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FALL OF LERIDA AND MEQUINENZA.

305

other of some consequence. The islands and CHAP. IX. fortress of Las Medas, forming an important

1810. maritime post, were surrendered to the French

May. without resistance, through treason or cowardice. Lerida also yielded without adequate resistance. Suchet opened his batteries against it on the seventh of May. On the twelfth, a magazine exploded in the town, and formed a breach. By this the French assaulted the town and carried it. On the day following the castle May. 13. surrendered.

Success followed the arms of Suchet, whenever he was not induced to transgress the rules of his art. The fort of Mequinenza, notwithstanding its strength, became an easy prize. After five days resistance it capitulated, and the June 8. subjection of Arragon being now fully assured, Suchet found himself at liberty to extend the sphere of his operations.

The peace with Austria having rendered disposable the greater part of the force employed in Germany, large bodies of troops were thrown into Spain, and every corps was augmented. That of Junot, composed of the troops liberated by the Convention of Cintra, consisted of three divisions of infantry, and one of cavalry, amount

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SIEGE OF ASTORGA.

vernor.

CHAP. 1X. ing altogether to about twelve thousand men.

Hitherto this force had been employed in dis1810. March. persing the irregular bands which abounded in

Biscay, Navarre, and Old Castile. But on receiving reinforcements, Junot advanced into Leon, with the view of protecting that kingdom from the incursions of the Gallician army. Astorga was garrisoned by about three thousand Spanish troops ; and an attack made upon it, in the preceding September, had been gallantly repulsed by Santocildes, who still acted as Go

The city was not strong, yet considerable efforts had been made to improve and repair the works. The walls were ancient and massive, and the suburbs, to the north and south, were covered and connected with the body of the place by a line of retrenchment. Astorga contained large magazines of all sorts; and its acquisition, at this period, was held of great importance to the intended operations in Portugal, as it commanded a debouché leading into the

north of that kingdom. Mar. 21.

On the twenty-first of March, Junot invested Astorga. The defence of the city was resolutely maintained for upwards of a month, when, at length, having repulsed their assailants at the

CAPTURE OF ASTORGA.

307

breach, the garrison surrendered, only when the CHAP. IX. near exhaustion of their ammunition rendered

1810. further defence hopeless. The French suffered

April. heavily in this siege, though the amount of their loss has been variously represented. This is certain : The expense of life at which Astorga was acquired, and the gallantry of its defenders, had a greater effect in animating the people, than its reduction in depressing them.*

On the fall of Astorga, a detachment of Junot's corps reduced the castle of Sanabria, while the remainder proceeded to invest Ciudad Rodrigo. The Asturias had been reduced to submission; so that, at the end of April, of the whole western frontier of Spain, Gallicia and Badajos alone remained free. The latter had been secured by the promptitude of Romana, when the corps of Mortier was approaching

Long after the capture of Astorga, a song was popular among the middling and lower classes, recounting the achievements of the besieged, each stanza of which terminated in a sort of choral chant, declaring that “ Astorga was the tomb of

Frenchmen.We merely allude to this, as an indication of that buoyancy of spirit, which enabled the Spanish people to bear up amid so many and severe reverses, and to discover matter of ex. ultation even in disaster.

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MOVEMENTS OF ROMANA.

1810. coup-de-main.

CHAP.IX. from Seville, in expectation of carrying it by a

Baffled in this attempt, the French retired to Merida, Zafra, and Santa April.

Marta, followed by a division, under Don Carlos O'Donnel.

STATE OF SPAIN.

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CHAPTER X.

INVASION OF PORTUGAL BY MASSENA.

SINCE the commencement of the year, the CHAP. X. campaign had hitherto been one of almost unin

1810. terrupted disaster. The Spaniards, had no army of any magnitude in the field; their most important fortresses were reduced or blockaded; and three-fourths of the kingdom had been overrun. The southern provinces had fallen, with scarcely the semblance of resistance. The wealth and resources of Andalusia had passed, without a struggle, into the hands of the enemy; and Spain beheld the chief nursery of her armies, the provinces from which fresh bands of patriots might still have gone forth to combat, if not to conquer, in her cause, at once torn from

The British army had been compelled to limit its' exertions to the defence of

her grasp

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