Ever since La Romana had stormed Villafranca, and all news from Galicia had been completely cut off, King Joseph and his adviser Jourdan had been in a state of great fear and perplexity as to the condition of affairs in the north-west. Soult had 长沙桑拿水磨long passed out of their ken, and now Ney also was lost to sight. In default of accurate information they received all manner of lugubrious rumours from Leon and Astorga, and imagined that the Sixth Corps was in far more desperate straits than was actually the case. Fearing the worst, they resolved to find out, at all costs, what was going on in Galicia. To do so it was necessary to fit out an expedition sufficiently strong to brush aside the insurgents and communicate with Ney. Troops, however, were hard to find. Lapisse had already marched from Salamanca to join Victor. In Old Castile and Leon there were but Kellermann’s dragoons and a few garrisons, none of which could leave their posts. Marshal Bessières, to whom the general charge of the northern provinces had been given by the Emperor, could show conclusively that he 长沙桑拿休闲中心 was not able to equip a column of even 5,000 men for service in Galicia.
The only quarter whence troops could be procured was Aragon, where everything had remained quiet since the fall of Saragossa. The Emperor had issued orders that of the two corps which had taken part in the siege, the Third only should remain to hold down the conquered kingdom: hence Mortier and the Fifth should have been disposable to reinforce the troops in Old Castile. But, with the Austrian war upon his hands, Napoleon[p. 378] was thinking of withdrawing Mortier and his 15,000 men from Spain. In a dispatch dated April 10, he announced that the Marshal was to retire from Aragon to Logro?o in Navarre, from whence he might possibly be recalled to France if circumstances demanded it. At the same moment King Joseph was writing to Mortier to summon him into Old Castile, and pointing out to him that the safety of the whole of Northern Spain depended upon his presence. Much perplexed by these contradictory orders, the Duke of Treviso took a half-measure, and marched to Burgos, which was actually in Old Castile, but lay only three marches from Logro?o and upon the direct route to France. A few days later the Emperor, moved by his brother’s incessant appeals, and seeing that it was all-important to reopen the communication between Ney and Soult, permitted Mortier to march to Valladolid, where he was in a good position for holding down the entire province of Old Castile. He also gave leave to the King to employ for an expedition to Galicia the two regiments of the Third Corps, which had escorted the prisoners of Saragossa to Bayonne, and which were now on their homeward way to join their division in Aragon.
It was thus possible to get together enough troops to open the way to Galicia. The charge of the expedition was handed over to Kellermann, who was given his own dragoons, the two regiments from Bayonne, a stray battalion of Leval’s Germans from Segovia, a Polish battalion from Buitrago, and a provisional regiment organized from belated details of the Second and Sixth Corps, which had been lying in various garrisons of Castile and Leon. He had altogether some 7,000 or 8,000 men, whom he concentrated at Astorga on April 27. Marching on Villafranca he met no regular opposition, but was harassed by the way by the peasantry, who had abandoned their villages and retired into the hills. Mahy had moved off the main road by making his advance to Navia de Suarna, and was not sighted by Kellermann, nor did the Spaniard think fit to meddle with such a powerful force as that which was now passing him.
On May 2 the column reached Lugo, where it fell in with[p. 379] Maurice Mathieu’长沙桑拿推荐 s division of the Sixth Corps, and obtained full information as to Ney’s position. The Marshal was absent at Corunna, but sent his chief of the staff to meet Kellermann and concert with him a common plan of operations. It was settled that they should concentrate their attention on La Romana and the Asturians, leaving southern Galicia alone for the present, and taking no heed of Soult, of whom they had received no news for a full month.
For the destruction of the Spanish armies of the north a concentric movement was planned. Ney undertook to concentrate the main body of his corps at Lugo, and to fall on the Asturians from the west, crushing Mahy on the way. He stipulated, however, that he should be allowed to return to Galicia as quickly as possible, lest the insurgents should make havoc of his garrisons during his absence. 长沙桑拿水磨会所 Kellermann was to retrace his steps to Astorga and Leon, and from thence to march on the Asturias by the pass of Pajares, its great southern outlet. At the same moment Bonnet at Santander was to be requested to fall on from the east, and to attack Ballasteros and the division that lay behind the Deba.
When it was reported to Mahy and La Romana that Kellermann had turned back from Lugo, and was retreating upon Astorga, they failed to grasp the meaning of his movement, and came to the conclusion that his expedition had been sent out with no purpose save that of communicating with Ney. Unconscious that a simultaneous attack from all sides was being prepared against them, they failed to concentrate. By leaving small ‘containing’ detachments at the outlying posts, they could have massed 20,000 men against any one of the French columns: 长沙桑拿场子 but they failed to see their opportunity and were caught in a state of complete dispersion. Ballasteros with 9,000 men still lay opposite Bonnet; Worster at Castropol did not unite with Mahy’s army at Navia de Suarna; and La Romana remained at Oviedo with two regiments only.
Hence came hopeless disaster when the French attack was at last let loose upon the Asturias. On May 13 the Duke of Elchingen drew together at Lugo four of the eight infantry regiments which formed the Sixth Corps, with two of his four cavalry regiments, and eight mountain-guns carried by mules.[p. 380] This formed a compact force of 6,500 bayonets and 900 sabres. He left behind him four battalions and a cavalry regiment under Maucune at Santiago, the same force under the cavalry brigadier Fournier at Lugo, two battalions at Corunna, one at Betanzos, 长沙桑拿攻略2018 and one at Ferrol.
The obvious route by which the Marshal might have advanced on Oviedo was the coast-road by Mondonedo and Castropol, which Worster was guarding. But in order to save time and to fall upon the enemy on an unexpected line, he took a shorter but more rugged mountain road by Meyra and Ibias, which led him into the valley of the Navia. This brought him straight upon Mahy’s army: but that general, when he learnt of the strength that was directed against him, retreated in haste after a skirmish at Pequin, and fled, not to the Asturias, but westward into the upper valley of the Minho. [May 14.] This move was vexatious to Ney, who would have preferred to drive him on to Oviedo, to share in the general rout that was being prepared for the Asturians. The Marshal refused to follow him, and pushed on to Cangas de Tineo 长沙桑拿哪里最好 in the valley of the Narcea, capturing there a large convoy of food and ammunition which was on its way from La Romana to Mahy. On May 17 he hurried on to Salas, on the 18th he was at the bridge of Gallegos on the Nora river, only ten miles from Oviedo. Here for the first time he met with serious opposition: hitherto he had suffered from nothing but casual ‘sniping’ on the part of the peasantry. His march had been so rapid that La Romana had only heard of his approach on the seventeenth, and had not been able to call in any of his out[p. 381]lying detachments. The Marquis was forced to attempt to defend the passage of the Nora with nothing more than his small central reserve—the one Galician regiment (La Princesa, only 600 bayonets) that he had brought with him from Villafranca, and one Asturian battalion—not more than 1,500 men. Naturally he was routed with great loss, though Ney allows that the Princesa regiment made a creditable defence at the bridge. The Spanish troops therefore dispersed and fled eastward, while Romana rode down to the seaport of Gijon and took ship on a Spanish sloop of war along with the members of his Junta. The Marshal seized Oviedo on the nineteenth: the place was pillaged in the most thorough fashion by his troops. In his dispatch he makes the excuse that a few peasants had attempted to defend some barricades in the suburbs, and that they, not the soldiery, had begun the sack. Credat Judaeus Apella! The ways of the bands of Napoleon are too well known, and we shall not believe that it was Spaniards who stole the cathedral plate, or tore the bones of the early kings of Asturias from their resting-places in search of treasure. On May 20 Ney marched with one regiment down to Gijon, where he found 250,000 lbs. of powder newly landed from England, and a quantity of military stores. An English merchantman was captured and another burnt. A detached column occupied Aviles, the second seaport of the Asturias.
On the following day, May 21, a detachment sent inland from Oviedo up the valley of the Lena, with orders to search for the column coming from the south, got into touch with that[p. 382] force. Kellermann had duly reached Leon, where he found orders directing him to send back to Aragon the two regiments of the Third Corps which had been lent him, and to take instead a division of Mortier’s corps, which was now disposable for service in the north. Accordingly he picked up Girard’s (late Suchet’s) division, and leaving one of its brigades at Leon, marched with the other and the remainder of his original force, to storm the defiles of Pajares. He had with him between 6,000 and 7,000 troops, a force with which he easily routed the Asturian brigade of 3,000 men under Colonel Quixano, which had been set to guard the pass. At the end of two days of irregular fighting, Kellermann descended into the valley of the Lena and met Ney’s outposts on May 21. The routed enemy dispersed among the hills.
It remains to speak of the third French column which started to invade the Asturias, that of Bonnet. This general marched from Santander on May 17 with 5,000 men, intending to attack Ballasteros, and force his way to Oviedo by the coast-road that passes by San Vincente de la Barquera and Villaviciosa. But he found no one to fight, for Ballasteros had been summoned by La Romana to defend Oviedo, and had started off by the inland road via Cangas de O?is and Infiesto. The two armies therefore were marching parallel to each other, with rough mountains between them. On reaching Infiesto on May 21, Ballasteros heard of the fall of Oviedo and of the forcing of the pass of Pajares: seeing that it would be useless to run into the lion’s mouth by proceeding any further, he fell back into the mountains, and took refuge in the upland valley of Covadonga, the site of King Pelayo’s famous victory over the Moors in the year 718. Here he remained undiscovered, and was gradually joined by the wrecks of the force which Ney had routed at Oviedo, including O’Donnell and the Princesa regiment. Bonnet passed him without discovering his whereabouts, advanced as far as Infiesto and Villaviciosa, and got into touch with Kellermann.
Thus the three French columns had all won their way into the heart of the Asturias, but though they had seized its capital and its seaports, they had failed to catch its army, and only half their task had been performed. Of all the Asturian troops[p. 383] only the two small forces at Oviedo and Pajares had been met and routed. Worster had not been molested, Mahy had doubled back into Galicia, Ballasteros had gone up into the mountains. If the invasion was to have any definite results, it was necessary to hunt down all these three divisions. But there was no time to do so: Ney was anxious about his Galician garrisons; Bonnet remembered that he had left Santander in charge of a weak detachment of no more than 1,200 men. Both refused to remain in the Asturias, or to engage in a long stern chase after the elusive Spaniards, among the peaks of the Pe?as de Europa and the Sierras Albas. They decided that Kellermann with his 7,000 men must finish the business. Accordingly they departed each to his own
province—and it was high time, for their worst expectations had been fulfilled. Mahy in the west and Ballasteros in the east had each played the correct game, and had fallen upon the small garrisons left exposed in their rear. Moreover, the insurgents of Southern Galicia had crossed the Ulla and marched on Santiago. If Ney had remained ten days longer in the Asturias, it is probable that he would have returned to find the half of the Sixth Corps which he had left in Galicia absolutely exterminated.
The Marshal, however, was just in time to prevent this disaster. Handing over the charge of the principality to Kellermann, he marched off on May 22 by the coast-road which leads to Galicia by the route of Navia, Castropol, and Ribadeo. He hoped to deal with Worster by the way, having learnt that the Swiss general had advanced from Castropol by La Romana’s orders, and was moving cautiously in the direction of Oviedo. But Worster was fortunate enough to escape: he went up into the mountains when he heard that Ney was near, and had the satisfaction of learning that the Marshal had passed him by. The rivers being in flood, and the bridges broken, the French had a slow and tiresome march to Ribadeo, which they only reached on May 26. Next day the Duke of Elchingen was at Castropol, where he received the news that Lugo had been in the gravest peril, and had only been relieved by the unexpected appearance of Soult and the Second Corps from the direction of Orense.
The sequence of events during the Marshal’s absence had[p. 384] been as follows. When Mahy found that he had escaped pursuit, he had immediately made up his mind to strike at the French garrisons. He tried to persuade Worster to join him, or to attack Ferrol, but could not induce him to quit the Asturias. So with his own 6,000 men Mahy marched on Lugo, beat General Fournier (who came out to meet him) in a skirmish outside the walls, and drove him into the town. Lugo had no fortification save a mediaeval wall, and the Spaniards were in great hopes of storming it, as they had stormed Villafranca. But when they had lain two days before the place, they were surprised to hear that a large French force was marching against them; it was not Ney returning from the Asturias, but the dilapidated corps of Soult retreating from Orense. Wisely refusing to face an army of 19,000 men, Mahy raised the siege and retired to Villalba in the folds of the Sierra de Loba. On May 22 Soult entered Lugo, where he was at last able to give his men nine days’ rest, and could begin to cast about him for means to refit them with the proper equipment of an army, for, as we have seen, they were in a condition of absolute destitution and wholly unable to take the field.
At Castropol Ney heard at one and the same moment that Lugo had been in danger and that it had been relieved. But he also received news of even greater importance from another quarter. Maucune and the detachment which he had left at Santiago had been defeated in the open field by the insurgents of Southern Galicia, and had been compelled to fall back on Corunna. This was now the point of danger, wherefore the Marshal neither moved to join Soult at Lugo, nor set himself to hunt Mahy in the mountains, but marched straight for Corunna to succour Maucune.
The force which had defeated that general consisted in the main of the insurgents who had beleaguered Tuy and Vigo in March and April. They were now under Morillo and Garcia del Barrio, who were beginning to reduce them to some sort of discipline, and were organizing them into battalions and companies. But the core of the ‘Division of the Minho,’ as this force was now called, was composed of the small body of regulars which La Romana had left at Puebla de Senabria, under Martin La Carrera. That officer, after giving his feeble detachment some[p. 385] weeks of rest, had marched via Monterey and Orense to join the insurrectionary army. He brought with him nine guns and 2,000 men. On May 22 Carrera and Morillo crossed the Ulla and advanced on Santiago with 10,000 men, of whom only 7,000 possessed firearms. Maucune came forth to meet them in the Campo de Estrella, outside the city, with his four battalions and a regiment of chasseurs, thinking to gain an easy success when the enemy offered him battle in the open. But he was outnumbered by three to one, and as the Galicians showed much spirit and stood steadily to their guns, he was repulsed with loss. Carrera then attacked in his turn, drove the French into Santiago, chased them through the town, and pursued them for a league beyond it. Maucune was wounded, and lost 600 men—a fifth of his whole force—and two guns. He fell back in disorder on Corunna. He had the audacity to write to Ney that he had retired after an indecisive combat: but the Marshal, reading between the lines of his dispatch, hastened to Corunna with all the troops which had returned from the Asturias, and did not consider the situation secure till he learnt that Carrera had not advanced from Santiago.
Leaving his main body opposite the ‘Division of the Minho,’ the Duke of Elchingen now betook himself to Lugo, to concert a joint plan of operation with Soult [May 30]. The results of their somewhat stormy conference must be told in another chapter.
Meanwhile the situation behind them was rapidly changing. On May 24 La Romana, who had landed at Ribadeo, rejoined Mahy and his army at Villalba. The Marquis, on surveying the situation, came to the conclusion that it was too dangerous to remain in the northern angle of Galicia, between the French army at Lugo and the sea. He resolved to return to the southern region of the province, and to get into touch with Carrera and the troops on the Minho. He therefore bade his army prepare for another forced march across the mountains. They murmured but obeyed, and, cautiously slipping past Soult’s corps by a flank movement, crossed the high-road to Villafranca and reached Monforte de Lemos. From thence[p. 386] they safely descended to Orense, where La Romana established his head quarters [June 6]. Thus the Spaniards were once more in line, and prepared to defend the whole of Southern Galicia.
We have still to deal with the state of affairs in the Asturias. After Ney’s departure on May 22, Kellermann lay at Oviedo and Bonnet at Infiesto. But a few days later the latter general received the disquieting news that Ballasteros, whose movements had hitherto escaped him, was on the move towards the east, and might be intending either to make a raid into the plains of Castile, or to descend on Santander and its weak garrison.
Ballasteros, as a matter of fact, had resolved to stir up trouble in Bonnet’s rear, with the object of drawing him off from the Asturias. Leaving his refuge at Covadonga on May 24 he marched by mule-tracks, unmarked on any map, to Potes in the upper valley of the Deba. There he remained a few days, and finding that he was unpursued, and that his exact situation was unknown to the French, resolved to make a dash for Santander. Starting on June 6 and keeping to the mountains, he successfully achieved his end, and arrived at his goal before the garrison of that place had any knowledge of his approach. On the morning of June 10 he stormed the city, driving out General Noirot, who escaped with 1,000 men, but capturing 200 of the garrison and 400 sick in hospital, as well as the whole of the stores and munitions of Bonnet’s regiments. Among his other prizes was the sum of ￡10,000 in cash, in the military chest of the division. Some of the French tried to escape by sea, in three corvettes and two luggers which lay in the harbour, but the British frigates Amelia and Statira, which lay off the coast, captured them all. This was a splendid stroke, and if Ballasteros had been prudent he might have got away unharmed with all his plunder. But he lingered in Santander, though he knew that Bonnet must be in pursuit of him, and resolved to defend the town. The French general had started to protect his base and his dép?ts, the moment that he ascertained the real direction of Ballasteros’ march. On the night of June 10 he met the fugitive garrison and learnt that Santander had fallen. Late on the ensuing day he reached its suburbs, and sent in two battalions to make a dash at the place. They were beaten off; but next[p. 387] morning Bonnet attacked with his whole force, the Asturians were defeated, and Ballasteros’ raid ended in a disaster. He himself escaped by sea, but 3,000 of his men were captured, and the rest dispersed. The French recovered their sick and prisoners, and such of their stores as the Spaniards had not consumed. The wrecks of Ballasteros’ division drifted back over the hills to their native principality, save one detachment, the regulars of La Romana’s old regiment of La Princesa. This small body of 300 men turned south, and by an astounding march across Old Castile and Aragon reached Molina on the borders of Valencia, where they joined the army of Blake. They had gone 250 miles through territory of which the French were supposed to be in military possession, but threaded their way between the garrisons in perfect safety, because the peasantry never betrayed their position to the enemy.
Disastrous as was its end, Ballasteros’ expedition had yet served its purpose. Not only had it thrown the whole of the French garrisons in Biscay and Guipuzcoa into confusion, but even the Governor of Bayonne had been frightened and had sent alarming dispatches to the Emperor. This was comparatively unimportant, but it was a very different matter that Bonnet had been forced to evacuate the Asturias, all of whose eastern region was now free from the invaders.
More was to follow: Kellermann still lay at Oviedo, worried but not seriously incommoded by Worster and the Asturians of the west. But a few days after Bonnet’s departure he received a request from Mortier (backed by orders from King Joseph), that the division of the 5th Corps which had been lent him should instantly return to Castile. This was one of the results of Wellesley’s campaign on the Douro, for Mortier, hearing of Soult’s expulsion from Northern Portugal, imagined that the British army, being now free for further action, would debouch by Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo and fall upon Salamanca. He needed the aid of his second division, which Kellermann was forced to send back. But it would have been not only useless but extremely dangerous to linger at Oviedo with the small remnant of the expeditionary force, when Girard’s regiments[p. 388] had been withdrawn. Therefore Kellermann wisely resolved to evacuate the whole principality, and returned to Leon by the pass of Pajares in the third week of June.
Thus ended in complete failure the great concentric attack on the Asturias. The causes of the fiasco were two. (1) The French generals chose as their objective, not the enemy’s armies, but his capital and base of operations. Both Ney and Bonnet while marching on Oviedo left what (adapting a naval phrase) we may call an ‘army-in-being’ behind them, and in each case that army fell upon the detachments left in the rear, and pressed them so hard that the invading forces could not stay in the Asturias, but were forced to turn back to protect their communications. (2) In Spain conquest was useless unless a garrison could be left behind to hold down the territory that was overrun. But neither Ney, Kellermann, nor Bonnet had any troops to devote to such a purpose: they invaded the Asturias with regiments borrowed from other regions, from which they could not long be spared. As later experience in 1811 and 1812 showed, it required some 8,000 men merely to maintain a hold upon Oviedo and the central parts of the principality. The invaders had no such force at their disposition—the troops from the 6th Corps were wanted in Galicia, those of the 5th Corps in Castile, those of Bonnet in the Monta?a. If it were impossible to garrison the Asturias, the invasion dwindled down into a raid, and a raid which left untouched the larger part of the enemy’s field army was useless. It would have been better policy to hunt Mahy, Worster, and Ballasteros rather than to secure for a bare three weeks military possession of Oviedo and Gijon. If Soult had not dropped from the clouds, as it were, to save Lugo: if Ballasteros had been a little more prudent at Santander, the Asturian expedition would have ended not merely in a failure, but in an ignominious defeat. It should never have been undertaken while the Galician insurrection was still raging, and while no troops were available for the permanent garrisoning of the principality.