Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

a general amnesty, with only ten exceptions. He received a deputation of the chief inhabitants, who came to signify their desire to see Joseph among them again. His answer was, that Spain was his own by right of conquest; that he could easily rule it by viceroys; but that if they chose to assemble in their churches, priests and people, and swear allegiance to Joseph, he was not indisposed to listen to their request.

This was a secondary matter : meantime the Emperor was making his dispositions for the completion of his conquest. His plan was to invade Andalusia, Valencia and Gallicia, by his lieutenants, and to march in person to Lisbon. Nor was this vast plan beyond his means; for he had at that moment 255,000 men, 50,000 horses, and 100 pieces of field artillery, actually ready for immediate service in Spain : while 80,000 men and 100 cannon, besides, were in reserve, all on the south side of the Pyrenees. To oppose this gigantic force there were a few poor defeated corps of Spaniards, widely separated from each other, and flying already before mere detachments : Seville, whose local junta had once more assumed the nominal sovereignty, and guarded in front by a feeble

corps in the Sierra Morena; Valencia, without a regular garrison; Zaragossa, closely invested, and resisting once more with heroic determination; and the British army under Sir John Moore. The moment Napoleon was informed that Moore had advanced into Spain, he abandoned every other consideration, and resolved in person to march and overwhelm him.

The English general had, as we have already seen, been prevented, by circumstances over which he could have no controul, from commencing his campaign so early as he would have desired, and as the situation of the Spanish armies, whom he was meant to support, demanded. At length, however, he put his troops, 20,000 in number, into motion, and advanced in the direction of Salamanca; while a separate British corps of 13,000, under Sir David Baird, recently landed at Coruña, had orders to march through Gallicia, and effect a junction with Moore either at Salamanca or Valladolid. The object of the British march was of course to support the Spanish armies of Blake and Belvedere in their defence: but, owing to the delays and blundering intelligence already alluded to, these armies were in a hopeless condition before Sir John Moore's march begun.

The news of the decisive defeat of Castaños, at Tudela, satisfied Moore that the original purpose of his march was now out of the question ; but having at length effected a junction with Baird he felt extreme unwillingness to retreat without attempting something. He continued to receive from Madrid the most solemn assurances that the resistance of the capital would be desperate : and, with more generosity than prudence, resolved to attack Soult, then posted behind the Carrion. In doing so he fancied it possible that he should defeat an important branch of the enemy's force, intercept the communications of the Emperor's left flank, give Romana time to re-organize his army in Gallicia, create a formidable diversion in favour of the south of Spain, if not of Madridand, at worst, secure for himself a safe retreat upon Coruña; from which port his troops might be sent round without difficulty to Seville, to take part in the defence of that part of the Peninsula which was yet unbroken, and the seat of the actual government.

But Buonaparte, hearing on the 20th of December of the advance of Moore, instantly put himself at the head of 50,000 men, and marched with incredible rapidity, with the view of intercepting his communications with Portugal, and in short hemming him in between himself and Soult. Moore no sooner heard that Napoleon was approaching, than he perceived the necessity of an immediate retreat; and he commenced accordingly a most calamitous one through the naked mountains of Gallicia, in which his troops maintained their character_for bravery, rallying with zeal whenever the French threatened their rear, but displayed a lamentable want of discipline in all other parts of their conduct. The weather was tempestuous; the roads miserable; the commissariat utterly defective; and the very notion of retreat broke the high spirits of the soldiery. They ill-treated the inhabitants, drank whatever strong liquors they could obtain, straggled from their ranks, and in short lost the appearance of an army except when the trumpet warned them that they might expect the French charge. Soult hung close on their rear until they reached Coruña; and Moore perceived that it would be impossible to embark without either a convention or a battle. He chose the braver alternative. The French were repelled gallantly; and the British were permitted to embark without further molestation. In the moment of victory [January 16th, 1809] Sir John Moore fell, mortally wounded by a cannon-shot: his men buried him in his cloak; and the French, in testimony of their admiration of his gallantry, erected a monument over his remains.

Napoleon came up with the troops in pursuit of Moore at Benevente, on the 29th of December, and enjoyed for a moment the spectacle of an English army in full retreat. He saw that Moore was no longer worthy of his own attention, and entrusted the consummation of his ruin to Soult.

It excited universal surprise that the Emperor did not immediately return from Benevente to Madrid, to complete and consolidate his Spanish conquest. He, however, proceeded, not towards Madrid, but Paris; and this with his utmost speed, -riding on post-horses, on one occasion, not less than seventy-five English miles in five hours and a half. The cause of this sudden change of purpose, and extraordinary haste, was a sufficient one; and it ere long transpired.

CHAPTER XXVI.

Austria declares War- Napoleon heads his army in Ger

many-Battles of Landshut and Eckmuhl— Ratisbonne taken Napoleon in Vienna Hostilities in Italy, Hungary, Poland, the North of Germany, and the Tyrol— Battle of Raab— Battle of Wagram-Armistice with Austria .. Progress of the War in the Peninsula, Battle of Talaveyra --Battle of OcañaEnglish Expedition to Walcheren . Seizure of Rome and arrest of the Pope ...... Treaty of Schoen

brunn. NAPOLEON had foreseen that Austria, hardly dissembling her aversion to the “ continental system,' and openly refusing to acknowledge Joseph as king of Spain, would avail herself of the insurrection of that country, necessarily followed by the march of a great French army across the Pyrenees, as affording a favourable opportunity for once more taking arms, in the hope of recovering what she had lost in the campaign of Austerlitz. His minister, Talleyrand, had, during his absence, made every effort to conciliate the emperor Francis; but the warlike preparations throughout the Austrian dominions proceeded with increasing vigour - and Napoleon received such intelligence ere he witnessed the retreat of Moore, that he immediately countermanded the march of such of his troops as had not yet reached the Pyrenees,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »