On 2 Dec. he accompanied Stahrenberg in an attempt to surprise Tortosa, which the Bourbons had taken in July. As he wrote, 'It proved a Cremona business. We got into the old town, killed the governor and about two hundred men, brought off nine officers and fifty soldiers prisoners, but by an unlucky accident missed our aim.' In August the Duke of Orleans, with whom Stanhope had been intimate at one time in Paris, had made secret overtures to him, starting with the suggestion that he (Orleans) should be made king of Spain, instead of either Philip or Charles. Negotiations went on for some time, with the knowledge of the British government and the archduke, and probably of Louis XIV also. In Stanhope's opinion they 'very much abated the edge of the Duke of Orleans' in the campaign of 1708. But they were brought to light by the Princess Orsini in the winter, and Orleans did not return to Spain.
Stanhope was promoted lieutenant-general on 1 Jan. 1709. The campaign of that year was languid, owing to the overtures for peace made by Louis XIV and the expected withdrawal of the French troops from Spain. In April Stanhope went to the relief of Alicant, which had been besieged for more than five months. The town had been taken, but five hundred men still held out in the castle, in spite of the mine which had swallowed up the governor and all the chief officers. But it was found impracticable to land troops, and on the 18th Stanhope came to terms with the besiegers, and brought the garrison away. At the end of August he went to Gibraltar to command an expedition against Cadiz, which the British government had decided on, and for which they had sent out five thousand men. But it was found that the attempt was hopeless, and he brought the troops to Catalonia.
He spent the winter in England, and was a member of the committee which drew up articles of impeachment against Sacheverell, and one of the managers at his trial in February 1710. His speech on the 28th against the doctrine of nonresistance is said to have discomposed Sacheverell more than any of the other speeches.
At the end of May he rejoined the army in Spain. Reinforcements in July raised it to a strength of 24,500 men, of whom 4,200 were British. The Bourbon army was less in number, and consisted wholly of Spanish troops. Stahrenberg, a cautious veteran, still inclined to the defensive, and Charles also; but Stanhope pressed for a bolder course, and was supported by the other officers. On 26 July the allied army advanced towards Aragon, and Stanhope was sent forward to secure the passage of the Noguera. The enemy tried to anticipate him, and on the 27th the cavalry action of Almenara was fought, in which Stanhope, with 2,600 men, routed 4,200 supported by some battalions of foot. He killed one of the Spanish leaders in a personal encounter. The Bourbon army retired in some confusion to Lerida, and about a fortnight afterwards fell back on Saragossa.
There it offered battle on 20 Aug., and was thoroughly beaten, losing twelve thousand men out of twenty thousand. The hardest fighting was on the left of the allies, where Stanhope was in command, and opposite to which the bulk of the Bourbon cavalry was massed. General (afterwards lord) Carpenter wrote that evening to Walpole that the successes of the allies were entirely due to Stanhope, 'both for pressing in council and for the execution.' He had 'hectored the court and marshal into these marches and actions.'
He now strongly urged that the allies should march on Madrid, and be joined there by the army of Portugal. In this opinion he was supported by the majority of the officers, and it was in accordance with Marlborough's views. Stahrenberg and the archduke thought it would be better to remain in the north, to intercept communication between France and Spain, than to enter Castile, which had already shown itself so hostile. However, they gave way, and on 28 Sept. Charles entered Madrid, preceded a week before by Stanhope. The latter was sent forward to Talavera to meet the troops from Portugal.
But meanwhile the Spaniards had rallied round Philip at Valladolid with unexpected enthusiasm. Vendôme arrived from France to command his army, which by the middle of October numbered nearly twenty-four thousand men. Vendôme moved southward to Almaraz, and interposed between Madrid and the slowly advancing army of Portugal, which thereupon fell back. Noailles invaded Catalonia from Roussillon, and Charles, who had left his wife at Barcelona, quitted Madrid on 18 Nov. in order to rejoin her.
By the end of that month it had become clear that the allied army could not winter in Castile, and on 3 Dec. it began its retreat on Aragon. As Stahrenberg explained in his report, 'the late season of the year and the necessity of getting provisions and forage for the troops obliged us to march in columns and by different ways; the English troops, believing they might find some provisions in Brihuega and subsist better there, took that road' (London Gazette, 9-11 Jan.) It