HERE I ought to close these Memoirs; because, having left Spain at this period of the war, I have not witnessed what followed with my own eyes. But since then, during a years residence in England, I have collected materials which could not, at the time, be procured on the Continent; and am, therefore, enabled to add to my narrative that of the Campaign of Portugal - the masterpiece both of national and military defence.
After the campaign of Austria, and the peace concluded at Vienna in 1809, France saw herself free from all her Northern wars; and the whole of Europe believed, that once again would Spain and Portugal fall under the power of the mighty armies of which the Emperor Napoleon could dispose. That conqueror had announced, that he would chase the English from the Peninsula; and that, in one year, the world would witness his triumphal eagles planted on the forts of Lisbon. He forth-with sent powerful supplies to Spain, for the purpose of invading Portugal.
The French army destined for that invasion, was more than 80,000 strong. The Commander-in-chief was Marshal Massena; and it was divided into three divisions, under the orders of Marshals Ney, Junot, and Reynier. The first two of these corps united in the neighbourhood of Salamanca, and occupied the country between the Douro and the Tagus. The third, that of General Reynier, was in Estremadura, opposite the frontier of Alentejo; its right communicating, at Alcantara, with the left of the corps of Marshal Ney. A fourth corps of reserve assembled at Valladolid, under the command of General Drouet, to reinforce and support the invading army if required.
The army of Lord Wellington, opposed to that of Marshal Massena, counted 30,000 English, and as many Portuguese in its ranks. The Regency of Portugal had, besides that, 15,000 regular troops under arms, - several flying corps of Portuguese militia, led by chiefs of their own nation, or by English officers, - and levies en masse, known by the name of Ordenanzas, which the English estimated only at 45,000, but in fact consisted, in a case of invasion, of the whole armed population of Portugal. They were exasperated against the French by patriotism, hatred, vengeance, and the memory of recent evils they had endured for the two preceding years, during the expeditions of Marshals Junot and Soult - all unsuccessful though they had been.
The undisciplined native bands did incalculable mischief to the French when they fought for their homes, in the gorges of their mountains, where their numbers and local knowledge gave them a great advantage. But beyond their own country they were useless. It was for this reason that the Anglo-Portuguese regular army of Lord Wellington would not move a step from the line of defence it occupied on the frontiers of Portugal, and north and south of the Tagus, notwithstanding all the provocations of the French. The English general was besides afraid to give battle in the plains of the province of Salamanca, where his enemies presented a numerous and formidable body of cavalry.
After the taking of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French passed the Coa, repulsed the English outposts, invested Almeida on the frontiers of Portugal, and on the 27th of August got possession of it by capitulation, thirteen days after the trenches were opened.
General Reyniers corps left Spanish Estremadura, crossed the Tagus at Alcantara, and concentrated itself in the neighbourhood of Almeida, with the two other French divisions. The English corps opposed to that of General Reynier towards Elvas and Portalègre, crossed the Tagus also by a simultaneous movement at Villa-Velha; and the whole army of Lord Wellington retreated by the left bank of the Mondego, to the impregnable position of the Sierra de Murcella behind the Alva.
The French army left the environs of Almeida on the 15th of September, entered the valley watered by the Mondego the day following, passed that river at Celorico, and again repassed it at the bridge of Fornos. Marshal Massena led his army along the right bank of the Mondego, intending by a rapid movement to seize on Coimbra, which he believed the English had left quite exposed when retiring by the opposite bank.
The French arrived at Vizeu on the 21st, where they were obliged to halt two whole days waiting for their artillery, whose arrival had been retarded by the badness of the roads, and the attacks of the Portuguese militia. On the 24th their vanguard discovered the English picquets stationed on the opposite bank of the Dao, and beat them back after repairing the bridges which had been broken down. Lord Wellington had made his army hastily cross from the left to the right bank of the Mondego, in order to defend the defiles of the mountains on the way to Coimbra. He had left but a single brigade of infantry and one division of cavalry, in his former position of Sierra de Murcella.
On the 25th and 26th, the French corps arrived successively at the foot of the mountains Sierra de Busaco, whose summits they found occupied by the Anglo-Portuguese army. At six oclock, on the morning of the 27th, they marched in column against the right and centre of that army, in the two roads leading to Coimbra, by the village of San Antonio de Cantaro, and by the convent of Busaco. These roads were cut up in several places, and defended by artillery. The mountain over which they pass is besides encumbered with steep rocks, and is very difficult of access.
The French column which attacked the right of the English advanced with intrepidity, in spite of the fire of their artillery and light troops. It reached the top of the eminence after sustaining considerable loss, and began to deploy in line with the greatest coolness, and most perfect regularity. But a superior force again assaulted it, and compelled it to retire. It soon rallied, made a second attack, and was again repulsed. The French battalions, which advanced against the convent of Busaco, where the left and centre of the English divisions joined, were also driven back, a little before they reached that post. General Simon, who had been struck by two balls during the charge, was left on the height, and a great many wounded officers and soldiers.
The position occupied by the English and Portuguese on the brow of the hill, formed the arc of a circle, whose two extremes embraced the ground over which the French had to advance. The allied army saw the least movements made below them, and hind time to form to receive any powerful body before it arrived. This circumstance materially contributed to the advantage they obtained. The French lost 1800 men in their attacks, and had nearly 3000 wounded. The English and Portuguese had no more than 1235 of their army disabled from fighting.
Marshal Massena judged that the position of Lord Wellington could not be carried in front, and resolved to turn it. He kept up an irregular fire till the evening, and sent off a body of troops by the mountain-road, which leads from Mortago to Oporto. The English and Portuguese, in consequence of this movement, abandoned their position on the mountain of Busaco.
The French entered Coimbra on the 1st of October, continued their route, and on the 12th, after eleven days of forced marches under heavy rains, they arrived at Alenquer, nine leages distant from Lisbon. They had almost reached the farthest extremity of Portugal, and already regarded that country as their undoubted prize. They believed that the English would think of nothing else but embarking;- they calculated on reaching them next day, obliging them to fight inthe hurry of departure, and crushing them by a superior force.
But some reconnoitring parties, despatched iii different directions, discovered Lord Wellingtons army intrenched in a position between the sea and the Tagus, on the chain of mountains which stretch from Alhandra to Torres Vedras, and to the mouth of the Sisandro towards Mafra, in the rear. This position is so advantageous that it could neither be attacked nor turned.
Passes, naturally strong, bristled here and there with most powerful artillery. Art had vied with Nature in erecting defences where death could be inflicted, without sustaining any harm in return. Throughout the whole breadth of the advanced part of the Peninsula in which Lisbon is situated, as if it had been all one fortified city, there reigned in all the posts of the English and Portuguese the greatest silence, calmness, and good order. Sloops of war in the Tagus flanked the right of their position; and a ball frem one of their cannon killed General Saint Croix, the first day of our arrival, who had gone forward to the top of an eminence to make some observations.
The French tried, by every provocation, to induce Lord Wellington to give battle; but it was all in vain. That modern Fabius remained mimoveable in his lines, and contemplated from his high rocks his enemies underneath with admirable unconcern. Wisely economical of the blood of his men, he refused to spill it for his personal ambition, or to risk, by one battle, the fate of the country he was intrusted to defend. It was to the vengeance of the natives that he wished to leave the French. He pursued a plan most deeply calculated, in suffering them to perish with hunger and disease--the never-failing scourges of invading armies, when they are not welcomed and seconded by the nations wishes.
At the call of Lord Wellington, and the command of the Regency of Portugal, the entire population of the valley of Mondego, and pert of that of the north bank of the Tagus, quitted their dwellings in a body. All the serviceable men bad previously retired to the mountains with their cattle and their arms only; and at the approach of the French, there remained only an immense crowd of old men, women, children, priests and nuns, who simultaneously destroyed their own means of subsistence, to put them out of their enemies reach, and retired to Lisbon to be under the protection of the English army.
The benevolence of several convents, stirred up bypatriotism, and seconded by liberal alms, at first supplied the wants of these voluntary exiles, who, to save their country, had resigned themselves to Providence. In the streets, in the squares, and without the walls of Lisbon, a peaceful camp was formed for them behind the English intreuehsnents, which was nearly as essential to the prosperity of Portugal, as the armed warriors who struggled in her cause.
The French, in their rapid march between Almeida and Alenquer, to adopt their own words,*1 found only deserted towns and villages, mills made useless, wine flowing in the streets, corn burned to ashes, and even furniture broken to pieces. They saw neither horse, mule, ass, cow, nor goat." They were obliged to subsist on their own beasts of burden, and the limited supply of biscuit they brought along with them to Portugal; for they calculated on obtaining by conquest the vast resources of one of the most commercial capitals in Europe.
Unexpectedly stopped, when they fancied themselves on the eve of terminating their travels, they were compelled to live on the victuals which the soldiers individually procured. Chance, necessity, native cunning, and the long habit of a wandering warring life, enabled them sometimes to discover provisions in the secret places where the natives bad buried them, to be out of their enemies reach.
On every side the French were surrounded, and their communications were all intercepted by flying corps, even before they reached the lines of Torres Vedras. Coimbra, where a garrison had been left, and different intendants to form magazines, as also sick and wounded to the number of five thousand - this city was retaken by the Portuguese militia on the 7th, and other French posts besides, on the right bank of the Mondego. The roads by which the army of Massena should have received their provisions and ammunition, had all been occupied by the Portuguese corps, commanded by Generals Silveira and Bacellar, and the mliitia of Colonels Trant, Miller, Wilson, and Grant. The right flank of his army was also disturbed and harassed by frequent sorties of the garrisons of Peniche, Ourem, and of Obidos. The peasant bands and the militia corps, united to attack the detachments and foraging parties of the French, whose daily bread was purchased at the cost of many lives.
While these individual contests raged in their rear, and on their flanks, with all the zeal that vengeance and exasperated national hatred could inspire, the English, always on the watch within their lines, enjoyed the most perfect peace, and lost not a single man. Their videttes never fired on those of the French; and their advanced posts did not attempt, by false attacks, to provoke or vex each other. This profound tranquillity which reigned in front between the two armies, was the result of that kind of tacit convention which usually exists between regular armies, who, though antagonists, have neither hatred nor passion to gratify, because they are only indirectly interested in the cause for which they contend.
The French continued waiting below the lines of Torres Vedras, suffering numberless privations with patience, in the hope that they would shortly reduce their enemies to despair. They trusted that the immense crowd of people, of every description, which they had driven before them, and shut up with the inhabitants of the capital in a narrow unfertile spot, would starve their enemys army, and compel them to fight or to re-embark. But the English and Portuguese had the broad ocean behind them; and their swift and numerous ships had freedom of intercourse with the one or the other hemisphere. Provisions, at first, were supplied from England and Brazil; and, afterwards, numerous trading vessels, allured by the prospect of gain, transferred to the Tagus the abundance of Africa and America, and the nearer supplies of the provinces in Spain and Portugal that had not been invaded.
The French, weakened by their daily losses, and by sickness, the consequence of want and inactivity, began at length to find themselves in the very situation to which they trusted their foes would be reduced.
Their detachments were kept from foraging in their rear, towards Upper Estremadura, by the river Zezere, and the town of Abrantes. The bridges of the Tagus, on their left, being destroyed, they were separated, by this means, from Lower Estremadura and Alentejo. These districts had hitherto been untouched; and their proximity tended to increase the desire which the French, amid their distresses, naturally had to possess them. They made several unsuccessful attempts to force the passage of the Tagus, in order to get at these much wished for provinces. Among others, they threatened the inhabitants of Chamusca, a small village on the opposite bank, that, if they did not bring over their boats, they would set fire to their dwellings. The fishermen, to whom the boats belonged, put an end to the question, by burning them all immediately. The country then flew to arms; and the English made one division of infantry, and another of cavalry, cross the Tagus, to oppose the designs of the French. Lord Wellington had received a reinforcement of 10,000 Spaniards, brought by the Marquis de la Romana; and by employing, in the land service, some cannoneers of the English fleet, he was enabled to despatch these divisions to guard the opposite banks, without weakening his lines.
The French having now waited below the lines of Torres Vedras for more than a month between Villa Franca, Sobral, Villa Nueva, Otta and Aleventre, they began at last to find themselves in absolute starvation. They broke up their camp during the night of the 14th of November, and retreated to take up a position at Santarem, behind the Rio Major. The order and silence of their departure was such, that the English videttes opposite those of the French, were not aware till daybreak that their enemies had retired.
The English, afraid that this movement of the French was intended to force the passage of the Tagus, sent over considerable reinforcements to strengthen the troops that were already there. Their army left the lines they had occupied on the 19th, and, following the route of the French, advanced in fighting columns opposite Santarem, near to the Rio Major, apparently determined to force the passage of that river. But they renounced this design when they saw the strength of the French position. Lord Wellington established his head-quarters at Cartaxo, placing his advanced posts on the right bank of the Rio Major, between that river and his former lines, that he might be ready to return there again if the French would come back and attack him with a superior force.
Santarem is situated on the summit of a lofty and almost perpendicular chain of mountains. In their foreground is another chain, not quite so elevated, on which the first of the French lines was extended. The Rio Major runs at the foot of these heights, and a little farther off flows the Tagus. The English had to cross a large extent of marshy ground by two causeways, which, as well as the bridge, were completely commanded by artillery.
Marshal Massena had wisely chosen and fortifled the position of Santarem, with the view of keeping the English in check on the Rio Major with very few troops, and of enabling him without any hazard to extend his cantonments to the river Zezere, over which he caused two bridges to be thrown. He occupied both its banks with a division of infantry, in order to overawe Abrantes, and protect the detachments sent to forage in Upper Estremadura. He wished to establish a communication with Spain by the route of Thomar, until the~reinforcemeuts for which he looked, and that were indispensable to the continuance of his operations after the losses he had sustained, should arrive, and chase the Portuguese militia from the posts on the roads in the valley of Mondego, which had every one been seized.
The corps-de-reserve under General Drouet, had left Valladolid on the 12th of October, on its way to the Portuguese frontier. The division of General Gardanne, which had remained to garrison Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida, had also commenced its march, to rejoin the army of Massena; but on the 14th of November, it had suddenly fallen back towards the Spanish territory, after approaching to within a few leagues of the first French posts. This division was deceived regarding the situation of affairs, by the great number of Portuguese militia, which had never ceased to harass it since it crossed their frontiers, and had even destroyed its van-guard. General Gardanne retired on the corps of General Drouet, and again entered Portugal with it in the month of December.
The corps of General Drouet took its route by the valley of Mondego, and joined the army of Marshal Massena, after dispersing the hostile militia, but, as usual, not destroying them. The Portuguese General Silveira returned at the end of the month to attack the division of Claparède, who had been left at Trancoso and Pinhel, in the district of Coa, to preserve the communications of the army in Portugal with Spain. General Claparède united his division in consequence, routed General Silveira, and pursued him to the Douro. But he was obliged to retrace his steps to Trancoso and Guarda, on account of the movements of other bodies of militia under General Bacellar and Colonel Wilson, who, on the Pavio and at Castro Diaro, flell [sic] on his flanks and his rear.
These corps of militia never ventured to attack any but the weak parts of the army, such as the rear and van-guards, detachments, petty garrisons, or isolated troops, to whom they did incalculable mischief; and their numbers and local knowledge rendered it impossible that they could be destroyed. If they were dispersed in one place, they rallied in another, and every where united with them in their expeditions the armed population of the country.
General Drouet arrived at Leyria, and with the other French corps occupied the country between the sea and the Tagus, towards Punhète and Santarem. Marshal Massena caused a number of boats to be built at Punhète, in order to throw a bridge across the Tagus; a serious undertaking in a country depopulated of its inhabitants, and which affords but limited resources at best. The English corps who occupied Mugem, Almerin, Chamusca, and Saint Brito, on the opposite bank, observed these preparations, and, to oppose them, began to construct batteries of very considerable strength.
It was of as much importance to the English to prevent the passage of this river, as it was to the French to effect it. The fate of Portugal, and the success of the future operations of either party, appeared at the time to depend on this one maneuvre. If Marshal Massena succeeded in his design, the English would be obliged to divide their force, and greatly to weaken themselves, by extending their lines on both sides of the river. The positions of Torres Vedras being less ably guarded, and being deprived of many necessary defenders, might then have been carried at the cost of some thousand lives, by a French corps advancing from Lena upon Lisbon. if, on the other hand, the English had concentrated their troops within the lines of Torres Vedras, the French might have descended in the direction of the Tagus, after crossing it, and seized the small peninsula on which are built the towns of Palmela and Setubal. From its extremity, they might have commanded the course of the Tagus, and starved the city of Lisbon. In fine, from the heights of Almada opposite, they might have bombarded this capital.
On the 9th of January, Marshals Soult and Mortier arrived at Merida with all the disposable forces of the army of Andalusia, designing to lay siege to Badajoz and Elvas, and of thus co-operating with Marshal Massena, by obliging Lord Wellington to dismember his army in defending that part of the Portuguese frontier. On the news of their approach toward Alentejo, the English sent additional troops under Generals Hill and Beresford to the south of the Tagus; and the inhabitants thereabout prepared to lay waste the country, that the French might be famished, according to the defensive system so successfully pursued by Lord Wellington on the left bank of the river.
To succour Badajoz, General Mendizabal was sent by the Marquis de Ia Romana with the 10,000 Spaniards he had brought to the lines of Torres Vedras. The Marquis was then sick of the disease which terminated his existence on the 24th of January at Cartaxo. He was deeply regretted by the English and Spaniards, and died with the esteem of his enemies, because he had never despaired of his country's cause, but persevered in continuing the war, amid endless disappointments, with such activity and resolution as usually belong only to conquerors. Marshals Soult and Mortier took Olivenza on the 23d of January, and on the 19th of February they crossed the Gevora and the Guadiana, invested Badajoz, and surprised and cut to pieces in his camp, the Spanish. General Mendizabal and his army.
By this time the army of Marshal Massena had consumed alt the provisions which could be procured on the right bank of the Tagus; and his foragers were obliged to extend their excursions to a circuit of twenty leagues. A great part of the army had to be continually occupied in providing for the wants of the remainder; and this precarious sustenance was daily obtained by very grievous losses. Marshal Junot having learned that the English had formed a magazine of wine and corn on the Rio Major, went with two regiments of cavalry, and some infantry of his own corps, to appropriate it to the French. The English retired. in time, and the Marshal was wounded in a slight skirmish, which happened between his advanced guard and the rear of the enemy. Cavalry ought, in a manner, to be the eyes and arms of a powerful army, being designed to procure and guard their provisions; but they were a burden to the French by their very numbers, and the difficulty of providing them in food. Besides, they~ were often useless in a mountainous country; intersected with defiles, and constantly infested with armed swarms of peasantry and militia.
The rage and hatred of the invaded nation, increased with the continuance of the war, because of the hardships they endured. The most timid peasants, who had fled to the mountains only for the sake of peace, were driven, by hunger and despair, from their undisturbed retreats. They poured down into the valleys, lay in ambush near the roads, and hung about the French in the difficult passes, to snatch the very victuals from them, of which they had been previously plundered themselves. A peasant, in the vicinity of Thomar, made choice of a cavern near that town as his place of refuge. During the month of February, he killed, with his own hand, above thirty Frenchmen, whom he surprised separately; and carried off about fifty horses and mules.
Since so great a proportion of our force had been employed in Portugal, the guerrillas of Spain had become twice bolder than ever. Spanish chiefs who had not more than a few hundreds under them seven months before, now found themselves over formidable divisions, that frequently seized the convoys of ammunition and arms, destined for our armies in Portugal. Before these convoys could reach their destination, they had to cross a tract of hostile territory near two hundred leagues in extent. They were composed of muleteers, sent from the south of France; and Spanish peasants, who were constrained unwillingly to expose themselves to the almost certain danger of destruction, or of losing their mules. These peasants fled the first opportunity that offered, or sent notice beforehand to the guerrillas, so that when attacked they might be preserved. The least negligence on the part of these escorts, would have deprived the whole army of food.
By the beginning of March, Marshal Massena had finished the building of two hundred boats, and all his preparations for crossing the Tagus were completed. But he dared not attempt the passage without additional reinforcements. Marshals Soult and Mortier could render him no effectual assistance, by advancing towards the Opposite bank, until Badajoz was reduced; and this city still held out.
Such was the situation of affairs, when a convoy of biscuit, expected from France, was taken by the Spanish partisans. On the point of absolute starvation, they were obliged to think of a retreat; and they abandoned Portugal, after a campaign of seven months, without having fought one regular battle. The English commander made his enemies yield to his perseverance, in pursuing a plan which left no chance of victory to others, by never affording them one opportunity of fighting.
On the 4th of March, the sick, the wounded, and the baggage of the French, departed on an immense train of beasts of burden, and the whole army next day commenced its retreat. Marshal Ney, who was charged with the care of the rear-guard, advanced with his corps from Leyria to Muliano, to menace, by this offensive demonstration, the flanks of the English army, and oblige them to remain inactive, whilst the other French corps were making progress.
The French reached Pombal on the 10th, and their rear-guard detained for the whole of the 11th, the van-guard of the English before that town. They abandoned it towards night, and moved onward, under cover of the darkness, to the strong position of Redinha on the Adanços. They repassed that defile on the approach of the English, under the protection of artillery stationed on the neighbouring heights, which thundered down on the van-guard of their enemies. The French rear formed in order of battle behind the pass of Redinha, and withdrew to the main body, which halted for them in the position of Condeixa.
The genius of the French, says an English writer,*2 was every moment manifest. They suffered no advantage of the ground to pass unimproved. Their rear-guards never abandoned a position they were charged to defend, until it was fairly turned, and then they only left it to take up a new position, and to commence a fresh defence. The French columns slowly retired to one central point in a chosen position, where they all united in a body to rest, to face the enemy, to repube them, and again renew their march. Marshal Ney, with some chosen troops, covered the retreat, whilst Marshal Massena directed the march of the main body, and kept himself always ready to sustain the rear, if it required his help. " Never," says the English Military Journal,*3 "did the talents of this great captain shine so conspicuously; nothing can equal the skill he then displayed."
The French took up their position on the Ceira during the 15th, leaving an avant-guard at the village of Foz de Aronce, where a pretty brisk engagement happened. On the 16th they broke down the bridge over the Ceira, and left their position on the 17th to retire behind the Alva. There the English army stopped to wait for provisions; and as far as Guarda the French were followed only by light troops, Portuguese militia, and the people of the country they crossed. But these with bitter rage incessantly harassed them, and gave no quarter to the wounded or to stragglers who fell into their hands.
Want compelled them to march fast. In leaving Portugal they found it as they entered. The cities were deserted, the houses were empty, and no provisions could be found. The French soldiers, exasperated by their hardships and privations, abandoned themselves to every kind of outrage, and some villages and even towns were set on fire. In their rapacious pillage they profaned the churches and despoiled them of their ornaments, - they violated the tombs and dispersed the sacred relics, - they wreaked their vengeance on the guiltless ashes of the dead, when the living were beyond their reach.
The French remained at Guarda till the 28th, and on the approach of the English, abandoned that town to occupy the strong position of Ruivinha. They defended the ford of Rapoula de Coa on the 3d with some advantage; and on the 4th they repassed the Portuguese frontier, leaving a small garrison behind them in Almeida.
The defensive system which obliged the army of Massena to abandon Portugal, after having invaded it, was the same as that practised in Spain. Every nation that has a spark of patriotism may employ it with parallel success. It consists of nothing more than just avoiding regular battles, and obliging a powerful army to break itself down into weak disunited corps, for the purpose of carrying on a war in detail. Again, if it remains united, nothing more is necessary than to cripple it, by destroying every means of procuring its supplies, which will be the easier the greater its numbers, and the further removed by its conquests from the country they should come.
In the great military states of central Europe, where the nations care little about the quarrels of their governments, a battle gained, or a tract of country occupied, supplied the French with every thing they wanted. Provisions in abundance, horses, arms, and even soldiers, came pouring in upon them; and it might be said of their army, what Virgil says of Fame - vires acquirit eundo - it gained by going.
In Spain and Portugal, on the contrary, the strength of the French diminished as they advanced, by the necessity of detaching numerous corps to oppose the scattered peasantry, to procure provisions, and to preserve an extended line of communication. Their army, even when victorious, found itself soon reduced to the situation of the lion in the fable, who tore himself with his own claws, in vainly attempting to get rid of the flies that continually followed and tormented him.
Europe never should forget that Spain, almost singly, supported, for upwards of five years, the weight of the immense power of the Emperor Napoleon. Victorious in Italy, on the Danube, on the Elbe, and on the Niemen - he had either crushed or leagued with him the greatest part of Europe. In uniting under his banners the conquered with their conquerors, he had converted his enemies into allies armed in his cause. Italians, Poles, Swiss, Dutch, Saxons, Bavarians, and all the warlike nations of the Confederation of the Rhine, mingled in the ranks with Frenchmen, emulous of their glory, and delighting to display in battle that they too were inspired with contempt of death and danger.
The great Powers of the North and East of Europe, who, in spite of their misfortunes, had still strength enough to contend, were struck powerless by the illusion of Napoleons power. He distributed kingdoms throughout Europe to his companions in arms, as he did governments in France to his followers; and the name and authority of King came at last to be regarded as no more than a step of military promotion in his army.
At the commencement of hostilities in 1808, the French had already invaded Portugal, without striking a blow. They occupied Madrid, the very centre of Spain, and took by stratagem different fortresses throughout that kingdom. The best of the Spanish troops were detained in Germany and Portugal, fighting in the same ranks with the French. Those who staid behind knew not then to distinguish between the orders of the French, and the will of their own monarchs, Charles IV. and Ferdinand VII.
In keeping these sovereigns prisoners in France, and appointing his brother King of Spain, Napoleon hoped that a weak and powerless nation, deprived of their chiefs, would rather have preferred the rule of a stranger, than the scourge of war on the bosom of their country. Napoleon believed, and all Europe with him, that Spain would have yielded without a struggle.
During the five years of the wars continuance, the French had gained ten pitched battles in succession, and seized almost every citadel in the kingdom; but yet they had not reduced a single province to a permanent submission. Spain had been conquered to the gates of Cadiz, as Portugal to those of Lisbon. Even though both these cities had been taken, the fate of the Peninsula would not then have been sealed. Whilst the French were lying under the walls of Lisbon and Cadiz, troops of Spaniards made incursions to the gates of Toulouse, in the very heart of France.
One and the same spirit inspired the whole Spanish nation - love of liberty, and detestation of those strangers who meant to humble their national pride, and make them the slaves of a foreign yoke. It was neither armies nor fortresses that required conquering in Spain, but the single multifarious feeling which actuated all her citizens.
It was the Soul of one and all that needed to be humbled - that rampart which ball and bayonet cannot reach.
Since these Memoirs were written, we have witnessed in the north of Europe the Muscovite nation, and the Prussian people also, giving proofs of devotion to their country, in many respects similar to that which has done honour to the Peninsula, Russia, Prussia, and Spain, have all been speedily delivered from their common enemy. These events, which have changed the face of Europe, as powerfully demonstrate, as Spain's long and noble contest, that the real strength of States does not so much consist of the number or valour of their armies, as in a spirit of religious, patriotic, or political enthusiasm, strong enough to interest every individual of a nation in the public cause, as intensely as if it were his own.
*1 See the Account of the Transactions in Portugal in the Moniteur of Nov. 30th 1810.
*2 History of Europe, Edinburgh Annual Register, vol. iv. 1811, p. 257.
*3 Military Chronicle, vol. ii. p. 405
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