A History of the Peninsular War. Volume III: Sepember 1809 - December 1810. Ocaña, Cádiz, Bussaco, Torres Vedras
FROM TALAVERA TO OCAÑA
I. Introductory. The Central Junta. Wellesley and Wellington. 1
II. Events in Eastern Spain during the Summer and Autumn of 1809: the Siege of Gerona begins. 9
III. The Fall of Gerona (Aug.-Dec. 1809) .37
IV. The Autumn Campaign of 1809: Tamames, Ocaña, and Alba de Tormes. 67
THE CONQUEST OF ANDALUCIA
I. The Consequences of Ocaña (Dec. 1809-.Jan.1810). 103
II. The Conquest of Andalucia: King Joseph and his plans. 114
III. Andalucia overrun: Cadiz preserved (Jan.-Feb. 1810 ). 128
THE PORTUGUESE CAMPAIGN OF 1810
THE PRELIMINARIES: JAN.-AUG. 1810
1. The Military Geography of Portugal.153
II. Wellington's Preparations for Defence. 167
III. The French Preparations: Masséna's Army of Portugal. 197
IV. The Months of Waiting: Siege of Astorga (March- May 1810).212
V. The Months of Waiting : Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (May- July 1810).231
VI. The Combat of the Coa: Siege of Almeida (July-Aug.1810).257
Note on Almeida and the Bridge of the Coa. 280
OPERATIONS IN THE EAST AND SOUTH OF SPAIN DURING THE SPRING ANO SUMMER OF 1810
I. Suchet and Augereau in Aragon, Valencia, and Cataluña, March-July 1810.282
II. Operations in the South of Spain during the Spring and Summer of 1810 (March-Oct. 1810).315
BUSSACO AND TORRES VEDRAS (SEPT.-DEC. 1810)
I.Masséna's Advance to Bussaco (Sept. 1810).341
Note on the Situation upon September 25. 357-8
II.The Battle of Bussaco (Sept. 27, 1810). 359
Note on the Topography of Bussaco. 386-8
Note on the Crisis of the Battle of Bussaco.386-8
III. Wellington's Retreat to the Lines of Torres Vedras (Oct. 1810).390
IV. The Lines of Torres Vedras.419
V, Masséna before the Lines: his retreat to Santarem (Oct.-Nov. 1810).437
THE END OF THE YEAR 1810
I. Operations in the North and East of Spain (July-Dec. 1810).482
II. King Joseph, and the Cortes at Cadiz: General Summary.505
I. The Spanish Forces at the Siege of Gerona. 524
II. The French Forces at the Siege of Gerona. 525
III. Del Parque's Army in the Tamames-Alba de Tormes Campaign.526
IV. Losses of the French at Tamames (Oct. 18, 1809). 528
V. The Partition of the Army of Extremadura in September 1809. 528
VI. Areizaga's Army in the Ocaña Campaign. 530
VII. The French Army of Spain in January 1810.532
VIII. Muster-roll of Masséna's Army of Portugal on September 15, 1810, January 1 and March 15, 1811. 540
IX. British Losses at the Combat of the Coa. 544
X. Wellington's Army in the Campaign of Bussaco. 544
XI. Masséna's Orders for the Battle of Bussaco. 549
XII. British and Portuguese Losses at Bussaco. 550
XIII. French Losses at Bussaco. 552
XIV. The Anglo-Portuguese Army in the Lines of Torres Vedras.554
XV. The British and Portuguese Artillery in the Campaign of 1810.561
MAPS AND PLANS
1.Siege of Gerona Between 49 and 50
2.Battle of Tamames Between 79 and 80
3.Battle of Ocaña Between 97 and 98
4.General Map of Andalucia Between 129 and 130
5.Topography of Cadiz Between 149 and 150
6.Central Portugal Between 161 and 162
7.Plan of Astorga Between 225 and 226
8.Plan of Ciudad Rodrigo Between 241 and 242
9.Plan of Almeida and the Combat of the Coa Between 273 and 27
10. General Map of Cataluña Between 289 and 290
11. The Mondego Valley Between 353 and 354
General Plan of Bussaco Between 369 and 370
Ney´s Attack at Bussaco Between 381 and 382
Reynier´s Attack at Bussaco Between 383 and 384
The lines of Torres Vedras Between 433 and4347
THIS, the third volume of the History of the Peninsular War, covers a longer period than either of its predecessors, extending over the sixteen months from Wellington's arrival at Badajoz on his retreat from Talavera (Sept. 3, 1809) to the deadlock in front of Santarem (Dec. 1810), which marked the end of Masséna's offensive campaign in Portugal. It thus embraces the central crisis of the whole war, the arrival of the French in front of the Lines of Torres Vedras and their first short retreat, after they had realized the impossibility of forcing that impregnable barrier to their advance. The retreat that began at Sobral on the night of Nov. 14, 1810, was to end at Toulouse on April 11, 1814. The armies of the Emperor were never able to repeat the experiment of 1810, and to assume a general and vigorous offensive against Wellington and Portugal. In 1811 they were on the defensive, despite of certain local and partial attempts to recover their lost initiative. In 1812 they had to abandon half Spain-Andalucia, Extremadura, Asturias, La Mancha, and much more, -despite of Wellington's temporary check before Burgos. In 1813 they were swept across the Pyrenees and the Bidasoa; in 1814 they were fighting a losing game in their own land. Rightly then may Masséna's retreat to Santarem be called the beginning of the end-though it was not for a full year more that 'Vellington's final offensive commenced, with the investment of Ciudad Rodrigo on Jan. 8, 1812.
The campaign of Bussaco and Torres Vedras, therefore, marked the turning-point of the whole war, and I have endeavoured to set forth its meaning in full detail, devoting special care to the explanation of Wellington's triple device for arresting the French advance-his combination of the system of devastation, of the raising of the levée en masse in Portugal, and of the construction of great defensive lines in front of Lisbon. Each of these three measures would have be en incomplete without the other two. For the Lines of Torres Vedras might not .have saved Portugal and Europe from the domination of Napoleon, if the invading army had not been surrounded on all sides by the light screen of irregular troops, which cut its communications, and prevented it from foraging far a field. Nor' would Masséna have been turned back, if the land through which he had advanced had be en left unravaged, and if every large village had contained enough food to subsist a brigade for a day or a battalion for a week.
The preparations, the advance, and the retreat of Masséna cover about half of this volume. The rest of it is occupied with the operations of the French in Northern, Eastern, and Southern Spain-operations which seemed decisive at the moment, but which turned out to be mere side-issues in the great contest. For Soult's conquest of Andalusia, and Suchet's victories in Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia only distracted the imperial generals from their central task -the expulsion of Wellington and his army from the Peninsula. Most readers will, I think, find a good deal of new information in the accounts of the siege of Gerona and the battle of Ocaña. The credit due to Alvarez for the defence of the Catalonian city has never been properly set forth before in any English history, nar have the details of Areizaga's miserable campaign in La Mancha been fully studied. In particular, the composition and strength of his army have never before be en elucidated, and Appendices V, VI of this volume consist of absolutely unpublished documents.
I have to offer my grateful thanks to those who have been good enough to assist me in the writing of this book, by furnishing me with stores of private papers, or' hitherto unknown official reports. Two of the kind helpers who put me on the track of new information for the compiling of Volume II have passed away while Volume III was in progress. I bitterly regret the loss of my friends General Arteche and Colonel F. A. Whinyates. The former, with his unrivalled knowledge of the contents of the historical department of the Madrid War Office, had enabled me to discover many a lost document of importance. The latter had placed at my disposal his copious store of papers, letters, and diaries relating to his old corps, the Royal Artillery. In this present section of the history of the war I am still using much of the material which he lent me.
But new helpers have come to my aid while this volume was being written. To three of them I must express my special gratitude. The first is Mr. W.S.M. D'Urban, of Newport House, near Exeter, who has furnished me with copies of a collection of papers of unique interest, the diary and correspondence of his grandfather, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, who served as the Quartermaster-General of the Portuguese army, under Marshal Beresford, during the two years covered by this section of my history. Thanks to the mass of documents furnished by Mr. D'Urban's kindness, I am now in a position to follow the details of the organization, movements, and exploits of the Portuguese army in a way that had hitherto been impossible to me. Moreover, Sir Benjamin's day by day criticisms on the strategy and tactics both of Masséna and of Wellington have the highest interest, as reflecting the opinions of the more intelligent section of the head-quarters staff. It is noteworthy to find that, while many of Wellington's chief subordinates despaired of the situation in 1810, there were some who already felt an enthusiastic confidence in the plans of their leader, so much so that their criticisms were reserved for the occasions when, in their opinion, he showed himself over-cautious, and refused to take full advantage of the uncomfortable positions into which he had lured his enemy.
The second mass of interesting private papers placed in my hands of late is the personal correspondence of Nicholas Trant and John Wilson, the two enterprising leaders of Portuguese militia forces, to whom Wellington had entrusted the cutting off of Masséna's communication with Spain, and the restriction of his raids for sustenance to feed his army. These letters have been lent me by Commander Bertram Chambers of H.M.S. Resolution, a collateral relative of Wilson. They fill up a gap in the military history of 1810, for no one hitherto had the opportunity of following out in detail the doings of these two adventurous soldiers and trust y friends, while they were engaged in the difficult task that was set them. For a sample of Trant's breezy style of correspondence, I may refer the reader to pages 399-400 of this volume. Unfortunately, when the two militia generals were in actual contact, their correspondence naturally ceased, so that the series of letters has many lacunae. But they are nevertheless of the highest value.
Thirdly, I have to thank Sir Henry Le Marchant for a sight of the private papers of his grandfather, the well-known cavalry brigadier, General John Gaspar Le Marchant, who fell at Salamanca. He did not land in the Peninsula till 1811, but during the preceding year he was receiving many letters of interest, some from his own contemporaries, officers of high rank in Wellington's army, others from younger men, who had been his pupils while he was in command of the Military College at High Wycombe. Some of the seniors, and one especially, were among those downhearted men -of the opposite type to Benjamin D'Urban - who were consistently expecting disaster, and looked for a hasty embarkation at Lisbon as the natural end of the campaign of 1810. The younger men took a very different view of affairs, and invariably sent cheerful accounts of the doings of the army.
I must mention, once more, kind assistance from the officials of• the Historical sections of the War Ministries at Paris and at Madrid. My friend Commandant Balagny, who gave me so much help during the compilation of my second volume, has unfortunately been absent on a military mission to Brazil during the last three years. But the kind offices of M. Martinien have continually aided me in getting access to the particular sections of the Paris archives with which I was from time to time concerned. I must here take the opportunity of expressing once more my admiration for his colossal work, the Liste des officiers tués et blessés pendant les Guerres de l´Empire, which, on the numberless occasions when no casualty-return appears in the Paris archives, enables one to determine what regiments were present at any action, and in what proportion they suffered. At Madrid Captain Emilio Figueras has continued his kind services, offered during the compilation of my second volume, and was indefatigable in going through the papers of 1810 with me, during my two visits to the Spanish capital.
Among my English helpers I must cite with special gratitude four names. The first is that of Mr. C. T. Atkinson, Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, who has read the proofs of the greater part of this volume, and given me many valuable corrections and pieces of information, from his wide knowledge of British regimental history. The second is that of Major John H. Leslie, R.A., who has compiled the Artillery Appendix to this section, corresponding to that which Colonel Whinyates compiled for the last. I am also most grateful to him for an early view of the useful “Dickson Papers”, which he is publishing for the Royal Artillery Institution. The third is that of the Rev. Alexander Craufurd, who has continued to give me notes on the history of the Light Division, while it was commanded by his grandfather, the famous Robert Craufurd. The fourth is that of Mr. C. E. Doble of the Clarendon Press, who has again read for errors every page of a long volume.
Lastly, the indefatigable compiler of the Index must receive once more my heartfelt thanks for a labour of love.
The reader will find several topographical notes appended at the end of chapters, the results of my first and second tours along the borderland of Spain and Portugal. two long visits to the battlefield of Bussaco, and some days spent between the Coa and the Agueda, and behind the Lines of Torres Vedras, gave me many new topographical facts of importance. Drives and walks in the Badajoz-Elvas country, and about Coimbra, also turned out most profitable. But my notes on the battlefields of Fuentes d'Oñoro and Albuera can only be utilized in my next volume, which I trust may not be long in following its predecessor into print.
The spelling of many of the Spanish, and more especially the Portuguese, names may appear unfamiliar to some readers. But 1 believe that correctness should be studied above all things, even though the results in cases like Bussaco with the doubles, Golegao, or Santa Comba Dao, may produce a momentary shock to the eye. Portuguese spelling, both in personal names and in topography, was in a state of flux in 1810. For example, the General commanding the Artillery always appears as da Rosa in the official army lists, yet signed his name da Roza; countless other instances could be produced. Where it was possible 1 have followed the individual's own version of his name: he ought to have known best. There are still no doubt, errors of spelling surviving: no man is infallible, but I have done my best to reduce them to a minimum.
March 1, 1908.