen, with cavalry pickets out in front to give timely notice of
any signs of the enemy in this quarter. These 3,500 men were quite out
of the battle as long as Dupont was the only enemy in sight.

Before it was fully daylight General Chabert and his brigade had thrust
back the Spanish outposts. But the strength of the insurgent army was
quite unknown to him: the morning dusk still lay in the folds of the
hills, and he thought that he might possibly have in front of him
nothing but some flying column of insignificant strength. Accordingly,
after allowing the whole of his brigade to come up, Chabert formed a
small line of attack, brought up his battery along the high road to the
middle of the amphitheatre, between the horns of the Spanish position,
and made a vigorous push forward. He operated almost entirely to the
south of the road, where, opposite Coupigny’s division, the hill was
lower and the slope gentler than further north.

To dislodge 14,000 men and twenty guns in position with 3,000 men
and six guns was of course a military impossibility. But Chabert had
the excuse that he did not, and could not, know what he was doing.
His attempt was of course doomed to failure: his battery was blown
to pieces by the Spanish guns, acting from a concentric position,
the moment that it opened. His four battalions, after pushing back
Coupigny’s skirmishing line for a few hundred yards, were presently
checked by the reserves which the Spaniard sent forward. Having come to
a stand they soon had to retire, and with heavy loss. The brigade drew
back to the cover of the olive groves behind it, leaving two dismounted
guns out in the open.

Behind Chabert the enormous convoy was blocking the way as far back as
the bridge of the Rumblar. Five hundred wagons with their two or four
oxen apiece, took up, when strung along the road, more than two and a
half miles. Dupont, who rode up at the sound of the cannon, and now
clearly saw the Spanish line drawn up on a front of two miles north and
south of the road, realized that this was no skirmish but a pitched
battle. His action was governed by the fact that he every moment
expected to hear the guns of Castaños thundering behind him, and to
find that he was attacked in rear as well as in front. He accordingly
resolved to deliver a second assault as quickly as possible, before
this evil chance might come upon him. With some difficulty the Swiss
battalions, Dupré’s brigade of light cavalry, and Privé’s dragoons
pushed their way past the convoy and got into the open. They were
terribly tired, having marched all night and covered fifteen miles
of bad road, but their general threw them at once into the fight:
Pannetier’s brigade and the Marines of the Guard were still far to the
rear, at or near the bridge of the Rumblar.

Dupont’s second attack was a fearful mistake: he should at all costs
have concentrated his whole army for one desperate stroke, for there
was no more chance that 6,000 men could break the Spanish line than
there had been that Chabert’s 3,000 could do so. But without waiting
for Pannetier to come up, he delivered his second attack. The four
Swiss battalions advanced to the north of the road, Chabert’s rallied
brigade to the south of it: to the right of the latter were Privé’s
heavy cavalry, two and a half regiments strong, with whom Dupont
intended to deliver his main blow. They charged with admirable vigour
and precision, cut up two Spanish battalions which failed to form
square in time, and cleared the summit of the Cerrajon. But when,
disordered with their first success, they rode up against Coupigny’s
reserves, they failed to break through. Their own infantry was too far
to the rear to help them, and after a gallant struggle to hold their
ground, the dragoons and cuirassiers fell back to their old position.
When they were already checked, Chabert and Schramm pushed forward to
try their fortune: beaten off by the central battery of the Spanish
line and its infantry supports, they recoiled to the edge of the olive
wood, and there reformed.

The French were now growing disheartened, and Dupont saw disaster
impending over him so closely that he seems to have lost his head, and
to have retained no other idea save that of hurling every man that he
could bring up in fruitless attacks on the Spanish centre. He hurried
up from the rear Pannetier’s brigade of infantry, leaving at the bridge
of the Rumblar only the single battalion of the Marines of the Guard.
At eight o’clock the reinforcements had come up, and the attack was
renewed. This time the main stress was at the northern end of the line,
where Pannetier was thrown forward, with orders to drive Reding’s right
wing off the Cerro del Zumacar Grande, while the other battalions
renewed their assault against the Spanish centre and left. But the
exhausted troops on the right of the line, who had been fighting since
daybreak, made little impression on Coupigny’s front, and Reding’s
last reserves were brought forward to check and hold off the one fresh
brigade of which Dupont could dispose.

The fourth attack had failed. The French general had now but one intact
battalion, that of the Marines of the Guard, which had been left with
the baggage at the bridge over the Rumblar, to protect the rear against
the possible advent of Castaños. As there were still no signs of an
attack from that side, Dupont brought up this corps, ranged it across
the road in the centre of the line, and drew up behind it all that
could be rallied of Chabert’s and Pannetier’s men. The whole formed a
sort of wedge, with which he hoped to break through the Spanish centre
by one last effort. The cavalry advanced on the flanks, Privé’s brigade
to the south, Dupré’s to the north of the road. Dupont himself, with
all his staff around him, placed himself at the head of the marines,
and rode in front of the line, waving his sword and calling to the men
that this time they must cut their way through [12.30 P.M.].

All was in vain: the attack was pressed home, the marines pushed up to
the very muzzles of the Spanish cannon placed across the high road, and
Dupré’s chasseurs drove in two battalions in Reding’s right centre.
But the column could get no further forward: the marines were almost
exterminated: Dupré was shot dead: Dupont received a painful (but not
dangerous) wound in the hip, and rode to the rear. Then the whole
attack collapsed, and the French rolled back in utter disorder to the
olive groves which sheltered their rear. The majority of the rank and
file of the two Swiss regiments in the centre threw up the butts of
their muskets in the air and surrendered--or rather deserted--to the

  [151] That the desertion was pretty general is shown by the
  fact that of 2,000 men of these corps only 308 were recorded as
  prisoners in the Spanish official returns. If 300 more had been
  killed and wounded, 1,400 must have deserted. Hardly any officers
  were among those who went over to the enemy; Schramm, their
  commander, was wounded.

At this moment, just as the firing died down at the front, a lively
fusillade was heard from another quarter. Cruz-Murgeon’s light column,
from the side of the mountains, had come down upon the Rumblar bridge,
and had begun to attack the small baggage-guard[152] which remained
with the convoy. All was up. Cruz-Murgeon was the forerunner of La
Peña, and Dupont had not a man left to send to protect his rear. The
battalions were all broken up, the wearied infantry had cast themselves
down in the shade of the olive groves, and could not be induced even to
rise to their feet. Most of them were gasping for water, which could
not be got, for the stream-beds which cross the field were all dried
up, and only at the Rumblar could a drink be obtained. Not 2,000 men
out of the original 11,000 who had started from Andujar could be got
together to oppose a feeble front to Reding and Coupigny. It was only
by keeping up a slow artillery fire, from the few pieces that had not
been silenced or dismounted, that any show of resistance could be made.
When the attack from the rear, which was obviously impending, should be
delivered, the whole force must clearly be destroyed.

  [152] Three companies of Pannetier’s brigade.

Wishing at least to get some sort of terms for the men whom he had
led into such a desperate position, Dupont at two o’clock sent his
aide-de-camp, Captain Villoutreys, one of the Emperor’s equerries, to
ask for a suspension of hostilities from Reding. He offered to evacuate
Andalusia, not only with his own troops but with those of Vedel and
Dufour, in return for a free passage to Madrid. This was asking too
much, and if the Spanish general had been aware of the desperate state
of his adversary, he would not have listened to the proposal for a
minute. But he did not know that La Peña was now close in Dupont’s
rear, while he was fully aware that Vedel, returning too late from the
passes, was now drawing near to the field from the north. His men were
almost as exhausted as those of Dupont, many had died from sunstroke in
the ranks, and he did not refuse to negotiate. He merely replied that
he had no power to treat, and that all communications should be made
to his chief, who must be somewhere in the direction of Andujar. He
would grant a suspension of arms for a few hours, while a French and a
Spanish officer should ride off together to seek for Castaños.

Dupont accepted these terms gladly, all the more so because La Peña’s
division had at last reached the Rumblar bridge, and had announced its
approach by four cannon-shots, fired at regular intervals, as a signal
to catch Reding’s ear. It was with the greatest difficulty that the
commander of the fourth Andalusian division could be got to recognize
the armistice granted by his colleague; he saw the French at his
mercy, and wanted to fall upon them while they were still in disorder.
But after some argument he consented to halt. Captain Villoutreys,
accompanied by the Spanish Colonel Copons, rode through his lines to
look for Castaños.

The Spanish commander-in-chief had displayed most blameworthy torpidity
on this day. He had let Dupont slip away from Andujar, and did not
discover that he was gone till dawn had arrived. Then, instead of
pursuing at full speed with all his forces, he had sent on La Peña’s
division, while he lingered behind with that of Felix Jones, surveying
the enemy’s empty lines. The fourth division must have marched late
and moved slowly, as it only reached the Rumblar bridge--twelve miles
from Andujar--at about 2 p.m. It could easily have been there by 8 or 9
a.m., and might have fallen upon Dupont while he was delivering one of
his earlier attacks on the Baylen position.

At much the same moment that Villoutreys and Copons reached Castaños
at Andujar, at about five o’clock in the afternoon, the second half
of the French army at last appeared upon the scene. General Vedel had
discovered on the eighteenth that he had nothing to fear from the side
of the passes. He therefore called down all Dufour’s troops, save
two battalions left at Santa Elena, united the two divisions at La
Carolina, and gave orders for their return to Baylen on the following
morning. Leaving the bivouac at five o’clock Vedel, with some 9,000 or
9,500 men, marched down the defile for ten miles as far as the village
of Guarroman, which he reached about 9.30 or 10 a.m.[153] The day was
hot, the men were tired, and though the noise of a distant cannonade
could be distinctly heard in the direction of Baylen, the general told
his officers to allow their battalions two hours to cook, and to rest
themselves. By some inexplicable carelessness the two hours swelled to
four, and it was not till 2 p.m. that the column started out again, to
drop down to Baylen. An hour before the French marched, the cannonade,
which had been growling in the distance all through the mid-day rest,
suddenly died down. Vedel was in nowise disturbed, and is said to have
remarked that his chief had probably made an end of the Spanish corps
which had been blocking the road between them.

  [153] There is some dispute as to the exact hours of Vedel’s
  start and halt: I have adopted, more or less, those given by
  Cabany. Vedel himself, when examined by the court-martial, said
  ‘qu’il ne pouvait pas préciser l’heure,’ which is quite in
  keeping with the rest of his doings.

After this astonishing display of sloth and slackness, Vedel proceeded
along the road for ten miles, till he came in sight of the rear of the
Spanish position at Baylen. His cavalry soon brought him the news that
the troops visible upon the hillsides were enemies: they consisted of
the brigade which Reding had told off at the beginning of the day to
hold the height of San Cristobal and the Cerro del Ahorcado against
a possible attack from the rear. It was at last clear to Vedel that
things had not gone well at Baylen, and that it was his duty to press
in upon the Spaniards, and endeavour to cut his way through to his
chief. He had begun to deploy his troops across the defile, with the
object of attacking both the flanking hills, when two officers with a
white flag rode out towards him. They announced to him that Dupont had
been beaten, and had asked for a suspension of hostilities, which had
been granted. La Peña’s troops had stayed their advance, and he was
asked to do the same.

Either because he doubted the truth of these statements, or because
he thought that his appearance would improve Dupont’s position, Vedel
refused to halt, and sent back the Spanish officers to tell Reding
that he should attack him. This he did with small delay, falling
on the brigade opposed to him with great fury. Boussard’s dragoons
charged the troops on the lower slopes of the Cerro del Ahorcado, and
rode into two battalions who were so much relying on the armistice
that they were surprised with their arms still piled, cooking their
evening meal. A thousand men were taken prisoners almost without firing
a shot[154]. Cassagnes’ infantry attacked the steep height of San
Cristobal with less good fortune: his first assault was beaten off,
and Vedel was preparing to succour him, when a second white flag came
out of Baylen. It was carried by a Spanish officer, who brought with
him De Barbarin, one of Dupont’s aides-de-camp. The general had sent a
written communication ordering Vedel to cease firing and remain quiet,
as an armistice had been concluded, and it was hoped that Castaños
would consent to a convention. The moment that his answer was received
it should be passed on; meanwhile the attack must be stopped and the
troops withdrawn.

  [154] Apparently they were the 1st battalion of the Irlanda
  regiment, and the militia of Jaen, according to the narrative of
  Maupoey and Goicoechea (Arteche, ii. 512).

Vedel obeyed: clearly he could do nothing else, for Dupont was his
hierarchical superior, and, as far as he could see, was still a free
agent. Moreover, De Barbarin told him of the very easy terms which
the commander-in-chief hoped to get from Castaños. If they could be
secured it would be unnecessary, as well as risky, to continue the
attack. For La Peña might very possibly have annihilated the beaten
division before Vedel could force his way to its aid, since horse and
foot were both ‘fought out,’ and there was neither strength nor spirit
for resistance left among them. Vedel therefore was justified in his
obedience to his superior, and in his withdrawal to a point two miles
up the La Carolina road.

Meanwhile Villoutreys, the emissary of Dupont, had reached the camp of
Castaños at Andujar[155] late in the afternoon, and laid his chief’s
proposals before the Spaniard. As might have been expected, they were
declined--Dupont was in the trap, and it would have been absurd to let
him off so easily. No great objection was made to the retreat of Vedel,
but Castaños said that the corps caught between La Peña and Reding must
lay down its arms. Early next morning (July 20) Villoutreys returned
with this reply to the French camp.

  [155] Or, according to some authorities, met Castaños at the
  first post-house out of Andujar, on the Baylen road.

Dupont meanwhile had spent a restless night. He had gone round the
miserable bivouac of his men, to see if they would be in a condition
to fight next morning, in the event of the negotiations failing. The
result was most discouraging: the soldiers were in dire straits for
want of water, they had little to eat, and were so worn out that they
could not be roused even to gather in the wounded. The brigadiers and
colonels reported that they could hold out no prospect of a rally
on the morrow[156]. Only Privé, the commander of the heavy-cavalry
brigade, spoke in favour of fighting: the others doubted whether even
2,000 men could be got together for a rush at the Spanish lines. When
an aide-de-camp, whom Vedel had been allowed to send to his chief,
asked whether it would not be possible to make a concerted attack on
Reding next morning, with the object of disengaging the surrounded
division, Dupont told him that it was no use to dream of any such
thing. Vedel must prepare for a prompt retreat, in order to save
himself; no more could be done.

  [156] No one confesses the demoralization of the French troops
  more than Foy. ‘Dupont voulait combattre encore.... Mais pour
  exécuter des résolutions vigoureuses il fallait des soldats à
  conduire. Or, ces infortunés n’étaient plus des soldats; c’était
  un troupeau dominé par les besoins physiques, sur lequel les
  influences morales n’avaient plus de prise. La souffrance avait
  achevé d’énerver les courages.’

At dawn, nothing having been yet settled, La Peña wrote to Dupont
threatening that if the 1,000 men who had been captured by Vedel on
the previous day were not at once released, he should consider the
armistice at an end, and order his division to advance. The request
was reasonable, as they had been surprised and taken while relying on
the suspension of arms. Dupont ordered his subordinate to send them
back to Reding’s camp. Castaños meanwhile was pressing for a reply to
his demand for surrender: he had brought up Felix Jones’s division
to join La Peña’s in the early morning, so that he had over 14,000
men massed on the right bank of the Rumblar and ready to attack[157].
Dupont was well aware of this, and had made up his mind to surrender
when he realized the hopeless demoralization of his troops. Early in
the morning he called a council of war; the officers present, after a
short discussion, drew up and signed a document in which they declared
that ‘the honour of the French arms had been sufficiently vindicated
by the battle of the previous day: that in accepting the enemy’s terms
the commander-in-chief was yielding to evident military necessity:
that, surrounded by 40,000 enemies, he was justified in averting by
an honourable treaty the destruction of his corps.’ Only the cavalry
brigadier Privé, refused to put his name to the paper, on which
appear the signatures of three generals of division, of the officers
commanding the artillery and engineers, of two brigadiers, and of three
commanders of regiments.

  [157] Namely, 6,600 of La Peña’s men, 5,400 of Jones’s, and 2,500
  or 3,000 of Cruz-Murgeon’s flying column.

After this formality was ended Generals Chabert and Marescot rode out
from the French camp and met Castaños. They had orders to make the
best terms they could: in a general way it was recognized that the
compromised division could not escape surrender, and that Vedel and
Dufour would probably have to evacuate Andalusia and stipulate for a
free passage to Madrid. The Spaniards were not, as it seems, intending
to ask for much more. But while they were haggling on such petty points
as the forms of surrender, and the exemption of officers’ baggage
from search, a new factor was introduced into the discussion. Some
irregulars from the Sierra Morena came to Castaños, bringing with them
as a prisoner an aide-de-camp of Savary[158]. They had secured his
dispatch, which was a peremptory order to Dupont to evacuate Andalusia
with all his three divisions, and fall back towards Madrid. This put
a new face on affairs, for Castaños saw that if he conceded a free
retreat to Vedel and Dufour, he would be enabling them to carry out
exactly the movement which Savary intended. To do so would clearly be
undesirable: he therefore interposed in the negotiations, and declared
that the troops of these two generals should not be allowed to quit
Andalusia by the road which had been hitherto proposed. They must be
sent round by sea to some port of France not immediately contiguous
with the Spanish frontier.

  [158] His name was Captain de Fénelon (Cabany, p. 178).

Chabert and Marescot, as was natural, declaimed vehemently against
this projected change in the capitulation, and declared that it was
inadmissible. But they were answered in even more violent terms by
the turbulent Conde de Tilly, who attended as representative of the
Junta of Seville. He taunted them with their atrocities at the sack
of Cordova, and threatened that if the negotiations fell through no
quarter should be given to the French army. At last Castaños suggested
a compromise: he offered to let Dupont’s troops, no less than those of
Vedel, return to France by sea, if the claim that the latter should be
allowed to retreat on Madrid were withdrawn. This was conceding much,
and the French generals accepted the proposal.

Accordingly Castaños and Tilly, representing the Spaniards, and Chabert
and Marescot, on behalf of Dupont, signed preliminaries, by which it
was agreed that the surrounded divisions should formally lay down
their arms and become prisoners of war, while Vedel’s men should not
be considered to have capitulated, nor make any act of surrender. Both
bodies of men should leave Andalusia by sea, and be taken to Rochefort
on Spanish vessels. ‘The Spanish army,’ so ran the curiously worded
seventh article of the capitulation, ‘guarantees them against all
hostile aggression during their passage.’ The other clauses contain
nothing striking, save some rather liberal permissions to the French
officers to take away their baggage--each general was to be allowed two
wheeled vehicles, each field officer or staff officer one--without its
being examined. This article caught the eye of Napoleon, and has been
noted by many subsequent critics, who have maintained that Dupont and
his colleagues, gorged with the plunder of Cordova, surrendered before
they needed, in order to preserve their booty intact. That they yielded
before it was inevitable we do not believe: but far more anxiety than
was becoming seems to have been shown regarding the baggage. This
anxiety finds easy explanation if the Spanish official statement, that
more than £40,000 in hard cash, and a great quantity of jewellery and
silver plate was afterwards found in the _fourgons_ of the staff and
the superior officers, be accepted as correct[159].

  [159] It will be found in the _Gazeta de Madrid_ of October 9,
  1808. It is stated that 60,000 dollars in silver and 136,000
  dollars in gold, besides much plate and jewellery, were found in
  the _fourgons_ of Dupont and his staff.

The fifteenth clause of the capitulation had contents of still more
doubtful propriety: it was to the effect that as many pieces of church
plate had been stolen at the sack of Cordova, Dupont undertook to make
a search for them and restore them to the sanctuaries to which they
belonged, if they could be found in existence. The confession was so
scandalous, that we share Napoleon’s wonder that such a clause could
ever have been passed by the two French negotiators; if they were aware
that the charge of theft was true (as it no doubt was), shame should
have prevented them from putting it on paper: if they thought it false,
they were permitting a gratuitous insult to the French army to be
inserted in the capitulation.

While the negotiations were going on, Dupont sent secret orders to
Vedel to abscond during the night, and to retreat on Madrid as fast as
he was able. Chabert and Marescot had of course no knowledge of this,
or they would hardly have consented to include that general’s troops in
the convention. In accordance with his superior’s orders, and with the
obvious necessities of the case, Vedel made off on the night of July
20-21, leaving only a screen of pickets in front of his position, to
conceal his departure from the Spaniards as long as was possible. On
the return of his plenipotentiaries to his camp on the morning of the
twenty-first, Dupont learnt, to his surprise and discontent, that they
had included Vedel’s division in their bargain with Castaños. But as
that officer was now far away--he had reached La Carolina at daybreak
and Santa Elena by noon--the commander-in-chief hoped that his troops
were saved.

The anger of the Spaniards at discovering the evasion of the second
French division may easily be imagined. Reding, who was the first to
become aware of it, sent down an officer into Dupont’s camp, with the
message that if Vedel did not instantly return, he should regard the
convention as broken, and fall upon the surrounded troops: he should
give no quarter, as he considered that treachery had been shown, and
that the armistice had been abused. Dupont could not hope to make a
stand, and was at the enemy’s mercy. He directed his chief of the
staff to write an order bidding Vedel to halt, and sent it to him by
one of his aides-de-camp, accompanied by a Spanish officer. This did
not satisfy Reding, who insisted that Dupont should write an autograph
letter of his own in stronger terms. His demand could not be refused,
and the two dispatches reached Vedel almost at the same hour, as he was
resting his troops at Santa Elena before plunging into the passes.

Vedel, as all his previous conduct had shown, was weak and wanting in
initiative. Some of his officers tried to persuade him to push on, and
to leave Dupont to make the best terms for himself that he could. Much
was to be said in favour of this resolve: he might have argued that
since he had never been without the power of retreating, it was wrong
of his superior to include him in the capitulation. His duty to the
Emperor would be to save his men, whatever might be the consequences to
Dupont. The latter, surrounded as he was, could hardly be considered a
free agent, and his orders might be disregarded. But such views were
far from Vedel’s mind: he automatically obeyed his chief’s dispatch and
halted. Next day he marched his troops back to Baylen, in consequence
of a third communication from Dupont.

On July 23 Dupont’s troops laid down their arms with full formalities,
defiling to the sound of military music before the divisions of La
Peña and Jones, who were drawn up by the Rumblar bridge. On the
twenty-fourth Vedel’s and Dufour’s troops, without any such humiliating
ceremony, stacked their muskets and cannon on the hillsides east of
Baylen and marched for the coast. When the two corps were numbered it
was found that 8,242 unwounded men had surrendered with Dupont: nearly
2,000 more, dead or wounded, were left on the battle-field; seven or
eight hundred of the Swiss battalions had deserted and disappeared.
With Vedel 9,393 men laid down their arms[160]. Not only did he deliver
up his own column, but he called down the battalion guarding the
Despeña Perros pass. Even the troops left beyond the defiles in La
Mancha were summoned to surrender by the Spaniards, and some of them
did so, though they were not really included in the capitulation, which
was by its wording confined to French troops in Andalusia. But the
commanders of three battalions allowed themselves to be intimidated
by Colonel Cruz-Murgeon, who went to seek them at the head of a few
cavalry, and tamely laid down their arms[161].

  [160] This total of 17,635, given in the Spanish returns, seems
  absolutely certain. It tallies very well with the original
  figures of the French divisions, when losses in the campaign
  are allowed for. I find in the _Vaughan Papers_ a contemporary
  Spanish scrap of unknown provenance, giving somewhat different
  figures, as follows:--Dupont’s corps: unwounded prisoners,
  6,000; killed and wounded on the field, 3,000; Swiss deserters,
  1,200; sick captured in the hospitals, 400; making a total of
  10,600. Whittingham, the English attaché in Castaños’ camp, gives
  another set:--unwounded prisoners, 5,500; killed and wounded,
  2,600; Swiss deserters, 1,100; making 9,200. But both of these
  are confessedly rough estimates, though made on the spot. As to
  the other French prisoners, the Vaughan document says that 9,100
  surrendered with Vedel, 800 in the passes, and 700 more in La

  [161] Battalions surrendered at Santa Cruz, and at Manzanares.
  But the officer in command at Madridejos refused to be cajoled,
  and retreated on Madrid.

The Spaniards had won their success at very small cost. Reding’s
division returned a casualty list of 117 dead and 403 wounded, in
which were included the losses of the skirmish of July 16 as well as
those of the battle of the nineteenth. Coupigny lost 100 dead and 894
wounded. La Peña’s and Cruz-Murgeon’s columns, which had barely got
into touch with the French when the armistice was granted, cannot have
lost more than a score or two of men. The total is no more than 954.
There were in addition 998 prisoners captured by Vedel when he attacked
from the rear, but these were, of course, restored on the twentieth, in
consequence of the orders sent by Dupont, along with two guns and two
regimental standards.

Castaños, a man of untarnished honour, had every intention of carrying
out the capitulation. The French troops, divided into small columns,
were sent down to the coast, or to the small towns of the Lower
Guadalquivir under Spanish escorts, which had some difficulty in
preserving them from the fury of the peasantry. It was necessary to
avoid the large towns like Cordova and Seville, where the passage of
the unarmed prisoners would certainly have led to riots and massacres.
At Ecija the mob actually succeeded in murdering sixty unfortunate
Frenchmen. But when the troops had been conducted to their temporary
destinations, it was found that difficulties had arisen. The amount of
Spanish shipping available would not have carried 20,000 men. This was
a comparatively small hindrance, as the troops could have been sent off
in detachments. But it was more serious that Lord Collingwood, the
commander of the British squadron off Cadiz, refused his permission for
the embarkation of the French. He observed that Castaños had promised
to send Dupont’s army home by water, without considering whether he
had the power to do so. The British fleet commanded the sea, and was
blockading Rochefort, the port which the capitulation assigned for the
landing of the captive army. No representative of Great Britain had
signed the convention[162], and she was not bound by it. He must find
out, by consulting his government, whether the transference of the
troops of Dupont to France was to be allowed.

  [162] There had been a British attaché, Captain Whittingham, at
  Castaños’ head quarters. The French negotiators had tried to
  induce him to approve the terms of capitulation. But he very
  wisely refused, having no authority to do so.

On hearing of the difficulties raised by Collingwood, Castaños got
into communication with Dupont, and drew up six supplementary articles
to the convention, in which it was stipulated that if the British
Government objected to Rochefort as the port at which the French troops
were to be landed, some other place should be selected. If all passage
by sea was denied, a way by land should be granted by the Spaniards.
This agreement was signed at Seville on August 6, but meanwhile the
Junta was being incited to break the convention. Several of its more
reckless and fanatical members openly broached the idea that no faith
need be kept with those who had invaded Spain under such treacherous
pretences. The newspapers were full of tales of French outrages, and
protests against the liberation of the spoilers of Cordova and Jaen.

Matters came to a head when Dupont wrote to Morla, the Captain-General
of Andalusia, to protest against further delays, and to require
that the first division of his army should be allowed to sail at
once [August 8]. He received in reply a most shameless and cynical
letter[163]. The Captain-General began by declaring that there were
no ships available. But he then went on to state that no more had
been promised than that the Junta would request the British to allow
the French troops to sail. He supposed that it was probable that a
blank refusal would be sent to this demand. Why should Britain allow
the passage by sea of troops who were destined to be used against her
on some other point of the theatre of war? Morla next insinuated
that Dupont himself must have been well aware that the capitulation
could not be carried out. ‘Your Excellency’s object in inserting
these conditions was merely to obtain terms which, impossible as they
were to execute, might yet give a show of honour to the inevitable
surrender.... What right have you to require the performance of these
impossible conditions on behalf of an army which entered Spain under a
pretence of alliance, and then imprisoned our King and princes, sacked
his palaces, slew and robbed his subjects, wasted his provinces, and
tore away his crown?’

  [163] This will be found printed at length in the Appendix of
  Papers relating to Baylen.

After a delay of some weeks Lord Collingwood sent in to the Junta the
reply of his government. It was far from being of the kind that Morla
and his friends had hoped. Canning had answered that no stipulations
made at Baylen could bind Great Britain, but that to oblige her
allies, and to avoid compromising their honour, she consented to
allow the French army to be sent back to France, and to be landed
in successive detachments of 4,000 men at some port between Brest
and Rochefort (i.e. at Nantes or L’Orient). It is painful to have to
add that neither the Junta of Seville nor the Supreme Central Junta,
which superseded that body, took any steps to carry out this project.
Dupont himself, his generals, and his staff, were sent home to France,
but their unfortunate troops were kept for a time in cantonments in
Andalusia, then sent on board pontoons in the Bay of Cadiz, where
they were subjected to all manner of ill usage and half-starved, and
finally dispatched to the desolate rock of Cabrera, in the Balearic
Islands, where more than half of them perished of cold, disease, and
insufficient nourishment[164]. Vedel’s men were imprisoned no less than
Dupont’s, and the survivors were only released at the conclusion of the
general peace of 1814.

  [164] For the horrors of Cabrera, the works of three of the
  prisoners, Ducor of the Marines of the Guard, and Gille and Wagré
  of Vedel’s division, may be consulted. Their story is deeply

So ended the strange and ill-fought campaign of Baylen. It is clear
that Dupont’s misfortunes were of his own creation. He ought never to
have lingered at Andujar till July was far spent, but should either
have massed his three divisions and fallen upon Castaños, or have
retired to a safe defensive position at Baylen or La Carolina and have
waited to be attacked. He might have united something over 20,000 men,
and could have defied every effort of the 35,000 Spaniards to drive
him back over the Sierra Morena. By dividing his army into fractions
and persisting in holding Andujar, he brought ruin upon himself. But
the precise form in which the ruin came about was due less to Dupont
than to Vedel. That officer’s blind and irrational march on La Carolina
and abandonment of Baylen on July 17-18 gave the Spaniards the chance
of interposing between the two halves of the French army. If Vedel had
made a proper reconnaissance on the seventeenth, he would have found
that Reding had not marched for the passes, but was still lingering at
Mengibar. Instead, however, of sweeping the country-side for traces of
the enemy, he credited a wild rumour, and hurried off to La Carolina,
leaving the fatal gap behind him. All that followed was his fault: not
only did he compromise the campaign by his march back to the passes,
but when he had discovered his mistake he returned with a slowness that
was inexcusable. If he had used ordinary diligence he might yet have
saved Dupont on the nineteenth: it was his halt at Guarroman, while
the cannon of Baylen were thundering in his ears, that gave the last
finishing touch to the disaster. If he had come upon the battle-field
at ten in the morning, instead of at five in the afternoon, he could
have aided his chief to cut his way through, and even have inflicted a
heavy blow on Reding and Coupigny. A careful study of Vedel’s actions,
from his first passage of the Sierra Morena to his surrender, shows
that on every possible occasion he took the wrong course.

But even if we grant that Vedel made every possible mistake, it is
nevertheless true that Dupont fought his battle most unskilfully. If
he had marched on the morning instead of the night of July 18, he
probably might have brushed past the front of Reding and Coupigny
without suffering any greater disaster than the loss of his baggage.
Even as things actually fell out, it is not certain that he need have
been forced to surrender. He had 10,000 men, the two Spanish generals
had 17,000, but had been forced to detach some 3,500 bayonets to guard
against the possible reappearance of Vedel. If Dupont had refused
to waste his men in partial and successive attacks, and had massed
them for a vigorous assault on the left wing of the Spaniards, where
Coupigny’s position on the slopes of the Cerrajon was neither very
strong nor very well defined, he might yet have cut his way through,
though probably his immense baggage-train would have been lost. It
is fair, however, to remember that this chance was only granted him
because Castaños, in front of Andujar, was slow to discover his retreat
and still slower to pursue him. If that officer had shown real energy,
ten thousand men might have been pressing Dupont from the rear before
eight o’clock in the morning.

As it was Dupont mismanaged all the details of his attack. He made four
assaults with fractions of his army, and on a long front. The leading
brigades were completely worn out and demoralized before the reserves
were sent into action. The fifth assault, in which every man was at
last brought forward, failed because the majority of the troops were
already convinced that the day was lost, and were no longer capable of
any great exertions. It is absurd to accuse Dupont of cowardice--he
exposed his person freely and was wounded--and still more absurd to
charge him (as did the Emperor) with treason. He did not surrender
till he saw that there was no possible hope of salvation remaining.
But there can be no doubt that he showed great incapacity to grasp the
situation, lost his head, and threw away all his chances.

As to the Spaniards, it can truly be said that they were extremely
fortunate, and that even their mistakes helped them. Castaños framed
his plan for surrounding Dupont on the hypothesis that the main French
army was concentrated at Andujar. If this had indeed been the case,
and Dupont had retained at that place some 15,000 or 17,000 men, the
turning movement of Reding and Coupigny would have been hazardous in
the extreme. But the French general was obliging enough to divide
his force into two equal parts, and his subordinate led away one of
the halves on a wild march back to the passes. Again Reding acted
in the most strange and unskilful way on July 17; after defeating
Liger-Belair and Dufour he ought to have seized Baylen. Instead, he
remained torpid in his camp for a day and a half: this mistake led
to the far more inexcusable error of Vedel, who failed to see his
adversary, and marched off to La Carolina. But Vedel’s blindness does
not excuse Reding’s sloth. On the actual day of battle, on the other
hand, Reding behaved very well: he showed considerable tenacity,
and his troops deserve great credit. It was no mean achievement for
13,000 or 14,000[165] Spaniards, their ranks full of raw recruits
and interspersed with battalions levied only five weeks before, to
withstand the attack of 10,000 French, even if the latter were badly
handled by their general. The Andalusians had good reason to be proud
of their victory, though they might have refrained from calling
Dupont’s Legions of Reserve and provisional regiments the ‘invincible
troops of Austerlitz and Friedland,’ as they were too prone to do. They
had at least succeeded in beating in the open field and capturing a
whole French army, a thing which no continental nation had accomplished
since the wars of the Revolution began.

  [165] We must deduct the seven battalions (3,500 or 4,000
  men) which had been detached to the rear to watch for Vedel’s
  approach, and were never engaged with Dupont’s troops.


Sir Charles Vaughan, always in search of first-hand
information, called on Castaños and had a long conversation
with him concerning the Convention. I find among his papers the
following notes:--

‘Among other particulars of the surrender, General Castaños
stated that the French General Marescot had the greatest
influence in bringing it about. The great difficulty was to
persuade them [Marescot and Chabert] to capitulate for Vedel’s
army as well as Dupont’s. A letter had been intercepted
ordering Vedel back to Madrid, and another ordering Dupont to
retire. This letter had considerable effect with the French:
but the offer of carrying away their baggage and the plunder of
the country was no sooner made, than the two generals desired
to be permitted to retire and deliberate alone. After a few
minutes they accepted the proposal. But General Castaños, to
make the article of as little value as possible, got them to
insert the clause that the French officers should be allowed
to embark all their baggage, &c., _according to the laws of
Spain_. He well knew that those laws forbid the exportation
of gold and silver. The consequence was that the French lost
all their more valuable plunder when embarking at Puerto Santa





Down to the moment of the general outbreak of the Spanish insurrection
Junot’s task in Portugal had not been a difficult one. As long as Spain
and France were still ostensibly allies, he had at his disposition a
very large army. He had entered Portugal in 1807 with 25,000 French
troops, and during the spring of 1808 he had received 4,000 men in
drafts from Bayonne, which more than filled up the gaps made in his
battalions by the dreary march from Ciudad Rodrigo to Abrantes[166].
Of the three Spanish divisions which had been lent to him, Solano’s
had gone home to Andalusia, but he had still the two others, Caraffa’s
(7,000 strong) in the valley of the Tagus, and Taranco’s at Oporto. The
last-named general died during the winter, but his successor, Belesta,
still commanded 6,000 men cantoned on the banks of the Douro. The
discontent of the Portuguese during the early months of 1808 showed
itself by nothing save a few isolated deeds of violence, provoked by
particular acts of oppression on the part of Junot’s subordinates.
How promptly and severely they were chastised has been told in an
earlier chapter. There were no signs whatever of a general rising: the
means indeed were almost entirely wanting. The regular army had been
disbanded or sent off to France. The organization of the militia had
been dissolved. The greater part of the leading men of the country had
fled to Brazil with the Prince-Regent: the bureaucracy and many of the
clergy had shown a discreditable willingness to conciliate Junot by a
tame subservience to his orders.

  [166] See Thiébault, _Expédition de Portugal_, and Foy, iv. 363.

The Duke of Abrantes himself thoroughly enjoyed his Viceroyalty, and
still deluded himself into believing that he might yet prove a popular
ruler in Portugal: perhaps he even dreamed of becoming some day one
of Bonaparte’s vassal-kings. He persisted in the farce of issuing
benevolent proclamations, and expressing his affection for the noble
Portuguese people, till his master at last grew angry. ‘Why,’ he wrote
by the hand of his minister Clarke, ‘do you go on making promises
which you have no authority to carry out? Of course, there is no end
more laudable than that of winning the affection and confidence of
the inhabitants of Portugal. But do not forget that the safety of the
French army is the first thing. Disarm the Portuguese: keep an eye
on the disbanded soldiers, lest reckless leaders should get hold of
them and make them into the nucleus of rebel bands.... Lisbon is an
inconveniently large place: it is too populous, and its people cannot
help being hostile to you. Keep your troops outside it, in cantonments
along the sea-front’: and so forth[167]. Meanwhile financial exactions
were heaped on the unfortunate kingdom to contribute to the huge fine
which the Emperor had laid upon it: but there was evidently no chance
that such a large sum could be raised, however tightly the screw of
taxation might be twisted. Junot accepted, as contributions towards
the £2,000,000 that he was told to raise, much confiscated English
merchandise, church plate, and private property of the royal house, but
his extortions did little more than pay for his army and the expenses
of government. Portugal indeed was in a dismal state: her ports were
blocked and her wines could not be sold to her old customers in
England, nor her manufactures to her Brazilian colonists. The working
classes in Lisbon were thrown out of employment, and starved, or
migrated in bands into the interior. Foy and other good witnesses from
the French side speak of the capital as ‘looking like a desert, with
no vehicles, and hardly a foot-passenger in the streets, save 20,000
persons reduced to beggary and trying vainly to live on alms[168].’ The
only activity visible was in the arsenal and dockyards, where Junot had
10,000 men at work restoring the neglected material of the artillery,
and fitting out that portion of the fleet which had been in too bad
order to sail for Brazil in the previous November.

  [167] Compare _Nap. Corresp._, 13,608 and 13,620.

  [168] Foy, iv. 273-4.

The sudden outbreak of the Spanish insurrection in the last days of
May, 1808, made an enormous change in the situation of the French
army in Portugal. Before Junot had well realized what was happening in
the neighbouring kingdom, his communications with Madrid were suddenly
cut, and for the future information only reached him with the greatest
difficulty, and orders not at all. The last dispatch that came through
to him was one from the Emperor which spoke of the beginnings of the
rising, and bade him send 4,000 men to Ciudad Rodrigo to hold out a
hand to Bessières, and 8,000 to the Guadiana to co-operate in Dupont’s
projected invasion of Andalusia[169]. These orders were dispatched in
the last days of May; before they could be carried out the situation
had been profoundly modified.

  [169] _Nap. Corresp._, 14,023 (from Bayonne, May 29).

On June 6 there arrived at Oporto the news of the insurrection of
Galicia and the establishment of the Provincial Junta at Corunna. The
first thought of the new government in Galicia had been to call home
for its own defence the division in northern Portugal. When its summons
reached General Belesta, he obeyed without a moment’s hesitation. The
only French near him were General Quesnel, the Governor of Oporto, his
staff, and a troop of thirty dragoons which served as his personal
escort. Belesta seized and disarmed both the general and his guard, and
forthwith marched for Spain, by Braga and Valenza, with his prisoners.
Before leaving he called together the notables of Oporto, bade them
hoist the national flag, and incited them to nominate a junta to
organize resistance against Junot. But he left not a man behind to aid
them, and took off his whole force to join General Blake.

On receiving, on June 9, the news of this untoward event, Junot
determined to prevent Caraffa’s troops on the Tagus from following
the example of their countrymen. Before they had fully realized the
situation, or had time to concert measures for a general evasion,
he succeeded in disarming them. Caraffa himself was summoned to the
quarters of the commander-in-chief, and placed under arrest before
he knew that he was suspected. Of his regiments some were ordered to
attend a review, others to change garrisons; while unsuspectingly on
their way, they found themselves surrounded by French troops and were
told to lay down their arms. All were successfully trapped except the
second cavalry regiment, the ‘Queen’s Own,’ whose colonel rode off
to Oporto with his two squadrons instead of obeying the orders sent
him, and fractions of the infantry regiments of Murcia and Valencia
who escaped to Badajoz after an ineffectual pursuit by the French
dragoons. But 6,000 out of Caraffa’s 7,000 men were caught, disarmed,
and placed on pontoons moored under the guns of the Lisbon forts, whose
commanders had orders to sink them if they gave any trouble. Here they
were destined to remain prisoners for the next ten weeks, till the
English arrived to release them after the battle of Vimiero.

The imminent danger that Caraffa’s force might openly revolt, and
serve as the nucleus for a general rising of the Portuguese, was
thus disposed of. But Junot’s position was still unpleasant: he had
only some 26,500 men with whom to hold down the kingdom: if once
the inhabitants took arms, such a force could not supply garrisons
for every corner of a country 300 miles long and a hundred broad.
Moreover, there was considerable probability that the situation might
be complicated by the appearance of an English expeditionary army:
Napoleon had warned his lieutenant to keep a careful watch on the side
of the sea, even before the Spanish insurrection broke out. All through
the spring a British force drawn from Sicily was already hovering
about the southern coast of the Peninsula, though hitherto it had only
been heard of in the direction of Gibraltar and Cadiz. Another cause
of disquietude was the presence in the Tagus of the Russian fleet of
Admiral Siniavin: the strange attitude adopted by that officer much
perplexed Junot. He acknowledged that his master the Czar was at war
with Great Britain, and stated that he was prepared to fight if the
British fleet tried to force the entrance of the Tagus. But on the
other hand he alleged that Russia had not declared war on Portugal or
acknowledged its annexation by the Emperor, and he therefore refused to
land his marines and seamen to help in the garrisoning of Lisbon, or to
allow them to be used in any way on shore. Meanwhile his crews consumed
an inordinate amount of the provisions which were none too plentiful in
the Portuguese capital.

Junot’s main advantage lay in the extreme military impotence of
Portugal. That realm found its one sole centre in Lisbon, where a
tenth of the population of the whole kingdom and half of its wealth
were concentrated. At Lisbon alone was there an arsenal of any size,
or a considerable store of muskets and powder. Without the resources
of the capital the nation was absolutely unable to equip anything fit
to be called an army. Oporto was a small place in comparison, and no
other town in the kingdom had over 20,000 souls. Almeida and Elvas,
the two chief fortresses of the realm, were safe in the hands of French
garrisons. The provinces might rise, but without lavish help from Spain
or England they could not put in the field an army of even 10,000 men,
for assemblies of peasants armed with pikes and fowling-pieces are not
armies, and of field-artillery there was hardly a piece outside Lisbon,
Elvas, and Almeida. Nor was there left any nucleus of trained soldiers
around which the nation might rally: the old army was dissolved and
its small remnant was on the way to the Baltic. The case of Spain and
of Portugal was entirely different when they rose against Napoleon.
The former country was in possession of the greater part of its own
fortresses, had not been systematically disarmed, and could dispose--in
Galicia and Andalusia--of large bodies of veteran troops. Portugal
was without an army, an arsenal, a defensible fortress, or a legal
organization--civil or military--of any kind.

It is necessary to remember this in order to excuse the utter
feebleness of the Portuguese rising in June, 1808. Otherwise it would
have seemed strange that a nation of over 2,000,000 souls could not
anywhere produce forces sufficient to resist for a single day a column
of 3,000 or 4,000 French soldiers.

The insurrection--such as it was--started in the north, where the
departure of Belesta and his division had left the two provinces of
Tras-os-Montes and Entre-Douro-e-Minho free from any garrison, French
or Spanish. Oporto had been bidden to work out its own salvation
by Belesta, and on the day of his departure (June 6), a junta of
insurrection had been acclaimed. But there followed a curious interval
of apathy, lasting for ten days: the natural leaders of the people
refused to come forward: here, just as in Spain, the bureaucracy showed
itself very timid and unpatriotic. The magistrates sent secret offers
of submission to Junot: the military commandant, Oliveira da Costa,
hauled down the national flag from the citadel of San João da Foz. The
members of the insurrectionary junta absconded from the city or kept
quiet[170]. It was only on the news that the neighbouring districts and
towns had risen, that the people of Oporto threw themselves frankly
into the rebellion. The rough mountain districts which lay to the east
of them showed a much more whole-hearted patriotism: between the ninth
and the twelfth of June the whole of the Tras-os-Montes took arms: one
junta at Braganza nominated as commander the aged General Sepulveda,
who had been governor of the district in the days of the Prince-Regent:
another, at Villa Real on the Douro, also put in its claim and chose
as its leader Colonel Silveira, an officer who was destined to see
much service during the war of independence. Though the French were no
further off than Almeida, the rival governors nearly came to blows,
but the final insurrection of Oporto created a new power to which both
consented to bow.

  [170] For these incidents, so discreditable to the leading men
  of Oporto, see Foy, iv. 206, and Toreño, i. 152. Most Peninsular
  historians consign them to oblivion.

On June 18 the false report that a French column was drawing near
Oporto so roused the multitude in that city that they broke loose
from the control of the authorities, rehoisted the Portuguese flag,
threw into prison Da Costa and many other persons suspected, rightly
or wrongly, of a wish to submit to the enemy, and called for the
establishment of a provisional government. Accordingly a ‘Supreme Junta
of the Kingdom’ was hastily elected with the Bishop of Oporto at its
head. This was a strange choice, for the aged prelate, Dom Antonio
de Castro, though popular and patriotic, was neither a statesman
nor an administrator, and had no notion whatever as to the military
necessities of the situation. However, the other local juntas of
Northern Portugal united in recognizing his authority. His colleagues
started on the organization of an army with more zeal than discretion;
they called out the militia which Junot had disbanded, and tried to
reconstruct some of the old regular battalions, by getting together
the half-pay officers, and the men who had been dismissed from the
colours in December, 1807. But they also encouraged the assembly of
thousands of peasants armed with pikes and scythes, who consumed
provisions, but were of no military use whatever. In the seven weeks
which elapsed before the coming of the English, the Supreme Junta had
only got together 5,000 men properly equipped and told off into regular
corps[171]. The fact was that they could provide arms for no more,
Northern Portugal having always looked to Lisbon for its supplies.
Field artillery was almost wholly wanting--perhaps a dozen guns in all
had been found: of cavalry three skeleton regiments were beginning to
be organized. But of half-armed peasantry, disguised under the name of
militia, they had from 12,000 to 15,000 in the field.

  [171] They re-embodied the old 2nd, 12th, 21st, and 24th
  battalions of infantry of the line, the 6th Cazadores, and the
  6th, 11th, and 12th light cavalry, as well as one or two other
  old corps whose numbers I cannot identify.

The Supreme Junta also concluded a treaty of offensive and defensive
alliance with the Galician Spaniards, from whom they hoped to get
arms, and perhaps a loan of troops. Moreover they sent two envoys to
England to ask for aid, and eagerly welcomed at Oporto Colonel Brown,
a British agent with a roving commission, who did his best to assist
in organizing the new levies. The command of the whole armed force
was given to General Bernardino Freire, a pretentious and incapable
person, who turned his very moderate resources to no profitable account

A few days later than the outbreak of the insurrection in the regions
north of the Douro, there was a corresponding movement, but of a weaker
kind, in the extreme south. On June 16 the small fishing-town of Olhão
in Algarve gave the signal for revolt: on the eighteenth Faro, the
capital of the province, followed the example. General Maurin, the
Governor of Algarve, was lying ill in his bed; he was made prisoner
along with seventy other French officers and men, and handed over to
the captain of an English ship which was hovering off the coast. The
whole shore between the Sierra de Caldeirão and the sea took arms,
whereupon Colonel Maransin, Maurin’s second-in-command, resolved
to evacuate the province. He had only 1,200 men, a battalion each
of the 26th of the line and the _Légion du Midi_, and had lost his
communications with Lisbon, wherefore he drew together his small force
and fell back first on Mertola and then on Beja, in the Alemtejo.
The insurgents whom he left behind him could do little till they had
obtained muskets from Seville and Gibraltar, and made no attempt to
follow the retreating column northwards.

Meanwhile Junot, even after he had succeeded in disarming Caraffa’s
Spanish division, was passing through a most anxious time. In obedience
to the Emperor’s orders he had sent a brigade under General Avril
towards Andalusia, to help Dupont, and another under Loison to Almeida
to open communications with Bessières. But these detachments had
been made under two false ideas, the one that the troubles in Spain
were purely local, the other that Portugal would keep quiet. Avril
marched southward with 3,000 men, but, when his vanguard reached San
Lucar on the Spanish border, he found Andalusian militia provided
with artillery watching him across the Guadiana. He also learnt
that a large force was assembling at Badajoz, and that Dupont had
got no further than Cordova--more than 150 miles away. After some
hesitation he retraced his steps till he halted at Estremoz, facing
Badajoz. Loison had much the same experience: starting from Almeida he
crossed the border and scared away the small Spanish garrison of Fort
Concepcion: but when he drew near Ciudad Rodrigo and learnt that the
place was strongly held, that all the kingdom of Leon was in revolt,
and that Bessières was still far distant in Old Castile, he drew back
to Almeida [June 12-15]. Returning thither he heard of the troubles in
Northern Portugal, and resolved to march on Oporto, which was still
holding back from open insurrection when the news reached him. He
determined to hasten to that important city and to garrison it. Taking
two battalions and a few guns, while he left the rest of his brigade
at Almeida, he marched on Oporto, crossed the Douro at the ferry of
Pezo-de-Ragoa, and began to move on Amarante [June 21]. But the moment
that he was over the river, he found himself in the middle of the
insurrection: among the mountains the peasantry began to fire from
above on his long column, to roll rocks down the slopes at him, and to
harass his baggage and rearguard. Seeing that he had only 2,000 men in
hand, and that the whole country-side was up, Loison wisely returned
to Almeida, which he regained by a circular march through Lamego and
Celorico, dispersing several bands of insurgents on the way, for the
rebellion had already begun to spread across the Douro into the hills
of Northern Beira [July 1].

Lisbon in the meanwhile was on the verge of revolt, but was still
contained by the fact that Junot held concentrated in and about it the
main body of his army, some 15,000 men. On the Feast of Corpus Christi
(June 16) the annual religious procession through the streets nearly
led to bloodshed. This was the greatest festival of Lisbon, and had
always led to the assembly of enormous crowds: Junot allowed it to be
once more celebrated, but lined the streets with soldiers, and placed
artillery ready for action in the main squares and avenues. While the
function was in progress a senseless panic broke out among the crowd,
some shouting that they felt a shock of earthquake (always a terror in
Lisbon since the catastrophe of 1755), others that the English were
landing, others that the soldiers were about to fire on the people.
The frantic mob burst through the military cordon, the procession was
broken up, the prelate who bore the Sacrament took refuge in a church,
and the tumult grew so wild that the artillery were about to open
with grape, thinking that they had to deal with a carefully prepared
insurrection. A great and miscellaneous slaughter was only prevented
by the coolness of Junot, who threw himself into the throng, prevented
the troops from firing, cleared the street, prevailed on the clergy to
finish the procession, and dispersed the multitudes with no loss of
life save that of a few persons crushed or trampled to death in the

But though this tumult passed off without a disaster, Junot’s position
was uncomfortable. He had just begun to realize the real proportions of
the insurrection in Spain, which had now completely cut him off from
communication with his colleagues. He had only the vaguest knowledge of
how Dupont and Bessières were faring: and the fact that large Spanish
forces were gathering both at Ciudad Rodrigo and at Badajoz inclined
him to think that affairs must be going ill in Castile and Andalusia.
The long-feared English invasion seemed at last to be growing imminent:
General Spencer’s division from Sicily and Gibraltar was at sea, and
had showed itself first off Ayamonte and the coast of Algarve, then off
the Tagus-mouth. Ignorant that Spencer had only 5,000 men, and that he
had been brought near Lisbon merely by a false report that the garrison
had been cut down to a handful, Junot expected a disembarkation. But
Spencer went back to Cadiz when he learnt that there were 15,000
instead of 4,000 men ready to defend the capital.

Meanwhile the populace of Lisbon was stirred up by all manner of wild
rumours: it was said that Loison had been surrounded and forced to
surrender by the northern insurgents, that the Spanish army of Galicia
was marching south, that an English corps had landed at Oporto. All
sorts of portents and signs were reported for the benefit of the
superstitious. The most preposterous was one which we should refuse
to credit if it were not vouched for by Foy, and other respectable
French authorities. A hen’s egg was found on the high-altar of the
patriarchal church, with the inscription _Morran os Franceses_ (‘Death
to the French’) indented in its shell. This caused such excitement
that Junot thought it worth while to show that a similar phenomenon
could be produced on any egg by a skilful application of acids. When
his chemists exhibited several branded in an equally convincing way
with the words, _Vive l’Empereur!_ the enthusiasm of the credulous was
somewhat damped[172].

  [172] Foy, iv. 276; Napier, i. 97.

Recognizing that he could expect no further help from the French
armies in Spain, and that the insurrection would certainly spread over
every parish of Portugal that did not contain a garrison, Junot wisely
resolved to concentrate the outlying fractions of his army, which lay
exposed and isolated at points far from Lisbon. At a council of war,
held on June 25, he laid before his chief officers the alternatives
of evacuating Portugal and retiring on Madrid by the way of Badajoz,
or of uniting the army in the neighbourhood of Lisbon and making an
attempt to hold Central Portugal, while abandoning the extreme north
and south. The latter plan was unanimously adopted: in the state
of ignorance in which the generals lay as to what was going on at
Madrid and elsewhere in Spain, the retreat by Badajoz seemed too
hazardous. Moreover, it was certain to provoke Napoleon’s wrath if it
turned out to have been unnecessary. Accordingly it was resolved to
place garrisons in the fortresses of Elvas, Almeida and Peniche, to
fortify Setuval on the peninsula opposite Lisbon, and to draw in all
the rest of the troops to the vicinity of the capital. Dispatches to
this effect were sent to Loison at Almeida, to Avril at Estremoz, to
Maransin at Mertola, and to Kellermann, who was watching Badajoz from
Elvas[173]. Many of the aides-de-camp who bore these orders were cut
off by the insurgents[174], but in the end copies of each dispatch were
transmitted to their destinations. In several instances the detached
corps had begun to fall back on the Tagus, even before they received
the command to do so.

  [173] For the twelve resolutions arrived at by the council of
  war, see the analysis given by Thiébault, one of its members.

  [174] Foy says that of twenty messages sent to Loison only one
  got through.

This was the case with Maransin at Mertola, who, finding himself
hopelessly isolated with 1,200 men in the centre of the insurrection,
had marched on Lisbon via Beja. On June 26 he reached the latter place
and found its ancient walls manned by a disorderly mass of citizens,
who fired upon him as he drew near. But he stormed the town without
much difficulty, cruelly sacked it, and resumed his march on Lisbon
unharmed. This was not the first fighting that had occurred in the
Alemtejo; four days before Avril had had to march from Estremoz to
chastise the inhabitants of Villa Viciosa, who had taken arms and
besieged the company of the 86th regiment which garrisoned their town.
He scattered them with much slaughter, and, after the usual French
fashion, plundered the little place from cellar to garret.

On receiving Junot’s orders, General Kellermann, who bore the chief
command in the Alemtejo, left a battalion and a half[175]--1,400
men--in Elvas and its outlying fort of La Lippe. With the rest he
retired on Lisbon, picking up first the corps of Avril and then that of
Maransin, which met him at Evora. He then entered the capital, leaving
only one brigade, that of Graindorge, at Setuval to the south of the
Tagus [July 3].

  [175] The 2nd Swiss, and four companies of the 86th regiment.

Loison in the north did not receive his orders for a full week after
they were sent out, owing to the disorderly state of the intervening
country. But on July 4 he left Almeida, after making for it a garrison
of 1,200 men, by drafting into a provisional battalion all his soldiers
who did not seem fit for forced marching. He then moved for seven days
through the mountains of Beira to Abrantes, skirmishing with small
bands of insurgents all the way. At two or three places they tried to
block his path, and the town of Guarda made a serious attempt to defend
itself, and was in consequence sacked and partly burnt. Leaving a trail
of ruined villages behind him, Loison at last reached Abrantes and got
into communication with his chief. He had lost on the way 200 men,
mostly stragglers whom the peasantry murdered: but he had inflicted
such a cruel lesson on the country-side that his popular nickname
(_Maneta_, ‘One-Hand’) was held accursed for many years in Portugal.

The withdrawal of the French troops from the outlying provinces gave
the insurrection full scope for development. It followed close in
the track of the retiring columns, and as each valley was evacuated
its inhabitants hoisted the national flag, sent in their vows of
allegiance to the Junta at Oporto, and began to organize armed bands.
But there was such a dearth of military stores that very few men
could be properly equipped with musket and bayonet. Junot had long
before called in the arms of the disbanded militia, and destroyed
them or forwarded them to Lisbon. In the southern provinces the lack
of weapons was even worse than in the valley of the Douro: there was
practically no armament except a few hundred muskets hastily borrowed
from the Spaniards of Badajoz and Seville, and a small dépôt of
cavalry equipment at Estremoz which Avril had forgotten to carry off.
An insurrectionary junta for the Alemtejo was formed at Evora, but
its general, Francisco Leite, could only succeed in equipping the
mere shadow of an army. In the north things were a little better: the
rising spread to Coimbra in the last week of June, and one of its
first leaders, the student Bernardo Zagalo, succeeded in capturing the
small coast-fortress of Figueira by starving out the scanty French
garrison, which had been caught wholly destitute of provisions [June
27]. Bernardino Freire then brought up the 5,000 regular troops,
which the Junta of Oporto had succeeded in getting together, as far
as the line of the Mondego. But the insurrectionary area spread much
further southward, even up to Leyria and Thomar, which lie no more than
sixty-five miles from the capital. From these two places, however, the
rebels were easily cleared out by a small expedition of 3,000 men under
General Margaron [July 5]. Junot’s army in the second week of July
held nothing outside the narrow quadrangle of which Setuval, Peniche,
Abrantes, and Lisbon form the four points. But within that limited
space there were now 24,000 good troops, concentrated and ready to
strike a blow at the first insurrectionary force that might press in
upon them.

But for a fortnight the Portuguese made no further move, and Junot
now resolved to attack the insurgents who lay beyond the Tagus in the
plains of the Alemtejo. His chief motive seems to have been the wish to
reopen his communications with Elvas, and to keep the way clear towards
Badajoz, the direction in which he would have to retreat, if ever he
made up his mind to evacuate Lisbon and retire on Spain. Accordingly,
on July 25, he sent out the energetic Loison at the head of a strong
flying column--seven and a half battalions, two regiments of dragoons,
and eight guns--over 7,000 men in all[176]. This force was directed
to march on Elvas by way of Evora, the capital of the Alemtejo, and
the seat of its new Junta. On July 29 Loison appeared before the walls
of that city. To his surprise the enemy offered him battle in the
open; General Leite had brought up such of his newly organized troops
as he could collect--they amounted to no more than a battalion and
a half of infantry and 120 horse; but to help him there had come up
from Badajoz the Spanish Colonel Moretti with about the same number of
foot, a regiment of regular cavalry (the ‘Hussars of Maria Luisa’), and
seven guns[177]. In all the allies had under 3,000 men, but they were
presumptuous enough to form a line of battle outside Evora, and wait
for Loison’s attack. A mixed multitude of peasants and citizens, more
of them armed with pikes than with fowling-pieces, manned the walls of
the town behind them. Leite and his colleague should have drawn back
their regulars to the same position: they might have been able to do
something behind walls, but to expose them in the open to the assault
of more than double of their own numbers of French troops was absurd.

  [176] The column comprised the following troops:--

    Two battalions of Reserve Grenadiers                   1,100
    12th Léger (3rd batt.)                                 1,253
    15th Léger (3rd batt.)                                 1,305
    58th Line (3rd batt.)                                  1,428
    86th Line, twelve companies of the 1st and 2nd batts.  1,667
    1st Hanoverian Legion                                    804
    4th and 5th Provisional Dragoons                       1,248

  Deducting 1,200 for detached grenadier companies, &c., the whole
  was well over 7,000. For details, see Thiébault’s _Expédition de

  [177] The figures of the Portuguese historian, Accursio das
  Neves, reproduced in Arteche (ii. 35), seem indubitable, as
  they go into minute accounts of the regiments and fractions of
  regiments present. It seems clear that the allies had nothing
  like the 5,000 regular troops of which Foy speaks (iv. 267-8).

Loison’s first charge broke the weak line of the allied army; the
Spanish cavalry fled without crossing swords with the French, and
General Leite left the field with equal precipitation. But the bulk
of the infantry fell back on Evora and aided the peasantry to defend
its ruined mediaeval walls. They could not hold out, however, for
many minutes; the French forced their way in at four or five points,
made a great slaughter in the streets, and ended the day by sacking
the city with every detail of sacrilege and brutality. Foy says that
2,000 Spaniards and Portuguese fell; his colleague Thiébault gives the
incredible figure of 8,000. Even the smaller number must include a good
many unarmed inhabitants of Evora massacred during the sack. The French
lost ninety killed and 200 wounded [July 29].

On the third day after the fight Loison marched for Elvas, and drove
away the hordes which were blockading it. He was then preparing to
push a reconnaissance in force against Badajoz, when he received
from his commander-in-chief orders to return at once to Lisbon. The
long-expected English invasion of Portugal had at last begun, for on
August 1 Sir Arthur Wellesley was already disembarking his troops
in Mondego Bay. Junot was therefore set on concentrating in order to
fight, and Loison’s expeditionary force was too important a part of
his army to be left out of the battle. Dropping the battalion of the
Hanoverian Legion as a garrison at Santarem, Loison brought the rest of
his 7,000 men to his commander’s aid.



From the first moment when the Asturian deputies arrived in London,
with the news of the insurrection in Northern Spain [June 4], the
English Government had been eager to intervene in the Peninsula.
The history of the last fifteen years was full of the records of
unfortunate expeditions sent out to aid national risings, real or
imaginary, against France. They had mostly turned out disastrous
failures: it is only necessary to mention the Duke of York’s miserable
campaign of 1799 in Holland, Stewart’s invasion of Calabria in 1806,
and Whitelock’s disgraceful fiasco at Buenos Ayres in 1807. As a rule
the causes of their ill success had been partly incapable leading,
partly an exaggerated parsimony in the means employed. Considering the
vast power of France, it was futile to throw ashore bodies of five
thousand, ten thousand, or even twenty thousand men on the Continent,
and to expect them to maintain themselves by the aid of small local
insurrections, such as those of the Orange party in Holland or the
Calabrian mountaineers. The invasion of Spanish South America, on the
hypothesis that its inhabitants were all prepared to revolt against the
mother-country--a fiction of General Miranda--had been even more unwise.

The ‘policy of filching sugar islands,’ as Sheridan wittily called
it--of sending out expeditions of moderate size, which only inflicted
pin-pricks on non-vital portions of the enemy’s dominions--was still
in full favour when the Spanish War began. There was hardly a British
statesman who rose above such ideas; Pitt and Addington, Fox and
Grenville, and the existing Tory government of the Duke of Portland,
had all persisted in the same futile plans. At the best such warfare
resulted in the picking up of stray colonies, such as Ceylon and
Trinidad, the Cape, St. Thomas, or Curaçao: but in 1808 the more
important oversea possessions of France and her allies were still
unsubdued. At the worst the policy led to checks and disasters small
or great, like Duckworth’s failure at Constantinople, the abortive
Egyptian expedition of 1807, or the catastrophe of Buenos Ayres.
Castlereagh seems to have been the only leading man who dared to
contemplate an interference on a large scale in Continental campaigns.
His bold scheme for the landing of 60,000 men in Hanover, during the
winter of 1805-6, had been foiled partly by the hesitation of his
colleagues, partly by the precipitation with which Francis II made
peace after Austerlitz[178].

  [178] This fine and not unpromising scheme deserves study (see
  Alison’s _Life of Castlereagh_, i. 199-202).

But the policy of sending small auxiliary forces to the Iberian
Peninsula was quite a familiar one. We had maintained a few thousand
men under Generals Burgoyne and Townsend for the defence of Portugal
against Spain in 1762. And again in 1801 there had been a small
British division employed in the farcical war which had ended in
the Treaty of Badajoz. In the year after Austerlitz, when it seemed
likely that Bonaparte might take active measures against Portugal,
the Fox-Grenville ministry had offered the Regent military aid, but
had seen it politely refused, for the timid prince was still set on
conciliating the Emperor.

With so many precedents before them, it was natural that the Portland
cabinet should assent to the demands of the Spanish deputies who
appeared in London in June, 1808. The insurrection in the Iberian
Peninsula was so unexpected[179] and so fortunate a chance, that it
was obviously necessary to turn it to account. Moreover, its attendant
circumstances were well calculated to rouse enthusiasm even in the
breasts of professional politicians. Here was the first serious sign
of that national rising against Bonaparte which had been so often
prophesied, but which had been so long in coming. Even the Whigs,
who had systematically denounced the sending of aid to the ‘effete
despotisms of the Continent,’ and had long maintained that Napoleon
was not so black as he was painted, were disarmed in their criticisms
by the character of the Spanish rising. What excuse could be made for
the treachery at Bayonne? And how could sympathy be refused to a people
which, deprived of its sovereign and betrayed by its bureaucracy,
had so gallantly taken arms to defend its national existence? The
debates in the British Parliament during the middle days of June show
clearly that both the Government and the Opposition had grasped the
situation, and that for once they were united as to the policy which
should be pursued. It is only needful to quote a few sentences from the
speeches of Canning as Foreign Secretary, and Sheridan as Leader of the
Opposition [June 15].

  [179] I cannot quite credit the story that Toreño and Arteche
  repeat of Pitt’s dying prophecy, that ‘Napoleon could only be
  overthrown by a national war, and that such a war would probably
  begin in Spain.’

‘Whenever any nation in Europe,’ said Canning, ‘starts up with a
determination to oppose that power which (whether professing insidious
peace or declaring open war) is alike the common enemy of all other
peoples, that nation, whatever its former relations with us may have
been, becomes _ipso facto_ the ally of Great Britain. In furnishing
the aid which may be required, the Government will be guided by three
principles--to direct the united efforts of both countries against the
common foe, to direct them in such a way as shall be most beneficial
to our common ally, and to direct them to such objects as may be
most conducive to British interests. But of these objects the last
shall never be allowed to come into competition with the other two. I
mention British interests chiefly for the purpose of disclaiming them
as any material part of the considerations which influence the British
Government. No interest can be so purely British as Spanish success:
no conquest so advantageous to England as conquering from France the
complete integrity of the Spanish dominions in every quarter of the

Sheridan repeats the same theme in a slightly different key:--‘Hitherto
Buonaparte has run a victorious race, because he has contended with
princes without dignity, ministers without wisdom, and peoples without
patriotism. He has yet to learn what it is to combat a nation who are
animated with one spirit against him. Now is the time to stand up
boldly and fairly for the deliverance of Europe, and if the ministry
will co-operate effectually with the Spanish patriots they shall
receive from us cordial support.... Never was anything so brave, so
noble, so generous as the conduct of the Spaniards: never was there a
more important crisis than that which their patriotism has occasioned
to the state of Europe. Instead of striking at the core of the evil,
the Administrations of this country have hitherto gone on nibbling
merely at the rind: filching sugar islands, but neglecting all that was
dignified and consonant to the real interests of the country. Now is
the moment to let the world know that we are resolved to stand up for
the salvation of Europe. Let us then co-operate with the Spaniards, but
co-operate in an effectual and energetic way. And if we find that they
are really heart and soul in the enterprise, let us advance with them,
magnanimous and undaunted, for the liberation of mankind.... Above all,
let us mix no little interests of our own in this mighty combat. Let us
discard or forget British objects, and conduct the war on the principle
of generous support and active co-operation.’

It may perhaps be hypercritical to point out the weak spot in each
of these stirring harangues. But Canning protested a little too
much--within a few weeks of his speech the British Government was
applying to the Junta of Seville to allow them to garrison Cadiz,
which was refused (and rightly), for in the proposal British interests
peeped out a little too clearly. And Sheridan, speaking from vague and
overcoloured reports of the state of affairs in the Peninsula, went too
far when he extolled the unmixed generosity and nobility of the conduct
of the Spaniards: mingled with their undoubted patriotism there was
enough of bigotry and cruelty, of self-seeking and ignorance, to make
his harangue ring somewhat false in the ears of future generations. Yet
both Canning and Sheridan spoke from the heart, and their declarations
mark a very real turning-point in the history of the great struggle
with Bonaparte.

Fortunately for Great Britain, and for the nations of the Iberian
Peninsula, we were far better prepared for striking a heavy blow on
the Continent in 1808 than we had been at any earlier period of the
war. There was no longer any need to keep masses of men ready in the
south-eastern counties for the defence of England against a French
invasion. There were no longer any French forces of appreciable
strength garrisoned along the English Channel: indeed Castlereagh
had just been planning a raid to burn the almost unprotected French
flotilla which still mouldered in the harbour of Boulogne. Our
standing army had recently been strengthened and reorganized by a not
inconsiderable military reform. The system had just been introduced by
which Wellington’s host was destined to be recruited during the next
six years. Every year two-fifths of the 120,000 embodied militia of
the United Kingdom were to be allowed to volunteer into the regular
army, while the places of the volunteers were filled up by men raised
by ballot from the counties. This sort of limited conscription worked
well: in the year 1808 it gave 41,786 men to the line, and these
not raw recruits, but already more or less trained to arms by their
service in the militia. All through the war this system continued: the
Peninsular army, it must always be remembered, drew more than half its
reinforcing drafts from the ‘old constitutional force.’ Hence came the
ease with which it assimilated its recruits. Meanwhile the embodied
militia never fell short in establishment, as it was automatically
replenished by the ballot. The result of these changes, for which
Castlereagh deserves the chief credit, was a permanent addition of
25,000 men to the regular force available for service at home or in

In June, 1808, there chanced to be several considerable bodies of
troops which could be promptly utilized for an expedition to Spain. The
most important was a corps of some 9,000 men which was being collected
in the south of Ireland, to renew the attack on South America which had
failed so disastrously in 1807. The news of the Spanish insurrection
had, of course, led to the abandonment of the design, and General
Miranda, its originator, had been informed that he must look for no
further support from England. In addition to this force in Ireland
there were a couple of brigades in the south-eastern counties of
England, which had been intended to form the nucleus of Castlereagh’s
projected raid on Boulogne. They had been concentrated at Harwich
and Ramsgate respectively, and the transports for them were ready. A
still more important contingent, but one that lay further off, and was
not so immediately available, was the corps of 10,000 men which Sir
John Moore had taken to the Baltic. In June it became known that it
was impossible to co-operate with the hairbrained King of Sweden, who
was bent on invading Russian Finland, a scheme to which the British
Ministry refused its assent. Moore, therefore, after many stormy
interviews with Gustavus IV, was preparing to bring his division home.
With the aid of Spencer’s troops, which had so long been hovering about
Cadiz and Gibraltar, and of certain regiments picked out of the English
garrisons, it was easily possible to provide 40,000 men for service in
Spain and Portugal.

But a number of isolated brigades and battalions suddenly thrown
together do not form an army, and though Castlereagh had provided a
large force for the projected expedition to the Peninsula, it was
destitute of any proper organization. With the expedition that sailed
from Cork there was only half a regiment of cavalry, and the brigades
from Harwich, Ramsgate, and Gibraltar had not a single horseman with
them, so that there were actually 18,000 foot to 390 horse among the
contingents that first disembarked to contend with Junot’s army.
Transport was almost equally neglected: only the troops from Cork had
any military train with them, and that they were provided with horses
and vehicles was only due to the prescience of their commander, who had
at the last moment procured leave from London to enlist for foreign
service and take with him two troops of the ‘Royal Irish Corps of
Wagoners.’ ‘I declare,’ wrote Wellesley, ‘that I do not understand the
principles on which our military establishments are formed, if, when
large corps are sent out to perform important and difficult services,
they are not to have with them those means of equipment which they
require, such as horses to draw artillery, and drivers attached to
the commissariat[180].’ Without this wise inspiration, he would have
found himself unable to move when he arrived in the Peninsula: as it
was, he had to leave behind, when he landed, some of his guns and half
his small force of cavalry, because the authorities had chosen to
believe that both draft and saddle horses could readily be procured
in Portugal. Such little _contretemps_ were common in the days when
Frederick Duke of York, with the occasional assistance of Mrs. Mary Ann
Clark, managed the British army.

  [180] Wellesley to Castlereagh, June 29, 1808 (_Well. Suppl.
  Disp._, vi. 87).

But the arrangements as to the command of the expedition were the
most ill-managed part of the business. The force at Cork was,
as we have already explained, under the orders of Sir Arthur
Wellesley, the younger brother of the great viceroy who had so much
extended our Indian Empire between 1799 and 1805. He was the junior
lieutenant-general in the British army, but had already to his credit
a more brilliant series of victories than any other officer then
living, including the all-important triumph of Assaye, which had so
effectually broken the power of the Mahrattas. In 1808 he was a Member
of Parliament and Under-Secretary for Ireland, but Castlereagh (who
had the most unbounded belief in his abilities, and had long been
using his advice on military questions) had picked him out to command
the expedition mustering at Cork. When its destination was changed
from America to Spain, the Secretary for War still hoped to keep him
in command, but the Duke of York and the War Office were against
Wellesley[181]. There were many respectable lieutenant-generals of
enormous seniority and powerful connexions who were eager for foreign
service. None of them had Wellesley’s experience of war on a large
scale, or had ever moved 40,000 men on the field: but this counted for
little at head quarters. The command in Portugal was made over to two
of his seniors. The first was Sir Hew Dalrymple, a man of fifty-eight,
whose only campaigning had been with the Duke of York in Flanders
thirteen years back. He had been Governor of Gibraltar since 1806, knew
something of Spanish politics, and was now in active communication with
Castaños. The second in command was to be Sir Harry Burrard[182]: he
was an old Guards officer who had served during the American rebellion,
and had more recently commanded a division during the Copenhagen
expedition without any special distinction. The third was Sir John
Moore, and to being superseded by him Wellesley could not reasonably
have objected. He was at this moment perhaps the most distinguished
officer in the British service: he had done splendid work in the West
Indies, Egypt, and the Netherlands. He had reorganized the light
infantry tactics of the British army, and had won the enthusiastic
admiration of all who had ever served under him for his zeal and
intelligent activity. But Moore, like Wellesley, was to be placed under
Dalrymple and Burrard, and not trusted with an independent command. At
the present moment he was still far away in the Baltic, and was not
expected to arrive for some time. Meanwhile Wellesley was allowed to
sail in temporary charge of the expeditionary force, and still under
the impression that he was to retain its guidance. His transports
weighed anchor on July 12, and it was only on July 15 that the dispatch
from Downing Street, informing him that he had been superseded by
Dalrymple and Burrard, was drafted. It did not reach him till he had
already landed in Portugal.

  [181] For hints on this subject see the letter of W. Wellesley
  Pole, a kinsman of Sir Arthur, in _Wellington Supplementary
  Dispatches_ (vi. 171). ‘The desire that has been manifested at
  Head Quarters for active command will render it natural for all
  that has passed to be seen through a false medium.... The object
  of Head Quarters, if it has any object at all, must be to keep
  down the officer for whom the army has the greatest enthusiasm,
  and to prevent him from being called by the voice of the nation
  to the head of the forces upon active service, rather than to
  crush old officers of known incapacity and want of following....
  Dalrymple is a Guardsman; Burrard is a Guardsman; their
  connexions are closely united to Windsor and Whitehall, and for
  years have not only been in the most confidential situation about
  Head Quarters, but have imbibed all their military notions from
  thence;’ &c.

  [182] Born in 1755, he was a favourite of the Duke of York, and
  had acted as his aide-de-camp. At this moment he held a command
  in the Home District.

His political instructions had been forwarded as early as June 30.
They were drawn up mainly on the data that the Asturian and Galician
deputations had furnished to the ministry[183]. Both the Juntas had
been unwise enough to believe that the national rising would suffice
to expel the French--whose numbers they much underrated--from Spain.
While empowering their envoys to ask for money, arms, and stores,
they had ordered them to decline the offer of an auxiliary force.
They requested that all available British troops might be directed on
Portugal, in order to rouse an insurrection in that country (which was
still quiet when they arrived in London), and to prevent the troops
of Junot from being employed against the rear of the army of General
Blake. In deference to their suggestions the British Government had
sent enormous stores of muskets, powder, and equipment to Gihon and
Ferrol, but directed Wellesley to confine his activity to Portugal.
The Spaniards, with their usual inaccuracy, had estimated the total
of Junot’s army at no more than 15,000 men. Misled by this absurd
undervaluation, Castlereagh informed Wellesley that if he found that
his own and Spencer’s forces sufficed for the reduction of Portugal,
he might ‘operate against the Tagus’ at once. But if more men were
required, an additional 10,000 bayonets would be provided from England,
and the expeditionary force might meanwhile ask the leave of the
Galician Junta to stop at Vigo--a halt which would have cost many weeks
of valuable time. Wellesley himself was to choose a fast-sailing vessel
and make for Corunna, where he was to confer with the Junta and pick up
the latest information as to the state of affairs in the Peninsula.

  [183] Castlereagh to Wellington (_Well. Disp._, iv. 8, 9).

In accordance with these instructions Sir Arthur preceded the bulk
of his armament on the _Crocodile_, and reached Corunna in the short
space of eight days [July 20]. He found the Galicians somewhat
depressed by the disaster of Medina de Rio Seco, whose details they
misrepresented in the most shameless fashion to their distinguished
visitor. Bessières, they said, had lost 7,000 men and six guns, and
although he had forced Blake and Cuesta to retreat on Benavente,
those generals had still 40,000 troops under arms, and had no need
of any auxiliary force. ‘The arrival of the British money yesterday
has entirely renewed their spirits,’ wrote Wellesley, ‘and neither
in them nor in the inhabitants of this town do I see any symptom of
alarm, or doubt of their final success.’ This vainglorious confidence
was supported by an infinity of false news: Lefebvre-Desnouettes was
said to have been thrice defeated near Saragossa, and Dupont and his
whole corps had been taken prisoners on June 22 in an action between
Andujar and La Carolina--a curious prophecy, for it foresaw and placed
a month too early the catastrophe of Baylen[184], which no reasonable
man could have predicted. Almost the only correct information which
was supplied to Wellesley was the news of the revolt of Oporto and the
rest of Northern Portugal. It was clear that there was now an opening
for the British army in that country, and as the Galicians continued to
display their reluctance to receive any military aid, Sir Arthur went
to sea again, joined his fleet of transports off Cape Finisterre, and
bade them make for the mouth of the Douro. He himself put into Oporto,
where he landed and interviewed the Bishop and the Supreme Junta. He
found them in no very happy frame of mind: they had, as they confessed,
only been able to arm 5,000 infantry and 300 cavalry, who lay under
Bernardino Freire at Coimbra, and 1,500 men more for a garrison at
Oporto. The rest of these levies consisted of 12,000 peasants with
pikes, ‘and though the people were ready and desirous to take arms,
unfortunately there were none in the country’--not even enough to equip
the disbanded regulars. The Bishop expressed himself as much alarmed
at the news of the disaster at Medina de Rio Seco, and his military
advisers acknowledged that in consequence of that battle they had given
up any hope of aid from Spain[185]. They asked eagerly for arms, of
which the English fleet carried many thousand stand, and were anxious
to see Wellesley’s troops landed. The place which they recommended for
putting the army ashore was Mondego Bay, near Coimbra, where the mouth
of the Mondego River furnishes an indifferent harbour, guarded by the
fort of Figueira. That stronghold, it will be remembered, had been
seized by the bold exploit of the student Zagalo; it was now garrisoned
by 300 British marines, so that the disembarkation would be safe from
disturbance by anything save the heavy Atlantic surf, which always
beats against the western coast of Portugal. There was no other port
available along the shore save Peniche, which was dangerously close to
Lisbon, and guarded by a castle still in French hands. Nearer still
to the capital, landing is just possible at Cascaes and a few other
places: but there was no regular harbour, and Admiral Cotton agreed
with Wellesley in thinking that it would be mad to attempt to throw
troops ashore on a dangerous rock-bound coast in the midst of Junot’s
cantonments. Mondego Bay was therefore appointed as the general place
of rendezvous for the fleet, which had now begun to arrive opposite the
mouth of the Douro.

  [184] Wellesley to Castlereagh, from Corunna, July 21 (_Well.
  Disp._, vi. 23-5).

  [185] Napier’s statement that Wellesley found the Supreme Junta
  in an extravagant and irrational frame of mind is by no means
  borne out by the dispatches which he sent off from Oporto on
  July 25. They rather represent the Portuguese as in a state of
  pronounced depression of spirits.

As to the Portuguese troops, the Supreme Junta agreed that Bernardino
Freire and his 5,000 men should go forward with the British army,
while the new levies should blockade Almeida, and guard the frontier
along the Douro against any possible advance on the part of Marshal
Bessières from Castile. The Junta calculated that, if supplied with
arms, they could put into the field from the three northern provinces
of Portugal 38,000 foot and 8,000 horse--a liberal estimate, as they
had, including their peasant levies, no more than 19,000 collected on
July 25. They asked for weapons and clothing for the whole mass, and
for a loan of 300,000 Cruzado Novas (about £35,000)--no very large sum
considering the grants that were being made to the Spaniards at this
time. Wellesley would only promise that he would arm the militia and
peasantry who were lying along the Mondego in company with Freire’s
regulars, ‘if he found them worth it[186].’ The Bishop undertook
to forward from Oporto all the remounts for cavalry and all the
draught-mules for commissariat purposes that he could get together. He
thought that he could procure 150 of the former and 500 of the latter
in six days.

  [186] Wellesley to Castlereagh, from Oporto, July 25 (_Well.
  Disp._, vi. 31).

On August 1, 1808, the disembarkation in Mondego Bay began, in the
face of a heavy surf which rendered landing very dangerous, especially
for the horses, guns, and stores. Many boats were upset and a few
lives lost[187]; but the troops and their commander were in good
spirits, for the news of the surrender of Dupont at Baylen on July 20
had reached them the day before the disembarkation began. Wellesley
was convinced that General Spencer would have sailed from Andalusia
to join him, the moment that this great victory made the presence of
British troops in the south unnecessary. He was right, for Spencer,
before receiving any orders to that effect, had embarked his men for
Portugal and came into Mondego Bay on August 5, just as the last of the
division from Cork had been placed on shore. It was therefore with some
13,000 men that Wellesley began his march on Lisbon[188]. But to his
bitter disappointment the young lieutenant-general had just learnt that
three commanders had been placed over his head, and that he might soon
expect Dalrymple to arrive and assume charge of the army. Castlereagh’s
dispatch of July 15, containing this unwelcome news, was delivered to
Wellesley as he lay in Mondego Bay on the thirtieth, and he had to make
all his arrangements for disembarkation while suffering under this
unexpected slight. Many men would have resigned under such a blow, and
Wellesley with his unbounded ambition, his strong sense of his deserts,
and his well-marked tendency to take offence[189] must have been
boiling over with suppressed indignation. But he felt that to ask to be
recalled, because he had been degraded from a commander-in-chief to a
mere general of division, would be an unsoldierly act. To Castlereagh
he merely wrote that ‘whether he was to command the army or to quit
it, he would do his best to ensure its success, and would not hurry
operations one moment in order to acquire credit before the arrival of
his superiors[190].’

  [187] For the difficulties of disembarkation see the interesting
  narrative of Landsheit of the 20th Dragoons, p. 248. He was
  himself upset in the surf.

  [188] The force consisted of:--


  (1) Division embarked at Cork:
        20th Light Dragoons (only 180 with horses)           394
        Artillery                                                    226
         5th Regiment (1st batt.)                    990
         9th    ”          ”                         833
        36th    ”                                    591
        38th    ”     (1st batt.)                    957
        40th    ”          ”                         926
        45th    ”          ”                         670
        60th Rifles   (5th batt.)                    936
        71st Regiment (1st batt.)                    903
        91st    ”          ”                         917
        95th Rifles (2nd batt., four companies)      400

  (2) Spencer’s troops from Andalusia:
        Artillery                                                    245
        6th Regiment (1st batt.)                     946
        29th   ”                                     806
        32nd   ”     (1st batt.)                     874
        50th   ”          ”                          948
        82nd   ”          ”                          929
                                                   -----     ---     ---
                                                   4,503     394     471

  A total of 12,626 infantry, 394 cavalry, 471 artillery = 13,491;
  adding forty-five men of the Staff Corps we get 13,536.

  [189] To understand what Wellesley must have felt, we have only
  to read his rather captious letter of 1801 (_Suppl. Disp._, ii.
  362) to his own brother concerning his merits, his promotion, and
  his career. The man who could so write must have felt the blow in
  the worst way.

  [190] _Well. Disp._, iv. 43.

Meanwhile there were yet a few days during which he would retain the
command, and it was in his power to start the campaign on the right
lines, even if he was not to reap the reward of its success. His first
eight days on shore (August 2-9), were spent in the organization of the
commissariat of his army, which the Home Government had disgracefully
neglected. Except the two troops of the Irish Wagon Train, which he had
insisted on bringing with him, he had no transport at his disposal,
and, as he wrote to Castlereagh, ‘the existence of the army depends
upon the commissariat, and yet the people who manage it are incapable
of managing anything out of a counting-house[191].’ All that could
be got out of the country he utilized: the Bishop of Oporto had sent
him a few horses which enabled him to raise his force of mounted men
from 180 to 240[192], and to give some animals to the artillery[5], to
add to those that had come from Ireland[193]. But though he succeeded
in equipping his own three batteries, the two which Spencer brought
from Andalusia had to be left behind on the Mondego for want of
draught-horses[194]: the dismounted men of the 20th Dragoons had also
to be dropped. For the commissariat the Bishop of Oporto had sent
some mules, which were raised to a total of 500 by purchases in the
country-side, while 300 bullock-carts were procured for the heavier
stores by requisition from the neighbouring villages. It was only
on the ninth that things were so far ready that the army could move
forward. It was now divided into six small brigades under Generals
Hill, Ferguson, Nightingale, Bowes, Catlin Crawfurd, and Fane: the
third, fourth, and fifth brigades had only two battalions each, the
other four had three[195].

  [191] Ibid., iv. 59; cf. pp. 168, 169.

  [192] Ibid., iv. 168. Cf. the returns for Vimiero of men present,
  with the 180 horsed men brought from Ireland.

  [193] Ibid., iv. 168.

  [194] Ibid., iv. 59.

  [195] The brigading was as follows:--1st Brigade (Hill), 5th,
  9th, 38th; 2nd Brigade (Ferguson), 36th, 40th, 71st; 3rd Brigade
  (Nightingale), 29th, 82nd; 4th Brigade (Bowes), 6th, 32nd; 5th
  Brigade (C. Crawfurd), 50th, 91st; 6th Brigade (Fane), 45th,
  5/60th, 2/95th. Before Vimiero the 45th and 50th changed places
  (see the narrative of Col. Leach of Fane’s Brigade). It is worth
  noting that six of these sixteen battalions, as also the 20th
  Light Dragoons, had just returned from the disheartening work of
  the Buenos Ayres expedition. They were the 5th, 36th, 38th, 40th,
  45th, and 71st.

Wellesley had resolved to advance by the coast-road on Lisbon, via
Alcobaça, Obidos, and Torres Vedras, and it was along the desolate
shore ‘up to the knees in sand and suffering dreadfully from
thirst[196],’ that his men made their first march of twelve miles to
Lugar. The distance was moderate, but the troops had been so long
cramped on shipboard that some of the regiments had fallen out of
condition and left many stragglers.

  [196] _Journal of a Soldier of the 71st Regiment_ (Edin. 1828),
  p. 47.

The reasons which had determined Wellesley to take the coast route,
rather than that which leads from the Mondego to Lisbon via Santarem,
were, as he afterwards explained, partly a wish to keep in touch with
the fleet for the purpose of obtaining supplies--for he found that
the country could support him in wine and beef, but not in flour--and
partly the fact that he had learnt that new reinforcements from England
were likely to appear within a few days. The brigades from Harwich and
Ramsgate, under Generals Acland and Anstruther, had sailed on July
19 and might be looked for at any moment. Sir John Moore, with the
division from Sweden, was also reported to be on his way to the south,
but could not be expected to arrive for some time. Having ascertained
that the French force in Portugal was somewhat larger than he
originally supposed, Sir Arthur wished to pick up the troops of Acland
and Anstruther before giving battle. In this he was even wiser than he
knew, for he still estimated Junot’s total disposable force at 18,000
men[197], while it was really 26,000. To have attacked Lisbon with no
more than the 13,000 troops who had originally disembarked at the mouth
of the Mondego would have been most hazardous.

  [197] Wellesley to Burrard, August 8 (_Well. Disp._, iv. 53).

Wellesley had at first intended to take on with him the whole of
Bernardino Freire’s army. He had visited the Portuguese commander at
Montemor Velho on the seventh, and had issued to his ally a supply
of 5,000 muskets. Freire was anxious to persuade him to give up the
coast route, and to throw himself into the interior on the side of
Santarem. But the cogent reasons which compelled him to prefer the
road which allowed him to keep in touch with the fleet, made him
refuse to listen to this plan, and he invited the Portuguese general
to transfer himself on to the same line. Freire so far submitted as to
move to Leiria, where he met the British army on August 10. But here
the two commanders came to hard words and parted. Freire, a self-willed
and shifty man, was determined not to act in unison with Wellesley.
Whether he wished to preserve his independent command, or whether he
feared (as Napier hints) to oppose his raw levies to the French, even
when supported by 13,000 British bayonets[198], he now showed himself
utterly impracticable. He began by laying hands on all the stores of
food in Leiria, though they had been promised to Wellesley. Then he
made the absurd and impudent statement that he could only co-operate
with his allies if Wellesley would undertake to provide rations for his
6,000 men. This proposal was all the more astounding because he had
just been trying to persuade his colleague to move into the inland, by
the statement that resources of every kind abounded in Estremadura, and
that the whole British army could easily live upon the country-side!
Wellesley’s men had now been subsisting for ten days on biscuit landed
by the fleet, and it was ludicrous that he should be asked to take
upon his shoulders the whole burden of feeding the Portuguese in their
own country. Accordingly he utterly rejected the proposal, but he
insisted that Freire should lend him some cavalry and light troops, and
these he promised to maintain. The bulk of the Portuguese, therefore,
remained behind at Leiria, their general being left free to take up,
if he should choose, his favourite plan of marching on Santarem. But
260 horsemen--the skeletons of three old cavalry regiments--a battalion
of Cazadores, and three weak line-regiments were placed at Wellesley’s
disposition: they amounted to about 2,300 men[199], according to the
Portuguese official figures, but the British commander repeatedly
states that he saw no more than 260 horse and 1,600 infantry[200]; so
it is probable that the regiments were somewhat under the estimate
given by Freire. They were commanded by Colonel Trant, a British
officer in the Portuguese service[201].

  [198] Napier, i. 197.

  [199] According to the figures given by the Portuguese historian
  of the war, Da Luz Soriano, they stood as follows:--

    Cavalry of the 6th, 11th, and 12th Regiments     258 sabres.
    6th battalion of Cazadores                       562 bayonets.
    12th, 21st, and 24th line battalions           1,514    ”

  A few troopers of the Lisbon Police Guard, forty-one in all,
  according to Soriano, deserted Junot and joined the army
  before Vimiero. Landsheit of the 20th Light Dragoons mentions
  their arrival, and says that they were put in company with his
  regiment. This would give 2,375 as the total of the Portuguese
  whom Trant commanded.

  [200] _Well. Disp._ (iv. 78) says 1,400, but in his narrative of
  Roliça Sir Arthur accounts for 1,600, 1,200 in his right and 400
  in his centre column. As a middle figure between Wellesley and
  Soriano, 2,000 would probably be safe.

  [201] Their allies did not think much of their looks. Col. Leslie
  describes them thus: ‘The poor fellows had little or no uniform,
  but were merely in white jackets, and large broad-brimmed hats
  turned up at one side, some having feathers and others none, so
  that they cut rather a grotesque appearance’ (p. 40).

Turning once more into the road that skirts the coast, Wellesley
marched on the thirteenth from Leiria, and reached Alcobaça on the
fourteenth. Here he got his first news of the French: a brigade under
Thomières had occupied the village till the previous day, and he learnt
that General Delaborde, with a weak division, was somewhere in his
front, in the direction of Obidos and Roliça.

Junot had received prompt information of the landing of the British
in Mondego Bay; on the very day after it had commenced he was able
to send orders to Loison to abandon his post in front of Badajoz and
to march at once to join the main army. Meanwhile Delaborde was sent
out from Lisbon on August 6 to observe and, if possible, contain
Wellesley, till Junot should have concentrated his whole field-army
and be ready to fight. He was told to expect Loison from the direction
of Thomar and Santarem, and to join him as soon as was possible. For
his rather hazardous task he was given no more than five battalions
of infantry and a single regiment of _chasseurs à cheval_, with five
guns[202]--not much more than 5,000 men.

  [202] Delaborde’s numbers at the combat of Roliça have been the
  cause of much controversy. Wellesley in one of his dispatches
  estimated them at as much as 6,000 men; the unveracious Thiébault
  would reduce them as low as 1,900. But it is possible to arrive
  at something like the real figures.

  Delaborde brought out from Lisbon two battalions of the 70th, the
  26th _Chasseurs à Cheval_, and five guns. Thomières joined him
  from Peniche with the 1st Provisional Light Infantry (a battalion
  each of the 2nd and 4th Léger) and with the 4th Swiss.

  The numbers of these corps had been on July 15:--

    70th of the Line (two batts.)                    2,358
    2nd Léger (one batt.)                            1,075
    4th   ”       ”                                  1,098
    4th Swiss     ”                                    985
    26th Chasseurs                                     263

  But each of the four French corps had given its grenadier company
  as a contribution to the ‘Reserve Grenadier Battalions’ which
  Junot had organized. The battalions being on the old nine-company
  establishment (see Foy’s large table of the _Armée d’Espagne_,
  note _d_) we must deduct one-ninth of each, or about 500 men
  in all. We have also to allow for six companies of the 4th
  Swiss sent to garrison Peniche; not for the whole battalion,
  as Foy says in iv. 306, for there were Swiss in the fight of
  Roliça (Leslie’s _Military Journal_, p. 43), and at Vimiero
  in the official state of Junot’s army we find two companies
  of this corps with Brennier’s brigade. We must deduct, then,
  three-fourths of them from the force present with Delaborde,
  i.e. some 740 men. This leaves 4,276 men for the four and a
  quarter battalions under fire at Roliça. Of course Junot’s troops
  must have had a few men in hospital since July 15, the date of
  the return which we are using. But they cannot have been many.
  The 70th had been quiet in its quarters in Lisbon. The other
  three battalions had been in Loison’s Beira expedition, and had
  lost some men therein, but all before July 11. If we concede
  300 sick on August 16, it is ample. We can allow therefore for
  4,000 infantry, 250 cavalry, and some 100 gunners present with
  Delaborde, i.e. his total force must have been about 4,350 men--a
  number much closer to Wellesley’s 6,000 than to Thiébault’s
  1,900; Foy, usually so accurate, is clearly wrong in bringing the
  figures down to 2,500 (iv. 310).

Delaborde at first thought of making a stand, and compelling Wellesley
to show his force, at Batalha near Alcobaça, where John I had beaten
the Spaniards, four and a half centuries ago, at the decisive battle
of Aljubarotta. But, after examining the position, he found it so much
surrounded by woods, and so destitute of good points of view, that he
feared to be enveloped if he committed himself to a fight. Accordingly
he drew back to Roliça, leaving only a rearguard at Obidos to observe
the approach of the British. At the same time he detached six companies
of the 4th Swiss to garrison Peniche, thus reducing his available force
to 4,350 men.

Wellesley, meanwhile, knowing himself to be close to the enemy,
advanced steadily but with caution. He left behind his tents and other
weighty baggage at Leiria, and moved forward with a lightly equipped
army to Alcobaça on the fourteenth, to Caldas on the fifteenth. On that
day the first shot of the campaign was fired: four companies of the
fifth battalion of the 60th and of the second battalion of the 95th
Rifles discovered the French outposts at Brilos in front of Obidos,
drove them in, and pursuing furiously for three miles, came on the
battalion which formed Delaborde’s rearguard. This corps turned upon
them, checked them with the loss of two[203] officers and twenty-seven
men killed and wounded, and only retired when General Spencer led up a
brigade to save the riflemen.

  [203] The name of Lieutenant Bunbury, of the 2/95th, perhaps
  deserves remembrance as that of the first British officer killed
  in the Peninsular War.

Next morning the French were discovered to have fallen back no further
than Roliça, where Delaborde had found the position that he had sought
in vain at Batalha. The road from Caldas and Obidos towards Torres
Vedras and Lisbon passes for some miles over a sandy plain enclosed
on either flank by bold hills. The southern limit of the basin is a
cross-ridge, which connects the other two: in front of it lies Roliça,
on the side-slope of an isolated eminence which overlooks the whole
plain: a mile further south the road passes over the cross-ridge by
a sort of gorge or defile, on the right hand of which is the village
of Columbeira, while to its left rear lies that of Zambugeira. Though
Delaborde had drawn up his men on the hill of Roliça down in the plain,
it was not this advanced position that he intended to hold, but the
higher and steeper line of the cross-ridge, on either side of the
defile above Columbeira. Here he had a short front, only three-quarters
of a mile in length, scarped by precipitous slopes, and covered by
thickets and brushwood, which served to mask the strength (or rather
the weakness) of his division.

Discovering Delaborde drawn up on the isolated hill of Roliça,
where both his flanks could easily be turned, the British commander
resolved to endeavour to envelop and surround him. He waited on the
sixteenth till the rear of the army had come up, and marched at dawn
on the seventeenth with his whole force--13,000 British and 2,000
Portuguese, drawn up in a crescent-shaped formation with the centre
refused and the wings thrown far forward. On the right Colonel Trant,
with three battalions of Portuguese infantry and fifty horse of the
same nation, moved along the foot of the western range of heights,
to turn the Roliça position by a wide circular movement. On the left
General Ferguson, with his own brigade, that of Bowes, and six guns,
struck over the hills to get round the eastern flank of the French.
In the centre the remainder of the army--four brigades of British
infantry, 400 cavalry, half English and half Portuguese, with the
battalion of Cazadores and twelve guns, advanced on a broad front in
two lines, forming a most magnificent spectacle: ‘they came on slowly
but in beautiful order, dressing at intervals to correct the gaps
caused by the inequalities of ground, and all converging on the hill
of Roliça[204].’ Hill’s brigade formed the right, Fane’s the left,
Nightingale’s the centre, while Catlin Crawfurd’s two battalions and
the Cazadores acted as the reserve.

  [204] Foy, iv. 309.

Delaborde had warned his men to be ready for a sudden rush to the rear
the minute that the enveloping movement should grow dangerous. Waiting
till the last possible moment, when Fane’s riflemen were already
engaged with his tirailleurs, and Trant and Ferguson were showing on
the flanks, he suddenly gave the order for retreat. His men hurried
back, easily eluding the snare, and took post on the wooded heights
above Columbeira a mile to the rear. Wellesley had to rearrange his
troops for an attack on the second position, and half the morning had
been wasted to no effect. He resolved, however, to repeat his original
manœuvre. Trant and the Portuguese once more made a long sweep to
the right: Ferguson’s column mounted the foot-hills of the Sierra de
Baragueda and commenced a toilsome detour to the left[205]. In the
centre two batteries formed up near a windmill on the northern slope
of Roliça hill and began to bombard the French position, while Fane’s
brigade to the left on the main road, and Hill’s and Nightingale’s to
the right deployed for the attack.

  [205] I cannot find the authority for Napier’s statement that
  Fane joined Ferguson in the second move. He seems still to have
  acted in the centre.

Wellesley had not intended to assault the Columbeira heights till the
turning movements of Trant and Ferguson should be well developed. But,
contrary to his intention, part of his centre pushed forward at once,
and when it was engaged the other troops in the front line were sent
up to its aid. The face of the hill was scarred by four ‘passes’ as
Wellesley called them, or rather large ravines, up each of which some
of the British troops tried to penetrate. On the extreme right the
light companies of Hill’s brigade, supported by the first battalion
of the 5th Regiment from the same brigade, delivered their attack up
one gully. The second pass, just beyond the village of Columbeira, was
assayed by the 29th from Nightingale’s brigade, with the 9th of Hill’s
in support. The 82nd went towards the centre, while Fane’s two rifle
battalions and the 45th tried the heights far to the left.

The 29th Regiment, urged on by the rash courage of its colonel, Lake,
attacked some time before any other corps was engaged. It pushed up a
narrow craggy pass, the bed of a dried-up mountain torrent, where in
some places only two or three men abreast could keep their footing: the
further that the battalion advanced, the more did the ravine recede
into the centre of the enemy, and the 29th was soon being fired on
from three sides. The right wing, which led, at last forced its way
to the brow of the hill, and was able to deploy in a more or less
imperfect way, and to commence its fire. In front of it were the few
companies of the 4th Swiss, some of whom tried to surrender, calling
out that they were friends, turning up their musket butts, and rushing
in to shake hands with the British[206]. But before the 29th could
fully recover its formation, it was fiercely charged from the rear:
some of the French troops on the lower slopes of the position, finding
themselves likely to be cut off, formed in a dense mass and rushed
straight through the right wing of Colonel Lake’s regiment from behind,
breaking it, killing its commander and capturing six officers and some
thirty of its rank and file, whom they took back with them in triumph.
The 29th reeled down the slope into a wood, where it reformed on its
comparatively intact left wing, and then resumed the fight, aided by
the 9th, its supporting regiment. About this moment the 5th and Fane’s
rifles made other attacks on the two ends of the hostile line, but were
at first checked. Delaborde and his brigadier, Brennier, had only
four battalions on the ridge, as they had detached three companies of
the 70th far to their right in the direction in which Ferguson was
moving. But they held their ground very gallantly, waiting till the
British skirmishers had begun to get a lodgement on the brow, and then
charging each detachment as it tried to deploy, and forcing it down to
the edge of the wood that covered the lower slopes. Three assaults were
thus repulsed, but the British troops would not be denied--Wellesley
wrote that he had never seen more gallant fighting than that of the 9th
and the 29th[207]--and after each reverse formed up again and came on
once more. After two hours of desperate struggles they made good their
lodgement on the crest at several points: Ferguson’s troops (though
they had lost their way and wasted much time) began to appear on the
extreme left, and Delaborde then saw that it was time for him to go.

  [206] Col. Leslie’s narrative, p. 43. The 4th Swiss was a very
  discontented corps; individuals of it had begun to desert to the
  British even before Roliça (Leach, p. 44), and a considerable
  number of them took service in the 60th Rifles after the
  Convention of Cintra, refusing to return to France.

  [207] _Well. Disp._, iv. 83, 87.

He retired by alternate battalions, two in turn holding back the
disordered pursuers, while the other two doubled to the rear. His
regiment of _chasseurs à cheval_ also executed several partial charges
against the British skirmishers, and lost its commander mortally
wounded: the Portuguese cavalry refused to face them. In this way the
French reached the pass behind Zambugeira, a mile to the rear, without
any great loss. But in passing through this defile, they were forced to
club together by the narrowness of the road, were roughly hustled by
their pursuers, and lost three[208] of their guns and a few prisoners.
The rest of the force escaped in some disorder to Cazal da Sprega,
where Wellesley halted his men, seeing that it was now impossible to
catch Delaborde’s main body. Two miles to the rear the French were
rejoined by the three companies of the 70th Regiment which had been
detached to the east. They then retreated to Montechique some fifteen
miles from Lisbon, where they at last got news of Loison and Junot.

  [208] Foy says only one gun, but Wellesley, who had better
  opportunities of knowing, says that he took three (_Well. Disp._,
  iv. 83).

Delaborde had fought a most admirable rearguard action, holding on to
the last moment, and escaping by his prompt manœuvres the very serious
risk of being enveloped and captured by the forces of the English,
who outnumbered him fourfold. But he had lost 600 men and three guns,
while his assailants had only suffered to the extent of 474 killed,
wounded, and prisoners[209], nearly half of whom were in the ranks of
the 29th[210]. The French flattered themselves that they had somewhat
shaken the _morale_ of Wellesley’s men by their obstinate resistance:
but this was far from being the case. The English had only put five and
a half battalions[211] into the fighting line, and were proud of having
turned the enemy out of such a position as that of Columbeira without
engaging more than 4,600 men.

  [209] Thiébault solemnly states our loss at 2,000 men!
  _Mémoires_, iv. 186.

  [210] That corps lost no less than 190 officers and men, among
  whom were six officers taken prisoners.

  [211] The 5th, 9th, 29th, 82nd, 5/60th, and four companies of the
  2/95th, in all 4,635 men. They lost respectively 46, 72, 190, 25,
  66, and 42 men, or 441 in all; while the rest of the army (ten
  British and four Portuguese battalions) only lost the remaining
  38 of the total of 479 casualties suffered on the 17th, i.e. were
  not really engaged.

It is doubtful whether Delaborde should have fought at all: he was
holding on in the hope that Loison’s division would come up and join
him, but this junction was very problematical, as nothing had been
heard of that general for many days. By fighting at Columbeira,
Delaborde risked complete destruction for an inadequate end. It was
true that if Loison was now close at hand Wellesley’s further advance
might cut him off from Lisbon. But as a matter of fact Loison was still
far away. He had reached Santarem on August 13, with his troops so
tired by his long march from the Alemtejo, that he halted there for
two days to rest them and allow his stragglers to come up. Marching
again on the sixteenth, he was at Cercal, fifteen miles from Roliça to
the east, while Delaborde was fighting. He barely heard the distant
cannonade, and rejoined the rest of the army at Torres Vedras, by a
route through Cadaval and Quinta da Bugagliera, which crossed his
colleague’s line of retreat at an acute angle [August 18].

It is true that if Wellesley had been accurately informed of Loison’s
position on the seventeenth, he could have so manœuvred as to place
himself directly between that general and Lisbon on the following
day, by seizing the cross-roads at Quinta da Bugagliera. In that case
Loison’s division could only have rejoined Junot by a perilous flank
march through Villafranca and Saccavem, or by crossing the Tagus and
moving along its eastern bank to the heights of Almada opposite the
capital. But the English general’s object at this moment was not to
cut off Loison, but to pick up a considerable reinforcement, of
whose approach he had just heard. On the morning of the eighteenth
the brigade of General Acland from Harwich had arrived off the
Peniche peninsula, and its advent was reported to Wellesley, with the
additional news that that of General Anstruther, which had sailed from
Ramsgate, was close behind. It was all-important to get these 4,000 men
ashore: they could not be landed at Peniche, whose fort was still in
French hands, and the only other anchorage near was that of Porto Novo,
at the mouth of the little river Maceira, twelve miles south of Roliça.
To cover their disembarkation Wellesley marched by the coast-road
through Lourinhão, and encamped on the heights of Vimiero. This
movement allowed Loison, who moved by the parallel road more inland, to
pass the English and reach Torres Vedras.


By far the best English account of Roliça is that by Col.
Leslie of the 29th, in his _Military Journal_, which was not
printed till 1887 (at the Aberdeen University Press). He
corrects Napier on several points. I have also found useful
details in the letters (unpublished) of Major Gell, of the
same regiment, which were placed at my disposition by Mr. P.
Lyttelton Gell. Leslie and Gell agree that Colonel Lake led on
his regiment too fast, contrary to Wellesley’s intentions. The
narrative of Colonel Leach of the 2/95th is also valuable. The
accounts of Landsheit of the 20th Light Dragoons, of Colonel
Wilkie in Maxwell’s _Peninsular Sketches_ (vol. i), and the
anonymous ‘T.S.’ of the 71st (Constable, Edinburgh, 1828) have
some useful points. Foy and Thiébault, the French narrators of
the fight, were not eye-witnesses, like the six above-named
British writers.



Junot much disliked leaving Lisbon: he greatly enjoyed his viceregal
state, and was so convinced that to retain the capital was equivalent
to dominating the whole of Portugal[212], that he attached an
exaggerated importance to his hold on the place, and was very
reluctant to cut down its garrison. But it was clearly necessary to
support Delaborde and Loison, and at last he took his departure. As
a preliminary precaution he resolved to deal a blow at the Alemtejo
insurgents, who, emboldened by Loison’s retreat, were creeping nearer
to the mouth of the Tagus, and showing themselves opposite Setuval.
On August 11, five days after Delaborde had marched off, General
Kellermann was sent out with two battalions and a few dragoons to drive
off these hovering bands, a task which he executed with ease, giving
them a thorough beating at Alcacer do Sal. Having cleared this flank
Junot evacuated Setuval and his other outlying posts beyond the Tagus,
and only retained garrisons at Forts Bugio and Trafaria, which command
the entrance of the river, and on the heights of Almada, which face
Lisbon across the ‘Mar de Palio.’ He put in a state of defence the old
citadel which crowns the highest of the seven hills on which the city
is built, and established a battalion in each of the suburban villages
of Belem and Saccavem, another in Fort San Julian at the mouth of the
Tagus, and two at Cascaes, in the batteries which command the only
point where a disembarkation from the side of the Atlantic is barely
possible. This excess of precaution was largely due to the fact that
a small English convoy of transports, carrying the 3rd Regiment (the
Buffs) from Madeira, had been seen off the mouth of the Tagus. The duke
feared that this portended an attempt to throw troops ashore in the
immediate vicinity of the capital, when he should have gone off to meet

  [212] As Foy well puts it, the idea was that ‘le Portugal était
  dans Lisbonne, et Lisbonne était à elle seule tout le Portugal’
  (iv. 283).

Altogether Junot left seven battalions, not less than 6,500 men, in
Lisbon and the neighbouring forts, a much greater number than was
really required, for, as Napoleon afterwards observed, capitals wait,
before declaring themselves, for events outside to cast their shadows
before[213]. Knowing that a decisive blow given to the English would be
the best way to keep the city quiet, the Duke of Abrantes would have
been wise to cut down his garrisons round Lisbon to 3,000 men, however
great the risk, and take every available man to meet Wellesley[214].
It is probable that his error, which no French general would have
committed at a later period of the war, was due to that tendency to
despise the fighting power of the British which was prevalent on the
Continent all through the early years of the century.

  [213] See his curious criticism on Junot, recorded by Thiébault
  in iv. 268, 269 of his _Mémoires_.

  [214] For clearness it may be worth while to give the dislocation
  of Junot’s army on the day of the battle of Vimiero, adding the
  force of each unit on July 15, the last available return.

  1st Division, Delaborde:--

    Brigade Avril:                _Men._           _Station._
      15th Line (3rd batt.)       1,086  At Saccavem and in Lisbon city.
      47th  ” (2nd batt.)         1,541  In forts south of the Tagus-mouth.
      70th  ” (1st and 2nd
        batts.)                   2,358  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.

    Brigade Brennier:
      86th Line (1st and 2nd
        batts.)                   2,501  Field-army. Present at Vimiero
                                           (except four companies left
                                           at Elvas).
      4th Swiss (1st batt.)         985  Six companies at Peniche. Two
                                           present at Vimiero.

  2nd Division, Loison:--

    Brigade Thomières:
        ‘1st Provisional Léger’--
      2nd Léger (3rd batt.)       1,075  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.
      4th    ”        ”           1,098  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.
        ‘2nd Provisional Léger’--
      12th Léger (3rd batt.)      1,253  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.
      15th   ”        ”           1,305  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.

    Brigade Charlot:
      32nd Line       ”           1,034  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.
      58th   ”        ”           1,428  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.
      2nd Swiss (2nd batt.)       1,103  In garrison at Elvas.

  3rd Division, Travot:--

    Brigade Graindorge:
      31st Léger (3rd batt.)        846 { Partly on the heights of Almada,
      32nd   ”        ”           1,099 {   partly guarding the Spanish
                                        {   prisoners at Lisbon.
      26th Line       ”             517  At Belem.
      66th  ”  (3rd and 4th
        batts.)                   1,125  At Cascaes.

    Brigade Fusier:
      82nd Line (3rd batt.)         963  Field-army. Present at Vimiero.
      _Légion du Midi_              842  At Fort San Julian.
      1st Hanoverian Legion         804  At Santarem.

  All the four cavalry regiments of Margaron’s division, 1,754
  sabres, were present at Vimiero, save one troop of dragoons
  captured with Quesnel at Oporto.

Not the least of Junot’s troubles was the obstinate torpidity of the
Russian admiral, Siniavin, whose 6,000 seamen and marines might have
taken over the whole charge of Lisbon, if only their commander had
been willing. The Russian had refused to take part in the war as long
as only Portuguese were in the field, on the plea that his master
had never declared war on the Prince-Regent or recognized the French
annexation. But when the British had landed, Junot hoped to move him to
action, for there was no doubt that Russia and the United Kingdom were
technically at war. The Duke of Abrantes first tried to induce Siniavin
to put out from the Tagus, to fall upon scattered British convoys, and
to distract the attention of the blockading squadron under Cotton.
But the reply that to sally forth into the Atlantic would probably
mean destruction in two days by the British fleet was too rational to
be overruled. Then Junot proposed that Siniavin should at least take
charge of the pontoons containing the captive Spanish division of
Caraffa: but this too was denied him, and he had to leave a battalion
of Graindorge’s brigade to mount guard on the prisoners[215]. The
Russians were perfectly useless to Junot, except in so far as their
guns helped to overawe Lisbon, and presented a show of force to deter
British vessels from trying to force the passage of the forts at the
mouth of the Tagus. The fact was that Siniavin was not so much stupid
as disaffected: he belonged to the party in Russia which was opposed to
France, and he had perhaps received a hint from home that he was not
expected to show too much zeal in supporting the projects of Napoleon.

  [215] I cannot make out whether this was the 31st or the 32nd
  Léger. Foy and Thiébault omit to give the detail.

On the night of August 15, Junot marched out of Lisbon at the head
of his reserve, a very small force consisting of a battalion of the
82nd of the line, one of the two regiments of grenadiers, which he had
created by concentrating the grenadier companies of the eighteen line
battalions in his army[216], the 3rd provisional regiment of dragoons,
a squadron of volunteer cavalry formed by the French inhabitants of
Lisbon, and his reserve artillery--ten guns under General Taviel. He
also took with him the reserve ammunition-train, a large convoy of
food, and his military chest containing a million of francs in specie.
On the morning of the seventeenth the troops had reached Villafranca,
when a false report that the English were trying to land at Cascaes
caused them to retrace their steps for some miles, and to lose half a
day’s march. On learning that Lisbon and its neighbourhood were quiet,
Junot returned to the front, and growing vexed at the slow march of
the great convoy which the reserve was escorting, pushed on ahead, and
joined Loison at Cercal. He heard the distant thunder of the guns at
Roliça in the afternoon, but was too far away to help Delaborde.

  [216] Junot had created two of these regiments of grenadiers,
  each of two battalions. The second was at this moment with Loison.

On the eighteenth Loison and Junot marched southward to Torres Vedras,
and heard that Delaborde had fallen back so far that he was ten miles
to their rear, at Montechique. He only came up to join them next day
[August 19], and the reserve with its heavy convoy, much hampered by
bad country roads in the Monte Junto hills, did not appear till the

Junot had been much exercised in mind by the doubt whether Wellesley
would march by the direct road on Lisbon through Torres Vedras and
Montechique, or would continue to hug the shore by the longer route
that passes by Vimiero and Mafra. Not knowing of the approach of
Acland’s and Anstruther’s brigades, he was ignorant of the main fact
which governed his adversary’s movements. But learning on the twentieth
that the British were still keeping to the coast-road, by which
they could in one more march turn his position at Torres Vedras, he
determined to rush upon them with his united forces and give battle.
At the last moment he resolved to draw a few more men from Lisbon, and
called up a battalion of the 66th of the line, and another composed of
four picked companies selected from the other corps of the garrison--a
trifling reinforcement of 1,000 or 1,200 men, which arrived just too
late for the fight at Vimiero.

The organization of the French army had been so much cut up by the
numerous garrisons which Junot had thought fit to leave behind
him, that although five of his six infantry brigades were more or
less represented in his field-army, not one of them was complete.
He accordingly recast the whole system, and arranged his force in
two divisions under Delaborde and Loison, and a reserve brigade of
Grenadiers under Kellermann. His cavalry on the other hand was intact:
every one of the four regiments of Margaron’s division was present, and
over and above them he had the squadron of French volunteers raised
in Lisbon. He had also twenty-three guns: there should have been
twenty-six, but Delaborde had lost three at Roliça. The total of men
present amounted to 10,300 foot and 2,000 horse, with 700 artillerymen
and men of the military train[217], or about 13,000 in all.

  [217] Junot’s numbers at Vimiero are as much disputed as
  Delaborde’s at Roliça. Among the French accounts the figures
  vary from 12,500 to 9,200. Foy, usually the most conscientious
  historian, gives 11,500; Thiébault, both in his narrative,
  published in 1816, and in his private _Mémoires_, descends to
  9,200. Wellesley estimated the army that he had fought at 14,000
  (_Well. Disp._, iv. 101).

  It will be well to give the corps present, and to examine into
  their probable strength. Just before the landing of the British
  they had stood as follows (I have arranged them in their new

  (1) Division Delaborde:--

      Brigade Brennier:
          2nd Léger (3rd batt.)                     1,075
          4th    ”      ”                           1,098
          70th of the Line (1st and 2nd batts.)     2,358
                                                    -----    4,531

      Brigade Thomières:
        86th of the Line (1st and 2nd batts.)(minus
            four companies left at Elvas)           1,945
        4th Swiss (two companies)                     246
                                                    -----    2,191

  (2) Division Loison:--

    Brigade Solignac:
        12th Léger (3rd batt.)                      1,253
        15th    ”       ”                           1,305
        58th of the Line (3rd batt.)                1,428
                                                    -----    3,986

    Brigade Charlot:
        32nd of the Line (3rd batt.)                1,034
        82nd  ”              ”                        963
                                                    -----    1,997

  [(3) Reserve of Grenadiers:--

         1st Regiment (1st and 2nd batts.) }
         2nd     ”           ”      ”      }  2,100

  This corps, being formed of companies drawn from every battalion
  in Portugal, except the three foreign regiments and the _Légion
  du Midi_, must not be counted in our first estimate.]

  (4) Cavalry Division Margaron:--
        1st Provisional Chasseurs                     263
        3rd     ”       Dragoons                      640
        4th     ”          ”                          589
        5th     ”          ”                          659
        Squadron of volunteer cavalry                 100
                                                    -----    2,251

  (5) Artillerymen for 23 guns, engineers, train, &            700

  But from this 15,656 large deductions have to be made; each of the
  eleven line battalions present had given its grenadier company to
  contribute to the four battalions of ‘Reserve Grenadiers’ which Junot
  had formed. We must therefore deduct from them about 1,350 bayonets.
  Delaborde had lost 600 men at Roliça. Loison’s regiments had been
  thinned by the dépôt battalion left to garrison Almeida, and by his
  losses in his campaign on the Douro and in the Alemtejo. Thiébault
  states that the casualties had amounted to 450 during these operations:
  the details left at Almeida, including many sick, were 1,000 strong,
  so we must subtract 1,450 from Loison’s total. This is liberal, as
  some, both of the Almeida force and of the Alemtejo losses, came from
  regiments not present at Vimiero (e.g. the 1st Hanoverians and the 4th

  We must make some deduction for the ordinary hospital wastage of the
  troops which had come out of Lisbon with Delaborde and Junot, seven
  battalions and two regiments of cavalry. Loison’s sick are already
  partly accounted for by the Almeida details. It would seem that 1,000
  would be an ample allowance. When the French evacuated Portugal they
  had 3,281 men in hospital. Of these, 1,200 were the wounded of Vimiero.
  Of the remainder, 1,000 may have belonged to the ten and two-thirds
  battalions present at the battle, the other 1,081 to the eleven and
  one-third not present.

  For the infantry then we allow--

    12,705 of original strength, minus 1,350 Grenadiers,
      600 lost at Roliça, and 1,450 in garrison at Almeida
      or lost in the insurrection, and 1,000 sick (4,400
      in all)                                                8,305
    Add for four battalions of Reserve Grenadiers            2,100
                                           Total            10,405

    Margaron’s cavalry was practically intact: on July 15
      it was 2,151 strong (Thiébault); it hardly suffered
      in the insurrection. If we allow 300 men for casual
      losses and troopers on detachment or acting as
      orderlies, it is ample                                 1,851
    We must add the 100 volunteer horse                        100
    Lastly, for artillerymen of four batteries (23 guns),
      engineers and train, &c., we allow                       700
                                           Total            13,056

  This is not far from Wellesley’s estimate of 14,000 men.

Hearing that Wellesley was stationary in Vimiero since the morning
of the nineteenth, Junot determined to attack him at the earliest
possible moment. He was ignorant that his adversary’s halt was due to
the arrival of Anstruther and Acland, but knowing that more troops were
expected from the sea he resolved to fight at once. The reserve and
convoy joined him on the morning of the twentieth: the same night he
marched under cover of the darkness and traversed the ten miles which
separated him from the hostile position: at dawn he was close under it.

But Wellesley meanwhile had received his reinforcements, and was
4,000 men stronger than the Duke of Abrantes supposed. On the
nineteenth Anstruther’s[218] brigade had accomplished its dangerous
disembarkation, through the surf that beats upon the sandy shore north
of the mouth of the Maceira. It had been a tedious business, many
boats having been upset and some lives lost. On the afternoon of the
twentieth the convoy that brought Acland’s brigade was got inshore, and
the greater part of the men disembarked in the dusk in the actual mouth
of the little river, and slept upon the beach. But some of them were
still on shipboard on the morning of the twenty-first, and came too
late for the battle of that day[219].

  [218] Anstruther’s Brigade from Ramsgate consisted of--

          9th Regiment (2nd batt.)            633
          43rd    ”        ”                  721
          52nd    ”        ”                  654
          97th    ”                           695

  With them the 43rd and 52nd, so famous in many a Peninsular
  battle-field in the Light Division, made their appearance.

  [219] Of Acland’s Brigade from Harwich there disembarked--

  2nd or Queen’s Regiment                     731
  20th Regiment (seven and a half companies)  401
  95th Rifles (1st batt., two companies)      200

  The ship that bore Colonel Ross and two and a half companies of
  the 20th had drifted so far off the shore that it did not succeed
  in getting its freight delivered till late on the twenty-first.

While covering this disembarkation Wellesley had taken up an excellent
position on the heights of Vimiero, with the sea at his back. The
surrounding country was pleasant, good water was forthcoming in
abundance, and the neighbouring villages provided a considerable
quantity of food. The region is both more fertile and better wooded
than most of central Portugal. The only fault of the position was
that it was one from which retreat would have been very difficult. But
confident in himself and his men, and somewhat under-estimating the
possible maximum of force that Junot could bring against him, Wellesley
was thinking of nothing less than of retreat. If he had not been
attacked on the twenty-first, he would himself have pushed on towards
the enemy next day. He had now 16,778 British troops, besides Trant’s
2,000 Portuguese, and thought himself competent to cope with any force
that Junot could collect.

  [Illustration: Battle of Vimiero. August 21, 1808.]

The position of Vimiero consists of a well-marked line of heights
sweeping from the north to the south-west, and cut through the centre
by the narrow valley of the river Maceira, on which the village of
Vimiero stands. The southern part of the range, which lies nearest the
sea, is especially steep and formidable: the northern part, beyond the
Maceira, is lower and broader: along its ridge runs a country road
leading northward to Lourinhão. But even here the position is very
strong, for a ravine creeps along its eastern foot and acts as a sort
of ditch to the broad ridge, or rather plateau, which the British army
was holding. Its only accessible side is the north, where it sinks
down into a rolling upland beyond the village of Ventosa. In the very
centre of the position, well in front of the main ridge, just above the
village of Vimiero, lies an isolated hill, well suited to serve as an
outwork or first line of defence. It was partly occupied by vineyards
and thickets, partly by open fields, and gave admirable cover for its

This hill Wellesley had chosen as the key of his position: on it were
placed the two brigades of Fane and Anstruther, seven battalions in
all. The high ridge running from behind it to the sea was held by the
brigades of Hill, Bowes, Catlin Crawfurd, Nightingale, and Acland.
That of Ferguson lay behind Vimiero, astride of the valley of the
Maceira. Trant’s four battalions of Portuguese were near Ferguson, on
the lower heights north of Vimiero, ready to act as a reserve to Fane
and Anstruther. The handful of cavalry, 240 English and 260 Portuguese
sabres, were in the low ground on the banks of the Maceira, close under
Crawfurd’s position. Of the three batteries which Wellesley had been
able to bring with him, six guns were on the projecting height with
Anstruther, eight were on the high mountain south of Vimiero, and four
were with the reserve.

A glance at this order of battle shows that Wellesley expected to be
attacked from the south, up the valley of the Maceira, and that he
thought that the enemy’s plan would be to force his right-centre.
Little or no provision is made against the plan which Junot actually
adopted, that of assaulting the British left-centre and simultaneously
turning their extreme left flank, while leaving the right unmolested.
But the whole position was so short--it was less than three miles in
length--that there was no difficulty in shifting troops rapidly from
one end of it to the other, and, as the event showed, no risk whatever
was run.

Wellesley was busy arranging his line of battle, when to his bitter
disappointment he received the news that he was superseded, a calamity
which he had been expecting to occur at any moment. Sir Harry Burrard
had arrived from England at the tail of Acland’s convoy, and was now on
board the sloop _Brazen_ in Maceira Bay. Sir Arthur at once went off
in a boat to greet him, and to give him an account of the condition in
which affairs stood. Burrard heard him out, and then placed a strong
embargo on any further offensive movement. He had learnt that Sir John
Moore, with the division from the Baltic, was now off the Portuguese
coast, and was resolved not to stir till those troops should have been
landed. Being, as it seems, a leisurely sort of man, he resolved to
sleep on board his ship for one night more, and to come ashore next
morning--a resolve which cost him that chance of commanding a British
army in a pitched battle which so many generals have in vain desired.
Wellesley went back through the surf charged, for a short fifteen hours
more, with the destinies of the army of Portugal[220].

  [220] It may be well to give Wellesley’s army at Vimiero:--

              Cavalry, 20th Light Dragoons                  240
              Artillery, three batteries                    226

          1st Brigade, Hill:
              5th (1st batt.)                     944
              9th      ”                          761
              38th     ”                          953
                                                 ----     2,658

          2nd Brigade, Ferguson:
              36th                                591
              40th (1st batt.)                    923
              71st      ”                         935
                                                 ----     2,449

          3rd Brigade, Nightingale:
              29th                                616
              82nd (1st batt.)                    904
                                                 ----     1,520

          4th Brigade, Bowes:
              6th (1st batt.)                     943
              32nd ”                              870
                                                 ----     1,813

          5th Brigade, C. Crawfurd:
              45th (1st batt.)                    915
              91st                                917
                                                 ----     1,832

          6th Brigade, Fane:
              50th (1st batt.)                    945
              60th (5th batt.)                    604
              95th (2nd batt., four companies)    456
                                                 ----     2,005

          7th Brigade, Anstruther:
              9th (2nd batt.)                     633
              43rd ”                              721
              52nd ”                              654
              97th ”                              695
                                                 ----     2,703

          8th Brigade, Acland:
              2nd                                 731
              20th (seven and a half companies)   401
              95th (1st batt., two companies)     200
                                                 ----     1,332
          Total British present                          16,778

  We have also to add the Portuguese of Trant, 2,000 or 2,100 men,
  making 18,800 for the whole force.

  Napier’s estimate on p. 499 of vol. i. of his _Peninsular War_,
  is unfortunately quite inaccurate; he has--

  (1) Omitted to deduct from each regiment the losses at Roliça,
  474 in all.

  (2) Counted the 50th Regiment twice. It had been moved from
  Catlin Crawfurd’s to Fane’s brigade the day after Roliça, in
  exchange for the 45th. Napier has inserted it, and counted it, in
  both places with its 945 men.

  (3) Forgotten that Spencer’s artillery, 245 men, had been left
  behind for want of horses.

  (4) Omitted (very excusably) to note that two and a half
  companies of the 20th Regiment were not ashore yet, having
  drifted away on a disabled transport, so that the regiment is
  given 135 too strong.

  There is therefore a total excess of no less than 1,799 British
  troops. On the other hand, the Portuguese of Trant are probably
  understated by some 350 bayonets.

The French cavalry had been hovering around Vimiero all through the
twentieth, and knowing that Junot was not far off, Sir Arthur had
taken all precautions against being surprised. General Fane, in charge
of the outposts, had pushed pickets of riflemen into the wooded
heights that faced the British position on the northern bank of the
Maceira[221]: vedettes of the 20th Light Dragoons were thrown out three
or four miles to the front, and especially watched the Torres Vedras
road. About midnight they began to hear the approach of the enemy;
the rumbling of his guns and caissons over the wooden bridge of Villa
Facaia travelled for miles through the still night air. In half an
hour Wellesley was warned that the French were drawing near, and sent
the order round all his brigades to be under arms and in line on their
designated position an hour before daybreak[222].

  [221] Leach’s _Sketches_, p. 50. He was himself on the line of
  pickets, 200 strong, which held the wooded height from which
  Junot afterwards viewed the battle.

  [222] Napier says that the news was brought ‘by a German officer
  of dragoons, who showed some consternation.’ This statement
  much offended the news-bearer Landsheit, a sergeant of the 20th
  Light Dragoons, not an officer. He has left his protest in his
  interesting autobiography, p. 264.

But the enemy was late in appearing: Junot had halted on the near
side of the bridge of Villa Facaia, four miles away, to rest his men
after their night march and to allow them to cook their breakfast.
It was not till nearly nine in the morning that dense clouds of dust
rolling along the Torres Vedras road bore witness to the approach of
the French. They were indistinctly visible, among woods and rolling
upland, as they advanced with a broad front on each side of the village
of Villa Facaia--a regiment of cavalry in front, then Loison on the
left and Delaborde on the right side of the road, finally Kellermann’s
grenadiers, the reserve of artillery, and the bulk of Margaron’s
cavalry. The English were surprised to note that the columns showed
as masses of dust colour, not of the customary dark blue. On account
of the hot weather they had been provided with white linen frocks,
and were wearing their uniform coats folded and buckled over their

  [223] Col. Leslie’s _Military Journal_, p. 52.

Wellesley had been expecting to see the great column swerve to its
left, and approach him along the valley of the Maceira, by Cunhados and
Sobreiro Curvo. But instead of so doing Junot continued his progress
northward, till he had completely marched past the English right
wing, and only fronted and deployed when he had got on a level with
Vimiero. After driving off the small pickets of English riflemen who
still lay out in the woods a mile in front of Fane’s brigade[224], the
French began to form a line of battle whose southern end was opposite
Wellesley’s centre. But at the same time the cavalry advance-guard was
noted riding far away to the north, toward Carrasqueira and Praganza,
and it was clear that infantry were following them. Obviously there was
going to be an attempt to turn the English position at its northern
end, on the comparatively gentle slopes along the Lourinhão road.

  [224] Col. Leach’s _Sketches_, pp. 50, 51.

Junot after reconnoitring the British position in a somewhat
perfunctory fashion, had resolved to leave alone the formidable heights
occupied by the right wing, and to try to storm the low hill in front
of Vimiero with his main body, while he turned Wellesley’s left with a
secondary column. This detachment was composed of the 3rd provisional
regiment of dragoons, and Brennier’s brigade, the same four battalions
which had fought so handsomely at Roliça. But the moment that Wellesley
had seen that his right flank was safe, and that his left was about
to be attacked, he rapidly changed his line of battle. Ferguson, from
behind Vimiero, started to march north. Behind him followed three of
the four brigades which had occupied the hills above the sea. Only
Hill was still left on the crest to the south-west of Vimiero; Bowes,
Nightingale, and Acland--six battalions in all, taking with them six
guns--dropped down into the valley of the Maceira, crossed it behind
Vimiero, and marched along the Lourinhão road parallel with Brennier’s
movement on the opposite side of the valley. In rear of these troops,
and nearer the sea, Catlin Crawfurd and the Portuguese also moved
northward, and took up a position near Ribamar, where they covered the
flank of the other corps and were in a good position for preventing
any movement of the French on the extreme north-west. Junot caught
a glimpse of the extensive transference of troops to the left which
his adversary was making, and struck with a sudden fear lest Brennier
might be overwhelmed, sent off another brigade--Solignac’s of Loison’s
division--to support him. He would have been much wiser had he kept
these three battalions in hand to support his main attack, and merely
directed Brennier to demonstrate against the British left without
pressing his attack home. His last movement had divided his army into
two halves, separated from each other by a gap of nearly two miles: for
the main attack he had only kept eight and a quarter battalions, three
regiments of cavalry and seventeen guns, while seven battalions, one
regiment of cavalry, and six guns had gone off on the turning movement.
How long their flank march was to be he had not calculated, for, not
discerning the steepness of the ravine at the foot of the British
position, he had not realized that Brennier and Solignac would have to
take a vast sweep to the north in order to cross it. As a matter of
fact they got completely out of touch with him and, what was worse,
with each other. Their diversion did not begin till the main battle was
nearly over[225].

  [225] Thiébault (iv. 188, 189) expresses (and with reason) his
  wonder that Junot mixed his divisions so hopelessly, and thinks
  that it would have been more rational to send Delaborde and his
  second brigade after Brennier, instead of breaking up Loison’s
  division by taking the supporting brigade from it.

Meanwhile the French general deployed the second brigades of his two
divisions, Charlot’s of Loison’s, and Thomières’ of Delaborde’s, only
four and a quarter battalions in all, as a first line for the attack
on Vimiero. Kellermann’s four battalions of grenadiers in a second
line were for the moment held back, as was the cavalry and the reserve
artillery. But seven guns went forward with the first line. The French
came on in their usual style, a thick line of tirailleurs, supported by
battalion columns close in their rear. Fane and Anstruther were very
comfortably placed for repelling the attack: the latter had drawn up
the 52nd and 97th in line on the slope of the hill, partly hidden by a
dip in the ground and largely covered by vines and brushwood: the 9th
and 43rd were in open column to the rear, ready to act as a reserve.
Fane had got most of the riflemen of the 60th and 95th out in front,
at the foot of the hill, in a very thick skirmishing line: only a few
companies of them were in reserve along with the 50th (the famous
‘dirty half-hundredth’) at the head of the slope. In consequence of the
order which Junot had adopted, Thomières’ two battalions were opposed
to Fane, and Charlot’s brigade to Anstruther on the southern half of
the hill. In each quarter the course of the fight was much the same:
the French tirailleurs pushed up the slope among the brushwood and
vineyards, slowly driving the riflemen before them. Then, as they drew
near the crest, the two English brigadiers suddenly let loose their
formed battalions upon the assailants. There was one fierce volley
from the six guns on the hill top, and then the 97th charged Charlot’s
men in front, while the 52nd swerved round and took them in flank.
One smashing discharge at ten paces blew to pieces the heads of the
columns of the 32nd and 82nd, which crumpled up in hopeless disorder
and rolled down to the foot of the hill, pursued by their assailants. A
few moments later Fane dashed the 50th and the reserve companies of his
rifles against Thomières’ troops, and sent them flying down the slope
in equal disorder. They could not be rallied till they had got out
of musketry range, and the seven guns which they had brought forward
with them were all captured: Delaborde and Charlot were wounded: the
commander of the 82nd was killed[226].

  [226] The best narrative of the fight on Vimiero Hill is that in
  General Anstruther’s ‘Journal,’ printed in the memoir attached to
  Wyld’s _Atlas_: Leach and Rifleman Harris give many interesting

Junot’s first attack had failed, but his spirit was not yet broken: he
called up half his reserve of grenadiers, two battalions under Colonel
St. Clair, and sent them against the hill on the same point, while the
débris of the two wrecked brigades were rallied and pushed forward in
support. Eight guns under Foy (the historian in after-years of the
war), were brought out from the artillery reserve and pushed to the
front. The second attack, however, failed even more disastrously than
the first: the grenadiers, attacking on a narrow front and a single
point, were blown to pieces by the converging fire of the 52nd, the
97th, and Fane’s two rifle battalions, as well as by the battery on
the hill, which having no longer any British skirmishers in front of
it had a free field. It was here, as Wellesley’s dispatches show, that
shrapnell shell, a recent invention of the British colonel of that
name, was first used, and with the most effective results. St. Clair’s
battalions climbed halfway up the hill, but could do no more, and
finally gave way, bearing back with them their half-rallied supports.
The fight was rolling down the slope into the pine-wood at its foot,
when Junot made his last desperate stroke. His only infantry reserve
was now the 1st Regiment of Grenadiers, two battalions under Colonel
Maransin. He resolved to throw them into the fight _pour en finir_,
as he said to his chief of the staff, but they ‘made a finish of it’
in a way very different from his intention. This time the assailants,
led by General Kellermann in person, made not for the front of the
hill, but for the gap between it and the heights to the north, trying
to turn Fane’s flank and to penetrate into the village of Vimiero by
coasting round the foot of the higher ground. There were at first no
troops directly opposed to the column, but soon the grenadiers found
themselves under fire from both flanks. On the southern side Anstruther
took from his reserve the 43rd, which had not yet fired a shot, and
threw it into the cemetery of Vimiero, from whence it descended on the
left flank of the leading battalion of grenadiers. On the northern
side a new force intervened: General Acland on the heights along the
Lourinhão road had been acting as the reserve of Wellesley’s left wing:
he was not needed there, and seeing Kellermann’s attack threatening
to break in between himself and Anstruther, took action on his own
responsibility. Marching a little southward along the ridge, he sent
his two companies of the 95th Rifles, and the light companies of his
two line-battalions to fall on the right flank of the grenadiers. At
the same time he turned upon them the fire of two field-guns which were
in reserve near his brigade.

The double flank attack cost Kellermann many men, and brought his
column to a standstill, but he held his ground for some time, till
the 43rd closed in upon him at the eastern end of Vimiero village.
Both French and English were in great disorder, the houses and
enclosure-walls having broken up their formation. There was a furious
hand-to-hand fight, volleys were interchanged at the distance of five
yards, and both sides used the bayonet freely. At last the grenadiers
gave way and retired sullenly towards their original position: they had
lost many men, but so had the 43rd, who from a weak battalion of 700
men had forty killed and seventy-nine wounded.

All along the line the French were now falling back, and Junot brought
up a regiment of dragoons to cover the retreat of the disordered
masses. Wellesley now resolved to make use of his handful of cavalry:
close behind Vimiero there were drawn up the 240 sabres of the 20th
Light Dragoons, with 260 Portuguese horsemen in two squadrons on their
flanks[227]. ‘Now, Twentieth, now is the time!’ cried Wellesley,
lifting his cocked hat, and Colonel Taylor wheeled his regiment from
behind the sheltering hill and dashed at the retreating Frenchmen.
The two Portuguese squadrons started level with him, but after going
a few hundred yards and receiving a shot or two, they broke, fell
into disorder, and finally galloped to the rear amid the hoots of
Anstruther’s brigade. But the 20th rode at the French dragoons who
stood in their path, burst through them, and then plunged among the
flying infantry, sabring them to right and left and taking many
prisoners. They could not be stayed till they had hewn their way
through the fugitives, to the place where Junot himself sat watching
the rout of his men. The charge had been pushed beyond all reasonable
bounds, for the men were mad with excitement and would not halt. But as
they rode up the French hill they were checked by a stone wall, and at
the same time charged by the two reserve regiments of Margaron’s horse.
It was a wonder that the headstrong troopers were not annihilated, but
the larger part returned in safety to the English lines, leaving behind
them their colonel[228] and twenty men slain, twenty-four wounded, and
eleven prisoners.

  [227] All this comes from the narrative, which I have already
  utilized in more than one place, of Sergeant Landsheit of the

  [228] Taylor, like the heroic Blake, and like Graham the victor
  of Barossa, was one of Oxford’s few fighting men. Every visitor
  to Christ Church sees his memorial stone, stating how he had
  reformed and disciplined the regiment, when it came home a
  skeleton from the West Indies in 1805, and had practically to be
  raised anew. Since then it had been in the unfortunate expedition
  to Buenos Ayres.

We must now turn to the northern part of the battle-field, where the
main stress of the fighting did not begin till the engagement round
Vimiero was nearly over. This was the result of the reckless way in
which Junot had sent his flanking brigades to attack over unexplored
ground. When Brennier reached the point at which he would naturally
have wheeled inward to climb the slopes along the Lourinhão road,
he came upon the deep and rugged valley of Toledo, the steepness of
whose slopes he did not realize till he had almost reached its brink.
Having guns with him, the French brigadier thought the obstacle
impassable, and turned northward again in a long sweep by the village
of Carrasqueira, the 3rd Dragoons still heading his march. In this wide
flanking movement he passed quite out of sight of the British.

But Solignac, with the second brigade which Junot had told off for
the northern diversion, was not so cautious. He too came upon the
ravine; but instead of turning it he sought out its least precipitous
point and passed it near its head, underneath the farm of Ventosa.
Having crossed, he deployed his three battalions, brought up his right
shoulder, and ascended the gentle slope. By this movement he was
devoting his brigade to destruction. On the hill above he could see
only the thin line of British skirmishers, but hidden behind the crest
was the main body of Wellesley’s right wing, the seven battalions of
Ferguson, Nightingale, and Bowes. They had long watched the approach
of the French, and were lying down in battle order. In front were
Ferguson’s three regiments, the 36th, 40th, and 71st, and one of
Nightingale’s, the 82nd. A couple of hundred yards to the rear was the
second line, the 29th of Nightingale’s brigade, and the 6th and 32nd,
which formed Bowes’ command. Acland and Catlin Crawfurd were a mile
away in different directions, but not too far to have been called in if

When Solignac’s men reached the brow of the hill, the four British
battalions in the front line rose up and marched to meet them. Their
long array completely overlapped at both ends the advancing columns
and their screen of light troops[229], At the distance of one hundred
yards all the four regiments directed a converging volley on the
French, which almost swept away the tirailleurs and shook terribly
the supporting masses. Then they reloaded and advanced in silence on
the enemy, who were shouting, firing irregularly, and endeavouring to
deploy, with their officers all in front. For troops in such disorder
the near approach of the majestic two-deep line of 3,300 bayonets
was too much. They wavered and fled northward along the summit of
the ridge, carrying with them their commander, Solignac, desperately
wounded. The British pursued, halting at intervals to pour a volley
into the retreating masses, and picking up on the way many prisoners,
and also the three guns which the enemy had laboriously dragged up the

  [229] There is a good account of this charge in the anonymous
  ‘T.S.’ of the 71st, p. 50.

The pursuit was stopped by an unexpected development. General Brennier
had heard from afar the heavy musketry fire which told him that his
supporting brigade was engaged. He was now on the summit of the
heights, having at last accomplished his long flank march. Pushing
hastily forward, he came to the edge of a saddle-backed depression in
the ridge, and had the spectacle of the fight at his feet. The 36th
and 40th were engaged in driving the wrecks of Solignac’s men back in
a north-westerly direction, while the 71st and 82nd, halted around
the captured guns, were resting and reforming their ranks. Without
a moment’s hesitation, Brennier threw his four battalions upon the
two regiments that lay beneath him. He had taken them by surprise;
attacked diagonally by fresh troops, and charged by the two squadrons
of dragoons that accompanied the French, they reeled back in some
disorder and abandoned the guns that they had taken. But they rallied
in a moment, and returned to the fight aided by the 29th[230], the
reserve regiment of Nightingale’s brigade. There was heavy firing
for a moment, but very soon Brennier’s troops broke and fled up the
slope which they had just descended. Their flight was covered by the
dragoons, who suffered severely in holding off the pursuers, losing
many officers, among them the young Arrighi, a kinsman of the Bonaparte
family. Brennier was left on the field wounded and a prisoner, and not
only did his men lose the guns which they had just recaptured, but they
also left behind the three which had accompanied their own column.
Their hurried retreat was accelerated by the fire of a half-battery,
brought up from the reserve, which played upon them with effect till
they had plunged down into the ravine and regained their original
position on the opposite heights.

  [230] There are clear accounts of this fighting in Col. Leslie’s
  autobiography, p. 61, as well as in the narrative of ‘T.S.’ of
  the 71st.

All the fighting here had been done by Ferguson’s and Nightingale’s
five battalions. Bowes’ brigade did not fire a shot or lose a man, and
Catlin Crawfurd and the Portuguese were only beginning to approach the
scene of action when Brennier’s column broke up and fled. The main
honours of the fight must be given to the 71st and 82nd, who lost
respectively 112 and 61 men out of the total of 272 casualties suffered
in this part of the action.

Two and a half hours after the battle began the French, both in
the north and the south of the field, were retiring in confusion.
The British were awaiting eagerly the order for a general
advance--especially Ferguson, who, with the 36th and 40th, had got
part of Solignac’s brigade pinned into an angle of the hills, from
which they could not easily escape when attacked. But instead of the
order to advance there came a prohibition to move, and the French were
allowed to withdraw unmolested. The stream of fugitives from Brennier’s
and Solignac’s fight joined that from the centre; then both shook
themselves together and formed up in more or less order on the heights.
The reserve artillery under Hulot and Prost (Foy had been wounded) kept
up a distant and ineffective fire towards the hill of Vimiero, more
to put heart into their own infantry by the noise of their guns than
in any hope of harming the English. Margaron’s cavalry showed a front
behind them, and the two belated battalions from Lisbon, which arrived
about noon, were sent to the front and displayed on the edge of the
heights to make some show of force. But the French would not have stood
a serious attack: every single unit of their infantry had been deeply
engaged and had suffered a thorough defeat. More than half their guns
(thirteen out of twenty-three) had been captured. The cavalry was in
better case, though two of its regiments had suffered severely, yet it
could not by itself have resisted the attack of the victorious British.
A vigorous push would have sent the whole mass reeling backward, not on
Torres Vedras or Lisbon--for these roads would have been barred to them
when Wellesley advanced--but on the rugged path, over the spurs of the
Sierra da Baragueda, which leads to Santarem.

But while the French were striving to rally and to form a new front,
the leaden hand of Sir Harry Burrard was laid upon the British
army. That leisurely person had only landed on the morning of the
twenty-first, and the battle was in full progress before he rode up
from the beach to Vimiero. He had the grace not to interfere with the
movements of troops which Wellesley had already ordered; but when
the victory was won, and his subordinate rode up to him crying, ‘Sir
Harry, now is your time to advance, the enemy is completely beaten, and
we shall be in Lisbon in three days[231],’ he refused to listen. The
army, he said, had done enough for one day, and he intended to wait
for the arrival of Sir John Moore and the division from the Baltic
before making any further move. Greatly disconcerted by this stolid
opposition, Wellesley launched forth into argument: the French army,
as he pointed out, was now so placed that it had lost control of its
line of retreat on Torres Vedras and Lisbon. Hill’s intact brigade,
and those of Fane and Anstruther had but to advance a mile or so, and
the French were irretrievably cut off from their base of operations.
At the same time the five brigades of the left wing, of which those
of Bowes and Crawfurd were absolutely intact, might so hustle and
press the retreating enemy that he could never rally. At this moment
arrived an aide-de-camp from Ferguson, who begged to be allowed to
go on: ‘a column of broken troops 1,500 to 2,000 strong had in their
confusion got into a hollow, and could be cut off from their main
body by a movement in advance of his brigade[232].’ The enemy had
lost all their artillery, were retiring in the utmost confusion, none
of them save the cavalry were regularly formed, and it was his hope
that he might be allowed to continue to go forward. Burrard still
remained obdurate, though Wellesley pointed out to him that he had
nine thousand fresh troops in hand, that every soldier had a day’s
food cooked in his haversack, that the ammunition reserve was ready
to move, and that, with twelve days’ provisions in the camp and an
ample store of munitions, he had it in his power to march forward both
rapidly and with complete security[233]. But all these arguments were
of no effect. The slow and cautious Burrard chose to believe that Junot
might still have a large and intact reserve, that his cavalry was too
dangerous to be meddled with, and that the dispersion of the British
brigades (there were more than three miles between Hill’s extreme
right and Ferguson’s extreme left) would make a general advance a very
dislocated and hazardous business[234]. He utterly refused to listen
to any further discussion, and, as the French were now in full retreat
and disappearing over the eastern horizon, ordered the troops back to
camp. They returned with colours flying and bands playing, dragging the
captured French guns, and with a considerable column of prisoners in
their midst. But every one, from Generals Spencer and Ferguson down to
the youngest private, was utterly puzzled at the tame and inconsequent
end to such a glorious day.

  [231] Evidence of Col. Torrens at the Court of Inquiry
  (_Proceedings_, p. 127).

  [232] Message sent by Ferguson, borne by his aide-de-camp,
  Captain Mellish (_Proceedings of the Court of Inquiry_, p. 121).

  [233] Evidence before the Court of Inquiry of Wellesley
  (_Proceedings_, pp. 116, 117), and of Col. Torrens (p. 127).

  [234] Burrard’s account of his own views before the Court of
  Inquiry (_Proceedings_, pp. 115, 116, 135).

The losses had been very moderate--four officers and 131 men killed,
thirty-seven officers and 497 men wounded, two officers and forty-nine
men missing. Of the total of 720 no less than 573 were from the ten
battalions of Fane’s, Anstruther’s, and Ferguson’s brigades. Those of
Hill, Bowes, and Catlin Crawfurd did not return a single casualty. The
handful of prisoners were mainly supplied by the 20th Light Dragoons,
and by the two rifle battalions, whose pickets had been driven in
at the commencement of the fight[235]. The French losses were very
different: both Foy and Thiébault acknowledge a total of 1,800, and
this may be taken as a minimum: of these some 300 or 400 were unwounded
prisoners. Delaborde and three brigadier-generals--Charlot, Brennier,
and Solignac--as well as Colonels Foy and Prost of the artillery, were
wounded. Two battalion commanders were killed, a third and the disabled
Brennier were prisoners. Men and officers were alike disheartened:
every single corps present had been engaged: even the squadron of
volunteer cavalry had been in action against Taylor’s dragoons: more
than half the guns had been lost, and the officers who brought back
those that remained asked themselves in wonder how they had ever been
permitted to get away[236]. But at least they were unmolested in their
retreat: using the two battalions that had just come up from Lisbon
as his rearguard, Junot retired unharmed, but full of despair, on
Torres Vedras. It was not till early on the next morning that the last
stragglers of his scattered army drifted in to join the main body.

  [235] See table of losses at Vimiero in the Appendix.

  [236] _Souvenirs Militaires_ of Hulot, who commanded one of the
  two reserve batteries, p. 235: ‘J’étais étonné de ne pas voir
  l’ennemi fondre sur mes pièces,’ &c.



For only one single day did the incubus of Burrard rest upon the
British army in Portugal, though that day was one on which he succeeded
in changing a decisive victory, which might have laid a whole kingdom
at his feet, into an ordinary successful defensive action. He had
stopped Wellesley’s triumphant march at noon on August 21; early on
the morning of the twenty-second Sir Hew Dalrymple appeared in Maceira
Bay, disembarked, and took over the command. He naturally began his
tenure of control by interviewing his two predecessors, whose divergent
views as to the situation and its requirements were laid before him.
He was an old man, and unpractised in the field: he had only seen
war in the wretched Flanders campaign of 1793-4. His prejudice was
in favour of caution, and he was not slow to let it be seen that he
regarded Wellesley’s actions in the past, and still more his plans
for the future, as rash and hazardous. ‘On the first interview that I
had with Sir Hew Dalrymple,’ said Wellesley at the Court of Inquiry
in the following winter, ‘I had reason to believe that I did not
possess his confidence: nay more, that he was prejudiced against any
opinions which I should give him[237].’ The veteran’s ill-concealed
hostility was, we cannot doubt, mainly due to an unhappy inspiration
of Castlereagh, who had sent him a letter bidding him ‘take Sir Arthur
Wellesley into his particular confidence, as he had been, for a length
of time past, in the closest habits of communication with His Majesty’s
ministers with respect to the affairs of Spain.’ He was also directed
‘to make the most prominent use of him which the rules of the service
would permit[238].’ Such a letter very naturally caused Dalrymple to
look upon the young lieutenant-general as a sort of emissary from the
Government, sent to overrule his plans and curb his full power of
command. He was inclined, consciously or unconsciously, to entertain a
strong prejudice against anything that Wellesley might recommend: and
we cannot doubt that the latter, always stiff and haughty, was at this
moment in a state of suppressed fury at the foiling of his plans by
Burrard on the preceding day. Probably, in his own cold way, he let his
indignation appear, and Dalrymple may have been glad of an excuse for
repressing him.

  [237] Wellesley’s evidence at the Court of Inquiry
  (_Proceedings_, p. 81).

  [238] Castlereagh to Dalrymple, July 15 (_Well. Disp._, iv. 18).

The plan which Wellesley had drawn up for the conduct of the campaign,
and which he now urged upon his chief, is detailed in the proceedings
of the Court of Inquiry. He had hoped to get Sir John Moore’s division,
whose arrival was just reported, sent to Santarem, to cut off any
attempt of Junot to escape out of the Lisbon peninsula by following
the road along the right bank of the Tagus: the Portuguese were to be
brought up to assist. Meanwhile the army which had fought at Vimiero
was to turn the position of Torres Vedras, on which the enemy had
retired, by marching along the sea-coast by the route that leads to
Mafra. If Junot let them march past him, he would infallibly lose
Lisbon; for they could, by forcing the pace, arrive in the capital as
soon as he. If he abandoned Torres Vedras, and fell back on Mafra or
Montechique as soon as he saw them moving, he would have to fight a
second battle on the twenty-third or twenty-fourth, with an army which
had been gravely demoralized by the events of Roliça and Vimiero, and
which could not receive much succour from Lisbon: for the populace of
that city, when apprised of the defeat of the French, would undoubtedly
have burst into insurrection, and would have required for its
repression every man of the 5,000[239] troops who had been left to hold
it down. There was a third possibility, that Junot, on hearing that the
English were marching past his flank, might have hastened from Torres
Vedras to attack their line of march by one of the cross-roads (such
as that from Torres Vedras to Puente de Roll), which cut down to the
Atlantic coast. But Wellesley had convinced himself that this chance
would not occur: he reckoned, very rightly, on the exhaustion of the
enemy on the day after such a crushing blow as Vimiero. As a matter of
fact, on the morning of the twenty-second, at the moment when the head
of the British column, if it had marched, would have been outflanking
their position, Junot and those of his generals who were not _hors de
combat_ were sitting in council of war at Torres Vedras, with despair
in their souls, and resolving to ask for terms on which to evacuate
Portugal. Kellermann was just about to ride in to the English lines
to open negotiations[240]. The idea of an ‘offensive return’ by the
French was in the head of the cautious Burrard[241]: but not in that of
Wellesley, who had made up his mind ‘that they would act in Portugal
as they did in Egypt: they tried their strength once in the field, and
having failed they would have continued to retreat till they could have
got into safety. I do not believe that any corps could have fallen on
the flank of our march on the twenty-third.’ The only course open to
the French, in his opinion, was to throw over any idea of holding the
capital, withdraw its garrison, and cross the Tagus at Saccavem or
Villafranca, or Santarem, by means of the ships which lay in the river,
and the large fleet of barges which is always to be found in and near
Lisbon. Having passed the Tagus they might cut their way through the
insurgents of the Alemtejo, disperse the Spanish levies about Elvas and
Badajoz, and press north through Estremadura to join Bessières[242].
This very idea did for a moment flash through the brains of some
of Junot’s council of war at Torres Vedras: but there lay on their
minds, like a nightmare, the remembrance of their awful march through
the Estremaduran mountains in the preceding autumn. If, journeying
unopposed from Ciudad Rodrigo to Lisbon, they had been nearly starved
in that wilderness, what would be their fate if they had to cut their
way through an insurrection, with the English army hanging on their
heels? The most hopeful could only say that perhaps half the army might
struggle through to Old Castile.

  [239] This figure, of course, does not include the garrisons of
  the outlying places, but only those immediately in and about
  the capital, after the 66th and _compagnies d’élite_ marched to
  Torres Vedras.

  [240] Hulot, _Mémoires Militaires_, p. 236.

  [241] Questions asked of Wellesley by Burrard at the Court of
  Inquiry (_Proceedings_, p. 133).

  [242] Wellesley to Mr. Stuart, Aug. 25, 1808 (_Well. Disp._, iv.
  105); Wellesley’s address at the Court of Inquiry (_Proceedings_,
  p. 132).

Wellesley’s arguments to Dalrymple had no further effect than to induce
that general to make up his mind that the troops should march not on
the twenty-second but on the twenty-third, and not on Mafra but on
Torres Vedras. Sir John Moore’s division was to be brought down at
once to Maceira Bay, to join the main army, and not to be sent (as
Wellesley had urged) to Santarem. With the aid of this reinforcement
Dalrymple hoped to be strong enough to force back Junot into Lisbon.
The resolve meant fatal delay: Moore did not begin to disembark till
August 25, and his last men did not get ashore till August 30. On
that day only could Junot have been attacked seriously, and meanwhile
he would have obtained nine days in which to fortify his positions
and to place Lisbon in a thorough state of defence. The consequences
entailed would have been a long siege, the probable devastation of the
Portuguese capital, and the protraction of operations into November and
December. Even then there would still have been Elvas and Almeida to be

  [243] This is Wellesley’s own view (_Well. Disp._, iv. 121, 184,

But things were not destined to take this course. Dalrymple was busy
drafting his orders for the movement of the next day on Torres Vedras,
when an alarm ran through the camp that the French were at hand, and
the whole force flew to arms. This rumour was caused by the folly of
a Portuguese cavalry officer, whose vedettes had seen French horsemen
in the distance; he imagined an army on the move and reported its
approach. What he had really seen was General Kellermann, with two
squadrons of dragoons as his escort, bearing the white flag, and about
to propose to the British commander-in-chief the evacuation of Portugal
by the French army under a convention.

We have already mentioned the fact that on the early morning of the
twenty-second, Junot had called together at Torres Vedras a council
of war composed of all his surviving generals--Loison, Kellermann,
Delaborde (who attended though suffering from two severe wounds),
Thiébault, the chief of the staff, Taviel, the commander of the
artillery, Col. Vincent, the chief engineer, and Trousset, the chief
commissary at Lisbon. Junot’s spirits were very low: he began by
explaining that he had only fought at Vimiero to save the honour of
the French arms, not because he hoped for victory--a statement which
will not bear investigation in the light of his previous dispatches and
letters[244]. The British, he said, were expecting huge reinforcements
from the sea: Freire was now moving on Obidos, another Portuguese corps
on Santarem: the reports of the state of public opinion in Lisbon were
most alarming. Under these circumstances, ought the army to try the
fortune of battle a second time? And if it must, what plan should be
adopted? If it could not, what alternative remained? When such was
the spirit of the leader, it was easy to foresee the replies of his
subordinates. The army, they soon resolved, had done its best in the
most honourable fashion, but it was not ready for another fight. Indeed
the stragglers had not yet finished pouring into Torres Vedras, and the
wearied rearguard which covered them had only reached the defile in
front of the town two hours after midnight[245]. The army, unmolested
as it was, did not get into fighting trim again till two days after
Vimiero. On the twenty-second it was still in a state of complete
disorganization: if Dalrymple had marched on Mafra he would not have
found a man in his path.

  [244] Cf. for Junot’s address, Foy, iv. 341, and Thiébault.

  [245] Hulot, _Souvenirs Militaires_, pp. 235, 236.

Having resolved that the army was not ready for another battle, the
council of war had three alternatives before it: to fall back to cover
Lisbon on the positions of Mafra and Montechique; to evacuate Lisbon,
cross the Tagus, and make for Elvas; or to try to negotiate with the
British. The decision was soon made in favour of the third: Lisbon,
without regular fortifications, and swarming with a discontented
populace, would be a mere snare for the army. The retreat via Elvas on
Old Castile would mean the slow but certain destruction of the whole
corps[246]. For it was now known that Joseph Bonaparte had evacuated
Madrid, and that Burgos was probably the nearest point where a French
force was to be found. Not one of the officers present had the heart
to make a serious proposal for such a retreat. It only remained to try
whether Dalrymple was open to receive an offer: if he could be tempted
by the prospect of receiving Lisbon with all its magazines and riches
intact, he might allow the French army to return under safe conduct
to their own land. Kellermann, who could understand English, more or
less, and was considered a skilful diplomatist, was charged with the
negotiations. He rode out of Torres Vedras between ten and eleven in
the morning with his escort, charged with ample powers to treat. As he
passed the rearguard in the pass, four miles outside the town, he told
the officer in command that he was going to visit the English ‘to see
if he could get the army out of the mousetrap[247].’

  [246] But it is said that Delaborde urged the possibility of this

  [247] Hulot heard this himself. Kellermann said ‘qu’il allait
  trouver les Anglais, pour voir à nous tirer de la souricière’ (p.

By two o’clock Kellermann was conferring with the English commander--he
was astonished to find that it was Dalrymple and not Wellesley. The
reception that he met was an agreeable surprise to him. Dalrymple
showed his pleasure at the broaching of the idea of a convention in
the most undisguised fashion. The fact was that he was very glad
to avoid the possible dangers of an immediate advance and a second
fight. He called in Burrard and Wellesley to the interview, and from
his unguarded ‘asides’ to them, Kellermann soon learnt that Moore
had not yet landed, and that till he was ashore Dalrymple did not
feel safe. This gave the Frenchman a confidence which he had not
at first possessed, and he at once assumed an air of self-reliance
which he had been far from showing when he rode out of Torres Vedras.
Instead of merely trying to save the army at all costs, he began to
haggle about details, and to speak about the possibility of resuming
hostilities--the last thing in the world that he really desired[248].

  [248] Foy, iv. 344, 345; _Well. Disp._, iv. 108.

There was no doubt that a convention by which Portugal and all its
fortresses could be recovered without the necessity of firing another
shot was an eminently desirable thing. Wellesley did not hesitate a
moment in advising his superiors to take the offer. Burrard had given
away the certainty of recapturing Lisbon yesterday: Dalrymple, by
delaying his advance, had on this very morning sacrificed the second
chance (a much less brilliant one, it must be confessed) of ending
the campaign by a single blow. If Junot’s proposals were rejected and
hostilities were resumed, there lay before the British army either
a siege of Lisbon, which could not fail to ruin the city, or a long
stern-chase after the French, if they should resolve to cross the Tagus
and march off through the Alemtejo. No doubt it would sound better
in the ears of the British public if the surrender or destruction
of Junot’s army could be reported. But as a matter of practical
expediency, the recovery of Lisbon and all its wealth unharmed was
worth far more than the capture of a French army at the cost of much
time, many lives, and the ruin of the Portuguese capital. The loss of
25,000 soldiers would be nothing to Napoleon, who disposed of more than
half a million men: the blow to his pride would be almost as great if
he lost Portugal by a convention as if he lost it by a capitulation. As
a matter of fact he was much incensed at Junot, and would have dealt
hardly with him if Dupont had not drawn off his wrath by failing in an
even more disastrous fashion[249].

  [249] See the curious account of the Emperor’s interviews with
  Legendre and Thiébault, the chiefs of the staff to Dupont and
  Junot, who appeared before him simultaneously at Valladolid
  in January, 1809. The imperial thunders played so fiercely on
  the army of Andalusia that the army of Portugal got off easily
  (Thiébault, iv. 247-9). But Napoleon said that the English
  had saved him the pain of crushing an old friend by sending
  Dalrymple, Burrard, and Wellesley before a court-martial.

After hearing what Kellermann had to say, the three English generals
withdrew into an inner room, and after a very short discussion agreed
to treat. They told their visitor that he might have a forty-eight
hours’ suspension of hostilities at once, and that they would open
negotiations on the general base that Junot and his army should be
allowed to evacuate Portugal by sea without any of the forms of
capitulation, and be returned to their own country on British ships.
The details would take much discussion: meanwhile they invited
Kellermann to dine with them and to settle the main lines of the
Convention before he returned to his commander. There was a long
post-prandial debate, which showed that on two points there was likely
to be trouble; one was the way in which Siniavin’s Russian fleet in the
Tagus was to be treated: the other was how much the French should be
allowed to carry away with them from Portugal. Kellermann said that he
asked for no more than their ‘military baggage and equipments,’ but he
seemed to have a large idea of what came under these headings[250].

  [250] Wellesley at the Court of Inquiry (_Well. Disp._, iv. 189).

Meanwhile the terms of the suspension of hostilities were successfully
drafted; the line of the Zizandre river was to be fixed as that of
demarcation between the two hosts. Neither of them was to occupy
Torres Vedras: Dalrymple undertook to get the armistice recognized by
Freire and the other Portuguese generals in the field. They were not
to advance beyond Leiria and Thomar. The garrisons at Elvas, Almeida,
Peniche, and elsewhere were to be included in the Convention, unless
it should turn out that any of them had surrendered before August
25--which as a matter of fact they had not. The Russian fleet in the
Tagus was to be treated as if in a neutral port. This last clause was
much objected to by Wellesley, who found also several minor points in
the agreement of which he could not approve. But by the directions
of Dalrymple he signed the suspension of arms after a protest; his
superior had told him that it was ‘useless to drive the French to the
wall upon points of form[251].’

  [251] Wellesley’s evidence before the Court of Inquiry
  (_Proceedings_, p. 83).

The subsequent negotiations for a definite convention occupied seven
days, from August 23 to 30. On the first-named day Junot evacuated
Torres Vedras, according to the stipulations of the agreement made by
Kellermann. He retired to the line of hills behind him, establishing
Loison’s division at Mafra and Delaborde’s at Montechique. Dalrymple,
on the other hand, moved his head quarters forward to Ramalhal, a
position just north of Torres Vedras, and only nine miles from Vimiero.
In this respect he profited less than the French from the suspension
of hostilities: it is true that he got leisure to disembark Moore’s
troops, but Junot gained the much more important advantage of a safe
retreat to a good position, and of leisure to strengthen himself in
it. It must not be supposed, however, that he was in a comfortable
situation; Lisbon was seething with suppressed rebellion. The news of
French victories, which had been published to quiet the people, had
soon been discovered to be nothing more than an impudent fiction. At
any moment an insurrection might have broken out: the garrison and the
mob were alike in a state of extreme nervous tension, which took shape
on the one side in assassinations, and on the other in wanton firing
at every person who approached a sentinel, or refused to stand when
challenged by a patrol.

The negotiations for a definitive convention suffered several checks.
At one moment it seemed likely that the Portuguese army might give
trouble. General Freire arrived at Ramalhal in a state of high wrath,
to protest that he ought to have been made a party to the suspension
of hostilities. There was, as Napier remarks, more plausibility than
real foundation in his objection[252], for his motley army had taken no
part whatever in the operations that had brought Junot to his knees.
But he could make a distinct point when he asked by what authority
Dalrymple had given promises as to his neutrality in the agreement with
Kellermann, or laid down lines which he was not to pass. Freire was
all the bolder because his levies were now being strengthened by the
forces from Oporto which the Bishop had lately raised, while a small
Spanish brigade under the Marquis of Valladares, lent by the Galician
Junta, had come down as far as Guarda. But he contented himself with
protests, without committing any definite act that might have rendered
the Convention impossible.

  [252] Napier, i. 225.

A more dangerous source of possible rupture was the view of the
situation taken by Sir Charles Cotton, the admiral in command of the
British blockading squadron off the mouth of the Tagus. As Wellesley
had foreseen, the naval men were determined to secure the possession of
the Russian ships of Siniavin. Cotton refused to entertain the proposal
that such a force should be allowed a free departure from Lisbon, as
if from a neutral port, and should be given a long start before being
pursued. He had held the Russians under blockade for many a weary
month, and was not going to abandon his hold upon them. Why should the
French evacuation of Portugal place Siniavin in a better position than
he had ever occupied before? The admiral declared that he saw no reason
why the Russians should be included in the Convention at all. If there
was going to be any agreement made with them, he should conduct it
himself, treating directly with Siniavin instead of through a French

Sir Hew Dalrymple was forced to report to the French commander these
objections of the admiral. It seemed possible for a moment that the
difficulty would not be got over, and that war must recommence.
Wellesley strongly advised his chief to try the game of bluff--to
announce to Junot that operations would be resumed at the end of the
stipulated forty-eight hours, as Sir Charles Cotton had objected to
the terms of the armistice, but that he was prepared to take into
consideration any new proposals which might be made to him before the
interval of two days expired[253]. Such a firm policy, he thought,
would induce the French to yield the point--all the more because Junot
and Siniavin were known to be on very bad terms. But Dalrymple would
not accept this plan. He merely reported the admiral’s proposals to
Junot, without any intimation that the resumption of hostilities must
result from their rejection. This move placed the power of playing the
game of brag in the Frenchman’s hands. Seeing that Dalrymple did not
seem to desire to break off negotiations, he assumed an indignant tone,
and began to talk of his determination not to concede an inch, and of
the harm that he could do if he were forced to fight. ‘The English
might take away the half-drafted convention: he would have none of it.
He would defend Lisbon street by street: he would burn as much of it as
he could not hold, and it should cost them dear to take from him what
remained[254].’ At the same time he made a final proposal to Siniavin,
that he should put ashore his 6,000 seamen and marines, to take part
in the defence of Lisbon on the land side. This was only part of the
game of bluff, and intended for the benefit of the English rather than
of Siniavin, for Junot knew perfectly well, from the latter’s previous
conduct, that he was bent on playing his own hand, and would not fire a
single shot to help the French.

  [253] Evidence of Wellesley before the Court of Inquiry
  (_Proceedings_, pp. 87-91).

  [254] Foy, iv. 352, and Thiébault.

All Junot’s desperate language was, in fact, no more than a device
to squeeze better terms out of Dalrymple. The actual point on which
the argument grew hot was a mere pretext, for the Russian admiral
utterly refused to assist the French, and intimated that he should
prefer to conclude a separate convention of his own with Sir Charles
Cotton. Clearly it was not worth while for the Duke of Abrantes to risk
anything on behalf of such a torpid ally.

Accordingly the Convention was reduced to a definitive form between
August 27 and 30. Colonel George Murray, the quartermaster-general,
acted as the British negotiator, while Kellermann continued to
represent Junot. The details were settled in Lisbon, where Murray
took up his residence, sending back frequent reports to his superior
officer at Ramalhal. Dalrymple and Cotton carried their point in that
no allusion whatever was made to the Russians in the document. Junot
found a salve for his injured pride by remembering that he had slipped
a mention of Napoleon as ‘Emperor of the French,’ into the text of the
suspension of hostilities[255]: in this he thought that he had won
a great success, for the British Government had hitherto refused to
recognize any such title, and had constantly irritated its adversaries
by alluding to the master of the Continent as ‘General Bonaparte,’ or
the ‘actual head of the French executive.’

  [255] Article 1 of the armistice mentioned ‘his Imperial and
  Royal Majesty, Napoleon I,’ though this formula did not recur in
  the Convention, which only spoke of the ‘French Army.’

The terms of the Convention need close study[256]: it comprised
twenty-two articles and three supplementary paragraphs of addenda. The
first article provided that the French should surrender Lisbon and the
Portuguese fortresses in their existing condition, without harming or
dismantling them. The second and third granted the army of Junot a safe
departure by sea in English vessels: they were not to be considered
prisoners of war, might take their arms and baggage, and were to be
landed at any port between Rochefort and L’Orient. The fourth, fifth,
and sixth articles attempted to define the property which the French
might take away--their horses, their guns of French calibre (but not
any that they might have found in the Portuguese arsenals), with
sixty rounds for each piece, their wagons, their military chest, in
short, ‘all their equipment, and all that is comprehended under the
name of property of the army.’ It was found, later on, that these
paragraphs had been too loosely worded, and gave much endless occasion
for disputes. The next six articles settled the manner in which the
departing army was to embark, and the order in which each of the
strongholds that it evacuated was to be given up to the British.
The thirteenth and fourteenth articles arranged for the appointment
of commissaries by each side, to deal with disputed points in the
Convention, and added the curious clause that ‘where a doubt arose as
to the meaning of any article, it should be explained favourably to the
French army.’

  [256] The full text will be found in the Appendix.

But the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth articles were the most
objectionable part of the Convention. It was true that they secured
that no more taxes or contributions were to be raised by Junot, and
that undischarged fines which he had laid on the Portuguese should be
regarded as cancelled. But they also provided that French civilians in
Portugal might either depart with the army, or, if they preferred it,
might be allowed to remain behind unmolested, and have a year in which
to dispose of their property. This might perhaps pass: not so, however,
the ensuing clause, which provided that Portuguese subjects should not
be rendered accountable for their political conduct during the French
occupation: all who had taken service with the usurping government were
to be placed under the protection of the British, and to suffer no
injury in person or property. They were also to be granted liberty to
depart with the French army if they chose.

The five remaining articles were unimportant. The eighteenth secured
the release of Caraffa and the rest of Junot’s Spanish prisoners,
and provided that in return the few French officers of the army of
Portugal, whom the Spaniards had captured at Oporto and Elvas, should
be liberated. The twenty-first permitted Junot to send one of his
aides-de-camp directly to France to carry the news of the Convention,
so that preparations might be made for the reception of the troops[257].

  [257] For the strange way in which Junot utilized this permission
  for his personal profit, see page 281.

Three unimportant supplementary articles were added below the
signatures of Murray and Kellermann: one stipulated that French
civilian prisoners in the hands of the English and Portuguese should be
released, another that Junot’s army should subsist on its own magazines
till it embarked, a third that the British should permit the entry of
provisions into Lisbon, now that the Convention had been concluded.

Such was the celebrated agreement which was destined to gain a most
unhappy notoriety in England under the name of the ‘Convention of
Cintra,’ a designation which it is hard to understand, for it was first
sketched at Torres Vedras, and was discussed and ratified at Lisbon.
The only connexion which it had with Cintra was that Dalrymple’s
dispatch to the British Government, enclosing the document in its
latest form, was dated from that pleasant spot in the environs of
Lisbon. But it would perhaps be pedantic to give any other name to such
a well-known document, than that under which it has been known for the
last ninety-three years.

After a careful investigation of the details of this famous agreement,
the conclusion at which the impartial student will probably arrive is
that while on the military side it was justifiable, it presented grave
political faults. In order to recover Lisbon with its arsenals, its
forts and its shipping, all intact, Dalrymple might without serious
blame have granted even more to the French. By the Convention he saved,
not only the wealth of the capital, and the lives of the troops who
must have fallen in storming it, but, most important of all, time. If
he had but known the value of that commodity, he might have been in
Madrid at the head of all his British troops by October 1, or even
earlier. ‘I do not know what Sir Hew proposes to do,’ wrote Wellesley
the morning after the Convention was signed, ‘but if I were in his
situation I would have 20,000 men in Madrid in less than a month
from this day[258]’ But the importance of time was never realized by
the old commander-in-chief: he was superseded long before his army
had even moved up to the Portuguese frontier. Looking, therefore,
at the Convention in the broadest aspect, we hold that its military
advantages entirely outweighed those which might have been secured by
a prolongation of hostilities. But this conclusion does not mean that
there were not points in the military part of the agreement that might
have been modified with advantage.

  [258] Wellesley to Mr. Stuart, Sept. 1, 1808 (_Well. Disp._, iv.

It is when we turn to the political section of the Convention that we
light upon grave faults and mistakes on the part of Dalrymple. The
first and foremost was that he signed the document without previously
submitting certain portions of it to the Portuguese government. In
the sixteenth and seventeenth articles the British general took upon
himself to grant certain favours both to French civilians resident in
Portugal, and to Portuguese subjects who had taken service under Junot,
which he had no authority to concede. These were points which concerned
not the British army but the Portuguese civil administration, and
should not have been decided without a consultation with our allies,
and a permission from them to make terms on their behalf. The sixteenth
article allowed Frenchmen resident in Lisbon to remain there for a
year after the Convention, if they did not chose to leave the country
with Junot and his troops. To permit subjects of the hostile power to
remain in Lisbon for so long was, of course, most distasteful to the
Portuguese government, which was naturally desirous of expelling at
once, according to the ordinary customs of war, a body of persons many
of whom had made themselves the partners and instruments of Junot’s
peculations, and who for the next twelve months would serve as spies
and purveyors of intelligence to the French Emperor. Nothing more than
the leave to quit Lisbon in Junot’s wake should have been secured to
them, unless the Junta of Regency gave its consent. The seventeenth
article is even more objectionable: a considerable portion of the
bureaucracy of Portugal had been weak and criminal enough to acquiesce
in the French usurpation, and to make themselves the tools of the Duke
of Abrantes. It was natural that their countrymen should feel deeply
indignant with them; and their lot was likely to be so hard that it was
but rational and humane to give them leave to quit the kingdom. But
considering that they had deserved very ill of the state, it was surely
wrong for the British general to promise to take them under his special
protection, and to guarantee them against injury to their persons or
property. He had no power to grant them an amnesty for their past
ill-doing; that could be given only by the Portuguese government.
When the latter resumed its ordinary functions at Lisbon, it was
absurd that it should be prevented, by the Convention, from taking
into consideration the cases of such of these unpatriotic persons as
it might wish to deal with. When, therefore, Kellermann broached to
Dalrymple the sixteenth and seventeenth articles, the latter should
have refused to accept them without a reference to the Junta at Oporto.
He might have granted both the French and the Portuguese satellites of
Junot a free passage out of Portugal, with such of their goods as they
could carry, but more than this he could not rationally concede on his
own authority.

It was fortunate, therefore, that the practical harm done did not
turn out to be very great. Both the aliens and the natives covered by
these two clauses were so perfectly aware of their own unpopularity
in Lisbon, that they absconded almost _en masse_. The populace of the
capital had given them fair warning of what they might expect, for
not only were they threatened and insulted in the streets whenever
they were out of sight of a French sentry, but unknown hands posted
on the walls lists of houses to be sacked and individuals to be hung
as soon as Junot’s army should have sailed. The watchwords, ‘Death to
the French’ and ‘Death to the traitors,’ were muttered even under the
muzzles of the cannon, which had been trained on all the main streets,
to keep down the insurrection for the few days which had to elapse
before the embarkation. The invaders, therefore, had to take away with
them a very large body of civilian dependants, headed by the Comte de
Novion, a French _émigré_, who, after being hospitably entertained in
Lisbon for many years, had shown his gratitude by accepting the post of
head of Junot’s police--a capacity in which he had much odd business to

But besides Articles XVI and XVII of the Convention there were other
clauses to which Dalrymple should not have given his assent without
consulting the representatives of his allies. Almeida was being
blockaded by a mass of Portuguese militia, and Elvas, a few days after
the treaty had been signed, was attacked by a Spanish force sent out
from Badajoz by Galluzzo, the Captain-General of Estremadura. No
British soldier had yet been seen within a hundred miles of either
fortress. What was to be done if the generals of the besieging troops
refused to abide by an agreement which they had not been asked to sign,
and which had not even been laid before their respective governments
ere it was definitively ratified? A grave crisis, as we shall find, was
created by Dalrymple’s neglect to foresee this difficulty. His conduct
all through the days of negotiation was very strange; not only did he
make no proper attempt to communicate with the Portuguese authorities,
but he actually left his own government uninformed of his proceedings
for a fortnight. He failed to send them any dispatch to announce
the armistice of August 22, and only forwarded that detailing the
Convention of August 30 on the fourth day of the succeeding month.

Dalrymple’s main reason for leaving the Portuguese out of the
negotiations was that the Junta at Oporto had not yet been formally
recognized as the legitimate government of Portugal[259]. Wellesley,
no doubt, had conferred with the Bishop, given him arms and munitions,
procured from him food and draught animals, and asked his advice, but
the British ministry had not yet acknowledged the existence of any
regular executive in Portugal. This being so, Dalrymple thought himself
justified in acting as if there were none in being; and it cannot be
denied that thereby he saved himself much present trouble, at the cost
of future friction. All, therefore, that he did was to inform the
Junta’s agent at the British head quarters, one Pinto da Souza, that he
was negotiating with Junot for the evacuation of Lisbon, and that he
was open to receive any observations which the Junta might make. The
same announcement was made to Bernardino Freire, who had ridden over
to Ramalhal[260] to complain that he and his army were not mentioned
in the armistice of August 22. Both Freire and the Junta were treated
as persons whose opinions it was useful to obtain, not as constituted
authorities whose consent to the definitive convention was necessary
in order to make it binding. Dalrymple tried to cover himself during
the subsequent inquiry by maintaining that the Convention was purely
military, and concerned the French and English armies alone: but this
plea cannot seriously be put forward in face of Articles XV, XVI, and
XVII, all of which are concerned with problems of civil government,
which would arise after the French army should have embarked. Each
of these articles clearly required the ratification of some proper
Portuguese authority to make it valid.

  [259] Dalrymple’s _Memoir of the Affairs of Portugal_, p. 66.

  [260] Dalrymple says that he signed the armistice so soon after
  landing, and with such an incomplete knowledge of the situation
  in Portugal, that he did not know that Freire’s army was anywhere
  in his neighbourhood (p. 65).

Both the Bishop of Oporto and General Freire were deeply wounded by the
way in which Dalrymple ignored their status--the prelate more justly
than the soldier, for he had done his best to assist the British army,
while Freire by his captious and impracticable behaviour had been more
of a hindrance than a help. The Bishop charged the representative of
the Supreme Junta in London to complain to the British Government as
to the behaviour of their generals, denouncing not only their neglect
to make the Junta a party to the Convention, but also the terms of
that document, which were stated to be far too favourable to Junot.
Owing to Dalrymple’s extraordinary delay in apprising the ministry
of the details of the treaty, the Bishop’s excited denunciations of
the agreement had currency for nearly a fortnight, before any one in
England knew what exactly had been granted to Junot, or how far the
Junta was justified in its wrath.



The Convention of Cintra being once signed, the difficulties which were
bound to arise from the unwisdom of some of its articles were not long
in showing themselves. Indeed the first fortnight of September turned
out to be a very critical time.

The Portuguese authorities were furious: Dalrymple found the greatest
trouble in preventing the insurgents of the Alemtejo, who had gathered
opposite the mouth of the Tagus under the Conde de Castro Marim[261],
from attacking the French detachments in the forts on the left bank.
Their commander protested against the Convention, and actually appealed
to Admiral Cotton to repudiate it: fortunately he was content to
confine his opposition to words. But there was much more trouble at
Elvas: the Junta of Estremadura did not object to the settlement, and
liberated the French prisoners who were in its hands, according to the
proposal in the eighteenth article. But Galluzzo, the Captain-General
of that province, showed himself much more disobliging. He refused to
call off the troops under his lieutenant De Arce, who were beleaguering
Elvas, and behaved in the most dictatorial manner within Portuguese
territory, raising not only requisitions of food but contributions
of money. He even seized, at Campo Mayor, the military chest of the
Portuguese general Leite, who commanded the wrecks of the force that
had been beaten at Evora by Loison in July[262]. His detestable
behaviour had the good effect of throwing the natives of the country on
the English side, and Leite welcomed the arrival of troops from Lisbon,
which enabled him to protest with effect against the misdoings and
plunderings of the Spaniards. De Arce’s troops were doing no real good:
they only maintained a distant and futile bombardment of the citadel
of La Lippe, in which the garrison of Elvas had taken refuge. The
French commandant, Girod de Novillars, laughed their efforts to scorn,
and refused to listen to the proposals for a capitulation which they
kept pressing upon him. In spite of orders from the Junta of Seville,
bidding him abandon the siege and march for Madrid with his army,
Galluzzo persisted in his ridiculous proceedings till nearly the end
of September. It was only when Dalrymple moved up to the neighbourhood
first the 20th Regiment, and then two whole brigades under Sir John
Hope, that the Captain-General drew off his men and retired into
Spanish territory [September 25]. Then Girod and his garrison, which
was mainly composed of the 4th Swiss Regiment, were able to march to
Lisbon under British escort and embark for France. They did not sail
till October 9, so long had Galluzzo’s freaks delayed them.

  [261] Better known, from his court office, as the _Monteiro Mor_,
  which answers to our ‘Master of the Horse.’

  [262] See Leite’s indignant letters to Dalrymple in Napier, vol.
  i. App. xii. De Arce is the real name of the Dearey of whom
  Napier speaks on p. 245. Cf. Dalrymple’s _Memoir_, p. 82.

The garrison of Almeida departed about the same time: they had
maintained themselves without difficulty against the Portuguese
insurgents, but duly yielded up the place on the arrival of British
troops. They were marched down to Oporto under an escort of 200 men, a
force so weak that it nearly led to a disaster. For the mob of Oporto,
under the pretext that church plate and other public plunder was being
carried off by the French, fell upon them as they were embarking and
nearly made an end of them. It required all the exertions of the
escort, the Bishop of Oporto, and Sir Robert Wilson--who was then on
the spot organizing his well-known ‘Lusitanian Legion’--to prevent the
populace from boarding the transports and slaying the whole of the
French battalion. The baggage of the departing troops was seized and
plundered, and they barely succeeded in escaping with their lives[263].

  [263] Foy, iv. 361, 362; Napier, i. 246, 247. Napier suppresses
  the part taken in saving the French by the Bishop and by Wilson,
  to neither of whom were his feelings friendly. Foy acknowledges
  the services of both. There is a good account of the whole by
  Wilson, in his papers at the Record Office.

Meanwhile, long before the garrisons of Elvas and Almeida had been
brought down to the coast, Junot and the main body of his army had
departed. The commander-in-chief himself had sailed on September 13,
the first division of his army on the fifteenth, the rest between
that day and the thirtieth. The last weeks of the French occupation
of Lisbon had been most uncomfortable for all parties concerned.
The populace was seething with discontent, assassinating isolated
soldiers, and threatening a general rising. The French were under
arms day and night, with cannon trained down every street and square.
Unpopular officers, such as Loison, could not stir from their quarters
without a large escort. Sullen at their defeat, and still more angry
at having to abandon the heaps of plunder which they had amassed, the
French were in a most disobliging mood in their dealings with the
Portuguese, and in a less degree with the English. The main source of
irritation was the very necessary measures which had to be taken for
searching the baggage of the departing army. A commission had been
formed, consisting of Kellermann on the one side and General Beresford
and Lord Proby on the other, to settle in all disputed cases what was
military equipment and legitimate personal property, and what was not.
The English commissioners discovered the most astounding hoards of
miscellaneous goods among the bags and boxes of the invaders[264]. The
conduct of most of the French officers, from the commander-in-chief
downwards, was most disgraceful. A few examples may suffice: Junot,
by the twenty-first article of the Convention, had been granted leave
to send a single officer to France with news for the Emperor. This
officer, his aide-de-camp Lagrave, took with him for his general’s
private profit the most valuable set of books in the Royal Library
of Lisbon, fourteen volumes of a manuscript Bible of the fifteenth
century, illustrated with miniatures by the best Florentine artists--a
gift to King Emanuel from one of the Renaissance popes. Junot’s widow
afterwards sold it to the French government for 85,000 francs. Lagrave,
having started before the commissioners had begun to work, got off with
his boxes unsearched. But other interesting items were discovered in
the baggage of the Duke of Abrantes--one was £5,000 worth of indigo in
fifty-three large chests, another was a quantity of valuable specimens
of natural history from the public museum. General Delaborde was found
to be in possession of a large collection of sacred pictures which had
adorned Lisbon churches. Scattered through the baggage of many officers
was a quantity of church plate--apparently part of the property
seized to pay the war contributions which Napoleon had imposed on
Portugal: but it had in some mysterious way passed from public into
private possession[265]. In the military chest were gold bars to the
value of 1,000,000 francs which had come from the same source, but the
paymaster-general tried to get them out of the country without paying
the numerous accounts owed by his department to private individuals in
Lisbon. They were not discharged till this individual, one Thonnellier,
had been put under arrest, and threatened with detention after the
rest of the army should have sailed[266]. Another most scandalous
proceeding discovered by the commissioners was that Junot, after the
signature of the Convention, had broken open the Deposito Publico, the
chest of the Supreme Court of Lisbon, which contained moneys whose
rightful ownership was in dispute between private litigants. He took
from it coin to the value of £25,000, which was only wrung out of
him with the greatest difficulty. Even after a vast amount had been
recovered, the French sailed with a military chest containing pay for
three months ahead for the whole army, though they had entered Portugal
penniless. For a general picture of their behaviour it may suffice to
quote the report of the British commissioners. ‘The conduct of the
French has been marked by the most shameful disregard of honour and
probity, publicly evincing their intention of departing with their
booty, and leaving acknowledged debts unpaid. Finally they only paid
what they were obliged to disgorge.... Unmindful of every tie of
honour or justice, the French army has taken away a considerable sum
in its military chest, still leaving its debts unpaid to a very large

  [264] Napier, with his customary tenderness for French
  susceptibilities, has only very general allusions to these
  disgraceful peculations. My details are mainly from Thiébault
  (iv. 198-200), who frankly confesses everything, and gives many
  scandalous particulars. He was, as Napoleon wrote, ‘not delicate
  in money matters.’

  [265] Cf. Thiébault, Napier, and some curious details given in
  the _Annual Register_ for 1808, with Proby and Beresford’s Report.

  [266] For previous acts and plans of this shameless person see
  Thiébault, iv. 151-3.

  [267] Report of General Beresford and Lord Proby to Sir Hew
  Dalrymple after the evacuation.

It was no wonder that the resentment of the Portuguese was so great
that the last French who embarked could only get away under the
protection of British bayonets, and that many of those who straggled
or lingered too long in remote corners of the town lost their lives.
The wild fury of the Lisbon mob surprised the British officers who
were charged with the embarkation[268]: they knew little of what had
been going on in the capital for the last nine months, and could not
understand the mad rage displayed against the garrison.

  [268] For the tumults and murders at the embarkation see Col.
  Leslie’s _Military Journal_, pp. 66-76, and Col. Wilkie’s
  _English in Spain_, p. 16.

But finally the last French bayonet disappeared from the streets of
Lisbon, and the populace, with no object left on which to vent their
fury, turned to illuminations, feasts, and the childish delights of
fireworks. They did not show themselves ungrateful to the army of
liberation; all the British officers who have described the first
weeks after the evacuation of Lisbon, bear witness to the enthusiasm
with which they were received, and the good feeling displayed by their
allies[269]. It was only in the highest Portuguese quarters that
dissatisfaction was rampant: the Bishop of Oporto, General Freire, and
the Monteiro Mor, had all suffered what they considered an insult,
when their consent was not asked to the Convention of Cintra, and made
no secret of their anger against Dalrymple. But it does not seem that
their feelings affected any large section of the people.

  [269] See Col. Steevens’ _Reminiscences_, pp. 54, 55; Col.
  Wilkie, p. 14; Col. Leslie, pp. 65, 66.

The French army embarked for its native soil still 25,747 strong.
It had entered Portugal in the previous November with a strength of
nearly 25,000, and had received during the spring of 1808 some 4,500
recruits: in the month of May, before hostilities began, its full
force had been 26,594[270]. Of this total 20,090 were under arms at
the moment that the Convention was signed, 3,522 were in hospital,
sick or wounded: 916 were prisoners in the hands of the English or the
Portuguese. There remain, therefore, some 4,500 men to be accounted
for: these, however, were not all dead. More than 500 had deserted
and taken service with the British before the embarkation: they
came, almost without exception, from the ranks of the three foreign
battalions which had been serving with Junot, the 1st Hanoverians and
the 2nd and 4th Swiss[271]. As the total force of these corps had been
only 2,548, it is clear that about one man in five deserted. This was
natural in the case of the Germans, who were old subjects of George
III, and most unwilling recruits to the French army, but the equally
well-marked defection of the Swiss is very notable. Most of the
latter were enlisted for the 5th Battalion of the 60th Rifles, while
the Hanoverians joined their countrymen in the ranks of the King’s
German Legion[272]. The real deficit, then, in Junot’s army was about
4,000 men: this represents the total loss of life by the fights of
Roliça and Vimiero, by the numerous combats with the Portuguese, by the
stragglers cut off during the forced marches of July and August, and by
the ordinary mortality in hospital. It must be considered on the whole
a very moderate casualty list: Junot’s corps, when it re-entered Spain
to serve once more under the Emperor, was still 22,000 strong. It would
have been even a trifle higher in numbers if a transport carrying two
companies of the 86th Regiment had not foundered at sea, with the loss
of every man on board.

  [270] _Well. Suppl. Disp._, vi. 207 (figures given for May 23),
  and Thiébault.

  [271] Napier, i. 246; Foy, iv. 363. We have already had occasion
  to note the proclivity of the 2nd Swiss to desert. The 4th Swiss,
  who had formed the garrison of Elvas, showed exactly the same

  [272] A table in the _Parliamentary Papers relative to Spain and
  Portugal_ shows that the Legion received 163 recruits from this
  source. The 5/60th obtained a much larger number, having still
  over 200 Swiss with them in 1809.

It is necessary to give some account of the fate of Siniavin’s Russian
squadron, before dismissing the topic of the evacuation of Portugal.
The admiral, as we have already had occasion to state, had steadfastly
refused to throw in his lot with Junot and to join in the Convention
of Cintra. He preferred to make an agreement of his own with Sir
Charles Cotton. It was a simple document of two articles: the first
provided that the nine sail of the line and one frigate, which formed
the Russian fleet, should be given up, sent to England, and ‘held as a
deposit’ by his Britannic majesty, to be restored within six months of
a peace between Great Britain and Russia. The second was to the effect
that Siniavin, his officers and crews, should be sent back to Russia on
English ships without being in any way considered prisoners of war, or
debarred from further service.

Admiral Cotton, it is clear, regarded the ships as important and the
crews as worthy of small attention. It was profitable to Great Britain
to keep down the number of vessels in the power of Napoleon, though now
that the Danish fleet was captured, and the Spanish fleet transferred
to the other side of the balance, there could be no longer any
immediate danger of the French taking the offensive at sea. The easy
terms of release granted to the _personnel_ of the Russian squadron
suggest that the British admiral had determined to reward its commander
for his persistent refusal to help Junot. It almost appears that Cotton
looked upon Siniavin as a secret friend, and treated him accordingly.
Milder terms could hardly have been devised, for the moment that the
harbour-forts of Lisbon were surrendered to the British, the Russians
must obviously be made prisoners, since they could not get out of the
river. It is probable that the two admirals thoroughly understood each
other’s mind, and that the Russian was undisguisedly pleased at the
disaster of his detested French allies.

The most pressing necessity in Portugal, after the French had departed,
was the construction of a new national government, for it was clear
that the Supreme Junta at Oporto represented in reality only the
northern provinces of the realm, and could not be accepted--as its
president, the Bishop, suggested--as a permanent and legitimate
executive for the whole kingdom. Constitutionally speaking, if one
may use such a phrase when dealing with a country like Portugal, the
only body which possessed a clear title of authority was the Council
of Regency, which Prince John had nominated nine months before, on the
eve of his departure for Brazil. But this council had long ceased to
act; its members were dispersed; several had compromised themselves
by submitting to the French and taking office under Junot; and its
composition gave no promise of vigorous action for the future. If a
choice must be made between the Junta at Oporto, which was active and
patriotic, though perhaps too much given up to self-assertion and
intrigue, and the effete old Regency, there could be no doubt that
the former possessed more claims to the confidence of the Portuguese
nation and its English allies. But it was not necessary to adopt
either alternative in full: Wellesley, who had already got a firm
grip upon the outlines of Portuguese politics, advised Dalrymple to
invite the old Regency, with the exception of those members who had
compromised themselves with the French, to reassemble, and to bring
pressure upon them to co-opt to the vacant places the Bishop of Oporto
and the other prominent members of the Junta. This proposal would have
secured legality of form (since the old Regency would theoretically
have continued to exist), while introducing new and vigorous elements
of undoubted patriotism into the body[273]. But Dalrymple preferred to
reinstate, by a proclamation of his own, those members of the Regency
who had never wavered in their allegiance to Prince John [Sept. 18].
He called upon all public bodies and officials in the realm to obey
this reconstituted executive. Here was an undoubted mistake; it was
wounding to Portuguese pride to see the central governing body of
the kingdom created by the edict of an English general: Dalrymple
should surely have allowed the Regents to apprise the nation, by
a proclamation of their own, that they had resumed their former
functions. However, they fell in with Wellesley’s plans so far as
to co-opt the Bishop of Oporto as a colleague, though refusing any
places to the rest of his Junta. The whole body now consisted of
three original members, the Conde de Castro Marim (otherwise known
as the Monteiro Mor), Francisco Da Cunha, and Xavier de Noronha, of
two persons chosen from a list of possible substitutes, which the
Prince-Regent had left behind, Joam de Mendonça and General Miguel
Forjas Coutinho, and of two co-opted members, the Bishop and the Conde
das Minas, an old nobleman who had shown a very determined spirit in
resisting Junot during the days of his power.

  [273] Wellesley to Lord Castlereagh, Sept. 9 (_Well. Disp._, iv.
  137). In spite of Napier’s denunciation of the Bishop, Wellesley
  bears good witness in his favour, e.g. iv. 146.

On the reconstitution of the Regency the Junta of Oporto, with more
self-denial than had been expected, dissolved itself. The minor
juntas in the Algarve, the Alemtejo, and the Tras-os-Montes followed
its example, and Portugal was once more in possession of a single
executive, whose authority was freely recognized throughout the
kingdom. Unfortunately it turned out to be slow, timid, and divided
into cliques which were always at variance with each other.

We have already seen that owing to various causes of delay, of which
Galluzzo’s preposterous proceedings at Elvas were the most prominent,
the last French troops did not quit Portugal till September had
expired, and that Junot himself and the main body of his army had only
begun to leave on the fifteenth of that month. It would have been
impossible for Dalrymple to advance into Spain till the French had left
Lisbon, however urgently his presence might have been required. But it
would perhaps have proved feasible to push forward towards the Spanish
frontier a considerable part of his army, and to make preparations for
the movement of the whole towards Madrid or Salamanca as soon as the
evacuation should be complete. Dalrymple, however, was as leisurely
as the generals of the old days before the Revolutionary War. He kept
his troops cantoned about Lisbon, only pushing forward two brigades
towards Elvas in order to bring Galluzzo to reason, and dispatching
the 6th Regiment as a garrison to Almeida. He seems to have been
quite as much interested in the administration of Portugal as in the
further prosecution of the war in Spain. We find him much busied in
the reconstruction of the Portuguese government and army, reviewing
and rearming the Spanish division of Caraffa before shipping it off
to Catalonia [Sept. 22], and spending a great deal of time over the
redistribution into brigades and divisions of his army, which had now
swelled to something like 35,000 men, by the arrival of Moore’s force
and certain regiments from Madeira, Gibraltar, and England. He was also
engaged in endeavours to organize a proper commissariat for this large
body of men, a hard task, for every brigade arrived in the same state
of destitution as to means of transport as had those which landed with
Wellesley at Mondego Bay on the first of August. But in all his actions
there was evident a want of vigour and of purposeful resource, which
was very distressing to those of his subordinates who were anxious for
a rapid and decisive advance towards the main theatre of war in Spain.

No one felt this more clearly than Wellesley, whose views as to his
commander’s competence had never changed since that hour on the morning
of August 22, when Dalrymple had refused to march on Mafra, and had
decided to delay his advance till the advent of Moore. Since then he
had offered his advice on several points, and had almost always seen it
refused. Dealing with the disputed details of the Convention of Cintra,
he had spoken in favour of meeting the French demands with high-handed
decision: hence he was vexed by Dalrymple’s tendency towards weakness
and compromise. One of his special grievances was that he had been
ordered to sign the armistice of August 22 as representing the British
army, although he had privately protested against its details[274]. His
unofficial letters home during the first half of September are full of
bitter remarks on the weakness of the policy that had been adopted, and
the many faults of the Convention[275]. Seeing that warlike operations
appeared likely to be postponed for an indefinite time, he at last
asked and obtained leave to return to England, after declining in
somewhat acid terms an offer made to him by Dalrymple that he should
go to Madrid, to concert a plan for combined operations with Castaños
and the other Spanish generals. ‘In order to be able to perform the
important part allotted to him,’ he wrote, ‘the person sent should
possess the confidence of those who employ him, and be acquainted with
their plans, the means by which they hope to carry them into execution,
and those by which they intend to enable the Spanish nation to execute
that which will be proposed to them. I certainly cannot consider myself
as possessing these advantages[276].’ Wellesley also refused another
and a less tempting offer of a mission to the Asturias, for the purpose
of seeing what facilities that province would offer as the base of
operations for a British army. He was not a ‘draftsman,’ he wrote, or
a ‘topographical engineer,’ and he could not pretend to describe in
writing the character of such a region. In short he was set on going
home, and would not turn from his purpose. But before leaving Portugal
he wrote two remarkable letters. One was to Sir John Moore, the third
in command of the army, telling him that he regarded him as the right
person to take charge of the British forces in the Peninsula, and would
use every effort with the ministers to get the post secured to him.
‘It is quite impossible that we can go on as we are now constituted:
the commander-in-chief must be changed, and the country and the army
naturally turn their eyes to you as their commander[277].’ The second
and longer was a letter to his patron Castlereagh, in which he laid
down his views as to the general state of the war in Spain, and the way
in which the British army could be best employed. It is a wonderful
document, as he foretells in it all the disasters that were about to
befall the Spaniards from their reckless self-confidence. The only
real fighting-force that they possessed was, he said, the army of
Castaños: the rest, with the possible exception of Blake’s Galicians,
were ‘armies of peasantry,’ which could not be relied upon to meet the
French in the field. Though they might on some occasions fight with
success in their own mountains, ‘yet in others a thousand French with
cavalry and artillery will disperse thousands of them.’ They would not,
and indeed could not, leave their native provinces, and no officer
could calculate upon them for the carrying out of a great combined
operation. How then could the British army of Portugal be best employed
to aid such allies? The only efficient plan, Wellesley concludes, would
be to place it upon the flank and rear of any French advance to Madrid,
by moving it up to the valley of the Douro, and basing it upon Asturias
and Galicia. Posted in the kingdom of Leon, with its ports of supply at
Gihon, Corunna, and Ferrol, it should co-operate with Blake, and hang
upon the right flank of the French army which was forming upon the line
of the Ebro. The result would be to prevent the invaders from moving
forward, even perhaps (here Wellesley erred from ignorance of the
enemy’s numbers) to oblige them to retire towards their own frontier.
But Bonaparte could, unless occupied by the affairs of Central Europe,
increase his armies in Spain to any extent. The moment that he heard
of an English force in the field, he would consider its destruction as
his first object, and so multiply his numbers in the Peninsula that
the British commander would have to give back. ‘There must be a line
of retreat open, and that retreat must be the sea.’ Accordingly, Sir
Arthur recommended that the Asturias should be made the ultimate base,
and the transports and stores sent to its port of Gihon[278].

  [274] Wellesley to the Bishop of Oporto, Sept. 6: ‘I was present
  during the negotiation of the agreement, and by the desire of the
  Commander-in-chief I signed it. But I did not negotiate it, nor
  can I in any manner be considered responsible for its contents’
  (_Well. Disp._, iv. 134). Wellesley to Castlereagh, Oct. 6: ‘I do
  not consider myself responsible in any degree for the terms in
  which it was framed, or for any of its provisions.’

  [275] Wellesley to Mr. Stuart (_Well. Disp._, iv. 120). To Lord
  Castlereagh (iv. 118). To the Duke of Richmond (_Suppl. Disp._,
  vi. 129).

  [276] Wellesley to Dalrymple _(Well. Disp._, iv. 138).

  [277] Wellesley to Moore, Sept. 17, 1808 (_Well. Disp._, p. 142).
  Moore, as a noted Whig, was imagined not to be a _persona grata_
  at head quarters; Wellesley offers, in the most handsome way, to
  endeavour to smooth matters for him.

  [278] This letter, written to Castlereagh from Zambujal (_Well.
  Disp._, iv. 127-32), is one of the most conclusive proofs of
  Wellesley’s military genius. He valued the Spanish armies at
  their true force. He foresaw that Bonaparte would make ‘the
  driving of the leopard into the sea’ a point of honour, and
  would send corps on corps into Spain in order to secure it. He
  even noted that the affairs of Central Europe, ‘of which I have
  no knowledge whatever,’ would be the only possible reason that
  might prevent the Emperor from inundating the Peninsula with his
  legions. He saw that the presence of the British in Leon would be
  the one thing that would keep the French from subduing Central
  Spain: a disaster in the Douro valley was the nightmare of the
  Emperor, as half a dozen of his dispatches show. The first news
  that Moore was near Valladolid drew Napoleon from Madrid in wild
  haste, and deferred for six months the conquest of the valley of
  the Guadiana.

This letter was different in its general character from the other
reports which Castlereagh was receiving: most of the correspondents
of the Secretary for War could write of nothing but the enthusiastic
patriotism of the Spaniards and their enormous resources: they spoke
of the French as a dispirited remnant, ready to fly, at the first
attack, behind the line of the Pyrenees. It is therefore greatly to
the credit of Castlereagh that he did not hesitate to pin his faith
upon Wellesley’s intelligence, and to order the execution of the very
plan that he recommended. It was practically carried out in the great
campaign of Sir John Moore, after the collapse of the Spanish armies
had justified every word that Sir Arthur had written about them.

Wellesley sailed from Lisbon on September 20, and reached Plymouth on
October 4. On his arrival in England he was met with news of a very
mixed character. On the one hand he was rejoiced to hear that both
Dalrymple and Burrard had been recalled, and that Sir John Moore had
been placed in command of the British forces in the Peninsula. He
wrote at once to the latter, to say that there could be no greater
satisfaction than to serve under his orders, and that he would return
at once to Spain to join him: ‘he would forward with zeal every wish’
of his new commander[279]. It was also most gratifying to Wellesley to
know that the dispatch of September 25, by which Moore was given the
command of the army of Portugal, directed him to move into Northern
Spain and base himself upon the Asturias and Galicia, the very plan
which formed the main thesis of the document that we have been
discussing. There can be no doubt that Castlereagh had recognized the
strategical and political verities that were embodied in Wellesley’s
letter, and had resolved to adopt the line therein recommended.

  [279] Wellesley to Moore, Oct. 8 (_Well. Suppl. Disp._, vi. 150,



There was another and a less pleasant surprise in store for Wellesley
when he landed at Plymouth. He learnt that if he himself disliked the
armistice of August 22, and the Convention of Cintra, the British
public had gone far beyond him, and was in a state of frantic rage
concerning them. To his anger and amazement he also learnt that he
himself was considered no less responsible for the two agreements than
were Dalrymple and Burrard. The fact that the former had told him to
set his signature opposite to that of Kellermann on the document signed
at Vimiero, had misled the world into regarding him as the negotiator
and framer of the armistice. ‘Every whisperer who disliked the name of
Wellesley[280]’--and Sir Arthur’s brother, the Governor-General, had
made it very unpopular in certain quarters--was busy propagating the
story that of the three generals who had lately commanded in Portugal,
each one was as slack and supine as the others.

  [280] The Duke of Richmond to Wellesley, Oct. 12, 1808 (_Well.
  Suppl. Disp._, vi. 633).

The wave of indignation which swept across England on the receipt of
the news of the Convention of Cintra is, at this distance of time, a
little hard to understand. Successes had not been so plentiful on the
Continent during the last fifteen years, that an agreement which gave
back its liberty to a whole kingdom need have been criticized with
vindictive minuteness. But the news of Baylen had set the public mind
on the look-out for further triumphs, and when the dispatches which
gave an account of Roliça and of Vimiero had come to hand, there had
been a confident expectation that the next news received would be that
Junot’s army had been scattered or captured, and that Lisbon had been
set free. Then came a gap of thirteen days, caused by Dalrymple’s
strange fit of silence. The only intelligence that reached London in
this interval was the Bishop of Oporto’s letter of protest against the
armistice, in which, without giving any definite details about that
agreement, he denounced it as insulting to Portugal and unworthy of
England. The public was prepared, therefore, to hear that something
timid and base had been done, when Dalrymple’s dispatch of September
3, enclosing the Convention of Cintra, came to hand. It was easy to
set forth the terms of that treaty in an odious light. Junot, it was
said, had been beaten in the field, he was completely isolated from all
the other French armies, and his surrender must have followed in a few
days, if the British generals had only chosen to press their advantage.
Instead of this, they preferred to let him return to France with the
whole of his troops, and with most of his plunder. He was not even
compelled to release a corresponding number of British prisoners in
return for the freedom secured to his army. In fact, his position was
much better after than before his defeat at Vimiero, for the Convention
granted him a quiet and safe return home with his force intact, while,
even if he had won some success in battle, the best that he would have
been able to secure himself would have been a retreat on Northern
Spain, through the midst of great dangers. Excitable politicians and
journalists used the most exaggerated language, and compared the
Convention with that of Kloster Seven, and the conduct of the generals
who had not pressed the campaign to its logical end with Admiral Byng’s
shirking before Minorca. Caricatures were issued showing Dalrymple,
Burrard, and Wellesley sporting the white feather, or hanging from
three gibbets as traitors[281]. Nor was Admiral Cotton spared: he was
denounced in bitter terms for taking the Russian ships as ‘deposits,’
when he should have towed them into Spithead as prizes: moreover the
repatriation of the Russian crews was asserted to be a deadly blow at
our unfortunate ally the King of Sweden.

  [281] Toreño, then acting as agent for the Asturian Junta in
  London, has much interesting information on this point. He saw
  the gibbet caricature and papers published with black edges (i.

The rage against the Convention was not confined to any one class or
faction in the state. If some Whigs tried to turn it into the shape of
an attack on the government, there were plenty of Tories who joined in
the cry, begging their leaders in the ministry to dismiss and punish
the three unpopular generals. A number of public meetings were held
with the object of forcing the hands of the Duke of Portland and his
colleagues, but the most prominent part in the agitation was taken
by the Corporation of London. Recalling the old days of Wilkes and
Beckford, they resolved that the Lord Mayor, with a deputation of
Sheriffs, Aldermen, and Common-Councillors, should present a petition
to the King begging him to order ‘an inquiry into this dishonourable
and unprecedented transaction, for the discovery and punishment of
those by whose misconduct and incapacity the cause of the kingdom and
its allies has been so shamelessly sacrificed.’

Accordingly such a petition was laid before the King on October 12.
Its terms are worth a moment’s attention, as they show very clearly
the points on which popular indignation had been concentrated. ‘The
treaty,’ it states, ‘is humiliating and degrading, because after
a signal victory, by which the enemy appears to have been cut off
from all means of succour or escape, we had the sad mortification of
seeing the laurels so nobly acquired torn from the brows of our brave
soldiers, and terms granted to the enemy disgraceful to the British
name.... By this ignominious Convention British ships are to convey to
France the French army and its plunder, where they will be at liberty
immediately to recommence their active operations against us and our
allies. And the full recognition of the title and dignity of Emperor
of France[282], while all mention of the Government of Portugal is
omitted, must be considered as highly disrespectful to the authorities
of that country.’ There was another clause denouncing the sending back
of the Russian sailors, but not so much stress was laid on this point.
Finally the King is asked ‘in justice to the outraged feelings of a
brave, injured, and indignant people, whose blood and treasure have
been thus expended,’ to cause the guilty persons to be punished.

  [282] The petitioners ought in fairness to have stated that this
  was only made in the document setting forth the armistice, and
  not in the definitive Convention.

King George III replied to these flowers of oratory by a short speech
which displays admirably that power of getting an occasional lucid
glimpse of the obvious in which he was by no means deficient. He
was fully sensible, he said, of the loyalty and good intentions of
the City of London, but he wished the deputation to remember that
to pronounce judgement without previous trial and investigation was
hardly consonant with the principles of British justice. He was always
ready to institute an inquiry when the honour of the British arms was
in question: and the interposition of the City of London was not
necessary to induce him to set one on foot in this case, when the hopes
and expectations of the nation had been so much disappointed.

It was not, however, till seventeen days later that his majesty’s
formal orders for the summoning of a Court of Inquiry ‘to investigate
into the late Armistice and Convention concluded in Portugal, and
all the circumstances connected therewith,’ were communicated to
the Commander-in-Chief. Dalrymple and Burrard, both of whom had now
returned to England, were directed to hold themselves in readiness
to present themselves before the court, and Wellesley, for the same
reason, was directed to abandon his project of going back to the
Peninsula in order to serve under Sir John Moore.

The members of the celebrated Court of Inquiry, which commenced its
sittings on November 14, 1808, were seven in number, all general
officers of great respectability and advanced years, men more likely,
for the most part, to sympathize with caution than with daring. The
president was Sir David Dundas, the author of a celebrated drill-book
which had long been the terror of young officers: the other members
were Lord Moira, Lord Heathfield[283], the Earl of Pembroke, and
Generals Craig, Sir G. Nugent, and Nicholls. Not one of them has left
behind a name to be remembered, save indeed Lord Moira, who, as Lord
Rawdon in the old American War, had won the victory of Hobkirk’s Hill,
and who was destined to be the next Viceroy of India and to make the
name of Hastings famous for a second time in the East.

  [283] Not, of course, the Eliot who had defended Gibraltar so
  well in 1780-3, but his son, the second Lord Heathfield.

The court began its sittings on November 14, and did not terminate
them till December 22. In the great hall of Chelsea Hospital, where
its proceedings were held, there was much warm debate. As the details
of the Campaign of Portugal were gradually worked out, not only by the
cross-examination of Dalrymple, Burrard, and Wellesley, but by that of
many of the other officers of rank who had been in Portugal--Spencer,
Acland, Ferguson, Lord Burghersh, and others--the points on which
the verdict of the court must turn gradually became clear. They were
six in number:--Had Burrard been justified in preventing Wellesley
from pursuing the French at the end of the battle of Vimiero? Had
Dalrymple erred in refusing to take Wellesley’s advice to march on
Mafra the next morning? Should Kellermann’s offer of an armistice
have been accepted on the twenty-second, and, if so, were the terms
granted him too favourable? Lastly, was the Convention of Cintra
itself justifiable under the existing circumstances, and were all
its articles reasonable and proper? Much evidence was produced for
and against each view on every one of these topics. On the first two
Wellesley practically impeached Burrard and Dalrymple for unwarrantable
slackness and timidity. He was so much in love with his own bold plans
that his superior’s caution appeared to him contemptible. He stood up
to them and cross-questioned them with an acidity and a complete want
of deference that seemed very reprehensible to military men steeped in
the old traditions of unquestioning deference to one’s senior officers.
Sir Walter Scott, who followed the inquiry with great interest, called
him ‘a haughty devil,’ but expressed his admiration for him at the
same moment[284]. It is curious to find that Wellesley showed less
anger with Burrard, whose caution on the afternoon of the twenty-first
really wrecked his plan of campaign, than with Dalrymple. The latter
had snubbed him on his first arrival, had persistently refused him
his confidence, and would not state clearly to the court that the
armistice, though it bore Wellesley’s name, had not been drawn up or
approved in detail by him. Of the numerous minor witnesses who were
examined, all who had served at Roliça and Vimiero spoke on Wellesley’s
side: Spencer and Ferguson were especially strong in their statements.
The fact was that they were intensely proud of their two fights, and
looked upon Burrard as the man who had prevented them from entering
Lisbon in triumph after capturing Junot and his whole host. So strong
was this feeling that the brigadiers and field-officers of the eight
brigades that fought at Vimiero had presented Wellesley with a handsome
testimonial--a service of plate worth £1,000--as a sort of mark of
confidence in him, and of protest against those who had stayed his hand.

  [284] Lockhart’s _Life of Sir Walter Scott_, ii. 226.

On the other hand, Burrard and Dalrymple urged all the justifications
of caution. Each had arrived at a crisis, the details of which could
not be properly known to him from sheer want of time to master them.
Each acknowledged that Wellesley had vehemently pressed him to strike
boldly and promptly, but thought that he had not been justified in
doing so till he had made out for himself the exact situation of
affairs. Burrard pleaded that Junot might have possessed reserves
unknown to him, which might have changed the fortune of the fight
if a headlong pursuit had been ordered. Wellesley had told him that
none such existed (and this turned out to have been the fact), but he
himself had not seen any clear proof of it at the time[285]. Dalrymple
went even further, and stated that he had considered the whole conduct
of the campaign, from the landing in Mondego Bay till the battle of
Vimiero, terribly rash[286]. If he had permitted the army to march on
Mafra on the twenty-second, the French from Torres Vedras might have
taken him in the flank as he passed through a very difficult country,
and the most disastrous results might have ensued. He was positive
that nothing hazardous ought to have been attempted, and that it was
necessary to wait for Sir John Moore’s division before pressing the
French to extremity.

  [285] Burrard before the Court of Inquiry (_Proceedings_, pp.
  115, 116, 135).

  [286] Dalrymple before the Court of Inquiry (_Well. Disp._, iv.
  178, 180, 181).

With regard to the armistice and the Convention, all the three
generals, when defending themselves, agreed that they were wise and
justifiable. To clear the French out of Portugal without further
fighting, and to recover Lisbon and all its resources intact, were
ends so important that it was well worth while to sacrifice even the
practical certainty of capturing all Junot’s army, after a resistance
that might have been long and desperate. But as to the wisdom of
certain clauses and articles, both in the document of August 22 and
that of August 30, there was considerable difference of opinion.
Wellesley proved that he had opposed many details of each agreement,
and that he was in no way responsible for the final shape taken by
them. He only assented to the general proposition that it was right to
let the French army depart under a convention, rather than to force it
to a capitulation. He considered that Dalrymple had yielded far too
much, from his unwillingness to ‘drive Junot into a corner.’

On December 22 the Court of Inquiry issued its report. It was a very
cautious and a rather inconclusive document. But its main point
was that nothing had been done in Portugal which called for the
punishment of any of the parties concerned: ‘On a consideration of
all the circumstances, we most humbly submit our opinion that no
further military proceeding is necessary,’ i.e. there was no ground
for a court-martial on any one of the three British generals. As to
Burrard’s refusal to pursue the French on the afternoon of Vimiero,
there were ‘fair military grounds’ for his decision: the court omitted
to say whether the decision itself was right or wrong. ‘It could not
pronounce with confidence whether or not a pursuit could have been
efficacious.’ As to the halt on the following day, for which Dalrymple
no less than Burrard was responsible, ‘under the extraordinary
circumstances that two new commanding generals arrived from the ocean
and joined the army within the space of twenty-four hours, it is not
surprising that the army was not carried forward until the second
day after the action, from the necessity of the generals becoming
acquainted with the actual state of things, and of their army, and
proceeding accordingly.’ Finally, as to the Convention, ‘howsoever
some of us may differ in our sentiments respecting its fitness in the
relative situation of the two armies, it is our unanimous declaration
that unquestionable zeal and firmness appear to have been exhibited
throughout both by Sir Hew Dalrymple, Sir Harry Burrard, and Sir Arthur
Wellesley.’ There was a special compliment inserted for Wellesley’s
benefit, to the effect that his whole action, from the landing in
Mondego Bay down to the battle of Vimiero, was ‘highly honourable and
successful, and such as might have been expected from a distinguished

Such a report amounted to a plain acquittal of all the three
generals, but it left so much unsaid that the Government directed
the Commander-in-Chief to require from the members of the court
their decision as to whether the armistice of the twenty-second and
the Convention of the thirtieth were advisable, and, if they were
advisable, whether their terms were proper, and honourable. On the
twenty-seventh the court returned its answer: there was, this time, no
unanimous report, but a series of written opinions, for the members of
the body differed from each other on many points. As to the armistice,
six members replied that they approved of it, one, but he the most
distinguished of the seven--Lord Moira--said that he did not. On the
question as to the definitive Convention there was more difference
of opinion: Dundas, Lord Heathfield, Craig, and Nugent thought it
fair and reasonable; Lord Moira, the Earl of Pembroke, and Nicholls
considered it as unjustifiable, considering the relative situations of
the two armies. The two last-named officers added short explanatory
notes to their opinions, while Lord Moira subjoined to his a long and
elaborate argument, a document which does not seem in the least to
deserve the slighting reference made to it by Napier[287]. It is very
sensible in its general drift. Lord Moira contended that while on
August 22 there was no reason why an armistice should not have been
concluded, yet the paper drawn up by Kellermann contained clauses
that limited unduly the demands which the British commander might
make in the subsequent Convention. Dalrymple ought, before conceding
them, to have reflected that Junot’s anxious and hurried offer of
terms betokened demoralization. If the French had been pressed, and a
confident and haughty answer returned to their envoy, Junot would have
accepted any conditions that might be imposed upon him. His army was
in such a state of disorder and dismay that it was most unlikely that
he would have tried either to burn Lisbon or to retreat across the
Alemtejo. Moreover, the contention that the deliverance of Portugal
was the one object of the expedition, and that it was duly secured by
the Convention, was a mistake. Lord Moira wished to point out that
our armies were sent forth, not only to emancipate Portugal, but also
to destroy the forces and lower the prestige of France by every means
in their power. By forcing Junot to a capitulation, or by making the
terms of the Convention more stringent, a much greater blow might
have been dealt to Bonaparte’s reputation. As an instance of what
might have been done, he suggested that some remote and inconvenient
landing-place--Belle Isle for example--might have been imposed upon the
French troops, or they might have been compelled to engage not to serve
for some specified time against England and her allies.

  [287] He calls it ‘a laboured criticism, which nevertheless left
  the pith of the question entirely untouched’ (Napier, i. 249). I
  have printed Lord Moira’s plea in an Appendix, to show that it is
  well-reasoned and practical.

The Court of Inquiry had thus delivered its last opinion. But the
matter of the Convention was not even yet at an end. The ministry
resolved to inflict a rebuke on Dalrymple, not for his military action,
on which they completely accepted the verdict of the seven generals,
but for his political action in allowing the Articles XV, XVI, and XVII
to be inserted in the Convention. These, it will be remembered, were
the clauses which conceded certain privileges to the French inhabitants
of Lisbon, and to the Portuguese who had compromised themselves by
taking service under Junot. The Duke of York, as commander-in-chief,
was ordered to convey to Dalrymple ‘His Majesty’s disapprobation
of those articles in the Convention in which stipulations were made
affecting the interests and feelings of the Spanish and Portuguese
nations[288].’ It was to be impressed upon Sir Hew that it was most
improper and dangerous to admit into a military convention articles of
such a description, which (especially when carelessly and incautiously
framed) might lead to the most injurious consequences. Furthermore,
Dalrymple was to be gravely censured for his extraordinary delay in not
sending the news of the armistice of the twenty-second till September
3, whereby ‘great public inconvenience’ had been caused.

  [288] _The King’s Opinion on the Convention of Cintra_,
  paragraphs 4, 5, and 6.

It cannot be denied that these rebukes were well deserved: we have
already pointed out that the three articles to which allusion is
made were the only part of the Convention for which no defence is
possible. It is equally clear that it was the thirteen days’ gap in the
information sent home which gave time for the rise and development of
the unreasoning popular agitation against the whole agreement made with

As to the verdict of the court, it does substantial justice to the
case. There existed ‘fair military reasons’ for all that Burrard and
Dalrymple had done, or left undone. In a similar way ‘fair military
reasons’ can be alleged for most of the main slips and errors committed
during any campaign in the Napoleonic War--for Dupont’s stay at
Andujar, or for Murray’s retreat from Tarragona, or for Grouchy’s
operations on June 17 and 18, 1815. It would be unjust to punish old
and respectable generals for mere errors of judgement, and inability
to rise to the height of the situation. Burrard and Dalrymple had
sacrificed the most brilliant possibilities by their torpid caution,
after refusing to listen to Wellesley’s cogent arguments for bold
action. But their conduct had resulted neither from cowardice nor
from deliberate perversity. The blame must rest quite as much on
the government, which had entrusted the expedition to elderly men
unaccustomed to command in the field, as on those men themselves. And
as to the details of the armistice and Convention, we may well accept
Wellesley’s verdict, that the gain secured by the rescue of Lisbon with
all its wealth intact, and by the prompt termination of the campaign,
fully justified the resolve not to drive Junot to extremity.

But there was an unexpressed corollary to the verdict of the court
which the ministry fully realized, and upon which they acted. Burrard
and Dalrymple, with their ‘fair military reasons,’ must never again
appear in the field. It was not by such men that Bonaparte would be
foiled and Spain emancipated, and so they were relegated to home
service and quiet retirement for the rest of their lives. Wellesley,
on the other hand, was marked out as a man of energy, resource, and
determination, eminently fit to be employed again. Within four months
of the termination of the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry he was
once more in command of the British army in the Peninsula[289].

  [289] The proceedings terminated Dec. 27, 1808. Wellesley took up
  the command at Lisbon on April 25, 1809.





There is still one corner of the Iberian Peninsula whose history,
during the eventful summer months of 1808, we have not yet chronicled.
The rugged and warlike province of Catalonia had already begun that
heroic struggle against its French garrison which was to endure
throughout the whole of the war. Far more than any other section of
the Spanish nation do the Catalans deserve credit for their unswerving
patriotism. Nowhere else was the war maintained with such resolution.
When the struggle commenced the French were already masters by
treachery of the chief fortresses of the land: the force of Spanish
regular troops which lay within its borders was insignificant: there
was no recognized leader, no general of repute, to head the rising
of the province. Yet the attack on the invaders was delivered with a
fierceness and a persistent energy that was paralleled in no other
quarter of the Peninsula. For six years marshal after marshal ravaged
the Catalan valleys, sacked the towns, scattered the provincial levies.
But not for one moment did the resistance slacken; the invaders
could never control a foot of ground beyond the narrow space that
was swept by the cannon of their strongholds. The spirit of the race
was as unbroken in 1813 as in 1808, and their untiring bands still
held out in the hills, ready to strike at the enemy when the least
chance was offered. Other provinces had equal or greater advantages
than Catalonia for protracted resistance: Biscay, the Asturias, and
Galicia were as rugged, Andalusia far more populous, Valencia more
fertile and wealthy. But in none of these was the struggle carried on
with such a combination of energy and persistence as in the Catalan
hills. Perhaps the greatest testimony that can be quoted in behalf
of the people of that devoted province is that Napier, bitter critic
as he was of all things Spanish, is forced to say a good word for
it. ‘The Catalans,’ he writes, ‘were vain and superstitious; but
their courage was higher, their patriotism purer, and their efforts
more sustained than those of the rest. The _somatenes_ were bold and
active in battle, the population of the towns firm, and the juntas
apparently disinterested[290].’ No one but a careful student of Napier
will realize what a handsome testimonial is contained in the somewhat
grudging language of this paragraph. What the real credit due to the
Catalans was, it will now be our duty to display.

  [290] Napier, _History of the Peninsular War_, i. 90.

It will be remembered that in the month of February the French general
Duhesme had obtained possession of the citadel and forts of Barcelona
by a particularly impudent and shameless stratagem[291]. Since that
time he had been lying in the city that he had seized, with his whole
force concentrated under his hand. Of the 7,000 French and 5,000
Italian troops which composed his corps, all were with him save a
single battalion of detachments which had been left behind to garrison
Figueras, the fortress close to the French frontier, which commands
the most important of the three roads by which the principality of
Catalonia can be entered.

  [291] See pp. 36, 37 of this book.

Duhesme believed himself to be entirely secure, for of Spanish
regular troops there were barely 6,000 in all scattered through the
province[292], and a third of these were Swiss mercenaries, who,
according to the orders of Bonaparte, were to be taken at once into
the French service. That there was any serious danger to be feared
from the _miqueletes_ of the mountains never entered into the heads
of the Emperor or his lieutenant. Nor does it seem to have occurred
to them that any insurrection which broke out in Catalonia might be
immediately supported from the Balearic Isles, where a heavy garrison
was always kept, in order to guard against any descent of the British
to recover their old stronghold of Port Mahon[293]. If Napoleon had
realized in May that the Spanish rising was about to sweep over the
whole Peninsula, he would not have dared to leave Duhesme with such a
small force. But persisting in his original blunder of believing that
the troubles which had broken out were merely local and sporadic, he
was about to order Duhesme to make large detachments from a corps that
was already dangerously weak.

  [292] They were the following:--

  Regiment of Estremadura                         840 strong at Tarrega
                                                            (near Lerida).
  Regiment of Ultonia                             421    ”      Gerona.
  Two battalions of Wimpfen’s Swiss Regiment    2,149    ”      Tarragona.
  Two battalions of Spanish and Walloon Guards  1,700    ”      Barcelona.
  Cavalry Regiment of Borbon                      658    ”          ”
  Artillery                                       300    ”   in various
                                                               forts on

  [293] The Spanish garrisons in the Balearic Isles consisted of
  the following troops:--

  Regiment of Granada (three batts.)       1,183 at Port Mahon.
  Regiment of Soria (three batts.)         1,381      ”
  Regiment of Borbon (three batts.)        1,570 at Palma.
  Swiss Regiment of Beschard (two batts.)  2,121     ”
  Light Infantry of Barcelona, No. 2       1,341 at Port Mahon.
    ”     ”         Aragon, No. 2.         1,267 at Palma.
  Militia Battalion of Majorca               604    ”
  6th Hussars (_Husares Españoles_)          680    ”
  Artillery                                  500    ”      and Port Mahon.

The geography of Catalonia, as we have had occasion to relate in an
earlier chapter, is rather complicated. Not only is the principality
cut off by its mountains from the rest of Spain--it faces towards the
sea, while its neighbour Aragon faces towards the Ebro--but it is
divided by its numerous cross-ranges into a number of isolated valleys,
between which communication is very difficult. Its coast-plain along
the Mediterranean is generally narrow, and often cut across by spurs
which run down from the mountains of the inland till they strike the
sea. Except on the eastern side of the principality, where it touches
Aragon in the direction of Lerida, there is no broad expanse of level
ground within its borders: much the greater part of its surface is
upland and mountain.

Catalonia may be divided into four regions: the first is the district
at the foot of the Eastern Pyrenees, drained by the Fluvia and the
Ter. This narrow corner is called the Ampurdam; it contains all the
frontier-fortresses which protect the province on the side of France.
Rosas commands the pass along the sea-shore, Figueras the main road
from Perpignan, which runs some twenty miles further inland. A little
further south both these roads meet, and are blocked by the strong
city of Gerona, the capital of all this region and its most important
strategical point. South of Gerona a cross-range divides the Ampurdam
from the coast-plain of Central Catalonia; the defile through this
range is covered by the small fortified town of Hostalrich, but there
is an alternative route from Gerona to Barcelona along the coast by
Blanes and Arens de Mar.

The river-basin of Central Catalonia is that of the Llobregat, near
whose estuary Barcelona stands. Its lower course lies through the
level ground along the coast, but its upper waters and those of its
tributaries drain a series of highland valleys, difficult of access
and divided from each other by considerable chains of hills. All these
valleys unite at the foot of the crag of Montserrat, which, crowned
by its monastery, overlooks the plain, and stands sentinel over the
approach to the upland. In the mountains behind Montserrat was the
main stronghold of the Catalan insurrection, whose rallying-places
were the high-lying towns of Manresa, Cardona, Berga, and Solsona.
Only three practicable roads enter the valleys of the Upper Llobregat,
one communicates by the line of Manresa and Vich with the Ampurdam;
a second goes from Manresa via Cervera to Lerida, and ultimately to
the plains of Aragon; the third is the high-road from Barcelona to
Manresa, the main line of approach from the shore to the upland. But
there is another route of high importance in this section of Catalonia,
that which, starting from Barcelona, avoids the upper valleys, strikes
inland by Igualada, crosses the main watershed between the coast and
the Ebro valley below Cervera, and at that place joins the other road
from Manresa and the Upper Llobregat, and continues on its way to
Lerida and the plains of Aragon. This, passing the mountains at the
point of least resistance, forms the great trunk-road from Barcelona to

  [Illustration: Catalonia.]

The third region of the principality is the coastland of Tarragona,
a district cut off from the coastland of Barcelona by a well-marked
cross-ridge, which runs down from the mountains to the sea, and reaches
the latter near the mouth of the Llobregat. The communication between
the two maritime districts is by two roads, one passing the cross-ridge
by the defile of Ordal, the other hugging the beach and finding its way
between the hills and the water’s edge by Villanueva de Sitjas. The
coastland of Tarragona is not drained by a single river of considerable
volume, like the Llobregat, but by a number of small streams such as
the Francoli and the Gaya, running parallel to each other and at right
angles to the coast. Each is separated from the next by a line of hills
of moderate height. The southern limit of this region is the Ebro,
whose lower course is protected by the strong fortress of Tortosa.
Its main line of internal communication is the great coast-route from
Barcelona to Tarragona, and from Tarragona to the mouth of the Ebro.
Its touch with Aragon and Central Spain is maintained by a good road
from Tarragona by Montblanch to Lerida.

The fourth and last region of Catalonia is the inland, which looks not
towards the Mediterranean but to the Ebro and Aragon. It is drained
by the Segre, an important stream, which after being joined by its
tributaries, the Noguera and the Pallaresa, falls into the Ebro not
far to the south of Lerida. The tracts around that town are flat and
fertile, part of the main valley of the Ebro. But the head-waters of
the Segre and its affluents flow through narrow and difficult mountain
valleys, starting in the highest and wildest region of the Pyrenees.
They are very inaccessible, and served by no roads suitable for the use
of an army. Hence, like the upper valley of the Llobregat, they served
as places of refuge for the Catalan insurgents when Lerida and the flat
country had been lost. The only place of importance in these highlands
is the remote town of Seu d’ Urgel[294], a mediaeval fortress near the
sources of the Segre, approached by mule-paths only, and quite lost in
the hills.

  [294] Urgel is more accessible from France than from Spain. The
  easiest path to it is that which, starting from Mont-Louis,
  crosses the Spanish frontier at Puycerda, and follows the
  head-water of the Segre to the foot of the hill on which the Seu

Catalonia, then, is pre-eminently a mountain land, and one presenting
special difficulties to an invader, because it has no central system
of roads or valleys, but is divided into so many heterogeneous parts.
Though not fertile, it was yet rich, and fairly well peopled when
compared with other regions of Spain[295]. Its wealth came not from
agriculture but from commerce and manufactures. Barcelona, a city of
180,000 souls, was the greatest Mediterranean port of Spain: on each
side of it, along the coast, are dozens of large fishing-villages and
small harbour-towns, drawing their living from the sea. Of the places
which lay farther back from the water there were many which made an
ample profit from their manufactures, for Catalonia was, and still
remains, the workshop of Spain. It is the only province of the kingdom
where the inhabitants have developed industries on a large scale: its
textile products were especially successful, and supplied the whole

  [295] The population of the Principality in 1803 was 858,000

More than any other part of Spain, Catalonia had suffered from the
war with England and the Continental System. The closure of its ports
had told cruelly upon its merchants and manufacturers, who were
fully aware that their sufferings were the logical consequence of
the French alliance. They had, moreover, a historic grudge against
France: after encouraging them to revolt in the seventeenth century,
the Bourbons had then abandoned them to the mercies of the King of the
Castilians. In the great war of the Spanish Succession, Catalonia had
taken sides against France and Don Philip, and had proclaimed Charles
of Austria its king--not because it loved him, but because it hated
the French claimant. Even after the Peace of Utrecht the Catalans
had refused to lay down their arms, and had made a last desperate
struggle for provincial independence. It was in these wars that their
_miqueletes_[296] had first made their name famous by their stubborn
fighting. These bands were a levy _en masse_ of the population of
military age, armed and paid by their parishes, not by the central
government, which could be called out whenever the principality was
threatened with invasion. From their liability to turn out whenever the
alarm-bell (_somaten_) was rung, they were also known as _somatenes_.
The system of the _Quinta_ and the militia ballot, which prevailed in
the provinces under the crown of Castile, had never been applied to
the Catalans, who gloried in the survival of their ancient military
customs. The _somatenes_ had been called out in the French war of
1793-5, and had done good service in it, distinguishing themselves
far more than the troops of the line which fought on the frontier
of the Eastern Pyrenees. The memories of that struggle were still
fresh among them, and many of the leaders who had won a name in it
were still fit for service. In Catalonia then, more than in any other
corner of Spain, there were all the materials at hand for a vigorous
popular insurrection, even though the body of regular troops in the
principality was insignificant. The Catalans rose to defend their
provincial independence, and to recover their capital, which had been
seized so shamelessly by the trickery of Duhesme. They did not concern
themselves much with what was going on in Aragon and Valencia, or even
in Madrid. Their fight with the invader forms an episode complete
in itself, a sort of underplot in the great drama of the Peninsular
War, which only touches the main struggle at infrequent intervals. It
was not affected by the campaigns of Castile, still less had it any
noticeable influence on them. It would be equally possible to write the
history of the war in Catalonia as a separate treatise, or to compile a
general history of the war in which Catalonia was barely mentioned.

  [296] So called from Miquelot de Prats, the Catalan _condottiere_
  who served under Caesar Borgia. From him the light infantry, once
  called _almogavares_, got the name of _miqueletes_.

When the echoes of the cannon of the second of May went rolling round
Spain, they stirred up Catalonia no less than the other provinces which
lie at a distance from the capital. The phenomena which appeared in the
South and the West were repeated here, in much the same sequence, and
at much the same dates, as elsewhere. But the rising of the Catalans
was greatly handicapped by the fact that their populous and wealthy
capital was occupied by 12,000 French troops. Barcelona could not set
the example to the smaller places, and for some time the outburst was
spasmodic and local. The chief focus of rebellion was Lerida, where an
insurrectionary Junta was formed on May 29. At Tortosa the populace
rose a few days later, and murdered the military governor, Santiago
de Guzman, because he had been slow and reluctant to place himself at
their head. On June 2 Manresa, in the upper valley of the Llobregat,
followed their example, and from it the flame of insurrection spread
all over the central upland. In Barcelona itself there were secret
meetings, and suspicious gatherings in the streets, on which Duhesme
had to keep a watchful eye. But the main preoccupation of the French
general was that there were still several thousand Spanish troops
in the town, who might easily lead the populace in an _émeute_. He
had got rid of one regiment, that of Estremadura, in May: he gave it
orders to march to Lerida, where the magistrates and people refused to
receive it within their walls, dreading that it might not be ready to
join in their projected rising. This was a vain fear, for the corps
readily took its part in the insurrection, and marched to join Palafox
at Saragossa. But there still remained in Barcelona a battalion each
of the Spanish and the Walloon Guards, and the cavalry regiment of
Borbon, some 2,500 men in all. To Duhesme’s intense satisfaction,
these troops, instead of keeping together and attacking the French
garrison when the news of the revolt reached them, began to desert in
small parties. Far from attempting to compel them to stay by their
colours, Duhesme winked at their evasion, and took no notice of their
proceedings, even when a whole squadron of the Borbon Regiment rode off
with trumpets sounding and its officers at its head. Within a few days
the greater part of the Spanish troops had vanished, and when Duhesme
was directed by his master to disarm them, there were very few left
for him to deal with. These scattered remnants of the Guard Regiments
drifted in small bands all over Catalonia, some were found at Gerona,
others at Tarragona, others at Rosas. Nearly 400 went to Aragon and
fought under Palafox at Epila: another considerable body joined the
Valencian insurgents[297]. But these two strong veteran battalions
never were united again, or made to serve as a nucleus for the Catalan

  [297] There were 400 Spanish Guards at the fight on the
  Cabrillas, who must have come from the battalion at Barcelona.

  [298] I cannot make out the movements of the cavalry regiment of
  Borbon; it was certainly at Barcelona, 600 strong, in May. But
  in July it had got down to Andalusia, and was marching with a
  strength of 401 in the army of Castaños.

Saved from the peril of a rising of the Spanish regiments in Barcelona,
Duhesme had still the insurrection of the province on his hands. But he
was not left free to deal with it according to his own inspirations.
By the last dispatch from Napoleon which reached him before the
communications with Madrid and Bayonne were cut, a plan of campaign was
dictated to him. The Emperor ordered him to chastise the insurgents of
Lerida and Manresa, without ceasing to keep a strong grip on Barcelona,
and on the line of touch with France through Figueras. But, as if this
was not enough to occupy his small army of 12,000 or 13,000 men, he
was to provide two strong detachments, one of which was to co-operate
with Moncey in Valencia, and the other with Lefebvre-Desnouettes in
Aragon. A glance at the Emperor’s instructions is enough to show how
entirely he had misconceived the situation, and how thoroughly he had
failed to realize that all Spain was up in arms. The first detachment,
4,000 strong, was to march on Lerida, and to enter Aragon along the
line of the Ebro. It was then to move on Saragossa to join Lefebvre.
The second detachment, also 4,000 strong, was to move on Valencia
via Tortosa, join Marshal Moncey, and finally occupy the great naval
arsenal of Cartagena. With the 5,000 men that remained Duhesme was to
hold down Barcelona and Central Catalonia, while keeping open the line
of communications with Figueras and Perpignan.

Either Duhesme was as blind to the real state of affairs as his
master, or he considered that unquestioning obedience was his first
duty. He told off the two columns as directed, only cutting down
their strength a little, so as not wholly to ungarnish Barcelona. For
the Valencian expedition he told off General Chabran, with the best
brigade in his army, three veteran French battalions of the 7th and
16th of the line[299]. With this force he sent his single brigade of
French cavalry, two regiments under General Bessières (the brother of
the Duke of Istria). The whole amounted to 2,500 foot and 600 horse.
For the attack on Lerida, he had to send out troops of more doubtful
value--all foreigners, for there were no more French to be spared.
General Schwartz was given one Swiss, two Neapolitan, and one Italian
battalion[300], with no more than a single squadron of cavalry, for
his march was to lie over a very mountainous country. His whole force
was 3,200 strong. To the general directions given by Napoleon, Duhesme
added some supplementary orders of his own. Chabran was to pass by
Tarragona, leave a battalion in its citadel, and take as a compensation
the two battalions of Wimpfen’s Swiss Regiment, which was to be
incorporated in the French army. It was expected that he would get into
touch with Marshal Moncey when he should reach Castellon de la Plana.
Schwartz, on the other hand, was told to march by the mountain road
leading to Manresa, in order to punish the inhabitants of that town for
their rebellion. He was to fine them 750,000 francs, and to destroy a
powder-mill which they possessed. He was then to march on Lerida, from
which he was to evict the insurrectionary Junta: the city was to pay
a heavy war-contribution, and to receive a garrison of 500 men. With
the rest of his brigade Schwartz was to join the French forces before
Saragossa, not later than June 19.

  [299] This force was Goulas’s Brigade of Chabran’s Division,

    7th of the Line (1st and 2nd batts.)        1,785
    16th    ”       (3rd batt.)                   789
                                                -----  2,574

  and Bessières’ Cavalry:
    3rd Provisional Cuirassiers (minus one
        squadron)                                 205
    3rd Provisional Chasseurs                     416
                                                 ----    621
                                                       -----  3,195
    with eight guns.

  [300] Schwartz’s force was:--

  2nd Swiss (3rd batt.)                           580
  1st Neapolitans (1st and 2nd batts.)          1,944
  1st Italian _Velites_ (1st batt.)               519
                                                -----  3,043
  One squadron of the 3rd Provisional Cuirassiers        204
                                                       -----  3,247
  with four guns.

  [That the detached squadron were cuirassiers is proved by
  Arteche, ii. 86. The French authorities do not give the regiment.]

  Foy makes the odd mistake of saying ‘trois bataillons du
  deuxième Suisse,’ instead of ‘le troisième bataillon du
  deuxième Suisse.’ There was only one battalion of this regiment
  with Duhesme.

Schwartz started from Barcelona on June 4: a tempest forced him to wait
for a day at Martorel, in the coast-plain, but on the sixth he reached
the pass of Bruch, at whose foot the roads from Igualada and from
Manresa join. Here he met with opposition: the news of his approach
had spread all up the valley of the Llobregat, and the _somatenes_ of
the upland towns were hurrying forward to hold the defile by which the
high-road from Barcelona climbs into the upper country. At the moment
when the invaders, marching in the most careless fashion, were making
their way up the hill, only the levy of Manresa was in position. They
were a mere handful, 300 or 400 at most, and many were destitute of
muskets. But from the cover of a pine-wood they boldly opened fire upon
the head of Schwartz’s column. Surprised to find himself attacked,
the French general deployed a battalion and drove the _somatenes_ out
of their position: they retired in great disorder up the hill towards
Manresa. Schwartz followed them with caution, under the idea that they
must be the vanguard of a larger force, and that there were probably
regular troops in support, further along the defile. In this he was
wrong, but the retreating Manresans received reinforcements a few
miles behind the place of the first skirmish. They were joined by the
levies of San Pedor and other villages of the Upper Llobregat, marching
forward to the sound of the single drum that was to be found in the
upland. The peasants ensconced themselves in the rocks and bushes on
either side of the road, and again offered battle. Schwartz took their
opposition much too seriously, extended a long front of tirailleurs
against them, but did not push his attack home. Soon other bands of
_somatenes_ from the direction of Igualada began to gather round his
left flank, and it seemed to him that he would soon be surrounded and
cut off from his line of communications with Barcelona. His regiments
were raw and not of the best quality: the Neapolitans who composed more
than half his force passed, and with reason, as the worst troops in
Europe. He himself was a cavalry officer who had never held independent
command before, and was wholly unversed in mountain warfare. Reflecting
that the afternoon was far spent, that he was still twelve miles from
Manresa, and that the whole country-side was on the move against him,
he resolved to abandon his expedition. Instead of hurling his four
battalions upon the _somatenes_, who must have been scattered to the
winds if attacked by such superior numbers, he drew back, formed his
men in a great square, with the cavalry and guns in the middle, and
began a retreat across the more open parts of the defile. The Spaniards
followed, pressing in the screen of tirailleurs by which the square
was covered, and taking easy shots into the solid mass behind them.
After six miles of marching under fire, Schwartz’s Swiss and Italians
were growing somewhat demoralized, for nothing could be more harassing
to raw and unwilling troops than such a retreat. At last they found
their way blocked by the village of Esparraguera, where the inhabitants
barricaded the streets and opened a hot fire upon the front face of
the square. Seeing his men hesitate and break their ranks, Schwartz
hastily bade them scatter right and left and pass round the village
without attempting to storm it. This device succeeded, but when the two
halves of the column reunited beyond Esparraguera, they were in such
disorder that there was no means of stopping them. The whole streamed
into Martorel in a confused mass at nightfall, after a retreat whose
incidents remind the military reader, in every detail, of the rout of
the British troops in the march to Lexington, on the first day of the
old American War of 1775.

When he reached the plains Schwartz was able to retire unharmed to
Barcelona, having saved three of his four guns[301] and lost no very
large proportion of his men. But he had suffered the disgrace of being
worsted by inferior numbers of undisciplined peasantry, and brought his
troops back in a state of demoralization, which was very discouraging
to the rest of the garrison of the Catalonian capital. Duhesme, instead
of taking him to task, fully approved of his retreat, on the ground
that if he had pushed on for Manresa and Lerida he would probably have
lost his whole brigade. Realizing at last the true strength of the
insurrection, and learning that the _somaten_ was sounding in every
village, and that the peasantry were flocking together in thousands,
Duhesme determined to concentrate his whole force, and sent orders
to Chabran to abandon his Valencian expedition and return at once to
Barcelona. He was probably quite right in his resolve, though Chabran’s
retreat was the determining fact that ruined Moncey’s campaign in the
province south of the Ebro. The Emperor had sketched out the whole plan
of operations on false premises, and when the new military situation
had developed itself, it would have been absurd for his lieutenants to
carry out his original orders in blind and servile obedience.

  [301] One gun was lost after leaving Esparraguera by the fall of
  a rickety bridge over the Abrera (Arteche, ii. 93, 94). Foy and
  other French narrators do not mention this loss.

Chabran’s column had reached Tarragona when it received Duhesme’s
letters of recall. It had started on June 4, and found the coastland
still quiet, the insurrection not having yet spread downwards from the
hills. On arriving at Tarragona Chabran took possession of the citadel,
and issued orders to the two battalions of Wimpfen’s Swiss Regiment,
which formed the garrison of the place, to prepare to march with him
against Valencia. The Swiss officers showed no alacrity in falling in
with this plan. They were not animated by the patriotic fury which had
carried away the rest of the Spanish regular troops into the insurgent
camp. On the other hand they felt no enthusiasm at the idea of joining
the French in an attack on their late employers. They were deferring
obedience to the orders of the French general on various futile pleas,
when the news of Schwartz’s defeat at Bruch reached Tarragona. Directed
to return in haste and to rejoin Duhesme, General Chabran marched off
on June 9, leaving Wimpfen’s mercenaries behind: they would not follow
him, and declared in favour of the insurgent Junta at Lerida the moment
that his back was turned. The retreating French column had to brush
aside several considerable bands of _somatenes_, which tried to arrest
its progress, for the coastland had taken arms after the combat of
Bruch, and its levies hoped to treat Chabran as their compatriots
of the upland had treated Schwartz. But the three veteran French
battalions were of tougher material than the Neapolitans and Italians
who had been routed on the sixth, and successfully cut their way back
to Barcelona. They were aided by the unwisdom of the insurgents, who,
instead of trying to defend the difficult defile of Ordal, came down
into the plain. When they attacked Chabran at Vendrell and Arbos, they
were charged by his cavalry and scattered to the winds with heavy loss.
The French, when the actions were over, sacked with every circumstance
of brutality all the villages which lay along their path[302]. On June
11 they got into touch with Duhesme’s outposts, and on the twelfth
re-entered Barcelona.

  [302] For details see Arteche, ii. 98, 99, and Foy, iv. 150, who
  adds that Arbos ‘fut pillé et réduit en cendres, _conformément
  aux usages de la guerre_’(!)

The whole of the ‘Army of the Eastern Pyrenees’ was now reunited
under its commander’s hand, and Duhesme thought himself strong enough
to punish the peasantry of the Upper Llobregat for their victory at
Bruch. On the fourteenth Chabran, with his own brigade and the Swiss
and Italians of Schwartz, marched from Martorel to assault once more
the pass which the uplanders had defended so well eight days before.
But the woods and rocks of Bruch were now manned by many thousands of
_somatenes_: all Central Catalonia had sent its levies thither, and
they were supported by 400 regulars from Lerida and four pieces of
artillery. After feeling the position, and directing against it at
least one serious attack, Chabran drew back and refused to press on the
action--apparently influenced by the manifest reluctance of Schwartz’s
troops to advance, no less than by the strength of the ground. After
losing nearly 400 men he retired to the plain and marched back to
Barcelona [June 15].

Duhesme had a more pressing business in hand than the chastisement of
the mountaineers of the Upper Llobregat. He had now learnt, by the fact
that couriers from France had ceased to arrive, that his communications
with Figueras and Upper Catalonia had been cut, and it was absolutely
necessary that they should be reopened. This was to prove a harder task
than he imagined: the _somatenes_ were now up in every valley as far
as the French frontier; they had driven into the citadel of Figueras
the weak battalion of detachments that had been left to hold that
town, and some of the bolder spirits were feeling their way through
the Pyrenean recesses to commence raids on Roussillon. Such alarm was
felt at Perpignan that the general commanding the district had begun to
call out the national guards, for he had no regulars at his disposal
save a few hundred men of details and detachments, who were waiting to
go forward to join their regiments in Duhesme’s corps. But all this
was unknown at Barcelona, and it was with very little conception of
the difficulties before him that Duhesme resolved to march on Gerona
and reopen the main road to France. He told off for this service one
half of the infantry battalions which composed his army--the Italian
division of Lecchi, consisting of the brigades of Schwartz and of
Milosewitz, the latter of which had hitherto remained in garrison at
Barcelona, and had not taken part in the futile attacks on the defile
of Bruch. He also took with him nearly the whole of his cavalry, four
French and three Italian squadrons of cuirassiers and chasseurs, and
a battery of eight guns. This gave him a formidable force of 5,900
men[303], about half of the total strength of his corps when the losses
suffered at Bruch and elsewhere are deducted.

  [303] Brigade of Milosewitz:
      2nd Italian Line (2nd batt.)             740
      4th ” (3rd batt.)                        587
      5th ” (2nd batt.)                        806
                                              ----  2,133

  Brigade of Schwartz:
      1st Neapolitans (1st and 2nd batts.)   1,944
      1st Italian _Velites_ (1st batt.)        519
        (Minus 300 men lost in the actions at
           Bruch on June 6 and 14)
                                             -----  2,163

    3rd Provisional Cuirassiers                409
    3rd ” Chasseurs                            416
    Italian _Chasseurs à Cheval_               504
    2nd Neapolitan      ”                      388
      (Minus one squadron left at
         Barcelona, say                        200)
                                             -----  1,517

  Artillerymen for eight guns                         150
                                                    -----  5,963

Duhesme had resolved to march on Gerona by the comparatively easy road
along the sea-coast, rather than by the alternative route which passes
further inland by the valley of the Besos and the town of Hostalrich.
Even in the lowland, however, he found the _somatenes_ prepared to
oppose him. At the castle of Mongat, only six miles outside Barcelona,
he met the first swarm 8,000 or 9,000 strong. They had procured a
few guns, which they had mounted so as to sweep the road, and lay in
disorderly masses along the crest of a rising ground. Duhesme, amusing
them in front by a false attack, sent a strong column to turn their
right flank: seeing themselves likely to be enveloped, the peasants
fled after a short skirmish, in which they suffered considerable loss.
Pushing onward, Duhesme arrived that same afternoon at the large open
town of Mataro, a place of 20,000 souls given over to the manufacture
of glass and cotton goods. The populace had hastily barricaded
the outlets of the streets with carts and piles of furniture, and
discharged two or three cannon against the approaching enemy. But
Milosewitz’s Italian brigade easily burst through the feeble defences
and took Mataro by storm. Its attempt at resistance was considered by
Duhesme to justify its sack, and he granted the plunder of the town to
his men, who only moved on the next day after having thoroughly robbed
every dwelling of its portable goods and murdered a considerable number
of the inhabitants. The French army of Catalonia was the most motley
and undisciplined force of all the imperial hosts in Spain, and for
that reason it was by far the most cruel and brutal in its behaviour to
the natives, who had not as yet justified any such treatment by their
manner of conducting the war. Any ferocity which they showed from this
time onward was a well-deserved revenge for what they had suffered.

Leaving Mataro on the eighteenth, Duhesme arrived before Gerona on the
twentieth, after burning most of the villages on the road, in revenge
for the constant molestation which he suffered from the _somatenes_.
He found the city placed in a state of defence, so far as was possible
in the case of an old-fashioned fortress called upon to stand a siege
at ten days’ notice. There was a small regular garrison, the Irish
regiment of Ultonia, under its two lieutenant-colonels, O’Donovan and
O’Daly: but this corps only counted 350 bayonets. In addition there
were a few trained artillerymen, and the armed citizens of the town,
not more than 2,000 in all, for Gerona had but 14,000 inhabitants. The
place lies on either side of the small stream of the Oña, just above
its confluence with the river Ter. On the south bank is the main part
of the town, straggling up the side of a steep hill, which is crowned
at its eastern end by an ancient citadel, known (like those of several
other Catalonian towns) by the name of Monjuich. Further westward,
along the crest of this hill, lie three other forts, those of the
Constable, Queen Anne, and the Capuchins. These, like the citadel, are
detached works, not connected by any line of wall but only by a ditch.
The town, which is completely commanded by the four forts, has no
protection on the south side of the Oña but a mediaeval wall, destitute
of a ditch and not more than twenty feet high. But on the other side
of the river, the northern suburb, known as the Mercadal, having no
line of outlying heights to protect it, had been fortified in the style
of Vauban with a regular front of five bastions, though, like the
fortifications of the city, it was without a ditch.

Duhesme had no battering-train, and his force of 5,900 men was
insufficient to invest the whole circumference of the city of Gerona
and its forts. But, like Moncey before Valencia, he was resolved to
make an attempt to storm the city by escalade, or by battering in its
gates. He left alone the citadel and the line of works on the hill,
only sending a single battalion to demonstrate against the fort of the
Capuchins. His real attack was directed against the sole point where
the old _enceinte_ of the city is not fully protected by the forts,
the gate of the Carmen, on the very brink of the Oña. In no very
honourable spirit, he sent in one of his aides-de-camp, with a white
flag, to demand the surrender of Gerona, and while that officer was
conferring with the governor and the local Junta, suddenly launched his
column of assault against the gate, hoping to catch the Spaniards off
their guard. The attack was a failure: the heavy guns from the forts
above silenced the French field-artillery which tried to batter in the
gate. Then Duhesme sent forward a storming party, with artillerymen
at its head bearing petards with which to blow open the entrance:
but the heavy musketry-fire from the walls laid low the head of the
column, and the rest swerved, and fell back to get under cover. A
feeble demonstration beyond the Oña against the bastions of Santa Clara
and San Francisco had not even the desired effect of distracting the
attention of the defenders of the Carmen Gate.

Seeing his attack foiled, Duhesme sent in at dusk a second flag of
truce, inviting the Junta of Gerona to send out deputies to confer with
him on certain points which he was desirous of submitting to them.
The Catalans were simple enough to comply with his offer: they would
have been wiser to avoid all negotiations with such an enemy. For this
parley was only intended to cover a second assault. Seeing that he
could not hope to batter his way into the place by means of his light
field-artillery, Duhesme was preparing a great escalade under cover of
the night. The point which he chose for it was the bastion of Santa
Clara, on the centre of the low front of the Mercadal, beyond the Oña.
He collected a quantity of ladders from the neighbouring villages,
and told off for the assault the three battalions of the brigade of

At ten o’clock[304] the Italians crept up beneath the ramparts, where
the citizens on guard do not seem to have kept a good look out, and
delivered their attack. But these raw troops, moving in the darkness,
made many mistakes: the chief one was that many of the ladder-party
went astray among the water-courses and field-walls, so that the
provision of ladders proved insufficient. The garrison of the bastion,
however, had been taken completely by surprise, and allowed the head
of the column to escalade the twenty-foot wall with no more hindrance
than a few musket-shots. The Neapolitan Colonel Ambrosio and the
leading files had actually mounted, and driven back the citizens to
the gorge of the bastion, when there arrived reinforcements, a company
of the Regiment of Ultonia, which charged with the bayonet, drove the
Italians back, and hurled them over the rampart. An Irish lieutenant,
Thomas Magrath, and a Carmelite friar seized and overturned the
ladders, at the cost of the life of the former. When the garrison began
firing down into the mass of assailants crowded at the foot of the
wall, and the neighbouring bastion commenced to discharge a flanking
fire of artillery, the Italians broke and fled. A second attempt at
an escalade, made two hours later at another bastion, failed even
more lamentably, for the garrison were on the alert and detected the
assailants before they drew near the walls.

  [304] Napier says that the assault was delivered at seven in
  the evening, before dark (i. 79); but all the Spanish accounts
  speak of it as having taken place long after dark, though before
  midnight (cf. Arteche, Toreño, and Minali, quoted by the former);
  so does Foy (iv. 158), who fixes the hour as ‘between nine and

Convinced that he was too weak to take Gerona without siege-artillery,
Duhesme broke up his camp and fled under cover of the night, marking
his retreat by a third insincere attempt to open negotiations with the
garrison. He hastily made off by the same road by which he had come,
and returned to Barcelona by forced marches, dropping on the way one of
his Italian brigades at Mataro [June 24]. In the whole expedition he
had lost 700 men[305].

  [305] Yet he had the hardihood to write to the Emperor that
  ‘after some slight skirmishing, he did not think it worth while
  to make a serious attack on Gerona’ (_Nap. Corresp._, xvii. 347).

So ended the first attempt on Gerona, to the great credit of its
gallant defenders, and more especially to that of the weak Irish
regiment which had borne the brunt of the fighting. Duhesme’s whole
campaign bore a singular resemblance to that which Moncey was making at
the same moment in Valencia, and, like it, was wrecked on the initial
blunder of supposing that Spanish towns, defended by a population in
a high state of patriotic enthusiasm, could be carried by escalade
without any proper preparation by artillery. French generals soon got
to know their adversaries better: the same levies that could be easily
scattered in the open field were formidable under cover of stone walls.

On returning to Barcelona, Duhesme found that the insurgents of Central
Catalonia had drawn close to the capital in his absence. Eight or ten
thousand _somatenes_ had come down to the line of the Llobregat, had
broken its bridges, had entrenched themselves opposite its fords,
and were preparing to blockade Barcelona. They had brought up a
considerable number of guns taken from the batteries on the coast,
which had so long kept watch upon the English. But of regular troops
there were only a few present--a mixed body of 400 men from Lerida,
and some small remnants of the old Spanish garrison of Barcelona. The
command seems to have been held by Juan Baget, a lawyer of Lerida,
who had been named colonel of _miqueletes_ by the Junta of his native
town. Duhesme was determined not to be deprived of his hold on the
coast-plain by this tumultuary army. On the thirtieth he sallied out
from Barcelona with Goulas’s French brigade and three of Lecchi’s
Italian battalions, accompanied by the cuirassiers of Bessières.
Though the line of the Llobregat is marked by steep banks, and though
a considerable number of guns were mounted behind it, the position was
too long and too much exposed to be capable of defence by undisciplined
bands of mountaineers. While the Italians menaced its front, Goulas and
Bessières forded the river and turned the flank of the Catalans. Chased
out from the villages of San Boy and Molins de Rey by a sweeping
charge, they were pursued across the plain, stripped of all their
artillery, and forced to take refuge in their old positions along the
edge of the mountains of Montserrat, after losing a considerable number
of men.

Less successful was another stroke against the insurgents which Duhesme
endeavoured to deal five days later. General Chabran, with the Italian
brigade that had been left at Mataro, a regiment of French cavalry and
a field-battery, moved out to clear the hills above the coast, and to
sweep the valley of the Besos. He had before him the _somatenes_ of
the regions about Vich, Hostalrich, and Santa Coloma, under Francisco
Milans, a half-pay lieutenant-colonel, who had been placed at their
head by the local Junta. Chabran forced his way for some distance
inland till he reached Granollers, always harassed but never seriously
attacked by the insurgents. Milans, who showed all through his career
a real genius for guerilla warfare, had ordered his levies never to
stand when pressed, but to hang about the enemy’s line of march, cut
off his pickets and scouting parties, and fall upon the baggage-train
which trailed at the rear of his column. These tactics were perfectly
successful: having reached Granollers after a most toilsome march,
Chabran refused to push further among the mountains, turned back, and
retreated to Mataro, accompanied home by the _somatenes_, who pursued
him to the very outskirts of the town, and cut off his stragglers and
many of his baggage animals [July 4].

The moment that the Catalan insurrection grew serious, Duhesme had sent
repeated appeals for help to the Emperor: the land route to Perpignan
being cut, he had to use small vessels which put out to sea at night,
risked capture by the English ships lying off the coast, and when
fortunate reached the harbours of Collioure or Port-Vendres, just
beyond the Pyrenees. Napoleon looked upon the Catalonian war as a very
small matter, but he was fully resolved that Duhesme must be succoured.
Accordingly he determined to concentrate a division at Perpignan, but
he refused to allot to it any of his veteran French troops. He swept
together from the Southern Alps and Piedmont a most heterogeneous body
of 7,000 or 8,000 men, even worse in quality than the motley army which
he had entrusted to Duhesme. The command was entrusted to a capable
officer, General Reille, one of the Emperor’s aides-de-camp, who was
told to advance and relieve Figueras, after which he was to stretch
out his hand to Duhesme, who would push northward to meet him. His
improvised army consisted of two battalions of recruits just levied
in the lately annexed duchy of Tuscany, and constituting the nucleus
of a new regiment with the number 113, of a battalion of national
guards, some mobilized gendarmerie, a battalion of the ‘Legion of
Reserve of the Alps’ from Grenoble, five ‘battalions of detachments,’
and the single battalion which formed the contingent of the little
republic of the Valais[306]. The cavalry comprised two squadrons of
Tuscan dragoons, and two _escadrons de marche_ of French cuirassiers
and chasseurs. There seem to have been no more than two batteries of
artillery allotted to the force[307]. Reille was informed that other
troops from Italy would ultimately arrive at Perpignan, but that they
were not to be expected till the end of July or the beginning of
August. For the relief of Figueras and the opening up of communications
with Duhesme he must depend on his own forces.

  [306] The Valais was a republic from 1802 till 1810, when it was
  annexed to the Empire, as the ‘department of the Simplon.’

  [307] From _Nap. Corresp._, 14,092, 14,150, 14,151, and 14,168,
  we get the composition of this force. They account for the

  Two batts. of the 113th (Tuscans)                             1,300
  National Guards of the Pyrénées Orientales                      560
  1st Provisional Battalion of Perpignan (companies from the
        dépôts of the 1st, 5th, 24th, 62nd of the Line, and 16th
        and 22nd Léger)                                           840
  2nd Provisional Battalion, similarly formed from the 23rd,
        60th, 79th, 81st of the Line, and the 8th and 18th
        Léger                                                     840
  A mixed battalion of the 16th and 32nd French and 2nd Swiss   1,100
  Another from the 7th and 93rd of the Line                       840
  Another from the 2nd, 56th, and 37th of the Line                840
  One battalion of the ‘5th Legion of Reserve’ from Grenoble      500
  Battalion of the Valais                                         800
  Two squadrons of Tuscan Dragoons                                250
  Two _escadrons de marche_ (French)                              300
  Two batteries of artillery                                      200

  There were also nine companies of gendarmerie and ‘departmental

Travelling with commendable rapidity, Reille arrived at Perpignan on
July 3. Of all the detachments that were marching to join him he found
that nothing had yet reached the frontier but the local national guards
and gendarmerie, the two Tuscan battalions, a company of the 2nd Swiss
Regiment, and artillerymen enough to serve a couple of guns. With no
more than the Tuscans and the Swiss, less than 1,600 men in all, he
marched on Figueras on July 5, dispersing on the way some bands of
_somatenes_, who tried to oppose him at the passage of the Muga. He
threw a convoy into the place and strengthened its garrison, but could
do no more, for all the country beyond Figueras was up in arms, and his
raw Italian recruits could hardly be kept to their colours. Indeed he
was forced to make them march in solid columns whenever he moved them,
for when ordered to deploy they always fell into disorder, and tried to
make off to the rear[308].

  [308] Foy, iv. 165, 166.

But by July 11 Reille had begun to receive many of the drafts and
detachments which the Emperor was pouring into Perpignan, and having
now three or four thousand men disposable, he resolved to strike a
blow at Rosas, the small seaport town which blocks the coast-road from
Perpignan to Barcelona. Marching through the plains of the Ampurdam
he reached his objective, an insignificant place with a dilapidated
outer entrenchment and a citadel of some small strength. It was
defended by no more than 400 _miqueletes_, and had but five guns on
its land-front. But the little garrison showed a bold face, and when
Reille proceeded to invest Rosas he found himself attacked from the
rear by four or five thousand _somatenes_ levied by Don Juan Claros, a
retired infantry captain who had called to arms the peasantry of the
coast. They beset the besiegers so fiercely that Reille resolved to
abandon the investment, a determination which was assisted by the sight
of a British line-of-battle ship[309] landing marines to strengthen the
garrison. Accordingly he cut his way back to Figueras on the twelfth,
harassed all the way by the bands of Claros, who killed or took no
less than 200 of his men[310]. Rosas was to defy capture for some
months more, for Reille’s next effort was, by his master’s direction,
devoted to a more important object--the clearing of the great road
from Perpignan to Barcelona, and the opening up of communications with

  [309] The _Montague_, of 74 guns, Captain R. W. Otway.

  [310] Foy, iv. 169.



For the first six weeks of the war in Catalonia Duhesme and Reille had
been opposed only by the gallant _somatenes_. Of the handful of regular
troops who had been stationed in the principality when the insurrection
broke out, the greater part had drifted off to the siege of Saragossa,
or to the struggle in the south. Only the Irish regiment at Gerona,
and certain fragments of the disbanded battalions of the Guards from
Barcelona had aided the peasantry in resisting the invader. The success
of the Catalans, in hemming in Duhesme and checking Reille’s advance,
is all the more notable when we reflect that their levies had not been
guided by any central organization, nor placed under the command of any
single general. The Junta at Lerida had done little more than issue
proclamations and serve out to the _somatenes_ the moderate amount
of munitions of war that was at its disposition. It had indeed drawn
out a scheme for the raising of a provincial army--forty _tercios_ of
_miqueletes_, each 1,000 strong, were to be levied and kept permanently
in the field. But this scheme existed only on paper, and there were
no means of officering or arming such a mass of men. Even as late as
August 1, there were only 6,000 of them embodied in organized corps:
the mass of the men of military age were still at their own firesides,
prepared to turn out at the sound of the _somaten_, whenever a French
column appeared in their neighbourhood, but not ready to keep the field
for more than a few days, or to transfer their service to the more
distant regions of the principality. The direction of these irregular
bands was still in the hands of local leaders like Claros, Milans, and
Baget, who aided each other in a sufficiently loyal fashion when they
had the chance, but did not obey any single commander-in-chief, or act
on any settled military plan. Their successes had been due to their
own untutored intelligence and courage, not to the carrying out of any
regular policy.

This period of patriotic anarchy was now drawing to an end; regular
troops were beginning to appear on the scene in considerable numbers,
and the direction of the military resources of Catalonia was about to
be confided to their generals. The change was not all for the better:
during the whole struggle the Spaniards showed themselves admirable
insurgents but indifferent soldiers. After one more short but brilliant
period of success, the balance of fortune was about to turn against
the Catalans, and a long series of disasters was to try, but never to
subdue, their indomitable and persevering courage.

We have already shown that the only body of regular troops available
for the succour of Catalonia was the corps of 10,000 men which lay
in the Balearic Islands. That these thirteen battalions of veterans
had not yet been thrown ashore in the principality was mainly due to
the over-caution of the aged General Vives, the Captain-General at
Palma, to whom the charge of the garrisons of Majorca and Minorca was
committed[311]. He had a deeply rooted idea that if he left Port Mahon
unguarded, the English would find some excuse for once more making
themselves masters of that ancient stronghold, where the Union Jack
had waved for the greater part of the eighteenth century. Even the
transparent honesty of Lord Collingwood, the veteran admiral of the
Mediterranean fleet, could not reassure him. It was only when strong
pressure was applied to him by his second in command, the Marquis
del Palacio, governor of Minorca, and when he had received the most
explicit pledges from Collingwood concerning the disinterested views
of Great Britain, that he consented to disgarnish Port Mahon. His mind
was only finally made up, when the Aragonese and Catalan battalions
of his army burst out into open mutiny, threatening to seize shipping
and transport themselves to the mainland without his leave, if any
further delay was made [June 30]. A fortnight later Vives permitted Del
Palacio, with the greater part of the Balearic garrisons, to set sail
for the seat of war. The Aragonese regiment landed near Tortosa, and
marched for Saragossa: but the bulk of the expeditionary force, nearly
5,000 strong, was put ashore in Catalonia between July 19 and 23.

  [311] Neither Toreño nor Arteche mentions the trouble caused by
  this tiresome old man, to whom the delay in succouring Catalonia
  was due. For the negotiations with him see Lord Collingwood’s
  correspondence (_Life_, ii. 291, 292), and Foy (iv. 181).

Meanwhile affairs in the principality had taken a new turn. Duhesme
had remained quiet for six days after Chabran’s check at Granollers,
though his position at Barcelona grew daily more uncomfortable, owing
to the constant activity of the _somatenes_. But when he learnt that
Reille’s vanguard had reached Figueras, and that he might expect ere
long to be aided by a whole division of fresh troops from the north,
he resolved to renew his attack on Gerona, the fortress which so
completely blocked his communications with France. Sending messages
by sea to bid his colleague meet him under the walls of that place,
he sallied out from Barcelona, on July 10, with the larger half of
his army. This time he took with him the French brigades of Goulas
and Nicolas only, leaving Barcelona to the care of Lecchi and the
foreign troops. He felt that the situation was too grave for him to
trust the fate of Catalonia to the steadiness of Lombard or Neapolitan
regiments. So leaving four Italian and one Swiss battalion, 3,500 men
in all, in the Barcelona forts, he marched for Gerona with seven French
battalions, a regiment of Italian cavalry, and twenty-two guns, of
which ten were heavy siege-artillery. At Mataro he picked up Chabran,
who had been resting there since his check at Granollers on July 4,
and incorporated with his expedition the Italian battalions which
that officer had with him, as well as a regiment of French cavalry.
This gave him a total force of some 7,000 men[312]; yet his march was
slow and difficult. Milans with the _somatenes_ of the upland was
always hanging upon his left flank, and Lord Cochrane with two British
frigates followed him along the coast, bombarding his columns whenever
the road came within cannon-shot of the sea. At Arens de Mar Duhesme
halted for no less than five days, either from sheer indecision as to
the advisability of proceeding with his project, or because he was
waiting for definite news of Reille. At last he made up his mind: two
routes meet at Arens, the main _chaussée_ from Barcelona to Gerona
via Tordera, and a cross-road which seeks the same end by a detour
through the small hill-fortress of Hostalrich. The three battalions
of Goulas’s brigade were sent by this latter path, with orders to
endeavour to seize the place if they could. The main column, with the
battering-train, followed the high-road. Goulas found Hostalrich too
strong for him: it was garrisoned by 500 _miqueletes_ under Manuel
O’Sullivan, a captain of the Regiment of Ultonia, who gallantly
held their own against an attempt at escalade. The French brigadier
thereupon abandoned the attack, crossed the mountains, and joined his
chief before Gerona on July 22. Duhesme meanwhile had been harassed for
three days by the _somatenes_ of Milans, and, though he always drove
them off in the end, had lost much of his baggage, and an appreciable
number of men, before he reached the banks of the Ter. On the day after
he was rejoined by Goulas he forced the passage of that river and took
post before Gerona. On the next morning [July 24] he was rejoiced
to meet with the vanguard of Reille’s division descending from the
north. That general had started from Figueras two days before, with
all the fractions of his motley force that had reached the front, two
Tuscan battalions, the Swiss from the Valais, three French _bataillons
de marche_, the two ‘Provisional Battalions of Perpignan,’ and some
other improvised units, with a total strength of some 6,500 men. He
established his head quarters at Puente Mayor to the north of the city,
on the right bank of the Ter, while Duhesme placed his at Santa Eugenia
on the left bank. There were good and easy communications between them
by means of two fords, and the bridge of Salt, a little further from
Gerona, was also available.

  [312] The numbers of these corps before the fighting commenced in
  June had been:

    Goulas’s Brigade (three batts.)       2,574
    Nicolas’s Brigade (four batts.)       2,891
    Two Italian battalions                1,300
    3rd Provisional Cuirassiers             409
    2nd Neapolitan Chasseurs                388
    Artillery                               250

  But as the Italians, Goulas, and the cuirassiers had all been
  engaged several times, and had suffered serious losses, we must
  deduct 800 men at least, in order to get the figures of July 17.
  Foy gives only 6,000.

Thirteen thousand men seemed enough to make an end of an old-fashioned
fortress like Gerona, held by a garrison which down to the first day
of the siege counted no more than 400 regular troops--that same Irish
regiment of Ultonia which had stood out against Duhesme’s first attack
in June. It was fortunate for the defenders that at the very moment of
the arrival of the French they received a powerful reinforcement. The
light infantry regiment named the 2nd Volunteers of Barcelona, 1,300
strong, entered the city on the night of July 22[313], slipping between
the heads of Duhesme’s and Reille’s columns. This corps had formed
part of the garrison of Minorca: instead of being landed at Tarragona
with the rest of Del Palacio’s troops, it was dropped at San Feliu, the
nearest port on the coast to Gerona, and had just time to reach that
place before its investment was completed.

  [313] Not on the twenty-fifth, as Napier says (i. 83), following
  apparently the dates given by Cabanes. I have followed Arteche
  here, as his search into times and seasons seems more careful
  than that of any other authority.

Duhesme had resolved to avoid for the future the fruitless attempts
at escalade, which had cost him so many men during his first siege of
Gerona, and to proceed by the regular rules of poliorcetics. He had
with him a battering-train more than sufficient to wreck the ancient
walls of the city: accordingly he opened a secondary attack on the
lower town on the left of the Oña, but turned the greater part of his
attention to the citadel of Monjuich. If this work, which from its
lofty hill commands the whole city, were once mastered, the place could
not hold out for a day longer. By this arrangement the charge of the
main attack fell to Reille, and Duhesme himself undertook only the
demonstration against the Mercadal. The French began by establishing
themselves on the lower slopes of the tableland of which Monjuich
occupies the culminating point. They found shelter in three ruined
towers which the garrison was too weak to occupy, and raised near them
three batteries with six heavy guns and two howitzers, which battered
the citadel, and also played upon certain parts of the town wall near
the gate of San Pedro. The batteries in Duhesme’s section of the
siege-lines consisted only of mortars and howitzers, which shelled and
several times set fire to the Mercadal, but could make no attempt to
open breaches in its walls.

The siege-approaches of the French before Gerona were conducted with
an astonishing slowness: it was not till sixteen days after they had
established themselves on the slopes round Monjuich, that they began to
batter it in a serious fashion [Aug. 12]. This delay was partly due to
the steepness of the ground up which the guns had to be dragged, partly
to the necessity for sending to Figueras for extra artillery material,
which could only be brought slowly and under heavy escort to the banks
of the Ter. But Duhesme’s slackness, and the want of skill displayed by
his engineer officers, were responsible for the greater portion of the
delay. Moreover the investment of Gerona was so badly managed, that not
only did the garrison keep up a regular communication at night with
the chiefs of the _somatenes_ who lay out on the hills to the west,
but convoys repeatedly left and entered the town in the dark, without
meeting a single French picket or patrol.

This delay of a fortnight in pressing the attack on Gerona led to two
important results. The first was that the news of the capitulation of
Baylen reached both camps, producing grave discouragement in the one,
and a disposition for bold action in the other. The second was that Del
Palacio and the troops from Minorca had time granted to them to prepare
for interference in the siege. The marquis had landed at Tarragona on
July 23, with all his division, save the regiment sent to St. Feliu and
the Aragonese battalion which had been directed on Tortosa. Immediately
on his arrival the insurrectionary Junta of Catalonia transferred
itself from Lerida to Tarragona and elected Del Palacio Captain-General
of the principality. Thus a real central authority was established in
the province, and a single military direction could at last be given
to its armies. The new Captain-General was well-intentioned and full
of patriotism, but no great strategist[314]. His plan was to press
Barcelona with the bulk of his regular forces, so that Lecchi might
be compelled to call for instant help from Duhesme, while a small
column under the Conde de Caldagues was to march on Gerona, not so much
with the hope of raising the siege, as to aid the _somatenes_ of the
Ampurdam in harassing the investing force and throwing succours into
the city[315].

  [314] Collingwood (_Correspondence_, ii. 271) calls him ‘a fat
  unwieldy marquess, who, if his principles are good, has a very
  limited ability.’

  [315] For Del Palacio’s intentions see his orders to Caldagues,
  quoted by Arteche (ii. 622).

Accordingly the main body of Del Palacio’s army, the regiments of
Soria, Granada, and Borbon, with Wimpfen’s two Swiss battalions from
Tarragona, marched on the Llobregat, drove in Lecchi’s outposts, and
confined him to the immediate environs of Barcelona. The _somatenes_
came to give help in thousands, and a cordon of investment was
established at a very short distance from the great city. On the
seaside Lord Cochrane, with the _Impérieuse_ and _Cambrian_ frigates,
kept up a strict blockade, so that Lecchi, with his insufficient and
not too trustworthy garrison of 3,500 Swiss and Italian troops, was in
a most uncomfortable position. If it had not been that Barcelona was
completely commanded by the impregnable citadel of Monjuich, he could
not have maintained his hold on the large and turbulent city. His last
outpost was destroyed on July 31: this was the strong castle of Mongat,
six miles out on the coast-road from Barcelona to Mataro. It was held
by a company of Neapolitans, 150 men with seven guns. Attacked on the
land-side by 800 _miqueletes_ under Francisco Barcelo, and from the sea
by the broadside of the _Impérieuse_, the Italian officer in command
surrendered to Lord Cochrane, in order to save his men from massacre
by the Catalans. Cochrane then blew up the castle, and destroyed the
narrow coast-road on each side of it by cuttings and explosions[316],
so that there was no longer any practicable route for guns, horses,
or wagons along the shore. Thus hemmed in, Lecchi began to send to
Duhesme, by various secret channels, appeals for instant aid, and
reports painting his situation in gloomy but not much exaggerated
colours. He asserted that the _somatenes_ were pushing their incursions
to within 600 yards of his advanced posts, and that there were now
30,000 Catalans in arms around him. If he had said 10,000 he would have
been within the limits of fact.

  [316] For a good narrative of these operations see Lord
  Cochrane’s autobiography, i. 262-5.

On August 6 the Captain-General, after carefully arranging his troops
in the positions round Barcelona, sent off Caldagues to harass Duhesme
in the north. This enterprising brigadier-general was given no more
than four companies of regulars, three guns, and 2,000 _miqueletes_
from the Lerida district under their colonel, Juan Baget. Marching by
the mountain road that goes by Hostalrich, and picking up many recruits
on the way, he established himself on the fourteenth at Castella, in
the hills that lie between Gerona and the sea. Here he was met by all
the _somatenes_ of Northern Catalonia, under their daring leaders,
Milans and Claros.

The investment of Gerona was so badly managed, that when the news
of Caldagues’ approach was received, two colonels (O’Donovan of the
Ultonia Regiment and La Valeta of the Barcelona Volunteers) were able
to penetrate the French lines and to confer with the commander of the
army of succour. These two officers were really conducting the defence,
for the titular governor, Bolivar, seems to have been a nonentity[317],
who exercised no influence on the course of events. At a council of
war which they attended, it was resolved to try a stroke which was far
bolder than anything that the Captain-General had contemplated when
he sent Caldagues northward. The relieving force was to attack from
the rear Reille’s troops on the heights before Monjuich, while at the
same time every man that could be spared from the garrison was to be
flung on the breaching batteries from the front. Duhesme’s army in the
plain beyond the Oña was to be left alone: it was hoped that the whole
business would be over before he could arrive at the spot where the
fate of battle was to be decided. There were somewhat over 8,000 men
disposable for the attack: 1,000 regulars and four hundred _miqueletes_
were to sally out of Gerona: Caldagues could bring up 7,000 more, all
raw levies except the four companies of old troops that he had brought
from Tarragona. He had also five field-guns. As Duhesme and Reille had
13,000 men, of whom 1,200 were cavalry, it was a daring experiment
to attack them, even though their forces were distributed along an
extensive line of investment.

  [317] It is very odd, as Arteche remarks (ii. 611), that none of
  the contemporary Spanish narratives mention the name of Bolivar.
  They only speak of La Valeta and O’Donovan as heading the defence.

A bold and confident general, placed in Duhesme’s position, would not
have waited to be attacked in his trenches. The moment that he heard of
the approach of Caldagues, he would have drawn off half his battalions
from the siege, and have gone out to meet the relieving army, before
it could get within striking distance of Gerona. But Duhesme was not
in the mood for adventurous strokes: he was chilled in his ardour by
the news of the disaster of Baylen: he was worried by Lecchi’s gloomy
reports; and he had been pondering for some days whether it would not
be well to raise the siege and march off to save Barcelona. But the
ravages which his bombardment was producing in the beleaguered city,
and the fact that a breach was beginning to be visible in the walls of
Monjuich, induced him to remain before the place, hoping that it might
fall within the next few days. If this was his determination, he should
at least have made preparations to receive Caldagues: but no attempt
whatever appears to have been made to resist an attack from without.

On the morning of August 16, the Spaniards struck their blow. Between
nine and ten o’clock in the morning, the 1,400 men of the garrison
deployed from behind the cover of the citadel, and charged down upon
the trenches and batteries of the besiegers[318]. They completely
swept away the battalion of the 5th Legion of Reserve, which was
furnishing the guard of the trenches, captured the siege-guns, and set
fire to the fascines of the batteries. Then pushing on, they drove off
the Swiss battalion of the Valais, and the two Tuscan battalions of the
113th Regiment, pressing them down hill towards Reille’s head quarters
at Puente Mayor. The French general rallied them upon the 1st _Régiment
de Marche_, which formed his reserve at this point of the line, and
mounting the slope retook some of the works which had been lost. But at
this moment Caldagues’ whole army appeared upon the heights, pressing
forward in four columns with great confidence. The sight of these
multitudes checked Reille, who hastily drew back, evacuated Puente
Mayor and withdrew to the other bank of the Ter. Duhesme, on his side,
abandoned all his outlying positions and concentrated his whole force
in front of the village of Santa Eugenia.

  [318] The Barcelona Volunteers under La Valeta led; the Ultonia,
  under Major Henry O’Donnell, supported.

The Catalans were wise enough not to descend into the plain, where
Duhesme’s cavalry and guns would have had a free hand. Caldagues
refrained from passing the Ter, and merely drew up his army on the
slopes above Puente Mayor, ready to receive battle. But the expected
attack never came; Duhesme held back all the afternoon, and then fled
away under cover of the darkness. His losses in the fighting on the
hills had not been heavy--seventy-five killed and 196 wounded--but
his spirit was broken. He would not risk an assault on such a strong
position with his motley and somewhat demoralized army. For a moment
he thought of leading his whole force back to Reille’s base at
Figueras: but the reflection that in this case Lecchi would probably be
destroyed, and he himself be made responsible for the loss of Barcelona
by the Emperor, deterred him from such a cowardly move. Bidding Reille
take the northern road and keep open the communications with France,
he drew off the rest of his army to the south to rejoin his Italian
comrades. The move was made with some panic and precipitation: the
remaining siege-guns were buried in a perfunctory fashion, and some
stores destroyed. Then Duhesme marched away over the mountains, pursued
by the _somatenes_ of Milans; while Reille retired across the plains of
the Ampurdam, and had a fairly easy journey to Figueras. Claros, who
tried to harass his retreat, never dared to close in upon him in the
open country, fearing his cavalry and guns. Far more toilsome was the
lot of Duhesme’s column, which had to march for twenty miles through
very broken ground, chased by the levies of Milans, to whom the whole
district was familiar. When he reached the sea at Malgrat he found that
his troubles were only growing worse. The _somatenes_ hung on his right
flank, while Lord Cochrane’s frigate the _Impérieuse_ followed him on
the left hand, giving him a broadside whenever his march lay within
cannon-shot of the beach. Moreover, the peasants had been cutting
and blasting away the road under Cochrane’s direction; and at each
point where one of these obstructions had been made, it was necessary
to drag the guns and wagons of the column across almost impassable
hillsides[319]. Finding that he was making no appreciable progress, and
that his men were growing utterly demoralized, Duhesme at last took a
desperate step. He blew up his ammunition, burnt his baggage, cast his
field-guns into the sea, and fled away by hill-tracks parallel with the
shore. After long skirmishing with the _somatenes_ he reached Mongat,
where Lecchi came out to his aid with 1000 men and a battery--all
that could be spared from the depleted garrison of Barcelona. There
the Catalans stayed their pursuit, and Duhesme’s harassed battalions
poured back into the city, sick of mountain warfare, half-starved, and
carrying with them nothing but what they brought in on their backs
[August 20]. As a fighting force for offensive operations they were
useless for some weeks, and all that their general could do was to hold
for foraging purposes as much of the open ground about Barcelona as he
could manage to retain. Nothing more could be essayed till Napoleon
should vouchsafe to send heavy reinforcements to Catalonia, for the
purpose of reopening the severed communications with France.

  [319] See Cochrane’s autobiography, i. 266.

Two obvious criticisms on these operations in the month of August must
be made. The first is that Del Palacio might probably have destroyed
Duhesme’s whole army, if, instead of sending out his lieutenant
Caldagues with a handful of regulars and 2,000 _miqueletes_, he had
marched on Gerona with his entire force, the 5,000 old troops from
Port Mahon and the whole of the local levies of Central Catalonia.
Lecchi was so weak in Barcelona that a few thousand _somatenes_ could
have kept him in check, for he dared not ungarnish the city. If the
Captain-General had thrown every man into the struggle at Gerona,
it seems certain that Duhesme must either have been annihilated or
have fled away with Reille to Figueras, abandoning Barcelona to its
inevitable fate.

The second comment is equally obvious: Duhesme’s generalship was even
worse than that of Del Palacio. Since the Spaniards came against him
not with the whole army of Catalonia, but with a mere detachment of
7,000 _somatenes_, he should have formed a covering force of 5,000
men, and have fallen upon them while they were still at some distance
from Gerona. Instead of doing this, he allowed them to encamp for
three days unmolested at Castella, a village no more than five miles
distant from Reille’s outposts. There they concerted their operations
with the garrison, and fell upon the investing force at the moment that
suited them best. It is the extraordinary apathy or neglect displayed
by Duhesme that justifies Caldagues’ bold stroke at the French lines.
Finding the enemy so torpid, he might well venture an assault upon
them, without incurring the charge of rashness of which Napier finds
him guilty[320]. In other circumstances it would have been mad for the
Spaniard, who had no more than 7,000 _somatenes_, to attack a French
army 13,000 strong. But seeing Duhesme so utterly negligent--and his
army strung out on a long front of investment, without any covering
force--Caldagues was quite justified in making the experiment which
turned out so successfully. Duhesme tried to extenuate his fault, by
giving out that he had been about to abandon the siege even before he
was attacked, and that he had orders from Bayonne authorizing such a
step. But we may be permitted to join his successor St. Cyr in doubting
both the original intention and the imperial authorization[321]. There
is at least no trace of it in the correspondence of Napoleon, who as
late as August 23, seven days after the fight outside Gerona, was under
the impression that Reille’s division alone might suffice to capture
the city, though he was prepared if necessary to support him with
other troops. On the seventeenth of the same month, the day on which
Duhesme began his disastrous retreat on Barcelona, Napoleon had already
made up his mind to supersede him, and had directed St. Cyr, with two
fresh divisions, to take post at Perpignan. But in the orders given to
the new commander in Catalonia there is no sign that the Emperor had
acquiesced in the raising of the siege of Gerona, though it may perhaps
be deduced from a later dispatch that he had not disapproved of the
strengthening of Lecchi’s garrison at Barcelona by the withdrawal of
Chabran’s division from the leaguer[322].

  [320] Napier, i. 89.

  [321] St. Cyr, _Journal de l’Armée de Catalogne_, 1808-9, p. 15.

  [322] The notices of the army of Catalonia and its intended
  operations are not very numerous in Napoleon’s dispatches. Foy
  accepts Duhesme’s story that he had intended all along to raise
  the siege after receiving from Bayonne an order to suspend active
  operations (iv. 177). But it seems difficult to read this into
  the Emperor’s dispatches; Napoleon received the news of Baylen
  on Aug. 3, but did not begin pushing large reinforcements on to
  Catalonia till Aug. 10 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,249), nor supersede
  Duhesme by St. Cyr till Aug. 17 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,256).
  On Aug. 23 he concludes that Duhesme would be best placed at
  Barcelona, but that Reille must take Gerona with his division,
  which may be reinforced by that of Chabot, newly arrived at
  Perpignan, or even by more troops due from Italy in a few weeks.
  The expectation which he expresses, that Reille alone might very
  possibly be strong enough to capture the place, is enough to
  show that he did not intend to raise the siege, but (at most)
  to order Duhesme to strengthen Lecchi with men drawn off from
  the leaguer--which is a very different thing from that general’s
  statement of the case.

Meanwhile Napoleon had recognized that even with Reille’s
reinforcements, Catalonia was not adequately garrisoned, and on August
10 had directed 18,000 fresh troops upon the principality. These,
moreover, were not the mere sweepings of his dépôts, like Reille’s
men, but consisted of two strong divisions of old troops; Souham’s was
composed of ten French battalions from Lombardy, Pino’s of 10,000 men
of the best corps of the army of the kingdom of Italy[323]. A little
later the Emperor resolved to send one division more, Germans this
time, to Catalonia. Instead of the 13,000 men whom he had originally
thought sufficient for the subjugation of the province, he had now
set aside more than 40,000 for the task, and this did not prove to be
one man too many. No better testimonial could be given to the gallant
_somatenes_, than that they had forced the enemy to detach so large
a force against them. Nor could any better proof be given of the
Emperor’s fundamental misconception of the Spanish problem in May and
June, than the fact that he had so long been under the impression that
Duhesme’s original divisions would be enough to subdue the rugged and
warlike Catalan principality.

  [323] The Emperor writes to Eugène Beauharnais that the 10,000
  Italians, horse, foot, and artillery, must be ‘un extrait de
  l’armée italienne dans le cas de se faire honneur,’ the best that
  could be got (_Dispatch_ 14,249, Aug. 10).

Before Souham, Pino, and the rest could arrive on the scene, many
weeks must elapse, and meanwhile we must turn back to the main course
of the war in Central Spain, where the condition of affairs had been
profoundly modified by the results of the Capitulation of Baylen.





While dealing with the operations of the French armies in the various
provinces of Spain, we have observed that at every point the arrival
of the news of Dupont’s disaster at Baylen produced notable results.
It was this unexpected intelligence that drove the intrusive king out
of Madrid within a week of his arrival, and ere the ceremonial of his
proclamation had been completed. It brought back Bessières from the
Esla to the Arlanzon, and raised the siege of Saragossa. Knowing of
it Junot summoned his council of war at Torres Vedras with a sinking
heart, and Duhesme lacked the confidence to try the ordeal of battle
before Gerona. Beyond the Pyrenees its influence was no less marked.
Napoleon had imagined that the victory of Rio Seco had practically
decided the fate of the Peninsula, and at the moment of Baylen was
turning his attention to Austria rather than to Spain. On July 25,
five days after Dupont had laid down his arms, he was meditating the
reinforcement of his army in Germany, and drafting orders that directed
the garrisons of northern France on Mainz and Strasburg[324]. To a
mind thus preoccupied the news of the disaster in Andalusia came like
a thunderclap. So far was the Spanish trouble from an end, that it
was assuming an aspect of primary importance. If Austria was really
intending mischief, it was clear that the Emperor would have two great
continental wars on his hands at the same moment--a misfortune that
had never yet befallen him. It was already beginning to be borne in
upon him that the treachery at Bayonne had been a blunder as well as a
crime. Hence came the wild rage that bursts out in the letters written
upon the days following that on which the news of Baylen reached him
at Bordeaux. ‘Has there ever, since the world began,’ wrote Bonaparte
to Clarke, his minister of war, ‘been such a stupid, cowardly, idiotic
business as this? Behold Mack and Hohenlohe justified! Dupont’s own
dispatch shows that all that has occurred is the result of his own
inconceivable folly.... The loss of 20,000 picked men, who have
disappeared without even inflicting any considerable loss on the
enemy, will necessarily have the worst moral influence on the Spanish
nation.... Its effect on European politics will prevent me from going
to Spain myself.... I wish to know at once what tribunal ought to try
these generals, and what penalty the law can inflict on them for such
a crime[325].’ A similar strain runs through his first letter to his
brother Joseph after the receipt of the news--‘Dupont has soiled our
banners. What folly and what baseness! The English will lay hands on
his army[326]. Such events make it necessary for me to go to Paris,
for Germany, Poland, Italy, and all, are tied up in the same knot.
It pains me grievously that I cannot be with you, in the midst of
my soldiers[327].’ In other letters the capitulation is ‘a terrible
catastrophe,’ ‘a horrible affair, for the cowards capitulated to save
their baggage,’ and (of course) ‘a machination paid for with English
gold[328]. These imbeciles are to suffer on the scaffold the penalty
of this great national crime[329].’ The Emperor did well to be angry,
for the shock of Baylen was indeed felt to every end of Europe. But he
should have blamed his own Macchiavellian brain, that conceived the
plot of Bayonne, and his own overweening confidence, that launched
Dupont with 20,000 half-trained conscripts (not, as he wrote to
Clarke, with _vingt mille hommes d’élite et choisis_) on the hazardous
Andalusian enterprise.

  [324] Napoleon to Jerome, King of Westphalia, July 25 (_Nap.
  Corresp._, 14,230): ‘L’Autriche arme: elle nie ses armements,
  elle arme donc contre nous.... Puisque l’Autriche arme, il faut
  donc armer. Aussi j’ordonne que la Grande Armée soit renforcée.
  Mes troupes se réunissent à Strasbourg, Mayence, Wesel,’ &c.
  Compare this with the great harangue made to Metternich on August
  15 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,254) and with _Nap. Corresp._, 14,248,
  which discusses the co-operation of Russia in a war with Austria.

  [325] Napoleon to Clarke, Aug. 3 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,242).

  [326] i.e. Napoleon is aware that they will never allow the army
  to be taken home by sea, as the capitulation provided.

  [327] Napoleon to Joseph, Aug. 3 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,243):
  ‘L’Allemagne, l’Italie, la Pologne etc., tout se lie,’ is the
  Emperor’s phrase.

  [328] _Nap. Corresp._, 14,244, 14,272, 14,283.

  [329] A few words as to Dupont’s fate may be added. His
  experiences during the next four years throw a curious light
  on the administration of military justice under the Empire.
  He, together with Vedel, Chabert, Marescot, Legendre, and the
  aide-de-camp Villoutreys, were arrested on returning to France,
  and thrown into prison. They were told to prepare for a trial
  before the Supreme High Court (_Haute Cour Impériale_), and
  a long series of interrogatories was administered to them. A
  military commission drew up a preliminary report on the case:
  on reading it the Emperor saw that Dupont had a fair defence to
  make on all the charges brought against him, with the exception
  of that of military incapacity. He countermanded the order for
  a trial, and the prisoners (after nine months of confinement)
  were released, but left under police surveillance. After Dupont
  had spent two years and a half of peace in the country-house of
  a relative, he was suddenly arrested at midnight on Feb. 12,
  1812, and given a secret trial, not before a court of justice or
  a court-martial, but before a special military commission. He
  was allowed neither counsel nor documents, and forced to defend
  himself at forty-eight hours’ notice. The judges declared him
  guilty of having signed a capitulation containing ‘des conditions
  honteuses et avilissantes,’ but not of having surrendered without
  necessity, or of having shown cowardice or treason. Since the
  capitulation had been ‘contrary to the political interests of
  the Empire, and had compromised the safety of the State,’ while
  yet ‘there would be grave inconvenience in giving the accused a
  public trial,’ the court advised the Emperor to deprive Dupont of
  rank, title, and pension, and to relegate him to the country. The
  other accused officers might suffer the same penalties. Refusing
  to consider this a sufficient punishment, Napoleon shut up Dupont
  in the lonely fort of Joux, in the Jura, where he remained a
  prisoner till the fall of the Empire. Vedel and Legendre were
  pardoned, and afterwards served in Italy. Chabert and Villoutreys
  were put on half-pay.

Meanwhile he had to face the situation: within a few hours of the
moment when Villoutreys placed Dupont’s dispatch in his hands, he had
so far got over the first spasms of his wrath that he was able to
dictate a general plan for the reconcentration of his armies[330]. We
have compared the French forces in Spain to a broad wedge, of which
the point, directed against the heart of the insurrection, was formed
by the three divisions of Dupont’s corps. This point had now been
broken off; but the Emperor, still clinging to the idea of the wedge,
wished to preserve Madrid and to form in and about it a new army fit
for offensive operations. With this force he would strike at the
insurgents of Andalusia and Valencia when they marched on the capital,
while Bessières in the valley of the Douro, and Verdier in the valley
of the Ebro were still to preserve a forward position, and shield the
army of the centre from the flank attacks of the Galicians and the
Aragonese. The troops left around Madrid at the moment of the disaster
of Baylen were parts of the three divisions of Moncey’s corps[331],
one of Dupont’s, and the brigade which had escorted Joseph Napoleon
from Burgos, together with 3,000 horse--a total of about 23,000 men.
Bonaparte judged that this was not enough to resist the combined attack
of Castaños and of the Valencians and Murcians of Saint March and
Llamas. Accordingly he intended that Bessières should lend the King two
brigades of infantry--a deduction from his force which would compel him
to fall back from Leon into Old Castile[332]--and that Verdier should
spare a brigade from the army in front of Saragossa[333], though it was
none too strong for the task before it. Six battalions from the reserve
at Bayonne were to make a forced march to Madrid to join the King. Thus
reinforced up to 35,000 men, the corps at Madrid would be able, as
the Emperor supposed, to make head against any combination of Spanish
troops that could possibly be brought against it.

  [330] The ‘Note sur la situation actuelle de l’Espagne,’ which
  forms No. 14,241 of the _Correspondance_. It is dated at
  Bordeaux, Aug. 2, the very day on which Villoutreys brought the
  news of the capitulation.

  [331] Viz. Musnier’s division of Moncey’s corps            6,500 men
  Frere’s division of Dupont’s corps                         4,400  ”
  Bujet’s brigade of Morlot’s division of Moncey’s corps     3,700  ”
  Remains (5 batts.) of Gobert’s division of Moncey’s corps  2,500  ”
  Rey’s brigade of infantry (Joseph’s escort)                2,000  ”
  Infantry and Cavalry of the Imperial Guard                 2,500  ”
  Cavalry of the Line                                        1,700  ”
                                                            23,300  ”

  [332] Lefebvre’s brigade, which belonged to Morlot’s division of
  Moncey’s corps--it had been lent to Bessières for the moment--and
  Reynaud’s brigade, i.e. 5,300 foot, also two cavalry regiments,
  making 6,000 in all.

  [333] Bazancourt’s brigade of two veteran regiments (14th and
  44th of the line), the last that had arrived at Saragossa.

But all these arrangements were futile. Bonaparte at Bordeaux was
separated from his brother at the Retiro by so many miles that his
orders were grown stale before they reached their destination. His
scheme was made out on August 2, but on the preceding day King Joseph
and his whole army had evacuated Madrid. The terror of Baylen was
upon them, and they were expecting every moment to find themselves
attacked by Castaños, who was as a matter of fact celebrating triumphal
feasts at Seville. With a haste that turned out to be altogether
unnecessary, Moncey’s corps, escorting the King, his court, and his
long train of Spanish refugees, crossed the Somosierra and did not
halt till they reached Aranda de Duero, in the plains of Old Castile.
Napoleon was forced to make other plans in view of this retreat, whose
moral consequences were hardly inferior in importance to those of
Dupont’s capitulation. For both the Spanish nation and the courts of
Europe looked upon the evacuation of Madrid as marking the complete
downfall of Napoleon’s policy, and portending a speedy retirement of
the invaders behind the Pyrenees. It is certain that if the spirit of
Joseph and his advisers had been unbroken, they might have clung to the
capital till the reinforcements which the Emperor was hurrying to their
aid had arrived. It is probable that the 35,000 men, of whom Savary
and Moncey could then have disposed, might have held Castaños in check
till the army from the Rhine had time to come up. Yet there is every
excuse for the behaviour of the French commanders, for they could not
possibly have known that the Spaniards would move with such astonishing
slowness, or that they would refrain from hurling every available man
on Madrid. And as a matter of fact the evacuation of the capital turned
out in the end to be advantageous to Napoleon, for it inspired his
adversaries with a foolish self-confidence which proved their ruin. If
they had been forced to fight hard in New Castile, they would have been
obliged to throw much more energy into the struggle, and could not have
slackened their efforts under the false impression that the French were
absconding in dismay to Bayonne.

When Bonaparte learnt that his brother had fled from Madrid and crossed
the passes into Old Castile, he was forced to draw out a wholly
different scheme from that which he had sketched on August 2. The
King, he wrote, with Moncey’s corps, must take post at Aranda, where
the Douro is crossed by the high-road from France to Madrid. His army
should be strengthened to a force of 30,000 men: meanwhile Bessières
and Verdier must protect his flanks. The former with 15,000 men should
take Valladolid as his head quarters and guard against any attempt
of Blake to resume the offensive. As to Verdier, since he had been
instructed to abandon the siege of Saragossa--a grave blunder--he must
be drawn back as far as Tudela on the Middle Ebro. From that point he
would easily be able to ‘contain’ the tumultuary army of Palafox. If
the Spaniards showed signs of pressing in on any part of the front,
the King, Verdier, or Bessières--as the case might demand--must not
hang back, but endeavour to shatter the vanguard of any advancing
force by a bold stroke. At all costs the war must not be waged in a
timid style--in short, to adopt a well-known military axiom, ‘the
best defensive would be a vigorous local offensive[334].’ Meanwhile
it should be known that enormous reinforcements were in march from
the Rhine and the Elbe. This was indubitably correct, for on August 5
the 1st and 6th Corps of the ‘Grand Army,’ and two divisions of heavy
cavalry, had been sent their orders to break up from their garrisons
and set out for Spain[335]. The Viceroy of Italy and the Princes of
the Confederation of the Rhine had also been directed to send large
contingents to the Peninsula: the troops from Italy were to move on
Perpignan and strengthen the army of Catalonia; those from the German
states were to march on Bayonne and join the main army[336]. Somewhat
later the Emperor directed still further masses of men to be drawn
off from Germany, namely Marshal Mortier with the 5th Corps and two
more divisions of dragoons[337], while the whole of the Imperial Guard
came down from Paris on the same errand[338]. There were still nearly
100,000 of the old army left in Spain[339], and the reinforcements
would amount to 130,000 more, a force which when united would far
surpass both in numbers and in quality any army that the Spaniards
would be able to get together in the course of the next two months.

  [334] Note on the situation of Spain, Aug. 5 (_Nap. Corresp._,

  [335] Napoleon to Clarke, Aug. 5 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,244).

  [336] Napoleon to Eugène, Aug. 10 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,249), and
  to Clarke (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,256).

  [337] Napoleon to Clarke, Aug. 17 (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,256).

  [338] Except of course the brigade of fusiliers and the three
  cavalry regiments which were already in Spain.

  [339] Or 98,000 to be exact, unless Reille’s force in Roussillon
  be added.

It was from Rochefort and on August 5 that Napoleon sent off his orders
to his brother to stay his retreat at Aranda de Duero, and to keep
Bessières at Valladolid and Verdier at Tudela. Once more the distances
of space and time were too much for him. Before the dispatch from
Rochefort came to hand, Joseph and Savary had already abandoned Aranda:
they left it on the sixth and by the ninth were at Burgos. At that city
they were met by Bessières, who according to the King’s orders had
fallen back from the Esla to the Arlanzon. Napoleon’s elaborate scheme
for the maintenance of the line of the Douro had thus fallen through,
as completely as his earlier plan for the defence of Madrid. Seeing
that his orders were clearly out of date, Moncey and Bessières[340]
agreed that they might be disregarded. The next line suitable for an
army acting on the defensive was that of the Ebro, and to the banks of
that river the dispirited army of France now withdrew.

  [340] Savary had left the army on Aug. 4, and returned to France.

The head quarters were established at Miranda: the troops of Bessières
and Moncey were massed at that place and at Logroño, with a strong
detachment across the Ebro at Pancorbo, and some cavalry lying out
as far as Burgos: Verdier’s army, after finally raising the siege of
Saragossa, fell back on Milagro, the point where the Aragon falls into
the Ebro. Thus some 70,000 men were concentrated on a comparatively
short and compact front, covering the two great roads which lead to
France by Vittoria and by Pampeluna. Against any frontal attack from
the direction of Madrid the position was very strong. But a glance at
the map shows that the flanks were not properly protected: there was
nothing to prevent Blake from turning the extreme right by an advance
into Biscay, or to prevent Palafox from turning the extreme left by
a march on Pampeluna via Tafalla or Sanguesa. If either of these
moves were made by a powerful force, the army on the Ebro would be
compelled either to abandon its positions in order to go in pursuit,
or else to leave them occupied by a detachment insufficient to resist
a serious attack along the line of the high-road from Madrid. Both
those operations were ultimately taken in hand by the Spaniards, but
it was at too late an hour, when the reinforcements from Germany had
begun to arrive, and when ample means were at the disposal of the
French generals for repulsing flank attacks, without drawing off men
from the line of the Ebro. The astounding slowness of the Spaniards,
and the lamentable want of union between the commanders of the various
provincial armies, ruined any chance that there might have been of
success. The troops of King Joseph were safely installed in their
defensive positions by August 15. On that day the leading columns of
the Spanish army had only just arrived at Madrid. It was not till a
month later that the number of troops brought forward to the line of
the Ebro approached the total strength of the host of the intrusive
King. The offensive operations of Blake and Palafox did not commence
till the second half of September, when the columns of the ‘Grand Army’
were already drawing near to the Pyrenees, and all possible chance
of success had long gone by. They were not developed till October,
when the counter-stroke of the French was fully prepared. From August
15 down to the day of the battle of Zornoza (October 31) there are
two months and a half of wasted time, during which the Spaniards
did nothing more than stir up an ineffectual rising in Biscay and
gradually push to the front scattered corps whose total did not amount
to much more than 100,000 men. The troops of Bonaparte on the other
hand--now under the orders of Jourdan, who arrived at Miranda on August
25[341]--had little to do but to ward off the feeble attempts to cut
their communications in Biscay, and to incorporate, brigade by brigade,
the numerous reinforcements which kept marching in from Bayonne. For
even ere the three veteran corps from Germany came to hand, there
was a continuous stream of troops pouring across the Pyrenees. Most
important, perhaps, of all the arrivals was that of Marshal Ney, the
toughest and most resolute of all the Emperor’s fighting-men, who
brought with him a spirit of enterprise and confidence which had long
been wanting in the army of Spain[342].

  [341] See his _Mémoires_ (pp. 66, 67) for the situation at this

  [342] He arrived at Irun on Aug. 30 (_Madrid Gazette_, Sept.
  17th, 1808).



On August 1, Madrid had seen the last of the French: yet it was not
till the thirteenth that the Spanish troops appeared before the gates
of the capital. Even then it was not the victorious army of Andalusia
which presented itself, but only the Valencian corps of Llamas, a mere
division of 8,000 men, which would not have dared to push forward,
had it not known that Joseph Bonaparte and all his train were now far
on their way towards the Ebro. During the thirteen days which elapsed
between his departure and the arrival of the Valencians there was
a curious interregnum in Madrid. It took some time to convince the
populace and the local authorities that the hated invaders were really
gone, and that they were once more their own masters. Nothing reflects
the state of public opinion better than the _Madrid Gazette_: down to
August 1, it shows the hand of a French editor; ‘His Majesty’ means
King Joseph, and all the foreign intelligence is coloured with French
views. On August 2 the foreign influence begins to disappear, and we
note a very cautious and tentative proclamation by the old ‘Council
of Castile.’ That effete body, shorn by the French of most of its
prominent members, had repeatedly yielded to the orders of Murat and
Savary: it had carried out many decrees of the new executive, yet it
had never actually recognized the legality of King Joseph’s accession.
Indeed at the last moment it had striven, by feeble methods of evasion
and delay, to avoid committing itself to this final step. But we may
guess that, had there been no Baylen, the Council would finally have
made up its mind to ‘swallow the pill’--if we may use once more Murat’s
characteristic phrase. However, the flight of Joseph had saved it
from being forced to range itself on the side of the traitors, and
its members were able to stay behind in Madrid without fearing for
their necks. In their first manifesto there is not a word that could
have offended Savary, if he had returned the next day. It preaches
the necessity of calm, order, and quiet: no one must stir up mobs,
compromise the public safety, or vex his respectable neighbours[343].
The rest of the paper on this and the two following days is filled
up with essays on geography and political economy, lists of servants
seeking places, and colourless foreign news many weeks old. Such
piteous stuff was not likely to keep the people quiet: on August 4 a
mob assembled, broke open the house of Don Luis Viguri (one of Godoy’s
old confidants), murdered him, and dragged his body through the
streets. Fearing that they too might be considered _Afrancesados_ the
Council published a second proclamation of the most abject kind. The
‘melancholy instance of insubordination’ of the previous day causes
them ‘intolerable sorrow’ and is ‘unlikely to tend to public felicity.’
The loyal and generous citizens ought to wait for the working of the
law and its ministers, and not to take the execution of justice into
their own hands. The clergy, the local officials, every employer of
labour, every father of a family, are begged to help to maintain peace
and order. Then comes a page of notices of new books, and a short paper
on the ethics of emigration! Of Ferdinand VII or Joseph I, of politics
domestic or foreign, there is not a word. Two days later the Council at
last makes up its mind, and, after a week of most uncomfortable sitting
on the fence, suddenly bursts out into an ‘Address to the honourable
and generous people of the capital of Spain,’ in the highest strain
of patriotism: ‘Our loved King is in chains, but his loyal subjects
have risen in his name. Our gallant armies have achieved triumphs over
“the invincibles of Marengo, Austerlitz, and Jena.” All Europe stands
surprised at their rapid victories. These fellow citizens of ours,
crowned with the laurels of success, will soon be with us. Meanwhile
the Council must beg the patriotic citizens of Madrid to abstain from
riot and murder, and to turn their energies into more useful channels.
Let them prostrate themselves before the altar in grateful thanks
to God, and make preparations to receive and embrace the oncoming
bands of liberators.’ Domestic intelligence becomes for the future a
list of French atrocities, and of (sometimes apocryphal) victories
in the remoter corners of Spain[344]. Foreign intelligence is served
up with an English rather than a French flavour. The arsenal of
‘Volovich[345]’ is shipping scores of cannon and thousands of muskets
for the use of the brave Spaniards, the treasures of Great Britain
are to be poured into the hands of the insurrectionary Juntas, and
so forth. All this comes a little late: the good intentions of the
Council would have been more clear if they had been expressed on August
2 instead of August 7, when the French were still at Buitrago, rather
than when they were far away beyond Aranda de Duero[346].

  [343] Proclamation of the Council, dated Aug. 1, published Aug. 2
  in the _Gazette_. There is an original copy of the broadsheet in
  the _Vaughan Papers_.

  [344] On Aug. 9 the reader is invited to believe that Roussillon
  has risen against Napoleon, and that the peasantry have stormed
  its frontier-fortress of Bellegarde.

  [345] i.e. Woolwich.

  [346] It is hard to agree with Napier’s verdict that ‘The Council
  was not wanting to itself; the individuals comprising it did
  not hesitate to seize the reins of power when the French had
  departed, and the prudence with which they preserved tranquillity
  in the capital, and prevented all reaction, proves that they were
  not without merit, and forms a striking contrast to the conduct
  of the provincial Juntas, under whose savage sway every kind of
  excess was committed and even encouraged’ (Napier, i. 299).

It is really astonishing to find that the Council made a bid for power,
and attempted to assume the pose of a senate of warm-hearted patriots,
after all its base servility to Murat and Savary during the last six
months. Its president, Don Arias Mon y Velarde, actually had the
audacity to write a circular-note to the various provincial Juntas of
Spain, proposing that, as a single central government must obviously
be established, they should send representatives to Madrid to concert
with the Council on means of defence, and lend it the aid of their
influence and authority. That such a discredited body should attempt
to assume a kind of presidential authority over the local Juntas who
had raised and directed the insurrection was absurd. The replies which
were returned were of the most uncompromising kind: the Galician Junta
taunted the Council with having been ‘the most active instrument of
the Usurper.’ Palafox, speaking for Aragon, wrote that it ‘was a
corporation which had not done its duty.’ The active and ambitious
Junta of Seville wished to accuse the Council before the face of the
Spanish people ‘of having subverted the fundamental laws of the realm,
of having given the enemy every facility for seizing the domination of
Spain, of having lost all legal authority and become null and void, and
of being suspected of deliberate treason of the most atrocious sort
possible.’ The Valencians voted that ‘no public body of any kind ought
to enter into correspondence with the Council of Castile, or come
to any understanding with it[347].’ All these rebuffs to the Council
were well deserved, and it is clear that the provincial Juntas were
entirely justified in their action. But it is to be feared that there
lay at the bottom of their hearts not merely honest indignation at the
impudent proposal that had been laid before them, but a not unnatural
desire to cling as long as possible to their existing power and
authority. In many of the provinces there was shown a most unworthy and
unwise reluctance to proceed at once to the construction of a single
governing body for Spain, even when the proposal was put forward not
by a discredited corporation like the Council, but by men of undoubted

  [347] All these quotations come from the documents inserted by
  Toreño in his fifth book (i. 262).

The credit of starting a serious agitation for the erection of a
‘Supreme Junta’ must be given to the Murcians, whose councils were
guided by the old statesman Florida Blanca, a survivor from the days
of Charles III. As far back as June 22 they had issued a proclamation
setting forth the evils of provincial particularism, and advocating
the establishment of a central government. None of the other Juntas
ventured openly to oppose this laudable design, and some of them did
their best to further it. But there were others who clung to power,
and were determined to surrender it at as late a date as they could
manage. The Junta of Seville was far the worst: that body--as we have
had occasion to mention in another place--was largely in the hands
of intriguers, and had put forth unjustifiable claims to domination
in the whole southern part of the realm, even usurping the title of
‘Supreme Junta of Spain and the Indies[348].’ In their desire for
self-aggrandizement they took most unjustifiable steps: they suppressed
Florida Blanca’s Murcian proclamation, lest it might stir up an
agitation in Andalusia in behalf of the establishment of a central
government[349]. But this was a comparatively venial sin: their worst
act was to stay the march of Castaños on Madrid after Baylen. The
pretext used was that they wished to welcome the victorious general
and his army with triumphal entries and feasts of rejoicing--things
entirely out of place, so long as the French were still holding the
capital of the realm. To his own entire dissatisfaction Castaños was
dragged back to Seville, there to display the captured guns and flags
of the French, and to be received with salvos fired by patriotic
ladies who had learnt the drill of the artilleryman[350]. But he
soon found to his disgust that the Junta was really aiming at the
employment of his troops not for national purposes but for their own
aggrandizement. They wished to speak with 40,000 men at their back,
and were most reluctant to let the army pass the Sierra Morena, lest
it should get out of their control. Their most iniquitous design was
to overawe by armed force their neighbours, the Junta of Granada, who
refused to recognize them as a central authority for Andalusia, and had
given their assent to the Murcian proposal for the prompt formation of
a national government. They were actually issuing orders for a division
to march against the Granadans, when Castaños--though a man of mild
and conciliatory manners--burst out in wrath at the council board.
Springing up from his chair and smiting the table a resounding blow,
he exclaimed, ‘Who is the man that dares bid the troops march without
my leave? Away with all provincial differences: I am the general of
the Spanish nation, I am in command of an honourable army, and we are
not going to allow any one to stir up civil war[351].’ Conscious that
the regiments would follow the victor of Baylen, and refuse obedience
to mere civilians, the Junta dropped their suicidal project. But
they turned all their energy into devising pretexts for delaying the
march of the army on Madrid. Their selfishness was undisguised: when
Castaños begged for leave to march on the capital without further
delay[352], the Conde de Tilly (the most intriguing spirit among
all the politicians of Seville) responded with the simple question,
‘And what then will become of _us_?’ He then moved that the Junta of
Andalusia should concern itself with Andalusia and Portugal alone, and
not interfere in what went on beyond the Sierra Morena. This proposal
was a little too strong even for the narrow-minded particularists of
the Junta: but though they let Castaños go, they contrived excuses for
delaying the march of the greater part of his army. He did not get to
Madrid till August 23, more than a month after Baylen, and then brought
with him only the single division of La Peña, about 7,000 strong. The
other three divisions, those of Reding, Jones, and Coupigny, did not
cross the Sierra Morena for many weeks after, and some of the troops
had not even left Andalusia at the moment when the French resumed
offensive operations in October. On various specious pretences the
Junta detained many regiments at Seville and Cadiz, giving out that
they were to form the nucleus of a new ‘army of reserve,’ which was
still a mere skeleton three months after Baylen had been fought. If we
compare the Andalusian army-list of November with that of July, we find
that only seven new battalions[353] had joined the army of Castaños in
time to fight on the Ebro. It is true that a new division had been also
raised in Granada, and sent to Catalonia under General Reding, but this
was due to the energy of the Junta of that small kingdom, which was far
more active than that of Seville. Andalusia had 40,000 men under arms
in July, and no more than 50,000 at the beginning of November, though
the Junta had promised to have at least thirty reserve battalions ready
before the end of the autumn, and had received from England enormous
stores of muskets and clothing for their equipment.

  [348] See page 69.

  [349] Lord Collingwood’s _Correspondence_, ii. 98.

  [350] Arteche, ii. 124.

  [351] Toreño, i. 264.

  [352] This story is told by Lord Collingwood, in an official
  dispatch to Castlereagh, dated July 29. He states that he _knows_
  that the colloquy took place, and clearly had the information
  from Castaños himself (_Collingwood Correspondence_, ii. 199).

  [353] Tiradores de España, Provincial de Cadiz, Carmona, Baylen,
  Navas de Tolosa, 3rd and 5th Volunteers of Seville.

In the northern parts of Spain there was almost as much confusion,
particularism, and selfishness as in the south. The main sources of
trouble were the rivalry of the Juntas of Asturias and Galicia, and
the extravagant claims of the aged and imbecile Cuesta, in virtue of
his position as Captain-General of Castile. It will be remembered
that in June insurrectionary Juntas had been established at Leon
and Valladolid, the former purporting to represent the kingdom of
Leon, the latter the kingdom of Old Castile. Each had been under
the thumb of Cuesta, who looked upon them as nothing more than
committees established under his authority for the civil government
of the provinces of the Douro. But the disaster of Medina de Rio Seco
destroyed both the power and the credit of the Captain-General. Flying
before the French, the Juntas took refuge in Galicia, where they
settled down at Ponferrada for a few days, and then moved to Lugo,
whither the Junta of Galicia came out to meet them. The three bodies,
joining in common session, chose as their president Don Antonio Valdes,
the Bailiff of the Knights of Malta, who was one of the representatives
of Castile. They claimed to be recognized as the supreme civil
government of Northern Spain, but their position was weakened by two
mischances. The Asturian Junta refused to have anything to do with
them, and persisted in remaining sovereign within the borders of its
own principality. Even more vexatious was the conduct of Cuesta: though
he was wandering in the mountains with only three or four thousand
raw levies--the wrecks of Rio Seco--he refused to recognize any
authority in the three federated Juntas, and pretended to revoke by his
proclamation any powers vested in those of Castile and Leon. The fact
was that he knew that they would lend support to his military rival
Blake, and not to himself. He feigned to regard the Captains-General
and the old _Audiencias_, or provincial tribunals, as the sole
legitimate powers left in the kingdom, and to consider the Juntas
as irregular assemblies destitute of any valid authority. In what a
scandalous form he translated his theories into action, we shall soon
see. Meanwhile he refused to co-operate with the troops of Galicia, and
made no attempt to follow the retreating French. All his efforts were
directed to increasing the numbers of the mass of raw levies which he
called the ‘Army of Castile.’ But from the whole of the provinces over
which he claimed authority he had only succeeded in scraping together
12,000 men by the middle of September, though as far as population went
they represented nearly a sixth of the people of Spain.

The want of any central executive for directing the armies of the
patriots had the most disastrous results. By September 1 Castaños and
Llamas had not more than 20,000 men at Madrid. Galluzzo’s army of
Estremadura, which ought to have joined them long before, was still
employed in its futile siege of Elvas. Cuesta was hanging back in
Castile, as jealous of Castaños as he had been of Blake. The only
armies which were in touch with the French were Palafox’s troops on
the Ebro and the Valencian division of Saint March, which the Junta of
Valencia (showing more patriotism than most of their colleagues) had
pushed up to Saragossa to aid the Aragonese. Blake, with the powerful
army of Galicia, had descended to Astorga when Bessières retreated to
Burgos. But from Astorga he advanced most cautiously, always clinging
to the southern slope of the Cantabrian hills, in order to avoid the
plains, where the cavalry of the French would have a free hand. It
was not till September 10 that he had concentrated his main body at
Reynosa, near the sources of the Ebro, where he was at last near enough
to the front to be able to commence operations.

The whole month of August, it is not too much to say, was lost for
military purposes because Spain had not succeeded in furnishing itself
with a central government or a commander-in-chief. It had been wasted
in constitutional debates of the most futile kind. To every one, except
to certain of the more selfish members of the Juntas, it was clear
that a way must be found out of the existing anarchy. Three courses
seemed possible: one was to appoint a Regent, or a small Council of
Regency, and to entrust to him (or to them) the conduct of affairs.
The second was to summon the Cortes, the old national parliament of
Spain. The third was to establish a new sort of central government,
by inducing each of the existing Juntas to send deputies, with full
powers of representation, to sit together as a ‘Supreme Central Junta’
for the whole realm. The project of appointing a Regent had at first
many advocates: it occurred to both Castaños and Palafox, and each (as
it chanced) pitched upon the same individual as most worthy of the
post[354]. This was the Archduke Charles of Austria, the sole general
in Europe who had won a military reputation of the first class while
contending with the French. He would have been an excellent choice--if
only he could have been secured. But it did not take much reflection
to see that if Austria allowed her greatest captain to accept such a
post, she would involve herself in instant war with Bonaparte, and if
such a war broke out the Archduke would be wanted on the Danube rather
than upon the Ebro. There was no other name likely to command general
confidence. Some spoke of the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo[355], the
last prince of the Spanish royal house who remained in the realm. But
he was an insignificant and incapable person, and much discredited by
his dallyings with Murat in the days before the insurrection had begun.
Clearly he would be no more than a puppet, worked by some astute person
behind the viceregal throne. Other names suggested were those of the
young Dom Pedro of Portugal (son of the Prince-Regent John), and of
Prince Leopold, the son of Ferdinand IV of Sicily. The former was a
grandson, the latter a nephew of Charles IV. Both therefore were near
to the throne, but both were foreigners, young, untried in matters of
state, and utterly unknown to the Spaniards. Dom Pedro’s claims were
not strongly pushed, but the Sicilian court made a strenuous attempt
to forward those of Prince Leopold. Their ambassador in London tried to
enlist the support of the English Government for him: but Canning and
Castlereagh were anxious to avoid any appearance of dictating orders
to Spain, and firmly refused to countenance the project. Before their
reply came to hand, King Ferdinand (or rather that old intriguer, his
spouse, and her son-in-law the Duke of Orleans) sent the prince to
Gibraltar, on a man-of-war which they had obtained from Mr. Drummond,
the British minister at Palermo. By lending his aid to the plan this
unwise diplomat almost succeeded in compromising his government. But
most fortunately our representatives in Spain nipped in the bud this
intrigue, which could not have failed to embroil them with the Juntas,
none of whom had the least love for the Sicilian house. When the
_Thunderer_ arrived at Gibraltar [August 9] Sir Hew Dalrymple--then
just on the eve of starting for Portugal--refused to allow the prince
to land, or to distribute the proclamations which he had prepared.
These were the work of Leopold’s brother-in-law, Louis Philippe of
Orleans, who had accompanied him from Palermo with the design of
fishing in troubled waters, a craft of which he was to show himself
in later days a past master. If Leopold should become regent, Orleans
intended to be the ‘power behind the throne.’ Dalrymple detained the
two princes at Gibraltar, and when he was gone Lord Collingwood[356]
took the same attitude of hostile neutrality. Tired of detention,
Louis Philippe after a few days sailed for London, in the vain hope of
melting the hearts of the British Cabinet. The Sicilian prince lingered
some time, protesting against the fashion in which he was treated,
and holding secret colloquies with deputations which came to him from
many quarters in which the Junta of Seville was detested. But there
was no real party in his favour. What benefit could come to Spain from
the election of a youth of nineteen, whose very name was unknown to
the people, and who could help them neither with men nor with money,
neither with the statesmanship that comes from experience, nor with the
military capacity that must be developed on the battle-field? After
remaining long enough in Spanish waters to lose all his illusions,
Prince Leopold returned to his mother in Sicily[357]. There had
never been any foundation for a persistent rumour that he was to be
made co-regent along with the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo and the
Conde de Montijo. Not even the least intelligent members of the Juntas
would have consented to hand over the rule of Spain to this strange
triumvirate--an imbecile, a boy, and a turbulent intriguer. There was
about as much chance that another vain project might be carried out--an
invitation to General Dumouriez to take command of all the Spanish
armies. Yet this plan too was seriously brought forward: the Frenchman
would not have been unwilling, but the Spanish officers, flushed with
their recent successes, were not the kind of people to welcome a
foreign leader, and one whose last military exploit had been to desert
his own army and go over to the enemy.

  [354] See Arteche, iii. 118.

  [355] First cousin to Charles IV, being the son of the Infante
  Luis, and brother of Godoy’s unfortunate wife.

  [356] Napier is wrong in hinting that Canning lent himself to the
  Sicilian scheme (i. 177, 178) in order to disoblige Castlereagh.
  Collingwood’s dispatches show that he opposed it, as much as
  did Dalrymple, and thereby won approval from his government
  (_Collingwood Correspondence_, ii. 216, 217).

  [357] He sailed on Nov. 4 (_Madrid Gazette_).

Much more specious, at first sight, than any project for the
establishment of a regency, was the proposal mooted in many quarters
for the summoning of the Cortes--whose name recalled so many ancient
memories, and was connected with the days of constitutional freedom in
the Middle Ages. But not only had the Cortes been obscured by the long
spell of autocracy under the Hapsburg and Bourbon kings, but it was by
its very constitution unsuited to represent a nation seeking for a new
and vigorous executive. It was full of mediaeval anomalies: for example
the Asturias had never been represented in it, but had possessed (like
Wales in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries) separate governmental
machinery of its own. This might have been altered without much
difficulty, but it was more fatal that the distribution of seats in the
lower estates represented an archaic survival. Many decayed towns in
Castile sent members to the Cortes, while on the other hand the warlike
and populous province of Galicia had only one single vote. To rearrange
the representation on a rational basis would take so long, and cause
so much provincial jealousy, that it was recognized as practically

There remained therefore only the third plan for creating a supreme
government in Spain--that which proposed that the various existing
Juntas should each send deputies to some convenient spot, and that the
union of these representatives should constitute a central authority
for the whole realm. This scheme was not so clearly constitutional
as the summoning of the Cortes would have been, nor did it provide
for real unity of direction in so complete a way as would have been
secured by the appointment of a single Regent. But it had the practical
advantage of conciliating the various provincial Juntas: though they
sacrificed their local sovereignty, they obtained at least the power
of nominating their own masters. In each of them the more active and
ambitious members hoped that they might secure for themselves the
places of delegates to the new supreme assembly. Accordingly the
Juntas were induced, one after another, to consent to the scheme.
Public opinion ran so strongly in favour of unity, and the existing
administrative chaos was so clearly undesirable, that it was impossible
to protest against the creation of a Supreme Central Junta. Some of the
provinces--notably Murcia, Valencia, and Granada--showed a patriotic
spirit of self-abnegation and favoured the project from the first. Even
Galicia and Seville, where the spirit of particularism was strongest,
dared not openly resist the movement. There were malcontents who
suggested that a federal constitution was preferable to a centralized
one, and that it would suffice for the provinces to bind themselves
together by treaties of alliance, instead of handing themselves over to
a newly created executive. But even in Aragon, where federal union with
Castile seemed more attractive to many than complete incorporation,
the obvious necessity for common military action determined the
situation[358]. Every province of Spain at last adhered to the project
for constructing a Supreme Central Junta. Even the narrow-minded
politicians at Seville had to assume an attitude of hearty consent. But
their reluctance peeped out in the suggestion which they made that the
Junta should meet, not at Madrid, but at Ciudad Real or Almagro in La
Mancha, places convenient to themselves, but obscure and remote in the
eyes of inhabitants of Asturias or Galicia. Their aversion to Madrid
was partly caused by its remoteness from their own borders, but much
more by jealousy of the Council of Castile, which still hung together
and exercised local authority in the capital. Other Juntas showed
their aversion for the Council in the same way, and ultimately the
place selected for the gathering of the new government was the royal
residence of Aranjuez, which stands to Madrid much as do Versailles
or Windsor to Paris and London. This choice was an obvious mistake:
the central government of a country loses in dignity when it does not
reside in the national capital. It seems to distrust its own power or
its legality, when it exiles itself from its proper abode. At the best
it casts a slur on the inhabitants of the capital by refusing to trust
itself among them. Madrid, it is true, is not to Spain what Paris is
to France, or London to England: it is a comparatively modern place,
pitched upon by Philip II as the seat of his court, but destitute of
ancient memories. Nevertheless, it was at least infinitely superior to
Aranjuez as a meeting-place. On geographical or strategical grounds
they are so close that no advantage accrues to one that does not belong
to the other. But for political reasons the capital was distinctly
preferable to the almost suburban palace[359]. If the existence of the
Council of Castile so much disturbed the Junta, it would have been
quite possible to dissolve that discredited body. No one would have
made any serious effort in its favour, even in the city of its abode.

  [358] Note the federalist views of the Aragonese Miguel Principe,
  quoted by Arteche (ii. 121).

  [359] Both Florida Blanca and Jovellanos were in favour of making
  Madrid the meeting-place. The Andalusians defeated them.



The provincial Juntas, when once they had consented to sacrifice
their local sovereignty, made no great delay in forwarding their
representatives to the chosen meeting-place at Aranjuez. The number of
deputies whom they sent to the Supreme Central Junta was thirty-five,
seventeen provincial Juntas each contributing two, and the Canary
Islands one. The Biscayan provinces, still wholly in the possession
of the French, had no local body to speak for them, and could not
therefore choose deputies. The number thus arrived at was not a very
convenient one: thirty-five is too few for a parliament, and too many
for an executive government. Moreover proportional representation was
not secured; Navarre and the Balearic Islands were given too much
weight by having two members each. Andalusia, having eight deputies
for its four Juntas of Seville, Jaen, Granada, and Cordova, was
over-represented when compared with Galicia, Aragon, and Catalonia,
which had each no more than two. The quality of the delegates was very
various: among the most notable were the ex-ministers Florida Blanca
and Jovellanos, who represented respectively the better sides of the
Conservative and the Liberal parties of Spain--if we may use such
terms. The former, trained in the school of ‘benevolent despotism’
under Charles III, was a good specimen of the eighteenth-century
statesman of the old sort--polite, experienced, energetic, a ripe
scholar, and an able diplomat. But he was eighty years old and failing
in health, and his return to active politics killed him in a few
months. Jovellanos, a somewhat younger man[360], belonged in spirit
to the end rather than the middle of the eighteenth century, and was
imbued with the ideas of liberty and constitutional government which
were afloat all over Europe in the early days of the French Revolution.
He represented modern liberalism in the shape which it took in Spain.
For this reason he had suffered many things at the hands of Godoy,
and emerged from a long period of imprisonment and obscurity to take
his place in the councils of the nation. Unhappily he was to find that
his ideas were still those of a minority, and that bureaucracy and
obscurantism were deeply rooted in Spain.

  [360] He was born in 1743.

Of the other members[361] of the Supreme Junta, the Bailiff Valdez and
Francisco Palafox, fresh from his brother’s triumphs at Saragossa, were
perhaps the best known. Among the rest we note a considerable number of
clergy--two archbishops, a prior, and three canons--but not more than
might have been expected in a country where the Church was so powerful.
Military men were not so strongly represented, being only five in
number, and three of these were militia colonels. The rest were mainly
local notables--grandees, marquises, and counts predominated over mere
commoners. Some of them were blind particularists, and a few--like the
disreputable Conde de Tilly--were intriguers with doubtful antecedents.
The whole body represented Spain well enough, but Spain with her
weaknesses as well as her strong points. It was not a very promising
instrument with which to achieve the liberation of the Peninsula, or to
resist the greatest general in Europe. Considered as a government of
national defence, it had far too little military knowledge: a haphazard
assembly of priests, politicians, and grandees is not adapted for the
conduct of a war of independence. Hence came the incredible blindness
which led it to refuse to appoint a single commander-in-chief, and the
obstinacy with which it buried itself in constitutional debates of the
most futile sort when Napoleon was thundering at the gates of Spain.

  [361] For a complete list of the names and professions of the
  members of the Junta, see the Appendix.

The meeting of the Supreme Junta was fixed for September 25, but long
ere that date came round the military situation was assuming new
developments. The first modification in the state of affairs was caused
by the abortive attempt of the Basque provinces to free themselves. The
news of Baylen had caused as great a stir in the northern mountains as
in the south or the east of Spain. But Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and Alava
had considerable French garrisons, and the retreat of Joseph Bonaparte
to the Ebro only increased the number of enemies in their immediate
neighbourhood. It would have been no less patriotic than prudent for
these provinces to delay their insurrection till it had some chance of
proving useful to the general scheme of operations for the expulsion
of the French from Spain. If they could have waited till Blake and
Castaños had reached the Ebro, and then have taken arms, they might
have raised a most dangerous distraction in the rear of the French, and
have prevented them from turning all their forces against the regular
armies. But it was mad to rise when Blake was still at Astorga, and
Castaños had not yet reached Madrid. It could not have been expected
that the local patriots should understand this: but grave blame falls
on those who ought to have known better. The Duke of Infantado, who
was acting under Blake, and Colonel Doyle, the English representative
at that general’s head quarters, did their best to precipitate the
outbreak in Biscay. They promised the Biscayan leaders that a division
from Asturias should come to their aid, and that English arms and
ammunition should be poured into their harbours[362]. At the first
word of encouragement all Biscay took arms [August 6]: a great mass of
insurgents collected at Bilbao, and smaller bands appeared along the
line of the mountains, even as far as Valcarlos on the very frontier
of France. But no external aid came to them: the Asturians--averse to
every proposal that came from Galicia--did not move outside their own
provincial boundary, and no other Spanish army was within striking
distance. Bessières was able, at his leisure, to detach General Merlin
with 3,000 men to fall on Bilbao. This brigade proved enough to deal
with the main body of the Biscayan insurgents, who after a creditable
fight were dispersed with heavy loss--1,200 killed, according to the
French commander’s dispatch [August 16]. Bilbao was taken and sacked,
and English vessels bringing--now that it was too late--5,000 stand
of arms for the insurgents, narrowly escaped capture in its harbour.
All along the line of the Basque hills there was hanging and shooting
of the leaders of the abortive rising[363]. The only result of this
ill-advised move was that Bessières was warned of the danger in his
rear, and kept a vigilant eye for the future on the coastland. The
Biscayans, as was natural, were much discouraged at the way in which
they had been left in the lurch by their fellow countrymen, and at
the inefficacy of their own unaided efforts. They were loth to rise a
second time.

  [362] See the letters of Doyle quoted in Napier, i. 287.

  [363] Joseph Bonaparte to Napoleon, Sept. 5, 1808.

It was not till twenty days had passed since the fall of Bilbao
that the first attempts at combined action were made by the Spanish
generals. On September 5 there met at Madrid a council of war,
composed of Castaños, Cuesta, the Valencian General Llamas, and the
representatives of Blake and Palafox--the Duke of Infantado and Calvo
de Rozas, intendant-general of the army of Aragon. These officers met
with much suppressed jealousy and suspicion of each other. The Duke
had his eye on Cuesta, in accordance with the instructions of Blake.
Castaños and Cuesta were at daggers drawn, for the old Captain-General
had just proposed a _coup d’état_ against the Junta to the Andalusian,
and had been repulsed with scorn[364]. The representative of the army
of Aragon had been charged to see that no one was put above the head
of Palafox. When the meeting opened, Cuesta proposed that it should
appoint a single general to direct all the forces of Spain. The
others demurred: Cuesta was much their senior in the army-list, and
they imagined--probably with truth--that he would claim the post of
commander-in-chief for himself, in spite of the memories of Cabezon
and Rio Seco. They refused to listen to his arguments, though it was
certain that unity of command was in every way desirable. Nor was any
disposition shown to raise Castaños to supreme authority, though this
was the obvious step to take, as he was the only general of Spain who
had won a great battle in the open field. But personal and provincial
jealousy stood in the way, and Castaños himself, though not without
ambition, was destitute of the arts of cajolery, and made no attempt to
push his own candidature for the post of commander-in-chief. Perhaps
he hoped that the Supreme Junta would do him justice ere long, and
refrained for that reason from self-assertion before his colleagues.
Nothing, therefore, was settled on September 5, save a plan for common
operations against the French on the Ebro. Like all schemes that are
formed from a compromise between the views of several men, this was
not a very brilliant strategical effort: instead of providing for a
bold stroke with the whole Spanish army, at some point on the long line
between Burgos and Milagro, it merely brought the insurgent forces
in half-a-dozen separate columns face to face with the enemy. Blake,
with his own army and the Asturians, was to be asked to concentrate
near Reynosa, at the sources of the Ebro, and to endeavour to turn
Bessières’ flank and penetrate into Biscay[365]. He would have 30,000
men, or more, but not a single complete regiment of cavalry. Next to
him Cuesta was to operate against the front of Bessières’ corps, with
his ‘Army of Castile,’ eight or nine thousand raw levies backed by
about 1,000 horse. He undertook to make Burgo de Osma his point of
starting. More to the east, Castaños was to gather at Soria the four
divisions of the army of Andalusia, but at present he had only that of
La Peña in hand: the Junta of Seville was detaining the rest. Still
more to the right, Llamas with his 8,000 Valencians and Murcians was
to march on Tudela. Lastly Palafox, with the army of Aragon and the
Valencian division of Saint March, was to keep north of the Ebro, and
turn the left flank of Moncey’s corps by way of Sanguesa: he could
bring about 25,000 men into line, but there were not more than five or
six regular battalions among them; the rest were recent levies. When
the army of Estremadura should come up (it was still about Elvas and
Badajoz), it was to join Castaños; and it was hoped that the English
forces from Portugal might also be directed on the same point.

  [364] I find the story of Cuesta’s projected _coup d’état_ (in
  Toreño, i. 267), which was supposed to rest on the authority
  of Castaños alone, completely corroborated in Sir Charles
  Vaughan’s private diary. On Sept. 15 Vaughan, while passing
  through Segovia, met Cuesta, who told him ‘that two measures
  were absolutely necessary: (1) the abolition of the provincial
  Juntas, and the restoration of the ancient authority of the
  Captains-General and _Real Audiencia_; (2) _The exercise of
  military force_ over the Junta at Ocaña (i.e. the supreme
  ‘Central Junta’) sufficient to compel them to elect an executive
  council of three or five persons to be placed at the head of
  different departments, and to be responsible to the nation at
  large.’ This is precisely what Cuesta proposed to Castaños.

  [365] So Toreño. Arteche says that he was to concentrate at

But meanwhile only 75,000 men were available in the first line; and
this force, spread along the whole front from Reynosa to Sanguesa, and
acting on wide external lines, was not likely to make much impression
on the French. The numbers of the invaders were considerably greater
than those of the patriot-armies. Jourdan had 70,000 men by September
1, and was being reinforced every day by fresh battalions, though the
three corps from Germany were still far off. Before the Spaniards
could move he appreciably outnumbered them, and he had the inestimable
advantage of holding a comparatively short front, and of being able to
concentrate on any point with far greater rapidity than was possible to
his adversaries. Even had they thrown all their forces on one single
point, the French, always using the ‘interior lines,’ could have got
together in a very short time. The only weak point, indeed, in the
French position was that Bessières’ vanguard at Burgos was too far
forward, and in some peril of being enveloped between Blake and Cuesta.
But this detachment, as we shall see, was ere long drawn back to the

Before the campaign began the Spaniards obtained one notable
advantage--the removal of Cuesta from command, owing to his own
incredible arrogance and folly. It will be remembered that he regarded
the Juntas of Leon and Castile as recalcitrant subordinates of his own,
and had declared all their acts null and void. When they proceeded,
like the other Juntas, to elect representatives for the meeting at
Aranjuez, he waited till the deputies of Leon were passing near his
camp, and then suddenly descended upon them. Don Antonio Valdez, the
Bailiff of the Maltese Knights, and the Vizconde de Quintanilla, were
arrested by his troopers and shut up in the castle of Segovia. He
announced that they should be tried by court-martial, for failing in
obedience to their Captain-General. This astonishing act of presumption
drew down on him the wrath of the Supreme Junta, which was naturally
eager to protect its members from the interference of the military
arm. Almost its first act on assembling was to order him to appear
at Aranjuez and to suspend him from command. Cuesta would have liked
to resist, but knowing that his own army was weak and that Blake and
Castaños were his bitter enemies, he had to yield. He came to Aranjuez,
and was superseded by General Eguia. Valdez and Quintanilla were
immediately released, and took their seats in the Supreme Junta.

The sessions of that body had begun on September 25. Twenty-four
members out of the designated thirty-five had assembled on that day,
and after a solemn religious ceremony had re-proclaimed Ferdinand VII,
and elected Florida Blanca as their President. They then proceeded to
nominate a Cabinet, chosen entirely from outside their own body. Don
Pedro Cevallos was to be Minister of Foreign Affairs: he had served
Ferdinand VII in that capacity, but had smirched his reputation by his
submission to Bonaparte after the treachery at Bayonne. However, his
ingenious justification[366] of his conduct, and his early desertion
of King Joseph, were allowed to serve as an adequate defence. Don
Antonio Escaño was Minister of Marine, Don Benito Hermida Minister
of Justice, Don Francisco de Saavedra Minister of the Interior. The
most important place of all, that of Minister of War, was given to
an utterly unknown person, General Antonio Cornel, instead of to
any of the officers who had distinguished themselves during the
recent campaigns. He was to be aided by a supreme council of war,
consisting of six members of the Junta, three of whom were civilians
without any military knowledge whatever. No intention of appointing
a commander-in-chief was shown, and the Minister of War corresponded
directly with all the generals in charge of the provincial armies.
Nothing could have been more ill judged; from the want of a single
hand at the helm all the oncoming operations were doomed to inevitable
failure. The supreme direction was nominally entrusted to the obscure
war-minister and his councillors, really it lay with the generals in
the field, who obeyed orders from head quarters only just as much as
they chose. Each played his own game, and the result was disaster.

  [366] His very elaborate vindication of himself can be read
  in his pamphlet of September, 1808, which was translated into
  English in the same winter, and reprinted in London. It contains
  a good account of the Bayonne business, and many valuable state

A glance at the subjects which were discussed by the members of
the Junta, during its first weeks of session, suffices to show the
short-sightedness of their policy, and their utter inability to grasp
the situation. They should have remembered that they were a government
of national defence, whose main duty was the expulsion of the French
from the soil of Spain. But military subjects furnished the smallest
portion of their subjects of debate. They published indeed a manifesto
to the effect that they intended to levy an army of 500,000 foot, and
50,000 horse--a much greater force than Spain in her most flourishing
days could have raised or maintained. But this paper army was never
seen in the field: less than a third of the number were under arms
at the moment in December when the Junta had to fly from Aranjuez,
before the advancing legions of Napoleon. Nor was it likely that a
great army could be raised, equipped, and disciplined, while the
central government was devoting the greater part of its attention to
futilities. The most cruel comment on its work lies in the fact that
its troops were ill furnished, badly armed, and half starved, at the
moment when the provinces were doing their best to provide equipment,
and every port in Spain was gorged with cannon, muskets, munitions, and
stores sent from England--a great part of them destined to fall into
the hands of the French. Partly from want of experience, but still more
from want of energy, the Junta failed to use the national enthusiasm
and the considerable resources placed at its disposal.

When we look at the main topics of its debates we begin to understand
its failures. A good deal of time was spent in voting honorary
distinctions to its own members. The President was to be addressed
as ‘his highness,’ the Junta as a corporation was ‘its majesty,’ if
we may use the ludicrous phrase. Each member became ‘his excellency’
and received the liberal salary of 120,000 reals (£1,200), besides
the right of wearing on his breast a gold plaque with an embossed
representation of the eastern and western hemispheres. There was a
good deal of dispensing of places and patronage in the army and the
civil service among relatives and dependencies of ‘their excellencies,’
but not more perhaps than happens in other countries in war-time when
a new government comes in. At least the changes led to the getting
rid of a good many of Godoy’s old bureaucrats. The real fault of the
Junta lay in its readiness to fall into factions, and fight over
constitutional questions that should have been relegated to times of
peace. Among the thirty-five members of the Junta a clear majority
were, like their president, Florida Blanca, Spaniards of the old
school, whose ideas of government were those of the autocratic sort
that had prevailed under Alberoni and Charles III. They looked upon
all innovations as tinged with the poison of the French Revolution and
savouring of Jacobinism and infidelity. On the other hand there was a
powerful minority, headed by Jovellanos and including Martin de Garay,
the secretary of the Junta, the Marquis of Campo Sagrado, Valdes,
Calvo de Rozas, and others, who held more modern views and hoped that
the main result of the war would be to make Spain a constitutional
monarchy of the English type. How far this dream was from realization
was shown by the fact that among the first measures passed through
the Supreme Junta were ordinances allowing the Jesuits (expelled long
since by Charles III) to return to Spain, recreating the office of
Inquisitor-General, and suspending the liberty of the press. Such
measures filled the liberal section in the Junta with despair, by
showing the narrow and reactionary views of the majority. But the
greater part of the time spent in session by ‘its majesty’ was wasted
on purely constitutional questions. Firstly there was a long polemic
with the Council of Castile, whose hatred for the Junta took the form
of starting doubts as to the legality of its constitution[367]. It
suggested that all constitutional precedents were against a body so
numerous as thirty-five persons taking charge of the governance of
the realm. Former councils of regency had been composed of three or
five members only, and there was no legal authority for breaking the
rule. The Council suggested that the only way out of the difficulty
would be to call the Cortes, and that assembly would at once supersede
the authority of the Supreme Junta. Instead of arguing with the
Council of Castile, the new government would have done well to arrest
or disperse that effete and disloyal body; but it chose instead to
indulge in a war of manifestos and proclamations which led to nothing.
To find the supreme government consenting to argue about its own
legality was not reassuring to the nation. Moreover, Jovellanos and
his followers spent much time in impressing on their colleagues that
it was their duty to appoint a regency, and to cut down their own
unwieldy numbers, as well as to provide machinery for the summoning
of the Cortes at some not too distant date. To be reminded that they
were no permanent corporation, but a temporary committee dressed in
a little brief authority, was most unpleasant to the majority. They
discussed from every point of view the question of the regency and
the Cortes, but would not yield up their own supremacy. Indeed they
proposed to begin legislation on a very wide basis for the reform of
the constitution--business which should rather have been left to the
Cortes, and which was particularly inappropriate to the moment when
Napoleon was crossing the Pyrenees. The great manifesto of the Junta
[October 26] sets forth its intentions very clearly. ‘The knowledge and
illustration of our ancient and constitutional laws; the changes which
altered circumstances render necessary in their re-establishment; the
reforms necessary in civil, criminal, and commercial codes; projects
for improving public education; a system of regulated economy for the
collection and distribution of the public revenue ... are the subjects
for the investigation of wise and thoughtful men. The Junta will form
different committees, each entrusted with a particular department, to
whom all writings on matters of government and administration may be
addressed. The exertions of each contributing to give a just direction
to the public mind, the government will be enabled to establish the
internal happiness of Spain[368].’ From another official document we
learn that ‘among the most grave and urgent objects of the attention of
the Central Junta will be the encouragement of agriculture, the arts,
commerce, and navigation[369].’

  [367] For these documents see the _Madrid Gazette_ of Oct. 4.

  [368] Manifesto of the Junta to the Spanish people, Oct. 26.

  [369] _Madrid Gazette_ of Oct. 18, p. 1,301.

Clearly nothing could be more inappropriate and absurd than that this
government of national defence should turn its attention to subjects
such as the reform of national education, or the encouragement of the
arts. It is equally certain that if it should propose to ‘consider
the changes necessary in our ancient laws,’ it would be going beyond
its competence; for such business belonged only to a permanent and
properly constituted national assembly, such as the Cortes. This was
not the time for constitutional debates, nor was the Central Junta the
body that should have started them. All their energies should have
been devoted to the war. But misled as to the situation by the long
quiescence of the French army on the Ebro, they turned their minds to
every topic that should have been avoided, and neglected the single one
that should always have been before their eyes. It was in vain that
Calvo de Rozas, the Aragonese deputy, and a few more, tried to keep
their colleagues to the point. The majority fell to debating on the
subjects on which the despotic and the liberal theories of government
clash, and spent themselves on discussions that were as heated as they
were futile. Meanwhile the time that should have been turned to account
was slipping away, and the army was not being reinforced. A glance
at the field-states of the Spanish troops, comparing those of August
1 with those of November 1, sufficiently proves this. The provinces
which had been recovered by the retreat of the French to the Ebro were
not doing their duty. The wide and populous regions of Old Castile
and Leon had sent 4,600 men to Rio Seco in July: in October they had
less than 12,000 under arms[370]. From New Castile there seem to have
been raised nothing more than four battalions of Madrid Volunteers,
a weak cavalry regiment, and two battalions of _Cazadores de Cuenca_
and _Tiradores de Castilla_: at any rate no troops but these are to
be found recorded in the lists of the armies that fought in October,
November, and December, 1808. Even allowing that New Castile may have
supplied recruits to its own corps of embodied militia serving with the
Andalusian army[371], it is clear that, with a population of 1,200,000
souls, it ought to have done much more in raising new regiments. And
this was the district in whose very midst the Junta was sitting! What
little was done in Madrid seems to have been mainly the result of
private enterprise: the _Gazette_ for October is full of voluntary
donations of horses, saddlery, and money, for the equipment of a corps
of dragoons for the army of Old Castile, and of similar gifts received
by Calvo de Rozas for the army of Aragon. But there are no signs of
requisitions by the government for the purpose of raising an army of
New Castile, which could certainly have been done. The kingdom with
its five provinces ought to have given 40,000 men instead of 4,000:
for Asturias, with only 370,000 souls, had raised 13,000: Aragon
with 650,000 had placed no less than 32,000 levies in the field: and
Estremadura with 420,000 had sent to the front 12,000 men by October,
while keeping 10,000 more of undrilled recruits in its dépôts[372].
New Castile, as we have already had occasion to remark, had 1,200,000
inhabitants, and yet had only added to its original five battalions
of militia six more of volunteers, and a single regiment of horse, at
the moment when Napoleon’s armies came flooding across the Ebro. The
Central Junta’s authority in Andalusia or Galicia was much limited
by the survival of the ambitious local Juntas. But in Leon and the
two Castiles there was, when once Cuesta had been got out of the way,
no rival power in the field. No one was to blame but the central
government, if the full resources of those regions were not utilized
in September, October, and November. The English representatives at
Madrid saw all this, and did their best to stir up the Junta. But it
was not likely that mere foreigners would succeed, where Castaños
and the other more energetic Spanish officers had failed. Already in
October the situation appeared most unpromising: ‘We have made repeated
representations,’ wrote Mr. Stuart, the British minister, ‘and I have
given in paper after paper, to obtain something like promptitude and
vigour: but though loaded with fair promises in the commencement,
we scarcely quit the members of the Junta before their attention is
absorbed in petty pursuits and in wrangling, which impedes even the
simplest arrangements necessary for the interior government of the
country.... In short, we are doing what we can, not what we wish: and I
assure you we have infamous tools to work with[373].’ Exactly the same
impression is produced by a study of the dispatches of Lord William
Bentinck, our military representative at Madrid, and of the diary of
Sir Charles Vaughan, who carefully attended and followed the debates
of the Central Junta at Aranjuez. It was clear to any dispassionate
observer that time was being wasted, and that the best was not being
done with the available material.

  [370] Napier is not quite correct in saying (i. 293) that ‘Leon
  never raised a single soldier for the cause.’ It had three
  battalions of volunteers (2,400 men) at Rio Seco, and raised
  four more at Leon, Zamora, Ledesma, and Benavente in September
  (_Madrid Gazette_, Sept. 28). But this was a poor contribution
  for a kingdom of four provinces and 620,000 souls.

  [371] I see no proof that even this was done. There were only
  five of them, the _Provinciales_ of Cuenca, Toledo, Ciudad Real,
  Alcazar de Don Juan, and Siguenza. Toledo and Alcazar had 579
  and 595 under arms at the time of Baylen, and only 500 each,
  apparently, in Nov. 1808. See Arteche, iii. 496.

  [372] For the Asturians see the table in Arteche (ii. 651):
  they were still 10,000 strong after having shared in Blake’s
  disastrous campaign. For the Estremadurans compare the list of
  regiments raised in the _Madrid Gazette_ of Oct. 21, giving
  a total of 23,600 men, with the actual morning state of the
  Estremaduran troops at Madrid on their way to Burgos, 12,846 in
  all, given in Arteche (iii. 477).

  [373] Stuart to Moore, from Madrid, Oct. 18, 1808.

This was all the more inexcusable because the nation was thoroughly
in earnest, and prepared to make any sacrifices. The voluntary
contributions made both by provinces and by individuals were astounding
when the poverty of Spain is taken into consideration[374]. It was
the energy and will to use them on the part of the leaders that was
wanting. Moreover, England was pouring in supplies of all sorts: before
November 16 she had sent at least 122,000 muskets and other military
equipment of all kinds to the value of several hundred thousand pounds.
Before the same date she had forwarded 4,725,000 dollars in hard
cash[375], and Mr. Frere, the newly appointed minister, brought another
million to Corunna.

  [374] For details see the tables in Arguelles, and the grants
  recorded in the _Madrid Gazette_ for September, October, and

  [375] I take these figures as to what had been actually received
  from Vaughan, who was at Madrid, in constant communication with
  Stuart and Bentinck. They represent what had been paid over and
  acknowledged, not what had been promised or provided, and may be
  taken as accurate.

Instead of utilizing every possible resource the government went on
debating about things unessential, as if the war had been ended at
Baylen. It would neither conduct the new campaign itself, nor appoint
a single commander-in-chief to conduct it in its behalf. With absolute
truth Colonel Graham wrote from the head quarters of the Army of the
Centre that ‘the miserable system established by the Junta was at the
bottom of all misfortunes. I pitied poor Castaños and poor Spain, and
came away disgusted to the greatest degree[376].’

  [376] Graham to Moore, from Tudela, Nov. 9, 1808.



It will be remembered that one of Napoleon’s preliminary measures, in
his long campaign against the freedom of Spain, had been the removal of
the flower of her army to the shores of the Baltic. In the spring of
1807 the Marquis of La Romana, with fourteen battalions of infantry and
five regiments of cavalry, all completed to war strength, had marched
for Hamburg. After wintering in the Hanseatic towns, Mecklenburg, and
Swedish Pomerania, this corps had been moved up early in 1808 into
Denmark[377]. It is clear that there was no military object in placing
it there. The Danish fleet was gone, carried off by Lord Cathcart’s
expedition in the previous September, and there was no probability
that the English would return for a second visit, when they had
completely executed their plan for destroying the naval resources of
Denmark. France and Sweden, it is true, were still at war, but King
Gustavus was so much occupied by the defensive struggle against the
Russians in Finland, that it was unlikely that he would detach troops
for an objectless expedition against the Danes. On the other hand the
Anglo-Swedish fleet was so completely dominant in the Baltic and the
Sound, that there was no possibility of launching an expedition from
Denmark against Southern Sweden. Even between the various islands at
the mouth of the Baltic, where the water-distances are very short,
troops could only be moved at night, and with infinite precautions
against being surprised on the passage by English frigates. Gothenburg
and the other harbours of South-western Sweden served as convenient
ports of call to the British squadron told off for the observation
of the Cattegat, the two Belts, and the Sound. Nothing could be done
against Sweden, unless indeed a frost of exceptional severity might
close the waterway between Zealand and Scania. Even then an attempt to
make a dash at Helsingborg or Malmö would involve so many difficulties
and dangers that few generals would have cared to risk it.

  [377] The Spanish troops, though the best of the whole army, do
  not seem to have much impressed the German observer with their
  discipline. See the Mecklenburger Von Suckow’s observations on
  what he saw of them in his _From Jena to Moscow_, p. 92.

La Romana’s corps formed part of an army under Marshal Bernadotte,
whose sphere of command extended all over the south-western shores of
the Baltic, and whose head quarters were sometimes at Schleswig and
sometimes at Lübeck or Stralsund. He had considerable French and Dutch
contingents, but the bulk of his force consisted of 30,000 Danes. In
preparation for Napoleon’s scheme against the Spanish Bourbons, La
Romana’s forces had been carefully scattered between Jutland and the
Danish Isles, so that there was no large central body concentrated
under the Marquis’s own hand. The garrisons of the Spanish regiments
were interspersed between those of Danish troops, so that it would be
difficult to get them together. In March, 1808, when the Emperor had at
last shown his hand by the treacherous seizure of Pampeluna, Barcelona,
and Figueras, the troops of La Romana were cantoned as follows. Six
battalions were in the island of Zealand, mainly in and about the old
royal residence of Roeskilde[378]. Four battalions and two cavalry
regiments were in Fünen, the central island of the Danish group, and
with them La Romana himself, whose head quarters were at Nyborg[379].
One battalion lay in the island of Langeland, close to the south coast
of Fünen[380]. In the mainland of Jutland were three cavalry regiments
and three battalions of infantry[381], quartered in the little towns
at the southern end of the Cattegat--Fredericia, Aarhuus, and Randers.
In Zealand the 4,000 Spaniards were under the eyes of the main Danish
army of observation against Sweden. In Fünen La Romana’s 4,500 horse
and foot were cantoned in small detachments, while a solid body of
3,000 Danes garrisoned Odense in the centre of the island, separating
the Spanish regiments one from another. In Langeland, along with the
Catalonian light battalion, were a company of French grenadiers and
about 800 Danes. The troops in Jutland were mixed up with a brigade of
Dutch light cavalry and some Danish infantry. Napoleon’s own provident
eye had been roving round Denmark, and he had himself given the orders
for the dislocation of the Spanish corps in the fashion that seemed
best calculated to make any common action impossible. To keep them
in good temper he had recently raised the pay of the officers, and
announced his intention of decorating La Romana with the Grand Cross of
the Legion of Honour. Bernadotte, by his desire, displayed the greatest
confidence in his auxiliaries, and took a troop of the cavalry regiment
Del Rey as his personal escort while moving about in Denmark[382].

  [378] Infantry regiments of Guadalajara and Asturias, of three
  battalions each.

  [379] Infantry regiment of Princesa (three battalions), light
  battalion of Barcelona, and cavalry regiments of Almanza and

  [380] Light battalion of ‘Volunteers of Catalonia.’

  [381] Infantry regiment of Zamora, cavalry regiments Del Rey,
  Algarve, Infante.

  [382] Arteche, iii. 151.

In spite of all this, the Marquis and his officers began to grow uneasy
in April, 1808, for the stream of dispatches and letters from Spain,
which had been reaching them very regularly during the winter, began
to dry up in the spring. When the first communication from the new
ministry of Ferdinand VII reached La Romana he found that it contained
a complaint that the home government had received no reports from the
expeditionary force since January, and that fifteen separate dispatches
sent to him from Madrid had failed to get any answer. The fact was
that Napoleon had been systematically intercepting every document
which the war minister at one end of the line, and the Marquis at the
other, had been committing to the French post[383]. The last dispatch
had only come to hand because such an important announcement as that
of the accession of King Ferdinand had been sent by the hands of a
Spanish officer, whom Bonaparte or Fouché had not thought proper to
arrest, though they had intercepted so much official correspondence.
The Emperor himself had sent orders to Bernadotte that the news of the
revolution at Aranjuez should be kept as long as possible from the
Marquis and his troops[384]: and so it came to pass that only a very
few days after the events of March 19 became known in Denmark, there
followed the deplorable intelligence of the treachery of Bayonne and
of the Madrid insurrection of May 2. These tidings produced the same
feelings in Nyborg and Fredericia that they had caused at Seville
or Corunna. But on the shores of the Baltic, further north than any
Spanish troops had ever been before, the expeditionary corps felt
itself helpless and surrounded by enemies. Yet as Joseph O’Donnell,
then one of La Romana’s staff, observed: ‘The more they tried to
persuade us that Spain was tranquil, and had settled down to enjoy
an age of felicity under Napoleon, the more clearly did we foresee
the scenes of blood, strife, and disaster which were to follow these
incredible events[385].’

  [383] Bourrienne, _Mémoires_, viii. 20.

  [384] Napoleon to Berthier, March 29, 1808 (_Nap. Corresp._,

  [385] See his words quoted in Arteche, iii. 154.

On June 24 there reached Nyborg the intelligence which showed the whole
of Napoleon’s schemes completed: it was announced to La Romana that
Joseph Bonaparte had been proclaimed King of Spain, and he was ordered
to transmit the news to his troops, and to inform them in General
Orders that they were now serving a new master. The only commentary on
this astonishing information which the Spanish officers could procure
consisted of the nauseous banalities of the _Moniteur_ concerning the
‘regeneration of Spain.’

A very few days later the first ray of hope shone upon the humbled
and disheartened general. One of the earliest ideas of the British
Government, on hearing of the Spanish insurrection, had been to open
communications with the troops in Denmark. Castaños, in his first
interview with the Governor of Gibraltar, had expressed his opinion
that they would strike a blow for liberty if only they were given the
chance. The fleet of Sir Richard Keates so completely commanded the
Baltic that it would be possible to rescue the Spanish expeditionary
force, if only it were willing and able to cut its way to the coast.
But it was necessary to find out whether the Marquis was ready to risk
his neck in such an enterprise, and whether he could depend on the
loyalty of his troops.

To settle this all-important question some agent must be found who
would undertake to penetrate to La Romana’s head quarters, a task
of the most uninviting kind, for it was quite uncertain whether the
Spaniard would eagerly join in the plan, or whether he would make up
his mind to espouse the cause of Napoleon, and hand over his visitor to
the French police. To find a man who knew the Continent well enough to
move about without detection, and who would take the risk of placing
himself at La Romana’s mercy, in case his offers were refused, did
not seem easy. But the right person was pitched upon by Sir Arthur
Wellesley just before he sailed for Portugal. He recommended to
Canning a Roman Catholic priest of the name of James Robertson. This
enterprising ecclesiastic was a Scot who had spent most of his life
in a monastery at Ratisbon, but had lately come to England and was
acting as tutor in the house of an English Catholic peer. He had some
time before offered himself to Wellesley as a man who knew Germany
well, and was prepared to run risks in making himself useful to the

  [386] See his interesting little book, _A Secret Mission to the
  Danish Isles in 1808_, published at Edinburgh in 1863 by his
  relative Alexander Fraser.

Under the belief that the Spaniards were still quartered in the Hanse
towns and Holstein, Canning sent for Robertson and asked him whether
he would undertake this dangerous mission to Northern Germany. The
priest accepted the offer, and was dispatched to Heligoland, where
Mr. Mackenzie, the British agent in this lately seized island, found
him a place on board a smuggling vessel bound for the mouth of the
Weser. He was safely landed near Bremerhafen and made his way to
Hamburg, only to find that the Spaniards had been moved northward into
the Danish isles. This made the mission more dangerous, as Robertson
knew neither the country nor the language. But he disguised himself
as a German commercial traveller, and laid in a stock of chocolate
and cigars--things which were very rare in the North, as along with
other colonial produce they were proscribed by the Continental System,
and could only be got from smugglers. It was known that the Spanish
officers felt deeply their privation of the two luxuries most dear to
their frugal race, so that it seemed very natural that a dealer in such
goods should attempt to find a market among them.

Getting to Nyborg without much difficulty, the priest took his fate in
his hands, and introduced himself to La Romana with a box of cigars
under one arm and a dozen packets of chocolate under the other.
When they were alone, he threw himself on the Marquis’s confidence,
owning that he was a priest and a British subject, not a German or a
commercial traveller. The Spaniard was at first suspicious and silent,
thinking that he had to deal with an _agent provocateur_ of the French
Government, who was trying to make him show his hand. Robertson
had no written vouchers for his mission--they would have been too
dangerous--but had been given some verbal credentials by Canning, which
soon convinced La Romana of his good faith. The Marquis then owned that
he was disgusted with his position, and felt sure that Napoleon had
plotted the ruin of Spain, though what exactly had happened at Bayonne
he had not yet been able to ascertain. Robertson next laid before him
Canning’s offer--that if the expeditionary force could be concentrated
and got to the coast, the Baltic fleet should pick it up, and see that
it was landed at Minorca, Gibraltar, the Canaries, in South America, or
at any point in Spain that the Marquis might select.

La Romana asked for a night to talk the matter over with his staff,
and next day gave his full consent to the plan, bidding the priest
pass the word on to Sir Richard Keates, and discover the earliest day
on which transports could be got ready to carry off his men. Robertson
tried to communicate with a British frigate which was hovering off the
coast of Fünen, but was arrested by Danish militiamen while signalling
to the ship from a lonely point on the beach. His purpose was almost
discovered, and he only escaped by a series of ingenious lies to the
militia colonel before whom he was taken by his captors. Moving further
south, he again tried to get in touch with Sir Richard Keates, and
this time succeeded. The news was passed to London, and transports
were prepared for the deliverance of the Spaniards. Canning also sent
to Fünen an agent of the Asturian Junta, who would be able to give his
countrymen full news of the insurrection that had taken place in June.

Meanwhile La Romana had sounded his subordinates, and found them
all eager to join in the plan of evasion, save Kindelan, the
brigadier-general commanding the troops in Jutland, who showed such
unpatriotic views that the officer sent to confer with him dropped the
topic without revealing his commission. The plan which the Marquis
had formed was rather ingenious: Bernadotte was about to go round the
garrisons in his command on a tour of inspection. It was agreed that
under the pretext of holding a grand field-day for his benefit, all the
scattered Spanish troops in Fünen should be concentrated at Nyborg. The
regiments in Zealand and Jutland were to join them, when the arrival of
the British fleet should be reported, by seizing the Danish small craft
in the harbours nearest to them, and crossing over the two Belts to
join their commander.

An unfortunate _contretemps_, however, interfered to prevent the full
execution of the scheme. Orders came from Paris that all the Spanish
troops were to swear allegiance to Joseph Bonaparte, each corps
parading at its head quarters for the purpose on July 30 or 31. This
news caused grave disorders among the subordinate officers and the men,
who were of course in complete ignorance of the plan for evasion. La
Romana and his councillors held that the ceremony had better be gone
through--to swear under compulsion was not perjury, and to refuse
would draw down on the Spanish corps overwhelming numbers of Danes and
French, so that the whole scheme for escape would miscarry. Accordingly
the troops in Jutland and Fünen went through the ceremony in a more or
less farcical way--in some cases the men are said to have substituted
the name Ferdinand for the name Joseph in their oath, while the
officers took no notice of this rather startling variation.

But in Zealand things went otherwise: the two infantry regiments of
Guadalajara and Asturias, when paraded and told to take the oath,
burst out into mutiny, drove off those of their own officers who
tried to restrain them, killed the aide-de-camp of the French General
Fririon, who was presiding at the ceremony, and threatened to march on
Copenhagen. Next day they were surrounded by masses of Danish troops,
forced to surrender, disarmed, and put in confinement in small bodies
at various points in the island [August 1].

This startling news revealed to Bernadotte the true state of feeling
in the Spanish army, and he wrote to La Romana to announce that he was
about to visit the Danish Isles in order to inquire into the matter.
Fortunately there came at the same moment news from England that the
time for escape was at hand. On August 4, only three days after the
mutiny at Roeskilde, the brigantine _Mosquito_, having on board Rafael
Lobo (the emissary of the Asturian deputies), reached the Baltic, and
communicated by night with some of the Spanish officers on the island
of Langeland. The British fleet had sailed, and the time for action had

Accordingly La Romana gave the word to the officers in each garrison to
whom the secret had been entrusted. On August 7, the troops in Fünen
concentrated, and seized the port of Nyborg: the Danes were completely
taken by surprise, and no resistance was made save by a gallant and
obstinate naval officer commanding a brig in the harbour. He fired on
the Spaniards, and would not yield till an English frigate and five
gunboats ran into the port and battered his vessel to pieces.

On August 8 the troops in Jutland struck their blow: the infantry
regiment of Zamora at Fredericia seized a number of fishing-vessels,
and ferried itself over into Fünen with no difficulty. General
Kindelan, the only traitor in the camp, had been kept from all
knowledge of what was to happen: when he saw his troops on the
move, and received an explanatory note from La Romana putting him
in possession of the state of affairs, he feigned compliance in the
plan, but disguised himself and fled to the nearest French cantonment,
where he gave enemy a full account of the startling news. The cavalry
regiments Infante and Del Rey had the same luck as their comrades of
Zamora: they seized boats at Aarhuus, and, abandoning their horses, got
across unopposed to Fünen. Their comrades of the regiment of Algarve
were less lucky: they were delayed for some time by the indecision of
their aged and imbecile colonel: when Costa, their senior captain, took
command and marched them from Horsens towards the port of Fredericia,
it was now too late. A brigade of Dutch Hussars, warned by Kindelan,
beset them on the way and took them all prisoners. Costa, seeing that
the responsibility would fall on his head, blew out his brains at the
moment of surrender.

Romana had concentrated in Fünen nearly 8,000 men, and was so strong
that the Danish general at Odense, in the centre of the island, dared
not meddle with him. On August 9, 10, and 11 he passed his troops over
to the smaller island of Langeland, where the regiment of Catalonia had
already disarmed the Danish garrison and seized the batteries. Here he
was safe, for Langeland was far out to sea, and he was now protected
from the Danes by the English warships which were beginning to gather
on the spot. A few isolated men from Zealand, about 150 in all,
succeeded in joining the main body, having escaped from their guards
and seized fishing-boats: but these were all that got away from the
regiments of Asturias and Guadalajara, the mutineers of July 31.

For ten days Langeland was crammed with 9,000 Spanish troops, waiting
anxiously for the expected British squadron. On the twenty-first,
however, Admiral Keates appeared, with three sail of the line and
several smaller craft. On these and on small Danish vessels the whole
army was hastily embarked: they reached Gothenburg in Sweden on August
27, and found there thirty-seven large transports sent from England
for their accommodation. After a long voyage they reached the Spanish
coast in safety, and the whole expeditionary corps of the North, now
9,000 strong, was concentrated at Santander by October 11. The infantry
was sent to take part in the second campaign of General Blake. The
dismounted cavalry were ordered to move to Estremadura, and there to
provide themselves with horses. La Romana himself was called to Madrid
to interview the Junta, so that his troops went to the front under the
charge of his second in command, the Count of San Roman, to take part
in the bloody fight of Espinosa.





While the Supreme Junta was expending its energy on discussing
the relative merits of benevolent despotism and representative
government, and while Castaños fretted and fumed for the moving up
of reinforcements that never arrived, the French Emperor was getting
ready to strike. It took many weeks for the veteran divisions from
Glogau and Erfurt, from Bayreuth and Berlin, to traverse the whole
breadth of the French Empire and reach the Pyrenees. While they were
trailing across the Rhineland and the plains of France, well fêted and
fed at every important town[387], their master employed the time of
waiting in strengthening his political hold on Central Europe. We have
seen that he was seriously alarmed at the possibility of an Austrian
war, and alluded to it in his confidential letters to his kinsfolk.
But the court of Vienna was slow to stir, and as August and September
slipped by without any definite move on the Danube, Bonaparte began
to hope that he was to be spared the dangerous problem of waging two
European wars at the same time. Meanwhile he assumed an arrogant and
blustering tone with the Austrian Government, warning them that though
he was withdrawing 100,000 men from Germany, he should replace them
with new levies, and was still strong enough to hold his own[388].
Metternich gave prudent and evasive answers, and no immediate signs
of a rupture could be discerned. But to make matters sure, the Emperor
hastened to invite his ally the Emperor Alexander of Russia to meet
him at Erfurt. The ostensible object of the conference was to make
a final effort to induce the British Government to accept terms of
peace. Its real meaning was that Bonaparte wished to reassure himself
concerning the Czar’s intentions, and to see whether he could rely
upon the support of Russia in the event of a new Austrian war. There
is no need to go into the details of the meeting (September 27 to
October 14), of the gathering of four vassal kings and a score of
minor princes of the Confederation of the Rhine to do homage to their
master, of the feasts and plays and reviews. Suffice it to say that
Napoleon got what he wanted, a definite promise from the Czar of an
offensive and defensive alliance against all enemies whatsoever: a
special mention of Austria was made in the tenth clause of the new
treaty[389]. In return Alexander obtained leave to carry out his
designs against Finland and the Danubian principalities: his ally was
only too glad to see him involved in any enterprise that would distract
his attention from Central Europe. The Emperor Francis II hastened to
disarm the suspicions of Napoleon by sending to Erfurt an envoy[390]
charged with all manner of pacific declarations: they were accepted,
but the acceptance was accompanied by a message of scarcely concealed
threats[391], which must have touched the court of Vienna to the quick.
Strong in his Russian alliance, Bonaparte chose rather to bully than to
cajole the prince who, by the strangest of chances, was destined within
eighteen months to become his father-in-law. The quiet reception given
to his hectoring dispatches showed that, for the present at least,
nothing need be feared from the side of Austria. The Emperor’s whole
attention could be turned towards Spain. After telling off a few more
regiments for service beyond the Pyrenees, and giving leave to the
princes of the Confederation of the Rhine to demobilize their armies,
he left Erfurt [October 14] and came rushing back across Germany and
France to Paris; he stayed there ten days and then started for Bayonne,
where he arrived on the twentieth day after the termination of the
conference [November 3].

  [387] For the banquets given (under imperial orders) by the
  cities, see _Nap. Corresp._, 14,291, 14,331. Clearly Napoleon I
  understood the ‘policy of champagne and sausages’ as well as his

  [388] Considering the delicate nature of the political situation,
  Napoleon’s language to the Austrians was most rude and
  provocative. See the long interview with Metternich [Aug. 15]
  reported by Champagny in his dispatch (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,254):
  ‘Vous avez levé 400,000 hommes: je vais en lever 200,000. La
  Confédération du Rhin, qui avait renvoyé ses troupes, va les
  réunir et faire des levées. Je rétablirai les places de Silésie,
  au lieu d’évacuer cette province et les états Prussiens, comme
  je me le proposais. L’Europe sera sur pied, et le plus léger
  incident amènera le commencement des hostilités,’ &c.

  [389] ‘Dans le cas où l’Autriche se mettrait en guerre contre
  la France, l’Empereur de Russie s’engage à se déclarer contre
  l’Autriche, et à faire cause commune avec la France’ (Article X,
  clause 2, of the Secret Treaty).

  [390] Baron Vincent.

  [391] See the dispatch (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,380).

Meanwhile the ostensible purpose of that meeting had been carried out,
by the forwarding to the King of England of a joint note in which
France and Russia offered him peace on the basis of _Uti Possidetis_.
It was a vague and grandiloquent document, obviously intended for
the eye of the public rather than for that of the old King. The two
Emperors expatiated on the horrors of war and on the vast changes
made of late in the map of Europe. Unless peace were made ‘there
might be greater changes still, and all to the disadvantage of the
English nation.’ The Continental System was working untold misery, and
the cessation of hostilities would be equally advantageous to Great
Britain and to her enemies. King George should ‘listen to the voice
of humanity,’ and assure the happiness of Europe by consenting to a
general pacification.

Though well aware of the hollowness of these protestations, which were
only intended to throw on England the odium of continuing the war,
the British Cabinet took them into serious consideration. The replies
to the two powers were carefully kept separate, and were written, not
in the name of the King (for the personal appeal to him was merely
a theatrical device), but in that of the ministry. To Russia a very
polite answer was returned, but the question on which the possibility
of peace rested was brought straight to the front. Would France
acknowledge the existing government of Spain as a power with which she
was prepared to treat? Canning, who drafted the dispatch, was perfectly
well aware that nothing was further from the Emperor’s thoughts, and
could not keep himself from adding an ironical clause, to the effect
that Napoleon had so often spoken of late of his regard for the dignity
and welfare of the Spanish people, that it could not be doubted that he
would consent. The late transactions at Bayonne, ‘whose principles were
as unjust as their example was dangerous to all legitimate sovereigns,’
must clearly have been carried through without his concurrence or

The reply to France was still more uncompromising. ‘The King,’ it
said, ‘was desirous for peace on honourable terms. The miserable
condition of the Continent, to which allusion had been made, was not
due to his policy: a system devised for the destruction of British
commerce had recoiled on its authors and their instruments.’ But the
distress even of his enemies was no source of pleasure to the King, and
he would treat at once, if the representatives of Sweden, Portugal,
Sicily, and Spain were admitted to take part in the negotiations. It
was to be specially stipulated that the ‘Central Junta of Government’
at Madrid was to be a party to any treaty of peace.

The two British notes brought the replies from St. Petersburg and Paris
that Canning expected. Count Romanzoff, writing for the Czar, could
only state that his master had acknowledged Joseph Bonaparte as King
of Spain, and could not recognize the existence of any other legal
authority in that kingdom. But if this point (the only really important
one) could be got over, the Russian Government was ready to treat on a
basis of _Uti Possidetis_, or any other just and honourable terms. The
French reply was, as was natural, couched in very different language.
Napoleon had been irritated by Canning’s sarcastic allusions to the
failure of the Continental System: he thought the tone of the British
note most improper and insulting--‘it comes from the same pen which the
English ministry employs to fabricate the swarm of libels with which it
inundates the Continent. Such language is despicable, and unworthy of
the imperial attention[392].’

  [392] Napoleon to Champagny (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,643).

Considering the offensive and bullying tone which Bonaparte was wont
to use to other powers--his note written to Austria a few days before
was a fair example of it--he had little reason to be indignant at the
epigrams of the English minister. Yet the latter might perhaps have
done well to keep his pen under control, and to forget that he was not
writing for the _Anti-Jacobin_, but composing an official document.
Even though Napoleon’s offer was hollow and insincere, it should have
been met with dry courtesy rather than with humorous irony.

Of course Bonaparte refused to treat the Spaniards as a free and equal
belligerent power. He had declared his brother King of Spain, and had
now reached that pitch of blind autolatry in which he regarded his own
fiat as the sole source of legality. In common honour England could
not abandon the insurgents; for the Emperor to allow his brother’s
claim to be ignored was equally impossible. In his present state of
mind he would have regarded such a concession to the enemy as an
acknowledgement of disgraceful defeat. It was obvious that the war must
go on, and when the Emperor suggested that England might treat with him
without stipulating for the admission of the Junta as a party to the
negotiations[393], he must have been perfectly well aware that he was
proposing a dishonourable move which the ministry of Portland could not
possibly make. His suggestions as to a separate treaty with England on
the basis of _Uti Possidetis_ were futile: he intended that they should
be declined, and declined they were. But he had succeeded in his end
of posing before the French nation and the European powers as a lover
of peace, foiled in his devices by the unbending arrogance of Great
Britain. This was all that he had desired, and so far his machinations
attained their object[394].

  [393] Napoleon to Champagny (_Nap. Corresp._, 14,643).

  [394] It is strange to find that Napier was convinced that
  Napoleon had a real desire for peace, and hoped to secure it by
  the proposals of October, 1808. He writes (i. 210): ‘The English
  ministers asserted that the whole proceeding was an artifice
  to sow distrust among his enemies. Yet what enemies were they
  among whom he could create this uneasy feeling? Sweden, Sicily,
  Portugal! the notion as applied to them was absurd; it is more
  probable that he was sincere. He said so at St. Helena, and the
  circumstances of the period warrant a belief in that assertion.’
  But Napier has failed to see that the design was not to ‘sow
  distrust among his enemies.’ The whole business was intended
  to influence French public opinion, and in a secondary way the
  public opinion of all Europe. Bonaparte wished to pose as a
  friend of peace, and to bestow on England the unenviable rôle of
  the selfish fomenter of wars. With many simple folk in France and
  elsewhere he succeeded, but no Englishman, save one blinded by a
  dislike for everything Tory, could have been deceived.

Long before the English replies had been sent off to Champagny and
Romanzoff, the much-delayed campaign on the Ebro had commenced. All
through the months of August and September the French had behaved as if
their adversaries were acting on proper military principles, and might
be expected to throw their whole force on the true objective point.
Jourdan and his colleagues had no reason to foresee that the Spanish
Government would launch out into the hideous series of blunders which,
as a matter of fact, were committed. That no commander-in-chief would
be appointed, that the victorious troops of Baylen would be held back
for weeks in Andalusia, that no strenuous effort would be made to raise
new armies in Leon and the two Castiles, were chances that seemed so
improbable that King Joseph and his advisers did not take them into
consideration. They expected that the Spaniards would mass the armies
of Andalusia, Estremadura, Castile, and Aragon, and endeavour to turn
their left flank on the side of Sanguesa and Pampeluna, or that (the
other rational course) they would send the Asturians, the Andalusians,
and the Castilians to join Blake, and debouch down the line of the
Upper Ebro, from Reynosa on to Vittoria and Miranda. In the first case
70,000, and in the latter case 80,000 men would be flung against one
flank of the French position, and it would be necessary to concentrate
in hot haste in order to hold them back. But, as a matter of fact,
the Spanish forces did not even come up to the front for many weeks,
and when they did appear it was, as we have seen, not in the form of
one great army concentrated for a stroke on a single point, but as a
number of weak and isolated columns, each threatening a different part
of the long line that lay along the Ebro from Miranda to Milagro. When
feeble demonstrations were made against so many separate sections of
his front, Jourdan supposed that they were skilful feints, intended
to cover some serious attack on a weak spot, and acted accordingly,
holding back till the enemy should develop his real plan, and refusing
to commit himself meanwhile to offensive operations on a serious scale.
It must be confessed that the chaotic and inconsequent movements of
the Spaniards bore, to the eye of the observer from the outside,
something like the appearance of a deep plan. On August 27 the Conde
de Montijo, with a column of the Aragonese army, felt his way up the
Ebro as far as the bridge of Alfaro, nearly opposite the extreme left
flank of the French at Milagro. When attacked by Lefebvre-Desnouettes
at the head of a few cavalry and a horse-battery, the Spanish general
refused to stand, and retreated on Tudela. Marshal Moncey then pressed
him with an infantry division, but Montijo again gave back. The French
thought that this move must be a mere diversion, intended to attract
their attention to the side of Aragon, for Montijo had acted with such
extreme feebleness that it was unnatural to suppose that he was making
anything but a feint. They were quite wrong however: Palafox had told
the count to push as far up the Ebro as he could, without any thought
of favouring operations by Blake or Castaños, the former of whom was
at this moment not far in front of Astorga, while the latter was still
at Madrid. Montijo had given way simply because his troops were raw
levies, and because there were no supports behind him nearer than
Saragossa. It was to no effect, therefore, that King Joseph, after the
fighting in front of Alfaro and Tudela, moved his reserves up the river
to Miranda, thinking that the real attack must be coming from that
side. There was no real attack intended, for the enemy had not as yet
brought any considerable force up to the front.

It was not till nearly three weeks later that the Spaniards made
another offensive move. This time Blake was the assailant. On September
10 he had at last concentrated the greater part of his army at
Reynosa--the centre of roads at the source of the Ebro, of which we
have already had to speak on several occasions. He had with him four
divisions of the army of Galicia, as well as a ‘vanguard brigade’ and a
‘reserve brigade’ of picked troops from the same quarter. Close behind
him were 8,000 Asturians under General Acevedo. The whole came to
32,000 men, but there were no more than 400 cavalry with the corps--a
fact which made Blake very anxious to keep to the mountains and to
avoid the plains of Old Castile[395]. He had left behind him in Galicia
and about Astorga more than 10,000 men of new levies, not yet fit to
take the field. There were also some 9,000 Asturians in similar case,
held back within the limits of their own principality[396].

  [395] For the organization and state of Blake’s force, see the

  [396] The Asturias had raised nineteen new battalions: of these
  eight went forward with Blake, and eleven remained behind.

In the elaborate plan of operations which had been sketched out at
Madrid on September 5, it will be remembered that Blake’s army was
intended to co-operate with those of Castaños and of Eguia. But he
paid no attention whatever to the promises which his representative,
Infantado, had made in his name, and executed an entirely different
movement: there was no commander-in-chief to compel him to act in
unison with his colleagues. The Castilian and Estremaduran armies were
not ready, and Castaños had as yet only a feeble vanguard facing the
enemy on the Central Ebro, his rear divisions being still far back,
on the road from Andalusia. Blake neither asked for nor received any
assistance whatever from his colleagues, and set out in the most
light-hearted way to attack 70,000 French with his 32,000 Galicians and

His plan was to threaten Burgos with a small portion of his army,
while with the main body he marched on Bilbao, in order to rouse Biscay
to a second revolt, and to turn the right flank of the French along the
sea-shore. Accordingly he sent his ‘vanguard’ and ‘reserve’ brigades
towards Burgos, by the road that passes by Oña and Briviesca, while
with four complete divisions he moved on Bilbao. On the twentieth his
leading column turned out of that town General Monthion, who was in
garrison there with a weak brigade of details and detachments.

Here at last, as it seemed to Joseph Bonaparte and to Jourdan, was
the long-expected main attack of the Spaniards. Accordingly they
concentrated to their right, with the object of meeting it. Bessières
evacuated Burgos and drew back to the line of the Upper Ebro. He there
replaced the King’s reserve, and the incomplete corps that was forming
at Miranda and Vittoria under the command of Marshal Ney: thus these
troops became available for operations in Biscay. Ney, with two small
infantry divisions, marched on Bilbao by way of Durango: Joseph, with
the reserve, followed him. But when the Marshal reached the Biscayan
capital, the division of Blake’s army[397], which had occupied it for
the last six days, retired and took up a defensive attitude in the
hills above Valmaceda, twenty miles to the west. Here it was joined by
a second division of the Galician army[398], and stood fast in a very
difficult country abounding in strong positions. Ney therefore held
back, unwilling to attack a force that might be 30,000 strong (for
all that he knew) with the 10,000 men that he had brought. Clearly he
must wait for King Joseph and the reserve, in case he should find that
Blake’s whole army was in front of him.

  [397] The 4th Galician Division under the Marquis of Portago.

  [398] The 3rd Galician Division under General Riquelme.

But the King and his corps failed to appear: Bessières had sent to
inform him that Blake, far from having moved his whole army on to
Bilbao, had still got the bulk of it in positions from which he could
march down the Ebro and attack Miranda and Vittoria. This was to a
certain extent true, for the first and second divisions of the Galician
army were now at Villarcayo, on the southern side of the Cantabrian
hills, a spot from which they could march either northward to Bilbao
or eastward to Miranda. Moreover, Blake’s ‘reserve’ and ‘vanguard’
brigades were still about Frias and Oña, whither they had been pushed
before the French evacuated Burgos. Bessières, therefore, had much to
say in favour of his view, that the point of danger was in the Ebro
valley and not in Biscay. King Joseph, convinced by his arguments,
left Ney unreinforced, and took post with the 6,000 men of the central
reserve at Vittoria. His conclusion that Bilbao was not the true
objective of the Spaniards was soon confirmed by other movements of
the enemy. The feeble columns of Castaños were at last showing on the
Central Ebro, and Palafox was on the move on the side of Aragon.

Under the idea that all Blake’s Biscayan expedition had been no more
than a feint and a diversion, and that the real blow would be struck
on the Ebro, Jourdan and the King now directed Ney to come back from
Bilbao and to take up his old positions. The Marshal obeyed: leaving
General Merlin with 3,000 men in the Biscayan capital, he returned with
7,000 bayonets to La Guardia, on the borders of Alava and Navarre. His
old head quarters at Logroño, beyond the Ebro, had been occupied by the
head of one of Castaños’s columns. He did not attack this force, but
merely encamped opposite it, on the northern bank of the river [October

  [399] All these moves are best described in Marshal Jourdan’s
  _Mémoires_ (edited by Grouchy; Paris, 1899), pp. 71-5.

  [Illustration: Part of Northern Spain.]

It is now time to review the position and forces of the Spanish
armies, which were at last up in the fighting line. Blake’s 32,000
Asturians[400] and Galicians were divided into two masses, at Valmaceda
and Villarcayo, on the two sides of the Cantabrian hills. They were
within three marches of each other, and the whole could be turned
either against Biscay or against Vittoria, as the opportunity might
demand. But between Blake and the central divisions of the Spanish
army there was a vast gap. This, at a later period of the campaign,
was filled up by bringing forward the 12,000 men of the Estremaduran
army to Burgos: but this force, insufficient as it was for the purpose,
had not reached the front: in the middle of October it had not even
arrived at Madrid[401]. There seems to have been at Burgos nothing
more than a detached battalion or two, which had occupied the place
when Bessières drew back towards the Ebro[402]. Of all the Spanish
forces, the nearest organized corps on Blake’s right consisted of
the main body of this same army of Castile. This division, for it was
no more, consisted of about 10,000 or 11,000 men: it contained a few
regular corps (Regiment of Cantabria, a battalion of Grenadiers, the
Leon Militia) which had been lent to it by the army of Andalusia, and
twelve raw Leonese and Castilian battalions, of the new levy which
Cuesta had raised. There were also some 800 cavalry with it. The
commander was now Pignatelli, for Eguia (who had originally been told
off to the post) had fallen sick. This small and inefficient force was
at Logroño on the Central Ebro, having taken possession of that place
when it was evacuated by Marshal Ney in the last week of September.
A little further down the river lay the 2nd Division of the army of
Andalusia, which, under the orders of Coupigny, had taken a creditable
part in the battle of Baylen. Released by the Junta of Seville in
September, it had at last gone forward and joined Castaños. But it was
somewhat changed in composition, for three of its original fourteen
battalions had been withdrawn[403] and sent to Catalonia, while three
new Andalusian corps had replaced them. Its commander was now General
Grimarest, Coupigny having been told off to another sphere of duty. The
division numbered about 6,000 bayonets, with 400 or 500 cavalry, and
a single battery. It occupied Lodosa, on the north bank of the Ebro,
some twelve miles down-stream from Logroño. Quite close to its right
there lay at Calahorra the 4th Division of the army of Andalusia, under
La Peña--a somewhat stronger force--about 7,500 foot, with 400 horse
and two batteries. The only remaining division of Castaños’ ‘Army of
the Centre’ consisted of the Murcian and Valencian corps under Llamas.
This had entered Madrid 8,000 strong on August 13, but one of its
regiments had been left behind at Aranjuez to guard the Junta. It now
consisted of no more than 7,000 men, and lay at Tudela, in close touch
with La Peña’s Andalusians. The total, therefore, of Castaños’ army
in the second half of October did not amount to more than 31,000 foot
and 3,000 horse. The 1st and 3rd divisions of the Andalusian army,
long detained beyond the Morena by the Junta of Seville, were but just
commencing to arrive at Madrid: of their 15,000 men less than half
reached the front in November, in time to take their share in the
rout of Tudela. Even these were not yet at Castaños’ disposition in

  [400] Acevedo’s 8,000 Asturians joined Blake at Villarcayo on
  Oct. 11 (see his dispatch in _Madrid Gazette_, Oct. 25).

  [401] I gather from _Madrid Gazette_ (Oct. 21, p. 1,333) that it
  was still organizing in and about Badajoz on Oct. 6, and did not
  begin to march till later.

  [402] Volunteers of Benavente from the army of Castile, and Tuy
  Militia of Blake’s army.

  [403] These three Granadan battalions had been sent, along with
  the rest of the levies of that kingdom, to form part of the
  division which Reding was leading to Catalonia. They had been
  replaced by the new Andalusian battalions of Baylen, Navas de
  Tolosa, and 5th of Seville.

  [404] Castaños himself, in his exculpatory memoir, will not allow
  that he ever had more than 26,000 men, even including the belated
  troops of the 1st and 3rd Andalusian divisions which came up in

The right wing of the Spanish army of the Ebro consisted of the raw
and half-organized masses composing the army of Aragon. Palafox had
succeeded in getting together a great body of men from that loyal
province, but he had not been able to form them into a force fit to
take the field. Owing to the way in which Aragon had been stripped
of regular troops before the commencement of the war, there was no
solid body round which the new levies could be organized, and no
supply of trained officers to drill or discipline the thousands of
eager recruits. It would seem that in all no less than 32,000 were
raised, but no force in any degree approaching these numbers took the
field. Every village and every mountain valley had contributed its
_partida_ or its company, but with the best of wills Palafox had not
yet succeeded in incorporating all these small and scattered units into
regiments and brigades. Many of them had not even been armed: very few
had been properly clothed and equipped. Nevertheless no fewer than
thirty-nine battalions in a state of greater or less organization were
in existence by the end of October. They varied in strength to the most
extraordinary degree: many were no more than 300 strong[405], one or
two were enormous and ran up to 1,300 or 1,400 bayonets. Of the whole
thirty-nine battalions only three belonged to the old regular army,
and these corps--whose total numbers only reached 2,350 men--had been
largely diluted with raw recruits[406]. Of the remainder some belonged
to the _tercios_ who had taken arms in June, and had served through
the first siege of Saragossa, but a large number had only been raised
after Verdier had retired from before the city in August. It would seem
that the total of Palafox’s Aragonese, who went to the front for the
campaign of October and November, was about 12,000 men. The rest were
left behind at Saragossa, being not yet organized or equipped for field

  [405] See the tables in Arteche, iii. 479, 480. The Regiment of
  Calatayud was only 310 strong, that of Doyle 306, and that of
  Navarre 302; on the other hand the 2nd Volunteers of Aragon had
  1,302, the 1st Volunteers of Huesca 1,319, and the overgrown
  ‘Aragonese Fusiliers’ no less than 1,836.

  [406] 3rd Spanish Guards 609, Estremadura 600, 1st Volunteers of
  Aragon 1,141. These figures are from a return of Nov. 1, sent to
  England by Colonel Doyle, then in high favour with Palafox. It
  may be found in the Record Office.

But Palafox had also in his army troops which did not belong to his
native kingdom. These were the Murcians and Valencians of Saint March
and O’Neille, who after taking part in the campaign against Moncey,
had not marched with Llamas to Madrid, but had turned off to aid in
raising the siege of Saragossa. Saint March had brought with him
fourteen battalions and a cavalry regiment, O’Neille had with him three
more infantry corps. The total of their force reached 11,200 bayonets
and 620 sabres. Adding these to the best of his own Aragonese levies,
Palafox sent out 23,000 men: of these only about 800 were cavalry[407].
A force such as this, backed by the mass of unorganized levies at
Saragossa, was barely sufficient to maintain a defensive position on
the frontiers of Aragon. But the Junta, with great unwisdom, came to
the conclusion that Palafox was strong enough not only to hold his own
against the French in his immediate front, but to spare some troops
to reinforce the army of Catalonia. By their orders he told off six
battalions--some 4,000 men--who were placed under the command of his
brother, the Marquis of Lazan, and dispatched to Lerida with the object
of aiding the Captain-General of Catalonia to besiege Duhesme in

  [407] The Valencian and Murcian contributions to the army of
  Aragon consisted of the following troops:--One old line regiment
  of three battalions (Volunteers of Castile), the militia
  battalion of Soria, and of new levies the 1st and 2nd Volunteers
  of Murcia, the 2nd Volunteers of Valencia, the regiments of Turia
  (three battalions), Alicante (three battalions), Segorbe (two
  battalions), Borbon, Chelva, and Cazadores de Fernando VII, the
  Dragoons of Numancia (an old corps), and two squadrons of new
  Valencian cavalry. I get these names partly from the return of
  Nov. 1 in the Record Office at London, partly from Saint March’s
  return of his killed and wounded at Tudela. Some more Murcian
  corps started to join Palafox, but were not in time for Tudela,
  though they took part in the second defence of Saragossa: viz.
  3rd and 5th Volunteers of Murcia, the regiment of Florida Blanca,
  and 1st and 2nd Tiradores of Murcia. Their start from Murcia on
  Oct. 13 is noted in the _Madrid Gazette_ of 1808 (p. 1,336).

Nor was this the only force that was drawn off from the main theatre
of the war in order to take part in helping the Catalans, who had
hitherto proved quite strong enough to help themselves. The Junta
directed Reding, the victor of Baylen, to take command of all the
Granadan troops in the army of Andalusia, and lead them to Tortosa
with the object of joining Lazan. With Reding there marched nearly
15,000 men[408]: to raise this force all the regiments belonging to the
kingdom of Granada had been drafted out from the 1st and 2nd Divisions
of Castaños’ army, which were thus mutilated before they reached the
Ebro. To those comparatively veteran troops were added eight new
battalions of raw levies--the regiments of Baza, Almeria, Loxa, and
Santa Fé. Starting on their long march from Granada on October 8, the
head of Reding’s column had only reached Murcia on October 22, and was
thus hopelessly distant from any point where it could have been useful
when the campaign began[409]. Nor was this the last detachment which
the Junta directed on Catalonia: it sent thither part of the prisoners
from Lisbon, whom the Convention of Cintra had delivered--3,500 of the
men who had once formed the division of Caraffa. Laguna, who now held
the command, landed from English transports at La Rapita near Tortosa
on October 25, and marched from thence on Tarragona[410].

  [408] Just 14,970, according to the details given in the _Madrid
  Gazette_ for Oct. 12 (p. 1,379). See my Appendix on the Spanish
  forces in Oct.-Nov.

  [409] _Madrid Gazette_, Oct. 28 (p. 1,381).

  [410] Ibid., Nov. 1 (p. 1,407).

It is safe to say that of these 23,000 men transferred to Catalonia
from Aragon, Granada, and Portugal, every man ought to have been
pushed forward to help Castaños on the Ebro, and not distracted to the
side-issue at Barcelona. It was mad to send them thither when the main
force facing Jourdan and King Joseph did not yet amount to 75,000 men.
Catalonia, with such small aid as the Balearic Islands could give, was
strong enough to defend herself against the motley hordes of Duhesme
and Reille.

At the moment when the feeble offensive of Castaños and Palafox began,
on the line of the Ebro, the French had some 65,000 men ranged opposite
them[411], while a reserve of 10,000 was formed at Bayonne, and the
leading columns of the ‘Grand Army’ from Germany were only ten or
twelve marches away. Napoleon had, by a decree issued on September
7, recast the form of his army of Spain. It was in the future to
consist of seven army corps. The 1st, 4th, and 5th were to be composed
of old divisions from the Rhine and the Elbe. Of the forces already
on the spot Bessières’ troops were to form the 2nd Corps, Moncey’s
the 3rd, the still incomplete divisions under Ney the 6th. The army
of Catalonia, where St. Cyr was superseding Reille, formed the 7th
Corps[412]. Junot’s army from Portugal, when it once more appeared
upon the scene, made the 8th, but in September Napoleon did not yet
know of its fate, and it only received its number and its place in the
host at a much later date. Many alterations of detail were made in the
brigades and divisions that formed the new 2nd and 3rd Corps. All the
_bataillons de marche_ were abolished, and their men drafted into the
old regiments. The fifteen ‘provisional regiments,’ which had composed
the whole of Moncey’s and a considerable part of Bessières’ strength,
were taken into the regular establishment of the army, and renumbered
as the 114th-120th of the Line and the 33rd Léger, two provisional
regiments being told off to form each of the new bodies[413]. There was
a certain amount of shifting of units, but in the main the brigades and
divisions of these two corps remained intact.

  [411] The figures given by Jourdan in his _Mémoires_ seem
  quite accurate, and are borne out by all the details in _Nap.
  Corresp._; they are:--
      Corps of Bessières [2nd Corps]         17,597
      Corps of Moncey [3rd Corps]            20,747
      Corps of Ney [6th Corps], incomplete    8,957
      The King’s general reserve              6,088
      Garrisons of Navarre and Biscay        11,559

  [412] It was originally to be called the 5th, but this title was
  taken from it, in order that Mortier’s corps might keep its old

  [413] For their distribution see p. 110.

On or about October 8-10 Bessières lay at Miranda and Murguia, guarding
against any possible descent of Blake from Villarcayo upon the Upper
Ebro. Ney was at La Guardia, facing Pignatelli’s Castilians, who
occupied his old head quarters at Logroño. Moncey had thrown back his
left to guard against a possible descent of Palafox upon Navarre, and
was behind the line of the river Aragon, with his right at Estella,
his centre at Falces and Tafalla, and his left facing Sanguesa, where
it was opposed by the advanced division of the army of Palafox under
O’Neille. For the Captain-General of Aragon, pleased with a plan
proposed to him by Colonel Doyle, the English military attaché in his
camp, had resolved to make a long turning movement under the roots of
the Pyrenees, exactly parallel to that which Blake was executing at the
other end of the line. With this object he sent out from Saragossa,
on September 29, O’Neille with a division of Aragonese strengthened
by a few Murcian and Valencian battalions, and numbering some 9,000
bayonets. This detachment, marching in a leisurely way, reached
Sanguesa on the Upper Aragon, but there stopped short, on getting
information that Moncey’s corps lay before it in some strength. Palafox
then sent up in support a second division, Saint March’s Murcians
and Valencians, who advanced to Egea and there halted. There was
considerable bickering all through the second half of October on this
line, but Sanguesa remained in the hands of the Spaniards, Moncey being
too much distracted by the movements of Castaños in the direction of
Tudela to dare to concentrate his whole force for a blow at Saint March
and O’Neille. The latter, on the other hand, had realized that if they
pressed further forward towards Pampeluna, as their commander-in-chief
had originally intended, they would leave Moncey so much in their rear
that he could cut them off both from Saragossa and from the Army of the
Centre. Here then matters had come to a deadlock; but the position was
all in favour of the French, who lay compactly in the centre, while
O’Neille and Saint March were separated from Castaños by a gap of sixty
miles, and Blake on the other wing was about seventy (as the crow
flies) from the army of Castile.



By the middle of October the French and Spanish armies were in presence
of each other along the whole line of the Ebro, and it seemed certain
that one or other of them must at last take the offensive. Both were
still in expectation of reinforcements, but those which the Spaniards
could expect to receive within the next few weeks were comparatively
unimportant, while their adversaries knew that more than 100,000 men
from Germany were due at Bayonne in the last days of October. Clearly
it was for Castaños and his colleagues to make a move now or never. The
wasted months of August and September could not be recalled, but there
was still time to attack Bessières, Ney, and Moncey, before the arrival
of the Emperor and the three veteran corps from the Elbe.

Matters lay thus when the Spanish generals resolved on a perfectly new
and wildly impracticable scheme. Castaños had come to the conclusion--a
thoroughly sound one--that his 34,000 men were too few to make a
frontal attack on the French on the line between Miranda and Calahorra.
He left Madrid on October 13, deeply chagrined to find that the Central
Junta had no intention of making him commander-in-chief. Instead of
being able to issue orders to the other generals, he must meet them on
equal terms and endeavour to cajole them into adopting a common plan
of operations. Accordingly he rode to Saragossa to visit Palafox, and
after long and not very friendly converse drew out a new plan. The Army
of the Centre was to shift itself down the Ebro, leaving the troops of
Pignatelli (the ‘Army of Castile’) and of Grimarest (the 2nd Andalusian
division) to ‘contain’ Ney and Bessières. The rest were to concentrate
at Tudela, where they were to be joined by as many battalions of the
Aragonese levies at Saragossa as could take the field. With some 25,000
or 30,000 men at the highest estimate, Castaños and Palafox were to
fall upon Moncey’s flank at the bridge of Caparrosa. Meanwhile O’Neille
and Saint March, with the advanced divisions of the army of Aragon,
were to break up from Sanguesa, march round Pampeluna by the foot-hills
of the Pyrenees, and place themselves across the road to France. Moncey
was thus to be surrounded, and a second Baylen was to ensue! Indeed,
if Blake could be persuaded to push forward once more to Bilbao, and
thence into Guipuzcoa, the whole army of King Joseph (as it was hoped)
might be cut off and made prisoners. Eighty thousand men, according
to this strange scheme, starting from bases 200 miles apart, were to
surround 65,000 French in a most difficult mountain country. Meanwhile
the enormous gap between Blake’s right and Castaños’ left was to
remain wholly unguarded, for the army of Estremadura was still in the
far distance; while nothing was to be left opposite Bessières and Ney
save Pignatelli’s disorderly ‘Army of Castile,’ and Grimarest’s 6,000

But before the scheme for the cutting off of Moncey had even begun
to be carried out, Castaños and Palafox had a rude awakening. They
were themselves attacked by the army which they were so confidently
proposing to surround. King Joseph, emboldened by the long delay of his
adversaries in advancing, had several times discussed with Jourdan,
Bessières, and Ney schemes for taking the offensive. Indeed he had
sketched out in September no less than five separate plans for bringing
the enemy to an action, and it is probable that he might have tried one
of them if he had been allowed a free hand[414]. Napoleon, however,
having determined to come to Spain in person, put an embargo on any
comprehensive scheme for an advance on Madrid, and restricted his
brother to minor operations.

  [414] The paper containing them was captured in Joseph’s carriage
  at Vittoria five years later. It will be found printed in full in
  Napier (Appendix to vol. i, pp. 453, 454).

But there was nothing in the Emperor’s instructions which forbade
a blow on a small scale, if the Spaniards should grow too daring.
There was now a good excuse for such a move, for both Pignatelli and
Grimarest had been trespassing beyond the Ebro. They seem to have moved
forward quite contrary to the intentions of Castaños, who at this
moment was proposing to refuse battle with his left and centre, and to
draw the bulk of his army southward to Tudela. But his two divisional
generals pushed so far forward, that they at last drew upon themselves
most undesired attentions from the French marshals. Pignatelli
had thrown troops across the Ebro to Viana: Grimarest had pushed
detachments still further forward into Navarre, to Mendavia, Sesma,
and Lerin. Joseph and Jourdan resolved to drive back these outlying
posts, and to find out what was behind them. About 25,000 men were put
in movement against the 16,000 Spaniards who had so rashly crossed the
river. Moncey marched against Grimarest [Oct. 25-6] with two divisions:
Ney with a similar force fell upon Pignatelli, while Bessières sent a
division down the southern bank of the Ebro by Haro and Briones, to
threaten the line of retreat of the army of Castile across the bridge
of Logroño.

Against such forces the Spaniards could do nothing: on the twenty-fifth
Ney marched on Viana, and drove in Pignatelli’s advanced guard. On the
following day he opened a fierce cannonade upon Logroño from across the
river, while at the same time Bonnet’s division, sent by Bessières,
marched upon the town from the hither side of the Ebro. Pignatelli was
a craven, and his Castilian levies proved to be the worst of all the
material which the Spaniards had brought to the front. General and
army vanished in the night, without even stopping to blow up the great
bridge, though they had mined it and laid the train in due form. Ney’s
officers crossing at dawn found all prepared, except the sappers who
should have applied the match[415]! Neither Ney nor Bonnet got in touch
with the flying horde: but in sheer panic Pignatelli abandoned his
guns by the roadside, and did not stop till he had joined Castaños at
Cintruenigo, near Tudela. His hurried retreat was wholly unnecessary,
for the French did not move beyond Logroño, and Castaños was able to
send out next morning a brigade which picked up the deserted guns
and brought them in without molestation. Rightly indignant, the
Commander-in-chief removed Pignatelli from his post, and distributed
his demoralized battalions among the divisions of Grimarest, La Peña,
and Llamas[416], leaving in separate existence only a single brigade
of six battalions under Cartaojal, which mainly consisted of the few
regular battalions that had been lent to Pignatelli to stiffen his raw
levies. Thus the ‘Army of Castile’ ceased to exist[417].

  [415] For an account of this curious affair see the _Mémoires_
  of General Boulart, then an artillery officer under Ney, who
  discovered the flight of the Castilians and the abandoned mine
  below the bridge (pp. 202, 203). Oddly enough he gives the wrong
  date for the incident, Oct. 30 instead of Oct. 27.

  [416] I cannot find any details as to their redistribution.

  [417] See Colonel Graham’s _Diary_, p. 275 (Oct. 30). He reached
  Castaños’ camp on that day.

On the same day that the Castilians were routed by Ney, the 2nd
Andalusian division was severely handled by Moncey. When that Marshal
advanced against Lerin and Sesma with the divisions of Morlot and
Maurice Mathieu, Grimarest withdrew beyond the Ebro, abandoning by
some oversight his vanguard. This force, commanded by a resolute
officer, Colonel Cruz-Murgeon, was enveloped at Lerin by the division
of Morlot[418]. The colonel shut himself up in the mediaeval castle of
that town, and defended himself for two days, in hopes that he might
be succoured. But his chief had fled beyond the river, and could not
be induced to return by any appeals. On October 27 Cruz-Murgeon had to
surrender, after two-thirds of his troops had been killed or wounded.
Their obstinate defence was the more creditable because they were all
new levies, consisting of a single Andalusian battalion (_Tiradores
de Cadiz_) and a few Catalan volunteers. Marshal Moncey then occupied
Lodosa and its bridge, but made no attempt to follow Grimarest, who was
able to rejoin his chief without further loss.

  [418] Jourdan in his _Mémoires_ (p. 77) says that it was Morlot
  who acted against Lerin, and I follow him rather than those who
  state that it was Maurice Mathieu.

Castaños was greatly disturbed by the vigorous offensive movement of
Ney and Moncey. Seeing the French so strong and so confident, he was
struck with sudden qualms as to the advisability of the movement on
Caparrosa and Pampeluna, which he and Palafox had agreed to carry out.
He proposed to his colleague that they should drop their plan for
surrounding Moncey, and attempt no more than an attack on his flanks at
Caparrosa and Sanguesa. Meanwhile he concentrated the greater part of
his army at Calahorra and Tudela [Oct. 29]. The initiative had passed
to the French, and if Ney and Moncey did not seize the opportunity for
an advance against the Army of the Centre, it was merely because they
knew that Napoleon was now close at hand--he reached Bayonne four days
later--and would not wish them to attempt anything decisive without his

Meanwhile there arrived from Madrid a deputation from the Supreme
Junta, consisting of Francisco Palafox (the younger brother of the
Captain-General), of Coupigny, Reding’s colleague at the victory of
Baylen, and the intriguing Conde de Montijo. The Junta were indignant
that Castaños had not made bricks without straw. Though they had not
given him any appreciable reinforcements, they had expected him to
attack the French and win a great victory beyond the Ebro. Conscious
that the deputies came to him in no friendly spirit, Castaños
nevertheless received them with all respect, and laid before them the
difficulties of his situation. Joseph Palafox came up from Saragossa
to join the conference, and after a long and stormy meeting--this was
the conference which so disgusted Colonel Graham[419]--it was decided
to resume offensive operations [November 5]. The idea was a mad one,
for six days before the council of war was held two French army corps,
those of Victor and Lefebvre, had crossed the Bidassoa and entered
Spain. There were now 110,000 instead of 65,000 enemies in front of the
Spanish armies. Moreover, and this was still more important, Napoleon
himself had reached Bayonne on November 3.

  [419] Cf. p. 366 and Graham’s _Diary_, p. 276.

Nevertheless it was resolved once more to push forward and fall upon
Moncey. Castaños was to leave one division at Calahorra, and to bring
the rest of his army over the Ebro to attack the bridge of Caparrosa:
O’Neille and Saint March were to come down from Sanguesa to co-operate
with him: Joseph Palafox was to bring up the Aragonese reserves from
Saragossa. The only sign of prudence that appeared was that the council
of war agreed not to commence the attack on Moncey till they had
learnt how Blake and the army of Galicia were faring in Biscay. For
that general had, as they knew, commenced some days before his second
advance on Bilbao. Since the armies on the Central Ebro hung back,
it was in the distant region on the coast that the first important
collision between the Spaniards and the French reinforcements from
Germany was to take place. For a fortnight more there was comparative
quiet in front of Tudela and Caparrosa. Meanwhile Castaños, prostrated
by an attack of the gout[420], took to his bed, and the Army of the
Centre was abandoned for a few days to the tender mercies of the
deputation from Madrid.

  [420] According to Toreño; but Graham, who was present in the
  camp, calls it rheumatism.

There is a strange contrast when we turn from the study of the rash
and inconsiderate plans of the Spanish generals to mark the movements
of Napoleon. The Emperor had left Erfurt on October 14: on the
nineteenth he had reached Paris, where he stayed for ten days, busied
not only with the ‘logistics’ of moving the columns of the ‘Grand Army’
across France, but with all manner of administrative work. He had also
to arrange the details of the conscription: though he had raised in
1807 the enormous mass of new levies of which we had to speak in an
earlier chapter, he now asked for 140,000 men more[421]. Of these,
80,000 were to be drawn from the classes of 1806-9, which had already
contributed so heavily to the army. The balance was to be taken from
the class of 1810, whose members were still fifteen months below the
legal age. From these multitudes of young soldiers every regiment
of the army of Spain was to be brought up to full strength, but the
majority were destined to reinforce the depleted armies of Germany and
Italy, which had been thinned of veterans for the Peninsular War.

  [421] See _Nap. Corresp._, 14,312 (xvii. 505, 506), and compare
  with 14,601 (xviii. 141, 142).

On October 25 Bonaparte presided at the opening of the Legislative
Assembly, and made a characteristic harangue to its members. He
painted the situation of the Empire in the most roseate colours. ‘The
sight of this great French family, once torn apart by differences of
opinion and domestic hatreds, but now so tranquil, prosperous, and
united, had sensibly touched his soul. To be happy himself he only
required the assurance that France also was happy. Law, finance, the
Church, every branch of the state, seemed in the most flourishing
condition. The Empire was strong in its alliances with Russia, the
Confederation of the Rhine, Denmark, Switzerland, and Naples. Great
Britain, it was true, had landed some troops in the Peninsula, and
stirred up insurrections there. But this was a blessing in disguise.
The Providence which had so constantly protected the arms of France,
had deigned to strike the English ministry with blindness, and to
induce them to present an army on the Continent where it was doomed to
inevitable destruction. In a few days the Emperor would place himself
at the head of his troops, and, with the aid of God, would crown in
Madrid the true King of Spain, and plant his eagles on the forts of

  [422] _Discours prononcé le 25 oct._ (_Nap. Corresp._, xviii. 20,

Four days later Bonaparte quitted Paris, and passing hastily through
Orleans and Bordeaux reached Bayonne at three o’clock in the morning
of November 3. The corps of Victor and Lefebvre, with two divisions
of dragoons, were several days ahead of him, and had already crossed
the Bidassoa. The Imperial Guard and the divisions destined for
Ney[423], as well as a great mass of cavalry, were just converging on
the frontier. Mortier’s corps was not very far off: Junot’s army from
Portugal had already landed at Quiberon and Rochefort, and was being
directed on Bordeaux. All the machinery for the great blow was now

  [423] Those of Marchand and Bisson, forming the old 6th Corps,
  with which he fought at Jena and Friedland.

Napoleon profoundly despised the Spanish army and the Spanish generals.
His correspondence is full of contemptuous allusions to them: ‘ever
since he served at Toulon he knew them for the worst troops in Europe.’
‘Nothing could be so bad as the Spaniards--they are mere rabble--6,000
French can beat 20,000 of them.’ ‘The whole Spanish army could not
turn 15,000 good troops out of a position that had been properly
occupied[424].’ Nevertheless he had determined to run no risks: the
second Peninsular campaign must not end like the first, in a fiasco
and a humiliating retreat. It was for this reason that the Emperor had
massed more than 250,000 good troops against the tumultuary levies of
the Junta--a force which, in his private opinion, was far more than
enough to sweep the whole of his adversaries into the sea before the
year 1808 should have run out. Any expedition in which he himself took
part must, for the sake of his prestige, be conducted from beginning
to end in a series of spectacular triumphs. It was better to use a
larger army than was absolutely necessary, in order to make his blows
sufficiently heavy, and to get the Spanish business over as rapidly
as possible. If the whole Peninsula were overrun in a few months, and
resistance had been completely beaten down ere the winter was over,
there would be no chance of that intervention on the part of Austria
which was the only danger on the political horizon[425].

  [424] Napoleon to Joseph Bonaparte, to Caulaincourt, to Eugène
  Beauharnais (vols. xvii, xviii of _Nap. Corresp._).

  [425] The clearest proof which I find in the _Napoleon
  Correspondance_ of the Emperor’s intention to sweep over the
  whole Peninsula, with a single rush, is that already in November
  he was assembling at Bayonne naval officers who were to take
  charge of the port of Lisbon, and to reorganize the Portuguese
  fleet. This was a little premature! (See Napoleon to Decrès,
  Minister of Marine, _Nap. Corresp._, 14,514, vol. xviii.)

Napoleon, therefore, drew out his plans not merely for a triumphant
advance on Madrid, but for the complete annihilation of the Spanish
armies on the Ebro and in Biscay. From a careful study of the
dispatches of his lieutenants, he had realized the existence of the
great gap in the direction of Burgos between the armies of Blake and
of Castaños. His plan of campaign, stated shortly, was to burst in
through this gap, so as to separate the Spanish armies on his left
and right, and then to wheel troops outwards in both directions so as
to surround and annihilate them. Both Blake and Palafox were, at this
moment, playing the game that he most desired. The further that the
former pressed onward into Biscay, the nearer that the latter drew to
the roots of the Pyrenees, the more did they expose themselves to being
encompassed by great masses of troops breaking out from Burgos and
Logroño to fall upon their flank and rear. When the Emperor drew up his
scheme he knew that Blake was in front of Zornoza, and that the bulk
of the army of Aragon was at Sanguesa. Meanwhile the French advanced
divisions were in possession of Miranda, Logroño, and Lodosa, the three
chief passages over the Upper Ebro. A glance at the map is sufficient
to show that the moment that the Emperor and his reserves reached
Vittoria the Spanish armies were in the most perilous position. It
would suffice to order a march on Burgos on the one hand and on Tudela
on the other, and then the troops of Aragon and Galicia would not
merely be cut off from any possible retreat on Madrid, but run grave
danger of annihilation. A further advance of the French would probably
thrust the one against the Pyrenees, and roll the other into the Bay of

For this reason it was the Emperor’s wish that his lieutenants should
refrain from attacking Blake and Palafox till he himself was ready to
march on Burgos. For any premature advance against the Spaniards might
force them to retreat from their dangerous advanced positions, and fall
back the one on Reynosa the other on Saragossa, where they would be
much less exposed.

The distribution of the ‘Grand Army’ was to be as follows. Lefebvre
with the 4th Corps was to present himself in front of Blake between
Durango and Zornoza, and to hold him fast without pressing him. Moncey
with the 3rd Corps, in a similar way, was to ‘contain’ Palafox and
Castaños from his posts at Lodosa, Caparrosa, and Tafalla. Meanwhile
Victor, with the newly arrived 1st Corps, was to endeavour to get
into Blake’s rear, by the road Vittoria--Murguia--Orduña. The main
body of the army, consisting of the troops of Bessières and Ney, King
Joseph’s reserve, the Imperial Guard, and four divisions of cavalry,
was to march on Burgos. Napoleon knew that there was no large body
of Spaniards in that place: he expected to find there Pignatelli’s
‘Army of Castile,’ but this force (as we have seen) had ceased to
exist, having been drafted with ignominy into the ranks of the army
of Andalusia[426]. As a matter of fact Burgos was now occupied by a
new force from the second line--the long-expected army of Estremadura,
some 12,000 strong, which had at last come up from Madrid and taken
its place at the front. But Napoleon’s reasoning still held good: any
Spanish army that might chance to be at Burgos must be overwhelmed by
the enormous mass of troops that was about to be hurled upon it. The
moment that it was disposed of, Ney with the 6th Corps was to wheel
to the east, and march by Aranda and Soria, so as to place himself
between Castaños and Palafox and Madrid. Then he would turn their flank
at Tarazona and Tudela, and--in conjunction with Moncey--drive them
northward against the Pyrenees. In a similar way, upon the other flank,
the 2nd Corps was to wheel to the north-west and march from Burgos on
Reynosa, there to intercept Blake, if he had not already been cut off
by Victor’s shorter turning movement. Meanwhile the Emperor with the
rest of his army, followed by the new reserves (Mortier’s corps and
other troops) which were due from France, would march straight from
Burgos on Madrid, force the defiles of the Somosierra and Guadarrama,
and seize the Spanish capital. He was well aware that there would be
no serious hostile force in front of him, since the armies of Blake,
Palafox, and Castaños were all provided for. He does not seem to have
known of the army of Estremadura, or to have had any idea that the
English forces from Portugal might conceivably be on their way to
cover Madrid. There is no mention of Sir John Moore and his host in the
imperial dispatches till December 5.

  [426] Napoleon to Bessières, Nov. 6: ‘J’ai vu vos dépêches du 5
  novembre sur l’existence d’un corps de 24,000 hommes à Burgos.
  Si cela est, ce ne peut être que 12,000 hommes de l’armée de
  Castille qui ont évacué Logroño, et qui ne sont pas en cas de
  faire tête à 3,000 ou 4,000 de vos gens’ (_Nap. Corresp._,
  14,443, xviii. 38).

All being ready, Bonaparte rode out of Bayonne on November 4, having
stayed there only thirty-six hours. Before leaving he had received
one vexatious piece of news: Lefebvre, in direct disobedience to his
orders, had attacked Blake on October 31, and forced him back beyond
Bilbao. This made the plan for the cutting off of the army of Galicia a
little more difficult, since the Spaniards were now forty miles further
back, and not nearly so much exposed as they had been hitherto. But it
was still not impossible that Victor might succeed in circumventing
them, and forcing them into the Bay of Biscay.

It is impossible to withhold our admiration from the Emperor’s simple
yet all-embracing plan of operations. It is true that the campaign
was made more easy by the fact that he was dealing with raw and
undisciplined armies and inexpert generals. It is also clear that he
rightly reckoned on having two men in the field against every one whom
the Spaniards could produce. But the excellence of a scheme is not to
be judged merely by the difficulties in its way; and military genius
can be displayed in dealing with an easy as well as with a dangerous
problem. Half a dozen other plans for conducting the invasion of Spain
might have been drawn up, but it is impossible to see that any better
one could have been constructed. In its main lines it was carried out
with complete success: the armies of the Junta were scattered to the
winds, and Madrid fell almost without a blow.

It was only when the capital had been occupied, and the troops of
Blake and Belvedere, of Castaños and Palafox were flying devious over
half the provinces of Spain, that the difficulties of the Peninsular
War began to develop themselves. Napoleon had never before had any
experience of the character of guerilla warfare, or the kind of
resistance that can be offered by a proud and revengeful nation which
has made up its mind never to submit to the conqueror. In his complete
ignorance of Spain and the Spaniards, he imagined that he had a very
simple campaign to conduct. The subjugation of the Peninsula was to
him an ordinary military problem, like the invasion of Lombardy or of
Prussia, and he went forth in cheerful confidence to ‘plant the eagles
of France on the forts of Lisbon,’ and to ‘drive the Britannic leopard
from the soil of the Peninsula, which it defiles by its presence.’ But
the last chapter of this story was to be told not at Lisbon but at
Toulouse: and ‘the Beneficent Providence which had deigned to strike
the British ministry with such blindness that they had been induced to
send an army to the Continent[427],’ had other designs than Bonaparte

  [427] See page 396.



The campaign of November 1808 was fought out upon three separate
theatres of war, though every movement of the French armies which
engaged in it formed part of a single plan, and was properly linked to
the operations which were progressing upon other sections of the front.
The working out of Napoleon’s great scheme, therefore, must be dealt
with under three heads--the destruction of Blake’s ‘Army of the Left’
in the north-west; the rout of the armies of Andalusia and Aragon upon
the banks of the Ebro; and the central advance of the Emperor upon
Burgos and Madrid, which completed the plan.

We must first deal with the misfortunes of Blake and his Galician host,
both on chronological grounds--it was he who first felt the weight
of the French arms--and also because Napoleon rightly attached more
importance to the destruction of this, the most formidable of the
Spanish armies, than to the other operations which he was carrying out
at the same moment.

It will be remembered that after his first abortive expedition against
Bilbao, and his retreat before Ney [October 5], Blake had fallen back
to Valmaceda. Finding that he was not pursued, he drew up to that point
the divisions which he had hitherto kept in the upper valley of the
Ebro, and prepared to advance again, this time with his whole army
massed for a bold stroke. On October 11 he again marched into Biscay,
and drove out of Bilbao the division of General Merlin, which Ney
had left behind him to hold the line of the Nervion. On the twelfth
this small force fell back on Zornoza and Durango, and halted at the
latter place, after having been reinforced from King Joseph’s reserve
at Vittoria. Verdier headed the succours, which consisted of three
battalions of the Imperial Guard, two battalions of the 118th Regiment,
two battalions of Joseph’s own Royal Guards, and the 36th Regiment,
which had just come up from France. When strengthened by these 7,000
men, Merlin considered himself able to make a stand, and took up a
strong position in front of Durango, the important point at which the
roads from Bayonne and from Vittoria to Bilbao meet.

When committing himself to his second expedition into Biscay, Blake
was not wholly unaware of the dangers of the step, though he failed
to realize them at their full value, since (in common with the other
Spanish generals) he greatly underrated the strength of the French army
on the Ebro. He intended to carry out his original plan of cutting off
Bessières and King Joseph from their retreat on Bayonne, by forcing
the position of Durango, and seizing the high-road at Bergara; but he
was aware that an advance to that point had its dangers. As long as
his divisions had lain in or about Villarcayo and Valmaceda, he had a
perfectly clear line of retreat westward in the event of a disaster.
But the moment that he pushed forward beyond Bilbao, he could be
attacked in flank and rear by any troops whom the King might send
up from the valley of the Ebro, by the two mountain-roads which run
from Vittoria to the Biscayan capital. One of these is the main route
from Vittoria to Bilbao via Murguia and Orduña. The other is a more
obscure and difficult path, which leads across the rough watershed
from Vittoria by Villareal and Villaro to Bilbao. Aware of the fact
that he might be assailed by either of these two passes, Blake told
off a strong covering force to hold them. Half of Acevedo’s Asturian
division, 4,000 strong, was placed at Orduña: the other half, with
the whole of Martinengo’s 2nd Division of Galicia, 8,500 bayonets in
all, took its post in the direction of Villaro. These detachments
were eminently justifiable, but they had the unfortunate result of
enfeebling the main force that remained available for the stroke at
the French in front of Durango. For that operation Blake could only
count on his 1st, 3rd, and 4th Divisions, as well as the ‘Vanguard’ and
‘Reserve’ Brigades--a total of 18,000 men[428].

  [428] Viz.
    Vanguard Brigade, General Mendizabal   2,884
    1st Division, General Figueroa         4,018
    3rd Division, General Riquelme         4,789
    4th Division, General Carbajal         3,531
    Reserve Brigade, General Mahy          3,025
                            Total         18,247

  The detached corps being--
    2nd Division, General Martinengo       5,066
    Asturian Division, General Acevedo     7,633

Blake had seized Bilbao on October 11: it is astonishing therefore
to find that he made no forward movement till the twenty-fourth. By
this sluggishness he sacrificed his chance of crushing Merlin before
he could be reinforced, and--what was far worse--allowed the leading
columns of the ‘Grand Army’ to reach Irun. If he had pressed forward
on the twelfth or thirteenth, they would still have been many marches
away, trailing across Guyenne and Gascony. Having once put his hand to
such a dangerous manœuvre as that of pushing between the French flank
and the northern sea, Blake was most unwise to leave the enemy time to
divine his object and to concentrate against him. A rapid stroke at
Durango and Bergara, so as to cut the great high-road to France in the
rear of Bessières, was his only chance. Such an attempt would probably
have landed him in ultimate disaster, for the enemy (even before the
‘Grand Army’ arrived) were far more numerous than he supposed. He
had valued them at 40,000 men, while they were really 64,000 strong.
But having framed the plan, he should at least have made a strenuous
attempt to carry it out. It is possible to explain but not to excuse
his delay: his army was not equipped for a winter campaign, and the
snow was beginning to lie on the upper slopes of the Cantabrian hills
and the Pyrenees. While he was vainly trying to obtain great-coats
and shoes for his somewhat tattered army, from the Central Junta or
the English, and while he was accumulating stores in Bilbao, the days
slipped by with fatal rapidity.

It was not till October 24 that he at last moved forward from Bilbao,
and committed himself to the now hopeless task of clearing the way to
Durango and Bergara. On that day his advanced guard drove Merlin’s
outlying posts from their positions, and came face to face with the
French main body, drawn out on the hillsides of Baquijano, a few miles
in front of Durango. The enemy expected him to attack next day, but he
had just received confused notices from the peasantry to the effect
that enormous reinforcements had reached Irun and San Sebastian, and
were within supporting distance of the comparatively small force with
which he had hitherto been dealing. This information threw him back
into the condition of doubt and hesitation from which he had for a
moment emerged, and he proceeded to halt for another full week in
front of the Durango position. Yet it was clear that there were only
two rational alternatives before him: one was to attack Merlin and
Verdier before they could draw succour from the newly arrived corps.
The other was to fall back at once to a position in which he could not
be enveloped and outflanked, i.e. to retire behind Bilbao, holding that
town with nothing more than a small detachment which could easily get
away if attacked. But Blake did nothing, and waited in the supremely
dangerous post of Zornoza, in front of Durango, till the enemy fell
upon him at his leisure.

The troops whose arrival at Irun had been reported consisted of the
two leading divisions of the 4th Corps, that of Lefebvre, and of the
whole of the 1st Corps, that of Victor. The former, arriving as early
as October 18, only seven days after Blake captured Bilbao, marched
westward, and replaced Merlin and Verdier in the Durango position. The
troops of these two generals were directed by King Joseph to rejoin
their proper commanders when relieved, so Verdier led the Guards back
to the central reserve, while Merlin reported himself to Ney, at La
Guardia. To compensate Lefebvre for their departure, and for the
non-arrival of his third division, that of Valence, which still lay far
to the rear, Villatte’s division of the 1st Corps was sent to Durango.
Marshal Victor himself, with his other two divisions, took the road to
Vittoria, and from thence, at the King’s orders, transferred himself to
Murguia, on the cross-road over the mountains to Bilbao. Here he was in
a position to strike at Blake’s rear, after driving off the 4,000 men
of Acevedo’s Asturian division, who (as it will be remembered) had been
told off by the Spanish General to cover this road[429].

  [429] There is a clear and precise account of all these moves in
  the _Mémoires_ of Jourdan, who was still acting as Joseph’s chief
  of the staff (pp. 79-81).

King Joseph, inclining for once to a bold stroke, wished to push Victor
across the hills on to Bilbao, while Lefebvre should advance along
the high-road and drive Blake into the trap. Bessières at the same
moment might move a division by Orduña and Oquendo, and place himself
at Valmaceda, which Blake would have to pass if he escaped from Victor
at Bilbao. This plan was eminently sound, for there was no doubt that
the two marshals, who had at their disposal some 35,000 men, could
easily have brushed out of their way the two divisions under Acevedo
and Martinengo which Blake had left behind him in the passes. Nothing
could have prevented them from seizing Bilbao and Valmaceda, and the
Spanish army would have been surrounded and captured. At the best some
part of it might have escaped along the coast-road to Santander, if its
commander detected ere it was too late the full danger of his position.

This scheme, however, was not carried out: Bessières, Victor, and
Ney showed themselves opposed to it: Napoleon had announced that he
intended ere long to appear in person, and that he did not wish to
have matters hurried before his arrival. His obsequious lieutenants
refused to concur in any great general movement which might not win
his approval. Victor, in particular, urged that he had been ordered to
have the whole of the 1st Corps concentrated at Vittoria, and that if
he marched northward into Biscay he would be violating his master’s
express command[430]. Joseph and Jourdan, therefore, resolved to defer
the execution of their plan for the annihilation of Blake, and sent
orders to Lefebvre to maintain his defensive position at Durango, and
make no forward movement. In so doing they were acting exactly as the
Emperor desired.

  [430] Jourdan’s _Mémoires_, p. 79.

They had forgotten, however, to reckon with the personal ambition of
the old Duke of Dantzig. Lefebvre, in spite of his many campaigns, had
never before had the chance of fighting on his own account a pitched
battle of the first class. The Spanish army had been lying before him
for a week doing nothing, its commander being evidently afraid to
attack. Its force was not very great--indeed it was outnumbered by
that of the Marshal whose three divisions counted not less than 21,000
bayonets[431]. Noting with the eye of an old soldier Blake’s indecision
and obvious timidity, he could not resist the temptation of falling
upon him. Notwithstanding the King’s orders, he resolved to strike,
covering his disobedience by a futile excuse to the effect that he
had observed preparations for taking the offensive on the part of the
enemy, and that his outposts had been attacked.

  [431] He had
  Sebastiani’s Division, 28th (three batts.), 32nd, 58th
    (two batts. each), and 75th of the Line (three batts.)   5,808
  Leval’s Division, seven German and two Dutch battalions    8,347
  Villatte’s Division, 27th, 63rd, 94th, and 95th of the
    Line (each of three batts.)                              7,169
                                   Total                    21,324

  Arteche gives twelve German battalions (iii. 491); but the
  Frankfort Regiment had only one battalion, those of Nassau,
  Baden, and Darmstadt two each. The figures are those of the
  return of Oct. 10.

Blake’s army lay before him, posted in three lines, with the village of
Zornoza to its rear. In front, on a range of comparatively low hills,
was the ‘Vanguard Brigade,’ drawn up across the road with the 1st
Division of Galicia to its left on somewhat higher ground. They w