When his 20,000 men, collected from all the three corps which formed the Army of the South, set out on the last day of the old year 1810, Soult left behind him three problems, each of which (as he was well aware) might assume a dangerous aspect at any moment. We have already indicated their character. Would Victor, with 19,000 men left to him for the blockade of Cadiz, be able to hold with security the immense semicircle of lines and batteries which threatened the island stronghold of the Cortes? Would the provisional garrison which had been patched up for Seville prove strong enough to defend that capital and its arsenals against any possible attack of roving Spanish detachments, from the mountains of the west and south? Would Sebastiani and the 4th Corps be able to beat back any attempt by the Army of Murcia to trespass upon the limits of the broad and rugged province of Granada? We may add that it was conceivable that all these three problems might demand a simultaneous solution. For if all the Spanish forces had been guided by a single capable brain, nothing would have been more obvious to conceive than a plan for setting them all to work at once. If a sortie from Cadiz were taken in hand, it would have the best chance of success supposing that Sebastiani were to be distracted by an invasion of Granada, and Seville threatened by any force that could be collected in the Condado de Niebla, or the mountains above Ronda.
[p. 92]Soult, as Napoleon pointed out to him two months later, had committed a considerable fault by not putting all the divisions left behind in Andalusia under a single commander, responsible for all parts of the kingdom alike. Victor was given no authority over Sebastiani, nor even over Daricau, who had been left as governor of Seville, or Godinot, whose depleted division occupied the province of Cordova. Napoleon, always suspicious of Soult, accused him of having neglected this precaution because he was jealous of Victor, and would not make him as great as himself. Whether this was so or not, it is at any rate clear that the position was made much more dangerous by the fact that each of the three problems named above would be presented to a different commander, who would be prone to think of his own troubles alone, and to neglect those of his colleagues. If all three dangers became threatening at the same moment, each general would regard his own as the most important, and bestow comparatively little care on those which menaced the others. As a matter of fact, Victor was almost destroyed, because Sebastiani did not come to his help, when the sally from Cadiz took place early in March; and Seville was in serious danger a few days later, because there was no one who could order Godinot to march to its aid from Cordova without delay.
Soult was fully aware of all the possible perils of his absence. Apparently he thought Sebastiani was in the greater danger, for he requisitioned only a few cavalry and artillery from the 4th Corps, and left it practically intact to defend the province of Granada against the Army of Murcia. As to Seville, he considered that it could only be endangered by Ballasteros, and for that reason did his best to destroy that general’s division, by causing Gazan to hunt it as far as the borders of Portugal—a diversion which nearly wrecked the Estremaduran expedition for[p. 93] lack of infantry. When Gazan had driven Ballasteros over the Guadiana, after the action of Castillejos (January 25), the Marshal thought that the Spaniard was out of the game, and no longer in a position to do harm—in which he erred, for this irrepressible enemy was back in Andalusia within a few weeks, and was actually threatening Seville early in March.
But the greatest danger was really on the side of Cadiz, where Victor, deprived of nearly all his cavalry and one regiment of infantry for the Estremaduran expedition, had also to furnish outlying detachments—a garrison for Xeres and the column with which General Remond was operating in the Condado de Niebla, far to the west. He had only 19,000 men left for the defence of the Lines, of which a considerable proportion consisted of artillery, sappers, and marine troops, needed for the siege but useless for a fight in the open, if the enemy should make a sally by sea against his rear. The Duke of Belluno was anxious, and rightly so: for the nearest possible succours were Sebastiani’s troops in Granada and Malaga, many marches away, while the garrison of Cadiz was very strong, and indeed outnumbered his own force. At the beginning of February it comprised, including the urban militia, nearly 20,000 Spanish troops; Copons had just been withdrawn from the west to join it. There was also an Anglo-Portuguese division. General Graham had been left a considerable force, even after Wellington withdrew certain regiments to join in the defence of the Lines of Torres Vedras. He had two composite battalions of the Guards, the 2/47th, 2/67th, 2/87th, a half battalion of the 2/95th, the two battalions of the 20th Portuguese, and a provisional battalion of German recruits, as also two squadrons of the 2nd Hussars of the King’s German Legion, and two field batteries. The whole amounted to between 5,000 and 6,000 men. It is curious to note that Napoleon, in the dispatch by which he spurred Soult on to his Estremaduran expedition, assured him ‘that there had never been more than three English regiments at Cadiz, and that they had all gone to Lisbon,’ so that the Isle of Leon and city were only defended[p. 94] by ‘ten thousand unhappy Spaniards without resolution or power to resist.’ When the Emperor’s directions were based upon information so utterly incorrect as this, it was hard for his generals to satisfy him!
Within a few days of the withdrawal of the detachment taken by Soult from Victor, the news came to Cadiz that the 1st Corps had been weakened: and when the destination of the expedition was known, it seemed probable that no reserves had been left at Seville on which the besieging force could count. The idea of an attack on Victor was at once broached by the Regency, and accepted by General Graham; after some discussion, it was considered best not to assail the lines by a disembarkation from the Isle of Leon, but to land as large a force as could be spared in the rear of the enemy, at Tarifa, Algesiras, or some other point of Southern Andalusia which was in the hands of the Allies. Such a movement, if properly conducted, would compel Victor to draw backward, in order to hold off the Allies from the Lines. He would have to fight at some distance inland, leaving a minimum garrison to protect his forts and batteries, and it was proposed that the fleet and the troops left in Cadiz should fall upon them during his enforced absence.
The execution of this plan was deferred for some weeks, partly because of the difficulty of providing transport by sea for a large expeditionary force, partly because Gazan was unexpectedly drawn back into Andalusia by Ballasteros’s division, and was at the end of January in a position from which he might easily have reinforced Victor. When he had gone off to Estremadura, in the wake of Soult, the problem became simpler. After drawing back Copons’s division from the Condado de Niebla to Cadiz (as has already been mentioned), the Regency found themselves able to provide 8,000 men for embarkation, while leaving 7,000 regulars and the urban militia to hold Cadiz. Graham was ready to join in, with all his troops save the battalion companies of the 2/47th and the 20th Portuguese, and the doubtfully effective German battalion, which were to remain behind, for he did not wish to withdraw the whole British force from Cadiz at once. But he procured the aid of an almost equivalent number of bayonets from an external source: he wrote to General Campbell, com[p. 95]manding at Gibraltar, begging him to spare reinforcements from the garrison of that fortress and of the minor stronghold of Tarifa, at the extreme southern point of Europe, which was then maintained as a sort of dependency of Gibraltar. Campbell eagerly consented to take part in the plan and promised to lend 1,000 infantry. This assistance would bring up the British contingent to 5,000 men. The Spaniards were also to collect some small reinforcements: there was an irregular force under General Beguines operating in the Ronda mountains, and basing itself on Gibraltar. It was ordered to join the expedition when it should come to land, and (as we shall see) actually did so, with a force of three battalions or 1,600 men. The total of the troops whom it was proposed to collect amounted, therefore, to 9,600 Spaniards and 5,000 British, a force almost equal in numbers to Victor’s depleted corps. But it was clear that the Marshal would have to leave some sort of a garrison in the Lines before Cadiz, and that the Allies would have a numerical superiority, if they could force on a fight at a distance from the sea and the French base.
One cardinal mistake was made in planning the expedition. Its command was to be entrusted to General Manuel La Pe?a, then the senior officer in Cadiz, a man with a talent for plausible talking and diplomacy, but one who had already shown himself a selfish colleague and a disloyal subordinate. This was the same man who in 1808, nearly three years back, had sacrificed his chief Casta?os at the disastrous battle of Tudela, by refusing to march to the sound of the guns, and securing a safe retreat for himself and his 10,000 men, while the main army was being crushed, only four miles away, by Marshal Lannes. Though not personally a coward, he was a shirker of responsibilities, and incapable of a swift and heroic decision. He was ambitious enough to aspire to and intrigue for a post of importance, but collapsed when it became necessary to discharge its duties. He treated Graham in 1811 precisely as he had treated Casta?os in 1808, and it was not his fault that the sally from Cadiz failed to end in a disaster. The English lieutenant-general had dis[p. 96]cretionary authority from his Government to refuse to act in any joint expedition of which he was not given the command. But anxious to bring matters to a head, and deceived by La Pe?a’s mild plausibility, he consented to take the second place, on the ground that the Spaniard contributed the larger body of troops to the enterprise.
If Graham himself had headed the united force, it is certain that the siege of Cadiz would have been raised for the moment, though what would have followed that success no man can say, for it would have brought about such a convulsion in Andalusia, and such a concentration of the French troops, that the whole of the conditions of the war in the south would have been altered. Graham had all the qualities which La Pe?a lacked—indomitable resolution, swift decision, a good eye for topography, the power of inspiring enthusiastic confidence in his troops. He was no mere professional soldier, but a crusader with a mission; indeed his personal history is one of extraordinary interest. When the French Revolution broke out he was a civilian of mature years, a Whig Member of Parliament, aged forty-four, mainly known as a great sportsman and a bold cross-country rider. Yet certainly if the war of 1793 had not come to pass, he would only be remembered now as the husband of that beautiful Mrs. Graham whose portrait is one of Gainsborough’s best-known masterpieces.
Portrait of Lieutenant-General Thomas Graham
Enlarge Lieutenant-General Thomas Graham
Driven to the Riviera in 1792 by the failing health of his wife, who died at Hyères, Graham was an eye-witness of the outbreak of violence and blind rage in France which followed Brunswick’s invasion. He himself was arrested—his wife’s coffin was torn open by a mob which insisted that he was smuggling ‘arms for aristocrats’ therein. He narrowly escaped with his life, and returned to England convinced that the French had[p. 97] become a nation of wild beasts, hostes humani generis. ‘I had once deprecated,’ he wrote at the time, ‘the hostile interference of Britain in the internal affairs of France, but what I have seen in my journey through that country makes me consider that war with her has become just and necessary in self-defence of our constitution.’ Widowed and childless, he thought it his duty to go to the front at once, despite of his forty-four years and his lack of military training. He devoted all his available funds to the raising, in his own county, of the 90th Foot, the ‘Perthshire volunteers,’ of which he became the honorary colonel. He could not take command of the corps, because he had no substantive military rank, but he could not keep at home. He went out to the Mediterranean as a sort of volunteer aide-de-camp to Lord Mulgrave, and afterwards, being found useful owing to his gift of languages—he knew not only Italian but German, a rare accomplishment in those days—he was entrusted with a special mission to the Austrian army of Italy. He served through all the disasters of Beaulieu and Würmser, starved in Mantua, and froze in the Tyrolese Alps.
From that time onward we find him wherever there was fighting against the French to be done—in Sicily, Minorca, Malta, Egypt, Portugal. So great were his services that, contrary to all War Office rules, his honorary colonelship was changed to a regular commission on the staff, and in 1808-9 he served first as the British attaché with Casta?os’s army, and later as one of Sir John Moore’s aides-de-camp. In reward for brilliant service in the Corunna campaign he was given in 1810 the command of the British force at Cadiz. And so it came about that this Whig Member of Parliament, who had commenced soldiering at forty-four (like Oliver Cromwell and Julius Caesar), was at sixty-two leading a British division in the field. He had an iron frame, and his spirit was as firm as his body—the crusade had to be fought out to the end, though the enemy was now the Corsican Tyrant, not the Atheist Republic against which he had first drawn his sword. It was in keeping with all[p. 98] his previous career that he consented to take the second place in the Tarifa expedition; to get the army started was essential—his personal position counted for nothing with him. Before a month was out he had good reason to regret that he had been so self-denying.
After many tiresome delays the English contingent sailed from Cadiz on February 21st, but met with such fierce west winds, when it neared Cape Trafalgar, that the convoy could not make the difficult harbour of Tarifa, and was blown past it into Gibraltar Bay, where Graham landed on the 23rd at Algesiras. Here he found waiting for him a ‘flank battalion’ of 536 bayonets, which General Campbell had made up for him out of the six flank companies of the 1/9th, 1/28th, and 2/82nd. From Algesiras the troops marched on the 24th to Tarifa, where they picked up another reinforcement provided by Campbell, the eight battalion companies of the 1/28th, which had been doing garrison duty in that little fortress—460 men in all. Having now just 5,196 men, Graham divided the infantry into two brigades. The first under General Dilkes numbered 1,900 bayonets: it was composed of the two composite battalions of the Guards, together with the flank battalion from Gibraltar and two companies of the 95th Rifles. The second brigade, under Colonel Wheatley, had 2,633 bayonets, and consisted of the 1/28th, 2/67th, 2/87th, and another ‘flank battalion’ under Colonel Barnard, composed of the two light companies of the 20th Portuguese (the only troops of that nation which served in the expedition), those of the 2/47th, with four more companies of the 95th Rifles. There were only 206 cavalry—two squadrons of the 2nd Hussars of the King’s German Legion—and ten guns under Major Duncan.
[p. 99]The Spanish contingent had sailed three days after Graham, had met with the same rough weather, and had been much beaten about. But the troops began to arrive at Tarifa on the 26th, and were all ashore on the 27th. La Pe?a assumed command, was all politeness, and made over to Graham two unbrigaded battalions of his own, to bring up the force of the two small British brigades to a higher figure. The rest of his troops were organized in two divisions under Lardizabal and the Prince of Anglona, the first five, the second six battalions strong; he had brought fourteen guns, and four squadrons of horse under an English colonel in the Spanish service, Samuel Whittingham, an officer who did not add to his laurels during this expedition.
On arriving at the bridge of Facinas and the village of Bolonia, ten miles outside Tarifa, La Pe?a had to make up his mind whether he would march against the rear of the French lines before Cadiz by the track nearer to the coast, which passes through Vejer de la Frontera, Conil, and Chiclana, or by the inland road through the mountains, which runs past Casas Viejas to Medina Sidonia. The two roads at their bifurcation are separated by the long lagoon of La Janda, a very shallow sheet of water, seven miles long, which nearly dries up in summer, but was at this moment full to overflowing from spring rains. To take the inland route across the mountains was by far the better course. The road was not good, but if the Allies could reach Medina Sidonia with their army intact, Victor[p. 100] would be forced to come out and attack them, at a great distance from his Lines. For it would be practically impossible for the Marshal to allow La Pe?a and Graham to establish themselves at Medina, in the rear of his head quarters, and backed by the Sierra de Jerez, from whose skirts they could send out as many detachments as they pleased, to cut the communication between Seville and the Lines. There was little danger of being taken in the rear by troops sent by the distant Sebastiani, whose nearest forces were at Marbella, eighty miles away, and whose attention was at this moment fully taken up by the local guerrilleros, who had been turned loose on him. Indeed, Sebastiani for some time thought that the expedition was directed against himself, and was preparing to concentrate and take the defensive.杭州大型水疗会所 The only drawbacks to the Medina Sidonia route were there would be no chance of communicating along it with the garrison of Cadiz, and that the question of provisions might grow serious if the campaign were protracted, for the region was barren and the army ill provided with transport. But a few days would settle the affair—Victor would be compelled to come out at once and fight, with every man that he could bring, and while he was engaged at Medina, there would be nothing to prevent the 7,000 Spaniards in Cadiz from crossing the harbour and destroying the ill-garrisoned Lines. This in itself, even if the Allies failed to hold back the Marshal, would have an immense effect all over Andalusia.
La Pe?a originally intended to take the right-hand road, and ordered Beguines, who was now in the high hills to the east, about 杭州桑拿按摩特服 Ximena, to join him with his roving brigade at Casas Viejas. The column left Facinas late in the evening, for La Pe?a had a great and misplaced belief in night marches, by which he always hoped to gain time on the enemy, since his moves could not be discovered or reported till the next morning. He overlooked the corresponding disadvantage of the extreme slowness of progress over bad roads in rugged country, the very real danger that the troops (or some of them) might miss their way in the dark, and the inevitable fatigue to the men from losing their proper hours of sleep. Graham’s laconic diary shows how[p. 101] this worked out. ‘Marched in the evening, very tedious from filing across water (the stream which fills the head of the lagoon of La Janda) and other difficulties. Misled by the guides on quitting the Cortigo de la 杭州保健服务 Janda (farm at the head of the lagoon): the counter-march made a most fatiguing night…. It was twelve noon before the troops halted, having been nineteen hours under arms.’
The troops of Lardizabal, at the head of the column, had reached Casas Viejas in the morning, but the English division in the rear of the army had got no further than the northern end of the lagoon, some thirteen miles from their starting-place at Puente de Facinas. There was a violent east wind, the night had been very cold, and the men were much fatigued.
Lardizabal on reaching Casas Viejas had found the convent, which was the only solid building there, occupied by a French post, two companies sent out by General Cassagne from Medina Sidonia to watch the high-road. Thinking at first that he was only about to be worried by guerrilleros, the French captain 杭州保健按摩上门 shut himself up behind his barricades, instead of retreating at once. When he found out his mistake, and saw that a whole army was about him, it was too late to get off without loss. La Pe?a ordered that the convent should be left alone, as he did not wish to waste time in battering and storming it. The whole of his troops had come up, including the roving force of 1,600 men from the hills under Beguines, when the French unwisely made a bolt eastward, in the hope of escaping. The little column was pursued and cut up by a squadron of Busche’s German Hussars, many being killed and captured. From the prisoners and Beguines’s scouts La Pe?a learnt that Medina Sidonia was (contrary to his expectation) held by a serious force of French—Cassagne’s detachment being now composed of five battalions of infantry, a battery, and a cavalry 杭州足浴足疗 regiment, about 3,000 men. The walls had been repaired, it was said, and the place was in a state of defence.
The Spanish general should have rejoiced to learn that Victor had sent an appreciable part of his army so far afield—fifteen miles from Chiclana—and by advancing he could have forced the Marshal to come to this distance from his lines in order to support Cassagne. A battle would no doubt have followed[p. 102]—but it was for a battle that the army had sailed to Tarifa. And by drawing Victor’s whole fighting force so far away from Cadiz, La Pe?a would have given a unique opportunity to the garrison to come out and destroy the siege-works. Meanwhile, if the French lost the battle they would be annihilated, being off their line of retreat; if they won it, they would return to find the greater part of the siege-works 浙江杭州龙凤论坛 destroyed.
But this was not the line of thought that guided La Pe?a; he was, as his previous record showed, a shirker of responsibilities, and the prospect of a battle on the morrow, or the day after, seems to have paralysed him. To every one’s surprise he gave orders that the army, waiting till dusk had come on, should leave the Medina road, and march across country by a bad bridle-path to Vejer, on the other route from Tarifa to Cadiz. Graham protested against a second night march, after the experience of the first, and rightly, for news came in ere night that the road along the north side of the Barbate river, which La Pe?a had intended to use, was absolutely under water from inundations. La Pe?a therefore consented to wait till the next morning (March 3rd) and to use another country road, that between the north end of the 杭州桑拿按摩哪儿好 La Janda lagoon and the river into which it falls. The army marched at 8 o’clock—Lardizabal as before in front, the English division in the rear. But on reaching the intended crossing-place, it was found that this road, like that north of the river, was flooded, the lagoon having overflowed at its northern end, and joined itself in one shallow sheet of water to the Barbate. Graham, on arriving at the passage, found the Spaniards halted at the edge of the flood, and apparently at a nonplus. The energetic old man took the business out of La Pe?a’s hands—he and his staff rode into the water, and sought personally for the track of the submerged causeway, which they fortunately found to be nowhere more than three feet under the surface of the flood. He placed men along the track at intervals, to guide those who should follow, and sat on his horse in the middle of the ford encouraging the troops as they marched past him. ‘I set the example of going into the water,’ he remarks in his diary, ‘which was followed by Lacy, the Prince of Anglona, and others. The passage lasted three hours, and would have taken double that time but for the[p. 103] exertions made to force the men to keep the files connected.’ It was 12 o’clock at night before the army reached Vejer—having taken fifteen hours to cover ten miles, owing to the delays at the inundation. Every one was wet through and much fatigued, for the weather was still very cold.