Obrazy na stronie

fantry, with the view of forcing the rection, was called upon to execute a left of the line, which the vanguard of new plan of operations. General Whittingham covered ; but As the operations of Sir John Mur. these troops, and the English whom he ray were not attended with the success encountered at this point, received the which had been expected—as the ho. attack with the utmost steadiness; they nour of this officer, and, it may be allowed the enemy to approach to the thought, that of the army under his very point of their bayonets, and then command, were involved in these trans. charged them, breaking the French actions and as every particular concolumn ; and killing, wounding, or nected with them received the utmost making prisoners those who composed publicity, in the course of the investiit. Suchet, having observed the result gation which was ordered into the of his first attempt, was obliged to conduct of the general, we shall endea. change his plans—to reduce his opera- vour to give a distinct and impartial tions to a series of movements, and fi- account of the whole proceedings. nally to put himself in retreat. Gene. It has already been stated, that be. ral Murray immediately ordered nine fore the expedition to Tarragona' was battalions of infantry, and 1000 caval- undertaken, the French army occupied ry, with ten pieces of artillery, to pur

so strong a position on the line of the sue ; this occasiuned great loss to the Xucar, that it was not judged expedi, enemy's columns, which continued to ent for the allied armies, composed retire, beaten and fatigued. As the as they were, to run the risk of a di. superiority of the French in cavalry, rect attack on its front, before weakhowever, gave them great advantages ening its numbers by a movement on for proceeding in the direct line, Ge- its flank or rear. To accomplish this neral Murray commenced a flank move. object, two plans offered themselves to ment by Alcov, in hopes of reaching the commander of the forces; the one the entrenched camp at St Felipe, be. comprehended a movement of a consifore the enemy's arrival ; but the derable portion of the allied armies by French having reached Alcov only a Requena and Utiel, and by Tortosa quarter of an hour before the allies, and Lerida, to co-operate on the right this plan was frustrated. Sir John flank of the French, and towards the Murray then returned to his position. rear of their position. The other con.

In this action, Suchet made his first templated a naval expedition, by means experiment of the valour of British of which a considerable force might be troops ; and in contending with them, landed at some distance in the rear of was for the first time repulsed and the enemy's left Alank. The execution overthrown. The allied army, how. of the first plan must have been so dif. ever, did not make any attempt to fol. ficult and circuitous, and the result so low up its success. The advance from doubtful. that the naval expedition, if Alicant indeed appears to have been practicable, was very much to be premade less with the view of pushing ferred. In pursuance of this object, forward in that direction, than for the detailed instructions, which bear date purpose of seconding the grand opera. 14th April, 1813, were accordingly tion in the north of Spain, and of pre. given by the Duke of Wellington to venting Suchet from detaching any of Lieutenant-General Sir John Murray. his force to the assistance of Joseph By these instructions, if a body of men, Buonaparte. When Lord Wellington, to the number of 10,000 at the least, however, began to move from Sala- and of the description specified, could manca, Sir John Murray, under his di- be embarked on the naval expedition, it was directed to take place; and, in that kingdom of Valencia, to land as far event, the following objects of the ex- north as might be in his power, in or. pedition were pointed out: Ist, To der immediately to join the right of obtain possession of the open part of the Spanish armies. the kingdom of Valencia. 2dly, To It was the object of Lord Wellingsecure an establishment on the sea- ton, therefore, that a sudden and vigor. coast, north of the Ebro, so as to ous attack should be made on Tarraopen a communication with the army gona ; by means of which, Suchet, in of Catalonia ; and eventually, in the order to afford the requisite assistance 3d place, To oblige the enemy to re. to the garrison, would be compelled so tire from the Lower Ebro ; the order to weaken his army on the Xucar, of the 2d and 3d objects having been as to leave the open country of Valeft to Sir John Murray's discretion. lencia in a great measure exposed to -The instructions proceed to state, the Spanish armies. The Spaniards that, with a force of 10,000 men, the would thus be enabled to obtain posses1st and 2d objects might be with great sion of that part of the country which advantage combined; or, in other it was otherwise out of their power, words, that the attempt to secure the and beyond their means, to occupy. If establishment on the coast, by a brisk Tarragona, by means of this vigorous attack upon Tarragona, would neces attack, should fall, the views of the sarily induce Marshal Suchet to weak- commander of the forces would be very en his force in Valencia, and enable the considerably advanced ; but, should Spanish generals to take possession circumstances oblige General Murray of a great part, if not the whole, of to raise the siege and embark, his inthe open country in that kingdom. structions directed that he should re

It was further remarked, in the turn immediately to Valencia, and as memorandum of instructions, that the sist the Spaniards in profiting by the possession of Tarragona must involve absence of a large portion of the a question of time and means ; and French army; or, at least, that he that, if Suchet, notwithstanding the should confirm any advantages which junction of the troops of the first the Spaniards might alone, during his Spanish army with those under. Sir absence, have acquired. The whole John Murray, should be so strong in spirit of the memorandum--the objects Catalonia as to oblige the British ge. and views of the commander-in-chiefneral to raise the siege, his first aim the place where Sir John Murray was would, at least, have been gained directed to land--the immediate junewithout difficulty, and the return of tion which he was ordered to form Sir John Murray's corps into the king, with the right of the Spanish armies, all dom of Valencia would secure the ad. these circumstances seemed to point out vantage thus acquired. But if, on an immediate return in case of failure at the other hand, Sir John Murray Tarragona. It was obvious that if he should succeed in taking Tarragona, neglected to follow this course, the the first and second objects, pointed French troops would be enabled to out by his instructions, would have retrace their steps, and contend once been secured, and a foundation laid for more in the formidable position which the attainment of the remaining object they had occupied before the naval ex . pointed out by the commander-in. pedition was undertaken ; and thus the chief. Geperal Murray was also di- success of the plan formed by Lord rected, in case of raising the siege, or Wellington, however it might have at all events, on bis returning to the been advanced in the first instance, would be greatly endangered, if not evening of the 4th ; although the asentirely defeated

sailants, according to the report of On the 2d of June, the fleet destined General Murray, were yet in no state for this expedition, anchored to the of preparation to carry on the operaeastward of the point of Salon ; and tions of the siege.-On the morning the soldiers, who had been previously of the 6th these batteries opened their ordered to hold themselves in readiness fire with good effect ; but it was found to land, were put into the boats; but expedient to erect another battery of the surf was so high, that, in the opi- two 24-pounders, which was begun nion of Admiral Hallowell, who com. and completed on the night of the manded the naval branch of the expe- 6th. At day.break of the 7th, this dition, it would have been unsafe to battery opened its fire; and, on the land, and the troops accordingly re- morning of the 8th, the Fuerte Real turned to the ships.

was reported, by the commanding enBefore the fleet came to anchor, a gineer, to be practicably breached. brigade, commanded by Colonel Pre- When this officer, however, made vost, was detached to the Coll de Bale his report to the general, he requested laguer; and the Spanish general Co. that the work should not be stormed, pons, in compliance with a request as he could turn the immediate possesmade to him, detached, during thesion to no account, while an attempt to night, two battalions to co-operate in retain the fort would cost the lives of the attack on Fort St Phillippe. On many men. Every delay was to be rethe 5th, two other Spanish battalions gretted, but as the state of the fort joined, in consequence of some move- was such, that it could be taken when ment of the enemy from Tortosa ; convenient, 'General Murray consent. and on the 7th the fort capitulated. ed to defer the attack, and directed

On the 3d of June, soon after sun. that the fire upon the fort should con. rise, the debarkation commenced ; and, tinue only to prevent its re-establishduring the course of that day, the ment. whole of the infantry, with some field- During this time the artillery and pieces, were landed. Tarragona was engineer horses, and the cavalry and immediately reconnoitred and invest. artillery stores, were landed, when ed; the point of attack was decided the weather would permit, and the upon, and a place for the depot of engineer officers continued their preartillery stores fixed. -Having recon. parations for the siege. On the 8th, noitred the fortress, the general deci. the operations were sufficiently ad. dedon attacking it on the western side, vanced to enable Major Thackaray, which was not only the weakest, but the chief officer of engineers, at a disthe most convenient for bringing up tance of about 450 yards from the the stores to the batteries. Unfor. body of the place, to construct two tunately, however, the enemy had very heavy batteries to enfilade it. On the nearly completed the re-establishment night of the 10th, and the morning of the Fuerte Reale, (which lies be of the 13th, their fire was opened ; tween 350 and 400 yards from the but although the fire was well directbody of the place), which it was ne. ed, and kept up with great spirit, that cessary to take, before any batteries of the garrison was undiminished. could be erceted against the town. During the course of the day, Major The enemy was still at work at the Thackaray having reported that he fort; and to prevent his strengthening was now perfectly prepared to push it, two batteries were begun on the the siege with vigour, the fire on the Fuerte Reale was increased, and it was the irregularity in landing the stores-decided to storm that work during much of this, from the surf and wea. the night. The intelligence, however, ther, was probably unavoidable ; but which General Murray received late much likewise proceeded from the ir. that evening, of the approach of Mar- regularity of the transport boats, and shal Suchet, and of the march of a from their working in the night, when French column from Barcelona, pre. they could not be seen. A considera. sented him from carrying his intention ble delay arose likewise from the slowinto execution.-" He thought,” ac- ness, and the great unwillingness with cording to his own statement, “it which the foreign troops worked. This would have been an useless waste of the was a most serious inconvenience, and lives of British soldiers, to attempt to delayed the opening of the two last carry a work which he saw must be batteries for 24 hours.-It required abandoned the next day.” So far had an additional party of 200 British solthe operations against Tarragona been diers, to carry to the batteries the carried when the siege was raised. ammunition which one of these parties

“ In the first view of the case," threw away when they came under said Sir John Murray, when address- fire. ing Lord Wellington on the subject of “ All these circumstances together this miscarriage, “your lordship may tended to retard our progress; but still, perhaps beof opinion, that more might from the 4th at night, till the 11th in have been done ; and, under more fa- the morning, five batteries were conyourable circumstances, no doubt we structed ; and we were then in a state might have been farther advanced, to prosecute the siege without fear of but under no circumstances materially delay, had we by good fortune been 80. Your lordship, in judging of this enabled to continue it. Before I con. point, will, I hope, take into consider- clude this part of the subject, I beg ation the strength of the place, which to state that it was not till after the although the outworks (with the ex- fall of the Coll de Ballaguer, that, in ception of the Fuerte Reale) were de point of fire, we derived any material stroyed, was still in a formidable state assistance from the naval branch of the of defence, such indeed, that Major expedition. The bombs and gunThackaray, on the 8th or 9th, de. boats came from thence on the 8th clared it his deliberate opinion, that and 9th, and I think, but I cannot the place could not be taken in less for certain recollect if it was so, that than fourteen or fifteen days from that some of them were again sent back on time."

the 10th and 11th." “ It is likewise to be recollected, General Murray defended his conthat the army invested the place with- duct, in raising

the siege, by stating, out a single preparation having been that very large French armies were admade for a siege. We had not a sin. vancing to the relief of the place. gle fascine or gabion, nor did the ves- From the most accurate statements sel arrive, which had been sent to which he had it in his power to proIvica for the materials collected, un- cure, he estimated Marshal Suchet's til the evening of the 4th or 5th. It force, in the kingdom of Valencia, to was not until the day following their be 23 or 24,000 men, and the army of arrival that the materials could be Catalonia, including the garrison, to brought to the depot.

be 22,900, composing altogether an « A considerable delay was farther army of 46,000 men.

The French experienced by Major Thackaray from however, could not have brought all

this force to act against the allied ar. fairs come to this extremity, the allies my in Catalonia ; but suppose they must have lost every horse belonging left in Valencia 11,000 men, (and it to the army,-every piece of field ar. appears they did not leave so many) tillery, and, in all probability, the and 10,000 in the garrisons of Cata- greater part, if not the whole, of the lonia, a disposeable army of 24,000 covering division of infantry. men at least was still at the command The first reports of the enemy's of Suchet. To oppose this army, movements reached General Murray General Murray stated that he had on the 7th June, when he learned that about 13,000 men under his own imme- the disposeable column from Gerona diate command ; and from general Co. was in march for Barcelona, and that pons's statement, his disposeable force every effort was making to collect amounted to 8,500 men, without pay, 10,000 men immediately at that place ; without discipline, without a single to this corps were attached 4 pieces piece of cannon, without the means of of artillery. This report was confirmsubsisting, and totally

incapable of act. ed from every quarter. General Copons ing in the field. The allied army concurred in the statement; Colonel therefore consisted of 21,500 men ; of Manso, who commanded the advanced whom 4,500 were British and Ger. posts, and who had a constant commumans, 13 or 14,000 Sicilians, 600 Ca- nication with Barcelona, daily made labrese, and the remainder Spaniards. the same report; on one occasion, In cavalry the enemy were greatly su- he rated the enemy's force so high perior.-Such were the strength and as 12,000 men ; in short, from what. composition of an army, with which ever source General Murray derived General Murray was expected to meet intelligence, he found the numbers to the enemy's force, composed of the agree. On the 10th this column ocbest troops of France, and long ha- cupied Villa Franca ; and on the 11th bituated to act in a body. But the established itself at Vendrill, which is difference in the situation of the ar. about twelve hours march from Tarra. mies was not less striking. The French gona, whence it had the choice of progeneral possessed, in every direction, ceeding by either of three convenient fortresses around him to cover his ar roads With a very inadequate dismy, if defeated; to furnish his sup- poseable force, each of these roads plies, or to retire upon, if he wished must have been occupied by the allied to avoid an action, for the purpose of army, and the two corps, (such is the bringing up more troops. The allied difficulty of communication) posted army, on the contrary, was in the open where the enemy did not advance, held, without one serviceable point could not have joined the third body, d'appui, and without a place at which to which would thus have been exposed halt even for a day. But in case of re- to the whole force of the assailants. treat, whither could it retire? To the This corps of the enemy, it is true, sudships. Here, indeed, the army would denly broke up (but after the expedihave been safe, if it ever reached them; tion had re-embarked) alarmed by the but an embarkation, which it would appearance of Sir Edward Pellew's have required three days at least to fleet in the Bay of Rossas, an event complete, was too serious an operation with which General Murray was unfor any army in an open bay, and on a acquainted. beach, where experience had already On the other hand, from Valencia shewn it was impossible to disembark, Marshal Suchet was advancing with the but in the lightest boats. Had af. utmost rapidity-On the 9th, General

« PoprzedniaDalej »