Imágenes de páginas



CHAP. II. he forbade his generals in the principality, to

1808. correspond with Joseph or his ministers, though September.

he deemed it prudent to refrain from any public annunciation of his design.

The efforts hitherto made for the reduction of Catalonia had signally failed. At the end of August the French only retained possession of Barcelona and Figueras. By the Marques Palacio new levies were organized with all possible rapidity. The leading Junta of the province had issued an ordinance, directing forty tercios or battalions of Miquelets to be embodied; and part of these were already in the field. Reinforcements had been received from Majorca, Minorca, and Granada ; and these, with the four thousand troops which had recently arrived from Portugal, augmented the regular army in Catalonia to about twenty-eight thousand men, exclusive of the garrisons of Hostalrich, Rosas, and Gerona.

The chief object of the Catalans was to recover Barcelona ; and the attention of Palacio was exclusively occupied with preparations for a siege. With this view he collected magazines at different points on the Llobregat; and, in order to secure their safety, he took up an in



trenched position on a mountain in rear of San CHAP. II. Boy. Duhesme, alarmed by these measures,

1808. determined on driving the army of Palacio from

September. the Llobregat. With this purpose, on the night of the first of September, he marched out from Barcelona; and on the morning of the second commenced an attack on the line occupied by the enemy. A severe engagement ensued. The progress of the assailants was repeatedly checked by the courage of the Miquelets ; but the camp of San Boy was carried, and three guns, with a considerable quantity of provisions, clothing, and other stores, fell into the hands of the French.

The Catalan army were far from being dispirited by this misfortune ; and Palacio, having determined to proceed by blockade, took up a new position on the mountains in rear of St. Vicensa and Molino del Rey, which commanded the point of junction of the roads to Lerida and Tarragona. There are only two other principal debouchés from the plain of Barcelona. To guard these a division was encamped on the mountains in front of St. André. The other roads which traverse the high chain which extends from the Besos to the Llobregat, are im



CHAP. II. passable for carriages ; but, in order to guard 1808.

them, posts were established at suitable distances October. along the ridge, and along the two rivers, to the

points at which they disembogue into the sea.

Palacio's head-quarters were at Villa Franca ; and hopes were entertained that, by a general rising of the inhabitants, the garrison would be forced to surrender. Magnificent offers were made to Lecchi, governor of the city, to induce him to betray his trust—offers which that General rejected with honourable indignation. In the meanwhile, the danger of Duhesme was daily increasing. His force was weakened to such a degree, by frequent contests with the blockading army, that he could no longer venture on a sortie. A deficiency of provisions was already felt in the city, and the prospects of the garrison were becoming daily more cloudy and unhopeful.

Such was the situation of affairs in Catalonia, when a new force, under command of General Gouvion St. Cyr, entered the province. It amounted to about eighteenthousand men, ehiefly drawn from the army in Italy, commanded by Eugene de Beauharnois. During



September, and the early part of October, this CHAP. II. corps had assembled at Perpignan ; but the

1808. requisite arrangements for its advance were so

November. tardily completed, that the troops did not quit their cantonments till the beginning of November.

The first operation of St. Cyr was to invest the town of Rosas. Rosas stands at the lower extremity of a fine bay, about four leagues east of Figueras, where the plain of Ampourdan touches the skirts of the Pyrenees. The possession of this place was considered indispensable, because, while the fine anchorage which it commands was open to the British, it was nearly impossible to re-victual Barcelona by sea; and the route by land was obstructed by Gerona and Hostalrich, both of which places were held by the Nov. 6. Spaniards.

On the sixth, St. Cyr established his headquarters at Figueras, where he formed a junction with the corps of Reille. To this General the conduct of the siege was committed, and, uniting the Italian division of General Pino to his own, Reille took up a position near the town. On the day following, the French took possession of the heights which encompass the whole bay ;



CHAP. II. and the troops and peasants from the neigh

bouring villages were driven into the town. 1808. November.

The works of Rosas were in a feeble and dilapidated condition. The injuries sustained in the former siege had been but imperfectly repaired. Yet the garrison were resolute, and animated with the determination of firm and unshrinking resistance. A small British squadron was in the bay. It consisted of the Excellent of fifty guns, and the Lucifer and Meteor bombvessels. In order to assist the defence, a small body of marines was sent into Fort Trinidad ; and the remainder, with fifty seamen, were thrown into the citadel.

Reille had expected to carry Rosas by a sudden attack; but this hope soon vanished. Preparations were then made for a regular siege. The heavy artillery was brought up, though not without some difficulty from the state of the weather and the roads. General Souham's division was posted between Figueras and the river Fluvia, to watch the movements of the enemy on the side of Gerona. General Chabot was moved to Espolla Rabos, with the view of covering the rear of the besieging force, and keeping in check the hostile population,

« AnteriorContinuar »