Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

SKETCHES OF THE WAR OF THE FRENCH IN SPAIN

IN THE YEAR 1823.*

BY A ROYALIST.

On the 16th of July, the Spaniards attempted a sortie from Cadiz with a body of 9000 men, supported by the fire of the guns of the city, and that of nine gun-boats. The combat was sustained on both sides with considerable vigour from daybreak till near noon, when the besieged were forced again to retire within the precincts of the Isle of Leon. After the action a French refugee officer, habited as a Spanish general, and at first erroneously supposed to be General L'Allemand, was found mortally wounded upon the field of battle. He was conveyed to the nearest hospital by some French soldiers, where he died almost immediately t.

In the mean time the conduct of the Cortes continued marked with all the features of its wonted absurdity; as an instance of which it may be admissible to quote, that in the sitting of the 11th of July, at a time when their place of meeting was closely blockaded, both by sea and land, these legislators occupied their time in passing a resolution not to quit a situation from which it was nearly physically impossible for them to effect an escape.

About this time the populace seemed inclined to awake from the delusion in which they had so long continued, with respect to the real character and motives of action of their constitutional tyrants; and some enactments attempted by the government, tantamount to the suspension of the liberty of the press,-guaranteed by a special clause of the reformed cude,--occasioned riots within the walls of Cadiz, which for a short time menaced the existence of the usurping government. To check these excesses, his jailors compelled Ferdinand to address the multitude from the steps of a carriage; and deference to his exhortations induced the rioters to disperse.

On the 28th of July, the Prince Liberator took his departure from Madrid, in order to assume the command of the army assembled to besiege Cadiz. The head-quarters of the divisions of the French army, under the Duke of Reggio, continued at Madrid; and the sphere of occupation comprehended New Castile, Estremadura, Gallicia, Segovia, Leon, Valladolid, and the Asturias.

Prince Hohenlohe, who continued to have his head-quarters at Vittoria, included within his command Santander, Burgos, Leira, Alava, and Biscay. Guispuscoa, Navarre, Arragon, and the Lower Ebro, were confided to Marshal Lauriston, who had his head-quarters at Tolosa. Count Molitor occupied Valencia, Murcia, and Grenada; Viscount Foissac de la Tour, Cordova and Jaen ; and Count Bordesoult, the kingdom of Seville.

Such were the arrangements made by his Royal Highness previous

Continued from No. 48, p. 326. + The extraordinary courage, energy, and intelligence displayed upon this occasion by the Prince de Carignan Savoy, now King of Sardinia, excited universal admiration; nor ought the bravery and devotion of General de Bethizy to be passed over in silence.

to his departure from the capital, but which subsequent events caused to suffer some slight degree of modification.

A portion of the élite of the French army left Madrid at the same time with his Royal Highness. Amongst the troops that accompanied him, and at whose head he marched constantly on horseback, were 2000 of the Royal Guard, whose place in the capital was supplied by regiments drawn from the force besieging the fortresses in the rear, whilst fresh levies from France relieved the troops thus moved in advance.

In all the towns and villages through which the Prince passed, crowds were found assembled to gaze upon, and to hail with thanks, the deliverer of their country. Festive dances were everywhere celebrated; the bells rung by day, and illuminations blazed at night.

On the same day on which the Liberator commenced his march from Madrid, the fate of the army of Ballasteros was decided; and the second corps, under Count Molitor, was thus rendered available in the operations connected with the siege of Cadiz.

After the capture of Lorca, the brigade of General Vincent had had several successful rencontres with the enemy; and upon the 24th of the month, Ballasteros having been joined by Zayas, who had come from Cadiz, took up a position at Guadal Huerta, which indicated a design of attempting an attack upon the second corps. General Molitor, however, resolved in this to anticipate him; and on the 25th moved from Murcia with the division of Loverdo ; which no sooner approached the Spanish position, than an immediate attack followed, led on by Generals Bonnemains, Pelleport, and Dumont, the French troops advancing to the charge with shouts of “ Vive le Roi !" After a short but somewhat obstinate defence, Ballasteros retreated, first to Huelma ; but quitted this position almost immediately, and took up a strong one at Campillo de Arinas; but in this mountain post he had to derive all the supplies for his troops, still amounting to nearly 12,000 men, from Grenada, which city Zayas still continued to occupy.

Count Molitor determined to prevent this; and accordingly detached the brigade of Ordonneau upon Grenada, from which Zayas retreated with the chief part of his troops, upon the approach of the French ; but a part of the Spanish troops passed over to General Ordonneau, with cries of “ Viva el Rey netto!”—(the absolute king for ever.) These were responded by the inhabitants of Grenada, who had always been eminently loyal, upon the entrance of their deliverers.

General Molitor resolved to attack Ballasteros in his position at Campello at daybreak on the morning of the 28th ; and directed Count Loverdo, with the brigade of Corsin, consisting of a battalion of riflemen, and the 1st and 11th regiments, to attack the Spanish right, whilst he himself advanced at the head of the brigades of St. Chamans, Pelleport, and Dumont against the left wing of the enemy, to be supported by the 24th and 39th regiments of the line, under General Buchet, and the 4th and 8th light infantry, under General Bonnemains. The enemy again made an obstinate and gallant defence, and did not quit the field till 500 killed and wounded of their number had fallen ; they then abandoned the town of Campillo, and retired to Cambell.

The French were as usual hailed by the ringing of the church bells when they entered Campillo, where they captured 300 prisoners and

two standards. Next day, 1500 men came over from the Spanish army to that of Count Molitor. The loss of the French, in killed and wounded, did not exceed a third of that of the enemy.

These successes had the effect of inducing General Ballasteros to make proposals to the French commander, which led to a convention, in terms of which Ballasteros agreed to acknowledge the authority of the regency of Madrid, and to give orders to the governors of the fortresses in his extensive district of command to make their submission to the Prince Generalissimo. In this range of fortresses were included those of Carthagena, Pampluna, and St. Sebastian* By this convention the rank and pay of the Spanish officers, and the pay of the men, were guaranteed to them.

That this step on the part of Ballasteros was one dictated by imperious necessity cannot be doubted, when it is borne in mind that not only was he circumvented by the formidable strength of the 2d corps of the French army, but, immediately after the action of the 28th, he was aware that the Prince Generalissimo was bearing down upon him in an opposite direction, with the powerful force with which he bad marched from Madrid.

The departure of the Prince from the capital was followed by some arrangements between him and the regency, relative to the liberation from prison of various individuals confined for political offences ; and in this case his Royal Highness's wonted humanity was more conspicuous than the Spanish authorities thought consistent with the demands of even-handed justice.

About the same time, a most absurd decree of the Cortes was published, to which the King was compelled to affix his signature, in which those grandees of Spain who had signed the address of the 15th of May to the Duke d’Angoulême were denounced as traitors, their properties sequestrated, and their honours and titles taken from them.

On the 16th of August, the Prince, accompanied by the Count d'Escars, the Count de Rochefoucauld, and M. de Maupas, arrived at Port St. Mary's, to the great joy of the troops and inhabitants. On the 17th, he reviewed the army ; and on the day following he surveyed the whole of the lines of circumvallation,

On the 18th, the Duke sent one of his aide-de-camps to Cadiz with a flag of truce, and entrusted to him a letter to deliver to the King. This letter was obtained by an individual in the pay of the Spanish government, on false pretences, from the bearer, and put into the hands of the foreign secretary instead of those of his Majesty. The consequence was, that a letter was dictated to the King by his jailers, to the effect that he enjoyed uncontrolled freedom of action, and that he was determined to defend the fortress to the last extremity; and this letter despatched as a reply to that written by the Prince Liberator.

Nothing now remained for the Prince but to take advantage of the powerful means at his disposal to restore the Spanish monarch by force to the enjoyment of liberty; his means for accomplishing this end consisting of 30,000 men of the elite of the French army, a powerful fleet and flotilla of gunboats, and a proportionate train of artillery.

* The Constitutional officers in command of these fortresses refused, however, to acknowledge the authority of Ballasteros, and continued to hold possession of them.

The first point of attack was obviously the fortress situated upon the opposite promontory to the Isle of Leon, and forming, with the point of that island, the strait by which the harbour of Cadiz was entered. This fortress is designated by the French by the name of St. Louis, but by the English and Spaniards is called the Trocadero,-a name destined to descend in military history with that of the Duke d’Angoulême.

The French squadron blockading Cadiz continued in the mean time to receive reinforcements, and a Swiss battalion of the Guard, 1500 men strong, was added to the land forces at Port St. Mary's.

Riego about the same time quitted Cadiz, and went to Malaga, where he assumed the command of what was termed the 9th military division. The intention was that he should have led a body of 2000 troops of the garrison to Algesiras, for the purpose of operating as circumstances might require in the rear of the besieging army; but this was found impossible, as he was defeated in an attempt to escape with these troops, first on the land side, and subsequently by sea; and in the mean time a French brigade, under Major-General Lauriston (the son of the Marshal), took possession of Algesiras and Tarifa.

The importance of speedily obtaining possession of the fortress of the Trocadero and St. Louis was at once manifest to the Prince Generalissimo, in order to facilitate future operations against Cadiz *, and his Royal Highness in consequence resolved immediately to make the attempt to carry the points alluded to by assault.

Since the War of Independence, the isthmus on which the Trocadero is situated has been cut through on the landward side, so that even at low water it is flooded four or five feet deep. This canal is of considerable breadth ; and was defended by forty-five pieces of cannon, placed on the inner bank, whilst almost every house within the fort of Trocadero was a separate fortress, being strongly barricadoed, and within the works was a garrison of 1700 picked men. The canal and its banks were so completely swept by the batteries inside, that to approach by means of trenches was indispensable ; and during the operations of the sappers the garrison kept up a constant, though not very well directed, fire. When the second parallel was sufficiently close to the canal, his Royal Highness directed General Tirlett of the artillery, and Lieut.-General d'Ode, of the engineers, to prepare the materials of a bridge of boats to be thrown across the canal at the moment that the French troops should issue from the second parallel, which was calculated to take place at half-past two o'clock on the morning of the 31st of August.

The troops selected by his Royal Highness for this daring exploit, consisted of the war battalions of the 3d, 6th, and 7th regiments of the Royal Guard, forming the first echelon, commanded by Major-General Baron Gougeon; three battalions of the 34th regiment of the line, one battalion of the 36th regiment, 100 sappers, and a company of artillery, under the command of Major-General the Count d'Escars, constituted the second echelon, whilst two battalions of the Royal Guard,

* And to enable the French blockading squadron to enter the bay of Cadiz. Heretofore, in stormy weather, it had been compelled to abandon its position off the straits, and proceed to sea, by which means the blockade was inefficient.

+ Erroneously named Tiriot in No. 2 of these Sketches.

one battalion of the Swiss Guard, and a battalion of the 34th regiment, with the 3d battalion of the 36th, followed as a reserve. The whole was commanded by Lieut.-General the Viscount d'Obert.

The troops formed and marched in profound silence; and the enemy did not appear aware of their approach till the heads of the columns issued from the trenches. The Spanish troops were constantly under arms at the time of low water, and instantly opened a heavy fire of musketry; but the French soldiers immediately threw themselves into the canal, which was yet five feet deep, and rushed upon the entrenchments of the enemy to the cry of “ Vive le Roi !" and their cartridges having been wetted in the canal, there only remained to them the alternative of bayonetting all those who opposed them. As the resistance offered by the Spaniards to the first column was obstinate, General d'Obert ordered the Count d'Escars to deprive the Spaniards of all support of their reserve, by attacking the fortified mill of Guerra, where it was stationed, whilst General d'Obert himself, at the head of the third column, which had already crossed the canal, should advance to the support of the first and second columns, and at the same moment that the Count d'Escars moved, the Spanish artillery, of which General Gougeon had already possessed himself, was turned upon the Spaniards, who had thrown themselves into the fortified houses of the Trocadero. These houses could only be approached by a narrow passage, which was barricadoed, and not only swept by the Spanish musketry but by the cannon of the fort of Puntales, whilst at the same time the footing was soft and muddy, and entangled by the marine plants which found a rooting amid the rocky shingle with which the softer parts of the soil was interspersed. At this point his Royal Highness joined the troops, which at daybreak had been again formed by the Count d’Escars, and, being supplied with dry cartridges, the Prince announced his intention instantly to storm the Trocadero; and, placing himself at the head of the columns, he carried the whole of the entrenchments, and subsequently the remaining part of the fort named St. Louis, in which the Spanish Colonel Garcias, who commanded the garrison, together with forty officers and a thousand men laid down their arms.

In the capture of the Trocadero the Spaniards had nearly 200 men killed and 300 wounded; about 300 effected their escape in boats, and passed over to Cadiz; most of these, it is said, were also wounded. The loss of the French was severe, being about 70 killed, and 160 wounded. In the Trocadero were found 53 pieces of iron and brass ordnance, and a vast quantity of muskets and ammunition.

Great praise was bestowed upon the Viscount d'Obert, the Count d'Escars, and Baron Gougeon, as also upon Generals Tirlet and d'Ode, and Colonels Farincourt and Dupar, and Captain Conti. His Royal Highness the Prince de Carignan served with the first column of attack as a grenadier, as did also his aide-de-camps the Marquis de Flavergues, Lieut.-Colonel d'Isas, and Captain Costa. The Prince lost one of his boots in the mud of the canal, but continued the combat without it.

The conduct of the Prince Generalissimo, as a matter of course, produced discussion. Lauded by the friends of law and order, it was censured by the liberals. History, however, has already made the

« AnteriorContinuar »