Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

best understood by a simple narration result followed an attempt made in of his exploits, which have filled all the end of the year to reduce Ciudad Europe with astonishment and admi- Rodrigo, when Marmont, after evaration.

cuating the whole north of Spain, The events of the preceding year, pressed down with a very formidable although highly honourable to the army. British arms, were not attended with Little, therefore, had been gained by consequences of much importance. either party in the campaign of 1811. The fine position which Lord Wel- On the western frontiers of Spain, the lington had selected in the neighbour- British had won nothing but glory, hood of Lisbon, and which his judi- with which they were already covere çious exertions had rendered almost ed, and had succeeded in affording opimpregnable, destroyed the hopes of portunities to the Spaniards, of which Massena, who commanded a large ar. the latter were in no haste to avail my, and had promised to drive the themselves. In the east of Spain, howEnglish into the sea. The French re- ever, the most unexpected misfortunes mained before the British position, had befallen the Spaniards, and those but did not venture on an attack, while provinces which had been the theatre the British general, with admirable of the bravest resistance to the inself-command, waited for the moment vader, were almost entirely subjuga. when the difficulties of the enemy ted. Suchet, who had been appointshould compel him to retreat. Mas ed by Buonaparte to conduct the war tena commenced a precipitate retreat in this quarter, where Spaniards alone, accordingly in the spring of the pre- and Spaniards commanded by the most ceding year. The British followed unfortunate of captains, were to be him, and invested Almeida, the north- opposed, was successful in all his enern barrier of Portugal, which they terprises. He entirely defeated Blake reduced, after having gloriously re. in the neighbourhood of Zaragoza ; pulsed the enemy, who had hastened he captured Lerida and Tortosa, and to its relief. In the south, the Spas after an obstinate defence, reduced niards had been singularly unfortunate. Tarragona to ashes. For a moment The death of Romana--the appoint. the Catalans were struck with conment of Mendizabal, a weak and con- sternation, produced not more by the temptible person, to succeed him—the misfortunes which they had suffered, consequent loss of a considerable de. than by the savage and vindictive tachment already thrown into Oliven- cruelty with which their virtue had za, and, above all, the treacherous and been persecuted. They still retained, cowardly surrender of Badajoz, had however, the islands of Las Medas on occasioned great confusion. The re- the eastern coast; they could find covery of this fortress, which had positions on the Pyrenean frontier, been so basely given up, was of great and, above all, they retained their for. importance in the estimation of Lord mer spirit of patriotism and revenge. Wellington ; and he began the siege New armies were speedily raised ; with vigour-defeated Soult, who their formation and discipline were tried to relieve it, in the memorable favoured by the eagerness of Suchet battle of Albuera, but was at last to press forward on Valencia ; and the compelled to abandon the enterprise, province of Catalonia was once more by the advance of the collected forces

Blake, whose 'very name of the enemy, which it would have was ominous to the army which he been madness to oppose. A similar commanded; got into Valencia with

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

in arms.

Klan

Ti, mil

five-and-twenty thousand men. Suchet pation of Merida, reduced to the laid siege to the castle of Murviedro utmost extremity for want of provi(the ancient Saguntum ) and Blake tried sions. Soult was placed in a state of to relieve the castle by fighting a ge- complete inactivity; and Lord Welneral battle with the enemy, in which lington was left to pursue his operahe committed every sort of blunder, tions against Ciudad Rodrigo and the and was totally defeated. He retired army of Marmont. The siege was towards Valencia, on which the French pressed with extraordinary vigour, and marshal advanced with rapidity-sur. with astonishing success. The place, prised and again defeated the Spa- indeed, had been greatly strengthened niards--cut off the retreat of Blake, by the enemy; on the hill of St Franand drove him into the city. Suchet cisco he had constructed a redoubt, pressed the siege-Blake made an a- which communicated with three for. bortive effort to escape with his army, tified convents in the suburbs ; and he and failing in this, ignominiously sur. had in all other respects discovered rendered himself

and his soldiers pri. his usual skill and activity. Yet on the soners of war. Thus was the east of evening of the very day on which the Spain overrun by the enemy, at the siege was begun, a detachment of the beginning of the present year. A de- division under Lieutenant Colonel sire to relieve this fine country, form- Colbourne of the 52d, stormed and ed one great inducement to the Bri. carried the redoubt on the hill, took tish commander to open the campaign some prisoners, and put their comrades at an early period of the year, and to the sword. with a spirit of enterprise which pro- These important successes enabled mised the greatest results.

the British to break ground near the It was necessary to the plan of ope- works. On the evening of the 14th, rations which Lord Wellington had a fire was opened from the first paral. formed, that he should first of all makelel with twenty-two pieces of ordnance himself master of Ciudad Rodrigo and 'and three batteries and on the same Badajoz. Early in the month of Janu- evening, the besiegers established ary, therefore, the army crossed the themselves in the second parallel, and Agueda, and on the 8th, the first of within 150 yards of the place. In these fortressess was invested. Gene- ten days from the opening of the siege, ral Hill was in the meantime detached the approaches were completed ; se. against Dombrowski, who was post. veral breaches were made in the wall; ed at Merida, and who retreated with and the resolution was taken to carry precipitation on the approach of the the works by storm. As Lord WelBritish. General Hill next proceed. lington did not find it convenient to ed against Drouet, who commanded advance his approaches so near as had the fifth division at Almendralejo; been usual on former occasions, it re but this officer having been apprised quired the highest efforts of gallantry of the movements of the British, re- to succeed in the assault. The stormtired upon Zafra, leaving his stores ing parties, in five separate columns, and ammunition. By these operations, composed of the third and light diviMarmont and Soult were effectually sions of the army, and of Brigadier separated ; the country betwixt the General Pack's brigade, were orderTagus and Guadiana was cleared of ed to advance ; that under General the enemy; Drouet was thrown back Pack was ordered to make a false aton Llerena, and Badajoz, which was tack. Lieutenant-General Picton, and 600p to be attacked, was, by the occu. Major-General Crawford, both offi

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

cers of great talents, took' a conspi- tonments on the banks of the Tagus, cuous part in the operations ; and the with the view of ensuring supplies for efforts of all the columns were crown- his army, and supporting the operaed with success.-It is a singular cir- tions against Valencia. He had decumstance in this affair, that the ar- tached General Montbrun, with 5,000 dour and impetuosity of the troops men, to take the army of Valencia in converted the false attack into a real rear ; but the general failed in this one ; the enemy was charged in this object as well as in a coup de main, direction-driven into his works, and which he attempted against Alicant. speedily subdued. The second bat. Marmont, however, collected a large talion of the 5th regiment, under army from the north and centre of Major Ridge, with the 9th regiment, Spain; he advanced to Salamanca, and under Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, there he learned the fate of Ciudad gallantly stormed the principal breach Rodrigo, which struck him with astoin the body of the place. Major Ge. nishment. He knew that the garrison neral M Kinnon, with the brigade un- had been strong ; that the fortifications der his command, came up to their were in the highest order, and had nesupport; the defence was well main

ver imagined that the place could have tained by the French ; but all their been reduced with such rapidity. In efforts were unavailing. The besiegers the official account of this event, which bore down all resistance ; but in the he transmitted to his government, he moment of victory, a very severe loss expressed a degree of surprise, which was sustained by the British army, in implied the highest compliment to the the death of Major General M Kin. skill and valour of his enemies. He non, who fell at the head of his storm- advanced, however, and offered battle ing party. The loss of the British in to Lord Wellington, in the vain hope this brilliant affair, amounted to about that the British general, after having 1200 killed and wounded ;' but the attained his object, would have turned conquest was of great importance in aside to risk an engagement on terms the present state of the campaign, 80 unequal. When he found that he and reflected the highest honour on had no hopes of success in this at. the British arms. In the short space tempt, he retired, and placed his army of ten days, one of the great fortresses in cantonments along the Tormes. on the Portugueze frontier, strength. The highest honour to which a Briened by all the resources of art, had tish subject can aspire is to obtain the thus been wrested from the enemy,- thanks of parliament; to be rewarded a fortress which, when in a state of by the grateful applause of his councomparative weakness, and garrisoned try. The reduction of Ciudad Rodrigo by Spaniards, it had taken Massena a was an exploit which well merited this whole month to reduce, supported as honourable distinction ; and the minihe was by an army of 110,000 men. sters accordingly hastened to call the The satisfaction which this triumph attention of the legislature to the subdiffused over the country, was enhan- ject. In moving the thanks of the ced by the favourable report which House of Lords to Lord Wellington the British commander gave of the and his gallant army, the Earl of patriotism of the Spanish people, Liverpool pointed out with great force from whom therefore it was reason- and precision the distinguishing feaable to expect in future more zeal" tures of the late operations. He began than they had hitherto displayed. by stating, That, “ in the considera

Marmont had established his can, tion of questions of this nature, there

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

noch

a

were two points which more particu- advisable to try them under circum. larly called for attention, namely, the stances peculiarly disadvantageous. It importance of the place wrested from was also to be considered, that the the enemy, and the vigour of the effort allied army must have fought the ene. used to obtain possession of it. He my with the Agueda in their rear, did not mean to say, that either of and that even if they had defeated the these might not, in some cases,

be

covering army, still, with the river in sufficient ground for voting the thanks their rear, and embarrassed as they ne, of the House, but, in the present in- cessarily would be with wounded, it stance, both considerations combined was more than doubtful whether any to call upon the House to confer that advantage could thus be gained. The high honour. Of the importance of defence of Portugal was also of the Ciudad Rodrigo there could be no greatest importance; it was not mere, doubt; it was the only fortress of ly one point that was to be attended note on the north-eastern frontier of to, but the ultimate defence of the Portugal, and on the north-western country; and Lord Wellington being frontier of Spain. It was originally certain that he could effectually deerected by the Spaniards as a point of fend Portugal by having recourse to the defence against any

invasion from Por- lines of Torres Vedras, it was essential tugal, and also as a place of arms to not to run the hazard of wasting unfacilitate offensive operations in that profitably the troops through whom country, and the circumstances con- that defence was to be made. After nected with the current of the river on Marshal Massena had retreated from which it was placed, rendered it in Portugal, Lord Wellington's attention both points of view highly important. was again called to Ciudad Rodrigo, By its capture, the defence of Portu. but his operations in that quarter were gal was rendered complete, and at the interrupted by those of the enemy in same time a way was opened almost Estremadura, to which province the into the centre of Spain.-Having pressure of the war was necessarily for thus mentioned the importance of this a time removed. Subsequently to the fortress, he thought it necessary to

cessation of these movements, other state a few circumstances, to shew circumstances operated to delay the why the capture of it by the enemy attack upon Ciudad Rodrigo. It was in 1810 could not be prevented." It well known that there was no bridge was well known, as stated by the over the Agueda near Ciudad Rod, French commander-in-chief himself

, rigo, except the bridge of the place that the French force destined for the itself; and at certain seasons of the attack on Portugal was 110,000 men ; year, the river was so much swollen of this force 27,000 laid siege to Ciu- by the mountain torrents, that it be. dad Rodrigo. Lord Wellington at came impracticable to throw any bridge that time had only with him 17,000 over it. Lord Wellington also judged British, and 14,000 Portugueze, the it expedient, before laying siege to latter completely untried. The Bri. Ciudad Rodrigo, to have Almeida as tish commander.in-chief never lost a depot, for which purpose it was nesight of the importance of relieving cessary that the fortifications should the place, if possible, and to the last be restored, and he was happy to state moment had the object in view, but that Almeida was now in a respectable the Portuguese troops being then

state of defence. In the capture of completely untried, it became a consi- Ciudad Rodrigo there were many cir. deration of prudence how far it was cumstances which must be highly sa

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

tisfactory. When the enemy laid siege good time on the 29th of January to to it in 1810, they completed the in- relieve the place for which purpose vestment on the 10th of June, and the the French commander was collecting place did not surrender by capitulation troops from different quarters, and to till the 11th of July. ` Lord Welling, do this necessarily weakened the force ton invested the place on the 8th of in other parts. Whether, therefore, January, and this, it should be remem- they considered the importance of the bered, under all the disadvantages of place itself, the indefatigable exertions a siege in the depth of winter, and the used to achieve its capture in so short place was taken by storm on the 19th a time, or the importance of the súc. of that month. In recounting this, it cess with a view to further operations was a subject of no ordinary satisfac- which were planned by Lord Wellingtion to observe the skill and ability ton, he thought their lordships must manifested by the engineers and the agree that the commander and the ar. artillery. Thus completing the proof my deserved their thanks. Whatever that in every branch of our military opinions there might exist as to the service our superiority was decidedly policy of our operations in Portugal, manifest-our infantry, our cavalry, he thought there could be no differour engineers, our artillery, our com- ence of opinion as to the skill and abimissariat, all were proved to be de- lity of the commander-in-chief, or the cidedly superior-a superiority result. bravery and spirit of the army which ing from a wise system at home car. he commanded. Justice, as well as ried into practice by the wisdom, the policy, demanded that they should upskill, and the exertions of our com.

hold the honour and the character of mander-in-chief in Portugal. The our commanders and our armies. To enemy no longer vaunted of superio- do this was true policy; for let it not rity, no longer boasted of driving Bri. be forgotten, that to our officers and tish troops into the sea, it being now to our army, who so skilfully and so apparent to all the world, that with bravely defended Portugal and defeatBritish hearts in British bosoms we ed the enemy, we must be indebted, maintained a decided superiority on if the necessity should arise, for the whatever element we fought. The defence of our own shores. His lorda capture of Ciudad Rodrigo, whilst it ship concluded by moving the thanks was of essential importance to those of the House to General Lord Visa great interests which we were engaged count Wellington, for the skill, abi. in supporting, was a blow to the ene. lity, and indefatigable exertions, and my which he did not expect. consummate wisdom, manifested by not conceived possible that Ciudad him in the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo." Rodrigo could have been taken in ele- When a similar vote was proposed ven days. The calculation made upon in the House of Commons, General scientific rules was, that it might hold Tarleton, who had never been very out for twenty four or twenty-five forward to approve of the policy of days. Lord Wellington, however, the war in Spain," begged to add was aware of the importance of rapi- a few expressions of admiration, flowdity, and the most unparalleled exer- ing not merely from his lips, but tions were made, which were happily dictated by his heart. It was imcrowned with success. The enemy possible,” he said, “ to add any thing, had not the slightest expectation of by brilliancy of description, to the such an event, and he knew that Mar- lustre of the late transaction ; shal Marmont calculated on being in as the oldest general in that House,

[ocr errors]

It was

but

« ForrigeFortsett »