« PreviousContinue »
defeated, by directing Lieutenant-General Cole to attack the enemy's infantry, who were supporting their cavalry. Lieutenant-General Cole immediately attacked, and defeated them with the 27th and 40th regiments, which advanced to the charge with bayonets, Colonel Stubb's Portuguese brigade supporting, and the enemy gave way: many were killed and wounded; and Major-General Alten's brigade of cavalry having pursued the fugitives, 240 prisoners were taken.
The enemy's object was to cut off Lord Wellington's communication with Cuidad Rodrigo, and Salamanca, and his manæuvres for that purpose were answered by a correspondent movement of the combined army, until the 21st, when his Lordship concentrated his whole force on the left bank of the river Tormes. On the following morning the British General placed his troops in a position of which the right was upon one of the two heights called the Dos Arapiles, and the left on the Tormes, below the ford of Santa Martha. In the course of the night of the 21st, Lord Wellington received intelligence that General Chauvel had arrived at Pollos with the cavalry and horse-artillery of the army of the north, to join Marshal Marmont, which junction his Lordship was aware would be effected on the 22d or 23d at the latest.
After a variety of evolutions and movements, the enemy appeared to have determined upon his plan of attack, about two in the afternoon of the 22d ; and under cover of a heavy cannonade, which, however, did but very little damage, he extended bis left, and moved forward, apparently with an intention to embrace, by this position of his troops, and by his fire, the post of the allied army on the Arapiles ; and from thence, to break and attack the line, or, at all events, to render difficult any movement of the British to their right. Lord Wellington foresaw the enemy's designs, and, at the same time, found a favorable opportunity of attacking him. The right was therefore, reinforced with the 5th division, which was placed behind the village of Arapiles, on the right of the 4th division, with the 6th and 7th divisions in reserve; and as soon as these troops had taken their station, Major-General Pakenham (since killed) moved with the 3d division supported by a body of cavalry to turn the enemy's left on the heights, while Brigadier-General (now Sir Thomas) Bradford's brigade, the 5th division under LieutenantGeneral Leith, with the 4th division under General Cole, and the cavalry under Lieutenant-General Sir S. Cotton, attacked the enemy in front, supported by the 6th division under MajorGeneral Henry Clinton, the 7th division under Major-General John Hope, and Don Carlos D’Espagne’s Spanish division, and Brigadier-General Pack supported the left of the 4th division by attacking that post on the Dos Arapiles, which the enemy held. The 1st and light division occupied the ground on the left, and were in reserve,
These were the dispositions made by the British commander for the attack of the enemy's left, and which completely succeeded. One division of the enemy's infantry however, made a stand against the 4th division and obliged it to give way, but the 6th division under Major-General Henry Clinton, being ordered up by Marshal Beresford, who, about the same time, received a severe wound, the scales were turned, and the combined army obtained a most decisive victory. The rest of the action, both during that day and on the 23d, was more a pursuit than a fight; wherein, nevertheless, General Bock's brigade of heavy cavalry distinguished itself by a gallant attack on the enemy's rear guard, making about 1700 prisoners.
The loss of the enemy on the field of battle, was 5,000 killed, among whom were many of rank; one General, three Colonels, three Lieutenant-Colonels, 130 officers of inferior rank, and between 6 and 7000 prisoners, on the day of the action. Marshal Marmont lost his right arm, four general officers were killed, and several wounded. The other trophies of victory were, eleven pieces of cannon, two eagles, and six colours. The loss of the British was 449 killed, 3,011 wounded, 101 missing; that of the Portuguese, 372 killed, 1,741 wounded, and 208 missing: making a total of 5882.
Of the small share the Spaniards had in this action, fought on their ground, and for their cause, a judgment may be formed from their return of loss, consisting of two killed and four wounded.
The victorious army continued its march after the enemy, part
of which crossed the Douro at Puente de Douro on the 27th, and the remainder proceeded to the bridge of Tudela over that river. Joseph Buonaparte, who had left Madrid on the 21st, with the army of the centre, directing his march by the Escurial upon Alba de Tormes, on hearing, on the 25th, of Marshal Marmont's defeat, retreated towards Segovia.
Nothing, therefore, could be more timely than the battle of Salamanca, as the delay of a very few days would have materially strengthened the British army. During the 28th and 29th, the rear guard of the fugitives maintained itself in some strength on the left bank of the Douro; but on the approach of the light divisions and cavalry of the pursuers, it crossed the river, and followed the motions of the main body, abandoning Valladolid, in which they left seventeen pieces of cannon, much ammunition, and their hospital with about 300 sick and wounded. Parties of the allied army entered that city on the sotb, where they were received with enthusiastic joy. The central French army, in the mean time, had arrived at Segovia, with the apparent intention of making a junction with Marshal Marmont's corps on the upper Douro. To prevent this, Lord Wellington moved on the 1st of August to Cuellar. On the same day, Joseph Buonaparte retired from Segovia, and marched through the pass of Guadarama, leaving an advanced guard of cavalry: he destroyed the cannon and ammunition which were in the castle ; carried off the church plate, and other valuable property, and levied a contribution on the inhabitants.
The thanks of both Houses of Parliament were voted on this occasion in the following words. “ That the thanks of this House be given to General the Marquess of Wellington for the many and great services which he has rendered to this kingdom, and to His Majesty's allies, during the late campaign, and more particularly for the glorious and decisive victory obtained near Salamanca by the allied army under his Lordship’s command, upon the 22d of July last, whereby the French power in Spain has been essentially diminished, the siege of Cadiz bas been raised, and the southern provinces have been rescued from the hands of the enemy.” Lord Wellington, finding that Marshal Marmont's beaten R. M. Cal.
army continued its retreat upon Burgos, in a state not likely to take the field for some time, determined either to bring Josepla Buonaparte to an action, or compel him to quit the capital. On the 6th of August he moved from Cuellar, reached Segovia on the 7th, and halted the following day at St. Ildofonso. The advanced cavalry, after passing the Guadarama, moved forward on the 11th, and driving in the French cavalry, about 2,000 in number, established itself at Majalahonda, under BrigadierGeneral (now Sir Benjamin) D'Urban. The enemy's cavalry returned in the afternoon, when the Brigadier General having formed the Portuguese cavalry, supported by the horse-artillery, ordered a charge upon the leading squadrons of the French. The valor of the Portuguese, notwithstanding the exertions of their officers, gave way, and they turned about before they reached the enemy. They fled through the village of Majalahonda to a body of dragoons of the King's German Legion, leaving unprotected some guns, which fell into the hands of their pursuers. The German cavalry bravely made a charge, and stopped the French, who, upon the advance of other troops, finally retreated; but considerable loss was incurred in this unfortunate affair.
The army moved forward, and on the 12th two of its divivisions entered Madrid, where they were received with great joy. Joseph Buonaparte had retired with the army of the centre by the Toledo road, leaving a garrison in Fort La China, in the palace of La Retiro. On the evening of the 13th, La Retiro was invested, and preparations were made for attacking the works in the morning, when the commandant of La China sent an offer of capitulation. The honors of war were granted him upon surrendering the whole garrison and all the persons in the fort prisoners, with all its magazines and artillery. The total number of prisoners, of all descriptions, amounted to 2,500 ; of brass ordnance 189 pieces were found, with a great quantity of ammunition, stores, provision, and clothing.
Lord Wellington quitted Madrid on the 1st of September, having previously ordered his troops to be collected at Arevalo : from that place the army moved on the 4th, and on the 6th crossed the Douro. It advanced into Valladolid, the enemy re
treating before it on the Puiserga, which river they crossed. His Lordship continued following the enemy, who were retreating upon Burgos; and on the 16th he was joined by three divisions of infantry and a small body of cavalry of the Gallician army, under General Castanos. On the 17th the enemy were driven to the heights, close to Burgos, through which city they retired in the night, leaving behind them some stores and a quantity of provision. A considerable garrison was placed in the castle of Burgos, which commands the passage of the river, and retarded the crossing of the allied army till the 19th. The French had also fortified with a horn-work the hill of St. Michael, 303 yards from the castle, and commanding some of its works. The possession of this hill was a necessary preliminary to an attack on the castle : its outworks were, therefore, immediately occupied by the allied troops, and as soon as it was dark, an assault was made on the hornwork, which was carried, but not without considerable loss. On the night of the 22d, Lord Wellington directed that an attempt should be made to storm the exterior line of the enemy's works : the attack was to have been made by detachments of the Portuguese, who occus pied the town of Burgos, and invested the castle on the southwest side, while a detachment of English, under Major Lawrie, should scale the wall in front. The Portuguese, unfortunately, were not able to overcome the opposition they met with, and the escalade could not take place : the loss on this failure was
The French army was now about Pancorbo and Miranda on the Ebro, with their advanced post at Breviesca. A mine, which had been laid under the exterior line of the castle, exploded on the night of the 29th, and made a breach in the wall, which a party of the assailants immediately attempted to storm, but the darkness causing the detachnient which was meant to support them, to miss its way, they were driven off. The superiority of the enemy's fire afterwards prevented the construction of batteries for widening the breach. A second mine, however, being sprung on the 4th of October, another breach was made, which was immediately stormed with success, and the allied troops established themselves within the exterior line.