Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/628

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
607
SPANISH SUCCESSION, WAR OF THE


so Dutch under Admiral Allemonde sailed from Spithead carrying 5000 troops. The general command was given to the duke of Ormonde. The purpose of this expedition was to occupy Cadiz and encourage a rising in Andalusia on behalf of the Habsburg candidate. It reached Cadiz on the 22nd of August, but the inhabitants and the garrison remained loyal. The leaders of the expedition quarrelled with one another and the soldiers aroused the bitter indignation of the inhabitants by plundering the small towns of Santa Maria and Rota. On the 30th of September the expedition sailed away. Information sent by the British minister at Lisbon that Chateaurenault had put into Vigo reached them at Lagos. The duke of Ormonde and his colleagues decided to attack the treasure fleet. On the 22nd of October they forced the boom laid by the enemy between the inner and outer harbours of Vigo, and the treasure fleet was destroyed, but the bullion had been landed.

During 1703 the "grand fleet " of the allies, i.e. their main force in European waters, entered the Mediterranean to carry help to the insurgent Protestants in the Cevennes, but effected nothing of importance. Portugal having now joined the Alliance, it was decided to make a serious effort in Spain. A combined fleet carrying 4000 Dutch and 8000 British troops, and conveying the archduke Charles, claimant of the Spanish throne, sailed from Spithead on the nth of February 1704. Portugal undertook to provide 30,000 troops to co-operate with the British and Dutch who were landed at Lisbon on the 8th of March. The operations on land were for the most part languid. The duke of Berwick who commanded the Bourbon forces on the Spanish frontier formed a vigorous plan for the invasion of Portugal. One Spanish force under Don Francisco Ronquillo was to threaten Beira Alta at Almeida. He himself entered Beira Baixa by the north bank of the Tagus. The prince of Tzerclaes was to have advanced from the south to meet Berwick at Villa Velha. But though Berwick achieved some success, and though both the Dutch general Fagel who operated on the north of the Tagus, and the British general, the duke of Schombergj who was stationed on the south, proved indolent and incapable, the invasion failed. Ronquillo and Tzerclaes failed to support Berwick, and the newly levied Spanish troops proved unsteady. Fagel was surprised and taken prisoner with 2000 men at Sobreira Fermosa, and some of the frontier posts remained in Berwick's hands when the heat from which the British and Dutch soldiers suffered severely suspended operations. At sea^ however, a material success was gained. Sir George Rooke went on from Lisbon accompanied by Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, to Barcelona. The prince who had been governor of Catalonia, believed that he could bring about a rising in the province in favour of the Habsburg cause. As the fleet carried no considerable body of troops, Rooke and Hesse-Darmstadt failed to persuade the Catalans to act. They were embarrassed by the knowledge that the count of Toulouse, a natural son of Louis XIV., the admiral of France, who had sailed from Brest on the 6th of May with 23 sail-of-the-line had entered the Mediterranean, and had reached Toulon in June. In expectation of an attack by the united fleets of Brest and Toulon, the allies fell back to the straits. Having obtained information that Gibraltar (9.0.) was not sufficiently garrisoned, they attacked and took it on the 3rd of August. On the 24th the count of Toulouse, came to the relief of the fortress with 50 sail-of-the-line, and 24 galleys. He engaged the allies, 62 British and Dutch line of battleships in all, off Malaga. The engagement was a cannonade accompanied with great loss of life, but without manoeuvring on either side. The French retired to Toulon, and the allies remained in possession of Gibraltar. An attempt of the Spaniards to retake it, made at the end of 1704 and beginning of 1705 was baffled by the resolute defence of the prince of Hesse- Darmstadt, and the relief afforded to the garrison by the squadron of Sir John Leake, who was left on the coast of Portugal, when Sir George Rooke returned to England.

The events of 1704 had persuaded the allies to make more serious efforts to push the war in Spain. The duke of Schom- beig was removed from the command of the troops in Portugal


and replaced by the earl of Galway, a French Huguenot exile. But the main attack was made, and the first successes were achieved on the east coast of Spain. On the 3rd of Juno 1705 Charles Mordaunt, earl of Peterborough, was sent with a com- mission to command both the fleet and the army, and to promote a rising in favour of the Habsburg, or Austrian party. He was joined by the archduke at Lisbon, and by the prince of Hesse- Darmstadt at Gibraltar. The truth in regard to the operations which followed has been very much obscured. Peterborough, a man of much erratic cleverness, but vain, spiteful and abso- lutely indifferent to truth, successfully represented himself as a species of hero of romance who won the most astonishing victories in spite of want of means, and of the ill will or incapacity of his colleagues. Critical investigation has destroyed much of the showy edifice of fiction he contrived to erect. The substantial facts are that after some operations on the coast of Valencia, which led to an insurrectionary movement in favour of the archduke, Barcelona was attacked and taken between the 13th of September and the oth of October. The prince of Hesse- Darmstadt was killed during the siege.

All the east of Spain, the former kingdom of Aragon, which was at all times restive under the supremacy of Castile, now pronounced more or less openly for the Austrian party. The fall of Barcelona gave a severe shock to the Bourbon king. He came in person with Marshal Tesse who had replaced the duke of Berwick, and endeavoured to retake the town early in April 1 706. The brutality with which Tesse treated the people of Aragon and Catalonia raised the country against the Bourbon king. The British relieved Barcelona on the 9th of May, and Philip V. was compelled to retreat across the Pyrenees to Perpignan. In the meantime the withdrawal of troops from the Portuguese frontier for service in Catalonia, had opened the way for an invasion of Castile by the allies, British, Portuguese and Dutch. They occupied Madrid on the 25th of June 1706, and the queen who acted as regent in the absence of her husband retired to Burgos. But the success of the allies was merely apparent. The appearance in their midst of an invading army of Portuguese and heretics roused the national feeling of the Castilians. They rallied to the Bourbon cause. As in the later Peninsular War, guerrillero bands sprang up on all sides, and they found capable leaders in Vallejo and Bracamonte. The duke of Berwick, who was sent back to Spain, collected an army, and soon the allies, who were distressed by want of provisions and bad health, were forced to evacuate Madrid. They moved on Guadalajara to meet the archduke who was advancing from the east. Berwick outmanoeuvred them, and forced them to retreat on Valencia. In February 1707 they were reinforced by troops brought by the fleet and advanced in April. On the 2 5th of the month they were defeated by the French and Spanish troops at Almansa in the province of Alicante, with the loss of all their infantry.

From this date till 1710, the land war in Spain remained stationary. The Bourbon king was master of the greater part of Spain, including Aragon. His generals retook Lerida on the Catalan frontier, and on the Portuguese frontier at La Gudina near Badajoz, on the 7th of May 1709, a Spanish army under the Marques de Bay defeated an Anglo-Portuguese army under the earl of Galway. Yet the Austrian party held Catalonia and Valencia, and the financial distress of the Spanish government, aided by the disorganized state of the administration, rendered a vigorous off ensive impossible. By 1710 the French king had been reduced to great distress, and was compelled to make at least a show of withdrawing his support from his grandson Philip V. The allies decided to advance from Catalonia, a course which was strongly urged by General Stanhope (afterwards Earl Stanhope), who commanded the British troops. He had served in subordinate rank from the beginning of the war, and had gained some reputation by the capture of Port Mahon in 1708. Stanhope's energy overcame the reluctance of the Imperialist general Guido Starhemberg, who commanded the German troops of the archduke. The allies advanced and for a time seemed to carry all before them. The Spaniards were defeated at Almenara on the 27th of July 1710, and before Saragossa on the 20th of