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barrier would be opposed to the progress of the allied army.”
Wellington's troops proceeded in three divisions : one under Sir Thomas Graham crossed the Douro with orders to move through Tras os Montes, on Braganza and Zamara, so as to join the rest at Valladolid ; the second under Wellington in person, moved on Salamanca by the direct route ; and Sir Rowland Hill on the right, with the force from Estramadura was to advance on the same point by Alba de Tormes. This was a masterly plan, for thus the enemy's position on the Douro was turned, as well as that of their whole forces on the south of the river. With such rapidity were the movements of the centre and right executed, that the French commander at Salamanca had scarcely time to quit the town, before General Fane with the British cavalry entered it, pursued the rear-guard, and took 200 prisoners and some guns. The right and centre were then placed by Wellington in cantonments between the Tormes and the Douro, and passing the river on the 31st of May, joined Sir Thomas Graham's force.
This part of the army had encountered great difficulties from the character of the country through which their route lay. It was wild and mountainous ; the roads were steep and narrow, intersected by rivers and ravines ; and the ascents from some were so steep, that without drag-ropes and strong fatigue parties the guns could not be drawn up. But by great exertions all these obstacles were overcome, and Graham having reached the frontier on the appointed day, established a communication with the army of Gallicia. sooner did Graham's force appear than the French
* Annals of the Peninsular Campaigns.
retired from the banks of the Esla, which Graham passed on the 31st May by a pontoon bridge, and advanced towards Zamara. Thus the formidable line of the Douro was turned, and the defensive works of the enemy rendered useless, so that they were forced to retire upon Morales, where their vanguard of cavalry was overthrown. After restoring the bridge of Toro, Hill's corps crossed the river, and the whole allied army united on the right bank of the Douro on the 3rd June. The enemy were completely astonished by these rapid and brilliant movements of Wellington, who had advanced upon them by a course they deemed impracticable, and which they had not the slightest suspicion of his attempting : they judged it impossible that he should come upon them by passing the Douro within the frontier of Portugal, after making a flanked march through Tras os Montes, In these circumstances Madrid was hastily abandoned by the army there, which made haste to join what was called that of Portugal.
On the 4th of June, the French were compelled to desert Valladolid, and retire behind the Carrion. On the 7th the allies crossed that river at Valencia, and the enemy withdrew to the Stor
Lord Wellington still manœuvred to the left; crossed the Pisuerga, and menacing the French line of communications, compelled them to retire to Burgos, where they mustered their forces. During the whole of this retreat, our cavalry, acting advantageously in a flat country, checked the movements of the French so well as to prevent them making a single reconnoissance to discover the number, route, or intention of the British. Burgos, which had made such a formidable defence the preceding year, was blown up in such
haste that many of the French were killed by the premature explosion : and while the enemy were thus occupied on their main front, Wellington sent three or four divisions across the Ebro, before they could take advantage of the strong positions which it afforded.
These brilliant successes-equivalent in value to the results of two or three pitched battles,—were gained with scarcely the loss of a single life. The passage of the Ebro was next attained ; to defend this, the enemy had garrisoned the strong fortress of Pancoro; and the attempt here to cross so great a river, in the face of the combined forces of the enemy, must have led to an engagement under very disadvantageous circumstances. Wellington therefore, instead of pursuing them by the main road, had recourse to the manæuvre which was so successful on the Douro ; he moved the army to its left by the road to St. Anderomhitherto deemed impracticable for carriages,—and crossed the Ebro near its source ; by this route, as in Tras os Montes, it was only by very great exertions that the march was accomplished. On the 16th Lord Wellington's army moved to the right through a strong country, unopposed ; and on the 18th the light division came suddenly upon two French brigades on their march to Vittoria ; these were
j instantly attacked, and defeated with the loss of 300 men. The same evening the first news of the British advance upon their flank reached King Joseph's head-quarters : the French staff were thrown into a state of great perturbation and astonishment, and the troops hurriedly retreated in great confusion to their rear. At Osma a large body of the enemy attacked Graham's corps ; though superior in numbers, they suffered a severe
repulse, and were pursued to Espejo. On the 19th Wellington attacked their rear-guard posted behind the river Bayas, and drove them upon the main body of their army. The same day Joseph arranged his troops for battle at Vittoria. During the 20th Wellington closed up his rear, collected his divisions, and
reconnoitred the enemy's position. The French occupied a line which extended nearly eight miles, the ground was unequal, and afforded them considerable advantages; at the time of the battle it was covered with ripening corn, which concealed the light troops, and even the movements of whole battalions during the engagement. 6 The extreme left of the French rested on the lofty heights of the La Puebla ; their right was posted upon high ground above the villages Abechuco and Gamarra Mayor ; their centre covered a range of strong hills on the left bank of the Zadorra, and commanded the valley through which it flows, towards the south in front of Vittoria. Part of their left wing was drawn up, touching the left centre, on steep and commanding ranges above the village of Subijana de Alva. A strong reserve was posted in rear of the centre at Gomecha. Their light troops lined the banks of the Zadorra in front of the centre, and the bridges over that river were fortified. A woody space between the centre and right, was likewise occupied by light infantry ; and some field works had been thrown up in front of Abechuco and Gamarra Mayor. Thus posted, the enemy covered the city of Vittoria, and held the three great roads which, from Logrono, Madrid, and Bilboa, unite in that city, and thence pursue one line to Bayonne."* The French had nearly 70,000 combatants, and 100 pieces of cannon, ar
* Sherer's Military Memoirs.
ranged in battle order. The allies out-numbered them by about 4,000 men, but in this number are included three divisions of Spaniards.
A clear and cloudless sun rose on the field of battle. The allies stood to their arms and marched in full confidence of victory from their bivouacs on the Bayas. Lord Wellington arranged his army in three divisions : the right under Sir Rowland Hill, including Stewart's, a Portuguese, and a Spanish division; the left under Sir Thomas Graham, with the first and Oswald's divisions, two brigades of cavalry, and a Spanish division; and the centre, under Wellington in person, included four divisions of Sir Loury Cole, Baron Alten, Lord Dalhousie, and Sir Thomas Picton, formed in two columns. So strong was the enemy's centre, and so well was it defended by their enormous force of artillery, that the attempt to pierce it, would have caused very severe loss; though the great extent of the line would with a less formidable post for the centre, have favoured such an attack. It was therefore necessary to force back their flanks, and delay any assault upon the centre till the right or left corps of the allied army should have passed the Zadorra, and be so well advanced as to give a powerful support in flank to a front attack. Wellington perceived that the position, though otherwise well chosen, was liable to be taken in flank, for at a glance he saw its weakness.
“ The Spaniards under Morillo began the action, and attaked the heights with great gallantry: their leader was wounded, but remained on the field; the enemy stood firm, and made great efforts to retain their ground, perceiving when too late, that they had neglected to occupy it in sufficient strength.