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184

BATTLE OF CIUDAD REAL.

CHAP. IV.

In Spain, the current of events had been un.

favourable to the patriots. In La Mancha, the 1809. March.

Duke del Albuquerque had distinguished himself in some affairs, of which the results would have been greater, but for the ill-judged interference of Cartoajal, in whom the chief command was vested. The utter incompetence of this per

son was fully evinced at the battle of Ciudad Mar. 27. Real, where his army was completely routed by

Sebastiani. In this engagement no strenuous resistance appears to have been made. The Spaniards were at once driven from their position in utter confusion. Three thousand of their number were killed in the pursuit, and four thousand prisoners and eighteen guns were captured by the enemy.

On the day following, a disaster still more fatal befell the Estramaduran army, under Cuesta. On the eighteenth, Victor had succeeded in forcing the defences of the Puente del Arzobisbo, and drove back the troops, which had been posted there, to Miravete. He then succeeded in reestablishing the bridge at Almaraz, which, owing to the cowardice or treachery of Henestrosa, who commanded at that point, was effected without difficulty. Victor was thus enabled to pass over

BATTLE OF MEDELLIN.

185

his artillery, and collect his whole army at Trux- CHAP. IV. illo, where he gained possession of the mag

1809. azines of the Spanish army.

March. Cuesta, having retired to Santa Cruz, was reinforced by a detachment of about four thousand men, under the Duke del Albuquerque, and at length determined to give battle. With this view, he took up a position near Medellin, forming his whole force in a single line, about a league in extent, without any reserve. The ground thus occupied, was singularly ill-chosen. It consisted of a wide and open plain, without cover of

any

kind; and the same unhappy qualities which had distinguished Cuesta at Rio Seco, were again conspicuously displayed at Medellin.

The Spanish army consisted of about twenty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry. The left wing was commanded by Henestrosa, which occupied ground somewhat higher than the rest of the position. The centre was commanded by Don Francisco Trias ; the right by Don Francisco de Equia. The cavalry were on the left, where the enemy presented the greatest force.

The army of Victor, though infinitely superior

186

BATTLE OF MEDELLIN :

CHAP. IV. in the quality of the troops, was somewhat

numerically inferior. It consisted of about 1809. March. eighteen thousand foot and two thousand five

hundred horse, and was formed in an arc, extending between the Gaudiana and a cultivated ravine, which reaches from Medellin to the village of Mengabril. Victor placed his cavalry on the right, and the front was covered by six

batteries, each of four guns. Mar. 28.

The action commenced by an attack on the Spanish centre, supported by a brigade of cavalry. This was gallantly repulsed, and the Spanish line advancing, succeeded in taking one of the enemy's batteries on the left. The French left wing gave way, and was followed with effect for two hours. The cavalry was ably manæuvred by General Lasalle, who retired slowly, and having gained a favourable position, turned on the Spanish horse, and put them to the rout. The attack on the centre was then renewed, and the infantry disheartened gave way. Panic spread through the ranks, and the soldiers, casting away their arms, sought safety in flight. Every effort of Cuesta to restore order proved abortive. The French followed up their success, giving no quarter in the pursuit.

ITS CONSEQUENCES.

187

In this disastrous battle the loss of the Span- CHAP. IV. iards was very great. It has been stated at

1809. twelve thousand killed, and seven or eight thou

March. sand prisoners; but this is probably an exaggeration. Nineteen pieces of cannon were taken by the French, whose loss in the action amounted, by their own account, to four thousand.

Calamitous as the battles of Medellin and Ciudad Real unquestionably were, neither the Supreme Junta nor the people were disheartened by the misfortunes of their armies. The proceedings of the former evinced no symptom of alarm or despondency ; a vote of thanks was passed to Cuesta and his

and so little had that General declined in the opinion of his countrymen, that he speedily received the appointment of Captain-General of the province. In the meanwhile, he retired to Almandrelejo, where he succeeded in collecting a force nearly as imposing as that with which he had encountered the enemy at Medellin.

army ;

188

ARRIVAL OP SIR ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

CHAPTER V.

ATTACK AND CAPTURE OF OPORTO

BY THE BRITISH.

CHAP. V. On the twenty-second of April, Sir Arthur

Wellesley reached Lisbon, and was invested 1809. April.

with the supreme command in Portugal. From the period of that event a new era commences in the war. His appointment gave unity of action and purpose to the British and Portuguese forces, and at once put a stop to those unfortunate jealousies and distractions, which had already occurred but too frequently between the leaders of the allied armies.

The forces of the enemy, against whom he was to act, were on the other hand divided. Soult had concerted with Victor a combined attack on the unconquered provinces of Portugal. The former was preparing to advance through Coimbra upon Lisbon, while Victor was to co

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